Category Archives: Quadcopter

Mounting a GoPro Omni on a DJI Inspire Quadcopter

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Buy a Mount

Although general build instructions are furnished here, if you’d like to have one professionally made, please contact me at [email protected] for a quote!

Note that as built, this mount provides no stabilization. Additionally, the linkages can move relative to the quadcopter under strong acceleration.

How it was Built

Anyone who has used or worked with drones knows that they are interesting platforms on which to mount a camera. Some, from the a cheap Hubsan for around $30 on Amazon, to the much more capable DJI Inspire for around 60 times that price (Amazon), come with them already mounted on them. One thing most, or all as far as I know, don’t have is a spherical camera, allowing you to take “video” for use in virtual reality environments.

This type of recording, done from a drone or otherwise, allows playback to happen later as if you were an observer in a vehicle. You can look around, but can’t control where you are going. 360.place, a startup in the Ybor City district of Tampa, Florida, has been pioneering what can be done with this technology, concentrating on unique views of businesses. As their expertise focuses on software and video production, they asked me to help with the challenge of mounting a heavy (around 2 pounds) GoPro Omni VR rig to their DJI Inspire quadcopter.

Naturally, I was thrilled to take on this challenge, and after about a month of work designing, building, and testing my rig, I delivered a newly-augmented drone to 360.place that they could use to take their VR to the skies!

The Idea

The obvious solution to taking this footage would be to run some sort of pipe from the center of gravity of the quadcopter a few feet down to the camera. This has been done before, but I didn’t see a good way to mount it in the middle without modification. Being a customer’s drone, I much preferred to do something that could easily be removed, and the linked design removed the built-in camera, which I wanted to avoid if possible.

After agonizing over what to do for a week or so and not really coming up with a good solution, the idea finally hit me Read more »

Hubsan X4 Versus Estes 4606 Quadcopter

Hubsan X4 Versus Estes 4606 Quadcopter size comparison

I’ll cut to the chase.  I love both of these quadcopters, but for your first ‘quad, I think you’d be better off buying the Hubsan X4.  Read on for more explanation and some videos comparing the two.

Controller – The Estes 4606 Proto X Controller is, in my opinion, the biggest drawback to this little quad.  It’s tough for me to maintain altitude with it, and is just too small for my hands (granted, I’m just shy of 6’4″).  The Hubsan X4’s controller is much better.

The good news is that either controller will bind with either quad, so if you get a Hubsan first, then get a Proto later, things can work out nicely.  The Hubsan transmitter is also available by itself on AmazonCheck out the videos after the “read more” of me binding with both types of controllers, as well as a cool trick with the lights that I don’t think you can do with the off-the-shelf controller.

Cost – The Estes 4606 is cheaper  at just under $30 on Amazon as of this writing, and after examining it, it’s really a marvel of manufacturing simplicity.  The electrical board is the main body, so fewer components have to be used. The Hubsan X4 (H107L) is also available on Amazon for around $15 more, but doesn’t come with Prime shipping as far as I can see.

Hubsan X4 Versus Estes 4606 Quadcopter - stacked on each other

Repairability – The other side to the coin of the Estes model being so well designed for manufacturing is that if you break something, it looks like repairs will be much more difficult.  I’ve crashed and repaired my Hubsan X4 many, many times, so that model would be better for those learning. Read more »

How To Repair a Broken Hubsan X4 Battery Cable

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Recently I brought my Hubsan X4 quadcopter to work, where I quickly snapped a battery cable off of it.  Although it was suggested that our electrical technician co-op could repair it, this seemed like a poor use of company resources.  That, and I don’t mind doing a little repair work myself.

The video below shows how I reattached my Hubsan’s battery cable back in place.  There’s not a lot to it, just get the chip to a place where you have access, secure it, then solder it on.  The trick is getting everything lined up correctly.  Placing solder on the chip before the wire or letting solder flow onto the wire beforehand can help things along.  Unfortunately I didn’t get footage of the soldering act that actually attached it, but there’s not a lot to this operation.

If you’d like to try your hand at flying a quadcopter, these less than $40 on Amazon
as of this writing.  I repair mine a lot, but my number of crashes is probably over 1000 by now.  A lot cheaper than repairing a phantom!