Author Topic: Quadcopter 101... where to start?  (Read 7888 times)

crtraveler

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Quadcopter 101... where to start?
« on: September 01, 2013, 12:24:52 PM »
So, I've seen lots about them, think they are awesome and would love to think about getting one, specifically for use with GoPro and capturing all sorts of footage..  So, where do I start looking at what type to get, how much to spend, etc, etc, .  Can anyone offer suggestions on the best type to start with and what is needed to get up and running... Obviously, price is a major consideration as this will be a tough one to sell to the wife... :P  Thanks
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Dealmaker

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Re: Quadcopter 101... where to start?
« Reply #1 on: September 02, 2013, 02:20:19 PM »
I'm happy to share my very limited multi-rotor newbie experience...
I  bought and built a DJI F450 with my son a month ago. We had zero RC experience other than his little micro RC Heli toy that we'd fly in the house.

The F450 is probably one of the cheapest quadcopter entry points that can carry a camera, due in part to having to build it out (a simple process that takes a few hours and requires about 5-10 minutes of minimal soldering skills).  Figuring out the micro-controller ("MC") and the transmitter ("Tx") and receiver ("Rx") was a different story. Fortunately there is a guy here in Venice that sells and offers an informal  build/support class on most Sunday's. For me and my son, having zero real RC experience, it was a lifesaver and we otherwise probably would not have ever gotten off the ground. We would probably never have figured out the Tx and Rx, especially since it came from China with no manual. That said, there's a ton of RC/quad forums than you can get some advice from.

The F450 is a quad (4-rotor), and it shares most of the same components as the F550 (a hex/6-rotor), which is a plus if you eventually want to go bigger. DJI also sells a complete turn-key copter solution called the Phantom.   The prospect of a turn-key system was at first appealing, but now knowing what I've learned so far, the Phantom would have probably turned out to be more expensive due to the trial & error (i.e. crashing) that a newcomer to multi-rotors will have.

I would highly recommend you find a place/club/etc. in your area that can provide you with support and ideally service, too. The last thing you want to experience is a flyaway of an expensive multi-rotor equipped w/camera gear.  Multi-rotors seem like cool toys, but in my experience they can get expensive real fast, they are complex and technical and you have to want to be someone that likes to tinker with things.  Also, these things can be dangerous to surrounding people, pets, cars, etc., and the Li-Po batteries can be a fire hazard if crashed in an area with lots of dry brush.

I think I've got $600 invested so far. This includes the F450 with motors and ESC's, a Naza-Lite MC with the GPS/compass, Turnigy TX/Rx, Li-Pro battery and charger. From there I can upgrade to the F550 by getting new top/bottom plates and two more arms/motors/ESC'c. If you want to add a GoPro, you'll want a decent camera mount that will dampen vibrations, maybe a gimble system  for the camera, maybe additional receivers, telemetry stuff, etc. There's even FPV stuff so you can stream live video from the copter to a pair of goggles or laptop, offering a "pilot's view" perspective. It can get expensive pretty fast. Unless you're really into RC or committed to adding the camera, etc., I'd seriously consider starting off with a more toy-like micro RC path first to make sure it's your cup of tea. Had I know all this beforehand, I probably would not have jumped into it.

Hopefully someone with more experience than a newbie can post up their experiences  :)
« Last Edit: September 02, 2013, 02:25:25 PM by Dealmaker »

Celeste

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Re: Quadcopter 101... where to start?
« Reply #2 on: September 02, 2013, 03:16:58 PM »
Good advice, single rotors are my current thing, well other then boards.  You have to be honest with yourself about what you want from it and where you want to go with it.  If you are not sure, get a Blade nano QX for $70 and see if you enjoy flying it.  Everything you learn from it will be transportable to a larger craft.  That might get you the knowledge to answer your own questions way better then strangers on the internet ever could.  The nano is small enough that it does not pose much danger, all of the larger craft do, especially if there is no guard around the props.

I was just in the local hobby shop buying parts for my 450 and they had a very small multicopter that came with an onboard camera, looked small enough that a crash would not be to expensive, I don't recall what it was called, but there are small affordable turnkey solutions out there now.  more complex  camera options are going to require a whole lot of knowledge or the money to pay for the knowledge

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PonoBill

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Re: Quadcopter 101... where to start?
« Reply #3 on: September 02, 2013, 04:44:50 PM »
It's a potentially very expensive habit, for sure, but for me understanding the electronics and control systems is a big part of the fun, so I never considered some pre-built, except for getting a blade MQX to learn to fly with. The Nano version is too small to really learn with--any little breeze shoves it all over the place. You're better off with something that you can rip around outdoors. You can do a lot with an MQX, including carrying a camera and a FPV system, though not a goPro or a high res system--just superminiature stuff.

My first real quad is the Scarab Multiwii http://www.multiwiicopter.com/products/scarab-reconn-v3  You can build a pretty high perfornance, GPS-based system that can lift a GoPro or a Sony NEX-5 camera for under $1000, though you'll probably blast right past that when you start adding toys. You'll also want a good transmitter like a Spectrum 7 channel. which is more or less the minimum though you can get started with something simpler.

The new waterproof frame looks cool to me, and will probably be next. I think by the time I get that built out with all the electronics I'd want it will be in the realm of $2000. http://www.quadh2o.com/  The ready-to-fly version with NAZA GPS system is $3200
Foote 10'4X34", SIC 17.5 V1 hollow and an EPS one in Hood River. Foote 9'0" x 31", L41 8'8", 18' Speedboard, etc. etc.

 


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