Arducopter Customizations

I have had a few too many crashes with my Arducopter kit and decided that a few customizations were in order:

  • Replace the Propeller Adapters
  • Replace the Motor Mounts
  • Enclose the Electronics

Replace the Propeller Adapters

The jDrones kit includes propeller adapters that are pretty difficult for me to install properly.  The adapters are the collet type and they kept falling off sending the propeller into the air and the copter to the ground.  Here is a video of the propeller falling off.  The camera was mounted on the quad and was pointing directly at the propeller that fell off.

I eventually replaced these adapters with the E-flite EFLM1930 adapter with set Screw (1/8″ rotor).  The set screw holds the bottom portion of the adapter firmly to the rotor.  The top portion of the adapter can be tightened independent of the bottom portion.  I use the blue thread-locking fluid on the top half and have never had another propeller fall off.

Replace the Motor Mounts

Many of the crashes resulted in the plexiglass motor mounts being cracked or completely broken.  I took the step of mounting the motors directly to the arm by adding another mounting hole like this:

I used the motor mount template from the kit to locate the additional mounting screw
Two 20mm M3 metal machine screws, lock washers and spacer washers. The space washers provide clearance at the bottom of the motor for the rotor.
The mounted motor

Enclose the Electronics

I plan to replace the landing gear, but the kit landing gear protects the electronics complex.  Here is my solution:

Use a DVD/CD spindle to enclose your electronics

The DVD/CD has been machined to replace one of the fiberglass boards in the frame.  Here are the steps I used:

  1. Get yourself a 30 disc (very tight fit) or 50 disc DVD/CD spindle
  2. Download and install Google Sketchup
  3. Download the model for the main plate from the 3D warehouse
  4. Add a circle to the center of your model that is the same size as the inside diameter of the bottom portion of your spindle case.

    This image might work for you with some scaling
  5. Print the model so that you have a 1:1 exact pattern of the main plate (compare it with the actual main plate to make sure it is right).
  6. Use scissors to cut around the circle on the printed model so that it can fit inside the bottom portion of the spindle case.
  7. Use a Dremel or similar tool to carve out anything on the bottom spindle that is in the way of having the printed main plate circle from laying flat.  You might need a few spindles for practice while you perfect your technique.
  8. Use your favorite brand of white glue (e.g. Elmers) to completely cover the blank side of the printed main plate circle and secure it to the bottom portion of the spindle.  Let it dry.  It is important to make sure you get the surface completely covered so that your pattern stays in place during the next step.
  9. Use a Dremel or similar tool to drill and carve the pattern of the main board into the spindle bottom.
  10. Use the same tool to allow room for the arms to lay flush with the new main board.

    Clear away material to allow the arms to lay flat on the surface of you new main board.
  11. Assemble your quad using the bottom portion of the spindle as the top main board.

    The machine spindle base as a replacement for a main board
  12. Screw the DVD/CD case top onto your quad.  You may need to rearrange your receiver and GPS to make it fit.  I also added a hole at the top to make enough room.
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