DIY Drone/Quad Part 2 – Transmitter

| January 26, 2018
Photo Credit: Keith Knoxsville
A Hen and a Drake Green Teal on the truck bed. Not a limit on anything, but a fun morning out.

In this part of the DIY drone/quad build, we are working on a transmitter. It would have been nice to have an R/C transmitter and receiver on hand, but I didn’t so I put one together from parts on the build sheet from Part 1 of these posts.

I mounted everything to a sheet of plexiglass, but you could use any easy to shape material. I plan to place all my components inside a 3d printed case, but that’s another post.

The parts we’ll use are (1)Arduino Nano, (1)nrf24 module, (1)Battery Holder Or Battery Pack, (2)joysticks, (1)3.3v regulator, and a handful of jumper wires, or you can solder everything together. I also held some things in place with zip ties while prototyping. Adding a switch is optional if you use jumper wires. My prototype on/off switch was a matter of plugging in the power wire to the Arduino VIN pin.

Here is the wiring diagram for the transmitter. We’ll upload and test code via the Arduino IDE later.

What are we doing?

  • We are simply using an Arduino to interpret x and y axis inputs from each joystick. These will be our Throttle, Yaw, Pitch, and Roll.
  • We are sending that signal via the nrf24 radio.
  • The 3.3v regulator is required to supply steady 3.3 volts, and steady amps to the radio, which the Arduino 3v out pin cannot do on its own.
  • A switch is used for on and off power.
  • You might also notice I am adding a power wire to the pin D4. This is optional, I used it as a hardwired way to ensure the Auxiliary 1 channel signal was always set to high. This can have a switch, and probably should have a resistor added, or could be done arbitrarily in the code later. What it does in the end is turn on the stability, AKA ‘angle mode’ on the drone, making it much more flyable off the bat.

Need to step forward or backwards? Use the links for the build series below:

  • Program the transmitter, receiver, and flight controller with an Arduino IDE <- Software Using code called Multiwiiv – Part 6
  • Calibrate the Motors with Multiwii code – Part 7
  • Adjust settings and calibrate our gyro via Multiwii GUI AKA a graphical interface/software for your computer – Part 7
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DIY Drone/Quad Part 1 Intro

| January 10, 2018
Photo Credit: Keith Knoxsville
A Hen and a Drake Green Teal on the truck bed. Not a limit on anything, but a fun morning out.

In this short series of posts, I will show you how to build your own drone, with a transmitter, complete with joysticks, a receiver to receive your instructions, and a flight controller to control the stability and flying characteristics of your quad/drone. The complete build is under 200 bucks, plus or minus a few miscellaneous items.

I also want to make clear, that to use this build guide, a basic knowledge of soldering, electronics, fabrication, and programming, will be necessary. This is not for everyone, but its not beyond learning how to do these things either. While I don’t want to make the build sound complicated, I don’t want to over simplify it either. Expect and or be willing to learn, test, experiment, and be patient; and the experience should be rewarding.

I needed a platform for doing aerial surveys of large agricultural properties for a work contract. Since I have a programming background, experience working with micro-controllers, IOT applications, fabricating, and a history of working with radio control vehicles, it made sense to build a drone from opensource hardware. Building your own drone is actually quite affordable compared to some of the commercial options. With patience, and some tweaking its possible to build a reliable drone.

The drone is a quad copter design that uses arduino microcontrollers for the receiver, the transmitter, and flight controller, an mpu6050 sensor for stabilization, nrf24l transceivers for communication, (4)30amp escs, (4)2212/13 1000kv motors, (4) 10×4 props, (2) 3000mah 30C li-po batteries, and a large frame built from whatever you have on hand. Or you can build it from cheap wood materials.

The cost when finished and flying is less than 200 dollars. Compare that to a much more expensive drone, that you’d never really want ‘modify’ or make your own because of the risk you might damage it. Of course, a more expensive version from more expensive parts can be made. But it hurts a tad less when you crash less expensive materials.

The programming that controls the quad is open source code, uploaded via the Arduino IDE, and configured via Multiwii Software(software that helps you visualize and set settings on the quad/drone). Its based primarily on the hard work and public contributions of many generous programmers, and developers.

To Summarize, We will:

  • Program the transmitter, receiver, and flight controller with an Arduino IDE <- Software Using code called Multiwiiv – Part 6
  • Calibrate the Motors with Multiwii code – Part 7
  • Adjust settings and calibrate our gyro via Multiwii GUI AKA a graphical interface/software for your computer – Part 7
  • Go Fly

In the interest of full disclosure, I make an affiliate commission if you use the links below. So if you find this build log helpful, and want to support more quality posts, then use the comprehensive list of Amazon links below, Thanks.

Electronics Parts List:

  • (4) 2212/13 1000kv motor + 30 amp ESC –
  • (3) Arduino Nanos (receiver board, flight controller, transmitter board-
  • NRF24L 2.4g transceiver set (will actually transmit and receive signals) –
  • mpu6050 (gyro accellerometer to keep us stable) –
  • (2) 3000mah 30c Lipo Battery –
  • 10×4 props w/aluminum hubs (included in motor esc kit
  • (2) 3.3v voltage regulators (provide the right voltage and stable current to the transmitter and receiver) –
  • Power distribution board with Deans Type Plugs –
  • Joysticks (this is a 10 pack for the price of 2, you only need 2 –
  • 120 piece Jumper wire set –
  • 6AA Battery Box to power the transmitter. However the ideal power source would be a 7 to 12v MAX battery for the Arduino to provide stable power
  • A mix pack of zip ties ranging from 4 inches up to around 10 – Wally World has some fun colors.

Frame Parts List:

These are parts for a wood framed version, its easy to make, and parts can be acquired at a Homedepot, Lowe’s, and any craft store that sells 3mm birch. I went to Michael’s.

  • (2) 36″ 1/2″ square hardwood dowels
  • (2) 200mm x 100mm x 3mm birch plywood
  • (8) 4cm x 6cm x 3mm birch plywood pieces
  • A large variety of 4-40 or m3 screws and nuts
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DIY Skull Mounting Bracket

| April 26, 2016
Photo Credit: Keith Knoxsville
A Hen and a Drake Green Teal on the truck bed. Not a limit on anything, but a fun morning out.

I finally got around to making a skull mounting bracket ad putting the antelope on the wall. Last year I cleaned and ‘bleached’ an antelope skull to make a nice euro mount. I may eventually put a post up about cleaning and preparing a skull in the euro mount style, since everybody asks how I did it.
Euro  Mount Bracket
Anyway, I needed to make a mounting bracket for the antelope skull, So during a recent internet outage, I took a short break from work and finally made a bracket. I took a 3/4 inch wide scrap piece of steel, trimmed it to about 10 inches, and made a 20 degree bend near the middle. I ground the surface. to rough up the texture of the bracket, and painted matte black for a simulated wrought iron look.

I drilled two holes for matching black screws, and voila! An easy and professional looking, nearly free skull mounting bracket. It cost about 50 cents, and took less than 30 minutes to make.
DIY  Euro Mount  Bracket

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Coturnix Quail Hutch

| July 18, 2015
Photo Credit: Keith Knoxsville
A Hen and a Drake Green Teal on the truck bed. Not a limit on anything, but a fun morning out.

Quail_Hutch_Coturnix_BlueUnfinished Cotunrix Quail HutchCoturnix Quail Hutch Unfinished BackCoturnix Quail Hutch Inside

I had been planning on keeping quail for a while. After some consideration of breeds, I finally decided on Coturnix quail, and stuck a few eggs in the incubator. The count down had begun. I had between 14 and 26 days at the earliest and latest extremes to build a quail hutch. Like all the wood working I do, I try to take pride in my work. I wanted to build something that was attractive, and highly functional.

I decided two build a two compartment coffee table and quail hutch combo, appropriate for breeding quail, and keeping males separated.

The hutch includes the following features:

  • Vintage, antiqued two compartment coffee table design.
  • A sturdy and durable design. Yes you can sit on it, have coffee on it, etc.
  • A foot print of 4′ x 2′, with a separator for each half.
  • Hideaway bench seat style doors on top, taking up half the length of each of the two compartments.
  • 2 front doors, screened in with 1/2″ hardware cloth.
  • Secure latches all around.
  • 1/2″ hardware cloth floor, with a sliding poop tray.
  • Wiring with 2 ceramic bulb sockets. Allows for brooding, as well as heating in cold winters.

So far, the few quail we hatched love their home, and so do I. Its dual purpose, meets our needs, and functions as quality outdoor furniture. Its the kind of thing that the significant other doesn’t mind looking at everyday. I hope this helps you with your own quail Hutch build. If anyone is interested in owning one, I would consider drafting plans. I’d really like to do what I can to help out fellow friends, preppers, homesteaders, and backyard poultry keepers.

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Extreme Pot Drainage

| February 9, 2013
Photo Credit: Keith Knoxsville
A Hen and a Drake Green Teal on the truck bed. Not a limit on anything, but a fun morning out.

Hydroponic Drip Pot DrainageProper drainage is critical to plant health. Different plant types require different levels of moisture retention, aeration and drainage in their respective growing medium, but container gardening adds another challenge.

Many gardeners struggle with plants in containers because of inadequate drainage. Plants cycle from being neglected and needing water, to being drowned by over watering. Besides suffocating a plant, over watering often leads to disease, unrecoverable wilt, leaf loss, and the eventual death of a plant.

Hydroponic Drip Pot Drainage 2So when we decided to grow drought tolerant plants, in a hydroponic drip system, we needed to change the drainage properties of the containers we had.

Our basic low water usage growing medium is a 92% perlite, 8% coco fiber mix. To keep the mix from washing out of the containers, we used food grade silicon to secure a nylon mesh over larger drainage holes.

We then used a Dremel with a drill bit attachment, and systematically perforated 1/8 inch holes evenly around the pot. We drilled additional holes evenly spaced between existing holes, adding more toward the bottom than the top.

Hydroponic Drip Pot Drainage 3We want extreme drainage, but we still want the water to run down past the root system and saturate the coco fiber near the root mass, so we avoided adding too many holes near the top that would allow water to run outwards instead of downwards. We also drilled supplemental drainage holes on the bottom side of the pot.

There are a lot of pots out there. Some of them probably do what our DIY extreme drainage pot does, but this works perfectly for us. With improved drainage, proper nutrition, and an adjusted watering cycle, a plant best suited for a chaparral or desert can be grown in a container or hydroponically.

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Grow Light Basics

| December 23, 2012
Photo Credit: Keith Knoxsville
A Hen and a Drake Green Teal on the truck bed. Not a limit on anything, but a fun morning out.

indoor shop grow lightThere are a couple common misconceptions about growing plants indoors with artificial lighting, but growing plants under lights indoors doesn’t have to be a technical or expensive endeavor. Cover/Feature photo: Pink Lemonade Blueberries Under Indoor Grow Lights, Gardenisto © 2012; Photo Left: Golden Currants under T8 Lights © 2012; Bottom Left:Pink Lemonade Blueberries under T8s © 2012.

The first common misconception is that special and expensive light bulbs are required for growing indoors. The truth is you do not need special or expensive lighting. A common 4 foot T8 shop light fixture can be purchased from your local hardware or home improvement shop for about $20, and will be suitable for growing small plants. The bulb also does not have to be special. However, it does need to be selected carefully from all the options you will have at the hardware shop.

pink lemonade blueberriesMany fluorescent T8 light bulbs won’t do much for your plants. Plants use blue wavelengths of light for green growth and red wavelengths for flowering. Without getting too technical, red is at the bottom of the light spectrum, and blue is at the top end.

Light bulbs have a light/color spectrum rated in Kelvin. Most light bulbs in the hardware shop will have a ‘cool white’ output in the middle of the spectrum at 3500k to 4100k, but what you need for healthy plants is at the higher and lower ends of the spectrum.

Look at the bulb packages and find a 6500K bulb. This will provide the full light spectrum, including blue light that plants need. Common T8 Light fixtures hold 2 to 4 bulbs, so if you are interested in getting your plants to flower you can use a bulb with a K rating of 3000 or less, in conjunction with a 6500k bulb.

This brings us to the final misconception on costs. A two bulb T8 shop light fixture costs 20 dollars, and a two pack of T8 fluorescent light bulbs costs less than 8 dollars. The total equipment cost for a small growing space is about 28 dollars. Get fancy and add a mechanical timer for 4 bucks, and you have yourself an automated system.

So what about the electrical bill? Your electrical bill is not going to sky rocket. A rough estimate of the operational cost of a two bulb T8 light fixture, running 16 hours a day, is between 4 and 8 dollars a month. Annually that’s a cost of no less than 48 dollars, and no more than 96 dollars per year. Your actual cost will be based on your kilowatt/hr rate, which you can find in your electrical bill.

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Grow Garlic from Bulbils (seed)

| November 27, 2012
Photo Credit: Keith Knoxsville
A Hen and a Drake Green Teal on the truck bed. Not a limit on anything, but a fun morning out.

Garlic Bulbils (seeds)Most people grow garlic from cloves. The bulbs are broken apart, and individual cloves pulled off. Cloves exhibit obvious signs that they are ready to plant. Roots grow from the bottom basal plate, and the tops turn greenish.

If garlic is allowed to grow out, it will produce a long central stalk with a flower and bulb. The bulb will contain tiny bulbils that are suitable for planting.

Unlike the cloves pulled from a mature bulb of garlic, bulbils will take more than one season to grow. Some varieties will take longer than others.

The benefit however, is that 10 garlic bulbs might produce 5 to 10 cloves, whereas the same plant can produce as many as 100 bulbils or more. The amount of bulbils will depend on the variety.

At the end of last season we collected 15 bulbs and collected nearly 300 bulbils. In fall, we replanted two cloves, and about 100 bulbils, about three bulbils per ½” deep hole.

In retrospect, we should have planted more garlic cloves to have more for immediate consumption in spring, but we ate them instead! This planting will yield two bulbs, with around 10 to 30 cloves, and a little over 30 smaller garlic plants. In warmer climates, garlic is ready to be harvested as early as spring.

If you live in a cooler climate and are uncertain of when to harvest, wait until half the garlic plant is dead. Remove the bulbs from the ground, and clean them off with a rinse of cool water.

A lot of people say not to wash after harvest, but we do it to remove extra dirt. Just be careful not to bruise your garlic. To prevent excess moisture, gently pat them dry with a towel. Let the garlic dry in a cool dry place out of the sunlight.

Depending on the temperatures and size of the bulbs, the skin on the bulbs will turn paper like and the cloves will be ready for consumption in as little as a few days or as long as a couple weeks.

UPDATE 6-18-2014
Made garlic bread, and processed some garlic for Kimchi. Guess where the garlic came from! Its beautiful too.
gyo heirloom garlic

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