Why I want an autopilot in my racing drone

About a year ago Hobbyking was having one of their “Flash Sale” events. During a few days, they dropped prices on a few hundred items. An online shopaholic in me couldn’t miss it. I meticulously studied the offerings until I found something worthy of my attention and money. That was a Jumper 218 Pro racing quadcopter, almost ready to run. A bargain at a just a bit over $100! I just needed to add an RC receiver.

Jumper 218 Pro Quadcopter

Jumper 218 Pro Quadcopter | Source: hobbyking.com

I received it a few days later and, as it often happens, put it on a shelf for a few months. From time to time I would take it off the shelf, hold it in my hands, make a few plans for it, and then put it back. At the time I was still concentrating on building my Alien 560 quadcopter, and the smaller drone was a distraction. The “project Alien” appeared to be never-ending. Every time I flew it, I saw a way to improve it. I would disassemble the copter and work on it for a week or two. Then put it back together, fly it, and then dismantle again. Only when I crashed the Alien, I decided to take a break from it and turned my attention to the Jumper.

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Alien 560 Quadcopter Build - Part 3 - Transmitter setup

I wish I could tell you that setting up the transmitter was straightforward, but unfortunately, it wasn’t. I’ll do my best to describe what I did, although I’m not sure my process is 100% repeatable. I have a Turnigy 9XR Pro transmitter with a FrSky JR module. It is a digital radio with lots of features: updateable firmware, model memory, custom sound files and so on. The first thing I did was upgrading the firmware. Read more →

Alien 560 Quadcopter Build - Part 2 - Assembly

Unlike a conventional helicopter, a multirotor aircraft contains very few moving parts: no gears, no swash plates, no contrarotating propellers. It only has motors directly driving propellers, and that’s it. So there was no complex mechanics to assemble. The frame was probably the most complicated bit. The Alien 560 frame consists of a couple of dozen carbon fibre plates which need to be screwed together by a hundred or so tiny screws. Read more →

Alien 560 Quadcopter Build - Part 1 - Parts

When I was at school, I was an electronics geek. I was spending days in a library looking for schematics of AM radios and circuits of blinking lights and beeping sounds, and then long evenings in an electronics club trying to solder them together. Unfortunately, none of the stuff I built ever worked properly: radios received only static, lights blinked out of order, and beepers screaked. But most of all I was obsessed with remote control models. Read more →