ESC on fire: Multistar 10A v2 BLheli

What happens when your soldering skills are not as good as you thought they were? Well, usually you end up with something burned. That was exactly what happened to me last week. I replaced damaged motor, soldered wires directly to ESC, just like always, and went flying.

First LiPo, everything good. Second LiPo, no problems. Third LiPo, crash, no damage. Fourth LiPo, still no problems. Fifth LiPo, another crash, minor damage: cable tie holding one of ESC broken. I replaced cable tie, put another LiPo, replaced broken prop and attempted to take off. Quad refused to comply, flipped and popped magical smoke. Second later flame appeared. Fire went down only after disconnecting battery. Damage above repair, PCB burned.

Multistar 10A v2 ESC BLheli burned

Multistar 10A v2 ESC BLheli burned

Time for new ESC…

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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.

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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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Flash BLHeli to Afro ESC

SimonK is most widely recognized ESC firmware in multicopter world. But there is a second option, in many ways much better than SimonK firmware. It is called BLHeli. It supports many different ESC, including both Atmel and SiLabs based. Plus, it has a cool software that allows you to configure you ESC without programming card. Just connect your ESC via serial-to-USB interface and you are ready to go.

AfroESC were supposed to be state of the art controllers, SimonK out of the box, easy to flash thank to special USB interface/programmer. And ready to accept different software, BLHeli included. There is only one huge “but”. You can buy them, you can buy Afro USB Linker (Turnigy USB Linker is exactly the same), but nobody will tell you how to do it. Number of articles is very limited, and the only useful I’ve found is this one. So, here we go, now there will be a second one!

How to flash BLHeli to AfroESC

What you will need:

  • AfroESC (obvious)
  • Afro USB Linker / Programmer
  • Windows machine with drivers (keep reading)
  • BLHeliSuite
  • LiPo battery, the same you use on your drone

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Wooden quadcopter, work continues

Work on wooden quadcopter from this post continues. This weeken I’ve been able to almost finish. Almost. Frame itself is done, motors and ESC are in place, electric cables soldered, but this wooden multirotor is grounded. The reason is flight controller Thunder QQ Super. Why? Because it is crap. Really. The first unit was broken and 2 motor channels were not working. Fine, it happens. Seller has sent me second unit. It arrived few weeks ago, but I never had time to check it.

Yesterday I finally connected second Thunder QQ Super to radio receiver and motors. And what? One of the motors is not spinning. ESC is only beeping and this is all. After connecting this ESC to radio RX directly, motor spins just fine. There are also no problems with this ESC when used with different flight controller (OpenPilot CC3D). It only does not work with QQ Super. Why? No idea.

OK, this time it’s not 100% Thunder QQ Super fault. It is more like incompability. But very frustrating incompability. Either way, new flight controller should be on its way and in 2 weeks my quadcopter from wood should be fully operational.

Wooded quadcopter almost done

wooden quad frame on scale

wooden quad frame on scale

wooden frame

plywood central platform

ESC on wooden arm

I must say I’m happy with results. Frame is lighter than I expected and itself it weights only 256g. With motors and propellers, weight goes up to 615g and 1100g with ESC and battery. So, it’s not light, but not so heavy after all. And it’s very rigid.

Dimensions:

  • motor to motor diagonal: 500mm,
  • motor to motor front arms: 370mm,
  • motor to motor rear arms: 300mm,
  • frame weight: 256g

And it finally has an official name: DeadRat.Why DeadRat? Because it’s a dead cat frame type and we have a pet rat. And my older daughter likes the name very much.

 

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Brushed or brushless – RC motor dilemma

You want to fly, you need a motor. Electric, internal combustion, jet, ion, gravity. It does not matter. And since gravity engines are not invented yet, ion has no place in atmosphere and jet or internal combustion are kind of non-practical for multirotors usage, we have to stick with electric motors.

Brushed DC motors

In RC world there are two types of DC motors we can choose from: brushed and brushless. The brushed ones are wth us for decades. Cheap and proven, but with a few downsides. First of all, they have brushes and brushes wears off because of friction. After time, they stop to conduict electricity and has to be replaced. Plus, they cause sparks, lowers efficiency, make noise, are sensitive to dust and so on… This is why, we do not use brushed DC motors any more.

Brushless BLDC motors and ESC

 

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