Monday, February 17, 2014

Quadcopter Drone - Body Construction & KK2.1 Firmware Flashing

Now that we have have gone through the components that will make up the Drone, its time to start construction!  I figured the best way to show this was by making a video and posting it to YouTube.  This only covers the construction of the body, which consists of some simple soldering, attaching the booms, and at the end modifying an anti-vibration mount for the GoPro.  Check it out here, and hit up the link if you want to watch it in Full screen 720p HD.

Here is a picture of the body fully assembled, and a look at the small modification I had to make for the anti-vibration mount.

And here we have the body again, but this time with the GoPro mounted.  Can't wait to start shooting some aerial videos!

Now that the body is set up, time to add the Flight Controller.  I will be using a HobbyKing KK2.1 flight control board.  There is already a new version of Firmware available, so lets go over flashing it before I install the board onto the Drone.  Here we have the KK2.1 plugged into my Laptop using a USBasp programming tool.  These can be found at various Hobby Stores, and even on Amazon for $5-8.  Be sure to grab one that has a 6pin ribbon adapter, as that is what you will need to interface with the KK2.1 board.  I recommend this one from Amazon, as it comes with everything you will need to get started.

You will need to install the necessary USB drivers for your Windows PC to detect the device, before you can flash any firmware to the control board. First step is to plug in the USBasp device, then open a web browser and download the most current drivers from this website. Once downloaded extract the .zip file to your desktop or an other directory where it will be easy to find later.  While you have your browser open, also download the KKFlashTool from this website. Now that we have the needed drivers and software, navigate to the Device Manager and locate the unrecognized USBasp device under "Other Devices".

Click on images to see a larger version.

Right-click the USBasp device and select "Update Driver Software..." from the menu.  Now browse to the directory where you extracted the downloaded driver to, and hit "Next".

The driver install process will begin, and you will get a prompt saying that "Windows can't verify the publisher of this driver software".  This is safe to ignore for this particular driver, so select "Install this driver software anyway".

You will now see a window showing the drivers for this USB device were installed successfully on your computer.

Back in the Device Manager, refresh the list and you should now see USBasp device is now recognized, and resides under the hardware tree as a normal USB device.

Ok, now unplug the USBasp, and open the KKFlashingTool you downloaded earlier.  Once the screen below pops up, plug back in the USB device and select it from the "Choose your programmer" menu. Then under "Choose your controller", select the KK2.1 from the drop-down menu.  Now select the source for the new Firmware.  There is both an online repository for custom Firmware and the option to select from a local directory.

Once the desired Firmware is selected hit the Green Circle (with the runner inside) and the flashing process will begin.  It will take about 30 seconds, and you should hear a few beeps coming from your KK2.1 if you have the speaker plugged in.  Once complete you should see a dialouge similar to this at the bottom of the KKFlashingTool, telling you the flashing was successful.

If you would like to have a more detailed walkthrough, the website where you download the Flashing took has both manuals and video tutorials to watch.  I am currently using KK2.1 ++ BETA firmware, created by user RC911 over on the RC Groups forum, but there are many options to choose from, including stock v1.6 as of Feb 15, 2014.

Now that my flight controller has the Firmware I want installed, its time to mount it to my Drone.  I used some anti-vibration pads that have adhesive on both sides.  It mounts securely, and is supposed to reduce mico-vibrations from having too much impact on the flight controller's sensors. 

That's all for now.  Next up we will be connecting the ESCs, Receiver, and modifying the antenna whips.  Stay tuned, and thanks for visiting!

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