1-9-18 / 1-11-18 review

This week was just to get things started. We spent most of the beginning of the week talking about new projects and seeing what we were going to do this quarter. Chris and I are going to work on a cool project with Zoe, trying to 3D map the land HPA owns above the Energy Lab so that HPA can see how big it is and what shape it is so they can decide what to do with it. I am also going to finish my big drone, and see what I can do for attachments with it. The rest of the week Chris and I flew. We tried to fly the Inspire on the second day of class, but couldn't figure out what was wrong with it until we finally noticed there was no SD card inserted, and the third class we flew the Mavic around Taylor Commons and the Dorms. Hopefully next week we can start the 3D mapping project or I can work on the big drone.



Today Chris and I went to fly the Mavic. We charged the remote overnight, but it only charged to 27%, so I think something is wrong with the charging cord. It was a little windy today, but we went down to Anna's field behind the trees so it was a little calmer. We spent most of the class just flying around and filming some of the school, trying out new shots and just having fun with the drone for the first week of school.



Today Chris and I tried to fly the Inspire because it was such a nice day. We had charged the Mavic and Inspire batteries overnight, but we couldn't fly the Mavic because the remote never charged. When we took the Inspire out, we spent almost all class trying to get it to work because for some reason the remote wouldn't connect with the drone. We tried binding it and resetting the RC settings, but nothing worked. At the end of class, we figured out that the drone didn't have an SD card in it, so none of the firmware was loaded. We spent the rest of the day trying to find the SD card for the Inspire, but we couldn't.



Today was our first day back, and we spent most our time talking in the middle room. We went over what Dr. Bill has found out for our projects over winter, and new projects. One thing that me and Chris will work on is 3D mapping the land above the Energy Lab that HPA owns so that people can look at it and see what HPA can use it for.


S1 White Paper


This semester, I was working on the drone team. I flew drones to take pictures and videos of the school, took pictures inside the Elab with the DJI Mavic for 3D models, and began building a heavy duty drone.

Introduction and Goals:

  • Background

    • My project focuses on the many uses of quadcopters. Most drones available on the public market are strictly for joy of flight or photography, but there are many more uses. I beleive that while people and companies are working towards big goals and innovative things with drones, they aren’t creating an easy, ready to fly platform for the public. I started learning about drones my sophomore year with Juan, and now I have advanced my knowledge, learning about flying, filming, building, and programming drones.

  • Original Goals

    • When I started my project this year, I wanted to create something that wasn’t too difficult to build, and was able to accommodate many different payloads, allowing one drone to serve many different purposes. These could be cameras, radio antennas, sensors, or any number of tools to conduct research or complete a task. I wanted to focus on the aspect of Search and Rescue, mainly utilizing thermal cameras, Radio Direction Finding, and other cameras.

  • Essential Question

    • How can drones be used to their full potential, and how can that technology be readily available to the public. I want to find out what it takes to make a heavy duty industrial drone, and find ways to make it easier for the public to acquire.

Planning and Implementation:

  • Project Planning

    • I started planning this project last year, after I had finished the small racing drone that I had started with Juan. I decided I wanted to make something more substantial and versatile. When I first started, I really wanted to make a VTOL aircraft, but my vision of that changed as I realized what materials were available. When I changed my vision, I decided to plan something that could lift heavy payloads, perform multiple tasks, and have some form of autonomy. I then designed a basic quadcopter, but got the lightest and strongest materials I could.

  • Research and Resources

    • I’ve done most of my research on YouTube. I find a lot of tutorials on how to program transmitters, set up flight controllers, how to solder connections, connect components, and everything inbetween. I’ve also read a lot of forums and manuals, figuring out how specific components work.

  • Implementation

    • At the start of the semester, I did a lot of planning. I had a checklist of parts, and went through it, making sure that I had everything that I needed. I then began assembling the frame. It was a little expensive and I had to put the frame together, but it was worth it. Because it is carbon fiber, it is extremely light, and helps my project goals extremely. I then began attaching components such as the power distribution board, flight controller, PMU, and ESC’s. I think the most exciting part was putting the motors and ESC’s on, because those were the first things I plugged in and they looked really clean and professional. After that, I began soldering and heat shrinking power lines. This took a really long time, because I could only get a couple done each class, but it was extremely satisfying to finish. Keep in mind, throughout this whole project, I also flew and filmed with the DJI Mavic Pro and the DJI Inspire 1, so the building process took a lot longer than if that was my only duty. My favorite part about flying the DJI drones is taking pictures inside the E-Lab for 3D models with the Mavic. Once I finished soldering and heat shrinking, I began trying to get the motors to spin up and the transmitter to connect to the receiver, which is where I am now.

Challenges and Next Steps:

  • Challenges

    • The biggest challenges so far have been with soldering. I’ve had a ton of wires break, and bunch of burnt connections, and some sloppy looking soldering, so I’ve constantly redone it. I’ve made a lot of improvements in this area, and am really proud of where I am now though. Currently, I am having trouble with the transmitter and receiver, especially with getting the inputs from the stick to respond with the motors. That is something I want to fix next semester.

  • Accomplishments

    • I’m really excited that I was able to finish putting the entire drone together, and I think my biggest accomplishment was that I was able to finish it even with all the other things I’ve been doing with the drones. I was the most excited when I put the ESC’s on and plugged them into the flight controller because that I when it started looking like a drone.

  • Next Steps

    • Next semester, I’m going to start by getting the motors to run, and getting the entire drone to be a reliable, stable platform to base other projects off of. Once I get it all up and running, my immediate trial will be putting the vog sensor on it, and trying to create a 3D map with regular imaging and vog data about vog levels through the atmosphere.

  • Lessons Learned

    • Like I said, I’ve come a long way with my soldering, and that is a skill I am very proud of now. I have also learned a lot about quadcopters and flight in general. Something I want to learn more about next semester is coding, so that I can upload my own programs to the drone. That will allow it to complete commands such as autonomous flight, making missions easier and the drone overall more versatile.

Download file "ISR S1 White Paper - Groves.pdf"


12-4-17 / 12-7-17 review

I was sick the first day, and the other two days I was waiting around for batteries to charge, so I didn't really do anything. I did get to work on my White Paper and video clip a little, and I also got to see the drone light up, but the motors would spin when prompted by the remote, so that is the first thing I'm going to fix next semester. I had an awesome one, and can't wait to get the drone flying!!!



Today was the last class of the semester, so we just kind of hung out and talked. I did try and run the Naza assistant software and see what was up with the transmitter, but I couldn't figure it out. Can't wait for next semester!!!



Today, I spent most class just sitting around waiting for a batter to charge so that I could plug it into the drone and see if it worked. I plugged it in, and it lit up, but I wasn't able to get the transmitter to connect to the receiver. It says that it is binding but there is no inputs coming from the transmitter when I move the stick, so something is wrong. I also worked some more on my White Paper today.



I was sick today, so I was not at class. I did work on my S1 White Paper though!!!


11-28-17 / 12-1-17 review

This week I finished the drone!!! I spent two days soldering and heat shrinking all the bullet connectors. I feel like my soldering skills got a lot better, and I was able to do it really efficiently. Mr. H was really helpful with showing me all the heat shrink supplies, and I think that made all the wires a lot more solid and tough. Next week, I hope to plug the drone in and try and get all the motors to run. Hopefully I can fit that in with finishing my final presentation work. Here is the finished drone!



Today, I finished all the soldering. The drone is now ready to plug into the computer and begin setting up to run. I soldered the last two bullet connectors, heat shrieked them, then made sure all the wires were plugged in tight, and attached the power distribution board to the drone. I was super happy to finish it. Here are some pictures.



Today, I talked with Dr. Bill and went over the final presentation questions. We talked about what has gone well, what has been challenging, and what I want to do next semester. It was really helpful to talk with Dr. Bill so he could give me some ideas of what I should talk about. After we talked, I switched the positive side of the power distribution board to the bottom, and the ground to the top. This way the wires will fit a little better.



Today we had a long class, and I spent the whole time soldering. I soldered a bunch of the bullet connectors onto the ESC wires, but I had to undo some at the beginning because I needed to put the heat shrink on and it wouldn't fit over the bullet connectors. I ended up soldering and heat shrinking 6 of the eight connectors. It's started to come together, and next class I hope to finish all the connections and then start trying to make the drone work.


11-20-17 / 11-21-17 review

This week we only had two class periods, and I spent the whole time soldering in both. I soldered half of the bullet connectors onto the ESC wires, and I soldered the PMU power wires onto the power distribution board. I think sometimes I've been using too much solder, because when I try to move stuff, all the solder doesn't melt and I can't move anything. I have been having to solder a black wire to the ground of the ESC wires because the ground is a weave around the positive, and it breaks when I cut the casing off to allow enough separation to reach the ESC ports. Next week, I want to finish all the soldering, then I can move onto programing the controller on the Naza software.



Today I did more soldering. I soldered more bullet connectors on to the ESC wires and soldered the PMU wires onto the batter connection spot on the power distribution board. There is a more in depth explanation in the 11-20-17 weblog, because I did the same thing today. Here are some pictures.



Today I worked on the drone frame. Is started soldering the bullet connectors to the ESC wires, and the PMU to the power distribution board. I wasn't able to get the PMU wires on today because I was having trouble with the soldering iron not getting hot enough. I was using Mr. H's soldering iron today, but tomorrow I'm going to try and use the regular red ones, because they have more surface area so more heat can be transferred. The bullet connectors were really easy to solder on, but the ground (black) in the ESC wires is a weave around the positive (red) so I had to cut that off so that I could separate the wires. Next class I'm going to solder black wires onto the weave of grounding wires around the beginning of the plastic part of the wire. Next class I also want to work more on the soldering so that next week I can start programming the controller.


11-14-17 / 11-17-17 review

This week wasn't very productive. We only had two days of classes, and the second day we talked all class about some cool things Nasa and Elon Musk are doing, along with going over some visits from foreign people that are coming up. The first day of class I spent my time researching more about Turnigy receivers and transmitters and pairing them with the Naza M V2 receiver. I found a video that I linked in my 11-14-17 weblog, and I changed around some of the wiring. Next week, I hope to be able to solder everything onto the power distribution board, then start programming the drone in the Naza flight software.



Today we talked with Dr. Bill all class. He went over some new stuff about the space team and Nasa, and we talked about Elon Musk's new electric semi-truck. We also talked about some visitors and some presentations we can do, but I won't be here for them because I have a scout campout.



Today I worked on the drone some more, but I didn't really do a lot of physical work. I rearranged some of the wires that connect the transmitter to the flight controller, but other than that, I mostly did research about the flight controller and what to do with the receiver when connecting it, but I found out a lot of useful information. I also used some different wires to connect the transmitter to the flight controller because these ones came with the flight controller and seem a little more sturdy. Here is a link to a video I found to figure things out. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DikLpzlIqHA


11-7-17 / 11-9-17 review

This week, I worked a lot. The first two classes I worked on the big drone. I attached the ESC's to the motors and attached them to the arms of the drone using double sided tape a zip ties. I then attached the wires to the arms using zip ties, and plugged some of the wires into the flight controller. The power wires I left with slack so that I can solder them onto the power distribution board later. I then wired the receiver to the flight controller and found some really helpful links that you can find in my 11-8-17 weblog. There are also some pictures there. The last class of the week, I flew the mavic inside the MonLab for Zoe and took a bunch of pictures for a 3D model. I taught Chris how to fly in such a tight space, and worked a lot with figuring out how to manually keep the drone steady because there was so much magnetic interference in the room that it wouldn't hover very well. Next week, I hope to finish attaching and wiring all the parts of the big drone, and start trying to program it and get it to fly.