SeanTierney

Arducopter 3DR Quadrotor

January 17, 2013 Blog 0

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I am a nerd…I am a geek…I love stuff like this.  When I learned that there was a aerial rotor platform that had an Arduino as the brains, I thought it would be an awesome project to undertake.  When I learned that this same platform supported aerial photography I didn’t even hesitate to order it.

Fast forward, after waiting nearly 15 DAYS for the thing to arrive

THE BOX

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So the first thing I thought was that the box was really beat up, but maybe they recycle boxes like Amazon and some other retailers are doing these days. Then I thought to myself, HOW ON EARTH DID THEY FIT A MULTIROTOR HELICOPTER IN THAT! I mean, come on, it was slightly smaller than a shoebox. Boy was I in for a surprise…they did in fact fit a multirotor helicopter into the slightly smaller than a shoebox box.

UNPACKING

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There was no extra space in the box, none. Every inch was filled with wires, and screws, and fiberglass or metals parts. It was all lovingly wrapped in bubble wrap, individually bagged and tagged. I promptly tore everything open and spread it across my desk…oh well.

ASSEMBLY

Just to be clear, this is just one of the assembly steps. I will need to update this again after I complete another round so that you can see how the whole thing goes together.

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The above picture shows the 4 arms assembled with motors, landing gear, and wiring.

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The above picture shows the arms attached to the central body stack.

WIRING THE PDB (power distribution board)

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In the image above, you can see my first attempt at wiring the PDB. I think I placed 2 wires in the wrong places, so I will have to remove those and reconnect them. My soldering skills are not what they used to be, but so far things are going pretty well.

***** Update:

I was using an old set of instructions and the wire colors that I had didn’t match the instructions…awesome. I reached out the forum and they directed me to the correct instructions so I undid the work I had already completed, and proceeded to do it again with the correct wiring. The PDB is now complete, as are the ESC’s (electronic speed controllers). For now, the soldering adventure has come to an end.

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THE BRAINS

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With most of the assembly out of the way, it is time to work on setting up and calibrating the Arduino brains of this thing. In my opinion, having an Arduino drive this thing is what makes it so powerful and flexible. I have gotten the Arduino hooked up to my computer, and I have downloaded the software. More pics tonight as I work on calibrating the remote and receiver as well as perhaps a quick video of flying the virtual test unit using my real controller all through my computer…pretty slick if you ask me!

Here is a pic of the servos for the camera’s gyro gimbal all hooked up. The helicopter can be told to sense pitch and yaw movement and compensate automagically. It took a little doing, but it is working like a charm. Check out the short vid below to see me shake the brain of the quadrotor and watch the servos react to the movement.

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FINAL PUSH

So the last of the parts for my quadcopter arrived today…well, sort of…but that is another story in which I will rant and bitch at the USPS. Anyway, where was I…today marked the completion of the wiring and wiring testing. In the picture below you can see the Arduino has now been plugged into the frame and was ready to be tested.

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It also was the day I put together the camera mount. This thing came WITHOUT instructions. Not only did I get it put together and have a leftover piece, I had like 40 leftover pieces…oh well. I also got a few digital micro servos for fast, smooth movement.

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Here is the fully assembled camera mount:

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Here is the camera mount attached to the air frame:

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So ladies and gentlemen, without further ado, here she is…a ready to fly quadcopter that I built. It truly was a labor of love and I cannot wait to get out and fly it to see how awesome it really is!

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Be sure to check back again soon to see if I have uploaded any footage or pics from its first flight!!