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My First Quadcopter Experiences

Hey all,

At the beginning of the summer, my grandpa approached me and said that he'd like me to hunt down a quadcopter for him that he could fly and use for aerial photography. This would be my first quad and his first RC project. Here is a fraction of my experience with the quad.

I chose the Anycopter, because it was simple and had wooden booms which could easily be replaced. The frame went together quite easily. I had intended on using the KK2 board, but they were out of stock when I placed my order, so I got the Multiwii Pro w/ MTK GPS instead. The GPS seemed like a nice added feature that would help my grandpa if the quad got too far away from him.

The first flights were promising and I was able to get a feel for quads (I'm an airplane guy). The GPS return to home feature worked well and was quite fun to play around with! However, It had a hard time functioning when it was gusty, and it actually flew away from me one time! As advertised, the anycopter frame holds up remarkably well! While I have had a few crashes, only the booms have cracked.

I then built and added Chad's anycopter camera rig so that the inflight video would be nice and stable. However, I found that the cable I was using to suspend the rig was too flexible. It actually made the video more shaky. In addition, the controller board was less-than perfectly tuned, which added more oscillations. Here is a video demonstrating the shakiness of the picture:

I then used the string tuning method to tweak the PID settings and try to make it as easy to fly as possible. In addition I made a vertical mount for the GoPro. I must not that the first two versions had the camera in it's waterproof casing, because the intention was to film at the beach. This way, a crash into the water would at least be caught on film! After some flight testing and throttle problems, I determined that the new mount and waterproof casing were causing the quad to be overweight. While the video had improved, there was still some oscillations in the quad:

In an attempt to lose weight, I ditched the waterproof casing and reverted back to a more solidified version of Chad's camera rig. I used boom scraps and some foam rubber as contact points for the rig. I then strapped the rig onto the quad with Velcro via the battery straps (Pics in video). My KK2 board also came and I found this much easier to set up and fly with. While I'm still fine tuning it, I would have to say that it is the ideal board for a beginner. Here is a clip from my latest round of flight testing that shows the improvement in video and flying characteristics:

I'm still trying to get the quad as stable as possible, while my grandpa is honing his skills on a micro quad. The biggest problem I have had is determining orientation when the quad is far away. I put a styrafoam ball on the end of a piece of wire from a coat hanger. This helped immensely, but the wire would bend and cause the ball to oscillate, which would then induce vibrations into the quad. I'm thinking about using a balsa spar as a replacement, since it would be stiffer.

I'd love to hear your tips and tricks on how to maintain orientation when the quad is far away.

Feel free to ask questions about my setup/experience.
Yes, I used that method. I have yet to do it on my KK2 though. It's definitely interesting to see how tweaking the coefficients changes the performance of the quad.


Stuck in Sunny FL
Staff member
Looks like you could still dial your PID settings down some.

For help with orientation, I use a different color set of props on the front.
I use different colored props as well. However, the issue that I have is that when it's far away, I have a hard time telling if its level or tilted to the left or right, because the profile is so similar. My dad suggested that I find something to "break the symmetry."

Or, maybe I just need to fly closer!