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Critique my quadcopter build!
Bromby
138 posts
So, I'm new to quadcopters and R\C completely and don't have the greatest idea of what's required when putting one together. For those of you that know what's what, I'd appreciate some input. So here is what I'm thinking parts wise:

Transmitter

Transmitter Module

Flight Contoller

ESS

Frame

Motor option 1

Motor option 2

Motor option 3

Propellor type 1

Propellor type 2

Battery option 1

Battery option 2

Charger

Power supply

Low Voltage alarm

So with that, I've listed 3 motors. Not sure the difference in them, but I'd appreciate some opinions of them.

Also the batteries, would a 3000mhA be too big? I'm more going for flight duration than performance at this stage. I plan on getting a 3 batteries to rotate through as they lose charge.

So if there is anything I've missed (I haven't listed any wiring harnesses for anything yet, not sure which ones would be useful) could you help me out. Oh, I haven't put a program card in either but hopefully you guys can help me with that too.

Cheers
11:08pm 30/01/13 Permalink
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11:08pm 30/01/13 Permalink
Pinky
Melbourne, Victoria
13892 posts
Nice Bromby! I've been meaning to build one for a while. This is the build I've bookmarked to follow: http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1335765

By the time I get around to it the build will probs be old news.

WIth your motors you've listed two 200W ones and a 95W one. Do you know how much power you need to keep the thing afloat?

With batteries, if your quadcopter draws 3000mA then a 3000mAh battery will keep it in the air for an hour. So you can do rough calcs based on that as to what kind of battery time you get.

With regards to max battery size, you need to make sure your motors will hold the thing in the air.

If you're new to it and don't have much in the way of engineering, I'd recommend following someone else's build exactly to minimise upsets.
11:40pm 30/01/13 Permalink
Whoop
Brisbane, Queensland
21246 posts
anyone who's flown both, how does flying a quad copter compare to flying a normal rc helicopter?
12:29am 31/01/13 Permalink
demon
Brisbane, Queensland
7071 posts
it all looks like decent choices bromby :)
i don't have any experience with the multiwii fc or read much about it.
the turnigy plush escs are good. i use them on my kk2 powered quadcopter n it's got tons of power. you don't need a programming card.. my plushs worked without any reprogramming.
the frame is a good clone of the dji f450 frame. it's a good frame & the power distribution built into the base pcb is a bonus. the arms use the standard drill pattern so you can use genuine dji arms which are stronger as replacements. they are only $4 each at dronevision.
of the motors i rekn only the ntm is suitable. the aerodrive is too underpowered for a 450 size frame. the last motor is 1600kv which is getting too high & won't have the torque to push big props. if you get the ntms you will also need to but the prop adaptors as they don't come with them.

http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/store/__16719__NTM_Prop_Drive_28_Series_Accessory_Pack.html

both props wiill work but the 8" props will probably be more efficient with the 1200kv motors. get both & experiment :)

i would go with the 3000mah lipo. ti use between 3700-5000mah but i started with 3300 because my first quads were lighter without all the extra cameras n stuff. in my experience the nano-techs are not as good the name suggests :p i have only had 3 but they all puffed & died early. i use the standard turnigy lipos or zippy compacts.

i haven't heard of that charger. i use a turnigy accucel-6. power supply is good.

you won't need a power harness, the frame has it built in. you solder the escs onto the frame. you will need a cable & connector to connect your batteries to frame.
cable ties... heaps! ;)
3.5mm bullet connectors to connect the motor wires to the escs. you'll need at least 12 males & 12 females.
that is all i can think of atm. zZzzz
01:12am 31/01/13 Permalink
HurricaneJim
Brisbane, Queensland
1321 posts
I'd just stick with the 8" props because the 10" will need more torque.

Bromby, just make sure they are balanced.

http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/store/__7702__Extreme_accuracy_Prop_Rotor_balancer.html
02:47am 31/01/13 Permalink
Bromby
139 posts
WIth your motors you've listed two 200W ones and a 95W one. Do you know how much power you need to keep the thing afloat?
The frame i listed said it requied motors of 1000-1200kv. I understand that kv = rpm/Volt. The first 2 aren't as quick, but more powerful. Wasn't sure to aim for quicker motors or more powerful.

of the motors i rekn only the ntm is suitable.
Yeah those are the motors I was leaning towards. I saw they require prop adaptor kit as well in the reviews, but didn't list them. Thanks for the heads up!

both props wiill work but the 8" props will probably be more efficient with the 1200kv motors. get both & experiment :)
I was going to get both like you said! For the money, why not?

nano-techs are not as good
Really? That sucks then. There isn't much of a difference in price, from what I've read about them they charge faster is all. How long do the batteries typically last? (depending on how much you're thrashing them and the build of course) How long do they take to recharge? I was thinking of getting 3 batteries because waiting around for them to recharge s**** me and would inevitably make me walk away from it cause I'm an impatient bastard :P
10:02am 31/01/13 Permalink
ara
Sydney, New South Wales
3560 posts
for ESCs, get the HK 30A ones.

Hobby King 30A ESC 3A UBEC - http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/store/__15205__Hobby_King_30A_ESC_3A_UBEC.html

$8.86 is a total bargin, then flash them with SimonK's firmware.

alternatively, head over to abusemark and get some pre flashed.

I saw you are getting a charger and a seperate PSU to run it. They have an integrated one now days.

Just Another Charger 80W 6A 2~6S Balance Charger w/PSU for $31.14 all up. It can only charge at a max of 6Amps but that is only 1Amp less than your 7Amp PSU.

Things to consider, the batteries you listed there both have a charging rate of 5C, so 5 times their capactiy in Amp hours.

2.2amp hours * 5 = 11amps
3 amp hours * 5 = 15amps

while you wouldn't charge at the full rate unless you were in a big hurry, you might still charge at half rate to be conservative of your batteries long time health., so 5.5amps and 7.5amps respectively so 6amps might be a bit low, but in that case, so would your charger+PSU solution. just something to think about.

Also, i would recommend a battery meter. This is one of the most useful things to take with you when flying. While an alarm will warn you when you get too low, this meter can tell you the percentage of your battery that is left, it can balance packs while telling you how out of balance they are and it can also be used as a watt meter connected inline with your power distribution.
10:52am 31/01/13 Permalink
ara
Sydney, New South Wales
3561 posts
as for the controller, my mate just got one of these and we spent this weekend fixing it.

the microusb socket lifted off and took the pads with it, apparently this is a common issue with this controller. we ended up having to go straight to the pins of the little chip opposite it with a super fine soldering iron and some 30awg wire. this was before he had even got it in the air.

i would go with the KK2 if you want a cheap well developed controller with a very active community.

alternatively, you could spend a bit more and get a CC3D Clone from drotek and while they won't support any faults in your board, you still will get all the support you need for setting up and tuning from the openpilot forums.

i would skip 3S batteries and go straight to 4S just make sure your ESCs support it, and if you want to start with 3S, make sure your ESCs support both because 4S is definitely where you will end up.
11:25am 31/01/13 Permalink
ara
Sydney, New South Wales
3562 posts
you are also missing some misc hardware.

3.5mm bullet connectors - escs don't come with these, so you will need to add them so your motors can plug into them. or remove the bullet connectors from the motors and solider directly.

shrink pipe - to go over the above bullet connectors or your solider connection.

male XT60 connectors - you have XT60 connector batteries but no way to interface them with the integrated power distribution of your frame. with these you can make up a lead that you can then solder to the frame's pdu.

also, get some spares arms and props, you will break them, it is just part of learning to fly.
11:44am 31/01/13 Permalink
demon
Brisbane, Queensland
7072 posts
bromby : i didn't really notice any change in charge time between my nano-techs & the regular turnigy lipos. my nano-techs only lasted about 5-10 charges before they got really puffy. then another ~10 each charges before the cell voltage would drop off very quickly... at that point they are useless as flight batteries as they can't be relied on to keep you in the air. my oldest regular turnigy 3300 is still going after about 30 charges... puffs a little when it's hot but then goes down again.

note though!... that's my experience with 3 nano-tech lipos... which isn't a great sample.. i may just have had duds.

all good advice from ara & he is on the money about the simonk flashed escs for multirotors... better, smoother performance. i've only ever bought pre-flashed though.. haven't tried to do it myself.

another thing you will want is some 3-pin servo leads to connect your control receiver to your flight controller. you'll need at least 5... hobbyking has them in bags of 10.

http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/store/__21758__10CM_Male_to_Male_Servo_Lead_JR_26AWG_10pcs_set_.html

pro tip for ordering from hobbyking :
when you have your full list of bits... go through them all & see if they can be got from the australian warehouse. divide the order up into parts that can only be got from the global store & parts from au & make 2 separate orders. you'll save a bit on shipping cost, you'll get the au stuff quicker & have something to fondle while waiting for the rest of the gear & if any bits are faulty is a heap easier & cheaper to send it back to the au warehouse.

also, get some spares arms and props, you will break them, it is just part of learning to fly.

qft !
12:33pm 31/01/13 Permalink
ara
Sydney, New South Wales
3563 posts
bromby : i didn't really notice any change in charge time between my nano-techs & the regular turnigy lipos. my nano-techs only lasted about 5-10 charges before they got really puffy. then another ~10 each charges before the cell voltage would drop off very quickly... at that point they are useless as flight batteries as they can't be relied on to keep you in the air. my oldest regular turnigy 3300 is still going after about 30 charges... puffs a little when it's hot but then goes down again.


this shouldn't happen.

what rate where you charging them? where you balance charging them or balancing them after charging?

i have some zippy 3s 4amp hour batteries and some 4s 4amp hour batteries and have charged them well over 10 charges each and never have they became puffy, when charging or discharging.

i also charge my batteries at half their maximum charging rate and always balance them afterwards.

note though, that the discharge rate is measured as a factor of the capacity of the battery also, just like charge rate.

if your discharge rate is 25C for example, and you have a 3000mah battery, you can draw a maximum of 75amps. obviously your battery isn't going to last very long drawing that much current and will be flat in about 2-3minutes.

also, if you are drawing your battery down to less than 10-15% you're damaging your battery and this can also lead to puffing and reduced battery life.
02:36pm 31/01/13 Permalink
demon
Brisbane, Queensland
7073 posts
yeh i agree, it shouldn't happen. that's why i am a bit down on the nano-techs... because it happened :p

i always balance charge @ the rating of the lipo. so 4amps if its a 4amp battery. i have regular turnigy lipos, zippy flightmaxs & zippy compacts that have never had any puffing after a lot more charges than the nano-techs received. all balanced charged the same way.

i've only had 2 lipos go low voltage where it damaged the lipo & they were useless after that... they could take a charge but the cell voltage dropped off quickly.
02:55pm 31/01/13 Permalink
ara
Sydney, New South Wales
3564 posts
yeh i agree, it shouldn't happen. that's why i am a bit down on the nano-techs... because it happened :pi always balance charge @ the rating of the lipo. so 4amps if its a 4amp battery. i have regular turnigy lipos, zippy flightmaxs & zippy compacts that have never had any puffing after a lot more charges than the nano-techs received. all balanced charged the same way.i've only had 2 lipos go low voltage where it damaged the lipo & they were useless after that... they could take a charge but the cell voltage dropped off quickly.


at the rating of the battery is 1C, so that is fine if it has a 1C or greater charging rate.

charging slow is definitely the way to go.

i can't speak for your particular battery, because the only turnigy nanotechs i have had are the 4S 4000mah packs, but i am really happy with mine.
03:05pm 31/01/13 Permalink
Mephz
Brisbane, Queensland
1293 posts
I charge my lipo's are 1C.
I only have one one slightly puffed lipo after ~30+ charges.
And the one that is puffy I suspect is because he got stuck in a tree and quite snuggly warm for a good 10-15 minutes after having already been ran for ~5 minutes .
Landing... *shakes head*
03:20pm 31/01/13 Permalink
demon
Brisbane, Queensland
7074 posts
heh i get impatient charging at 4amps :p i do have a few lipos ;] but yeh i probably should charge them slower at lower current.

yeh my input on nanotechs is probable not worth judging all nanotechs as bad. lots of people use them successfully so i probably just got some duds.

hehe mephz, everyone is allowed a few hard landings per outing ;)
03:48pm 31/01/13 Permalink
Mephz
Brisbane, Queensland
1294 posts
It looks a bit worse for wear than before but it's fixed that's all that matters!
04:18pm 31/01/13 Permalink
ara
Sydney, New South Wales
3565 posts
This is a quad i recently ordered for a mate of mine. his gf asked me to get the bits together for his Christmas present and then he built it with a bit of assistance.

google doc link

few extra bits he needed that i had

- female XT60 to change the plug on the battery
- avr programmer to update the escs and kk2
- esc sized shrink wrap to reshrink the escs after flashing.
04:44pm 31/01/13 Permalink
Tollaz0r!
Brisbane, Queensland
13303 posts
Seems there is a niche market for a 4 in 1 ESC, target price would be around $20. Something like that would sell quite easily I would imagine.
06:22pm 31/01/13 Permalink
ara
Sydney, New South Wales
3567 posts
Seems there is a niche market for a 4 in 1 ESC, target price would be around $20. Something like that would sell quite easily I would imagine.


modular is key.

make the same thing, make them cheap and then if 1 dies, you just replace it, you don't have 3/4 working and a standalone.

also, ideally you want the esc as close to the motor as possible, so esc on the arm is better, it also gets some prop wash then to cool down the heatpad covering the mosfets
06:54pm 31/01/13 Permalink
Bromby
140 posts
Hey lads, great discussion! Of the flight controllers, I really want one with GPS control with programmable features like return to launch, lock position etc. The KK2 board looks pretty pro for beginners like myself, so I might run it first up and upgrade later.

as for the controller, my mate just got one of these and we spent this weekend fixing it.
I've read here about their shortcomings with the micro usb port being flimsy and how to fix it, but doesn't seem *overly* difficult to amend.

Battery wise, I might just stick to 3S for the mean time, and migrate later as I develop my knowledge and experience.

pro tip for ordering from hobbyking
Yeah, I've already clued onto that tactic. I'm not scared of spending the lewts, but I hate wasting it!

Ara, thank for your contribution, you've dumbed it down enough for me to understand. I appreciate that! Also, nice list for you're mate, it'll make for a good reference for future builds!
07:18pm 31/01/13 Permalink
Mephz
Brisbane, Queensland
1295 posts
Battery wise, I might just stick to 3S for the mean time, and migrate later as I develop my knowledge and experience.

Given you are just jumping all-in with everything else.
Just go the 4S.

I do hope you don't destroy all this gear on the first few flights dude :/
08:39pm 31/01/13 Permalink
parabol
Brisbane, Queensland
7443 posts
A few questions:

1. why are the hand-held remotes so bloody massive? Modern electronics (with combined digital + RF) can be made very tiny. Are they going for the classic chunky R/C look?
2. how much of a problem is the weight of the copter? Are most motors/blades generally good enough to overcome anything but grossly overweight builds?
3. how loud are the quadcopters? hard to judge from the youtube videos. will it piss off neighbours?
4. what do people do with them apart from taking videos or doing flight automation (for the more nerdy types)?
10:51pm 31/01/13 Permalink
Bromby
144 posts
Hahaha Mephz I've been thinking that myself. It's a fair bit of coin to put up but honestly, I earn good money (phat mining lewts) and I don't really have any constructive projects to work on in my spare time, so if it all goes to s***, which isn't beyond reasonable doubt, then so be it. Lesson learnt. But if all goes reasonable well, ( lets face it, crashes are inevitable) and I get some experience and enjoyment out of it, it is money well spent. I've invested in good components and done the job right the first time. I'll just have to be better on the rebuild :D

4S it is then chaps.
11:01pm 31/01/13 Permalink
Mephz
Brisbane, Queensland
1296 posts
It's more a case of I wouldn't want to see you destroy all the gear quickly and then give up. More people flying the better
06:59am 01/02/13 Permalink
demon
Brisbane, Queensland
7075 posts
parabol i don't really know why the form factor of the transmitters is what it is but there are 'half size' transmitters on the market & they always seem to be cheap junk. i've seen a lot of old school r/c guys that have larger than usual transmitters that hang around their necks like a huge techo tv tray :p

weight is always a consideration but i wouldn't say it's always a problem. some people might want more weight for stability in the wind & are happy to make the trade-off for less flight time. same goes for heavy lifters. check out some of the vids on youtube of the hobbyking beer lift challenge 2012.. some heavy multirotors in there doing some heavy lifting.

multirotors are usually pretty noisy. like multiple high speed fans being turned in different directions. yes, they will annoy your neighbours if your neighbours are the intolerant type.

other uses... racing! :D surveillance, cutting down dandelions in your backyard, checking for frizbees on your roof ;p i dunno!
10:34am 01/02/13 Permalink
ara
Sydney, New South Wales
3571 posts
just a heads up if you want a pretty good flight controller on the cheaps.

the guys over at taulabs, made up mainly from ex-openpilot devs, have been working on porting the openpilot OS and config software over to readily available controller boards, such as the DiscoveryF3 which can be picked up for 18$ at element14.

a mate of mine has got one of these flying and while it is early days yet, it is full of potential.

they are also working on standalone boards which are a lot more expensive but with much better noise filtering and sensors and possibilities. http://www.quantec-networks.de/quanton/

im on the sidelines with this, i really like the OP guys and forums and have a revo kickstarter on order that i think will be tops, but i guess time will tell how it all works out.
06:32pm 01/02/13 Permalink
Pinky
Melbourne, Victoria
13895 posts
Cool new vid:

04:08pm 04/02/13 Permalink
andrewus
Brisbane, Queensland
2914 posts
This is a quad i recently ordered for a mate of mine. his gf asked me to get the bits together for his Christmas present and then he built it with a bit of assistance.google doc linkfew extra bits he needed that i had- female XT60 to change the plug on the battery- avr programmer to update the escs and kk2- esc sized shrink wrap to reshrink the escs after flashing.


is there any pics of this build completed ? Keen as to have a look at doing something like this.
04:43pm 04/02/13 Permalink
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04:43pm 04/02/13 Permalink
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