Friday, August 23, 2013

Adventures of Flying

It's been a few months since the last update.  After my last post, I ended up moving to Texas for a new job.  5 months after that I started my Masters in Software Engineering.  Unfortunately I didn't realize just how much time it would take out of my day.  During the summer my course load was a little light, so I decided to pick back up a hobby I had started a few years ago.  It is still in line with what I was doing with the robotics, only this one takes place in the air.

A while back I had an idea to build a drone quadcopter.  I knew that jumping into quadcopters and jumping into drones would be a lot of work, so I thought I would start with the simple robotics part.  For this new take, I've jumped into the quadcopter part.

Here is my current quad.  It sits on an HJ plastic frame.  It takes quite a beating and keeps on ticking.  The only time I've broken the frame is when the quad fell from about 60 feet in the air due to a spinner flying off.

I am currently running 4 9x4.7 props.  4 NTM Prop Drive Series 28-26A 1200kv / 250w Motors drive the machine.  They are attached to 4 Hobby King 30A ESC 3A UBEC which will soon be flashed to the SimonK firmware.  All this is powered by a Turnigy 2200mAh 3S 25C Lipo Pack.

This bird flies really well.  I've attached a GoPro to the front and it throws the balance off a little (I end up having to shift the battery around to try and make it easier to handle).  I had started building my own Flight Controller using an Arduino Mega 2560 when I found the OpenPilot project.  They already had a stable flight controller that is Open Source and comes with Ground Control Software.  After getting my hands on one and getting it set up, I realized that re-inventing the wheel just wasn't worth it in this case.  I've been studying their code for both the hardware and GCS and plan on working with that instead of rolling my own.

So far, most of my flights have consisted of me just learning how to control the quad.  I have a smaller one that is meant for indoors that I learned on.  Fortunately crashing that one is a lot easier to deal with since it was only $40.  My plan with this one is to get it stable enough that I can plant some FPV gear on it and fly around.  Once I'm used to that, I will start working on the automation part.  I have found that I am also pretty late to the game on that, as OpenPilot also has a Revo project which apparently does all this.  Nonetheless, it will be fun to implement that and see what I can do with it.  I have an idea for my Masters Thesis and Project that involves this quad and another plane in the sky, but I'll leave that for another post.  For now, I'll show off some pictures my brother took while he was in town.

Me Flying
My Brother Starting to Fly

Until next time ~