I’ve got an idea of what I should be looking for when ordering parts now for my quad-copter. I want to keep the weight down since I expect to have about 4kg of thrust so ideally I want the lightest motors possible that output ~160W of power.
Hobby King is an online retailer of components for RC projects of all kinds and has everything I’m looking for. I looked at what motors are commonly used by other quadcopter builders – Turnigy SK3 seems to be one of the more popular lines. Of those, the 2830-1020kv appears to be perfect for what I need, with a maximum output of 168W.
So, now that the drive train has been finalized, what sort of control electronics do I need? I am going to be using a Phidgets SBC3 as the central brain, but the brushless motors will require a brushless controller. In most RC applications the trend is to use a servo output to drive a high current brushless electronic speed controller (or ESC for short). These ESCs take the pulse width modulation (PWM) signal from the servo controller and supply output proportionally to the motor. If I use a standard brushless ESC I should be able to use a Phidgets Advanced Servo controller for all four motors. The motors I am using have a maximum current draw of 18A. I selected a 30A ESC to give myself plenty of room and prevent excessive heat build up.
I’m going to be using four motors, four ESCs, one servo controller, and an SBC3 to control the props. In addition to this I will be using a high resolution Phidgets Spatial Sensor, which is a combination accelerometer/gyroscope/compass, for keeping track of the orientation of the quadcopter (we wouldn’t want it to flip itself over and power full speed into the dirt) and an ultrasonic distance sensor to track height (maybe a GPS instead – sounds intriguing). I placed the order for the necessary components from Hobby King and they arrived in short order: