F450 build (APM) - recommended parts combination?

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F450 build (APM) - recommended parts combination?

Postby gj384 » Wed Nov 06, 2013 7:11 am

Hi guys,

I'm new to RC and multirotors, and I'm looking at an F450 as my first build (after spending a bit of time learning to fly with a cheap RTF quad first).

After doing a fair amount of research I've decided I want to build an ArduPilot-based system, and then hopefully once it's all up and running start to play around with different props, motors etc.

Given that it will be my first build, I really have no idea what type of motors, ESCs etc I should start with, and I know if I put in an order somewhere I'd almost certainly forget something. So I was wondering if anyone could share a complete parts list for an F450+APM setup that they've built and flown with success.

Really appreciate any suggestions and advice anyone can offer!

Thanks in advance

Gareth
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Re: F450 build (APM) - recommended parts combination?

Postby Gizmo3000 » Wed Nov 06, 2013 7:23 am

I've been quite pleased with my build, tho still trying to sort out a few things (I with with a NAZA v2).

I went with T-motor 3110-15's 780kv motors, bigger and more powerful, with APC 10x3.8 props running off a 4s battery.
I bought SimonK flashed ESC's off ebay.
had to buy a bunch of bullet connectors so that I could hook them all up.
also bought a UBEC from hobby king that converts 4s down to 3s power so I could power my gimbal and FPV
..plus some male JST's.
got a fancy GPS puck holder as well (not sure what kind of GPS the ArduPilot stuff uses).
I got cheap landing gear, because I wanted rails underneath to mount stuff, but that didn't work swell, as the legs vibrated terribly.
so now I have the DJI legs which i think will work a lot better.
that's about all I can think of,. it was a fun little project to put together.
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Re: F450 build (APM) - recommended parts combination?

Postby Rilot » Wed Nov 06, 2013 9:57 am

If it's your first build, get the F450 ARTF kit that includes motors and ESCs. They are fine for general use and will save you a bit of cash. You can always change them later if you find you are exceeding their capabilities. I use the stock DJI motors and ESCs on my F550 and they have been fine with a 2.4kg craft for over 100 flights.

As for the APM, you will want this lot:

APM 2.6 control unit
3DR UBLOX GPS + compass
DJI spare GPS pole (it's a good unit and about $10)

Leave out the 3DR telemetry and other options like the sonar etc. You can always add them at a later date.

I would advise that you should buy some vibration damping gel or foam to mount the APM on. It's extremely sensitive to vibrations and can really mess up your flight if you don't balance your propellers and isolate it from vibrations.

The APM and GPS will come with the cables you need if you buy genuine 3DR versions of them.

You will also need a battery, a 3S 4000mah is a good choice.
Some battery connectors (XT60 are my favorite).
A good soldering iron.
A transmitter / receiver combo. Futaba T8J or Spektrum DX8 are the current favourites but if you can find a FrSky Taranis and X8R receiver they are fabulous (I just changed from DX8 to the Taranis and am very pleased)
DJI S800 EVO - A2, iOSD, X140BS gimbal, 2.4GHz ground station.
DJI Phantom 2 - H3-2D, Immersion vTx, iOSD Mini
DJI F550 - Naza V2, H3-2D, iOSD Mini, Graupner 9x5.
FrSky Taranis
http://www.rilot.co.uk - Achieve an elevated view
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Re: F450 build (APM) - recommended parts combination?

Postby Slartibartfast » Wed Nov 06, 2013 8:46 pm

Read up on the wiki at diydrones, vibration dampening is vital for APM. The one and only area where the NAZA beats the APM. You could also watch the videos by Peter King, he's got lots of useful tips on 450/500 clones with APM. You can download his parameter files as a starting point.
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Re: F450 build (APM) - recommended parts combination?

Postby G6EJD » Wed Nov 06, 2013 9:32 pm

Hi GJ384

If I was to post anything it would be an exact copy of what Rilot has posted.

You will find the F450 kit of parts cheaper than buying them separately or making up your own spec, plus the F450 is a proven design and combination of motors and props.

The APM 2.6 plus GPS and power adapter from e.g. http://www.unmannedtechshop.co.uk/ardup ... mpass.html is a perfect combination, plug it all together which takes about an hour, follow the APM set-up instructions and go fly.

I should say Rilot and I have the same equipment and have made much the same transitions and product choices. So you won't be alone.
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Re: F450 build (APM) - recommended parts combination?

Postby gj384 » Thu Nov 07, 2013 11:28 am

Thanks for the advice guys. The ARF kit sounds like definitely the way to go. I guess the battery and the APM setup were the main things I really had no idea about.

Just so I can be sure... does it look like there's anything missing from the following shopping list?

- DJI F450 ARF kit - $209.99
- APM 2.6 set (http://www.uavrobotics.com.au/side-entr ... p-140.html) - $189
- APM power module with XT60 connectors - $29.95
- 3DR uBlox GPS with compass - $99.60
- DJI GPS Stand (http://arkrc.com.au/dji-gps-stand-suit- ... -and-naza/) - $14.99 - Rilot, is this what you meant by a "spare GPS pole"?
- T5000.3S.25C Turnigy 5000mAH 3S 25C Lipo (http://arkrc.com.au/t5000-3s-25c-turnig ... -25c-lipo/) - $49.99
- XT60 battery connectors (F-M and M-F) - $7.90 for the pair
- Futaba T8J Tx/Rx combo (http://arkrc.com.au/fut8jm1-futaba-8j-8 ... sb-mode-1/) - $285
- EV-PEAK 1-6S 6A LiPo/LiFe Balance Charger/Discharger AP606 (http://www.hobbytech.com.au/products/rc ... ger-ap606/) - $50

I already have a pretty good soldering iron that ought to do the job.

All up it comes to AUD$936.42 (plus shipping of course) - not as much as I'd feared it might be!

And just a couple more beginner-level questions...
- The APM set is available in "top-entry" and "side-entry" configurations - which fits best in an F450?
- The Futaba comes in "Mode 1" and "Mode 2" - what's the difference? What's recommended?
- I've just picked a cheap charger and a battery that was the closest I could find to 3S/400mAh - have I chosen wisely?

Thanks again!
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Re: F450 build (APM) - recommended parts combination?

Postby Rilot » Thu Nov 07, 2013 12:44 pm

To answer some of you questions.

The DJI GPS stand is what I meant, yup
Top entry and side entry doesn't matter really. I like side entry as then all the wires are easier to route.
Mode 1 is with throttle on the right, Mode 2 has throttle on the left. Most people fly Mode 2 as this puts all the cyclic controls on the same stick.
Charger and battery look OK. Bare in mind that most chargers take a DC input so you will need a beefy 12V PSU to drive it.
DJI S800 EVO - A2, iOSD, X140BS gimbal, 2.4GHz ground station.
DJI Phantom 2 - H3-2D, Immersion vTx, iOSD Mini
DJI F550 - Naza V2, H3-2D, iOSD Mini, Graupner 9x5.
FrSky Taranis
http://www.rilot.co.uk - Achieve an elevated view
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Re: F450 build (APM) - recommended parts combination?

Postby G6EJD » Thu Nov 07, 2013 6:14 pm

Yep, that's exactly the correct shopping list. You will need a 10A PSU too, or maybe a 110v / 220v PSU-Charger because its less clutter.

When you get the APM it's blank, all you have to do is down load the mission planner, that installs the USB drivers, then when your ready connect your APM, it gets powered by the USB port, then go to setup and choose your desired configuration, Quad in this case, then click install firmware, then apart from Radio setup, that is make sure your stick inputs correspond to the Mission Planner controls, your done - go fly. Obviously you have to connect up the Rx to the APM and mount the GPS on the mounting pole (ideally although not required). You might find a standard pole is too long for the APM-GPS inter-connect cables, so check that out.

You will need Rx to APM cables if an S-Bus receiver then that needs a jumper on the APM, otherwise it's 5 standard male-male servo leads.

There is a good DJI F450 video to watch through on YouTube and I quite like this guy for explaining how to do the initial APM setup:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QfvCJ5scHMQ
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Re: F450 build (APM) - recommended parts combination?

Postby Gizmo3000 » Thu Nov 07, 2013 10:26 pm

if you're going to attach a GoPro/Gimbal, you're going to want to look into landing gear.
I just got the low weight white ones that DJI sells.

Here's the GPS stand I went with, figured a little extra protection would help
http://www.centuryheli.com/products/pro ... nm=HWC2004
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Re: F450 build (APM) - recommended parts combination?

Postby gj384 » Fri Nov 08, 2013 11:14 am

Excellent. Thanks for the extra info.

I hadn't even thought of a PSU - thanks for pointing that out. If I can get a charger that plugs straight into the wall socket that sounds like it would be more convenient - but on the other hand, would it be possible to power the drone from a PSU for testing etc (on a bench without the props on) instead of needing to use the battery? Would it just be a matter of selecting the right voltage and amperage and using the right connectors, or is there more to it? Or would I risk frying the APM etc if I tried that?

Thanks once again!
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Re: F450 build (APM) - recommended parts combination?

Postby G6EJD » Fri Nov 08, 2013 4:21 pm

You can power the apm from a USB port and the GPS too, that's all you need, you would not want to be testing motors whilst connected to a PSU trust me!

Only test motors with a constraint and using batteries.
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Re: F450 build (APM) - recommended parts combination?

Postby gj384 » Fri Nov 08, 2013 10:27 pm

Great - thanks, good to know! I think I'll just see if I can find a charger I can plug straight into the wall in that case.
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Re: F450 build (APM) - recommended parts combination?

Postby Gizmo3000 » Sat Nov 09, 2013 1:09 am

gj384 wrote:Great - thanks, good to know! I think I'll just see if I can find a charger I can plug straight into the wall in that case.


Actually, the only benefit there is that it would be a bit less cumbersome to handle.

But with many electronics, there can be benefits in having the power supply separate from the device
-there's less heat involved to deal with
-if the power supply goes out, you can merely replace it, instead of the whole device
(or if the device goes out, you need only replace that).
-if it's a 12v device, you can then plug it up to a car battery/cig(accessory) plug on the road.
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Re: F450 build (APM) - recommended parts combination?

Postby Gizmo3000 » Sat Nov 09, 2013 1:15 am

While I do agree that the kids provide and easy way to purchase all the necessary parts at a slight savings, I'm kinda glad I took the harder/slightly more expensive route by goingn with the T-motors, while could have gone with the smaller 2216 motors that are similar to Phantom/DJI motors, I went with MUCH more robust 3310-15 780kv motors, I spent about $100 more, but these motors are serious beasts, and seem much more capable of dealing with the higher weight of the 450. they do weigh a bit more, but seem to have no trouble at all lifting the larger 4s batteries that weigh in excess of 450g.
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Re: F450 build (APM) - recommended parts combination?

Postby Rilot » Sat Nov 09, 2013 9:51 am

Gizmo3000 wrote:kids


I'm 37.....
The DJI motors are perfectly capable. I'm lifting a 2.4kg craft running 4S 5000mAh batteries on 9" props. I've had over 100 flights with no issues whatsoever.
DJI S800 EVO - A2, iOSD, X140BS gimbal, 2.4GHz ground station.
DJI Phantom 2 - H3-2D, Immersion vTx, iOSD Mini
DJI F550 - Naza V2, H3-2D, iOSD Mini, Graupner 9x5.
FrSky Taranis
http://www.rilot.co.uk - Achieve an elevated view
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