Thursday, February 12, 2015

New Quadcopter Build: SK450 Dead Cat

Now that we are back from Florida and parts have arrived, it is time to start the new build.  I salvaged whatever I could from the Flying Flowerpot (may it rest in peace).  Two motors, the four speed controls, battery, flight control, receiver, and camera were all salvageable.  However, I decided to replace some of these parts and to change the configuration of the quadcopter to "Dead Cat" - a non-square quad setup with more room for cameras.  See the picture below for the basic setup, not fully assembled.

The other changes that I plan to make are:

  • New flight control system (Pixhawk) with more accurate GPS (LEA-6H).  I bought the genuine 3DR versions instead of the Chinese clones to ensure quality.  My old APM 2.6 system was a Chinese clone and had limitations and unknown quality.
  • New receiver (Spektrum AR610).  This receiver is highly regarded compared to the Orange R615X, which has rumors of range issues.  New Spektrum DX6i transmitter.
  • Use of a PCB as a frame to distribute battery power, bought from Hobbyking.
  • Dead Cat configuration using a conversion kit from Hobbyking.  I made a mistake and assumed that all I needed was the previously mentioned SK450 Dead Cat PCB, but it turns out that you need this plus the Dead Cat conversion kit.
  • Full monitoring of power by the control system.  This was included with the Pixhawk.
  • A proper cover instead of a flower pot, sourced from
  • Receiver power from the Pixhawk or separate UBEC, not from the ESC's.  This should be higher quality power with less interference.
  • Use of loctite on all screws to reduce the chance of loosening with vibration.
  • Carbon fiber props.
The new control and radio system are shown below.

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