Simulators and Micro Quads

There’s a very light misty rain falling this morning, which isn’t going to clear any time soon, so no flying this week. I might have given it a go, apart from it being really dark, impossible to see an aeroplane if you wear glasses (think windscreen wipers) and the forecast is for strong winds by lunchtime.

Actually, I’m really annoyed because I spent most of yesterday on the electronics for my 110 size quadcopter, only to find that the flight controller had packed up.


My 110 size micro quad made out of Depron and four HubSan motors.

As you can see from the picture, I built the frame out of Depron, which was originally from an old pizza box base that I saved. It’s surprisingly strong, considering that it’s only a push fit and there is no glue used at all. The flight controller is a Flip32+, which should sit on the brown sticky pad in the centre. Everything was going really well until I connected it up last night and I think the micro USB connection broke. It detects that something is connected to the USB, but I suddenly started getting “unrecognised USB device” errors from Windows 10 when it had all been working perfectly before. It’s annoying because I was just about to connect up the motors and run them using Cleanflight for the first time to see if it had enough thrust to fly. It’s a bit heavy for this class of quad, so the flight controller and radio are going to be switched for smaller and lighter versions. It appeared to be working up to that point as I had test run one motor, then added the other three and suddenly the flight controller won’t talk to me. There’s a lot of wiring there for something this small, and the connectors are the pins from a Futaba servo connector, crimped onto the wires and then covered in heat shrink tubing. It works surprisingly well, but an integrated PCB with tracks running out to the motors would probably be better.

So, I spent the rest of my time on the quadcopter simulator. I’ve worked out how to set the textures on models imported from Blender into Unity. You have to create a folder called “Textures”, put the images in there, open the Blender model from Unity, point at the textures you just copied to the Unity Assets “Textures” folder and then set the albedo on the Unity material to use the correct one which now appears as an Asset. UV mapping in Blender is a completely different problem though. I can’t say I’m really impressed by any of this as, having worked in computer graphics for quite a number of years, it seems to me that their model import chain is just rubbish. There’s no reason why Unity couldn’t do all that for you, but as long as you know about the albedo hack, most people can probably work it out for themselves.

Anyway, here are some of the screenshots so far:


I really need to get this playable by the end of the day, as we’re running a Royal Institution coding for kids session in about a month and this forms the central theme. All that is left to do is some of the housekeeping code and then I’ll have an alpha release.


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