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  1. #1

    Beginner Seeking Advice on First Quadcopter Build for GoPro Footage

    Hi everyone. New to this forum and new to the quadcopter world. And frankly, I'm new to the r/c world in general lol

    However, I am not new to GoPro videos and the reason I'm here is because I want to take my footage to the air. After much research, I've settled on a quadcopter as the ideal platform. After much more research, I've come up with the following parts list. Gross price is around $260 from HobbyKing.

    Weight & Thrust Requirement

    Assuming I've done the math right and my weight estimates are close, this configuration may be overpowered and was hoping to get advice on this in particular:

    * total estimated weight including GoPro camera and case: 1,725 grams
    * thrust required: 3,450 grams
    * using 12x6E props at 1,010 grams per prop or 4,040 grams total; well over the 3,450 required (as per the indications on the motor page - see below for link)

    Frame

    I've opted for the HT-450 quad frame with the Dead Cat conversion kit to accomodate the GoPro. It looks like I could fashion tall landing gears and mount on the underbelly on the HT-450 alone but decided I liked the wider front arms of the conversion kit and placement of the GoPro.

    * HT-450 Quad Frame Kit BLACK
    * Dead Cat Conversion Kit for SK450 Quadcopter Frame

    I'm hoping to use this quadcopter to take a lot of footage over open ocean (approx 50-100 yards from shore) of surfing. I had looked into the "Project X" waterproof frame but decided as a beginner, I don't quite trust myself to install compontents into such tight and confined spaces. Another reason why I opted for this frame setup.

    Motor & Props

    Stability and smoothness are my primary aim here so I can get optimal video footage so I was hoping to use a higher KV motor as I'd read higher KV offered slower but smoother acceleration. But the 1000KV motor I had looked at listed 9 and 8 as compatible props and these did not get me the minimum prop thrust I needed. So I've identified the following 900KV motor:

    * NTM Prop Drive Series 28-30S 900kv / 270w (short shaft version)

    I've selected these 12x3.8 props since I was having a hard time finding the 12/6 suggested on the motor page above. I'm not too sure how this might throw off my thrust calculation of 4,040 total thrust from 12x6E.

    * Slow Fly Electric Prop 1238 (4 pc - Black)
    * Slow Fly Electric Prop 1238 (4 pc - Black) Right Hand Rotation

    ESC & Battery

    The max amp rating on the motors is 20 amps so I picked out this 30 amp ESC:

    * Turnigy Multistar 30 Amp Multi-rotor Brushless ESC 2-4S (OPTO)
    * Turnigy Multistar 30 Amp Multi-rotor Brushless ESC 2-4S

    Is that too much buffer on the amps? Also I had read that at least one of the ESCs had to be non-OPTO (second ESC linked to above). Is this accurate?

    I've also picked out the following Turnigy programming card:

    * Turnigy Multistar ESC Programming Card

    The battery is a 4000mAh 3S 25C. The minimum amp current for all the motors is 72 amps and the battery amp is 100. Again, too much buffer? Any harm in such a buffer on the battery and ESCs? I'm also opting to get this low voltage alarm which seems like a very smart buy for the price as well as a starp, charger, and breakout cable:

    * ZIPPY Compact 4000mAh 3S 25C Lipo Pack
    * Turnigy balancer & Charger 2S-3S
    * On-Board Lipoly Low Voltage Alarm 2s~3s
    * Turnigy Battery Strap 330mm
    * XT60 to 4 X 3.5mm bullet Multistar ESC Power Breakout Cable

    Flight Controller

    I really need some advice here. Down the road, I would really like to incorporate gps functionality including altitude hold or minimum, gps homing, etc. But for now, I've picked out this KK2.0 flight controller because I understand it does not need to be hooked up to a computer (controls on an onboard lcd screen), its very affordable, and generally good for beginners. Should I go ahead with this or bite the bullet and go with a more advanced controller that I can then grow into?

    * Hobbyking KK2.0 Multi-rotor LCD Flight Control Board

    Transmitter & Receiver

    I've picked out this transmitter and receiver set mostly due to price. My concern here is when I do incorporate gps features, will this set be able to accommodate those features? Should I opt for a 6 channel set for future proofing?

    * Turnigy 4X FHSS 2.4ghz Transmitter and Reciever (Mode 2)
    * Turnigy XR4000 4CH 2.4GHz Receiver for Turnigy 4X TX

    Lastly, I know this hobby is not a cheap hobby and I don't mean to diminish that significance by any measure. But I need to be frank that I am very much liking this price point of $260-ish. Of course, I'd initially looked at the RTF products out there namely the DJI Phantom and another that appears to be a identical flyer. So I decided to see if I could make one more affordably but, more importantly, so I understand exactly what is going into this quadcopter and these parts do.

    Again, any advice, feedback, or comments would really be appreciated. Thanks.
    Last edited by the.ronin; 09-30-2013 at 12:28 PM.

  2. #2

    Join Date
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    Just my own 2 cents worth, after flying RC planes for 12+ years and starting in quadrotors, I started with a Turnigy HAL and the Hobbyking flight board. It's an ok setup but you have to be pretty easy on the sticks and really focus on which direction is really forward while you're flying because all your stick movements are based on that. After lots of flying (and some crashing) finally decided to upgrade especially trying to do some aerial photography. The DJI NAZA series controllers are way more stable then the hobbyking boards, and give you some really nice features like auto decent when the battery is getting to low, and the GPS is great to be able to let go of the sticks and just go into a hover wherever you might be rather then trying to continue to correct for any drift. If you're really serious about getting into quads and aerial photography, I'd recommend a 1SQ micro quad as great practice, something you can just buzz around the living room, and probably one of the best quads to start with and will last a long time would be the DJI Phantom, comes complete with radio, batteries, motors, everything plus there are lots of different camera mounts available. For more of a beginner quad, certainly won't keep up with aerial photography as well as the Phantom, is the Blade 350 QX, great for GoPro videos and certainly a lot more reasonably priced then the Phantom, plus there's no real assembly required for either.

    As for the accessories you have listed, I've used the multistar 30amp (OPTO) esc since the NAZA powers the receiver, I also got the programming card and never had to use it, everything worked together right out of the box. As for motors, I used the NTM series 35-30 series and a 4S battery, had tons of power and still a pretty reasonable flight time. The motors are extremely durable and are pretty easy to get replacement parts for.

    Whichever direction you go, just practice quite a bit and get comfortable with the quad especially at different orientations before taking her out above water and make sure to post some videos!
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Here's my H.A.L. before it was retired for a DJI F550, FPV camera, GoPro and DJI Naza w/ GPS.

  3. #3

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    This is Tim, you are fine with that set-up ypu have mentioned above. I was going to get the same thing.Have fun!

  4. #4
    marktur's Avatar
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    Hey - I'm a surfer, too...and I'm on my second quad. I would suggest to go with the MultiWii (Crius All In One Pro) because the KK doesn't support GPS. I am flying a KK now, and it's nice and easy to configure with the screen right there, but limited on what you can do. For a couple bucks more, go with the Crius or Naza if money isn't an issue and you don't like to "tinker".

    I just built an ATG Reptile XX T4 12 and I really like the frame. I started with an X525 (look on ebay for the complete kit) and I moved all the electronics to the Reptile just the other day...much easier to see (orientation) in the sky. You can see a couple of YouTube videos of it - search for the model or my name - I'm Mark Turkel.

    When I decide it's time to do some surfing photography, I'll go to the pier and stand even with the lineup and fly from there. I will (DEFINITELY) be attaching empty water bottles to each of the arms in case something bad happens...it will allow me to rescue the downed quad, and possible keep the electronics out of the water. I may also fashion a "splash shield" from a glad bag and wrap it around the bottom and let the legs poke through for landing. Salt water KILLS electronics, and salt-air does too, just more slowly.

    I live in Palm Beach, Florida - where are you?
    Mark Turkel, PalmBeachSoftware.com
    ATG Reptile XX-T4-12 Quadcopter (450)
    Top Flite Cessna 310, Saito 80's - FOR SALE - NEVER FLOWN

  5. #5

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    You would be better off using slow flight 10x4.7 props. E props are heavy and drastically cut your flight time
    over kill is my thing. Chuckie

  6. #6

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    Zx10rracer
    hello. I am looking to start an aerial photography business using The Phantom 2 Vision. Is this platform all that it boast to be? How do these things do in wind. And my math is not great what is the range in ft. Will an iPad work on this? I am trying to keep the cost at around $1,500. I am new to this having only flown a few planes many years ago. Is this the best RTF system you would recommend? I have a startup cap for the business of around $5,000 so any suggestion would be appreciated. Sorry to bombard you with all these questions but after viewing some of your post you seem to know what your talking about. I thank you in advance for any help you might be able to give me.
    Thanks Paul

  7. #7

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    Better check in to the laws on having license for opperating an aerial photo business
    over kill is my thing. Chuckie

  8. #8

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    Let me try to address a few issues with the original post and some of the replies:

    1. The parts list in the original post is not sufficient for high quality video. It would be fine for personal/hobby use but if you expect to use it commercially it will basically be unusable due to wobble. You will need a brushless gimbal for really smooth video. You are going to be well into a grand for a really nice setup and almost might as well buy a Phantom 2 with H3-2D gimbal.
    More info and examples: http://cameradojo.com/2014/03/26/get...l-photography/

    2. The Phantom 2 Vision is not suitable for a business. The camera has a 140 degree field of view which creates extreme fisheye effect.
    Phantom 2 Vision video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=foK6qQgKxJY
    -Kerry


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