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Multicopter Basics #4 - Tools and Techniques

Written by Thomas

Regardless of whether you're planning to build a multicopter or buying one off the shelf, you will need most of the tools outlined below. This is for one simple reason: you're going to crash. Having tools at hand is really convenient to carry out quick repairs. By planning ahead and doing your research, you might also save yourself some money!

Soldering Iron

Buy a reasonably good soldering iron to save lots of frustration and potential damage to your electronics.

A good soldering iron allows you to adjust the temperature and comes with various soldering tips. You can pick up a reasonably good soldering iron for about $100.00.

It may be that you're starting out on a budget. Unfortunately there is no such thing as a cheap and great soldering iron. If you buy a cheaper alternative that has a fixed tip and temperature, it will get the job done no doubt! However, it can create frustration when trying to carry out certain work.

The following soldering irons are on eBay ranging from $60 - $115 and are great examples of what you should be looking for.

Solder

Don’t buy cheap solder as it will also add to your frustration. Buying a mid-range solder with flux will make life much easier! You can expect to spend about $20 and the solder will last you years!

Soldering Iron grip tool

There are various tools that will assist you in holding a wire or plug that you’re trying to solder. These tools will save you burning the table and your hands!

HobbyKing sell Mr Jig which works well for soldering bullet connectors and battery plugs. They also sell the Hands Free Item Holder for holding on to objects.

Both these items are really cheap. Similar items can be sourced at your local hobby or electronics store.

Screwdrivers Hex/Allen Keys

HobbyKing offer a range of tools for the hobby. The tools are good enough for the work you want to do with a build or repair and are really good value for money. As long as the tools are used in the correct manner, they will last a long time!

Prop Balancer

Regardless of whether you’re building from scratch or buying something ready to fly, you’re going to need to know how to balance a prop. To do this, you will need a prop balancer, as pictured in the feature image above. HobbyKing stock a few prop balancers that work really well.

Glue

At some point you will need to glue something. HobbyKing stock good epoxy glue that is great for gluing things together or repairing things. Epoxy dries with a strong bond between parts and can be used on most materials. We also recommend you buy superglue at the same time. It's really cheap and will come in handy.

We recommend buying the 15 minute and 30 minute cure time epoxy glue as it's good to have the option of both (30 minutes provides an even stronger bond). This glue will last you years!

Threadlock

Threadlock is needed on some multicopters because of small vibrations working things loose. HobbyKing also stock medium strength (recommended) threadlock.

These products are stocked by HobbyKing and will last you years!

Techniques

The following basic techniques will help you build or repair a multicopter when needed.

Basic Soldering

We will not go in to detail about how to solder properly. As expected, practice makes perfect! Having the right soldering iron is a great start because some just get too hot and the soldering tip is just too big putting too much heat in to the object and not the job.

We recommend you look at some YouTube video to get great tips on this topic.

Balancing props

The main source of vibration is the props on your multicopter. It’s really important to eliminate as much vibration as possible as this will interfere with the flight computer and its instruments resulting in an unstable flight.

Balancing motors

In some instances motors can be out of balance. This creates unwanted vibrations that may affect flight characteristics.

Finetuning your multicopter

Each flight computer and multicopter are different. If you’re building one from scratch, you’re going to have to learn how to fine tune your multicopter.

Factors such as the physical frame, motor layout, weight and electronics can affect the flight characteristics of your multicopter.

It’s relatively straight forward with most flight computers, and being able to tune them will improve flying conditions. This is generally done on your PC after going to the field to make some observations about the flight characteristics.

There is a wealth of information on the internet about various flight computers and how to tune them. Ultimately, just make sure you make many small adjustments and make sure to note what you have changed each time. If possible, save your configuration, so that you can revert back to the file if needed.

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