Build A Drone Project (Live Event starting March 1, 2014)

Build A Drone Quartet: DJI F450, APM System, Taranis, Fatshark (aka DroneMission Apache)

Synopsis: Since we have to build a few more, we have decided to share with anyone who wishes to follow, to build a fully loaded quadcopter drone with GPS, Autopilot and Waypoints. Another Build A Drone project, this time open to RCGroups to follow weekly!  We will try our best to video log everything and will answer questions related to the choice of equipments we use on this build only, to stay on topic.  Anyone can also of course offer their support, but please be polite and respectful to everyone. Maybe at the end, we will try to put all the videos into one.

Schedule: GO HERE=> RCGroups to participate.  Signup at RCGroups.
Duration: 2 months from shopping all the parts to maiden flight
Complete Video Logs: Playlist

Features and Specification for this build:
- Electronics and Motors: DJI F450 flame wheel kit
- Flight Controller: APM 2.5 or  2.6.
- Will feature APM gimbal 1 axis controller on a modified DJI Frame
- Will include FPV System, video transmitter and a small camera/DVR (not using Sony Effio)
- MinimOSD On Screen Display
- The power distribution will be hidden in the lowest deck to organize and reduce interference
-  Nicknamed "DM Apache" for the sidewinder bays for accessories
- The legs uses the standard DJI design, which makes it easily replaceable, cost efficient and very strong. 
- The configuration passed the compassmot test below the minimum interference using APM 2.6
- Configure Talking Taranis Radio Transmitter

Start with your Parts Shopping List:


Est. Cost



Where to Buy

Flight Controller



3DR APM 2.5 or 2.6 onboard computer or Arduflyer

3DR or RcTimer

GPS & Compass



3DR uBlox GPS with external compass or u-Blox CN06 Plus

3DR or RcTimer




FrSky X8R 2.4G 16CH SBUS Smart Port Telemetry Receiver


Motors & ESCs



DJI 450 kit and basic frame

Optional Frame



Reptile Aphid for gimbal feature, only frame

BUY Link

Micro UBEC 3A / 5v US$3.84 US$3.84 UBEC for power supply, as Opto ESC has no Battery Eliminator Circuit BUY LINK

On Screen Display



MininOSD Virtual flight instrument panel with real-time data


Video Transmitter

US $98.00

US $98.00

5.8G 400mW Video Audio A/V Transmitter Module


Video Receiver



Video Audio A/V Receiver Module


Zip Ties US$9.16 US$9.16 Perfect size 3*150mm Nylon 1000 self-locking zip ties

Telemetry (Option)


Telemetry Ground Module 915Mhz, real-time mission planning

3DR or RcTimer

FPV Camera / DVR

Pick one up

Pick one up

Horyzon HD, Keychain #16, Mobius or a Boscan Cobra HD etc

Your choice

Blackbox (Option)

Pick one up

Pick one up

Mini DVR to record flight data


Own one

Own one

Personal computer for mission planner

Main battery



7-10 minutes flight time. 3 cells, 4000 mAh, 25c

BUY LINK (click wait 5 mins for $3 off)

Soldering iron and solder Pick one up Pick one up to solder power distribution and APM BUY at Amazon or Radioshack


Auto waypoints

allows you to map flight paths on computer for autopilot

Return to Launch

auto return to home using GPS, bail out! one switch


circle around by radius

Altitude Hold

stay on fixed altitude

Position Hold

stay on fixed position for vertical landing


combination of position and altitude hold, hovering


auto return home when radio signal loss or battery low


auto land


fly by compass

Simple GeoFence

user-defined box that if breached forces the copter to return

Follow Me

copter follow you as you walk around, like a "personal droid"

Camera stabilizer

build in gimbals, managed by flight controller (see details here)


Brushfire  assessment

Thermal camera with FLIR thermal imaging camera

Radio System

A one time investment




FrSky 2.4GHz ACCST Taranis X9D Transmitter.  Verbally speaks the distance, voltage, airspeed, altitude etc.  Our alternate is to get a Turnigy 9X or Devo 10

BUY at Banggood


FPV Phone Holder A Holds a mini DVR monitor for FPV BUY HERE

GO HERE=> RCGroups to view BUILD Videos
What to expect from this build:

Radio: Taranis X9D

  • Full Telemetry RSSI alarms (warns you of signal reception problems before disaster can strike) 
  • Self test of the transmitter antenna
  • 16 channels (more when combined with external module)
  • 60 model memories
  • 64 mixers, 9 flight modes
  • 16 custom curves with 3-17 points each, 32 logic switches
  • Voice or custom sound alerts
  • USB and SD card slot for system expansion
  • Long range system capable of up to 3 times the range of current 2.4 systems 
  • Quad bearing gimbals that are silky smooth 
  • State-of-the-art open source software 
  • Super low latency for ultra quick response (9ms)
  • Large 212 X 64 backlit LCD screen 
  • Real-time data logging 
  • Receiver lock (program locked to aircraft - limited to FrSky receivers running PXX protocol) 
  • JR Style module bay for additional RF modules and so much more
  • Selectable flight mode (1, 2, 3, or 4)
  • 2 timers, count up or down, throttle %, talking, etc.
  • Trims - Adjustable from course to extra fine with extended and exponential trims
  • Standard trainer jack
  • ARM Cortex M3 32-bit 60MHz
  • Integrates with CompanionTX – a FREE computer program that is a transmitter setup buddy. CompanionTX (Windows/Mac/Linux) is used to set-up models with the wizard, save, edit and share your models and settings as well as simulate your transmitter or model setup.
  • USB connection for firmware upgrades, sound editing, R/W to the microSD card and integrate with CompanionTX
  • Sticks and pots can be calibrated by the end user
  • Multiple language support (Radio arrives configured for English language)
  • tips coupon
    Fixed ID:
    Assign fixed id in order to setup transmitter failsafe no pulse.  To set a fixed id [BIND] to a X8R, turn on the Taranis transmitter, go to page 2, scroll down, click on the [BIND] button, you should hear the beeps. Hold the F/S button on the X8R, receiver, power up the receiver (if connected to APM, just connect your USB).  Release the F/S button, the red led will flash, indicating the binding process is completed. Power of Transmitter and Receiver.  Test your failsafe following our video Episode 26.  If you fail to re-establish connection to your receiver after failsafe, turn off and then turn on the transmitter first, followed by the receiver, go to  page 2 click on the [BIND], and repeat the failsafe test.

    The Mission Planner Wizard did not set the X frame correctly (symptoms wobbles  4 corners and flips over at take-off), i.e. APM facing the wrong direction of frame, it is best to not use the wizard, but instead go through the mandatory hardware setup.

    The default Eelevator (Pitch) stick is reverse, go to 'INV' on the servos page for that channel 2/model.

    Depending on your weight of your lipo and which propeller size you use, you may find your quadcopter slightly overpowered or underpowered copter the throttle required to keep the vehicle in a stable hover may be under 40% or over 60%. Although this is fine while flying purely stabilize mode it can lead to a rough transition to autopilot modes (Alt Hold, Loiter) where having the throttle outside of the 40% ~ 60% deadzone will be interpreted as meaning you want the copter to climb or descend.  Open the Mission Planner’s Software > Standard Params screen and update the Throttle Mid Position (THR_MID) to the value estimated (example (690).  Complete steps here:

    DJI ESC: To reduce noise, DJI opted not to include Battery Eliminator Circuit (BEC) supply of 5v out from the ESC, as such an external UBEC is required.  Found a light 7g UBEC, [Coupon BUY Info] that can power the receiver and 3 additional servos for gimbal

    Lipo battery 3s 4000 mAh:  Wait 5 minutes before adding to the cart, you get a pop-up $3 discount  [BUY Info US$23.37]

    Drone Mission
    Friday, November 28, 2014

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