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Budget Multirotor. Tricopter? Advice Please.

BankNYank!

New member
Mentor
#1
Long story short, I had a $600 budget. Now I have $200 and no multirotor. If your wondering how that happened please read the story below.

To start off I'd like to confess I know very little about multirotors, I've only been flying and scratch building about three or four months now and thats all been planes, so I'm hoping you guys can help.

I would like to use this multirotor for aerial video and, down the road, FPV. I would like for it to run on 3s 2200's (since I have a bunch of those) and I'm pushing for the longest flight time possible. I'd also like some kind of gps so I can lock it in position. If thats asking to much of my $200, the gps can wait. I was thinking tricopter because that seems cheaper to me than anything else. I found this frame and I like the portability of folding arms. I also found this frame though it's a quad. I've been reading the threads here and doing research and the kk2.0 sounds like the best deal but its on back order at Hobby King in the US. Any other suggestions for cheap, good flight controllers or maybe somewhere else I can buy a kk2.0 board in the United States? I also found David's tricopter build guide here but I don't want to have to build my own frame and I don't want to wait three weeks (or more) for David to get things going now that he's back home. So I was thinking maybe using the HK tricopter frame I posted above and put all the stuff David listed in his build on it. What do you guy's think? I could be way off since I know next to nothing about multirotors. So please feel free to give me any advice, guidance, suggestions you may have. So just to recap, I'm basically looking for a a parts list to build a multirotor that will carry a gopro and FPV gear with the longest flight time possible using a 3s 2200 battery for under $200. Is it possible? And if so what parts combination do you guys suggest?

-----------------------------The Story Below------------------------
So here's the long story. I have some friends (husband and wife), who are much older and wiser than me, that I've known for a very long time (over 20 years) who are active members in a volunteer organization called the CMA. They help a lot of people and do a lot of really cool stuff and I really look up to them. I was hanging out with them one day and playing with a little mini (toy) quad I have when the husband came up to me and said "You know what? It would be really cool to put a camera on one of those and fly it around at events". We talked about it and I explained to him about all the cool things people do with FPV and video using multirotor's and I told him that I would love to do that for them one day when I have a "real" multirotor.
So one day I walked in the local hobby store and there it was! A big hex with naza lite on it! And my mind immediately jumped back to what my friend had said about having something to do video at their events. This thing was beast! It looked like it could carry a full size DSLR with no problem. I talked to one of the guys at the hobby shop and it was on consignment for $550. I went home and started counting my penny's. I was way short but I saved and scratched and bent corners and after about a month I came up with $600. I went back to the hobby store, and of course, it was gone! I was bummed but talked to the store owner and he showed me the Blade 350QX. It had gps which I felt was important for what I wanted it to do and some different flight modes which sounded cool. It checked all the boxes for what I imagined the big hex would do. The owner let me talk him down on the price and I walked out of there with it (BNF) for $395 out of pocket. I felt good since I still had $205 left over and I figured I could put that toward saving for a gopro. Now here comes the point to my story. I messed around with the thing for three days, had maybe an hour flight time on it. Even had a couple night flights which is cool with all the led's. On the third night, I had an especially stressful day/evening (I work long hours) at work and when I got home I wanted to unwind a little with my new quad. I took it outside and walked to the end of my road where I had flown this thing a few times and my little quad a whole bunch of times. Big open lot in front of me and trees behind me. I fired the 350QX up and let it initialize then I took off and flew around until the light started flashing telling me the battery was getting low. I was pretty high so I switch flight modes and brought it down pretty quick then leveled it out and switched it to RTH. Everything was looking good, it slowed and leveled out and started heading toward me. It kept coming. Then it flew over my head and went behind the trees. This is when I realized something was wrong. I flipped it out of RTH mode and tried bringing it back to me in stability mode. I could still see the lights between the tree branches. It was responding but very sluggish and the controls were all wrong. I was like back and left to bring it back and right. And that kept changing. I had to fight it and work the controls to keep pulling it to me. And it was moving so slow. Finally my commands didn't seem to be doing anything at all and it was seriously getting out of view so I flipped it into agility mode and gave it full throttle hoping it would gain some altitude and I would be able to see it above the trees. I never saw my 350QX again. That was last night. I was off today and I spent most the day walking through the woods looking for it and still haven't found it. It was still cruzing the last time I saw it so it could of really ended up anywhere and I'm not feeling too optimistic that I'll find it. And now you know why I'm now trying to piece together a cheap multirotor.
 
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jhitesma

Some guy in the desert
Mentor
#2
My advice...slow down and start simpler :)

I built my knuckle for $100 - but I had some stuff on hand that kept the price down (like using an arduino mega and one of my wii controllers to make a FC instead of buying one.) It's no beast but even with the original setup I lifted cameras as heavy as a go-pro.

Of course I've learned quite a bit since then and would not use the same motors/ESC's I used then - the ESC's I'd use instead don't add any extra cost...but the motors do add an extra $20 or so to the total cost. So now you're looking at about $120.

Now the part you're not going to want to hear. If you want to do it on the cheap you're going to have to replace money with knowledge :) That means taking the time to learn a few new tricks/skills and building some stuff instead of buying. It also means taking the time to research every single piece to save every penny ;)

I'd strongly suggest just building a frame. If you can drill holes and cut 1/2" wood dowels you can build a frame. I made my knuckle with nothing more than a drill, a couple of razor blades, and a coping saw. It took some patience and some sore fingers to cut the knuckle plates out of 1/8" plywood with a knife...but it's possible and cheap.

Building your own FC can also save some money...but I'm hard pressed to suggest it to anyone who isn't already very familiar with arduino and electronics in general. But If you do go that route an Arduino Mega clone can be found on ebay for ~=$15 and a suitable 10DOF IMU for about $18. A good ublox gps can be found for about $12.

If you really really want GPS and waypoints though you're not going to be happy with the KK. The KK is easy to setup but unless you want to go the route of hacking it and putting multiwii on it you're not going to get a GPS on it. And even then you're probably only going to get RTH and Pos hold - no waypoints...and you'll give up the LCD and buttons to get it. So a cheap MW Mega board like one from Ready To Fly Quads is really a better route IMHO. But if you really really want GPS and waypoints then you'll probably be better off with APM - and again RTFQ is going to have the best price for you on that setup...but you'll be spending a GOOD chunk of your budget on the flight controller. Base price for the "readytoflyer" APM clone is $52...but add in a GPS, having him pre-solder the pins, some wires and a receiver cable...and you're looking at about $85 before shipping.


IMHO - Your best bet is to bite the bullet and build a frame. A knuckle can be built for <$10 if you don't have any of the materials on hand. Any anycopter could as well (In fact you could do a modified anycopter design like Chad did for Make magazine with a rectangular center instead of circle so it's easier to cut.)

As for the flight controller. Either give up GPS for now and go with the KK. Or go MultiWii and get some GPS functionality at a low price but with a lot of learning and effort. Or go APM with a considerably higher price and still a fairly steep learning curve (but not quite as bad as MW since there's a bit better of a community around it.)


It can be done on your budget. But I think you'll have to make some hard decisions and compromises to pull it off.
 

BankNYank!

New member
Mentor
#3
Wow! Thank you jhitesma for the quick and detailed response! And for telling me the things I don't want to hear! ;) First off, I don't need waypoints so we don't have to worry about that. Position lock and RTH would do me just fine. Having pos lock would be great so at events I can lock it then pan or just let it hang out and catch a specific piece of action. And RTH is nice for those times when you need it. That is when it actually returns unlike my last quad! :(


Of course I've learned quite a bit since then and would not use the same motors/ESC's I used then - the ESC's I'd use instead don't add any extra cost...but the motors do add an extra $20 or so to the total cost. So now you're looking at about $120.
What motors and esc's would you recommend. And your thinking quad right? Whats the difference between quad and tri as far as shooting video? I'm guessing a quad would be a more stable platform?

Building your own FC can also save some money...but I'm hard pressed to suggest it to anyone who isn't already very familiar with arduino and electronics in general. But If you do go that route an Arduino Mega clone can be found on ebay for ~=$15 and a suitable 10DOF IMU for about $18. A good ublox gps can be found for about $12.
Are you saying that I could build an FC with GPS pos lock and RTH for $35 if I learn how to program and build it?!

So a cheap MW Mega board like one from Ready To Fly Quads is really a better route IMHO. But if you really really want GPS and waypoints then you'll probably be better off with APM - and again RTFQ is going to have the best price for you on that setup...but you'll be spending a GOOD chunk of your budget on the flight controller. Base price for the "readytoflyer" APM clone is $52...but add in a GPS, having him pre-solder the pins, some wires and a receiver cable...and you're looking at about $85 before shipping.
I didn't know about RTFQ, thanks for that! If I understand you correctly, and I'm reading correctly, this will do pos hold and RTH? Also, I have a background in electronics so I can do my own soldering and most of that looks like through hole so it should be pretty simple, yet time consuming, to solder up. So if that saves money I can do that. I really didn't expect pos hold and RTH for such a cheap price. And now I'm going to sound dumb for a second. So this is a flight controller. It does the pos hold and RTH but it also keeps the thing in the air right? Or is that a separate controller for gyros and all that?

IMHO - Your best bet is to bite the bullet and build a frame. A knuckle can be built for <$10 if you don't have any of the materials on hand. Any anycopter could as well (In fact you could do a modified anycopter design like Chad did for Make magazine with a rectangular center instead of circle so it's easier to cut.)
I'm good with building things so I'm pretty sure I could pull off a frame if just given an idea and what building materials and lengths I should use. I can research that but I'm also open to any suggestions.

As for the flight controller. Either give up GPS for now and go with the KK. Or go MultiWii and get some GPS functionality at a low price but with a lot of learning and effort. Or go APM with a considerably higher price and still a fairly steep learning curve (but not quite as bad as MW since there's a bit better of a community around it.)
Whats involved with learning the MultiWii and how is it programmed? If they both have a steep learning curve but it's just that the MultiWii has limited GPS functionality, I'll go with the MultiWii. All I need it to do is pos lock and RTH.

Again, thank you for the quick and detailed response!
 

jhitesma

Some guy in the desert
Mentor
#4
Wow! Thank you jhitesma for the quick and detailed response! And for telling me the things I don't want to hear! ;) First off, I don't need waypoints so we don't have to worry about that. Position lock and RTH would do me just fine. Having pos lock would be great so at events I can lock it then pan or just let it hang out and catch a specific piece of action. And RTH is nice for those times when you need it. That is when it actually returns unlike my last quad! :(
Caught me between dinner and digging into some MultiWii code ;) Now you've caught after coding frustration and bed ;)

Position hold with the MultiWii can work well - I've seen videos of it. But I've yet to get it tuned well enough on mine that it could hold a position while you pan a camera. I was just starting to make progress on getting the first half of that (altitude hold) tuned well when I swapped to new motors and then my quad flew away (though thankfully since I had my name and contact info on it it found it's way home to me after the .5km interstate trip it took without me.) And RTH...it's nice in theory...but Even on APM and DJI I've heard quite a few horror stories of flyaways from trusting it. It's a nice idea but I'm not at all convinced that it's reliable enough to count on it to return a wayward copter no matter how much you spend on your flight controller.

What motors and esc's would you recommend. And your thinking quad right? Whats the difference between quad and tri as far as shooting video? I'm guessing a quad would be a more stable platform?
I am thinking quad if you're on a budget. A tri sounds cheaper and has a nicer "look" to the video when you're flying due to the "Swoopiness" as FliteTests favorite sweede puts it. But it sounds like you're more interested in holding a camera in one position nice and stable and a quad (or better yet hex) would be far better for that style of shooting. As for price...like I said a tri sounds cheaper since you need one less motor and one less ESC and they're fairly expensive parts of the whole thing. But...you need a GOOD servo for a tri. And the cost of that servo is as much or more than another motor/esc. So on a tight budget a quad tends to win out. (they're also easier to fly and it sounds like you don't have a lot of experience behind the sticks yet so a quad is probably a better bet for now....and you could always convert a quad into a V-tail quad which gives a lot of the benefits of a tri without the mechanical hassles of the yaw mechanism.)

As for which motors/ESC's. The ESC's will depend on the motors and the motors will depend on how big of a frame you want to go with...but letting budget dictate I'm really impressed with the Angel motors I just upgraded my quad to. <$12 each and they're really impressively smooth. For ESC's you'll want SimonK on them. Period. You can spend a bit more to get them pre-flashed...or go with something like the HobbyKing F20's which are easily flashed with a usbasp (which runs about $5 or so on ebay.)

If you're really really on a tight budget the HobbyKing 24g 1300kv motors will swing an 8x4.5" prop quite well. You could lift a knuckle quad with gopro with them - you'd be pushing it and loose some flight time (think 6-8 minutes with your 2200's) but they won't last (I burned the bearings out on mine after about 5 months of regular use), they're easily damaged in crashes, and really you get what you pay for with them. (There's a thread in the mad builders section on here about the knuckle quad where I share my thoughts on this further.)

There are some some good suppo motor options but they run about $15 a pop. And there are the RCTimer motors CyberDactyl likes which are $10 and potentially a bit nicer than the Angels I just upgraded to...but they take a month or so to ship from overseas and I didn't want to wait that long.

There are also the "house special" red motors from RTFQ which are about $10 each and are supposedly made by suppo and should be a good motor.

With the 24g motors you can get away with 10a speed controllers. With the rest you'd need to go with 20a's (and with some like the RCTimer you may want to go with 30a)

Just don't fall for the multistar ESC's from hobbyking. Despite they're name they are not great for multis. The 10a multistar's I started with are about the same price as F20's and the F20's are far superior (though also a LOT heavier.)


Are you saying that I could build an FC with GPS pos lock and RTH for $35 if I learn how to program and build it?!
Potentially. With careful shopping on ebay. You'll need:

Arduino Mega: $16
(possible seller http://www.ebay.com/itm/US-MEGA2560...086?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item3cdcdd5b36)
MPU6050 accelerometer/gyro: $3-$6 on ebay
HMC5883L compass: $3 or so on ebay
BMP085 barometer: $3-$5 on ebay

Or you can get an all in one 10DOF IMU for $10-$20 depening on which sensors you go with.

The baro sensor is where it gets tricky. The BMP085 is cheap but isn't very accurate. You'll probably only get about +-1m accuracy out of it at best. The BMP180 is replacing it and from what I hear far more accurate and still cheap...but not supported in MW yet as far as I know (though Naze32 does support it.) The MS561101BA is the best choice for high accuracy but they run about $11 by themselves.

You can find 10DOF IMU's with the MPU6050-MS561101BA-HMC5883L combo for about $18.

The other catch to doing it yourself is that these are all 3.3v sensors while the arduino mega will be running at 5v so you'll need a 5v to 3.3v level converter they're cheap (https://www.sparkfun.com/products/12009) but shipping will cost about $4 for the $2.50 part.

The GPS you can find on ebay for $12-$15...though getting it configured is a bit of a PITA and will require a serial->USB adapter like the ubiquitous FTDI adapters which run anywhere from $2 to $12 - make sure to get one that's 5v and 3.3v if you go this road...at some point you'll probably hit something that needs the 3.3v option and be glad you have it.

Read my "Ultra budget Quad" thread for more details...it's a bit of a long read but I document my entire journey through building my own flight controller. (Just ignore the past few weeks of heartache and headaches I've been dealing with if you want to stay inspired!)

Really though...you're not going to save a lot of money rolling your own. You can save a lot buying the GPS and configuring it yourself...but like I said configuring it is a serious pain and was one of the hardest parts of my project. The boards from RTFQ are so cheap it's hard to beat them by rolling your own. On the other hand rolling your own makes it easy to experiment with different sensors and such if you're into that.

I didn't know about RTFQ, thanks for that! If I understand you correctly, and I'm reading correctly, this will do pos hold and RTH? Also, I have a background in electronics so I can do my own soldering and most of that looks like through hole so it should be pretty simple, yet time consuming, to solder up. So if that saves money I can do that. I really didn't expect pos hold and RTH for such a cheap price. And now I'm going to sound dumb for a second. So this is a flight controller. It does the pos hold and RTH but it also keeps the thing in the air right? Or is that a separate controller for gyros and all that?
There are two big gotchas to RTFQ - 1) He's slow to ship right now. It can take a week or two for things to get out the door and then another week for them to arrive. 2) He's so swamped he's also not doing well at keeping up with email and customer support right now. He means well (and has even posted on here a few times) and is trying...but he's having some serious growing pains with his business right now.

Soldering your own connectors isn't hard if you already have soldering experience and will save a few bucks. And gives you the option of not using headers to save weight if you're not going to be moving things around a lot.

Do some reading up on multiwii and look over my build thread if you think you want to go the DIY route. If you have the electronics skills it's not that hard - just takes a good bit of research.

I'm good with building things so I'm pretty sure I could pull off a frame if just given an idea and what building materials and lengths I should use. I can research that but I'm also open to any suggestions.
The FT Anycopter and Knuckle are great platforms that are easy to build, use 1/8" ply and 1/2" square dowels and are super easy to build and repair. Check out the FT videos for more details and plans.

Whats involved with learning the MultiWii and how is it programmed? If they both have a steep learning curve but it's just that the MultiWii has limited GPS functionality, I'll go with the MultiWii. All I need it to do is pos lock and RTH.

Again, thank you for the quick and detailed response!
The big problem with MultiWii is that it's not a product like other flight controllers. An APM is an APM is an APM. A KK is a KK is a KK. A Naza is a Naza...and Naze is a Naze...... But MultiWii is more like a box of tools that can be used to build a flight controller. So it's confusing since there are so many variants of it out there. Some require an FTDI serial adapter to program, some have built in USB. All of them can use a Bluetooth module for tuning - but on the 328 based ones you're very limited by the single UART so you can only have one serial device connected at a time so debugging a GPS is next to impossible. If you want to do GPS make sure to go with a mega board with the 2560 chip and not one of the 328 or 32u based boards. The MultiWii site (www.multiwii.com) is a mixed bag with some old outdated info. But the forums are fairly helpful and the Wiki is fairly up to date...but a lot of things come down to just grabbing the source code and reading the code and comments to figure things out when you get lost if you're rolling your own.

The KK2 is easy to setup and program because it has the LCD and buttons, nothing else needed. The MultiWii is a bit harder to configure - even if you go with a pre-made board - since you'll have to either connect to a computer or use bluetooth to a mobile device to tune things. The other tricky thing to MW is that there are so many options it's easy to get in over your head.

Hope that helps!
 

cranialrectosis

Faster than a speeding faceplant!
Mentor
#5
I concur with jhitesma, slow down a bit and start simpler.

My advice after this comment will differ from Jhitesma because Jhitesma is a frickin genius and routinely does things that I cannot. This makes my advice more expensive but also MUCH simpler for a newbie to understand.

Personally, I would suggest you start off with a little Syma X1 or a Nano QX to learn how to fly.

These will help you learn orientation and the muscle memory to control a flying model in mode 2. These are so small and light that crashing them tends to be painless and if you do manage to break them, they are cheap to replace. When you graduate to something larger, gift the thing.

Don't learn to fly on a $500 copter with $300 in camera equipment. It is a painfull/expensive lesson.

After you progress past the point where one of these toys is useful, you enter a world where cheap and simple are a balancing act. Simple costs more money and cheap costs more time and is more challenging.

Jhitesma is the cheapest guy I have seen here. I mean this in the very best possible way and I have nothing but admiration for this man. He is an artist of cheap who will spend hours upon hours of his time to save a buck. He has the skills (mad skills far beyond what I can do) to build his own flight controller. I'm surprised he hasn't visited Mars by building his own space explorer out of refrigerator parts. :)

I wouldn't recommend most newbies start out with MultiWii. If you already know Arduino, go for it, but if not I recommend sticking with a KK2 for a first board. Buy them from ebay or Altitude Hobbies or wait for HK and the cheaper price.

The Flitetest kits are a great place to learn how to build using cheap, easy to work materials (wood) and allow for small mistakes. You can purchase these from Flitetest or you can print out the plans and build your own frame to save money.

The FT models are well supported by other vendors. You can piece together your own electronics or you may purchase a package from a supporting vendor. I like these from Altitude Hobbies.

These methods are NOT the cheapest. These will flatten out the learning curve and get you in the air sooner while teaching you the basics.

Following jhitesma's lead will take you up a very steep cliff with the best guide imaginable and save you 25% - 50% of your money but will likely take you longer to get in the air. Buying the kits will cost more but take you up a gentler slope and likely get you flying sooner.
 
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e_lm_70

Senior Member
#6
A note from the jhitesma suggestion.

A DIY Naze32 is way cheaper ... 7$ for stm32 board + 7$ 10DOF (also note a BMP180 is cheaper then BMP085)

Ms. Wife just made a decent video of my DIY Naze32 'official' maiden

I need same basic editing , and I will post.

Only note, is that flying 1m up in the wind, with baro, I had a couple of unwanted landing ... that is a bit unexpected ... I may need ro cover better the sensor even if it is in a sandwich protected mount already ... also .. cheapeast DiY contron board is just 6$ : ProMini+6050

Still as said above ... as start up ... go for a KK2.1

By the time you get familiar with ... maybe KK2 + MW + GPS it will be 'popular' LoL

Ups ... now that wind is better I should go for another world first video maiden ... LoL ... KK2.0 with GPS
 

e_lm_70

Senior Member
#7
PS: Learn to fly on a Air Hogs X4 ... it is crash proof ... and ultra funny ... no other toy copter can compete with it

About the copter ... I suggest the tricopter over a quad ... take the bits from FliteTest shop ... any tricopter blessed by David will work perfectly
 

BankNYank!

New member
Mentor
#8
I think at this point in the game I'm going to take a step back from the flight controller and focus on all the other stuff. After I get all the other parts and pieces sorted out I can see where I'm at with my budget and then revisit the flight controller.

or go with something like the HobbyKing F20's which are easily flashed with a usbasp (which runs about $5 or so on ebay.)
Are these the ESC's your talking about from HK already flashed to Simon K?

The FT Anycopter and Knuckle are great platforms that are easy to build, use 1/8" ply and 1/2" square dowels and are super easy to build and repair. Check out the FT videos for more details and plans.
I'm liking the look of the knuckle. Is it going to matter very much if I don't buy the FT motor mounts and just mount the motors on the end of the booms or should I cut the booms a little bit longer? I noticed on your knuckle thread you mounted them to the booms and used Davids method of drilling a divot under them so the rear of the shaft doesn't rub but I didn't read enough to see if you lengthened your booms any. That brings me back to a question I've been meaning to ask. What kind of wood? Balsa?

Cranialrectosis, thanks for the input man! I've got a couple questions/comments for you as well.

Personally, I would suggest you start off with a little Syma X1 or a Nano QX to learn how to fly.
My very first RC aircraft was an WLToys V929. Not exactly the Syma or Nano but pretty close. This quad was actually what gave me the push into the hobby world of flying RC. I've been flying the thing about 5 months and it has taken a beating. It's survived some amazing crashes and even survived having things thrown at it the couple times I got it stuck in a tree. The only time I actually broke anything on it was recently when I was wrestling around on the floor with my St. Bernard right after I had landed the quad in the house and we rolled over it and broke one of the booms. I've ordered some 3mm square dowel from HK to repair it and it should be here Monday.

The Flitetest kits are a great place to learn how to build using cheap, easy to work materials (wood) and allow for small mistakes. You can purchase these from Flitetest or you can print out the plans and build your own frame to save money.
I have taken your suggestion and printed out the plans for the FT Knuckle H-Quad. Thanks for that.

The FT models are well supported by other vendors. You can piece together your own electronics or you may purchase a package from a supporting vendor. I like these from Altitude Hobbies.
Thanks for the link to the electronics at Altitude Hobbies. I have bought stuff from them before. I didn't know the Suppo 2208/14's were used for multirotors also. I already have two of them that I started using on my scratch built FT-Versa wings but have since upgraded to bigger motors. So if I go with those motors I already have half the motors I need!

Thanks to both of you for your valued responses. I have to cut this post short. I'm sure I've forgotten to ask a couple questions that I had rattling around in the back of my head, but I've gotta go to work.

Thanks again and I look forward to hearing future advise, suggestions and guidance!
 
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BankNYank!

New member
Mentor
#9
A note from the jhitesma suggestion.

A DIY Naze32 is way cheaper ... 7$ for stm32 board + 7$ 10DOF (also note a BMP180 is cheaper then BMP085)

Ms. Wife just made a decent video of my DIY Naze32 'official' maiden

I need same basic editing , and I will post.

Only note, is that flying 1m up in the wind, with baro, I had a couple of unwanted landing ... that is a bit unexpected ... I may need ro cover better the sensor even if it is in a sandwich protected mount already ... also .. cheapeast DiY contron board is just 6$ : ProMini+6050

Still as said above ... as start up ... go for a KK2.1

By the time you get familiar with ... maybe KK2 + MW + GPS it will be 'popular' LoL

Ups ... now that wind is better I should go for another world first video maiden ... LoL ... KK2.0 with GPS
Just noticed your reply when I posted mine. Thanks for the suggestions. Headed out the door to go to work. I'll respond tonight when I get home. Thanks again!
 

Foam Addict

Squirrel member
#10
I built my DW tri 2.5.x for around $140 with spare parts and an expensive battery.

It used rapid ESCs from RTFQuads, ax 2213 800kv motors, (now a 328p FCB from hobbyking) and GWS 10x6HD props. The frame is built from Lexan, 1/2" square pine, and 3mm bolts. It is cheap, easy, and fun as I'll get out!
 

mmeyer

Senior Member
#11
I have a 328p myself, not overly impressed. Haven't heard overly good things about them or the 328p chip generally. I just bought a naze 32 acro to replace it. My dislike of this board could also be somewhat due to my inexperience and i might come back to it one day and optimise it but at the moment its too much for me.
IMO KK2 is the way to go, my best experiences have been with one and it was ridiculously easy to setup. As a beginner in the multicopter world i definately appreciate the KK2. Obviously it doesn't have the gps functionality so I am assuming this is a dealbreaker. I know the naze can deal with GPS i just dont know if its directly supported yet, but im not entirely sure.
 

jhitesma

Some guy in the desert
Mentor
#12
I think at this point in the game I'm going to take a step back from the flight controller and focus on all the other stuff. After I get all the other parts and pieces sorted out I can see where I'm at with my budget and then revisit the flight controller.
That's a good plan. And don't forget you're never married to a flight controller, it can always be replaced with something else keeping the same hardware. So you can start out with a KK for simplicity - and when you've saved up some more money and done some more research and gained experience with your airframe you can step up to a MW or APM or Naze or whatever.

Are these the ESC's your talking about from HK already flashed to Simon K?
Yes, the Afro's are pre-flashed with SimonK and are great ESC's (I haven't used them myself but I've yet to hear anything really negative about them.) They're not the cheapest but some of the price does go back to the author of SimonK which is a step up for morality from some of the other pre-flashed ESC's you can find. RTFQ has pre-flashed ESC's a bit cheaper ($7 each http://witespyquad.gostorego.com/sp...rmal-esc-with-rapidesc-fw-for-multirotor.html) but he doesn't seem to pay royalties to SimonK which while legal isn't really something I personally approve of.

I'm liking the look of the knuckle. Is it going to matter very much if I don't buy the FT motor mounts and just mount the motors on the end of the booms or should I cut the booms a little bit longer? I noticed on your knuckle thread you mounted them to the booms and used Davids method of drilling a divot under them so the rear of the shaft doesn't rub but I didn't read enough to see if you lengthened your booms any. That brings me back to a question I've been meaning to ask. What kind of wood? Balsa?
I've had no problems without using the mounts. I did extend my front/rear booms from 10" to 12" to account for the length the mounts add. The wood is just 1/2" pine dowels from the hardware store. 3' lengths cost about $1.70 around here. The knuckle plates are made from 1/8" ply.

My very first RC aircraft was an WLToys V929. Not exactly the Syma or Nano but pretty close. This quad was actually what gave me the push into the hobby world of flying RC. I've been flying the thing about 5 months and it has taken a beating. It's survived some amazing crashes and even survived having things thrown at it the couple times I got it stuck in a tree. The only time I actually broke anything on it was recently when I was wrestling around on the floor with my St. Bernard right after I had landed the quad in the house and we rolled over it and broke one of the booms. I've ordered some 3mm square dowel from HK to repair it and it should be here Monday.
I started with a Syma X1 which is really similar to the V929. It was nice to start with...but honestly it didn't help me too much with the shift to a "real" quad as there's no "acro" mode and when building from scratch you need to get things tuned in acro before the self level modes can be trusted. The nice thing about the blade is it's got a true acro mode and flys like a "real" quad. The small mini's are a great introduction and help with learning orientation - but they're still not quite the same :)


Thanks for the link to the electronics at Altitude Hobbies. I have bought stuff from them before. I didn't know the Suppo 2208/14's were used for multirotors also. I already have two of them that I started using on my scratch built FT-Versa wings but have since upgraded to bigger motors. So if I go with those motors I already have half the motors I need!
Those should be good motors, and if you've got two you're half way there which saves a good chunk of change :D
 

e_lm_70

Senior Member
#13
I have a 328p myself, not overly impressed. Haven't heard overly good things about them or the 328p chip generally. I just bought a naze 32 acro to replace it. My dislike of this board could also be somewhat due to my inexperience and i might come back to it one day and optimise it but at the moment its too much for me.
IMO KK2 is the way to go, my best experiences have been with one and it was ridiculously easy to setup. As a beginner in the multicopter world i definately appreciate the KK2. Obviously it doesn't have the gps functionality so I am assuming this is a dealbreaker. I know the naze can deal with GPS i just dont know if its directly supported yet, but im not entirely sure.
Just one correction ... KK2.0 does support GPS ... :cool:

If the copter has good ESC (SimonK or BLheli) and in general designed in a decent way .. every control board will make it fly good ... I fly stock KK/KK2, modified KK2 .. DIY 328p , 328p MultiWii from HobbyKing , and DIY Naze32 ... etc ... the basic functionality ... fly acro and auto level ... is more or less the same everywhere with a decent copter.
 

BankNYank!

New member
Mentor
#14
Thank you to everyone for your responses. I find all this information very valuable and I read every post several times over. At this point I think I have enough information to start putting together a parts list. I just want to make sure I am searching/researching everything I need. So basic setup would be: Flight Controller, ESC's, Motor's and Props for electronics and 1/8" ply and 1/2" square dowels and some screws and nuts for the frame? Am I overlooking anything? I'm going to go looking for my 350 QX again tomorrow morning but I should be able to start putting a parts list together tomorrow evening. I hope you guys don't mind but I'd like to run the list by you all before I order anything!

Like I said earlier. I'm going to wait to see how my budget turns out after getting a parts list of everything else before I start looking into a Flight Controller. So be prepared, that topic will be revisited! :)

Oh yeah, one last thing. I found this kk2.0 board at RTFQ. Is this the same one from HK that everyone seems to like so much? If so, that price is better than HK!

Thanks again to everyone for taking the time to write a reply!

Update: I just found out RTFQ is in Clearwater Florida. Thats like 45 mins south of where I live. Does anyone know if they have an actual store or if I can go to their warehouse and pick up my order to speed up the shipping time? If not I'll try contacting them.
 
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jhitesma

Some guy in the desert
Mentor
#15
I hope you guys don't mind but I'd like to run the list by you all before I order anything!
I doubt anyone would mind and I'm sure several of us would chime in with our thoughts on your proposed parts list.

Oh yeah, one last thing. I found this kk2.0 board at RTFQ. Is this the same one from HK that everyone seems to like so much? If so, that price is better than HK!
He just added those to his site last week as far as I can tell so I haven't heard of anyone using one yet. But based on my general knowledge of RTFQ it's a clone board like his others. Same basic hardware as the KK board from HK but with his own layout and manufacturing. I have no idea what version of the firmware he's running or if the board is identical to the HK version or if he's tweaked the design at all - I do see he's got Rolf's name on back which is interesting since as far as I know he doesn't pay royalties (again, not that they're legally required on open software/hardware just that it's the ethically right thing to do in most peoples opinion) to the original authors.

I'm not an expert on KK boards but the layout does look somewhat different from HK's version. I don't see the "infamous" battery header for example, and it looks like the buzzer connector was moved to the other side of the board. Almost as if instead of fixing the issues Rolf (and others) have pointed out on the KK2.1 he just eliminated the source of the issues. (the battery connector has been widely criticized for being too easily confused with the buzzer connector and for not using a polarized connector so it's easy to hook it up backwards and fry the board since there's also no reverse current protection on the header.)


Update: I just found out RTFQ is in Clearwater Florida. Thats like 45 mins south of where I live. Does anyone know if they have an actual store or if I can go to their warehouse and pick up my order to speed up the shipping time? If not I'll try contacting them.
Well, it's not so much a "Them" as it is a "Him". Currently RTFQ is a one man shop and I'm all but positive he doesn't have any kind of storefront or warehouse and likely operates out of his home. But wouldn't hurt to drop him an e-mail to see if he'd allow for local pickup - just don't hold your breath for a reply as he's been swamped with orders since FT had good things to say about the boards and quads he sent them to try. (and wasn't exactly on top of things before that.)
 

xuzme720

Dedicated foam bender
Mentor
#16
Oh yeah, one last thing. I found this kk2.0 board at RTFQ. Is this the same one from HK that everyone seems to like so much? If so, that price is better than HK!
That is the original KK2 they don't carry anymore. It's the version before they added the battery header but should be just as flashable as any KK2, if it doesn't have a current firmware on it. Knowing RTFQ though, it will probably already have the latest installed...
 

jhitesma

Some guy in the desert
Mentor
#17
Just a correction to what I said above...I got mixed up between the KK2.0 and the KK2.1

The RTFQ board is a clone of the KK2.0 not the newer 2.1/2.1.5 which is why there's no bat connector.

But the 2.0 used an analog gyro (which has been end of lifed by the manufacturer) and not the digital gyro current boards are using.

Having used the gyro off an original wii motion plus on my homebrew MW at first and then upgraded to a MPU6050 I have to say the 6050 blew me away with how much of an improvement it made on my quad.

Here's where Paul announced it on RCgroups: http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2159471

He points out on there that he doesn't kick anything back to Rolf but does say he encourages end users to donate to Rolf directly (though he doesn't actually say that on his website.)
 

e_lm_70

Senior Member
#18
Just a correction to what I said above...I got mixed up between the KK2.0 and the KK2.1

The RTFQ board is a clone of the KK2.0 not the newer 2.1/2.1.5 which is why there's no bat connector.

But the 2.0 used an analog gyro (which has been end of lifed by the manufacturer) and not the digital gyro current boards are using.

Having used the gyro off an original wii motion plus on my homebrew MW at first and then upgraded to a MPU6050 I have to say the 6050 blew me away with how much of an improvement it made on my quad.

Here's where Paul announced it on RCgroups: http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2159471

He points out on there that he doesn't kick anything back to Rolf but does say he encourages end users to donate to Rolf directly (though he doesn't actually say that on his website.)
KK2.0 is still an excellent board.

But ...

I personally don't like who is copying without paying royalties to the guy that did the job.
Yes, KK2.0 it may be consider open source now, but give 1$ royalties to Rolf, the creator of KK2.0 both HW and FW should have been a sign of a good ethical business.

The main disadvantage of KK2.0 vs KK2.1 is the 324 vs 644 Chip inside, KK2.1 has double amount of memory compared to KK2.0 ... this means KK2.1 has in theory more potential.

So ... to me the RTFQ it sound a questionable ethical business, and a dummy decision to don't go for the 644.

PS: Still KK2.0 from RTFQ is cheaper then KK2.1 from HobbyKing ... and somehow KK2.0 is a piece of history in the multicopter hobby ... something that everybody should have in their shelf ... still it is HobbyKing and Rolf that did invest on the KK2.x
 

BankNYank!

New member
Mentor
#19
Okay guys, thanks for all the information on the kk2.0 vs kk2.1. Still waiting to see how much money I will have left over before deciding where to go for a flight controller.

I've been doing some reading and researching and here's my parts list (minus flight controller) so far:

4X - Afro Slim 20Amp Multi-rotor Motor Speed Controller (SimonK Firmware) $13.58

2X - Suppo 2208/14 1450kv Brushless Motor (Park 370 equiv.) $14.99

4X - 8045 Props (Not sure where to get these yet. HK selection is slim)

2X - Turnigy Pure-Silicone Wire 18AWG (1mtr) Red $1.15

2X - Turnigy Pure-Silicone Wire 18AWG (1mtr) Black $0.96

2X - 1/2"Dia. x 36"L Poplar Square Dowel $1.77

1X 1/8" Plywood (Already have)

2X M3 x 20mm Stainless Pack $4.99
 
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e_lm_70

Senior Member
#20
Motor and ESC sound very expensive, for be on budget:

ESC SimonK for less then 7$ each -> http://www.banggood.com/SimonK-10A20A30A-ESC-With-BEC-For-RC-Aircraft-p-924336.html

Motor for less then 7$ -> http://hobbyking.com/hobbyking/stor...utrunner_motor_1200kv.html?strSearch=dst-1200

I did even use the 5$ Donkey motor on my quad .. still DST-1200 just need a nut as prop adapter ...

DST-1200 with 8x4.5x3blades or 9x4.5x3blades ... is my power horse on my x900 tricopter. DST1200 works fine both on 3S and 4S (4S is insane power ... and I dont suggested to do too much full power with the 9 inch props) ... still DST1200 is a strong motor .. like the Donkey ... no failure to date.