Posts Tagged ‘hobby


Droning around

Where are the drones? fiddling around and tinkering with electronics has always been a pastimes for me and over the years there has been a growth in programming small-scale electronics. The latest is drones an easy to get into hobby as the parts as with most other electronics these days is inexpensive and can be bought in stages, not only parts but kits, microprocessors, sensors and the like. The hobby is so diverse these days the inexpensive components can be sourced from overseas and with the small weight and postal system shipping involved, no longer a high cost for shipping , in most cases free shipping or a small charge for tracking packages from the pacific rim. Might be a little longer than a several day delivery, once your pipeline is started, the competition and scale of manufacturing allows you to purchase parts for literally several dollars (USD) each allowing you to build you inventory over a period of time and them assemble your project.

Here’s a drone that I switched over from the original Protocol frame and chassis to the Sunfounder frames and motors. The original Protocol gear train failed.

Propulsion : 4 , x 7 x 20 direct drive brushed motors

Propellers : 2 cw and 2 ccw   55 x 3 MM double blade propellers, 70 MM maximum friction fit to motor shaft

Flight  controller, Protocol Air Videodrone AP , altitude sensor

Transmitter, Protocol Videodrone AP

Chassis: 118mm carbon fibre Sunfounder 6D with Protocol 1S battery holder and flight controller mounting.

Illumination: 2 forward facing green photonic  emitting diodes

                               2 rear facing red photonic  emitting diodes

Video capability, none

Power module, 1S lipo cell , 250 to 500 MA capacity available


Alas the drone flew well, this one has altitude stabilation, but the mixing of the different type of 1S batteries (amp hours), led to a reverse polarity connection which the flight controller didn’t like and failed to work after that. The parts will be returned to the parts bin less the flight controller.


Next up is the UDI unplugged version, just the basic for flight. Gear train and bearing style propulsion, different brushed type motors and propellers can be tested.  The longest lasting drone I’ve had to fly. Altitude stabilization not too good with this drone, oscillates and plenty of feedback on the thrust stick needed to stabilize. Mostly stock parts. I’ve had to improvise and use bushings on the Fiberglass main output shafts to mount  propellors other than the UDI one. Brushed motors will have a limited life, and currently most of the smaller drones now utilize smaller brushless induction motors, which need electronic speed controllers and ascosiated hardware and programming.


The UDI props are about 5 inch and are light and thin gauge but wide.

Flight controller utilizes plugin lighting and motor connection.IMG_3640

Photonic emitters are one per each propulsion, blue/red front/back configuration assembly; two, 2 each white led strips on the bottom and one forward facing white emitter that indicates headless mode on/off by the transmitter setting.IMG_3641

Nice wheelbase dimension here allows up to 6 inch props… Stuts could be modified in lenght. A bit under powered, no liftoff with 5030 inch tri blade props.IMG_3642

Gear train assembly, rugged, not any problem with gears, have to bush up shaft with aftermarket props to prevent shaft slipping and gears on the main shaft not aligning with pinion.IMG_3643

Top of main propulsion shaft is flat keyed for props and utilizes set screw mounting via shaft.IMG_3644

6 inch props mounted


Utilized bushings provided with aftermarket standard 6030×2 props and screws to fit the 4mm fiberglass main propulsion shafts.IMG_4093

Rats nest style flight controller wiringIMG_4095

Secure by drilled holes in prop with screw. (maybe prop is mounted upside down) Flyable with the 6 inch props but a bit sluggish.IMG_4096

Whats next ? switching over to a Flyski (That’s how I pronounce it) transmitter, various compatible brushed and brushless flight controllers, recievers, power distribution, ESC’s boards and motors and frames. Batteries, in the voltage range needed can be pricy. Tinkering with power supply voltage and current monitoring measuring and charging of the LIPOs. Once the necessary parts and hardware and all the other bits and pieces are received the build and testing will begin of various drone configurations. Changes are always happening to the drone market and smaller more powerful brushless drones mostly racing class are in favor now. Another advantage to this hobby is that there is plenty of guidance and info available for the hobbyist, from you tube tutorials to online software to program your hardware. Happy Flying!


Drone restoration

One of the drones I purchased on Ebay for repair the Spyder XL, had a smaller drone included a Zero Gravity X1- HD  , no remote just the drone.

The other drone that needed repair is a Protocol AR Video Drone: Upright motor,  gear reduction setup, main shaft gears have a keyed hex projection on top for propeller attachment. 1 s battery power. Standard video and still image camera with on board memory card.

Basically, I used the gears from the  Zero Gravity X1- HD and swapped them to the Protocol AR video drone also purchased from Ebay for repair. I had been searching for replacement parts for the Protocol because they were stripped, but no luck. I thought of swapping the entire flight controller from the Protocol to the other drone that had a good gear  train but swapped the gears instead , the  gears were almost a perfect replacement, I had to slightly drill out the bore of the propeller gears with a small drill just holding the drill by a pair of pliers as the Protocol drone main shafts were about .2mm diameter larger. The main shaft is slightly knurled. The gears are press fit to both the motors and the main shaft.



IMG_2208Gears swapped and installed…. Some big hairy capacitors on board..


Ready for flight testing, propellers from the Zero Gravity drone also swapped to the protocol.



Propeller guards installed.

Revving motors for testing.


At first it didn’t seem to fly as well as it should, now, the original propellers were installed and notice the slight difference in width and pitch . Just this slight  difference made the  performance much better.


This has altitude control, more stable in  flight, camera and 4 gig video card for photo and video. I bored a hole on the cover for the antenna and marked the counter clock wise propellers and front with a paint pen. A sharp looking drone in  flat black and gold. The LEDs are not as visible as other drones, a bit visible from the motors and more visible from the underside.

Once the fascination  of steadily flying the drone wears off you tend to want to race it through the house. Testing other functions and camera.

Protocol Video AP Drone For Parts Or Repair Ebay, $20.00 shipping $6.61


Update : after much flying and racing through the house, the drone got hung up and one of the motors no longer gives enough power for stable flight. Replacements on order.

Also the listings on motors for replacements from websites, are providing more detail as far as voltage, current and rpm. So with the proper test equipment, measurements can be taken to troubleshoot problems.


What do do if you can’t fly?

tweaking settings on this simulator and using the 4 channel transmitter from the Multi wii, more on this on a later post.


Multicopters repair and comments


The Spyder XL was another Ebay purchase, after checking out the multicopter, the propellers are attached to the main shafts by tiny screws, some of them either shear off or strip out so the propellers can’t be attached or they slip. This may be a feature so that the motors won’t stall and be damaged.  The replacement/repair was propeller adapters and modification of the spare props I had on hand. The propellers adapters  had to have spacers (grommets) put on the main shafts or the bearings would ride up the main shaft when in use. A quick modification of the original Spyder XL  propellers was required so they would be a thru hole mount on the propellers adapters.



Another modification was cutting the main shafts so they didn’t require spacers. Later ,I found and purchased suitable replacement shafts online and replaced all four of them. The propeller guards supplied with the drone were also attached but were flimsy, testing the drone indoors and practicing my flying skills bent and damaged the guards. This drone has quit a bit of power, the most powerful one that I have flown. 2S batteries power this quad.

The main shaft replacements I found online were the correct length but the gears did not match the originals as there is not a specific replacement listing for all the parts for a Spyder XL.  If you do repair work this is common as some drone manufacturers don’t  provide the specifications or continue to supply replacements. (this could be a consideration for 3d printing if you have the resources.) Metal tubing could be sourced or machined for replacement.  Other items to have on hand are the tiny screws that many manufacturers  use for assembly. Various sizes and kits can be purchased in bulk inexpensively from online sources.



One of the features of the Spyder XL is the sequential lighting LEDs on the struts when activated, when battery is low they solid flash without sequence.



Finally, the new props were installed, it’s of course possible to purchase different sizes and colors of propellers.

Again , indoors this is a monster quad to control but can be fairly stable, it’s responsive and kicks up quite a lot of thrust and noise so any paperwork lying around will be blown away if you hover around a table or desk. Without the prop guards, use caution , I’ve replaced the screws that secure the gears to the main shaft ,the motors are powerful enough to shear them if not completely  secure and applying slightly larger and longer screws make for a good power transfer. The life of the motors are uncertain, now one of them crapped out and all four will be replaced. Another solution that others have used is the use of foldable  propellers so the motors and gear train  sustain less damage if they contact anything. I like flying drones without too much automatic  control, although at times they can be unstable and a temperamental sort. More of a challenge at times.  Way up the ladder is GPS, more stability, geofencing etc with the higher priced drones.

The auto launch button on the transmitter works well, but indoors will rise and contact the ceiling if not aborted. Some  of the feedback is delayed from  the control sticks.

More flight time and repairs are required.

Just like other forms of technology, quads and any other types of drones can be a consuming hobby. Some terminology is appearing like drone addiction, drone phobia and the like. Yes folks it’s all over again, less time playing video games, being on the internet, and now drone flying !  “Johnny be good or I won’t let you fly your drone!”

Happy Flying , I’m with ya ! Remember some days you have to RTH !

Next: another restoration or hack ?




May 2018
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