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  • OT - Drone hobby

    My drone hobby is a mixture of machining, 3d printing, electronics, programming, photography, just pure geekdom. Anyhow, here is a video I shot today testing out the new 3 axis camera gimbal, GoPro Hero4, video downlink, triple redundant power supply for the Pixhawk flight controller, etc. Was very windy, notice how the Hexacopter was fighting the wind, tilting heavily into it, while the camera stayed mostly still and level. There is a crap load of technology crammed into this Hexacopter, and I could cram a crap load more into it if I wanted to spend the money.
    915mhz telemetry radio(bi-directional), FrSky telemetry, 5.8ghz video downlink, 2.4ghz R/C system, UBlox GPS, Pixhawk flight controller which has a barometer, 2 sets of gyros and accelerometers, Kalmann filtering processed via 32bit processor, magnetic compass on the GPS PCB, etc. The gimbal is a Tarot T4-3D, I can control the tilt from the radio. Also neat, if my R/C radio died, it has failsafes to come back and land, or I could fly it with my cell phone or laptop using the 915mhz telemetry link.
    I pieced it together from various parts, much like a computer build, except nothing is really plug and play. Probably 5 hours worth of soldering or more, making custom wire harnesses, etc.
    Here's a link to a video I shot with it today. https://vimeo.com/359684435
    Last edited by RB211; 09-12-2019, 10:30 PM.

  • #2
    I bought a cheap (<$20) drone some time ago. I briefly got it to fly but I didn't have a good clear space, nor confidence in the controls. I got it out of the box tonight and I'm charging it up.



    http://enginuitysystems.com/pix/house/Drone_5763.AVI (sorry about TV noise)

    I think the battery is bad. After charging for 45 minutes, it reads only 2.7 volts:




    Maybe I can find a replacement battery.
    https://www.amazon.com/YDL-battery-R...gateway&sr=8-2


    Or, from China: https://www.aliexpress.com/item/4000...chweb201603_53

    This one seems to be an exact match.
    Last edited by PStechPaul; 09-13-2019, 01:18 AM. Reason: lithium cells
    http://pauleschoen.com/pix/PM08_P76_P54.png

    Paul: www.peschoen.com
    P S Technology, Inc. www.pstech-inc.com
    and Muttley www.muttleydog.com

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    • #3
      In the hobby world, that battery is called a 1s 250mah. Has a non standard connector, most ship with a red JST connector.

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      • #4
        I found a nice drone with video at our dump, NIB. Looked it up - it was $400 - $500 MSRP. It had a bad battery, but before buying one I got the owners manual & learned about its use. It used a smart phone as the user interface, so I returned it. I can barely do the basic operations on the phone, so my doing real time control of a drone was not remotely possible.

        I really envy you guy's ability to control the drone's height, speed, and bearing as well as the camera's 2 axes and zoom(?) simultaneously(!). I suppose that experience in video gaming would be a big advantage.

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        • #5
          Well, modern drones do a lot of that control by themselves. So don't be too impressed.....

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          • #6
            Nice Job RB. Cool video. Any fish in that neighbors pond?

            Every couple of months I think about buying or building one, but I realize I have WAY too many hobbies and interests as it is. I've got a cheap one like Paul's above, but it's currently broken. I've had to resolder a couple of connections on it already a few different times, and I suspect that's what's wrong with it again. Just haven't had the time or motivation to dive back into it.

            I can see my boy getting interested in building one when he gets a bit older.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Dan Dubeau View Post
              Nice Job RB. Cool video. Any fish in that neighbors pond?
              .
              RB lives in Florida, alligators and fish about equally as common LOL

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Sparky_NY View Post
                RB lives in Florida, alligators and fish about equally as common LOL
                I was thinking along the lines of attaching a line to the bottom of the drone with a lure and going fishing . All my neighbors have ponds. They've all got fish in them too. The 2 best ponds (stocked speckled trout) have the crankiest neighbors. A couple are cool though and would probably find it funny if I flew a drone over to fish their ponds lol.

                What's the payload capacity on that thing....?

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                • #9
                  Hey, Paul, the battery you have shows a lot of signs of abuse of the plastic bag casing. They are not supposed to be swollen like that or dimpled up like your battery looks. And in fact the damage to the shape I see in your picture tells me that it's not far off failing in a very bad manner and bursting into flame like a road flare. I would dispose of it safely as soon as you can. And in the meantime put it outside somewhere that if it does fail and start to burn that it won't start a fire.

                  I've seen lipo packs that had less damage than what you show just suddenly start to burn. ANY crash damage that deforms the plastic envelope and thus the layers of plates and separators inside can cause this sort of "road flare" result.

                  The connector is worth cutting off short at the battery... ONE lead at a time...

                  Since you found it in the dump I'm going to guess that you don't have a proper charger that knows how to charge lipo cells. The good news is that such chargers are pretty cheap. The bad news is that it'll cost you a lot more than you paid for the drone But it's important to use such a charger since lipo cells are not tolerant of over charging or being overly discharged. Oh sure, you can get away with it if you mind the voltage and charge rates closely if using a regular supply. But these cells are a lot more delicate if you forget and charge too far. Potential road flare event again if you don't mind the store.... But if managed correctly by the proper charger they are very reliable and very usable. Just look at how many are out there in cell phones.

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                  • #10
                    The Pixhawk flight controller I use has a built in Barometer. It's very advanced and flies it for me. All I do is tell it where to go. The racing quads are a different story.
                    For all intents and purposes, this Hexacopter flies with Autopilot on 100% of the time. Allows me to concentrate on the mission, not maintaining position and altitude.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Dan Dubeau View Post
                      I was thinking along the lines of attaching a line to the bottom of the drone with a lure and going fishing . All my neighbors have ponds. They've all got fish in them too. The 2 best ponds (stocked speckled trout) have the crankiest neighbors. A couple are cool though and would probably find it funny if I flew a drone over to fish their ponds lol.

                      What's the payload capacity on that thing....?
                      Not sure what the capacity is, just that most people flying that size frame stick to GoPro size cameras. I don't doubt that it could lift a DSLR camera, but it wouldn't have much left without killing flight time. I'm finding it hard to believe, but it only draws about 10 to 12 amps in flight carrying everything it does. With a 5000mah 4s battery, easily fly over 15 minutes with a little less than 50% left. I typically treat all my Lipo powered models the same, land at around 50% left.
                      Total investment in that quad including camera and gimbal is probably $750 or less. The gimbal alone was 165$. Camera was used, 70$. Motors get expensive because there a six of them. About 120$ for the flight controller + GPS. Just tons of small items that all add up.
                      To get something larger that can carry a large DSLR like a Canon 5D would be exponentially more expensive. Motors start to cost 200$ a piece, electronic speed controls about 40 to 200$ a piece, the gimbal alone could be $1000 or more. Batteries get more expensive. Only thing that stays the same is the R/C radio, flight controller, GPS, telemetry radios, etc.
                      Last edited by RB211; 09-13-2019, 02:38 PM.

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                      • #12
                        Nice looking chopper! and cool that it's not all pre-fab and you had to meld allot of the components together,,,

                        for some reason I cannot watch the video... it's just my luck after all its probably a computer thing... kudos

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                        • #13
                          I got two 300 mA-H lithium cells from China yesterday. The connectors were larger than the original so I cut and spliced to make it work. I was able to fly it, clumsily, in my bedroom, but we both survived. I'm having difficulty learning how to operate the control sticks. The left stick fore and aft (Y axis) is throttle (ascend/descend), and the left-right action is turn left and right. The right side stick Y axis is forward/backward, and X axis is left and right side flying. Then there are the cross shaped buttons. The one on the left is left/right "fine tuning", photo/video, and "headless return". The one on the right is fine tuning for forward/backward and left/right. There is also a button on the top left that is "speed control", and one on the top right that is for "flips". I think I need to fly this thing in a large and mostly empty room, or maybe outside, but I'll probably wind up landing it on the roof or up in a tree or in the road. It might be fun if I get the "hang" of it!
                          http://pauleschoen.com/pix/PM08_P76_P54.png

                          Paul: www.peschoen.com
                          P S Technology, Inc. www.pstech-inc.com
                          and Muttley www.muttleydog.com

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by PStechPaul View Post
                            I got two 300 mA-H lithium cells from China yesterday. The connectors were larger than the original so I cut and spliced to make it work. I was able to fly it, clumsily, in my bedroom, but we both survived. I'm having difficulty learning how to operate the control sticks. The left stick fore and aft (Y axis) is throttle (ascend/descend), and the left-right action is turn left and right. The right side stick Y axis is forward/backward, and X axis is left and right side flying. Then there are the cross shaped buttons. The one on the left is left/right "fine tuning", photo/video, and "headless return". The one on the right is fine tuning for forward/backward and left/right. There is also a button on the top left that is "speed control", and one on the top right that is for "flips". I think I need to fly this thing in a large and mostly empty room, or maybe outside, but I'll probably wind up landing it on the roof or up in a tree or in the road. It might be fun if I get the "hang" of it!
                            Headless mode removes the need for orientation. If the drone is in front of you, no matter which way it is facing, back on the stick brings it back to you. On these cheapies without GPS, one would assume that gyro drift will affect that function.

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                            • #15

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