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Thread: DJI Naza as APV flight controller

  1. #1
    Merlin of Multirotors RTRyder's Avatar
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    DJI Naza as APV flight controller

    Today I swapped the WKM on my small APV quad for a Naza controller, toughest part of the swap was unsoldering the power module leads from the WKM and then soldering in the module for the Naza, I think it took longer for the iron to heat up than it did for the rest of the swap!

    Before I removed the WKM I opened the Assistant software and saved the config file as well as writing down some fo the settings, the goal being to see how close the WKM config would be to the ideal Naza setup. Once the Naza was in place I connected it to the Assistant (different app for the Naza vs the WKM) and did the basic setup and entering the same gain settings where they applied along with setting up the 2 axid GoPro camera mount.

    Between rain showers I got a chance for a quick test flight out back. From what I saw on that flight it only needs some minor tweaks to the gain settings and the same for the camer gimbal. For the most part it flew pretty much the same as it did with the WKM, no GPS of course, and the camera gimbal appeared to be working the same. The GoPro video from he flight is uploading to Youtube right now, I'll post the link as soon as it's done.

    Initial impression is that the only real difference between the WKM and Naza is the GPS and related functionality, everything else seems to be the same so far. Because it is an APV quad I'm going to up the gain settings to make it a bit more stable and the camera mount needs a bit of fine tuning as well as to be hooked back up to the CC BEC to power the servos. Right now I have it powered from the Naza controller and it's working OK but I can tell the servos are reacting a bit slower than they did with a 6 volt feed. All minor details, the impressive thing was being able to swap one controller for the other and without really changing anything it flew pretty much tthe same way that it did prior to the swap!

    Ken
    CineStar 6/WKM, Droidworx AD6/Mk 2.2, Mikrokopter Hexa V1, MikroKopter FPV quad, DJI F450/ MultiWii Pro, F330 Discovery style FPV/MultiWii Pro, TBS Discovery #1/Naza V1 & #2/MultiWii Pro, Hoverthings FlipFPV/APM 2.5, Flip quad/Flip Multiwii, Turnigy Talon Tricopter/MultiWii Pro
    Alexmos BGC, various Brushless camera mounts, Sony Nex 5N, GoPro Hero HD and V3 Black , Immersion FPV

  2. #2
    Hi Ken: I'm so glad that you created this thread. You had recommended this Naza to me just yesterday and I have been impressed with everything I have seen so far. I would like to find out more about what would be a suitable gimble for this. I would also be interested to know what we may be able to count on for a useable load (after attaching lipo) and if any variation in prop size might help to increase the useable load. I am looking forward to your finding with what appears to be a great little quad.

  3. #3
    Merlin of Multirotors RTRyder's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RancherPete View Post
    Hi Ken: I'm so glad that you created this thread. You had recommended this Naza to me just yesterday and I have been impressed with everything I have seen so far. I would like to find out more about what would be a suitable gimble for this. I would also be interested to know what we may be able to count on for a useable load (after attaching lipo) and if any variation in prop size might help to increase the useable load. I am looking forward to your finding with what appears to be a great little quad.
    I don't know that it would be practical to hang a gimbal under the F450 kit frame. I'm sure there's a way to do it but it would also require adding some taller landing gear and I think by the time it was done the load may well be more than the basic F 450 kit pieces would be happy dealing with. The quad I put it on is based on a MikroKopter quad frame and was built to be a small APV multi from the start, it just seemed to be overkill to have a WKM controller on it, I think it will be just as useful and just as much fun to fly with the Naza as it was with the WKM.

    That said, for a basic quad kit the F 450 is pretty good with a well balanced set of props, flying it smoothly with a hard mounted GoPro can produce results almost as good as a bigger quad with a small 2 axis mount. The Naza flight videos I've post so far have been exactly that setup, hard mounted GoPro on the F 450, the only difference is I wasn't making any attempt to fly smooth or level on any of those flights

    Ken

    Here's the video from the first flight, it was a bit windy and the wobble and bounce is mostly from wind and not optimal gain settings...

    Last edited by RTRyder; 12-21-2011 at 03:22 PM.
    CineStar 6/WKM, Droidworx AD6/Mk 2.2, Mikrokopter Hexa V1, MikroKopter FPV quad, DJI F450/ MultiWii Pro, F330 Discovery style FPV/MultiWii Pro, TBS Discovery #1/Naza V1 & #2/MultiWii Pro, Hoverthings FlipFPV/APM 2.5, Flip quad/Flip Multiwii, Turnigy Talon Tricopter/MultiWii Pro
    Alexmos BGC, various Brushless camera mounts, Sony Nex 5N, GoPro Hero HD and V3 Black , Immersion FPV

  4. #4
    This looks pretty darn good, Ken! With the Naza being so modestly priced and showing such good signs of being a stable FC platform I wonder if I should consider a more rugged frame (like yours) and perhaps building a quad that might be a little better suited to a slightly heavier load. Even though my initial idea of buying the 450/Naza Kit was simply to use as a trainer until my skill level raises it would still be nice to get some work out of a quad in the form of a little video and some stills. If I could build something that would have the guts to lift a Sony NEX-5, Lumex, or similar, that would solve a lot of problems and I might even be able to hold off on building my hexa for a little longer. Do you think that makes any sense?

  5. #5
    Merlin of Multirotors RTRyder's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RancherPete View Post
    This looks pretty darn good, Ken! With the Naza being so modestly priced and showing such good signs of being a stable FC platform I wonder if I should consider a more rugged frame (like yours) and perhaps building a quad that might be a little better suited to a slightly heavier load. Even though my initial idea of buying the 450/Naza Kit was simply to use as a trainer until my skill level raises it would still be nice to get some work out of a quad in the form of a little video and some stills. If I could build something that would have the guts to lift a Sony NEX-5, Lumex, or similar, that would solve a lot of problems and I might even be able to hold off on building my hexa for a little longer. Do you think that makes any sense?
    It depends on how comfortable you are flying a multirotor craft and how willing are you to risk damaging the camera? If you don't have much flight experience the basic F 450 is probably a good start. Personally I think until you're confortable with flying in all orientations including nose in, it's best to stick with something that can take some abuse without breaking anything more than a prop or two. Crash a quad with a camera mount and $500 worth of camera attached and the repair bill can add up quickly. Even after you have an APV capable craft it's still nice to have the little beater that you can take out and practice on, I have several small aerobatic quads that I fly (and crash) on a regular basis, makes me that much more comfortable when I'm flying the big expensive multis.

    Ken

    Another video with the gains dialed up a bit, it's getting there, just a bit more tweaking and some better weather needed...

    CineStar 6/WKM, Droidworx AD6/Mk 2.2, Mikrokopter Hexa V1, MikroKopter FPV quad, DJI F450/ MultiWii Pro, F330 Discovery style FPV/MultiWii Pro, TBS Discovery #1/Naza V1 & #2/MultiWii Pro, Hoverthings FlipFPV/APM 2.5, Flip quad/Flip Multiwii, Turnigy Talon Tricopter/MultiWii Pro
    Alexmos BGC, various Brushless camera mounts, Sony Nex 5N, GoPro Hero HD and V3 Black , Immersion FPV

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by RTRyder View Post
    It depends on how comfortable you are flying a multirotor craft and how willing are you to risk damaging the camera? If you don't have much flight experience the basic F 450 is probably a good start. Personally I think until you're confortable with flying in all orientations including nose in, it's best to stick with something that can take some abuse without breaking anything more than a prop or two. Crash a quad with a camera mount and $500 worth of camera attached and the repair bill can add up quickly. Even after you have an APV capable craft it's still nice to have the little beater that you can take out and practice on, I have several small aerobatic quads that I fly (and crash) on a regular basis, makes me that much more comfortable when I'm flying the big expensive multis.

    Ken

    Another video with the gains dialed up a bit, it's getting there, just a bit more tweaking and some better weather needed...


    I guess that means I won't be flying my German Shepard around the neighborhood anytime soon. This is good advice so I will take it and will go ahead and order the DJI 450/Nava kit. Do you think that there might be a way to get a little more usable load out of it in the future or is it pretty much locked in the way it is? I still have to learn about how prop size vs. gain settings, etc. works. Never having done any of this I still need to understand the principles of such things but we all have to start somewhere. BTW: This latest video is a real treat to watch. I am amazed by the stability and how much better this video is compared to the first couple of ones you presented. If only I could achieve similar results with a slightly bigger camera I would be in great shape. The only issue I have with the GoPro1 (or 2) for my use is the "fish-eye" effect of their lens. This is why I mentioned the Sony or Panasonic because I would have greater control over that factor with an optical zoom. I actually tried to order this kit and a bunch of other stuff from three different outfits today and none of them answered their phone or bothered to call me back after having left a message with them all. Maybe the economy is better than we think

  7. #7
    Full Blown Hucker GGoodrum's Avatar
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    Ken, which gimbal is this one again? This is a great setup. It looks like it is dialed in pretty well.

    Peter, in all likelihood, you will end up with multiple platforms, like the rest of us, and I too think this F450/Naza combo is a great place to start. Xaircraft has a similar quad frame that they call an X450Pro, and just recently they've come out with a hexa
    frame set that uses the same arms as those used on the X450. I'm guessing that DJI is going to be doing the same thing, as I've already seen some pictures/CAD renderings somewhere. Anyway, a "mid-size" hexa like this would certainly have enough power to carry a mid-range 2-axis gimbal and a NEX-5N. I've got one of the XA hexas, with Hyperion Zs-2213-22 motors and Maytech 30A ESCs, running on 4s with 10x4.5" props and it has no problems with an AUW of 5-1/2 pounds. The motors don't even get warm.

    I'm just finishing up my own F450/Naza build today. I'm using the motors and 12A ESCs that came with the XA hexa kit I got from CNCHelicopter.com. I didn't use these because I already had some Hyperion motors and Maytech 30A ESCs that came off an X8 frame I retired, and they were already setup with my WK-M system. Anyway, I'm going to run this F450 setup on 4s and use some Graupner 11x5" props, mainly because I already have lots of 4s packs, and the props came off the X8 as well. This will mean this will have plenty of power to lift just about anything, but I'll probably just hard-mount a Sony Bloggie that I have leftover from an earlier quad I did that was based on a Gaui 330XS set of motors/ESCs.

    -- Gary
    AGY650-LB Y6 "Lobster" w/Naza+GPS; AG700 2-axis DSLR gimbal; Re-flashed DYS-40A ESCs; SunnySky 2814/700 kV motors; Zinger 12-4/12-5; 4s-6000 Nanotech; NEX-5N w/18-55mm + PJ710V
    AGY600-LB Y6 "Shrimp" w/Naza+GPS; AG550v2 2-axis gimbal; Re-flashed DYS-30A ESCs; SunnySky 2216/800 kV motors; Graupner 11x5; 4s-5800 Zippy; RX100 + NEX-5N w/18-55mm

  8. #8
    Gary; Thanks for sharing all of this information with me. I will be eager to learn how your F450 comes together and how you feel the usable load is... and stability of course. Most of us who fly fixed wing aircraft learned in a Cessna. We learned that the Cessna was 'inherently stable' due to its high wing configuration which provides the dihedral effect (pendulum). I was under the assumption that this applied to the multirotors to some extent as well. I figured that if a camera and gimbal were hanging off the bottom of the craft this would be a good thing (as long as its not TOO heavy). But then I spoke with a gentleman on the telephone last night who told me that this is not the case. He said that anything that hangs from the bottom of the craft is creating leverage against the craft's ability to pitch or yaw and that this causes instability. He said that this is why we often see cameras sitting on TOP of the craft (where we must shoot through the spinning propellers) because the craft is more stable in this configuration. At this point I realized that I know even less than I though I did... or maybe I am now looking for a second opinion

    With all of this said I will still be eager to learn more about this with the hopes that I may in fact be able to add some sort of small, light gimbal a camera just a little bigger than a GoPro on the bottom of the F450, that is after I learn to fly it sufficiently. I figured that with those big props, ESCs and motors that come with the F450/Naza kit this little sucker ought to have some pretty good lift, or so it would seem.

    Again, thanks for sharing this with me (us) and please keep us posted on how this F450 comes together.

  9. #9
    Merlin of Multirotors RTRyder's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RancherPete View Post
    Gary; Thanks for sharing all of this information with me. I will be eager to learn how your F450 comes together and how you feel the usable load is... and stability of course. Most of us who fly fixed wing aircraft learned in a Cessna. We learned that the Cessna was 'inherently stable' due to its high wing configuration which provides the dihedral effect (pendulum). I was under the assumption that this applied to the multirotors to some extent as well. I figured that if a camera and gimbal were hanging off the bottom of the craft this would be a good thing (as long as its not TOO heavy). But then I spoke with a gentleman on the telephone last night who told me that this is not the case. He said that anything that hangs from the bottom of the craft is creating leverage against the craft's ability to pitch or yaw and that this causes instability. He said that this is why we often see cameras sitting on TOP of the craft (where we must shoot through the spinning propellers) because the craft is more stable in this configuration. At this point I realized that I know even less than I though I did... or maybe I am now looking for a second opinion

    With all of this said I will still be eager to learn more about this with the hopes that I may in fact be able to add some sort of small, light gimbal a camera just a little bigger than a GoPro on the bottom of the F450, that is after I learn to fly it sufficiently. I figured that with those big props, ESCs and motors that come with the F450/Naza kit this little sucker ought to have some pretty good lift, or so it would seem.

    Again, thanks for sharing this with me (us) and please keep us posted on how this F450 comes together.
    I would disagree with the concept that hanging the camera under a multi is a bad idea, when you're doing APV, video especially, you want stability so some damping of the reactions is a good thing, that's why a lot of folks that produce good video use a lot of expo on the controls. The proper way to build is what you see in designs like the CineStar frame where the weight is balanced between top and bottom by mounting the camera gear down low where the flying bits are out of its view, and the other heavy bits, i.e. the batteries are mounted at the very top to counter the weight of camera and mount below. I have to say it works quite well that way, it is by far one of the most stable video platforms I've flown so far.

    Bottom line is there are as many ideas and theories about design as there are choices in flight controllers, motors, and ESC's. A lot of people have spent a huge amount of $ finding out what works and what doesn't by trial and error, been there, done that. I think one of the best ways to do it in a less expensive way is to watch a lot of videos that get posted and see which ones have the clarity, smoothness, and consistancy that you would like to achieve and then see what those people are using for equipment. You may find some commonality in the gear being used, and for good reason, it works, period.

    Anyone with a multirotor and a video camera can take aerial video. With the right pieces of software you can take even the most unsteady video and render it into something looks impressive, not really hard to do. The real proof is to see video in raw unaltered format and have it be smooth and steady, that a very few people can do and do it well.

    As for the idea of putting big props on to generate lift, you have to consider what the motors you're using are capable of, go too big on the props and you'll be loading the motors beyond their ability to run efficiently resulting in a lot of heat buildup and lower flight times. The components need to be matched for the intended use, there are calculators out there that can help but none of what I have seen so far is 100% accurate so to some degree it's a learning experience to find out what works best and what to stay away from.

    My $.02...
    Ken
    Last edited by RTRyder; 12-22-2011 at 09:24 AM.
    CineStar 6/WKM, Droidworx AD6/Mk 2.2, Mikrokopter Hexa V1, MikroKopter FPV quad, DJI F450/ MultiWii Pro, F330 Discovery style FPV/MultiWii Pro, TBS Discovery #1/Naza V1 & #2/MultiWii Pro, Hoverthings FlipFPV/APM 2.5, Flip quad/Flip Multiwii, Turnigy Talon Tricopter/MultiWii Pro
    Alexmos BGC, various Brushless camera mounts, Sony Nex 5N, GoPro Hero HD and V3 Black , Immersion FPV

  10. #10
    Thanks Ken. Your idea of keeping things balanced certainly seems to makes sense. I do look at a lot of videos and it was your Cinestar-6/WK-M build (and its associated videos) that drew me to all of this to begin with. While I will try to achieve the smoothest video possible it is nice to know that I do have the software to make corrections if need be until my skills and equipment improve. My goal will of course be to achieve these results without this processing for obvious reasons. I was testing some of this the other day with my Adobe After Effects in CS5 and I was very impressed by what it was able to do to improve some jittery, hand-held video footage. I am going to move forward and try to buy the F450 today. The other consideration I have is in which TX to buy. I see that a great many people use the DX-8 but as I have comparing some alternatives I have read a great many favorable reviews for the Hitec Aurora-9 and so I am leaning towards that. Although I heard that the documentation (user manual) leaves a lot to be desired. Swell. There may be more favorable ones out there but budget is still a consideration. Then again, buying a crappy controller to ultimately control a very expensive hexa in the future is probably not a good idea either. If you won't mind my asking: What controller would you buy if you were in my position (inexperienced) with a F450/Naza on the way and then a Cinestar-6 with WK-M and AV-130 (or similar) in the near future? If I can get this figured out I will be scaring the sparrows in no time.

    BTW: I came across this Aurora-9 at a great price which includes the 9 channel RX: http://www.troybuiltmodels.com/items/HSAURORA9-9.html I could buy this with a 6 or 7 channel RX ($50+) to use with the Naza/F450 and then hang onto to the included 9 channel RX for use with the hexa at a later date. This would give me two complete setups.
    Last edited by RancherPete; 12-22-2011 at 10:35 AM.

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