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EXPERT TECH BUDGET DIY QUADCOPTER and the CC3D Controller I first found out about a couple of years ago. This global community of several thousand members provides support for its open-source flight stabilization boards and accessories. Its workhorse board is the CC3D, a remarkably capable unit that supports multirotors, helicopters, and fixed-wing aircraft. Originally designed for contract manufacturing, the CC3D has proved so popular that it’s now available from major suppliers, like,, and, all of which use OpenPilot-approved components and donate a portion of proceeds to continued support of the project. While the OpenPilot community includes some highly trained hardware designers and code engineers, every effort is made to make the CC3D board simple to use. The Ground Control Station software is available in Windows, Mac, and Linux versions, and a simple setup wizard walks you through the basics. Once the board is programmed, flight performance can be adjusted to suit your personal preferences. Please note that the CC3D contains a bootloader program to run hardware checks and load the firmware each time the board is powered up. The installed versions for the bootloader and GCS must match for you to program the unit, but the OpenPilot Wiki provides simple instructions for checking and updating the bootloader if necessary. It’s recommended that you erase your controller when installing a major firmware update, but reprogramming is so quick and simple that this isn’t a hardship. OpenPilot is constantly evolving, and firmware updates are released periodically. It really is amazing that a flight stabilization unit this capable can be purchased for about . By all means, check out The CC3D controller is programmed with the Ground Control Station (GCS), a desktop utility that includes a user-friendly setup wizard. The GCS is available in Windows, Mac, and Linux versions. The setup wizard walks you through a few simple steps to program your controller. Because the CC3D is intended primarily for multirotors, very few changes to the default settings are required, but you can adjust settings to tune the performance to your particular multicopter and your personal tastes. Step 8: Before finishing assembly, you need to connect the quad to your laptop to program the CC3D controller. The Ground Control Station (GCS) software from open makes programming quick and easy. 42

Step 9: In just a couple of hours, the basic assembly and wiring is complete. Note that the speed controls are stacked inside the frame and that all wires are neatly trimmed to length. The satellite receiver will be mounted on the underside of the top plate with two-sided tape. Here’s the happy author after a flawless test flight. The default controller programming worked perfectly, and the Color 250 is a very speedy little machine. For my next build, I’m planning on a larger aerial-photography platform. K Step 10: With the top plate added and the flight battery secured in place with Velcro, my 250 racer is ready for its test flight. Notice how tidy the assembly looks with the speed controls concealed inside the frame. This quick, one-evening project turned out really well. Gear & Gadgets 43

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June 2013
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