APM 2.6 F450 Quadcopter

By Whiffles on Jul 21, 2015

16  10,562  85

This is a low cost quadcopter built for stability and video production. While it will take quite a lot of tinkering with PIDs, prop balancing, camera focus and settings it can be made to shoot fairly acceptable video. Check the comments section below for some of my more recent video samples or subscribe to my YouTube Channel to keep up with my latest endeavors.

This was originally a CX-20 which over the course of several months has been replaced part-by-part to become a completely new and different rig. Nothing of the CX-20 remains. I found the shell to be quite cumbersome and it was very difficult to work on, so I made the decision to switch to the F450 form factor.

Weight: 1.47kg



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Whiffles   Nov 09, 2016  

This was a fun build while it lasted, but I've retired it. It was just too large to bring along and simply wasn't enjoyable to fly anymore.

cipol3   Aug 16, 2016  

Hi, i'm quite new to this hobby and i have almost the same setup as yours.
I have some questions.
1) There are only 5 points on that frame PDB, 4 for esc and 1 for the battery. How do you connect the power source for your telemetry module and gimbal?
2) How can you mount the APM on that spot in the picture and have a stable flight? How did you dampen the vibration to the APM?
3) What is your flight time with that 3S 5200mAh?

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Whiffles   Oct 03, 2016 

That's really the challenge in designing your own gimbal'd rig. I never could completely eliminate vibrations or wiggles from the video. I think the key is to use a good gimbal like the Tiny2. I never graduated from budget gimbals, so I can't say this from experience. What gimbal are you using? It might be a good idea to post your rig.

cipol3   Oct 05, 2016 

I use HAKRC storm32 gimbal bought from gearbest. Just found out that 2nd imu on the storm32 is not enabled by default. I enable it and i can now have the gimbal rotate to extreme angle. but still the vibration still exist. I really need to focus on eliminating vibration more!

and oh, i see that in the picture, you camera is balanced on the gimbal, mind sharing how you do it?

Yeah, i will post my rig here. I'll do it once i have the free time this week!

Whiffles   Oct 05, 2016 

The best way to balance is to position the camera so it stays level with the power off.

UltiFix   Mar 02, 2016  

What kind of fpv range are you getting with those mushroom antennas from BG?

Whiffles   Mar 02, 2016 

I haven't really pushed the limits, but my problem is trees. The tree line interferes with my signal before I can get very far. I know everybody likes the Aomway antenna, so you might want to get that.

Whiffles   Jan 27, 2016  

Had a great flight today over the snow. I'm getting a little bit of the wobbles here and there, so it might be time to tune the gimbal again. Enjoy!

SadisticLeprechaun   Jan 27, 2016 

Man, smooth video!

Whiffles   Jan 27, 2016 

Thanks to a little iMovie magic and lots of editing! Unfortunately I didn't have a whole lot of usable, wobble-free video.

Whiffles   Jan 23, 2016  

I just put together a new video from some clips I shot in fall. Enjoy!

Whiffles   Oct 31, 2015  

Tried my wood props today and they flew great! I feel like my descents had less wobble and jello wasn't bad at all. I didn't even balance the props. Finally added nylock nuts to secure my props as well. $0.88 for the set at Home Depot.

Whiffles   Oct 16, 2015  

I finally had a chance to take this out for a flight after falling out of a tree last month. It was wobbling like crazy during hover, so I think I need to run an autotune. I'm not sure what else could be causing it as the props, arms and motors still look to be in good shape. Despite the wobbles it was a lot of fun getting back up in the air. I think I'll use my wooden props on my next flight.

Whiffles   Oct 26, 2015 

I finally figured out the problem! It wasn't an autotune or my props, it was my VTX antenna getting under my prop wash. This was causing my entire rig to vibrate. I realized the problem when the antenna vibrated right off and it started flying smoothly. It's great to be back in action once again!

DanielS   Oct 26, 2015 

Interesting. It does make sense though. The antenna must have been going crazy to be causing the whole rig to vibrate.

Whiffles   Oct 26, 2015 

I think I had my VTX so firmly attached to the leg that the wind current was causing the VTX unit itself to shake my rig. When I point the antenna another direction it flies just great!

UltiFix   Oct 09, 2015  

That is some darn good cable managment.

Whiffles   Oct 09, 2015 

It's not as nice as some of the builds here, but it's adequate.

jimmy   Sep 29, 2015  

what kind of flight times are you getting?

edit: nvm, just had to read farther(lol). anyway to improve on that 8-9 minutes assuming budget is less of a problem?

Whiffles   Sep 29, 2015 

I'm getting about 6 or 7 minutes on these little 2700mah batteries.

Whiffles   Oct 03, 2015 

Sorry, missed your edit. That's a tough one. I'd probably have to invest in lower-kv motors, upgrade my ESCs and switch to 4S. At this point I'll live with the flight times as that would be quite an expense.

Whiffles   Sep 19, 2015  

So I've been working on my gimbal. After falling 40ft from a tree a couple of the motors popped open. This isn't the first time I've worked on this gimbal, but I hope it'll be the last!

DanielS   Sep 08, 2015  

What power distribution board did you use?

Whiffles   Sep 09, 2015 

The lower plate has a built in PDB. I just needed to use a power module to drop the voltage to 5V for the FC and RX.

boostdd   Sep 04, 2015  

Hey, so what software GUI does the Storm32 controller use? Is it like Basecam SimpleBGC?

Whiffles   Sep 05, 2015 

It uses proprietary software available at the StorM32 website. It's very well done and the developer is very active in supporting it.

DanielS   Sep 03, 2015  

Have you figured out how much more the front props are working to compensate for the gimbal being so far forward?

Whiffles   Sep 03, 2015 

I've got it somewhat balanced because I have the battery in the back, but I'm sure I could balance it a bit better by adjusting the gimbal position.

unSane   Aug 27, 2015  

Good stuff! I have a Quanum Nova here which got crashed a little too much. Have those motors and an APM FC and telemetry to put into it. Maybe I should just bite the bullet and reframe it. I quite like the Cx-20/Nova frame though, it's well thought out and the monocoque design is very tidy.

unSane   Aug 27, 2015 

PS you have your GPS very high, not sure I love that. Any sats below the horizon are invisible so it only really needs to see clearly out to the horizon, nothing below. Any thoughts?

Whiffles   Aug 27, 2015 

I wasn't a big fan of the CX-20 "eggshell". It's far too fragile, very limited in space and difficult to open up. It was a breath of fresh air to switch over to the F450 form factor. And yes, my GPS pole is too tall. I may just cut it down an inch or two.

Whiffles   Aug 22, 2015  

I had a chance to weigh my rig and I'm coming in at 1.47kg. I calculated my thrust and I've got 3.48kg of thrust which maxes me out at around 1.74kg while maintaining a 2:1 thrust:weight ratio. That's good news to me because I can double my battery weight and still be within reason. Of course I've heard 3:1 is ideal.

Alpha   Aug 24, 2015 

Wow!! Good to hear form you, it shows the weight of your rig is perfect for the thrust. Recently I am searching for much lighter frame to achieve more flight time and your rig proves it is possible, Can you share PID settings of your APM too !!

Whiffles   Aug 24, 2015 

I'm still working on the PIDs, but I'll share them once I've got them where I like them.

Whiffles   Aug 21, 2015  

So I tweaked my yaw PIDs a bit more yesterday and went for what seemed like a very smooth flight. There was very little apparent yaw wag during forward flight. But when I brought the camera in the recording was broken into small pieces giving me only about 1m of footage. I'm not sure what's going on with my Xiaomi, but this isn't the first time it's exhibited erratic recording behavior. I just updated it to the latest firmware and formatted my SDCard, so we'll see if that solves it. From what I could tell the 1m of footage looks like an improvement, so we're getting there!

Whiffles   Aug 17, 2015  

Here's a little video I put together from a couple flights at Wintergreen, VA. I'm still fine tuning the gimbal for forward-pitch flight, so this is mostly composed of pans, but I'm fairly happy with the results.

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abpat2203   Aug 20, 2015 

Nice. I have a GLB 2-axis gimbal. The video is a little jerky, as in, some side to side quick movements. I wonder if a 3-axis gimbal will fix this.

Whiffles   Aug 20, 2015 

It'll certainly iron them out, but a finely tuned rig is still important. If it yaws outside of a 5 to 10 degree window during forward flight you'll still see it. That's my current battle. I'm fine tuning my Yaw PIDs to see if I can eliminate that.

abpat2203   Aug 20, 2015 

Mine does yaw a bit sometimes, but it is a very slow gradual yaw. I don't think the gimbal should be jerking around because of that.

Whiffles   Aug 20, 2015  

I just took some new photos. Some changes since my last photos are balanced props, SunnySky motors and new battery placement below the tail.

Whiffles   Aug 14, 2015  

Installed my SunnySkys last night. It took quite a while to solder all the bullet connectors to my ESCs, but I think it was a job well done. The motors sound great and I'm just about ready for a maiden flight. Can't wait to see how these perform!

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Alpha   Aug 20, 2015 

My APM 2.6 quad heading keeps changing during auto tune, is this normal ?

fradioflyer   Aug 20, 2015 

Alpha, what does that mean? Heading as in compass heading? I can't say I've paid too much attention to that. When I do an auto-tune, I launch to an altitude of ~15 feet, switch to AltHold, and then engage the switch for autotune. It pitches to and fro for a few minutes, then rolls. When it drifts away further than I like I fly it back, but the yaw position, and hence the heading, doesn't change.

Whiffles   Aug 20, 2015 

Yes, the heading shouldn't change during Autotune. It'll just pitch and roll for a few minutes.

Whiffles   Aug 18, 2015  

I think I'm nearly there with this rig, but the last little problem I have is a very subtle one. My yaw PIDs are a little off causing it to wag during forward flight, ascent and descent. I'm going to try higher P values as was mentioned in this thread.

Whiffles   Aug 15, 2015  

Enjoying my new SunnySky's. They're very quiet compared to my old CX-20 motors. Best part is my rig flew straight off the bench! What I mean is I got everything right on the first try.

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Whiffles   Aug 16, 2015 

Yes, but I'm still getting a little jello, but it's very subtle.

fradioflyer   Aug 17, 2015 

Your latest video of Wintergreen looks nice! Just pulled over at the observation areas and launch? Did those people stop to talk to you? Just curious about other folks' interaction with the public... all of my experiences have been very positive.

Whiffles   Aug 17, 2015 

Yep, just used the observation areas. Those were a couple friends that came along, but most people I've encountered have been very curious and positive.

Alpha   Aug 01, 2015  

wow, your videos with storm 32 gimbal are spectacular, I have bought the same GLB gimbal and added it to my quad but it is very heavy and could'nt lift at all. I think the motors you mentioned and the motors in the pic are not same and also can you share what Battery you used, Flight time and what is the total weight of your quad with gimbal and camera

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johnslims   Aug 03, 2015 


Alpha   Aug 10, 2015 

Dear WhiffleX, I changed my battery from 430 grams 5000mah to 200 grams 2700mah, now my quad is able to take off but it is leaning front while taking off, I think I need to adjust the center of gravity. How did you manage the center of gravity problem?

Whiffles   Aug 10, 2015 

I still need to fine tune my center of gravity. I usually just take off quickly to avoid tipping.

Whiffles   Aug 03, 2015  

I found that I can get some very nice video putting my Xiaomi Yi into 2k mode with 0 pixilation smoothing. I'm going to be taking this on a family trip to western Virginia, so I hope to get some decent footage.

isamad   Aug 08, 2015 


Whiffles   Jul 27, 2015  

I'm really pleased with how this rig is coming together. I had a very smooth flight the other day and the video quality turned out great. Here's the raw flight:

Whiffles   Jul 21, 2015  

Here's my latest flight with my Goodluckbuy 3-axis gimbal:

I still need to iron out some of the jello, but it's getting close!

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