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!

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ON THE ROAD AGAIN!

Before team members head back to school Monday, Brick Buddies took to the road one last time this season out to the Seminole League Meet at University High School in Orange City. (What are the odds that there were two Meets at Florida on the same day at two schools called University High School?).  Their League boasts some of the friendliest Tournament volunteers we’ve met to date and some really great teams and stiff competition.  Lyman High School teams, B.A.D (3045) and G.O.O.D (4228) had a huge presence but displayed great GP on and off the field offering their help if we needed it since we had traveled.  Both teams have all around great game play and despite BAD, being called Built & Dangerous, they’re definitely both dangerous on the field! We were also impressed at all the great alliance partnering in the Seminole League.

JD, praying the robot doesn't fall off before the buzzer!

JD, praying the robot doesn’t fall off before the buzzer!

We won one match thanks to some great driving by our alliance partners, Electric Narwhals (132). And,Team 4227, Kiss My Bot is really showing Florida FTC how it’s done, when it comes to perfecting the End Game Lift.  We were excited to find ourselves in an alliance with them!  It’s a shame they couldn’t have traveled to any outside Meets this season, because their End Game Lift is show not to be missed. The Seminole League also seemed to have a huge contingent of female FTC competitors, more it seems than we’ve seen anywhere else!  Even the MC, was a gal.  A whoop, whoop to them. We had a great time with some great teams!

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.

How Lucky Can We Get!

We are a small cohesive team, sometimes for better or worse. There is no hiding in the background on our team! There is no time to ‘learn the ropes.’  So, with all of that in mind, we are so pleased to welcome our newest member, Sumukh Shivakumar, who will be a sophomore this year in the IB program at Land O Lakes High School.  He comes to Team Brick Buddies equipped with some mean JAVA programming skills from an extensive program at USF.  He is active in Mu Alpha Theta and competitive mathematics!  He plays the Indian drums and piano and likes playing tennis. Sumukh enjoys challenging problem solving games like Sudoku, Minesweeper, and Chess. We are happy to help add FIRST Robotics to Sumukh’s wide variety of activities!