9-18-17 / 9-22-17 review

The first two classes I spent a lot of time working on trying to find a drill and working on the drone frame. I wasn't able to find a drill, but I found a dremel tool, and used a bit on that to drill a hole in the frame so we could mount the power distribution board. I also was able to figure out that I could put the mounting plate on the bottom of the drone to make more room for components, since the power distribution board took up all the space on top. The distribution board is a little overkill, but it will allow us to give power to other components like lights, cameras, radios, etc. if we want to add those things. In the beginning of the week I also spent time flying the mavic a little, just playing around and flying a little indoors. Zoe and Pikoi's 3D model of the big room is coming along really well, and they have a really good point cloud, so they just need to solidify it and make some masks. The end of the week I spent time researching how to set up the Naza controller and if you can code it with custom code. I found out that it is closed source, but the DJI SDK allows for you to make some minor changes like adding waypoints and creating apps that work with the controller. Next week I hope that I will be able to find more out about coding drones, and begin to either learn C++ or Python because that is what most drones are coded in.



Today I worked on figuring out how to code personal commands in the Naza flight controller. I found that their code is closed sourced, so you can't directly go into the controller and change the code, but they do have SDK (Software Developer Kits) and pages where you can create apps and other small code changes to customize your drone. I want to look more into that, and also begin learning to use either C++ or Python. Here is a website from DJI that talks about how you can edit commands on a flight controller http://developer.dji.com/mobile-sdk/documentation/quick-start/index.html. I spent a lot of class researching this, and I also found out that many drones use C++ or Python to code, and if I learn these, then maybe I will be able to use different flight controllers in the future to customize commands. Also, learning code will really be useful in college and in many other applications.



Today, I spent time working on making a hole in the drone. I found a Dremel tool that had a bit that could drill, so I drilled a small hole where I had marked it, and then attached the power distribution board. I made sure the board fit, then I removed it so that it would be easier to store. After that, I spent time flying the Mavic with Ilan inside and helped Zoe and Pikoi work on the Pix4D project. The model of the big room is coming along very well, and Ilan took pictures of the middle classroom today so we will begin making a model of that one. I also started looking up how to use code to be able to create custom programming for drones, and all DJI parts are compatible with their SDK that allows people to program functions into their flight controller. Next class, I want to spend more time looking into this and start learning to code.



Today I spent time working on the drone we are building. I hooked up some of the ESC's, and started figuring out how to wire the flight controller to it all. Here is a really helpful video to hook up the flight controller click here. I also looked for a drill, but all the doors to the rooms with equipment were locked, so I couldn't find anything. I'm really looking foreward to Dr. Bill getting back so we can set up the laser cutter, and I am going to email him about ordering some carbon fiber sheets so we can cut pieces out of them. Also, during the last 15 minutes of class, I worked on finishing a slideshow for Global Issues. When working on the drone, I found that the platform I wanted to put on wouldn't fit with the power distribution board on, so I want to find a way to maybe fit it on the bottom or something. Having the platform would really help with fitting items onto the drone, and giving more room to add attachments. Next class, I hope that there will be someone who can unlock the lower workshop so I can get a drill and drill a hole to fit the power distribution board on.


9-11-17 / 9-13-17 review

This week I didn't get that much done on the drone we're building. I spent most of my time talking to the new sub about my projects, and then talking to Zoe about the 3D model. She got Pix4D this week so she started making the model on that and it looks so much better than the old program. I also flew the Mavic a lot this week, playing with sport mode with Will, Chris, and Ilan. It flies a lot faster when in sport mode, and is a lot more maneuverable. I think that we will keep it in sport mode because it helps with getting shots and being more maneuverable while filming action. The first day, we just flew around the Elab, but the second day of the week we went down to the lower fields and filmed the Union, the Cafeteria, the Math building, the fields, the gyms and the people walking around there. It was fun to fly the drone around some of our friends, and also to film something other than the Elab. Next week I want to work a lot on the drone frame, and maybe even talk to Dr. H about using the laser cutter to cut out some pieces of carbon fiber in the future.



Today Chris, Will, and I went to the lower fields. We took the Mavic and filmed the fields and some of the kids getting out of class. Everything went well, and we went through two batteries. We then went up to the Elab and looked at the 3D model of the big room and it was coming along very well. Zoe got Pix4D and it was making a much better model, so I am hoping that we get to make more models using that software. I want to talk to people about doing the lower campus, as well as maybe GPAC and some things outside of school. Most of the day was spent flying the Mavic and playing around with sport mode. In sport mode, the Mavic flies a lot faster than in regular mode, especially with side to side movement and ascending and descending. We got some good shots and I took the SD card home to look at them. Next week, I will work more on the carbon fiber drone frame, drill the hole, and start assembling the extra platform to put more components on it.



Today we had a sub and we spent most of the time telling her about what our projects were and how we spent our time. She was very nice and offered a lot of help to all of us, and she really liked our projects. After that, I looked over the 3D model that Zoe made from the pictures I took of the big room in the Elab. It looked better than the first mask, but it was still a little wonky. Then I went outside to work on the drone frame, but Mr. Warner pulled me aside for 5 minutes or so about assembly and something he wanted me to talk about. After that, I went back outside and double checked that the hole I wanted to drill in the drone frame was in the right spot. I only had 5 minutes or so left, so I went outside and played around with the sport mode on the Mavic with Will and Ilan for a little. Next class I hope to drill the hole for the power distribution board, then start working on assembling the extra platform that came with the drone frame to add components to it.


9-5-17 / 9-8-17 review

The beginning of this week was really fun. I spent the whole first class flying the mavic inside the main room of the Elab taking pictures for Zoe and Pekoy to make a 3D model of the room. I took a bunch of pictures of the really detailed areas like the bookshelves, and sink area, and did pictures of different heights around all the walls. I went through 3 batteries that day, and had some trouble with the compass of the drone because of all the magnetic interference of the Elab, but other than that it went really smoothly. A couple days later Zoe showed me the model and it turned out kinda weird and wonky, but she and Pekoy are going to adjust a bunch of stuff and this was just the first mask so they usually look pretty weird. The other two days of class included a lot of talking. We spent time the second day talking to each other about our projects and what we aim to accomplish in the short term distance. On the last day we had some visitors and we worked on our elevator speeches, explaining why we are doing what we are doing and what we hope to do to help the community, weather it be the school or the world. Next week I hope to talk to Dr. Bill about the laser cutters and see where we are with those, along with work on connecting the Naza flight controller to the motors and ESC's of the drone we are building.



Today we had some visitors come in and listen to our projects. They were around for probably the first half hour or so of class, and each of us explained our projects and what our end goal was. We also shared why we were doing our projects, which gave us a good time to think about what our elevator speeches would be this year. Mine is similar from last year, and even more prevalent with all these hurricanes hitting the US lately. I believe that if we had an automated search and rescue drone system using Infrared, RDF, and visual spectrum technology, we would be able to more effectively target rescues and help the people in the most need, saving resources, time, money, and lives. That is why I am working on the drone we are building and trying to make it as customizable, powerful, and practical as it can be. After the visitors left, I went and looked at some videos on how to connect the Naza controller and worked on some physics homework at the same time, since we only had about 10 minutes left of class.



Today we talked for quite a while at the beginning of class. We talked about getting radio licenses, how we will be moving on in our projects, and what our goals are. In the next couple weeks I would like to finish wiring the new drone. After that, Chris and I went outside to try and fix Ferb, but he wouldn't stop beeping. We loaded the new firmware onto the SD card, left him to download it, but nothing happened. Chris and I bathed watched videos and read forums to figure it out, but we couldn't get it.



Today I flew the Mavic inside the main room of the Elab to take pictures to give to Zoe for a 3D model of the room. It was kind of challenging due to the sheer size of the room and the amount of stuff in it, so we had to take a ton of pictures to get enough detail. It took a bunch of the shelf with all the tools and supplies, along with the telescopes in the corner, and I had to get a ton of angles of all the tables to make those look realistic. I went through 3 batteries, and had some trouble with takeoff because of magnetic interference inside the building, but other than that, everything went smoothly. I gave the SD card to Zoe at the end of class, so hopefully by the next class well have something to look at. Next class I hope to work more on the carbon fiber drone frame, but hopefully Ilan will be back so we can talk about using the laser cutters to cut some pieces once we get some carbon fiber sheeting.

1 comment

8-28-17 / 8-31-17 review

This week, we didn't do much to work on building the new drone, but we worked a lot with the Inspires. The first day, Will, Chris and I helped Dr. Bill and Sameer clean up the tomato plants and clean the deck. After that, I marked a spot on the new drone frame where we can drill a hole to create a new attach point for the power distribution board. That class went by kinda quick because we talked a lot at the beginning. The next class, Chris, Will, Ilan and I went to try and fly the Inspire but the batteries weren't fully charged and we were getting low voltage warnings, so we charged those batteries. We then tried to fly the mavic, but the remote was dead, so we charged that and used Ilan's phone to fly it over wifi mode instead. We then spent some time talking about the laser cutters and we flew the mavic inside just for fun and to see how well it would handle inside by flying it from the phone. The last day, Chris, Will and I went out front and got the Inspires ready to fly. We could only get Phineas to work, and were going to try and fix Ferb next class, but it took a while to get the one up and running. We ran into a lot of problems, but we finally got it. Refer to my 8-31-17 weblog to see how we fixed it. Next week, I hope to work a bunch on the new drone and drone frame, specifically figuring out where to put the ESC's, flight controller, radio transmitter, and how to attach a gimbal.



Today the beginning of the class was spent talking about projects with Dr. Bill. He suggested that as many of us as can take the test to get our HAM radio license and I think I want to do that. After that, Chris, Will and I went outside and tried to get the Inspire to work. We brought both of them but could only get Phineas to work at the end. I had to download new firmware to the remote, which I did through the phone. Then, Chris switched the gimbal from Ferb over to Phineas because the other gimbal on Phineas wasn't working. Then, I had to format the SD card in the gimbal and download firmware from the website to my computer and put it on the SD card. Even after that, it wasn't working, and the cord connecting the remote to the phone wasn't working, so we switched that. It still didn't connect to the drone, so we tried to connect the other remote and that finally worked, but we had to download firmware from the app onto that remote also. We finally got the drone to take off and it felt sooooooo good to fly the inspire again. We do need to update the battery and something else on the drone, but it flew so at least we got it working. Next class, we're gonna try and get the other drone to work and once Ilan is done with what he is working on now and the laser cutters work, we can start making parts to fit the rest of the components onto the new drone.



Today Ilan, Chris, Will and I tried to fly the drones. It didn't work out very well because all the Inspire batteries were dead. Also, we need to do some firmware updates on the Inspires. Our next try was with the Mavic, but the remote battery was dead, so Ilan and I flew it a little with his phone over the wifi capabilities, and we flew it inside a little just for fun. We also looked at the laser printer that was out of the box and on the table. We threw around some ideas with everyone about moving the table, and Dr. Bill talked to us about how we need bigger fans. Lastly, Will and I worked on the drone some. I removed a screw and pillar not needed on the power distribution board, and then marked the spot on the drone frame where we need to drill to make room for another attach point for the distribution board. Here are some pictures.



Today, we talked a bunch at the beginning of the class. Dr. Bill checked in with everyone and we all talked about how our projects were going and what we were going to work on this week. After that Will, Chris, and I went outside to help Dr. Bill and Sameer clean up the tomatoes left over from last year. We cleaned out the remaining piping that had plants in them, emptied out the bucket of water it was sitting in, and swept the patio and hosed it off. That took up most of the class, but it was ok cause we got to eat some good tomatoes. After that, I went inside, took the power distribution board off the drone, and looked at a place where we could drill a hole to create another attach point for the distribution board because now we only have two holes that line up with the drone frame. After I removed the distribution board, class ended, so I didn't get any further. Next class, I want to mark and drill that new hole, attache the distribution board, and begin attaching the flight controller.


8-21-17 / 8-24-17 review

This week, Ilan and I worked on putting together the frame of the new drone. We spent the first day putting together the body, arms, and legs. It was all pretty self explanatory, and we didn't run into many problems. The next day, we put the motor mounts on the arms. They didn't fit very well at first, but then we tightened them more and it all fit together good. We put the motors on the mounts, and then attached the power distribution board. We found a smaller distribution board that we may use because the current one is really big. My last two weblogs have pictures. Next week, we're going to attach the flight controller, figure out where to put the ESC's, and work on connecting the gps, wires and all the other components.



Today Ilan, Will and I worked more on building the carbon fiber drone frame. Ilan had put the motor mounts on the the arms yesterday during his free period, but they didn't seem to tighten very much and they were very loose. We talked to Dr. Bill about it, and he showed us how to create more torque with the wrench and also how to sand down the clamps so the they fit the carbon tube better. While Ilan worked on how to tighten the motor mounts, I screwed the motors onto the mounts. I had to use the short screws so that the screw wouldn't stick into the motor coils on the inside, but it worked out well and everything fit. After that, we put the power distribution board on. It is really big and maybe a little overkill, and we could only align two screw holes into the top plate of the drone frame, but it fit on. We will have to drill our own hold to create a third attach point. We also found the power distribution board that came with the motors, and it is a lot smaller and lighter so we are thinking about using that instead for now. Next class, we will tightly secure the motor mounts, and start mounting the flight controller, figure out where to put the ESC's, and where all the wiring will go.



Today Ilan and I worked more on assembling the drone frame. The top and bottom plates came screwed together, so we had to unscrew them to fit the arms and the legs onto the bottom plate. I did that while Ilan assembled the legs with the landing gear, and then we both worked on attaching the arms and legs. We then attached the top plate to hold the arms in place and then we screwed on the two eyelets to the bottom plate where we will slip the mounting poles through so we can add gimbals and other accessories. Hopefully next class we will be able to finish the frame, mount the motors, and begin wiring the internals so we can try and get the drone running simply by next week. Here are some pictures of where we got to today.



Today was the first real day of work. We met in the middle classroom at the beginning, then Ilan, Will, Chris, and I went out to the robotics room to work on the Tarot Drone Frame. When we met in the class room with everybody we talked about how to do our weblogs, what our projects were, and some of the interesting opportunities this semester would be. When the drone crew worked on the drone frame, I had to solder something to fix my eagle project, so I tried to do that, but the metal I was trying to solder the wire to wouldn't stick to the solder. I ended up taking that part off and soldering directly to another piece that the previous metal part clipped into, and the solder stuck to the new part. I then helped Ilan put together some of the frame, but we didn't get too far because class was running out of time. We put the four arms of the drone into the main frame, but we ran out of time screwing them in. Next class we will work on the drone more, and I will solder the remaining piece for my eagle project. Hopefully in this next week we can start programming the flight controller and getting the drone put together.


8-18-17 First Day Back ( ISR Proposal )


Throughout my project, I plan to use the E-Lab’s current DJI drones along with home built drones to study the efficiency, speed, maneuverability, and ease of use of drones. I will use what I learn to create a Vertical Takeoff and Landing (VTOL) drone that will be used for search and rescue, utilizing videography, infrared technology, and Radio Direction Finding (RDF) technology.

Introduction & Goals:

I started working on the drone project my sophomore year, with Juan teaching me how to fly the Inspire. That year, we focused on taking videos and pictures, and we only worked on building the racing drone for a short period at the end of the year. One day, when Juan was filming, the wind blew the drone away and we lost it for about 2 or 3 days until somebody that found it put up a post and we called them. When we got it back, we thought about what would happen if we were to lose the drone again, so I started studying RDF technology, building my own antenna and using a transmitter and receiver we bought online to be able to triangulate the position of the drone if we were to lose it again. That is how I got into using RDF technology, and where I got the idea to use it for Search and Rescue. Juan and I then transitioned into working on building the racing drone, which is also what I worked on the second semester of my junior year with Ilan. We had some troubles with getting parts to work, and things were breaking so easily because of the poor, Chinese made quality, that we moved onto using DJI products to build a sturdier drone, the project I started at the end of this year. Next year, my longterm goal is to build a VTOL drone that can interchange between infrared imaging, visual spectrum imaging, and RDF technology, possible combining them all, to create a slightly autonomous search and rescue drone. My smaller, more incremental goals are to first put all of the parts we have onto the heavy duty quadcopter frame, and testing the RDF technology with that setup. Then, I would begin developing the VTOL aircraft, utilizing two different flight controllers to control the quadcopter and level flight modes. My next goal would be to create a solid aircraft to ground video connection to transmit high-definition real time imaging. My last goal would to be to integrate all the technology I had developed into one, professionally functioning drone. EQ

Implementation & Challenges:

I have done most of the research, planning, and drawing models of the VTOL aircraft, along with doing extensive research on RDF and thermal imaging solutions for drones. That said, I still have some research to do on using two different flight controllers to control a VTOL aircraft, but most of my work will be prototyping and physical testing of the drones. To reach my goals, I plan to start by doing most of the testing on the heavy duty quadcopter frame rather than jumping straight into VTOL, then gradually developing a good VTOL frame to put all of the drone components on. The most challenging part will be developing the actual frame of the VTOL, since the design I have created is a good concept, but seems hard to implement since it contains servos, linear actuators, and other parts that will be difficult to get to work smoothly and efficiently.

Impact and Legacy:

To me, this project will help me gain a better understanding of the growing applications of drones in aerospace engineering, a field that I am very interested in. I will learn how the basic laws of flight affect both quadcopters and forward flight drones, and how to efficiently create a flight platform that can do multiple jobs at once. I believe that my project is important and unique in my field because nobody else is combining drones and RDF technology to automatically triangulate the position of lost people or objects. This project will act as a way for me to do research in a field I am very interested in, help me get a foot into this field with a project nobody else is doing, and, if everything works out, maybe even help people. I think that if this project and prototyping goes well, in college or with HPA I can develop a drone that I can make available to private investors, or work with other companies to produce these drones to help people around the world.

Appendix A:

  1. http://diydrones.com/profiles/blog/list?tag=VTOL

    1. This forum is all about VTOL aircraft and the different frames and propulsion systems. It will be beneficial to my research in developing the VTOL aspect of my project.

  2. http://www.dji.com/products/industrial

    1. DJI is one of the world’s leaders in drone technology, and the available products, support, and ideas that come from their website and forums are used by myself and my team members often.

  3. https://www.faa.gov/regulations_policies/handbooks_manuals/aircraft/glider_handbook/media/gfh_ch03.pdf

    1. This handbook is all about aspect ratio, wingspan, fuselage length, and other important information about glider and winged airplanes. This will help in learning about how the VTOL aircraft will act when in forward flight mode, and help me create my frame design.

  4. FAA Ground School Handbook

    1. On my computer, I have a digital copy of the FAA handbook that includes all the things I need to know about flight, planes, propellers, and anything else that could help me with the design of my VTOL aircraft.

Appendix B:


  • Critical

  • Quadcopter frame

  • VTOL frame

  • DJI Naza M V2 flight controller

  • 3DR Pixhawk flight controller

  • DJI motor, propeller, and ESC package

  • Power distribution board

  • Servos

  • Linear actuator

  • Bullet connectors

  • RC transmitter & receiver

  • Necessary

  • Radio antenna

  • Radio receiver & transmitter

  • Camera (Visible light spectrum, infrared)

  • Optional

  • LED lights

  • Misc (screws, zip ties, etc.)


  • Critical

  • Screwdriver

  • Soldering Iron

  • Solder

  • Helping Hands

  • Wrench

  • Wire strippers

  • Necessary

  • Zip ties

  • Double sided tape

  • Electrical tape

  • Snips

  • Optional

  • Heat gun

  • Shrink Wrap

  • Small hammer