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First Venture into FPV with a HK Thorax and Outdated Electronics
#1
As some may have read in my introduction I'm building a HobbyKing Thorax.
I had no real desire to build one before coming across the frame on HK for 5 dollars.
I thought about it for a bit, watched a few FPV videos on YT and shortly after the bug had burrowed
like a Botfly (Do not Google pics!! Seriously. Or at the very least, finish your snacks first!)
I threw the frame in my cart along with the things I was intentionally buying for my other RC addictions.
I browsed around for a deal on parts. I think I've done well so far. With the frame, motors, props, escs, FPV
  cam and TX and a PDB I'm still under 100 dollars.
Since i had no real intention of building one of these I'm doing what I can to keep costs down. 
I can deal with not having the latest and greatest. I feel that as long as it powers up and hovers enough for 
  me to get in some flight time I will have succeeded.
I'm hoping for a light clean build with some personal touches.
I've read that the Thorax can become quite heavy but so far with the components
  I have it seems that weight will be pretty low leaving headroom for a larger battery
  and longer flight times. 
I'll definitely need some help along the way. Electronics/Computers quickly become mysterious trickerations.
With the help of the forum and Oscar's blogs I'm slowly beginning to wrap my head around some of it.

So, I guess I can start with the list of things I prematurely purchased.

Frame: HK Thorax $5
Flight Controller: Flip32 AIO Pro V1.03 $10
ESC: Favorite LittleBee 20A Naked Board 6@$3.41- $20.46
Motors: LDPower FR2204 2300kv CW 6@$5.00- $30.00
Props: Quanum 5X3 carbon fiber props CW+CCW 10@$0.010- $0.10
FPV Camera and TX: Quanum Elite QB66 $15

As far as I know these components will work together. But what I know is very little!
So, I downloaded the Cleanflight, BetaFlight and BLHeli apps for Chrome.
The FC and ESCs should be here tomorrow and the camera whenever the boat gets here..
Do I need to have these connected to a TX/RX to start programming? 
Oscar!! I'll be reading your blog soon!
Thinking about getting the 50 dollar Turnigy 9X Tx/Rx. Thoughts?

One of the things that came up in my introduction was that I purchased motors that are all CW.
I have props that are CW and CCW but only the CW props will thread onto the motors.
I'm guessing that I will need to buy props that have no threads or should I modify the ones that I have?
The motors came with cones that thread on, so I wont need prop adapters?
*insert Wayne's World "I never learned to read!" clip*

All of the help that came into my intro page was really appreciated. Hopefully y'all find me here
and I can get up in the air around new years.


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[-] The following 1 user Likes JukeJoint's post:
  • fftunes
#2
1. Don't buy another motors.. you are good to go
2. as you will solder them through ESC to FC you can change their rotation there.
3. don't worry about the props they will be fine
4. locknut / cone is the same... yet if you are a psycho and look at every 1g you will change them at some point... for now you are good (have at least 1 spare)
All the best
Grzesiek (Grisha/ Greg)

Curently flyable: Nox 5, Nox 3, Minimalist 112, Scrap at the moment... nothing is flyable
Bench / in progres: fixing Nox 5, Nox 3, Minimalist 112, Scrap
thinking about building: 450

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#3
Ah, I see the problem. You've bought self-locking props that have the retaining nut as part of the propeller.

As this is your first quad, it's safe to say that you'll be crashing a few times. So, instead of using the carbon fibre propellers, get some GemFan 5x3 props in plastic (both CW and CCW) and a bunch of CW nylon lock nuts. The props will fit on the motor's 5mm shaft and the lock nuts will make sure they stay there.

As you've chosen some reasonably powerful motors and ESCs, you could even look at some 5x4 or 5x4.5 propellers for more power.


The radio is OK and the receiver it comes with will work with the flight controller you've chosen.
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  • fftunes
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#4
Yeah i'd also recommend 5x4 or 5x4.5 props... While 5x3 might work, they provide so little thrust that you end up needing so much more throttle to even just hover that they're effectively less efficient.

Also agree on using locknuts, those unsecured cone nuts can easily come loose.

PS: you didn't mention any batteries?
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#5
(25-Nov-2017, 10:17 AM)unseen Wrote: Ah, I see the problem. You've bought self-locking props that have the retaining nut as part of the propeller.

As this is your first quad, it's safe to say that you'll be crashing a few times. So, instead of using the carbon fibre propellers, get some GemFan 5x3 props in plastic (both CW and CCW) and a bunch of CW nylon lock nuts. The props will fit on the motor's 5mm shaft and the lock nuts will make sure they stay there.

As you've chosen some reasonably powerful motors and ESCs, you could even look at some 5x4 or 5x4.5 propellers for more power.


The radio is OK and the receiver it comes with will work with the flight controller you've chosen.

Precisely the problem. I threw all of them on there for aesthetics and excitement of having one of
these things in my possession.
I'll order some new props. I'd like to stick with 5x3 props if it wont cause any issues.
I thought it might help the model from getting away from me too fast.

I read a lot of blogs last night.

On one of the blogs it was comparing the xm32 and a littlebee 20a. On the HK website it states
that there is a F396 on the naked littlebee I bought. In the blog is states the littlebee's are f330?
Were these ever updated or is the HK website incorrect? I'm not sure if this matters as I'm using an F1
controller, I believe. I have a lot to reread. It's a lot to take in.

At any rate I got the FC and ESCs in the mail today. They're quite small.
I'll have to practice soldering such small areas. But they look intact and decent enough for the money.
I was actually pretty pleased to read about the littlebees in the xm32/FLB20a comparison. This thing might
end up being pretty fun.

So, the FC I bought has a 90A current sensor. The motors were 16a a piece, so that adds up to a possible 96a.
Will this fry anything in the FC or will it only not be able to read any draw beyond 90a?

I'm a bit confused on which firmware to flash on the FC. I should be choosing the NAZE firmware as this
is a clone? Will the F1 FC be able to handle the lastest Firmware or do I need to look into something older
and more appropriate for this board?

I'm not sure about batteries yet. I have some 3s batteries that might be capable to get in the air but
I need to do some maths yet. If they aren't up to the task I'll order something. I've been using some
Turnigy Graphenes lately and I really like them so far so I might have to go with those. Okay, did the
math. Batteries I have are 800mah 3s 45c so they wont cut it... Batteries were a steal at 5 bucks though.
I've been using them in my Vaterra Ascender.

Thanks to everyone that has contributed to the thread and the blogs. I'm definitely lost at sea right now
but I'm definitely learning.

On a side note, I plugged the FC into the USB on my computer and it lights up, so it's not DOA at least.
Or is it.....
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#6
(26-Nov-2017, 01:02 AM)JukeJoint Wrote: Precisely the problem. I threw all of them on there for aesthetics and excitement of having one of
these things in my possession.
I'll order some new props. I'd like to stick with 5x3 props if it wont cause any issues.
I thought it might help the model from getting away from me too fast.

I read a lot of blogs last night.

On one of the blogs it was comparing the xm32 and a littlebee 20a. On the HK website it states
 that there is a F396 on the naked littlebee I bought. In the blog is states the littlebee's are f330?
Were these ever updated or is the HK website incorrect? I'm not sure if this matters as I'm using an F1
 controller, I believe. I have a lot to reread. It's a lot to take in.

There are three incarnations of the firmware that runs most ESCs.

The first was BLHeli and that runs on the F330, F396 and Atmel MCUs. It's competent firmware and fine for your application.
Then there came BLHeli_S which runs on the BB10 and BB21 MCUs. It's more advanced and runs the motors more smoothly due to the new hardware supporting hardware PWM.
Then came BLHeli_32 which runs on STMF0 MCUs, is very new and offers new capabilities on some ESCs like current monitoring.
There are also some other ESCs which use a 32-bit MCU and describe themselves as <something>32, but they run the manufacturer's own firmware rather than BLHeli_32.

There are multiple versions of the Favourite LittleBee ESCs. They never gave them particularly unique names, so it's easy to end up reading something that talks about a similar looking but different ESC to the one you have. In the end, it really doesn't matter unless you want to spin motors that are 5000kv or higher. You should also avoid the temptation to start flashing your ESCs unless you have a good reason to do so.

(26-Nov-2017, 01:02 AM)JukeJoint Wrote: At any rate I got the FC and ESCs in the mail today. They're quite small.
I'll have to practice soldering such small areas. But they look intact and decent enough for the money.
I was actually pretty pleased to read about the littlebees in the xm32/FLB20a comparison. This thing might
end up being pretty fun.

If you're not experienced with soldering, practising on some hobby circuit board is a very good idea. You should be happy with fine soldering before you start taking your iron to stuff that you don't want to damage. You also need a good quality iron with temperature control and good solder. As in all craft, good quality tools are really important if you want to do a good job.

(26-Nov-2017, 01:02 AM)JukeJoint Wrote: So, the FC I bought has a 90A current sensor. The motors were 16a a piece, so that adds up to a possible 96a.
Will this fry anything in the FC or will it only not be able to read any draw beyond 90a?

The maximum current drawn by a motor is normally determined by a static thrust test. These tests tend to inflate the maximum current draw by as much as 35%. I always calculate based on 70% of the reported maximum. You certainly won't see 96A from your setup, so there's no cause for concern.

In this case, the 16A figure you mention is the maximum allowed current for the motor. This is not the same as how much current the motor will actually pull. Actual current draw is a function of the battery voltage, propeller and throttle setting. I tested some EMax 2204 2300kv motors on my thrust stand and with 5030 carbon fibre propellers and 3S power, the current at full throttle was just 8.9 Amps. In reality, I'd expect that to be more like 6.25A. So you have plenty of headroom on the current sensor and plenty of headroom on the motors if you want to go up to 4S or more aggressive propellers.

(26-Nov-2017, 01:02 AM)JukeJoint Wrote: I'm a bit confused on which firmware to flash on the FC. I should be choosing the NAZE firmware as this
is a clone? Will the F1 FC be able to handle the lastest Firmware or do I need to look into something older
and more appropriate for this board?

Your flight controller should indeed be flashed with the NAZE version of whichever firmware you choose. As the old F1 MCU is rather underpowered, you won't be able to use some of the latest and greatest features like DShot ESC protocol or dynamic filters but these boards are supported with limited functionality in the latest Cleanflight and Betaflight. On the next releases, they will be dropping support for F1 based flight controllers, but you're good for now.

The Flip32 should already be flashed with some version of Cleanflight. If it's an old version, you'll need to install an old version of the configurator. If you want to flash the latest Cleanflight, that will work as well. You may need to adjust the settings for the current sensor in the new version and you may also find that you can't use the barometer as it may have been removed from the latest version so that the firmware can fit in the limited memory of the F1 MCU.

There were some serious problems with one of the older Cleanflight releases (I think it was 1.14), so if you are thinking about using the pre-flashed firmware, it would be wise to check which version it is first. (You can use the 'version' command in the CLI.)

(26-Nov-2017, 01:02 AM)JukeJoint Wrote: I'm not sure about batteries yet. I have some 3s batteries that might be capable to get in the air but
I need to do some maths yet. If they aren't up to the task I'll order something. I've been using some
Turnigy Graphenes lately and I really like them so far so I might have to go with those. Okay, did the
math. Batteries I have are 800mah 3s 45c so they wont cut it... Batteries were a steal at 5 bucks though.
I've been using them in my Vaterra Ascender.

While the 800mA/h 45C batteries have enough discharge capacity to fly your hexacopter, you won't get more than three minutes flight time. A larger capacity like 1300 or even 1500mA/h would be better. I have an Armattan Hexacopter with six 1806 2300kv motors and I use 1500mA/h 4S batteries with that.

(26-Nov-2017, 01:02 AM)JukeJoint Wrote: Thanks to everyone that has contributed to the thread and the blogs. I'm definitely lost at sea right now
 but I'm definitely learning.

On a side note, I plugged the FC into the USB on my computer and it lights up, so it's not DOA at least.
Or is it.....

Any questions, just ask away!

One note about your flight controller: The OSD on the Flip32 is run by a separate Atmel MCU which connects internally to your flight controller's MCU via a serial port. This means that you can't set up the OSD from the Cleanflight configurator. The firmware for the OSD is also completely separate from Cleanflight and you need a separate program to flash and configure the OSD. If you need any pointers on that, just shout!
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#7
Wow. You must have the patience of a saint to answer my questions, Unseen! Thank you.

I'll do my best to sit back and read the blogs and forum for awhile.
It's probably best that I get up to speed with how these things work before I take flight.
I would like to continue the build though. I might mock things up today even though there isn't' much.
With the tiny ESCs I think I can get a really clean build.
Has anyone ever shrink-wrapped the arms on their quad?
I was thinking about doing this to keep wires from rubbing and absorb some vibrations from the motors/props.
I have something I want to put over the wrap that I think will look pretty nifty imo, but I'll save that for later.
Gotta keep this newb drawl interesting somehow!
I have some boards that I've pulled from various electronics to recycle so I can get some microscopic soldering practice.
I'll post some pics once I have a few things done.
My soldering skills aren't great, but I've done a few that have held up over time.
Thanks for checking in!
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#8
(27-Nov-2017, 09:50 PM)JukeJoint Wrote: Wow. You must have the patience of a saint to answer my questions, Unseen! Thank you.

Far from it! I'm known in the real world for having little patience with fools. You don't seem to be one - quite the opposite - you want to learn and you're prepared to listen and do your research.

Mocking up how you're going to fit everything and where each part and each wire needs to go is absolutely the right way to approach your first build. The more planning you put into it, the better the results. I'll sit repeatedly with a new frame and all the parts and try different arrangements, swap some parts for others, plan wiring and start again before I actually pick up the soldering iron and start building.

I've shrink wrapped ESCs to arms before, but it doesn't really bring anything to the party. I know you're thinking of covering the shrink wrap with something and that will probably help to not make the arms look terrible after their first few doses of mud and grass, but covering the ESCs in three layers of wrapping will be terrible for getting rid of the heat that they generate.
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#9
I'm hoping to mount the ESCs inboard. They're so tiny I think it'll be doable even for my skill level. I thought it would be a good idea to keep them out of harm's way (first drone, I mean rc model) and to achieve a clean build and so I can change the arm color without paint(heatshrink). Not that the Thorax is any kind of racer but having more weight inboard I'd assume it would be more agile. I'm thinking it would improve efficiency as well, however miniscule that measurement may be. 4-5 grams on each arm for the ESCs isn't much but I'm also considering the drag coefficient. It's always windy where I live. I've had a epp or whatever foam airplane for about 3 years that I've gotten to fly about 3 times... I'm definitely overthinking at times! But these things are all about the details it seems and that's been part of the fun. No work tomorrow so I'll mock up a bit and hopefully get more feedback. I also "printed" a bunch of blogs as PDFs on my pc at a coffee shop today so I have a lot of reading and learning ahead of me.
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#10
Placed the PDB, ESCs & lazily mocked up the power wires.
   
If I make a top and bottom spacer for the arms from cardstock I should be able to fit the ESCs with vented heatshrink or some equivalent. They barely slipped in.
   
Mounted the FC to get an idea of what size hardware I'll need. How close to the PDB can the FC be.. it's slightly lowered to get closer to the axi. I just make stuff up and hope it makes sense!
   
Couple of overall pics sans a load of wiring and components.
   
I think it would make me bonkers to build one of these under this 310 rotorbase (wheelbase(who started that?)) Much respect to those that do. 
   
All of this was done without much research into component placement so I'm sure I'll need to make changes. But I had some fun and the CoG moved only slightly to the rear, if that matters at this point. Should I have a scale for each corner to help get the best flight characteristics?
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#11
As long as the weight distribution isn't insanely out, it really doesn't matter.

An unbalanced weight distribution only starts to become a problem when some of the motors run out of spare thrust. For example, if the quad was ridiculously rear heavy so that the rear motors were at 90% and the front motors at 50% when hovering.

Multirotors move through differential thrust. Therefore, your maximum throttle at hover should be 50%. This leaves the other 50% for the flight controller to use.

Keep your PDB well separated from the flight controller. Obviously, they can't touch and there should be enough room that they can't touch in a crash. Unless you're trying to use a compass that's built in to the flight controller, the magnetic fields generated by the high currents that flow on a PDB are not normally a problem.
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#12
Thanks, Unseen.

The QB66 came awhile ago. Finagled that into place for a rough mock-up. I'd like to make my own tuned antenna for it at some point. I may have slightly bent the one fitted to it, but it looks alright.

I'll be ordering batteries and radio equipment next week so I need to make a decision of what to buy for a Tx and Rx. The Turnigy TGY-i10 is on sale right now. I thought this may be a good option I can grow into. After this Thorax crashes and burns I have another frame I'll build with better components so I think it's better to get a decent Tx now. I really don't want to spend over $125-150 though.
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#13
Hey Juke, personally I would go with the Taranis QX7 which is around this price point, if you can stretch the budget for the TX another $40, the Taranis X9D is on BangGood at $189, this does include battery and charger, but no RX.

The receivers from FrSky are generally better ie. more features (telemetry, RSSI etc.) than TGY or FlySky, I think you will also get better range from FrSky as well.
Windless fields and smokeless builds
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#14
The tgy's don't have rssi but some do have telemetry. The i10 also comes with a couple telemetry sensors, one receiver and seems like a good deal at 100 dollars. It may be more user friendly for me having a bigger touch screen as well. The x9d is a bit more than I care to spend without having much included. Hopefully it doesn't seem like I'm disregarding your opinion. I did look into the Taranis more than I have before. Are manuals available? Not sure what the date was but one comment was that they're sold separately which would steer me away from that supporting the brand forever..

Specs of the i10... More than I found of the Taranis.

Looking for a 10 channel radio system complete with on board telemetry? The Turnigy TGY-i10 has arrived! The TGY-i10 is bursting with features which are perfect for the modeller who requires maximum control and real time telemetry.

The TGY-i10 uses 2.4GHz AFHDS 2 (automatic frequency hopping digital system 2) which spans the whole frequency band. Equipped with a high sensitivity receiver, this radio system guarantees an optimal and highly secure link between the transmitter and receiver.

The innovative design of the new TGY-i10 makes the handset extremely lightweight while the menu items and data is presented on its 3.55 inch TFT touch screen!

The TGY-i10 radio system uses high gain, high quality multi directional antennas, each transmitter has a unique ID, when binding, the receiver saves that unique ID and will only accept signals from the transmitter it is matched with, this prevents interference from any other radios and ensures the safety of your model.

The TGY-i10 radio system utilizes extremely efficient components and high speed processor chips for those complicated mixing settings. In comparison this radio system uses 1/10th of the power of a standard FM system.

Another key feature of the TGY-i10 is its telemetry capabilities, the radio system has the ability to monitor real time rpm / voltage and temperature data which provides added security when flying your models.

If you require more than 10 channels an i-Bus receiver (TGY-AEV01) is included, which will provide you with an extra 4 channels which allows an additional 16 servos to be connected.

The TGY-i10 really is one of the most intelligent and innovative radio systems available today and all at a price that will not break the bank!

Features:
• 2.4 GHz AFHDS 2 (automatic frequency hopping digital system)
• Compatible with all TGY AFHDS receivers
• Real time telemetry monitors signal strength, Rx voltage, flight pack voltage, RPM and temperature
• Audio and visual warnings when limits are exceeded
• 3.55 inch, 240 by 400 pixels (WQVGA) colour, high contrast TFT-LCD touch screen
• Power on/off safety feature
• 3 way switch x 2, 2 way switch x 5, momentary switch x 1 and slider control switch x 2
• Easy access pop up / down VR controllers x 3
• High-precision double ball bearing gimbal and ergonomic design
• Double antenna structure for improved signal transmission
• 20 model memory including memory expansion slot
• Free software upgrades available online

Transmitter Functions Include:
General functions: Flight conditions, linear / curve mixing, functions / channel / throttle delays, channel mixing, logic switches, Aircraft type, RX setup, dual rates / expo, endpoint adjustment, channel offset, trim / subtrim, throttle down / curve / delay / reverse, system menu, model name, timers etc.
Airplane / Glider functions: Aileron / flap / spoiler, elevator to flap, butterfly, V-tail, dual elevator etc.
Helicopter functions: Throttle hold / mix / curve, pitch curve, swashplate mixing / type / ring, governor, gyroscope etc.

Specs:
Channels: 10
Model Type: Helicopter / airplane / glider
RF Range: 2.4055-2.475GHz
bandwidth: 500KHz
Band: 140
RF Power: Less than 20 dBm
2.4G system: AFHDS2A
Code type: GFSK
Low Voltage Warning: Yes (less than 3.75V)
DSC port: Yes (USB, HID)
Memory Expansion: SD card
Antenna Length: 26mmx2
Weight: 620 grams (with battery)
Battery Capacity: 3.7V (1700mAh)
Dimension: 195 x 189 x 43mm

Package Includes:
(TGY-iA10) 10 Channel 2.4GHz receiver
(TGY-BA1700) Li-ion battery 1700mah
(TGY-ATM01) Thermometer sensor
(TGY-AVT01) Voltage sensor (optical module)
(TGY-APD02) RPM sensor
(TGY-AEV01) I-bus receiverMicro USB cable
Trainer Cable
Stylus pen
User Manual (CD)
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#15
I actually wrote the FlySky buyers guide on Oscar's blog quite recently!
The i10 is feature packed, but in all honesty I think the touchscreen is still a bit of a gimmick, however it has pushed radio development to the next stage when you look at the new Spektrum IX12!!!

The Telemetry sensors included with the i10 are separate sensor modules that you attach to the RX, so not really ideal for keeping the weight down! Despite what you find on the product page, I promise you will find more how-to's on youtube for setting up telemetry and all the other bells and whistles you get from an FrSky Taranis than informational video's for the i10. 

The Taranis QX7 is $99, without the required LiPo battery or RX, and the manual is FREE to download from the BangGood product page!
Another good looking radio at a similar price point is the Devo 10, which can be flashed with Deviation firmware to allow compatibility with lots of RTF micro's.

I will make a poll thread for Transmitters, so we can get an idea from the community...
Windless fields and smokeless builds
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