Make your drone stands out with insulating tape

Everybody knows that red is the fastest color. Ferrari has proven that years ago. With red Turnigy Graphene LiPos I’ve bought recently, I’ve decided to make my ZMR250 quadcopter stands out a little. In a cheap and dirty way: if I have red battery on top of ZMR250 and I can buy a propellers in almost any basic color, why not to go one step further?

Idea of making the whole drone red was in my head for a second, but it died a sudden death. Paint would not do. Too fragile and too effortful. Instead I’ve visited a hardware store and purchased color insulating tape. They come in different prices, sizes, qualities and of course colors. Classical black, green, blue, yellow, red, etc.

At home I’ve applied red tape around arms and ESCs. That also allowed to get rid of zip ties that I used to hold ESCs in place before. They were not good. Insulating tape is not only stronger by also protects ESCs better from dirt and water.

Red is the fastest color on 250 quad

Effect? Quite nice, I like it very much. Red props (DAL T5040 that I will review soon), red arms, black carbon and Turnigy Graphene are looking nice together. And this ZMR250 for sure no longer looks like regular ZMR250. All for just a few cents worth of insulating tape!

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Setting up iNav on 250 class racer

Although iNav (iNavFlight) with advanced GPS and navigation support is best suited for larger, GPS equipped drones, there is absolutely no reason not to use it on something smaller like 250 racer. Why? Well, why not? Basic flight mechanics is the same like in Cleanflight or Betaflight. FP-PID is brand new PID controller, not very popular and not very well documented, but in many ways superior to LuxFloat. The way it handles D term is just outstanding. It can be pushed very, very high without introducing noise.

OK, it has a drawback. High computational requirements and floating point logic causes users of STM32F1 based flight controllers like Naze32 or CC3D can forget about looptime 1000us. 1400us is all those boards can do. On the other hand, looptime 1000us (or even 500) is quite new thing introduced and made popular only about half year ago. And people were racing before that somehow… So, 2000 is not that bad after all. Good thing SMT32F3 board are strong enough not to have to worry about this issue. So, let’s go! Continue reading “Setting up iNav on 250 class racer” »

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Quick review: Gemfan 5×3 (5030) 3 leaf propellers

dav

This will be very quick review with a simple conclusion: I will never buy Gemfan 5030 3 leaf propellers again. Never. Why? They are cheap, you can buy them for around $3 for 2 pairs from China. But they have few flaws:

  1. Every crash, even gentle means at least one broken propeller,
  2. Quality is low,
  3. Look at this picture: Brokern gemfan 5030 3 leafThis propeller never hit anything in its life. See white stress marks near hub? They appeared during normal flight. This prop would break soon,
  4. At least twice in last 2 months Gemfan 5030 3 leaf broke in flight. In both cases during quite normal flight. No crazy stuff. Simple turn.

So, my verdict is: no, never again. I’m going back to Gemfan 5030 2 leaf version. They are cheaper and offer very similar performance. And I think they are slightly harder to break after all.

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Quick review: Eachine PCB Power Distribution Board for ZMR250/QAV250

Building a quadcopter without nice power distribution board always leads to the same result: state of total cable entanglement. It looks ugly, makes maintenance hard and adds unneeded weight. I will not show how my ZMR250 quad looked after I added FPV and OSD into it. Almost all space between top and bottom plate was taken by cables. Nightmare. So, after spending less than $9 I’ve become an owner of Eachine PCB Power Distribution Board w/ OSD Socket Support NAZE32 CC3D OSD For QAV250 Quadcopter from Banggood. This board did not have very good reviews, but offered three things I wanted: sockets for micro MinimOSD, integrated signal lines and low price. So, I gave it a try.

Eachine PCB Power Distribution Board w/ OSD Socket Support NAZE32 CC3D OSD For QAV250 Quadcopter Continue reading “Quick review: Eachine PCB Power Distribution Board for ZMR250/QAV250” »

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Learning to fly: That bloody tree

Learning to fly FPV is not easy. I have no problems with big quad. It is heavy enough no to try any aggressive flying. Small 250 is completely different story. Aggressive flying is just more fun. Flips, rolls,  flying close to trees… Just take a look:

Finally I mastered that pass. It only took like 7 propellers and one camera hold 🙂

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Quick Review: Turnigy Multistar V2 10A ESC with BLHeli

When I was building my 250 class quadcopter I wanted to make that cheap. So, I’ve bought cheap ESC: Turnigy Multistar V2 10A ESC for S2-3 with 2A LBEC. And yes, they are cheap: slightly less than 8EUR per piece. With preloaded BLHeli software. Cool, isn’t it? Well, not so cool after all, but first things first.

Turnigy Multistar 10A V2 ESC With BLHeli and 2A LBEC 2-3S

Preloaded BLHeli software (version 13.1 in the ones I’ve ordered in late June 2015) simplifies a lot. No need experiment to upload BLHeli and 1-wire interface is available from the start. Also update to BLHeli 14 was pretty simple without any glitches. Unfortunately, there is a reason those ESC are so cheap…

After 2 months of using them in my 250 quadcopter I can state the following:

Pros:

  • They are cheap all right,
  • None of them burned yet so it’s a good sign,
  • Preinstalled BLHeli and easy to upgrade

Cons:

  • 10A is not much for a quadcopter needs, slightly higher max current would be welcomed . But this is my fault, not those ESC,
  • they do not support Damping Light, so no active breaking on those ESC (booo),
  • OneShot125 on those ESC behaves strange when throttle is below lower limit. They screech. Fortunately nothing bad happens in flight,
  • 2A LBEC regulator is in fact double LM7805. And it heat a lot.

Continue reading “Quick Review: Turnigy Multistar V2 10A ESC with BLHeli” »

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Let’s build 250 class quadcopter: mostly done

It’s been few weeks since my last post about 250 class quadcopter based on carbon fiber ZMR250 frame. Machine is mostly finished by now. At least in LOS configuration. FPV gear has only arrived last week and I still had no time to put it in.

ZMR250 quadcopter

Anyway, it flies and crashes a lot. But this is 250. It’s supposed to do so. After little more than 2 hours in air I can say that:

  1. It is heavy. With 1.3Ah 3S LiPo battery and RunCam HD it weights 530g. Have to make it lighter…
  2. Turnigy Multistar V2 2206 2150KV “Baby Beast” with Gemfan 5030 propellers does not provide enough thrust. Do not get me wrong, it is fast, but I was kind of hoping for higher level craziness.
  3. It is tough. Oh the crashes it has survived…

ZMR250 with RunCam HD

ZMR250 in air

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Let’s build 250 class quadcopter: motors and electronics

My 250 class quadcopter project is slowly coming to a successful (hopefully) end. Finally had some time to assemble motors and ESC.

Since I wanted to have rather standard setup with 5×3 propellers, I had no super high demand on ESC, I’ve decided to use Turnigy Multistar 10A V2 ESC preflashed with BLHeli software available at Hobby King. Why them? Cheap, already flashed with BLHeli so no need to to flash at home and 10A is enough to drive 5×3 props. And it’s also enough for 6×3. Just in case.

Motors are also Turnigy bought at Hobby King with 50% discount few months ago: Turnigy Multistar V2 2206 2150KV “Baby Beast”. After discount they were super cheap: $7.5 apiece. And they are green, what goes nicely with carbon fiber ZMR250 frame.

Right now motors are not soldered directly to ESC, I’ve only removed 2mm bullet connectors from both motors and ESC. Waster on space. I’m still thinking about where to put those ESC, so for first few weeks there will be some extra cable between them. Later we will see.

Almost assembled ZMR250 with Turnigy Multistar 10A V2 ESC BLHeli

Turnigy Multistar 10A V2 ESC BLHeli

Turnigy Multistar V2 2206-2150KV Motor The "Baby Beast" with Turnigy Multistar 10A V2 ESC BLHeli

Turnigy Multistar V2 2206-2150KV Motor The "Baby Beast" with Turnigy Multistar 10A V2 ESC BLHeli

250 class ZMR250 carbon fiber

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Let’s build class 250 quadcopter: frame assembly

Yesterday I finaly had some time to work on my 250 class quadcopter based on ZMR250 carbon fiber frame. There was a plan to finish it before weekend, but looks like plan will have to be changed. I’m missing motor screws. They were not with frame nor motors. Too bad…

ZMR250 quadcopter frame assembly

ZMR250 with Flip32

dav

After one evening of work I’ve been able to assemble bottom plate with motor arms and attach Flip32+ flight controller to it. As you can see, Flip32 is rotated 90 degrees clockwise. USB port points left, not back. This allows much simpler access to USB port. On the other hand, it requires additional configuration entry that allows fllight controller software to compensate for that. But all in time.

One last remark: the frame, even without top plate is super stiff. Very good since it will take serious beating in next weeks. I’m finally learning to fly in Rate mode without auto-leveling. Boy, it’s hard. After two 20 minutes sessions I’m able to make a turn…

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