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Check out a video from mike_marvelous.  Send us yours too! Send youtube link to contact@cali-bros.com

New Products: H107C with 2MP HD Camera

We are restocked and ready to rock!

We are building some new pro-packs and we also have new items in stock.  Check out the H107C 2 mega pixel high definition micro quadcopter.  It records awesome video straight to the microSD card, so no transmission losses. We are really stoked on this guy, great video in a micro quad is awesome.  Also, if you have an H107C or H107D we have motors, propellers, & prop-protectors.
Of course we also are restocked on batteries and chargers, which nobody can really have enough of.
The wait is over.
Thanks!

Quadcopter Antenna Design and Optimization: Part 1


Antenna_Part1

ANTENNAS:
Part 1

Overview:
In this post we will look at the a) type of antenna and b) location of
an FPV antenna for a typical quadcopter. We will use an open-source
software (NEC2) to determine the performance of many configurations for
comparison. We will also do some crude tests to validate our
conclusions. The Python programming language is used to rapidly iterate
through configurations. Everything is provided here so that you can
follow along.

Introduction:
First lets learn a little vocabulary that is common in antenna design/analysis:

GAIN
— This is what antennas are all about. Gain is a number that describes
how the antenna radiates energy, electromagnetic energy. The gain can
vary significantly (orders of magnitude), that is why we typically use
units of decibels aka dB. Here is an interesting fact about dB, 3dB is
half, therefore an antenna that has 6dB radiates twice the energy as
that of a 3dB antenna (but only in one direction). A plot of an
antenna’s gain is called its radiation pattern. There are a few common
plots, gain vs. azimuth, gain vs. elevation, and gain vs. azimuth &
elevation. We will take a look at each of these to determine the best
antenna configuration for our quadcopter.basic_patterns

FREQUENCY
If you were at the beach and two waves crashed within one second, the
waves would have a frequency of 2. Frequency has the units of Hertz aka
Hz. An FPV transmitter might have a frequency of 900MHz, or 900
mega-Hertz, or 900,000,000 Hz, or 900,000,000 cycles per second, which
would all mean the same thing. For this post we will use Gigga-Hertz
aka GHz. So 900MHz = 0.9GHz. Lets take a look at at what different
frequencies look like plotted. I have included the python script so you
can follow along.
import numpy as np # numpy is numerical python
import matplotlib.pylab as plt #matplotlib is a plotting package
deg = np.linspace(-360.0,5*360.0,1000)
wave_1 = np.sin(np.radians(deg)/2) + 2
wave_2 = np.sin(np.radians(deg))
wave_3 = np.sin(np.radians(deg)*2) -2
plt.plot(deg, wave_1)
plt.plot(deg, wave_2)
plt.plot(deg, wave_3)
plt.axis('off')
plt.show()

 different_frequencies

In
the plot above you see three sin waves representing three different
frequencies. The lowest frequency is in blue and the highest frequency
is in red. Look at the distances between the tops of the waves, this is
the waves wavelength which brings us to our next subject.
WAVELENGTH
— This is just the distance between two crests of waves. For
electromagnetic waves you just divide the speed of light by the
frequency: wavelength = (speed of light)/frequency. We will be using
inches for our unit of wavelength. A wave with frequency of 1 GHz has a
wavelength of 11.8 inches, almost a foot. So lets calculate the
wavelength of our 900MHz FPV antenna. wavelength = 11.8/0.9GHz = 13.1
inches. Just divide 11.8 by your frequency in GHz to find your
wavelength in inches.
import numpy as np
import matplotlib.pylab as plt
deg = np.linspace(0.0,2*360.0,1000)
wave = np.sin(np.radians(deg))
plt.plot(deg, wave)
# Add annotation
plt.annotate(
'', xy=(90, 1), xycoords = 'data',
xytext = (90+360,1), textcoords = 'data',
arrowprops = {'arrowstyle':'<->'})
plt.annotate(
'WAVELENGTH', xy=((360+90)/2, 1), xycoords = 'data',
xytext = (5, 0), textcoords = 'offset points')
plt.axis('off')
plt.show()<br>
 wavelength
POLARIZATION
— Electromagnetic waves (this is what is radiated from the antenna)
have an orientation. There are two common polarizations, horizontal and
vertical. Horizontal means that the electrical field is to your left
and right. Vertical polarization means that the electrical field is up
and down. On your transmitter your dipole antenna is usually pointed
up, this means that you are radiating vertically polarized
electromagnetic waves. It is very important that the antenna on your
ground station is at the same polarization as the antenna on your
quadcopter. Proper placement is also important, with poor placement of
your antenna you can have the waves bouncing off of motors, propellers,
and batteries which change polarization.

Wow, that was starting to get boring. Lets move on to
something more interesting. Lets familiarize ourselves with different
types of common antennas.

  • MONOPOLE
    — Mono = One, Pole. This is a simple antenna with one element
    extruding out of a ground plane. The element is isolated from the
    ground plane by an insolator. For a quadcopter we don’t really have a
    ground plane unless your chassis is conductive, which could be
    dangerous so close to the high voltage system. We will ignore monopole
    antennas for this study.
  • DIPOLE
    Di = Two, Poles. This is another simple antenna with two elements. A
    typical dipole is the 1/2 wave dipole, which means that each element is
    1/4 wavelength. Lets equate this to our 900MHz FPV antenna and
    determine the overall length of the antenna. We already determined that
    900MHz has a wavelength of 13.1 inches, so divide that by half and we
    get 13.1/2 = 6.56 inches. Take a look online at 900MHz dipole antennas,
    right around the same length, cool. A 1/2 wave dipole antenna is what
    you will typically find stock on your transmitter and receiver. Why?
    Well that is because of the radiation pattern. A dipole pattern looks
    like a doughnut, radiating everywhere but at the poles.
half-wave_dipole_1

The
image above shows the radiation pattern (gain vs azimuth &
elevation) for a half-wave dipole. Where the maximum gain is at 0.0
degrees elevation and nulls at plus/minus 90.0 degrees elevation. This
is typical of the pattern from your transmitter and receiver if using a
dipole. Now you have to sit back and think about all the times you have
been out flying and reflect on the orientation of your
airplane/quadcopter relative to you. A dipole should look like a good
choice of antenna for FPV. No matter what direction the quadcopter is
flying we have about 2dB gain! 2dB doesn’t sound like much, but it can
get much worse. Lets look at some directional antennas.

  • YAGI
    These look like a bunch of dipoles in a row, but only one of the
    dipoles is actually being fed a signal. The rest are there to react to
    the electromagnetic waves. These interactions of the elements are very
    complicated, which make them very difficult to design and optimize. I found one on the internet to copy which is designed for 16dB (pg. 15).
 yagi_15el
The
image above shows the radiation pattern of a 15 element Yagi antenna.
As you can see the antenna is very directional in both elevation (up
& down) and in azimuth (left & right). So if the antenna was
pointing directly at the ground station we are in luck, imagine the
range this baby will get you! But, wait, what if you need to turn
around and come home? Lets look at the radiation pattern another way,
gain vs. azimuth:
 yagi_15el_2
Now
we are only getting -6.85dB gain in the side sector, what a bummer.
Well, this is a good lesson on antennas. With antenna gain you cannot
get more gain without loosing it somewhere else. The Yagi antenna might
be better suited to a ground station where you have someone or
something tracking your quadcopter very closely. Lets look at one more
directional antenna.
  • BIQUAD — aka “bow-tie” antenna. This is becoming a very popular
    antenna for ground stations and for good reason. The radiation pattern
    has a nice wide lobe and they are simple to build. Check out IBCrazy’s
    post on how to build your own here. Lets take a look at the pattern for the 910MHz biquad described on IBCrazy’s post.
biquad_gain_1
  • You
    can see that there is a wide main lobe. So this is another high gain
    antenna which is more appropriate for our ground station rather than on
    our quadcopter. For this study we are working to optimize the FVP
    transmitter antenna on our quadcopter, so a biquad probably isn’t the
    right choice.

Part 1 Wrap Up:

  • You cannot have high gain at all azimuths and elevations
  • A high gain (directional) antenna is best suited for a ground station if you want long range in one direction
  • A dipole antenna is a good choice for a quadcopter FPV transmitter antenna because it radiates in all directions
  • Next post we will look at optimizing the size and location of the dipole antenna on our quadcopter

~Dr. Dankeinspank

Open for Business!

Finally! We are all stocked up and ready for your orders.  We will do our best to get your orders shipped ASAP.  Sorry for the delays.

~ cali-bros

Update: Launch Date, Early December!

The cali-bros are busy in the hangar cooking up our latest creation to share with you. We are making the final touches on a new quad chassis, code named “bogey,” that will be the new standard for high end quad chassis. We are in the flight test phase and pretty excited about the results so far. For now we are keeping a wrap on the design, but we will say that we are utilizing state-of-the-art in composite materials, while providing a customizable platform. The result is that you don’t have to compromise between form and function. You get the lightest weight and best looking quad possible.

The store will be open for business starting the second week of December. We will let everyone know. Get your order in early for a Christmas delivery.

~ cali-bros

Hubsan Motor Swap


This is a quick tutorial on how to swap the motor out on a Husan H107 micro quad.  You will need a soldering iron, rosin core solder (silver or lead), and a small phillips (jewelers) screwdriver. If you don’t have a soldering iron you can simply strip the ends of the wires and twist them together, but this guide provides the proper procedure.

Steps:

  1. Determine which motor is damaged.
  2. Open the frame, exposing the board.
  3. Detach the wires of broken motor from board.
  4. Solder new motor to board.
  5. Close the frame.
  6. Go fly!

So there are the steps, lets get into the details:

Determine which motor is damaged

First, you should replace any propellers with damage to be sure it isn’t just bad propellers. After determining that it isn’t the propellers, turn on the remote and plug in the quad as usual.  Give it a little throttle while tilting the quad to determine which motor isn’t spinning.  If all the motors are spinning, disconnect the battery from the quad and flick the propellers and see which one isnt spinning freely.  Mark the motor by removing the propeller.  Pry the propeller off with a tool, dont just pull it with your fingers.  Remove the battery.

Open the frame, exposing the board

Remove three screws from the bottom of the frame.  Un-snap the arms and remove the lower chassis.  Take note of the motor wire color and replace with like motor.

Detach the wires of broken motor from board

Use a soldering iron with sharp point.  Briefly touch the contact point while gently pulling on the wire, the solder will soften and release the wire.

Solder new motor to board

Now you are ready for the new motor. The motors are brushed and designed to spin in one direction. The wire leads indicate which direction. Replace with the correct motor.  It is also important to attach the motor leads with the correct polarity, i.e black is negative. Heat soldering iron. Add solder to the motor leads. Rest the end of the lead on the board’s motor contact, apply heat and wait for solder to wet, then remove heat.  Make sure the solder puddle on the board is not shorting with any other wires or contacts. Check the integrity of the soldering joint by gently tugging on the wire.

Close the frame

Snap the arms of the lower into the upper frames.  Fasten the three screws.

Go fly!

This is what we have worked so hard for.

~cali-bros

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