The Quadcopter

I'm a little late, but here's an introductory post to the quadcopter/drone project I'm working on with my dad.  I was hoping to have a little more to show for this post but I'll work with what I've got.  There are a couple overall goals for this project, the first, obviously, is to make an autonomous drone quadcopter that can fly from waypoint to waypoint point.  This is the main goal of the current quadcopter now.  It's acting as a test device for the autopilot software that we are currently developing.  Once the autopilot software is built for the quadcopter we are going to redesign and build a couple of quadcopters each for different uses.  The first one is a cinematography/photography quadcopter that will hopefully have the ability to carry heavier cameras and will have a gimbal system to allow a steady camera during movents or the ability to pan and tilt the camera independently of the quadcopter.  The second quadcopter I want to build is a more aerodynamic quadcopter that could still have a GoPro attached to it, but would be a little more nimble than the full heavy duty video quadcopter.

The second goal we have for this project is to create a small drone aircraft capable of long distance autonomous flights.  The basic idea for this right now is a large glider like airplane that would use solar panels incorporated in the wings to help power the motor.  Doing some back of the envelope calculations there's potential for almost eight hours of flight time which is very encouraging.

Right now we are still in development of the Inertial Navigation Unit (INU) which basically keeps track of the position, velocity, roll, pitch, yaw and all the other values that dictate the motion and or position of the quadcopter. While this might seem like an easy thing to do it's really not.  I don't want to get into the math part of the INU here, but I'll follow this post up with something about why the INU was hard to build and what we did to get around that.  I should probably take a second here to say that for this project I don't do a lot of the actual programming.  My role is more helping with some of the concepts and designing the frame and physical aspects of the quadcopter.  So with that, here's a picture of the current quadcopter.


It's not very pretty but it's just a test device for now.  So as of right now when you turn it on it kinda thinks it's upside down and jerking in every direction so we had to get that fixed.  The last time I checked with my dad he had found the problem in the code and was working on getting it.  However, once we get that fixed it's just a few more lines of code before the thing should be able to hover in one position.  Hopefully we'll get that accomplished over the thanksgiving weekend.  Next weekend we will hopefully get the INU all fixed and I'll take some video of the GUI and some motor tests because it's pretty cool when the motors start spinning.  

Anyways.  That's kinda what we have now and what we want to do.  Keep checking back for updates about this as the posts will probably include cool videos which are always fun.


Thanks for reading.