Build A Drone Project

DM-SAR X450 (nicknamed The Apache) with Frsky Taranis radio transmitter

Synopsis: To build a fully loaded drone with GPS, Autopilot and Waypoints, so another Build A Drone project in action.  Lucky dude is getting his first radio, the talking Taranis, which finally arrived after a month. All the parts were ordered over Labor Day weekend.  Welcome to the DroneMission Squadron.  Check back for videos and pictures, this will be exciting!


Equipment Selection Specification:
Aircraft: DM-SAR X450, The Apache
DM-SAR X450 is the latest model from our Search And Rescue quad series.  This model carries a sharp 700 TV lines camera build into the frame that you can remotely pitch from over 2 miles away, transmitting live video to the pilot.  Equipped with GPS, Barometric Sensor, external Compass with an On Screen Data capture board.  Nicknamed "The Apache" because its sidewinder bays - on the left the radio receiver/OSD and on the right the compass/GPS.  The power distribution is hidden in an enclosure in the lowest deck.  The legs uses the standard DJI design, which makes it easily replaceable, cost efficient and very strong.  The design passes the compassmot test way below the suggested minimum possible interference.

Aircraft Design Specification:


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


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

Featured in the The Great Paper Airplane Missing Children Banner Project

Testing with HoryzonHD Camera and APM Gimbal Setup

Yeah... Maiden Flight Test

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)
  • Drone Mission Lab
    ... behind the scenes October 22, 2013

    Part 1/3 setting up FrSKY Taranis with APM

    • Phase 1: Design & purchase hardware - 100% complete
    • Phase 2: Assembly, wiring and electrical test - 100% complete
    • Phase 3: Programming, configuration, flight switches and failsafe setups - 100% complete
    • Phase 4 & Milestone 1: Maiden flight test and gateway checks - 100% complete
    • Phase 5: Advance flight modes mixes, Gimbal, FPV &  OSD - 100 % complete
    • Phase 6: Tuning 100%
    • Milestone: Mission Test 100% (10/22/13)

    tips couponFixed ID: Assign fixed id in order to setup transmitter failsafe no pulse.

    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]

    Review of FPV: First-person view (FPV), also known as remote-person view (RPV), or simply video piloting, is a method used to fly a radio controlled model vehicle from the driver or pilot's view point. Most commonly it is used to pilot an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) or a radio-controlled aircraft. The vehicle is either driven or piloted remotely from a first person perspective via an onboard camera, fed wirelessly to virtual reality goggles or a video monitor. More sophisticated setups include a pan-and-tilt gimbaled camera controlled by a gyroscope sensor in the pilot's goggles and with dual onboard cameras, enabling a true stereoscopic view.

    Episode 1:  Understanding your on screen display (OSD) flight  instruments [LESSON]

    Episode 2 (in production):  DIY [LESSON]

    DM-SAR Apache X450 Onboard Equipment: Taranis X9D & X8R Telemetry Receiver, Ardupilot APM 2.6, Sony 700 TVL, Minimosd v0.1, 3DR GPS uBlox LEA-6, 5.8G 400mW Video TX TS353, 3s 4000-5000 mAh. Weight: 1.2 kg.

    Drone Mission
    Friday, November 28, 2014

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