Dec 192012
 
 December 19, 2012  Posted by  Add comments

Update 5/28/2014 – I built this quadcopter back in 2012. Since then a lot has changed. Quadcopter kits with more capabilities are now available for a similar cost. For example, the Quanum Nova FPV GPS Waypoint QuadCopter is $269 with free shipping. It has full GPS waypoint capability and has a GoPro mount. I haven’t tried the Quanum Nova quad, but it is based on the proven APM controller.


In Part 1 of this post I selected parts needed for an inexpensive quadcopter that was easy to build, tune and fly. This post, Part 2, covers the details of putting it all together. In Part 3, I will set up the transmitter, ESCs and KK2.0 board so I can make a maiden flight. In part 4, I will show how I tuned the quad’s PI settings to optimize its flying capabilities. Finally, in Part 5 I will cover how I attached a GoPro camera to the quad to get some video from the air.

Continue reading to see the build details…


The Build

  • Assembling the Frame

    Assembled Quadcopter Frame

    The quadcopter frame I chose came with a diagram showing how all the individual parts fit together. It took a little bit of time to fit everything together, but for the most part I just followed the diagram. I should have assembled the landing gear and attached it to the bottom center plate of the frame first, then assembled the arms and center plates. Unfortunately, I did the arms and plates first and had to take them apart to get the landing gear attached. Also, I wanted my quad to fly in and X configuration, so I had to make sure I screwed the landing gear to the center plates correctly for that setup.

    One thing I didn’t do was use the 3mm set screws to secure the arms of the landing gear as shown in the diagram. They just seemed too big. I considered using some cyanoacrylate glue to hold the landing gear together, but at this point I have just left it secured by the plastic fittings that hold the carbon rod legs together. The landing gear could be a bit beefier. I will probably get some pipe insulation to wrap around the skids to give it some cushion against hard landings.

    Finally, I attached the motor mounts upside down from how they are shown in the diagram. It made more sense for the countersunk holes to be on the bottom so the motor screws would be flush against the mount.

  • Securing the Power Harness

    I threaded the power harness between the two center plates. I left the 4mm HXT protruding through the bottom center plate where my battery can easily connect to it when attached. I ran the 3.5mm bullet connectors through the top center plate to enable connecting my ESCs and secured them with zip ties.

    You can see in the picture above how the battery connects to the power harness when strapped on to the bottom center plate.

  • Attaching the Motors

    As I mentioned above, I reversed the motor mounts so the countersunk screw holes would be on the underside of the arms. I aligned the 16mm and 19mm holes in the Turnigy D2830-11 motors with the appropriate holes in the motor mount and secured them with the screws that came with the motor. I used a small amount of blue removable loctite on the screws for a more secure hold.
  • Securing the Props

    This X configuration quadcopter requires two clockwise(CW) rotating props and two counter-clockwise(CCW) rotating props.

    I attached the props to the motors using the collet type prop adapters that came with the motors as pictured above. I used one of the plastic adapter rings that came with the props to match the size of the collet adapter. The plastic ring fits inside the center of the prop. After placing the prop onto the collet adapter, I tighened it down with the bullet shaped nut.

    Before doing any setup or tuning (Part 3), I removed all of the props.

    The props sit a bit high on the motor shaft. I was tempted to cut the shafts down, but didn’t. I may do that as a modification at some point.

  • Attaching the Flight Control Board

    I attached the KK2.0 flight controller to the frame using the nylon risers that came with the frame. The programming buttons are on the same side as my battery connection which is the rear of my configuration X quad.

  • Connecting the ESCs

    I attached my ESCs directly to the frame arms using two zip ties with the power wires and BECs running towards the center plates and the motor phase wires towards the motors. I used one zip tie on each side and placed the ESC on top of the frame arm so it can be cooled by the wash of the prop. I placed the labeled side of the ESC down facing arm. The labelled side has a heatsink cooling and protecting the electronics. The electronics on the other side are less protected and might be damaged if tied tightly to the arm.

    I connected my ESCs in three different places.

    1. Power Wires


      I connected the red and black power wires from each ESC to red and black power wire from my power harness. I connected red to red and black to black to avoid shorting and ruining the ESC.

    2. Motor Phase Wires


      The order these wires are connected determines the rotation direction of the motor and prop. Depending on the ESC being used the colors may vary. I initially connected the three motor wires from each ESC to the 3 motor wires in any order. Later, I can switch any two of the three motor wires to reverse the direction of a motor and prop if necessary.

    3. Battery Elimination Circuit(BEC) & Signal Connector


      Finally, I connected the BEC power and signal wires to the flight control board. Most flight control board manuals suggest only connecting the BEC power wires from one ESC to the flight control board. A board only needs one power source and multiple power and ground wires can cause problems. The easy fix for this is to just remove and place heatshrink around all but one ESC power and ground wires.

      The KK2.0 is unique in that only the first motor connection supplies power to the board. So, it is not a problem if all of the ESCs power and ground wires are connected and I didn’t remove any of the BEC power and ground wires. For each motor, I connected the ESC BEC/Signal connector to its matching flight control board connector.

      You can see from the picture above that my ESC BEC/Signal wires are brown, red and orange. Brown is the ground, red is power, and orange is the signal wire. Many other ESC BEC/Signal wires are black, red, and white where black is the ground, red is power and white is the signal wire.

  • Attaching & Connecting the Receiver

    I attached the reciever to the front of top center plate using some double sided foam tape.

    I used two male to male servo leads to connect the receiver to the flight controller. The HobbyKing 4 channel TX/RX only uses channels 1-4 on the receiver. The connector labels mean the following:

    • CH1 = Aileron
    • CH2 = Elevator
    • CH3 = Throttle
    • CH4 = Rudder

     
    Each connector has three pins. One for the signal, one for power and one for a ground. The pins on the inside are the signals, the middle pins are for power and the outer pins are the grounds.  The receiver gets its power from the flight control board and only needs one power and ground wire connected. You can see I connected all three pins on the aileron channel with one servo lead to provide power to the receiver. Since the other channels only need to carry a signal, I used another servo connector to connect the signal pins of the elevator, throttle, and rudder.

  • The Cover


    Finally, I placed the cover over arms and center plates. It fits nicely, protecting the flight control board and receiver. I secured it with the included knobs and cotter pins. I also made an easy DIY mount to attach my GoPro housing to this frame that I will cover in Part 4.

Conclusion

Those are the details on how to put all the quad parts together. In Part 3, I will set up the transmitter, ESCs and KK2.0 board so I can make a maiden flight. In part 4, I will show how I tuned the quad’s PI settings to optimize its flying capabilities. Finally, in Part 5 I will cover how I attached a GoPro camera to the quad to get some video from the air.

 
Note: I wanted to use the Multistar ESCs since they already have bullet connectors and fit my plan for a super easy build, but could only get one ESC before they sold out. Until I can get my hands on 3 more Multistars, I used another brand of 25amp ESCs that are very similar to the Turnigy 30amp Plush ESCs that I listed as an alternative in the parts list. They use the same programming card. Even though the motor listing says to use 30 amp ESCs it also says the max current for the motor is 21 amps. Also, you can see on this listing for the Turnigy 25amp Plush ESC that they can handle a burst current of 35 amps. The Multistars come with 3.5mm bullet connectors already soldered on. All the other ESCs I have mentioned come without bullet connectors which have to be ordered separately and soldered on.

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  59 Responses to “Easy DIY Quadcopter Build (Part 2) – The Build”

  1. So far this build has been extremely easy, thank you very much for your help. The only issue I have run into is one of the propellers will not stay attached to the motor. Every time you power up the engines it flies off. Do you have any solutions?

    • A lot of people have mentioned that. I have never had that problem. All I can suggest is to tighten the prop adapter more. I always stick a small screwdriver through the hole in top bullet part and tighten it, but not so tight that it crushes the prop.

  2. Where and how to you connect the battery to the esc and what power harness? You didn’t show that in your parts list or part 2.

  3. The motors that I have have a set screw that allows a bent shaft to be replaced, and adjust the shaft to come out the front or back of the motor. If your props are too high, and your motors have set screws, I wonder if you could adjust the shaft to be mid-way. As long as the shaft is through both ends of the motor for bearing support, I can’t imagine this would be a problem.

    Nice build! I just ordered up parts for my own.

  4. When I attempt to do my maiden flight, my props with the collets fly off of my motor. Is there a way to secure the props?

    • I push mine down as far as they will go and tighten them fairly tight by putting a small hex wrench through the hole in the top for leverage. If it is too tight it will weaken the prop. I have never had one fly off.

  5. Could the ESC modules be mounted on the inner frame and the 3 power wires for each motor put through the hollow motor arms

    • The power wires also connect to the ESC. Were you thinking of drilling holes on the arms?

      • We mounted the ESC vertically between the two levels of the inner frames, the two input power leads simply plug into the 4 way harness that splits the power from the battery. The 3 output leads from the ESC then run out through the hollow arms and plug into the motor. This has added additional cabling, I’m a little worried about the extra loss.

        • Oh, I see now. That should work fine!

          • What is the piezo device that came with the Flight controller board used for? Also it doesn’t appear there is a need for the 4 pin connector on the Zippy battery, you mentioned in one of your replies that you connected a battery monitoring circuit to it.

            • That is a battery alarm that requires soldering. It is plug and play on the new kk2.1 board. These can be plugged directly into the battery.

              • Is the new kk2.1 board available for order, it seems this might be the easiest way to get the new firmware and the battery monitor feature plus then we would have a spare board.

                Further reading indicates that the piezo device is simply for the audible sounds the controller creates.

            • I ordered a few of the new ones, but haven’t used them yet. I read something along the lines of what you are saying about it being only for audible arming sounds, etc. I had always thought it was a battery alarm, but that may be bad info. Anyway,I never hooked it up.

              • Hello Britt lovely presentation there, I have almost the same set up as you. I just want to know how did you connect the KK2.0 board to the battery. I am completely new to this. Do you need to solder wires to the board or do you get the power directly from the ESC’s. I just want to know how to get power to the KK2.0 board. And what type of connectors you used for the board.

              • The board is powered by one ESC bec. See the section titled, “Battery Elimination Circuit(BEC) & Signal ConnectorConnector”, below.

  6. Hi Britt,

    Thanks for this detailed tutorial!

    Is there any way building this quadcopter with a different flight controller? The kk2.0 is out of stock in HobbyKing.

  7. All my parts arrived a couple of weeks ago. I followed your part list pretty closely. Here is a list of the tools I used to assemble my quad. I did not see it noted anywhere (I may have missed it).

    1.5 mm allen wrench
    2.5 mm allen wrench
    #2 phillips screwdriver
    #1 phillips screwdriver
    small adjustable wrench
    small needle nose pliers

  8. Britt,
    During my test flight i could not get my quad off the the ground without flipping.
    Ive done a fair bit of research regarding my issue and the only thing i could come up with, is maybe i have to update my kk2 from 1.2 to current.
    Could you or anyone else shine some light this?

    • It sounds to me like some small thing might have been overlooked. If you read through these comments you will see lots of similar problems and how they were solved.

      • Mine is also doing the same thing. The cause for mine is when I increase the throttle straight up the receiver test also shows aileron going left.

  9. Hey, I connected my breakout cable to my ESCs, and connected the battery, and the SBEC ESC instantly started smoking. The wires were connected red to red and black to black, what happened?

  10. there is no-one else with the same configuration like yours on the receiver, with only two cables plugged in. everyone else has three on their quads. why is this? please answer my question!

    • There are only six wires I needed so I just used two connectors with three wires each. Some people use a separate wire and radio channel to control the toggling in and out of self-level mode, but I do it with a stick command.

  11. I have built my HAL but one motor runs faster than the others causing it to tip when i attempt to take off. I have double checked all the settings even replaced the ECS’s but to no avail. Can you suggest anything.

    Pete

  12. Your project is excelent and I’m planning to build one for myself based on your experience, but the board you used is not available ( sotck: -8) but they have this one
    Can you tell me if it is compatible?

    Thanlks

    • That was a link to your wish list that had your email embedded in it. I deleted it out of your comment for your protection. Do you have a direct link to the product?

  13. Great info here! Thanks Britt!

    I’m wandering, does the BEC deliver the right voltage to the KK board and receiver?

  14. What a really good and useful page! Thanks for the effort doing it. I’m gonna try my own right now following your advice. Do you have any important update? (I haven’t checked the component stock availability yet but I’m a little bit worried because I ‘heard” some posts ago someting like “out of stock”…and this frighten me)…let’s gonna see…

  15. would i be able to use the Hobby King Quadcopter Power Distribution Board http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/store/uh_viewitem.asp?idproduct=23140
    instead of the HXT 4mm to 4 X 3.5mm bullet Multistar ESC Power Breakout Cable because of it is out of stock
    http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/store/uh_viewitem.asp?idproduct=25483

  16. 4/20/2013
    i’m new to quadcopters an am building a Talon quad using DYI formula, I have a KK2.0 cont.- Multistar
    30 A ecm — 3 opto — 1 spec 4, and 4 Turnigy 1000 Ma motors . I plug things up and I get the three short
    tones , Then all motors beep rapidly and won’t run. I tested the motors with another ecm ant they all run,
    Can the problem be the ECM’S ?

    • Did you do an ESC throttle calibration with props off?

      • I checked the throttle on the KK 2.0 an that was good 98% . I ckecked eacn esc individualy with just the reciever and trans and got the same , 3 beeps and then constant beeps and motor jerking. I set up the esc’s just like my planes same results.

  17. If I use “Turnigy Multistar 30 Amp Multi-rotor Brushless ESC 2-4S” then how will I use the “Turnigy Multistar ESC Programming Card” ? Pls help me as I am a newbie to this and do not have proper knowledge about programmers except Arduino.

    • I have a set of these and have been using them with the default settings they ship with. I haven’t had any problems yet, but who knows? I haven’t tried the programming card yet.

  18. Hi Again Britt,
    I am building the Quad and up to the receiver. The receiver has a wire with a female end, what does it attach to? Is it a power source? Also you speak about a double male end. I didn’t see that part. What I have left over is a wire looped into a 3 pin female fitting and with the receiver there is a 2 pin female end, having a black and red wires coming out to a cylinder with a small hole at the end. The cylinder made of plactic about 3/8″ dia. and about 3/8″ long. I have no idea what these parts are for or where they go. If this is not the correct way to contact you, please forgive me. Could you please help me ?

  19. Hi, your writeup has been very helpful in building my quadcopter. I am using KK multicopter board 5.5 version 2.2. One question I have, everything is built, and the board powers on with one blue led flash, and the motors do their startup sequence. Then I have no control of the board. I understand the throttle to zero and stick all the way to the right to unlock the board, but this does not work. I have put the trim on throttle and rudder all the way down and right, still nothing. The RX lights up green indicating a connection to the TX. Any Ideas?

  20. Looking forward to part 3&4!

    About the motors and props, don’t you think the prop is rather far away from the motor? Can the prop adapters slide further down, touching the motor?

    • Yeah, they definitely are too high, but these adapters don’t go down any further. I could either cut off the shafts or use a different type of prop adapter like “prop savers”. I may cut the shafts shorter with a dremel tool. If I do, I will make sure the motor itself is covered to avoid getting any metal filings on the motor magnets. They can ruin a motor. For now, even though they look a bit funny, the quad is flying well, so I am just going with it.

  21. Great guide. I have been looking at quads trying to find an affordable way to fly my GoPro. I plan to follow your guide for my project once I see how parts 3 & 4 work out for you. I may substitute the frame you used with one from Aquacopter. I want to use my quad to film at the lake. The watertight frame is a big plus for that. ;)

    • I have an Aquacopter and it is pretty cool for what it does. It is well made and offers water protection. However, it is a bit bulky, not very nimble and tricky to fly and set up.

      • Thanks for the reply Britt. Maybe I will get the frame you used in your guide and upgrade to the Aquacopter at a later date. Will all the parts in your list be compatible with the aquacopter frame? If not do you have any recommendations on what to change for the aquacopter? I hope the questions are OK. There is so much info out there it is hard to digest. Your guide is simple easy and affordable. Exactly what I was looking for.

  22. looking forward to parts 3 & 4! after the holidays i plan on getting the parts to build my first quadcopter. i was thinking about buying an ardrone but thank God i stumbled upon your site! the information in here is great..

  23. Hey Britt,
    Nice build up and great pics!

    I’m guessing the reason for the motor mounts to appear up-side down is that some motors have the shaft sticking out of the back. For example the NTM series. Which would leave the motor hanging under the mount instead of resting on top. Never tried that.
    I use these with my 2830′s to fix my props. Saves a bit of weight but I like how they shorten the distance from the motor to the props.

    Kudo’s!

    • Thanks Sjapie! Yeah, I guess the mounts work well for both types of motors. I have used prop savers before and they do seem to be easier on the props in a crash, but you have to really watch for worn out O-rings.

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