Micro brother

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Revision as of 10:15, 20 June 2013 by Ardillo (Talk | contribs)

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Started and Finished: May 9 2013
Goal: equip an micro quadcopter with an onboard camera.
Who: Ardillo


Well after some hours of Java programming I needed c0ff33 and thought about an c0ff33 pr0j3ct. Nowadays big brother is watching you with unmanned vehicles, so why not make a tiny one myself?
In my goodie stash I had an Microcopter from the brand Reely, I bought it once from Conrad. Back then it was a bit cheaper then the price for which you can buy it now.
I had an very small video capture device as well, this one came from HobbyKing. So I wanted to combine the two together.


The vendor of Reely (Conrad) has it's own website for projects, they placed a blogpost about this project on their website. http://mancave.conrad.nl/filmen-vanuit-de-lucht-met-ardillos-diy-camera-drone/

Specs quadcopter

Reely is the homebrand of Conrad a supplier in electronics. The Reely quadcopter is a very small one. It comes with an 433MHz controller. The quadcopter has the normal 4 axes which you can expect from a quadcopter. There is a small 2S LiPo battery which has a 7.4V and 350mA.
To charge the battery you can place it in an USB dongle which can only be used to charge the battery. The Reely MC120 can easily by controlled. There is a switch on the bottom of the vehicle which can be used to change the sensitivity. While doing this a led on the vehicle changes color. There are three levels:

  • Beginner, LED is green
  • Advanced, LED is orange
  • Pro, LED is red

For more detailed specs look at the site of Conrad.

Specs video device

HobbyKing sells this camera to place it under a wing of a RC plane. This camera unit has it own LiPo battery which is a 3.7V 850mAh. With this battery the camera can record up to 3 hours. So approximatly it will be around 250mA.
The device itself is coming from a normal commercial product an this is only its interns. This is a little annoying because it lacks a normal guide. There are three control buttons on the device and a fourth is the reset button. The guide can be found on the HobbyKing page. The bottomline is that it can take photo's and video, and both can also be triggered by any movement. So there are four use modes available for doing so.
The device can be connected to a tv through a AV cable which was included in the package. The data it records will be stored on a SDcard, which was not included.
There is also a microphone onboard, which will record the nice sounds of the props carving through the air.


The video device has a vibration motor to give feedback when you push a button..? Ok I don't need that, so I removed it. I removed the original battery as well, else it will be to heavy to even lift off.
The battery of the quadcopter is placed on the bottom of the vehicle with some velcro. Because I want to get to the controls of the video device and I want to record my video's normal, and not upside down, the only place for the video device was on the top of the vehicle. So I needed to remove the cover and place some foam on top of the PCB in addition to isolate it against short circuiting and flying vibrations.
The battery of the vehicle is a 2S battery and the video device only needs half of the voltage and current. So I connected the video device only on one cell, which is kind of temporary-solution and not that professional.
For a solution to attach the video device to the vehicle I replaced the original velcro with a longer one. This one is connected like the original one but also wrapped tight on top of the vehicle for securing the video device. The microphone is embedded in the frame and sticks out at the bottom next to the battery holder.


So will it fly, offcourse. I made an video and posted it on youtube, it works ok. The vehicle is sensitive to wind and the range of the controller isn't that great, but as a small project it's acceptable.

  • Price of the vehicle = €79,99.
  • Price of the recording device = $37.18 (exclusive shipping costs).

(which is around €28,30)

  • Total cost of this project is then €108.29.

I ordered my stuff a while ago when it was cheaper, so my total is around €80.

Version 2.0

When flying I found the flying time to short, and the fact that the video device was only connected to one cell of the original battery asked for some improvement. During my search for parts I found two 'heavy' LiPo's of 2S 7.4V and 950mAh, which means an longer flying time, Naizzz. So I made a adapter for the new battery.
When I connected it, it began to smell. Oh no... the magic smoke escapes....*sigh*
So what happened? D'oh... the video device is only 3.7V. So the magic smoke isn't in the device anymore. Well it's always good to have any spares. A lesson learned a while ago, luckily I had a spare in my inventory. So I tried to make a potential divider.
After measuring the voltage divider worked, but the video device wouldn't go on. Argh, what's wrong. As a backup solution I connected the original battery of the video device back on, and that worked. So now the vehicle has two battery's. One for flying and one for the video device. After that I made some improvement that the new battery will stick better and then it was time again for some testing. For even taking off it's necessary to set the vehicle to Pro mode (LED is red), this makes the motors more agile and giving more trust. This is needed due to the increased weight.

So what's next

Well, while building this project I found a new quadcopter. Much cheaper than this one but it can only be controlled by a DSM2 capable Radio, which makes it expensive after all if you don't have a radio like this. Luckily I have a radio like this. So I ordered this one to hack around a bit.


This project

New project


Quadcopter2.jpg Quadcopter3.jpg Camera2.jpg Quadcopter4.jpg Quadcopter7.jpg Quadcopter6.jpg Battery.jpg