Quadcopter Build: Update

So, several weeks later, actually, we were finally able to get back to our quadcopter project after waiting on some parts, which had been backordered.  We have been very fortunate to be working with GetFPV.com, who helped supply us with some our parts and we are documenting our Build and working in partnership with the Tampa Hackerspace, so others can follow our build and get involved.  Since we started, we’ve had a lot of people contact us with questions to start their own project.  We’ll answer some of the more FAQ about Building Your Own Quad!  Picking The Frame:  This is probably one of the least expensive parts of your quad if you are not doing a RTF quad.

Working with Tampa Hackerspace

Working with Tampa Hackerspace

We researched DOZENS of possibilities before deciding on a frame.  And that was key!  DO YOUR RESEARCH.  Don’t just order something off Hobby King, or download a model off Instructables and 3D print one without first considering what your goals are.  Is your goal Learning to Fly RC, Stunt Flying, or FPV Filming– because you have to consider size and weight of the Quadcopter, the weight of the motors, battery and any camera equipment you may be carrying.  You can make a quad frame out of PVC, Aluminum, or Wood, even LEGO!  High Quality frames are carbon fiber or a combination, because they absorb the vibration of the motors and props. How we chose our frame:  1. Our quadcopter was going to be financial investment, motors, flight controller, GPS, camera– several hundred dollars.  We thought it would be foolish to skimp on the frame when were investing a lot of time and money into what was being attached to it.  2. We wanted a quadcopter frame that could accommodate camera equipment. 3. After doing a lot of reading and talking to experts, we knew wiring was going to be our biggest challenge and we wanted to get that right, because Speed Controllers and Motors are expensive.  (Having been around FTC, everyone is sensitive to the costs and wiring of their Tetrix DC motors and Servos, so that was already ingrained in us!)  We determined using a Frame with a Power Distribution Board would be the most efficient. 4.  We selected a Quad type and frame based on our estimate that we would most likely have to replace parts.  We wanted to pair a frame with motors/speed controllers that were the most reliable and least likely to fail (also a lesson we’ve learned from robotics) and propellers that were inexpensive and readily available.  We have since already had our first successful flight!  All the advance work we put in on the project has paid off.

JD attaching the Power Distribution Board

Attaching the Power Distribution Board

All of our wiring and soldering was perfect.  We were wise to invest the time in a Power Distribution Board.  This functions exactly as described– distributing your power evenly across your motors and speed controllers.  When you build a quad, it’s all wiring, you’re wiring the ESC (Speed Controllers) to the Motors and those to the Flight controller and then to your battery and then to your camera.  If you just start soldering or plugging stuff in… ouch!  That’s a lot of time and money that can go awry pretty quick!  Our next goals are learning to fly our quadcopter without crashing it!  We also need to do more research with our Radio/Transmitter that we selected.  We know it works and Sumukh did a good job binding it to our Quad, but we need more practice with the controls and its features.  We also haven’t installed the GPS with our Naza Flight Controller yet and haven’t attached our camera.  Keep Tuning In!

Quad Build: Week One

We took inventory of all our parts.  Our (4) motors are backordered.  Our Radio Received and Transmitter also didn’t arrive because of the snow storms up North last week.  Additional items that don’t come with quad components are extra wiring and soldering materials.  We had these items from FTC, so we were okay.  We first talked about all the Lumenier parts provided by our partner www.GetFPV.com .  We are grateful that this local Distributor took interest in Brick Buddies and our Build Project. We looked at what parts of the Build we could move forward with, minus the motors. photo 2 We decided we would be able solder the Speed Controllers to the Power Distribution Board.  The QAV 250 makes a nice integrated Board as part of this small Quad. Lumenier provides some good support and assembly instructions for the Frame of the QAV 250.  No soldering instructions come with the Parts, so we searched Youtube for video, to confirm we were on the right track.  We each took turns soldering the (4) ESCs to the Board.  This was A LOT of soldering. photo 4  The QAV has also two integrated LED strips which we also completed soldering and attaching to the Board.  We will meet again when our other parts arrive.  At our next practice, we hope to attach the motors and bind the Radio to our Quad.  We think get all the wiring correct with the electronics will be the most challenging part of the Build!  We will document our Build and provide a Resource Page for people who want to get involved in the Quadcopter Hobby and buy or build their own.

Robots At Rushe – Just Around The Corner

Time flies when it’s November and the first FLL Qualifying Tournament on the West Coast is just weeks away.  Brick Buddies is hosting their Annual Robots At Rushe tournament on Saturday, November 23rd from 9am – 4pm.  The event is free and open to the public to come watch.  Charles S. Rushe Middle School, Land O Lakes, Florida. IMG_0190  Robot Rounds will be held in the school cafeteria.  16 teams will be competing from the following area schools: Rushe Middle; Bayonet Point Middle; Crews Lake Middle, Chasco Middle School, Walker Middle Magnet, Roland Park Elementary, Robles Elementary, and Academy of the Lakes.

You can watch the Robot Competition from 9:00 – 2:00pm.

SUPER SENIOR WEEKEND THIS SUNDAY!

With official news of our State Bid assured, we’re taking a break this weekend to work with FIRST’s youngest group of kids!  We’re hosting Super Jr. 2013 at LEGOLAND this weekend.  We have over 30 teams attending! (We have an issue turning people away!) Sunday will be largest gathering of Jr. FLL teams in Florida.
We have teams coming from all parts of the State–  from Tampa to Orlando, to Jacksonville, to Mount Dora, to a local team right there in Winter Haven. IMGP5667 The weather is going to be great and we are excited to see all the LEGO models and talk to the teams.  We’ve been prepping like crazy making dozens of trophies and I know it’s hard to believe, but we may be low on LEGO now!

Wanna join in!  The Jr. FLL Expo runs 10am – 2pm at the LEGOLAND Lakeside Pavilion.  This is also “Friends Weekend” at the Park, so if you’re a passholder, we’d love to see you this Sunday, February 10th!

ROBOTS AT RUSHE – GREAT FLL DAY IN PASCO COUNTY

The reviews and results are in from our inaugural FLL Qualifier in Pasco County this past weekend.  STEM is catching on in Pasco!  We saw a lot of success in the all of the new Pasco County middle school based teams that participated. IMGP5272 We hope the First LEGO League program will expand to include some elementary teams next season as well.  Because 4th and 5th graders can be tough competitors.  The community team from Brandon’s Tech Playzone proved that with their young group of Techno Whizards who were awarded Tournament Champions.  Team IBOTS and Terrapins Reds tied for the high score of the day, both scoring a Table Run of 305 points, a huge score at early tournament!  Newcomers from Chasco Middle School, Gigabotz won the coveted FLL Core Values Award.  Team IBOTS won for Robot Design.  In the Project Category, Patriot Robots, from Bayonet Point MIddle, took 1st Place.  Also from Bayonet Point, Patriot Robotics, were recognized with the Rising Star Award.  From John Long Middle, Green Flames took home the award for FIRST Spirit, for showcasing great sportsmanship and Gracious Professionalism.  Teams that advanced to Regionals were Techno Whizards, Patriot Robots, and Terrapins Red.  Congratulations to everyone!  We had a blast.

Time For SUPER JR. 2013

Brick Buddies has been busy this week.  After catching our breath from a great Workshop Day for our area FLL teams, we’ve switched gears to our younger FIRST fans in Jr. First LEGO League.  We’ve started hosting a very unique Jr. FLL Expo and this season, we’ve gone big time and are working with LEGOLAND, Florida.  We’ve now opened registration for Super Jr. 2013 which will be held on Sunday, February 10th.  Details can be found under the Super Jr 2013. tab.  If you are a Jr. FLL Team in Florida, we hope to see you in February!  

OH MY, OCTOBER!

It doesn’t take a math whiz to figure out how four kids are dividing up all the programming and building responsibilities of two different robotics competitions.  There is no sitting on the sidelines on our team. No mentors doing the work; no dads building the robot; no heading out to somebody’s shop.   It’s literally all hands on deck by Brick Buddies team members at practice these days.  In order to meet the demands and deadlines of both MoonBots and Ring It Up, the kids split up tasks every Sunday.  Two members tackle MoonBots, from building all the Game Elements and LEGO Models, to building and programming the NXT Mindstorm. Then, in a coordination similar to a army tactical order, the 6×6 Game is packed and shipped off to a team member’s home for the week, so work can continue!  Right now, two members at a time, hold down the FTC duties, (and you thought we were small when we had three!)   Team members had to divide and conquer to first get the field cut and put together.  While everyone discussed game strategy and robot design, two members are working to order parts and get a chassis built.  While other teams will have some clear advantages over us, time, manpower, access– the kids have become extremely bonded working so closely together.  And, also in the middle of this craziness, Brick Buddies is host to the largest Workshop Training Day in Florida on October 27th.  Teams will becoming from across the State for team workshops and coaches training.  It’s tough right in the middle of the Build Season, but we enjoy giving back and seeing all the teams.

BACK TO SPACE, sort of…

We had a quite a whirlwind weekend of robotics this past week.  With so much excitement, it’s easy to lose sight of such silly things like school and work!  Saturday was the big FTC season Kick-Off in Orlando and everyone was so eager to get started, that we met again on Sunday to start strategizing and get the Field Build going. Tossing rings and lifting robots.  We were all a little dizzy!  But before all that, we took our ‘work-in-progress’ MoonBots Game and went to check-in over at Earthrise Space, Inc. with our favorite Google Lunar X Prize Team, Omega Envoy.  It was great to catch up and get an update on their progress.  And, we thought we were busy!  Ruben and Joe are pretty busy. A lot has changed over there since we visited in June.  They are expanding their Lab and work spaces. We got a full tour!  We saw the Tilt Table they made for testing the rover — pretty awesome.   We also got to see what the “clean room” was like.  We got to meet Max, who is new to the Team.  Who doesn’t want to work on getting back to the moon?  We talked about MoonBots Phase II, the upcoming deadlines, and they gave us some great feedback on our Lunar Landscape.  We showed some of our preliminary Game Missions, including our top secret Mission for Marvin.  As always, can’t wait to go back!

FLL Senior Solutions Challenge Released!!

Hey FLL friends.  Several coaches have asked where the Robot Game video is posted.  If you went on the FIRST website today, there is a FLL informational video posted and then Scott Evan’s video explaining the game is linked halfway down the page.  It looks to be a great season.  Don’t forget to read the Mission and Game Rules!  Here is a link.  

WITH MUCH GRATITUDE…

Even though it’s still summer, we’re already full steam ahead into the 2012-2013 FTC season.  We are very fortunate to have a variety of companies supporting our efforts this year.  RAYTHEON is returning as our main sponsor.    We are very grateful they continue to provide both financial and mentor support.  We want to thank BrickBuildr who is helping the team by providing our tournament give-aways this season. Pretty cool– so stop by our Pit!    We have a new partner in Earthrise Space, Inc. and Google Lunar X Prize Team, Omega Envoy.  They have offered us the use of their facility and technical assistance this season fabricating parts.  And finally, Team Brick Buddies has been lucky enough to team up with THINK GEEK to receive refurbished robotics kits for Outreach projects.  Awesome!   We have had such a great response from the community.  Thank you to all of our partners!