FPVPilot.Com 6061 Hexacopter Build: First Experience - RCCanada - Canada Radio Controlled Hobby Forum
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Old 05-06-2012, 03:11 PM   #1
RCC Apprentice
I am: Adam M
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Edmonton Alberta
Radio of choice:
Futaba 7C
# of RCs: 4

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FPVPilot.com 6061 Hexacopter build

Hello everyone, this is my first ‘major’ helicopter build. All previous RCs of mine have been small and ready to fly out of the box (mCX2, mSR). My goal in purchasing a bigger heli was to use it for FPV down the road. Research leads me to believe that Multi Rotor Helicopters are the most stable solution for FPV and AP. Internet Searching brought me to the 6061 Hexacopter from FPVPilot.com so I pulled the trigger and purchased the ARF Kit. I am going to be using a 72Mhz Futaba 7c transmitter purchased used off RCCanada.ca so I did not buy the kit with the Turnigy transmitter.
Before I go into the specifics of the building process, I’ll preface this by saying that I’m new to all of this and will likely make mistakes and/or ask for advice along the way; I’m merely sharing my experience!

6061 Hexacopter – The Order

I had ordered the hexacopter on the FPVPilot.com website and was notified that payment was received on April 4th. It took a while for the Heli to come to me (I Live in Canada) as I received it May 2nd. Don’t panic if it takes a few weeks for your shipment to arrive, it’ll come eventually!

6061 Hexacopter – What’s In The Box

The box came with everything you’d think would be standard, but with a couple extras. I’m not sure if I am the beneficiary of a packaging mistake or if the extras are just an extra “thank you”.

7x Hexacopter Aluminum Arms (Sweet 1 extra!)
2x Center plates (Top and bottom)
25x Rubber Grommets or “Isolation Bushings” (Received 1 extra! WOOHOO)
6x RCTimer 30A ESCs
6x RCTimer 2836-9 880kv Brushless Outrunner Motors
1x KK Multicontroller board v 5.5 preprogrammed for a Hexacopter
1x USB Programming thingy for KK Board
1x Sticky foam pad + sticky velcro
1x CRIUS v0.2 Battery PCB (Unexpected but is probably cleaner than a wiring harness!)
1x Another USB dongle of some kind.. Says CRIUS on it – NO idea what this is. EXTRAAAAS!
1x Package with red/black wires, Deans T connector and Heatshrink tubing for the Battery PCB
1x Package of 3.5mm Bullet Connectors (Male/Female)
1x Package of black zip ties
4x servo type leads (For Ail/Rud/Elev/Throttle connections from KK to Receiver)
8x Propellers (4 Clockwise 4 Counter-Clockwise)
3x 12” Lengths of Heat shrink tubing 1x Red, 1x Blue, 1x Black

6061 Hexacopter – Setup Part 1: Soldering Bullet Connectors

This kit comes as ARF and so there is some soldering and setup to do! This section deals with the soldering portion. I had researched some tricks on how to solder bullet connectors and I found one very handy trick for holding the connectors in place while you solder everything in.
Take a piece of scrap 2x4 and drill some 11/64” holes into it. The depth should only be as deep as is needed to hold bullet connector and keep it from falling over.

Place some bullet connectors into the holes you’ve made, face down, with the backs up in the air. Using your soldering iron, Melt some solder into the back to 3/4 fill the hole. Keeping the heat on, grab your wire lead with your free hand and also hold its tip against the soldering iron tip and the connector. When things heat up, submerse the lead into the ‘pool’ of solder you’ve created into the back of the bullet connector and remove the heat. Hold still. Let cool. Done!
Doing things this way was stupid quick.

Each ESC will use 3 female bullet connectors to connect to the 3 male bullet connectors of a motor. Normally you’d use heat shrink tubing to cover the connectors in such a way as to make sure they do not touch each other and create an electrical short (Shorts are a no no, especially on hairy legged women, but I digress).
All told you should be soldering 18 male connectors onto the 6 motors, and 18 female connectors onto the 6 ESC motor lead wires. The 2 extra leads on each ESC that connect to the power source should be left alone for now.

6061 Hexacopter – Setup Part 2: The Hexacopter Frame

The frame consists of 6 aluminum square tubing arms that look like a “[“. Each one is pre-drilled with holes for the motor, holes to run zip ties through and 2 mounting holes for the center plates to join to. In the 2 mounting holes, you’re supposed to use rubber grommets to isolate the arm from the frame in an effort to reduce vibrations on your electronics (kkmulticontroller gyros) and eventually your FPV camera.

Each grommet has a sliced off section that I would install facing inwards along the inner wall of the arm. Grommets were a fight to get in, and I’m sure there is a more elegant way of inserting them, but I found the easiest way to insert them was with a flat head screw driver. Squeeze, pinch, slice and swear: eventually you’ll install all the grommets where they need to be. Each arm uses 4 grommets (2 per hole) and in the center hole of each set of grommets, you have a metal cylinder/spacer type dealy that a screw will eventually path through to secure the arm to the frame.

Ultimately the last step to setting up your frame is to line up each arm with the mounting holes on the top and bottom center plates, and use the included screws/washers/nuts to secure the arms to the frame. This step is REALLY only finished when you’ve got all your electronics in place and are done hooking up items to the battery PCB (which should be mounted in between the top and bottom center plates. So even though this is Step 2, it’s actually finished up after Step 3.

6061 Hexacopter – Setup Part 3: The Wiring harness / PCB

I fully expected to get some kind of WIRE harness when I ordered the kit but I was pleasantly surprised, and a little confused as to why I received this second PCB with a bunch of UFO landing marks on it. It should be quite obvious what this is for, but it had me fooled for a bit (oops!). I’m not sure if you can clearly see in my photos, but the circles are broken down into 2 rings. The outer ring of UFO Spots are all connected together by 1 trace, and the inner ring is all connected by 1 trace. Essentially these are your Positive (Red) and Negative (black) Parallel battery connections to provide power from 1 battery to all 6 ESC’s.

For the ultimate in weight savings, you would probably solder the esc wires directly to this board but I chose not to do this for a couple reasons.
1. I’m a newbie and I’ll likely need to change things at some point, and moving the esc’s around needs to be an option
2. If an ESC dies, I want to easily replace it in the field by disconnecting it and connecting an already pre-programmed one I have on hand.
3. The ESC wires are only a few inches in length and I would like to get the ESC’s out away from the center plates so they do not interfere (or receive interference) with other electronics.
4. I like bullet connectors and I’m trying to raise their company stock by burning through as many as I can.

Mount the Wiring PCB in any orientation you wish, by securing it to a center plate being careful to also isolate it so that electrical shorts do not happen. I chose to make my PCB Leads long enough that I can access them with the PCB Attached and the frame assembled. This way I can freely connect and disconnect ESC’s without having to disassemble my Hexacopter frame!
Bolt the frame together!

6061 Hexacopter – Setup Part 4: Testing Motors and Programming ESC’s

The motor testing was a piece of cake, all i needed to see was that they spin when i give it some throttle. Because of this, I Tested each motor as i programmed each ESC. NOTE: Program your ESC's before removing the center (red) pin for when you connect all your ESC's to the KK Multicontroller: Its easier to do it now!
Each ESC was programmed for:
Battery Type: Nickel
Start-up: Soft
Timing: Medium
Everything else was left as default

The directions to program the ESC is included in the ESC package; no Programmer Necessary! Essentially you're listening to beep codes and moving your throttle stick up and down when necessary! Its really not as difficult as i originally thought it was going to be!

6061 Hexacopter - Setup Part 5: Assembly and KKMulticontroller Testing

From Part 3, i've now assembled the frame with my wiring harness/board sandwiched carefully between the 2 center plates and I've also programmed the ESCs from step 4 while also 'testing' to each motor. Now i need to mount each motor to the frame, and connect all the electronics to run my first round of tests.

Each Motor came with Red, Black and Blue wires. Also each ESC, if oriented such that the label is facing you and you can read it, has 3 blue wires that i mentally labelled Top, Middle, Bottom.

Clockwise Rotation: Red (Top), Black(Middle), Blue(Bottom)
Counter-Clockwise: Blue(Top), Black(Middle), Red(Bottom)
NOTE: FPVPilot.com says that for 5 of the 6 ESC BEC leads, the red (center) pin should be removed. This is done easily with a tiny flat head electronics screwdriver. I removed these pins after programmed and applied 2mm heatshrink tubing to each before i installed the ESC's onto the frame.
I connected everything loosely and had one righteous mess of cables LOL, but that's ok. cable management would come later.

At first when i plugged everything in and heard the BEEP BEEP on startup, i noticed the red LED on the KKMulticontroller wasn't staying on. A Quick google search lead me to the arming process which i had no idea exists. Moving the throttle stick down and to the right, the kkmulticontroller finally lit up and i heard the final set of beeps.

Luckily when i lifted the frame up and moved it around in all directions, the motors responded as they should have! If you tilt right, the right motors speed up. Tilt left, left speeds up. Forward, the front speed up, and backward the back speeds up. Yaw is a little tougher to read with out Propellers on.
KKMulticontroller was good! Check.

6061 Hexacopter - Setup Part 6: Cable Management, and Mounting habits.

Cables are a problem. Cables are everywhere and my hexacopter didnt look nearly as clean as the one on the FPVPilot.com website. Essentially what i decided to do was to sandwich, in any fashion i could think of, the motor wires inside of each of the frame arms. Thankfully FPVPilot.com has a few predrilled holes for me to run zip ties through: SWEET!
When it came to mounting my battery i had figured my battery better go up top because when i do FPV, all that equipment will likely be on the bottom (In an attempt to keep everything separated). I ran out to the local hobby shop and got myself a few 10" Sheets of aluminum. With my most ghetto 'by hand, beer and no measuring tape' methods, i fashioned a little channel for my 8400mAh batter to fit inside snugly. On top of this 'channel' or box (its more like a box) i double sided sticky taped down the kkmulticontroller. I Covered the bottom of the controller with electrical tape first just to make sure nothing shorted. The entire 'box/channel' is held down with double sided tape. The tape itself is the 3M stuff that is almost like a little foam. I Imagine there is a CHANCE that it helps isolate more of those nasty vibrations; i want to keep the gyro's happy. The final piece to this puzzle was to use a small strip of Velcro sticky tape stuff to keep the battery from sliding around. I put a small strip on the bottom of the battery on 1 end. Its enough to keep the battery from sliding but its not so powerful that i cannot separate the battery from the frame for when i need to charge it.

OH! Once you have everything the way you want it, be sure to stick the Receiver on there somewhere and install the propellers! NOTE: See the KKMulticontroller documentation to make sure you're using the right rotation propellers/motor connections for your application.

6061 Hexacopter - Bugs, Troubleshooting, Calibration

This is where I'm at now. Currently the only issue i have is that the hexacopter wants to rotate slightly counter clockwise. On my Futaba 7C i set about +30 sub-trim on the rudder and even though it is only a very slow drift CCW, i still need to trim before/during each flight. This is probably going to be a fact of life, but if trimming each time sounds unusual, maybe something needs some attention.

With my Turnigy 8400mAh 3S li-po, i am getting atleast 10 minutes of flight time. Finding the optimum battery usage time is completely new to me so i imagine my flight time will change. If it means anything, on the last charge my charger said it put it a measly 4000mAh of juice back into it to fully charge it. Perhaps i should extend my flights by a minute or two each time to see where my limit is!

Edit: Just ran for 16mins, Will see how many mAh were put back in. Voltage on the charger (as inaccurate as it seems) said just under 11.1v when i started charging the battery.
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Last edited by AdamM; 05-06-2012 at 04:17 PM.
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Old 05-09-2012, 11:22 AM   #2
RCC Apprentice
I am: Adam M
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Edmonton Alberta
Radio of choice:
Futaba 7C
# of RCs: 4

Feedback: 1 / 100%
Posts: 67
Total Props: 1
Re: FPVPilot.Com 6061 Hexacopter Build: First Experience

Here are a couple videos i shot last night. Nothing special here, just showing the Hexacopter fly around a bit.

This one is just me bombing around the back yard for a couple minutes.- It gives you a sense of how the hexacopter moves and a general idea of its stability:

Here is a video with the camera on a goofy camera mount on the frame.- This is definitely NOT a Vibration free solution for mounting a camera haha, as you can tell by the video.- Nothing special here, just getting a decent starting video so i can track progress with vibration reduction:
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Old 07-31-2012, 04:44 PM   #3
I am: Boolean21
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Re: FPVPilot.Com 6061 Hexacopter Build: First Experience

Hi Adam
I am sooo glad you have posted your build. I purchased the same hexicopter a few weeks ago and am starting to build it now.
I am miffed about the KK circuit board and hope you can help.

Without instructions I do not know what goes where,
I have attached a photo of the HK KK circuit board with items
A through to H. I imagine A is the usb port for firmware updating?

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Old 08-01-2012, 01:56 PM   #4
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I am: Derek E
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Waterloo, Ontario
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Re: FPVPilot.Com 6061 Hexacopter Build: First Experience

Hey AdamM,
The CRIUS USB thing you got is likely a programmer for a CRIUS MultiWii board. Not something you need, but could be something you could sell for a few dollars or keep in case you need it later.

bixlerfpv, I can explain a few of the things you have there. How it all connects together is hard to explain in works but easier in a picture.

A - USB programmer. Only needed for programming the flight controller. You don't need this unless you want to change the firmware. Reasons for changing the firmware would be 1. Newer firmware version OR 2. Different aircraft configuration.

B - This is a jumper for the USB programmer. I have never used it.

C - Used to connect the Flight Controller (your KK board) to your radio receiver. This one has to be plugged in sideways on one side. Its kind of weird but it is to save space and weight.
D - Also used to connect the Flight Controller (your KK board) to your radio receiver. This is a standard male to male servo cable.

This thread has pictures explaining how to connect it:

If you do not have experience with RC gear it is a lot to learn. I have been learning it over the last 6 months.
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Old 08-01-2012, 07:26 PM   #5
I am: Boolean21
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Re: FPVPilot.Com 6061 Hexacopter Build: First Experience

Thanks! very helpful, I think I have a handle on it now.
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Old 08-07-2012, 06:38 PM   #6
I am: Boolean21
Join Date: Sep 2002
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Re: FPVPilot.Com 6061 Hexacopter Build: First Experience

My kk board did not come with instructions, nor does the board indicate where the 6 motor plugs go or in what order.
The same with the rx plug, it does not indicate that either.

So I was hoping someone could post a photograph of their finished kk board and indicate the order of the wiring.

If anyone could do this it would be greatly appreciated.
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