And now for some Progress

May 6, 20111 Comment

Yello Hall!

So, I know its been forever since my last post and I am sorry. BUT, that means there is a lot to update!! You’ll see lots of pictures from what I have been working on and later I’ll have some video up too.

So! Lately it has been very difficult to find time to work on the Y6, but finally, once we finished our front lawn I found the time. It took about three nights of staying up till about 1am but I was determined to get a lot done. As of right now all that is left to do is:

  • connect motors
  • load software
  • set up radio

…and that’s it. I am waiting on a shipment from HK and once that arrives I figure it would be about a day or two until I am in the air!!!! Well, assuming I haven’t royally screwed something up. Ok, enough talking, here’s what I have been doing…

Most of the pictures are self explanatory… so I’ll just let you have at it.














oh yeah, i’ll be flying with you boys soon!


Cut and Drill

March 15, 20110 Comments

It was a successful time in the garage last night. Again, it might not seem like tons of progress, but for a guy who is very particular with his projects this work is right on schedule. I was able to cut out the upper and lower frames, square everything up, layout the frame plates/components/boom arms and finally drill my starting holes for when I begin to mount the booms to the frame. I took a lot of pictures, so enjoy!

I began with clamping the carbon fiber plate to the workbench and I cut almost every line free hand with a Dremel. I started using a blade that had teeth on it – like the kind you would use to cut wood – and that didn’t work out too well. When I started using the carbon-like disk it was much more like a hot knife through butter! It made all the difference in the world – less heat, faster cuts, and slower speeds.


And here is the bottom frame. All cut out and ready to fly!!! Well, almost.

Next was the top frame. And since this carbon fiber plate is strong only in one direction I mad sure to cross the lower plate’s linear strength with the upper plate’s linear strength.

Once I had both the upper and lower plates cut out I wanted to stack them and line them up as close as possible and then grind down each edge where it didn’t line up perfectly.



Here they are, all finished.

A glimpse of how it will look

Yes that is BBC’s Top Gear playing in the background.

Wtih some fake components

I then stacked the two plates together again and got it ready to drill the holes for mounting the booms. I measured 1cm in from each end point and drilled a hole.

Next I spend a lot of time drilling the holes on the booms. Since I do not have a drill press I had to measure 5cm from the end of each boom, mark it, then find the center of the width of each boom.

I then used a drill punch to make sure I was starting in the right spot when I drilled and so the drill bit didn’t move on me when it started to spin. I did this on each side of each boom because I didn’t want to simply drill straight through the boom to the other side. Had I not been level with my drilling then the hole on the other side of the boom would not have been centered.

And that is all I had time for last night. I ordered some screws for securing the booms to the frames. And I still can’t wait until all the electronics start showing up on my front door. I only wish I had some tracking numbers for them. It’s too much agony just waiting without knowing!

Thanks for reading. And as always your questions and comments are much appreciated.

FlyLites installed

March 14, 20113 Comments

I recently installed luminescent wire lighting on my Gaui 330X-S and I’m very pleased with the results! The colors are bright and easy to see even at higher altitudes. I threaded the FlyLites wire through semi-transparent flexible plastic tubing to help protect it and shape it into arcs. The wires came with controllers that allow you to change the lighting state from flashing to steady (I prefer steady). The kit cost less than $17 and is super lightweight. One controller can power 2 wires (even of different colors) and gets its “juice” directly from the radio receiver, provided you have an empty servo port. FlyLites are made by ElectriFly.

It’s a start…

March 14, 20112 Comments

I got to workin on my Y6 last night and I certainly took my time making sure every measurement was exactly right. I want to eliminate any extra bit of computing that the Controller has to compensate for. Below is my 12″ x 12″ x 0.1″ plate of carbon fiber. I got it from a place here in the states and it’s incredibly strong, but only in one direction. So my bottom layer will have the strength set from front to back and the top layer will have the strength set from side to side.


Gotta love cardboard. I decided to lay everything out (to scale) with cardboard. Once I had the boom arms where I thought they should be I then measured the distance between the ends of each arm and made sure they were exactly the same – this way I knew I had a perfectly equilateral triangle (my 8th grade Geometry teacher would be so proud).



Once I had everything in place and measured out I then outlined the dimensions and got it ready to cut out.



Once I finally cut it out (this morning) I taped it to the carbon fiber plate and masked off the area around it because I wanted to “trace” the outline of the cardboard onto the carbon fiber by the use of spray paint.




And there you have it. One perfectly outlined bottom layer of a tricopter. Since this picture I also traced the top layer of the Y6 to the carbon fiber.


I know it doesn’t seem like much, but I really wanted to make sure everything was perfectly straight and even. I don’t want to mess up on a plate that cost me about $35. I am hoping (if I have time) to have this cut out by either tomorrow or Monday night.

More to come!!! Thanks for reading.

I’ll give it a Tri…

March 14, 20110 Comments

I’ll see your Quad and raise you a Tri.

So… as my brother posted eariler he is building a quad-copter. And since I wanted to join in on the fun while not being a copy-cat I decided to design and build a Y6 tri-copter. It has the same similar concept to the quad-copter, but with only three arms. At the end of each arm there are two motors which totals to 6 motors. Now that the intro is out of the way, here we go.

After reworking my budget and finding out just how much I have to spend on this thing I have been able to start buying some stuff for the Y6. And before anything has arrived I’ve begun designing the center plates.


the bottom plate will be much larger than the top because the battery will mount underneath it.

Only 3 esc’s are showing because the other three will mount underneath the top plate and it will all sandwich together.


The top plate will be much smaller because all it needs to do is give a surface for the flight controller to be mounted and also to hold down the boom arms (dashed lines).

So far I have bought the ESCs – 50AMotors – 2830-14Batteries – 4000mAh 11.1v 30C, and a carbon fiber plate – 12″ x 12″ x .1″

ESCs – When it comes to cooling I am hoping that because I got “over-sized” ESCs (50A instead of 30A) they will not be working as hard, ergo not as much heat? I am also going to have holes cut out beneath each ESC where air will be able to circulate through. And I might put an elbow fitting at the end of each boom (under the prop) so it will catch the rotor wash and channel it through each boom all the way to where the ESCs are – essentially blowing air onto the ESCs (I hope that made sense).

Flight Controller – I found a really cool DIY board kit that you actually solder all the parts together yourself. You save a lot on cost. And this controller uses parts from three $15 gyros. It’s certainly a cool project to tackle. I still don’t know, however, if I will go that route.

Can’t wait until it all gets here. The carbon fiber plate should get here Today!

It should end up weighing about 1100g, or 2.4lbs, and be able to lift about 2100g, or 4.6lbs. The goal is to carry an HDSLR

Give me your comments and let me know what I have not thought of, or what might be better in terms of design.


Up, Up in the Air in my Rudimentary Looking Quadcopter

February 21, 20111 Comment

The air up there in the clouds is very pure and fine, bracing and delicious.  And why shouldn’t it be? – it is the same the angels breathe.  ~Mark Twain

Okay that may be a bit heavy, but I gotta say… it was quite a thrill to push forward on that throttle stick and have the quad lift off for the first time. Don’t confuse that with the quad being successful on its first attempt. But it was close. A couple of settings tweaks later and it was flying pretty well, even with my lack of experience at the controls. We got some late afternoon flying in and Monique, Brenna, Vork and Michael were there for moral support, successful flight ro not. Actually Vork might have been there to mock me if it didn’t work. Not sure.

So no pictures today, as the whole build was really completed yesterday. But what I do have for you today is a incredibly quickly thrown together video of some of the highlights. **Spoiler Alert** there’s a big crash at the end!

The crash was from about 35-ish feet and it snapped off two of the “landing gear” which were temporarily attached with servo tape and a couple of tie-wraps. OR you can say that they were engineered to break away in the case of a rough landing. Yeah, let’s say that. At any rate, damage was cosmetic and had we heeded the incessant beeping of the “low battery warning alarm” (whatever) that had been going off for around 30 seconds, then we probably could have avoided this. I was just getting started though! Somehow batteries seemed optional when I was lost in flight. Wrong.

The quad has been dubbed the “VorkMike Mark 1” after the three guys that donated most, in money, time, and interest. Also, much thanks to Monique for putting up with me taking on a new hobby somewhat out of the blue and putting in some nights of work in the garage. I’m leaving for Florida tomorrow morning and I’ll be back Sunday, so no flying my quad until I get back, I guess. Glad we got it off the ground today!


February 21, 20110 Comments

Today I understand how Dr. Frankenstein felt as his creation awoke for the first time — Tomorrow I get to find out if it breaks loose and destroys the town.  You see, I was able to get to a point in this whole building thing where I have control over the sucker.  Haven’t actually flown yet as the sun had gone down by the time I had the chance for a maiden flight. I didn’t want to chance taking this 35″ beast inside with my meager flight skills and untrimmed settings as that could make for some broken stuff.

So let me explain… first of all, Friday night I completed the real-life version of my wiring diagram.  I stopped short of adding AUX ports as that’s for future expansion anyway, so I pushed them off too.. well… the future.

Quad wiring in real life

Quad Wiring in Real Life

The next step was attaching this to the quad’s frame. My brother Michael came over and helped me out with the setup and we got a lot done.  It started with making sure the motors were all rotating the right way.  You see, two of them have to rotate one way, and the other two have to rotate the other way, and there are two types of propellers too, one for each direction (but you knew all that, right?).


This One Goes Counter-Clockwise

So we hooked one motor up, tested it out.  It came to life. What an awesome moment! It was the first time the thing took instructions from the radio transmitter.  We might have screamed like girls when it started spinning.  Then again, maybe we didn’t.  You weren’t there, you don’t know!  From there it was a matter of routing all of the wires and mounting the controller and receiver, programming the ESCs and making sure the controller was getting as little vibration as possible.

Mounting the Controller
The brains of the operation

Whew!  Now it was starting look like something that might actually fly. Once we had it all plugged in it was time to see if all of the motors were synced and spinning like they should.  Success!  I know we screamed like girls that time.

Now, at that point it was really tempting to take it outside in the dark and try to see if it’d fly.  But we stopped short of that and instead Michael held it above his head while I gave it some throttle and we played with the controls a bit.

Flight Test!

Flight Test! Look at Those Props spin!

Everything seems to be in working order so far.  Although I know once I try  to take to the skies I’ll have to do some trimming and tweaking to help with stabilization.  Oh, and there’s a bit more frame to make as the landing gear isn’t attached yet, and the bottom battery carrier isn’t made. But all of that is for another day.  For now, my monster is ALIVE!!!

Getting Electric

February 18, 20110 Comments

Tonight I put the motor mounts on the arms, then mounted the motors. I used more of the G10 to make little platforms to give the motors a better base. I’ve made straighter cuts before in my life, but they don’t need to be perfectly square, so they’ll do the job. I’m trying to skip great detail to get to the whole “let’s see if this thing flies” part so that if it doesn’t I won’t look back and wonder why I spend 3 hours on something that didn’t matter.

Motor Platform

Once that was done I turned my focus to the wiring. I had been sketching out the wire routing and I finally landed on a plan.

Quad Wiring Diagram

Quad Wiring Diagram

It actually makes sense to me now. Getting it on paper helps. So with that plan and all of the parts in front of me, I started soldering wire connectors and stuff. I did all of the ESCs, one battery, and the battery switch (which I got to work!).  After that I felt a sense of accomplishment, so that was enough.  More tomorrow night!

Wired Switch (it even lights up!)

Motors and ESCs are here!

February 17, 20110 Comments

The last of the parts has arrived. That means it’s time to do all the work and assemble this sucker. It’s supposed to rain all the way until Sunday, so I’m hoping to make some serious progress on this thing. I don’t have every detail planned out so I have to adjust in the fly. Tonight I cut out the motor mounts and did some soldering of wires until I got tired of ruining deans plugs, so I took a break and TV sucked me in til bedtime. Time to call it a night!



New Body with an Upper Deck

February 13, 20110 Comments

Throughout the weekend I found pockets of time to work on the quad.  The bulk of that time was spent getting the arms on the new body made of G10.  I screwed up and miscalculated the arms causing them not to be square, so I had to correct that which took some time. This project is really bringing geometry back to my head.  I tried to use the towel bars I had already drilled with the wood and that kinda screwed me a little since those holes weren’t as precise as they should have been. For the G10 body, I planned a bit beforehand with Omnigraffle.  I don’t want to brag, but Eddie Vedder is a fan of the new body design.

This weekend I bought a receiver to go with the transmitter I picked up on Friday.  It was more trouble than I thought it would be to find a receiver for the radio I got.  But hopefully the one I have will do the trick. I got the Walkera RX2806 for $48 at wowhobbies.com.

The last thing I did tonight was add a 2nd level where the controller and maybe the receiver too will be housed. Since this is the part that contains the gyros and accelerometers that keep the quad level during flight, I’ve tried to take some of the shock and vibration out of it by adding rubber grommets at the top of each support leg.  I’m assuming I’ll be creating a lower level too where the battery will live and the camera will attach.  I still have to figure out what my plan is for the legs.  I’m expecting my motors/ESCs (Electronic Speed Controllers) to arrive early this week, so that’s when things will really get interesting.

Using the Electronics shelf

Body Swap, and More Parts!

February 12, 20110 Comments

Today some new components came that I ordered, it was like Christmas… if you bought everything for yourself.  Batteries, a terminal block, a switch, servo wire extensions, and some new material called G-10 for the body.  I didn’t really want to depend on the wood for the body integrity and exactness (wood could get a little play going after time).  I also picked up my transmitter.  It’s a Walkera WK-2603 6-channel Tx which isn’t the best radio I could buy, but for the $20 I got it for (craigslist), it will be more than adequate.  More on most of these parts later, when I need to install them.

Transmitter acquired!

The plan for tonight was to cut into a little G-10 and maybe getting the arms on it instead of the wood.  G-10 is a glass-epoxy laminate that is incredibly strong.  It’s like fiberglass on steroids.  I chose 1/8″ in thickness and when I ordered it I thought it might be too thin as my plywood was much thicker, but my fears were soon disproven.  I was in for a surprise when I tried to use my hole saw with my cordless drill.  It didn’t have enough power to get through the stuff!  So I called my dad and borrowed his ancient corded drill that has a lot more power (Thanks Dad!).  That did the trick and I cut the two circles within a few minutes.  Maybe tomorrow I’ll make more progress assembling the body.

G-10 is tough stuff!

So I’m Building a Quadcopter

February 11, 20110 Comments

A what?  A quadcopter.  Don’t make me say it again.  A quadcopter.  Okay, now you’ve gone too far.  I supposed you want me to explain it to you now, huh?  Fine.

A quadcopter is a helicopter with 4 propellers on it, all spinning parallel to the ground (if it flies correctly, that is).  I’m of course, speaking of the  remote controlled variety–what did you think I was crazy?  I’m acquiring the pieces and parts to make one on my own, rather than buying a kit, which I seriously considered doing before impatience and curiosity got the better of me.  You see, I started saving for a RTF (Ready To Fly) kit, but saving wasn’t going as fast as I wanted it to, so I took what I had saved so far and went to home depot and got some frame fixins.  That night I build this:

Completed all 6 arms
Looks like I'm going for a sixer!

That was the situation a week ago.  Since then as I’m ordering parts, I’ve changed the plan to a quadcopter since the off-the-shelf FY-90Q controller (The one I’m buying so I don’t have to become a circuit board solder maniac) only works with 4-rotor aircraft, so I’ve pruned two arms.

What Had 6 Now Hath 4!

Nice CD Spindle, huh?

So that’s where I sit right now on the build.  I have a parts list going that changes a lot, but once it gets closer to stable I’ll post it here.  The total cost of this endeavor is going to be around $430.  The only thing I have that I didn’t have to buy is a LiPo battery charger that I used for my RC cars.  I’ve read a lot on RCgroups.com and found it to be a really helpful resource for this kinda thing, and even recruited two friends to dive into the RC Quadcopter world too.  Ironically, they’ll probably be up in the air before I will!

One of the goals of this little project (aside from seeing if I can get the thing to fly and having some fun while learning a few things) is to experiment with a little aerial photography.

I’ll update you all on my progress.  Wish me luck!