Monday, May 7, 2012

Build-a-Quad Kit

I received a couple of emails asking about building a quad, and how much it would cost in parts to do it yourself rather than buying a ready-to-fly model.

Here's a HobbyKing based shopping list.  I think it's pretty feasible, a lot easier than building a plane since there's no moving parts.  You will need some basic soldering to put connectors on the speed controller.

Executive summary:  quad parts, about $230 including shipping.  radio and charger, about $100.

Frame and Power Distribution.  There's a lot of latitude in the frame.  You can make one out of old boards and plywood for almost free.  This is a popular frame and good for a first unit.  The power distribution board lets you easily hook up the speed controllers to the battery. 

      $20   Hobbyking X550 Glass Fiber Quadcopter Frame 550mm
      $ 4    Hobby King Quadcopter Power Distribution Board

Power System.  This includes the motor and motor controller.  You will need four of each.  The NTM motors need an accessory kit for mounting (thanks to Andreas for catching this!)
      $40   (four) HobbyKing 20A BlueSeries Brushless Speed Controller
      $64   (four) NTM Prop Drive 28-26 1350KV / 310W
      $ 8   (four) NTM Prop Drive 35 Series Accessory Pack
Control Board.  There are lots of options for control boards.  This is one of the simplest and cheapest.  It's good, but doesn't have stabilized mode.  It's what I started with, except when I bought mine it was $150!  See below for other options.  You'll need the programming cable if you ever want to update the programming.
      $20   HobbyKing Multi-Rotor Control Board V3.0 (Atmega328 PA)
      $ 5   USBasp AVR Programming Device for ATMEL proccessors

Batteries.  If you're in the US, it will probably be cheaper (counting shipping) to order separately from the US warehouse. You will probably want two to begin with.
      $19   Turnigy nano-tech 2200mah 3S 35~70C Lipo Pack

            Turnigy nano-tech 2200mah 3S 35~70C Lipo Pack (USA Warehouse)

Props.  You need two each "normal" props and two each "reverse" props.  It doesn't hurt to get an extra bag of each, as they are the thing which you will break most frequently as you learn to fly.

Connectors.  If you get the motors and power distribution board above, you will need two packages of this connector for your speed controllers.

Shipping.  I'm estimating about $30-$40 or so for all of this.

Other items you will need.  Once you have a battery charger and radio you are good to go on the ground side.

Battery Charger.  These come in all sizes and price ranges.  These are three units that I have personal experience with.
      $12    Turnigy 2S 3S Balance Charger. Direct 110/240v Input

             At the low end... plugs into wall, works well but wil
             take about 4 hours to recharge the batteries above.

             Needs to be plugged into your car or an external
             12V power converter.  Will charge in about 1.5 hours.

             Needs to be plugged into your car or an external
             12V power converter.  Will charge in about 30 minutes

Transmitter/Receiver.  Tons to choose from.  The 9x is a nice low-price unit.  It comes with a receiver; extras are about $10 each.  You want a "mode 2" which means the throttle is on the left stick.  These are frequently on backorder.  The Internet believes there's a new model coming.

      $55    Turnigy 9X 9Ch Transmitter w/ Module & 8ch Receiver

Camera Mount.  This one is designed for the X550 above.
      $13    Hobbyking X550 Glass Fiber Tilt Camera Mount

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