TCOP Build Log

imagetop

 

Ruggedized TCopter for Acrobatic flying

Codename: TCOP
Price level: 150-250 USD

I did not fly multi rotors for long, before realizing stick time is the most important component in the steep learning curve to master arco flying. I learned it the hard way and crashed many times, destroying frames, motors, flight controllers etc.

Based on my experience I have started my own build from scratch design based on cheap available components.. I call this project TCOP and the
main purpose is to keep the repair cost low and protect the most vital parts.

Below are the components I have been using so far:


From Hobbyking.com:

RC control – Turnigy 9X 9Ch Transmitter w/ Module & 8ch Receiver (Mode 2) (v2 Firmware)
Control board – Hobbyking KK2.0 Multi-rotor LCD Flight Control Board
Speed Controllers – Hobby King 20A ESC 3A UBEC
Battery pack – ZIPPY Flightmax 2200mAh 3S1P 25C (X-Thin)
Tail servo – Corona DS339MG Digital Metal Gear Servo 4.4kg / 32g / 0.15s
Motors – NTM Prop Drive 28-26 1350KV / 302W
Props CCW – 8×4 Propellers (5Pcs/Bag)
Props CW – 8×4 Propellers (5Pcs/Bag)
Battery connection– 601Bx5 – Female XT60 connectors (5pcs/bag) GENUIN..
Battery connection – 601Ax5 – Male XT60 connectors (5pcs/bag) GENUINE
Motor extension – AM1001A – PolyMax 3.5mm Gold Connectors 10 PAIRS (..
Wire R14A707-06 – Turnigy Pure-Silicone Wire 14AWG (1mtr) ..
Wire B14A707-06 – Turnigy Pure-Silicone Wire 14AWG (1mtr) ..
Prop Balancer (important) – Turnigy Magnetic Precision Prop Balancer
Mounting parts – Hex locknuts M4 10pc
Mounting parts – Gyro / Flight Controller Mounting Pad (10pcs/bag)
Yaw tail parts -Front Wheel Steering Arm & Mount Set 32mm (5sets)


From Local shops:

Mounting parts – Velcro tape
Mounting parts – 21x10mm pine wood beams – 2x28cm + 1x32cm
Mounting parts – zip ties, plates and bolts
Body material – Baseplate – 2mm birch plywood

 

The material bill (BOM) is around 250 USD, but could easily be reduced another 100 USD if you don’t have to buy everything and go for cheaper 1200-1400kv motors. You might have a radio/receiver and battery, as these alone account for 70USD in this build..

Other good sources of cheap parts for your build could be:

All of the above ship worldwide for free. Make sure to check your custom import limits to avoid unnecessary costs.

 

DISCLAIMER

Information contained on these pages should be considered inspirational for your own build. I do not know your skill level and cannot guarantee success with your multi rotor aircraft. Information is provided with the best intention, but I can not be held responsible for any outcome of projects based of this information incl. but not limited to damage to people or material. Please recognize limitations in your skills and seek advice if you are uncertain how to proceed. Finally this hobby takes time, money and patience so make sure you are willing to invest to complete your project.   


Steps to build TCOP:

1. Start cutting arms to specified length
2. Cut out the top and bottom plates according to the dimensions below
3. Yaw setup assembly
4. Optional:  Flash ESC with  SimonK firmware
5. Optional:  Flash KK2.0 with latest firmaware.
6. Optional: Enable battery voltage alarm on KK2.0
7. Base frame assembly with arms
8. Install ESC, KK2 board and receiver on baseplate with mounting pads
9. Attach motors and YAW setup to frame
10. Extend ESC wires to brushless motors with bullet connectors
11. Solder wiring harness and battery connector
12. Hook up the KK2 board
13. Final assembly & power up
14. Setting up the KK2 board
15. ESC calibration
16. Prop balancing
17. Ready for lift off

 

Detailed description 

Below you can find a detailed description of the steps needed to build the TCOP.. I have included video’s, information, drawings etc. that has helped me complete my build.

 

1. Start cutting arms to specified length

 

Skærmbillede 2013-10-17 kl. 23.51.10


2. Cut out the top and bottom plates according to the dimensions below

 

Skærmbillede 2013-10-18 kl. 00.07.33

 

They base plates can be cut with simple tools like a hack saw

IMG_3142

 

The tricky part is the hole for flight controller.. I used a dremel for that.

IMG_3143

 

Additionally I cut 2x long holes in the top plate fix the battery with velcro…

IMG_3144 (1)

 

3. Yaw setup assembly

A good video that descries how to make the YAW mechanism setup (from 10.30):



 

 

4. Optional:  Flash ESC with  SimonK firmware

The tricopter will fly on stock firmware, but upgrading the firmware with SimonK ESC firmware will allow the ESC’s to react much faster to input changes. This makes the tricopter more responsive.

 

This video helped me get the job done..



NB! If you decide to do this you need to purchase the USB programming tool as well

Link to the flash tools and firmware:

 

 

5. Optional:  Flash KK2.0 with latest firmware.

I got one of the early KK2 boards that ships with the 1.2 firmware, where self levelling is not working very well. The tricopter will fly with this stock firmware, but will benefit greatly from a firmware update.

 

Great video that show how to get to the latest version



NB! If you decide to do this you need to purchase the USB programming tool as well

 

 

6. Optional: Enable battery voltage alarm on KK2.0

A really nice option is to have the KK2 board monitor your battery, as Lipo’s don’t like to be discharged. In fact the battery can be damaged if it goes below 2.8-3V pr. cell.



If you don’t like soldering on your KK2 board, you can use this external alarm hooked up directly to battery instead…

 

IMG_3320-3

 

 

7. Base frame assembly with arms

I drilled holes and mounted the tail boom with short wood screws according to the drawings under point 1+2 (the screws for the tail boom are mounted from the inside)

 

IMG_3318

IMG_3319

 

8. Install ESC, KK2 board and receiver on baseplate with mounting pads

Using double adhesive mounting pads makes it a breeze to mount components and the pads act as shock absorbers as well.

 

foto kopi

 IMG_3153 


9. Attach motors and YAW setup to frame

Using zip ties introduces a weak point that can easily be replaced if it breaks during impact.

 

foto kopi 2 IMG_3316

 

 

10. Extend ESC wires to brushless motors with bullet connectors

I carefully measured the length of the wires and cut them. The wires are soldered to the female bullet connector… I use a piece of pre drilled wood to fix the bullet connector when soldering.

 

foto

 

I don’t want the wires to be to short or long. If a motor breaks loose during impact a little slag is preferred. The same goes if  I need to switch motor rotation and swap 2 wires. Don’t zip tie the motor wires to prevent pulling wires of the motor in case of disintegration.  IMPORTANT Heat shirk mounted to insulate the bullet connectors and prevent short circuits…

 

Tips: Cheap bullet connectors 

 

 

11. Solder wiring harness and battery connector

 

IMG_3154

 

It very simple but requires some practice to get it right… All the red power wires from the ESC’s should be joined ending up with a single wire for the battery connector. The same goes for the black power wires.. Both the red and back wires should be soldered to the yellow XT60 male battery connector..

 

I had to make sure not to short circuit any black or red wire, and mess up the +/- on the connector… This could seriously go wrong, as the power pack can release huge amounts of amps if short circuited, bursting in to flames… It’s important to pay serious attention to this aspect.

 

KK2 board and RX receiver is powered when hooked up the ESC’s so no need to do anything here…


 

12. Hook up the KK2 board

 

kk2pinout

 

Tricopter motor layout

Each motor ESC 3 pin connector hooked to the KK2 board according to the layout below. (black or brown wire towards the edge of the board)

 

Skærmbillede 2013-10-19 kl. 23.51.44

RX-9X8Cv2

Hook up receiver Channel 1-5 to

AIL: Ailron
ELE: Elevation
THR: Throttle
RUD: Rudder
AUX: Auxiliary (switch for self leveling)

(black or brown wire towards the edge of the board)

NB! I had to switch or reverse channels to get it right…  This is easily done through the receiver test in the kk2 menu, when the board is powered on.

 

13. Final assembly & power up

Before closing the tricopter with plywood lid I powered the tricopter to see if everything is ok and no black smoke was coming out.

 

foto

At this step its a good time to to do a receiver test to make sure the input channels are right…

This video shows how it’s done (from 2:10):



 

TIP: I use solder wire to keep the arms in position… the solder will break during impact allowing the arms to bend backwards and absorb the crash force.

 

IMG_3312

 

The design is foldable so the tricopter fits nicely in a backpack or similar transport bags.

 

IMG_3320-2

 

 

14. Setting up the KK2 board

A video that has bought me a lot of inspiration is made by guy called halstudio… he can fly the crap out of these tricopters… halstudio is flying a slightly different configuration, but includes a really good walkthrough setting up the KK2 basics.. (from 33:00)



Make sure to watch to the last 8 min of his tutorial where he shows a taste of his flying skills

 

 

15. ESC calibration

A necessary step to make sure all motors start at the same time.

IMPORTANT this should be done with no props mounted.

A nice short an precise video explaining how to calibrate ESC’s



 

16. Prop balancing

To protect the bearings in the motors and make the tricopter fly as smooth as possible propellers should be balanced. This is how this is done…  click here

 

IMG_2615

 

17. Ready for lift off

Mounting the props you should now be ready for your maiden flight…

 

Trimming your tricopter will take time, but I was able to take it for a spin with the stock setting and few adjustments described previously…Performance can be improved but, but I have to read up on this through all the videos posted on youtube (hehe, how do you read up on a video)…

 

IMG_3311-2

 

Video from Maiden flight:



 

More info can be found: facebook/diytricopter

Please feel free to post any comments, suggestions, etc on facebook  ….

 

/HeO

 

Note: Older Tricopter builds can be found here:

 

DISCLAIMER

Information contained on these pages should be considered inspirational for your own build. I do not know your skill level and cannot guarantee your success with your multi rotor aircraft. Information is provided with the best intention, but I can not be held responsible for any outcome of projects based on this information incl. but not limited to damage to people or material. Please recognize limitations in your skills and seek advice if uncertain how to proceed. Finally this hobby takes time, money and patience so make sure you are willing to invest to complete your project.   

 

 

 

 

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