Tris, Quads, Hexas, Octos call ‘em what you will, but they are fun , growing ever more popular – and almost as exasperating and learning to build and fly a CCPM heli
I had been reading about quads on our forum (myrcguide) so I was curious about them to begin with. Plus watching a few vids of pros with cameras attached furthered my curiosity. Let’s face it. Attaching a camera to something you’re flying is really pretty cool. See my topic on aerial photography. I saw an ad in the AMA featuring the HeliMax 1SQ and that was that.
Depending on what sort of equipment you have acquired up to this point, you can spend anywhere from under $200 to well into the $1,000s. For our purposes, I’m sticking to the lower end because I’m writing this for beginners, which is me.
I decided on building a hex because I thought that it would provide the most stable platform for semi-serious photography without breaking the bank. Plus you can get into it pretty cheaply by getting cheaper electronics through Hobby King (HK). More on expenses later.
Assuming you have all the basics covered (radio, batteries, soldering gun, and some knowledge of RC flying), here’s what you need to get started:
- Flight Control Board
- Power distribution board
- Male-to-male servo connectors
- Assorted zip ties and fasteners
- LED light strips
- Lithium Polymer batteries are a wonder. They pack a ton of power for their size. Can be recharged over and over again. And if you treat them right can last years. But there are dangers involved in their improper use. A damaged battery can burst into flames in seconds. If you accidentally cross the positive and negative leads — poof, it’s probably toast.
- The batteries can consist of one cell up to any number cells hooked together in parallel to increase the output voltage. The normal voltage of a single cell Lipo is rated at its base level at 3.7 V with the ability to charge it to 4.20V. If you put two cells together the ratings change to 7.4V and 8.40 max charge (two cells together, double the numbers). And so it goes.
- Batteries also put out different ranges of milliamps per hour (mAh).
- Milliamps Hour (mAh) is important because it’s the easiest way to tell the strength of a battery. The higher the mAh, the longer the battery will last. Batteries with different mAh ratings are interchangeable. If your battery is rechargeable then the mAh rating is how long the battery will last per charge.
- Milliamps Hour is 1/1000th of a Amp Hour, so a 1000mAh = 1.0Ah
- Think of a cars gas tank. Voltage is how much gas is being used, and mAh is the size of the gas tank. The bigger the gas tank (mAh) rating the longer the device will run. If your battery is rechargeable, then think of the gas tank as refillable (rechargeable).
- So a fully charged single cell lipo has 4.20V but the mAh be as low 50 or as high as 6200. These numbers are not absolute and are only approximates so don’t go getting all upset if you spot one with a higher or lower mAh.
- Proper care of your batteries is a must if you don’t want to go broke powering your RC related craft. You should NEVER over discharge them. Doing so once or twice won’t kill it completely but doing so repeatedly will severely shorten the life of the battery if not kill it altogether.
- You should also never puncture it, bend it to a different shape or cut it open to see what makes it tick. They have/will/can burst into flames. It is recommended to use a special container when charging your batteries and never leave them unattended during the charging operation.
- There are several considerations when buying your batteries besides power. You need to consider what your electronics require, the weight of the battery (specially with an aircraft) and the price. There are about as many different brands as there are capacities and most are okay. Just stick to the top brands and don’t short cut your way to power.
- Taking good care of them means sticking to the charging recommendations printed on the battery. Meaning you should never exceed the maximum charge rate for the battery and always try to do a balance charge to keep each cell up to its healthiest balanced level. Some of the newer batteries have charge rates up to ten times their base mAh level. This is where a good battery charger comes into play. Make sure to read the post about Battery Chargers.
- Here’s a link to some great batteries from Hobby King. I use these exclusively in my 450 helicopters: