This like all the best blog posts is named after a spreadsheet. Quadcopter_dreams is a list of parts and prices to build my third Quadcopter.
I recently moved to London and I immediately trekked on down to the London Hackspace. A Hackspace is essentially a giant community garden shed, the best garden shed in the world. It's a community workshop that gives it's members access to equipment, training and opportunities to meet like minded people for a monthly subscription. If you have one in your area and are interested in programming, electronics, woodwork, 3d printing, biohacking, mindhacking, cooking, baking, brewing, robots and pretty much anything that you can make/hack then get involved.
It's the robots that caught my attention on my first visit and in particular a tiny remote control quadcopter. So much so I was back a couple of weeks later for a UAV specific meet up.
The stuff that people can do with off the shelf componants is frankly astonishing. People brought everything from a B&Q aluminium DIY special to a massive six motor 'Hex Copter' capable of fully autonomous flight. The aluminium copter in the images below was probably the most impressive technical feat as not only was the hardware hacked together so was the software which had been scratch built by the owner.
However the thing that caught my attention was a drone capable of first person view (FPV) flight. FPV is becoming abit of a craze in the RC flight world because it offers the pilot to see what his remote controlled aircraft can see. A camera is mounted to the front, sometimes on a gimble to allow stability and the ability to keep the camera level while pitching. The images from the camera are then sent over radio to either a screen or set of goggles. Simon who owned this particular drone fired up his drone and pointed it at us, he then passed round his goggles and I could see myself. If that isn't the future I don't know what is.
I now already own 2 tiny but and mostly functional quads. The first I bought I immediately ditched and broke, the second a Hubsan X4 I bought off a lad I met at the hackspace who is running an UAV startup selling quads. The Hubsan is excellent, if you want to get into quads buy one it's amazing. The other is a Hubsan knock off called the Turbo Drone and is nowhere near as stable. After I crashed the Turbo Drone the frame snapped:
So I set about fixing it.
My first attempt involved some super glue, a hope and a prayer. It actually got it back in the air until a hard landing broke the arm again. So I set about sourcing a replacement frame, I thought about buying the Hubsan repair kit available from Amazon and other reputable online retailers. But that seemed too easy. So I headed over to Thingiverse and looked for files for Hubsan quads and found this:
It's a 3d printer file to build a frame for Hubsan type quads. So that's currently with the people at iMarkr being printed. In the mean time I pulled apart the Turbo Drone in preparation for it's new frame and will report back with the results when I put it back together.
So I now own two micro quads but while fun nothing compares to the satisfaction of building something yourself. So I've put in an order at Hobbyking for the parts that were in my initial spreadsheet with a few alternatives. The finished quad should look somewhat like this:
So I now have two quad projects, one to fix the Turbo Drone and another to put together a much larger quad. The first one project should be relatively simple, the second is going to be interesting.