I’ve done quite a lot of model making in my past, but building a multicopter was also completely new to me, so I’m trying to show & tell all the “noobs” like me out there how to set-up the NAZA V2 control system and or try to explain certain tripwires you could fall to, like I did in building / setting it up.
This guide covers:
– Soldering information, based on the F550 frame parts
– ESC + engine connections
– Flight system installation, wiring, placement and configuration
– GPS calibration
– Propellers + installation
– Landing gear installation
– Some LED fun
– Gimbal mount + setup
– Video transmitter installation and setup
I’m flying my drone with a Graupner MX-20 2.4 GHz HoTT remote using the Graupner GR-24 HoTT receiver.
I would recommend a 10-12 channel remote to cover all the possibilities in the future use of the hexacopter
The basic channel control’s (needed / recommended):
- 3 way switch for flight mode change: Manual / ATTI / ATTI + GPS (if the module is purchased)
- 3 way switch for Flight mode change: Off / Course Lock / Home Lock
- Rotary knobs for in-flight gain control (changing the gains on how fast or slow the drone should react on stick movements [e.g. slow for AP and FPV and fast for sport / trick flying]
- Camera mount axis control 1
- Camera mount axis control 2
- LED position- / headlights for low light flying
So, when you managed to solder or connect all your ESC wires (I put them upside down before soldering so that they can be attached properly to the arms without having twisted cables), the main battery connector cable and the NAZA PMU unit to the baseplate / power distribution board connect all other cables to the NAZA V2 (be careful where to connect it, because the ESC’s have to be plugged in in a pre-set manner depending on your type of drone, in my case its the frame of the DJI F550 which makes it a hexacopter with 6 engines):
As you can see here, the red “arms” are considered the front of the drone and the engines are seen counterclockwise, labeled with engine M1 – M6, so you have to plug in the appropriate ESC cables to the NAZA engine ports.
The orange and blue circles around the engines tell you in which direction the engines have to rotate in the end, blue meaning counter clockwise, orange meaning clockwise, not paying attention to this can lead to an instant crash when you try to take off!
(I’m explaining the engine rotations and how to make them turn the way you want later on)
Now you have to connect all the other cables to the NAZA as explained on the main unit (e.g. LED port houses the flight LED / USB port, the PMU is the power distribution unit [where you connect the GPS module if purchased on the GPS labeled connector] and will be plugged into the EXP port)
When you’ve plugged in everything, we’re ready to advance.
Pay attention when you’re seating all the parts of the NAZA V2 flight control, the main controller unit has to be as centered as possible on the drone’s baseplate and the little arrow icon on it has to face to the flying direction (the 2 red arms) and should never be mounted upside down!
The PMU unit and receiver should be placed on the sides and as far away from the main unit as possible but also not too close to the welding points of the ESC / main battery cables to prevent interference.
I used double adhesive Velcro tape to secure them, firstly you can always re-set and re-arrange all the units and it offers some sort shock and vibration resistance, due to the fact that the NAZA main control unit doesn’t like shakes or vibration and could malfunction.
When you’re done with that I attached my ESC’s to the arms upside down using zip ties.
Now we’re ready to connect the engines. My ESC’s feature 3 bullet type connectors per engine and now here’s the tricky part: the ESC’s are upside down but the engines are facing upwards so now you have to think a little ahead:
- 3 engines have to rotate clockwise
- 3 engines have to rotate counter clockwise
So the simple rule:
Engines turning clockwise are connected like that:
Middle connector to the middle connector, left ESC connector to the right engine cable and right ESC connector to the left engine cable.
Engines turning counter clockwise:
Since our ESC’s are upside down they are connected straight forward: middle to the middle, right to the righ and left to the left connector.
That’s not so hard isn’t it?
Well if it would be easy, it wouldn’t get more confusing then this:
I’m using Graupner E-Prop propellers, you need according to the engines 3 clockwise and 3 counter clockwise prop’s, now there’s something special with Graupner E-Prop’s due to the fact that they are meant for airplanes, Graupner keeps telling the rotating direction as seen from the cockpit of a plane and not as seen while looking at the blade itself.
So the “L” labelled ones (for LEFT(rotating) actually rotate to the right and the ones without special labeling are rotating to the left. So you have to attach the “L’s” to the clockwise rotating engines and the non labeled ones to the counter clockwise ones.
Real easy to understand for a “noob” isn’t it?
When we’re done with attaching the propellers it’s time to get our receiver hooked up with the NAZA’s main unit.
There are 3 ways to do this:
- Traditional wiring
- Digital over the humming feature using the DBUS (AFAIK Robbe / Futaba / HiTec) or PPM (Graupner) standards
If you’re using a Graupner remote, normally you would use the digital humming signal and only connect one cable to the X2 connector of the NAZA but here’s the tricky part: if your receiver has less then 7 channels you can not use the PPM signal properly due to the fact that one of the 3 way switches controlling the manual / ATTI / ATTI GPS flight mechanics is always mapped to digital channel 7 which is not accessible with only 6 channels.
So after some cursing around I had to switch to traditional wiring and had to connect 6 cables to the appropriate channels on the NAZA, if your receiver, like the Graupner ones doesn’t feature the “nose hooks” of the cables you have to remove the plastic noses of the cables in order to make them fit.
Channels used with traditional wiring:
After this you’re ready to attach the top plate of the drone, when you bought the GPS module I used two of the screws of one of the front arms to also secure the base of the GPS module pole, due to the fact that the drilling holes fit the rear 2 screw holes.
When you attach the GPS module to the pole, make sure that the little arrow on the GPS dome also faces to the front / flying direction of the drone (the outgoing cable of the module is the front side).
I’ve attached the LED module hanging upside down on the rear side of my drone and secured it loosely with a zip tie to the landing gear to stay in place.
Now we’re ready for the fun part, powering it up and attaching it to a computer to set the everything up in the NAZA Assist software.
Install the NAZA Assist software, then download the driver package for your system (Win7-x, or Win8) you can’t install the driver package until your drone is connected and powered up by the flight battery.
So plug in your battery to the power cable of the drone and when you see the LED module flashing wildly, connect the USB cable on the lower side of the unit and start the driver installation package.
When he’s finished start the NAZA Assist software and register with DJI, if there is a new firmware available he will notify you about it and start’s updating your flight controller.
Now it’s time to set everything up:
- Click on the tab “Basic” select Aircraft and your type (in my case HexaRotorV)
- Click on “Mounting” there enter where your GPS dome is located from the center (as seen in the picture, if its in the front its a positive value, if its more in the back its a negative value, the height calculation of the dome is measured from the baseplate of the drone, not the landing gear!)
- Click on “RC” and select your wiring type (as described earlier above), now you have to see if all your sticks are moving correctly and are not mirrored in the movement, if so press the REV or NORM button next to the channel icons.Now select “Calibrate” and move all your sticks wildly around between the maximum and minimum positions per axis then click finish and observe that you’re not getting an error message telling you stick’s not in center and every slider should display a green middle position).See if your control mode switches hit the correct marks of the functions you want to use, if it’s not turning blue, you missed the mark and have to adjust the movement range of your channels on your remote until all the stick positions light up your wanted features in blue properly.If you want you can enable the “Receiver advanced protection” which alters the movements after reaching certain heights or distances.
- Click on “Gain” I would recommend leaving it to the pre-set values for now.
- Click on “Advanced” and select “Motor”, I would recommend to leave the idle speed at “Recommended” and set the “Cut Off Type” to “Intelligent”, that way he notices when you’re still in the air and won’t switch off your engines if you move your throttle stick below 10% while flying.
- Click on “F/S” and select your favored failsafe setting, I’ve selected “Go-Home and Landing” (he records his starting position when you got a GPS module installed when he starts and know’s where to return in case a failsafe event occurs)
- Click on “IOC” and decide if you want to use that feature, I’ve enabled it on my second 3 way switch.
- I don’t have a Gimbal yet and I’m missing the channels for it so I skipped that menu.
- Click on “Voltage” here I’ve selected “Protection Switch” ON, calculating your voltages and warning level’s isn’t easy so I can only go into a little detail here:
Don’t try to push your drone to the (battery) limits on the first flight’s, the batteries have to be broken in too and you have to learn how much power your drone draws while flying, to get a feeling when you have to get back or land (you can calculate that when you keep track of your flight minutes and taking a look at the charger, on how much power he had to put back in after charging).
My battery got fully charged around 5100 mAh, I was flying for 11 minutes, charged the battery, when he was done my charger told me he put back 4700 mAh so I was on the edge of an emergency landing.
- Click on “Tools” here you can calibrate the internal Gyroscope and Barometer and other internal sensors, I would recommend to at least run the basic calibration the first time it’s powered on.
If you bought the GPS module it also needs an horizontal and vertical calibration:
To calibrate the GPS module, disconnect your drone from the PC and use your remote to wildly switch around the “Manual / ATTI / ATTI-GPS” 3 way switch until the LED starts blinking wildly ORANGE-RED.
Now take your drone and rotate 360° with your body while holding it in a horizontal position.
The LED will start flashing wildly orange when you’re done with the rotation the LED will start flashing wildly green, now you have to tilt your drone so its facing downwards with the red arms and again, rotate your body 360° around while holding it in that position, the LED will flash wildly green while you rotate, when you’ve done it correctly the LED will switch off or occasionally start blinking red indicating the satellite strengths.
- 3 red flashes = worst signal
- 2 red flashes = bad signal
- 1 red flash = signal is ok
- no red flashes = best satellite signal
If you’re insecure about the signal strengths and don’t care much about “Course Lock”, “Home Lock” or “Return To Home” features for the moment you can just switch to ATTI flying mode without GPS support.
The camera gimbal and you:
So I finally came around to grab myself a simple servo steered camera gimbal, though I’m still lacking the channels to control it, the NAZA V2 can still use a camera stabilizer to keep it levelled all the time no matter how the drone moves, so you won’t “see” the drone movements.
This is a cheap one from HobbyKing gifted to me by Yakoda, another multicopter flying furry friend. Better ones would use brushless motors and an own video controller (like the ZenMuse or other Cinestar systems)
Connecting is pretty straight forward, just put your servo cable for the gimbal roll (the “left and right” tilting servo) to F1 of the Naza controller and the pitch (the “up and down” tilting servo) cable to F2.
Now power up your system and start the Naza assistent software and go to the “Advanced” -> “Gimbal” tab.
Switch the gimbal mode to “On” and check that you selected the right output frequency for your servos. Now it’s time to set up the travel range of your gimbal(servos), this is an easy thing to do, just tilt your drone into a direction and enter a value (always hit return after putting a new value in) until the gimbal starts to re-position the desired axes to a bit further then the maximum range you were tilting it (this is to prevent the servos from getting damaged if they try to move further with force then physically possible with your gimbal frame).
Set the “Center” value for both axis until the camera is in your desired position (some like the camera to be tilted downwards, other’s prefer a straight front facing set-up, so it’s up to you).
If you pick the multicopter up and start to tilt it, but the gimbal is not reacting / moving, then you have to increase the values of the “Automatic Control Gain”, the higher the settings, the faster the gimbal will react, setting this too high could lead to a jitter behaviour or image shaking. When the gimbal moves “mirrored” just hit the REV or NORM buttons on the right of the affected axis.
When you’ve done everything the right way, the camera should now get compensated for every tilt movement you produce while holding the drone.
The X1 value and channel is meant for manual gimbal control if your remote features more channels and the desired channel cable is attached to the X1 connector of the Naza.
LED there be light!
One thing always bothered my with my multicopter, especially when flying in dim light conditions or with lots of sunshine: you can’t always make out if your drone is flying away, or coming back and or where it is at all (haha).
So I was looking for some LED lights, but I didn’t like those classical LED strips a lot of multicopter pilots use, I wanted something more “realistic”, so I went on the net and started looking around, finally I stumbled upon an Turnigy helicopter and plane LED system with controller, which features fully light up LED’s, white strobo LED’s and red breacon flashing ones + red and green position lights.
That sounded perfect, but since I got 4 white and 2 red arms, I ordered two sets from HobbyKing, because I wanted the white strobes on all white arms and the red beacons on my front red arms.
Today the items arrived:
The system is fully receiver powered and works from 4-6V. I installed both controllers and just decided on a reduced number of lights:
- 4 x white strobo lights for the white arms
- 2 x red beacon lights for the front arms
- 2 x white always lid white lights which I put facing down on my front landing gear arms to light up the “GoPro” and “Be A Hero” logos on there.
This “LED” (haha) to quite a cable “mess” on my middle drone deck (before):
But nothing a few zip ties can’t fix:
Finished “test-running” everything
Watch the lights video on YouTube
Drone killed the video star:
Well, looks like Christmas was early this year, due to not going on vacation I could invest some more into my drone.
So I was opting for an FPV video system, new remote (I stuck to Graupner with the big MX-20 [20 channels, 12 servo receiver]) and with my luck I even got a “special edition” with an free 12 channel, 6 servo receiver on top, new landing gear with better camera mount, a GlobeFlight “Black Pearl” 7″ screen with diversity 5.8 GHz video receiver, the ImmersionRC 5.8 GHz video transmitter, a GoPro3 live out cable and a carbon screen mount for my new remote.
New carbon based extreme light-weight landing gear (which frees up space on my upper deck and getting the center of gravity below the electronics and with the new camera mount also my camera out of the way of capturing my landing gear or rotors in the picture):
Full weight is only 245g (0.54 pounds).
Now adding the new receiver (I feel like in an Italian pasta place…)
Now that I got more then enough channels, I could connect the X1 channel from my Naza to my remote to make my gimbal steerable on the pitch axis.
Just finished installing my drone on the new landing gear. Still waiting for the Armaflex tube to arrive to re-coat my landing gear skids with better foam tubes.
After that I assembled the carbon monitor mount for my new remote and installed the screen for testing purposes.
Total weight of the remote, including the screen is around 1kg (2.2 pounds) so it’s still manageable but you better not drop it, then it get’s expensive ;).
Due to switching remote’s I had to re-setup my whole multicopter, fortunately I just changed the cables 1:1 and added the new ones, so most of the sticks and buttons stayed the same, also having experience with Graupner remote’s it only took me a few minutes to get everything back on track with the new system.
I decided to assign a dial knob for the gimbal tilt function, so I used the one on the top left.
Now that the gimbal was working correctly I installed the GoPro live out cable, but only loosely positioned the video transmitter.
To install the video transmitter I had to remove the BEC cable from it and directly soldered the contact to my power board contacts, because the 6V output of my receiver is not enough to power it and I’m not using a BEC distribution board.
Everything else is pretty straight forward, connect the other end of the power cable to the transmitter, connect the GoPro live out to the plug of the transmitter, attach your antenna (Warning: DO NOT power on the system without an antenna attached to the transmitter, otherwise it can get destroyed!) now before we attach the transmitter to the frame, we have to decide what video channel to use and set those little jumpers accordingly.
When that’s done you can attach the video transmitter wherever you see fit, I attached mine on the top of the camera mount plateau with the antenna facing down on the backside:
My selected live out cable also features a 5V supply current, so that my GoPro will be charged / main battery powered when my drone is turned on.
If you’ve attached everything correctly, then it’s time to check our monitor / FPV glasses if we can receive the signal correctly.
Switch on your remote, connect the main battery to you drone and after that turn on your glasses / video monitor.
Depending on your channel selection of the transmitter you have to find the matching channel on your receiver.
If that’s done it should look like this:
Now try if the camera mount is tilting the way it should when you turn your knob / slider.
Congratulations on your working FPV setup!
Enjoy a few shots of my new drone setup:
Now you’re ready to go, so get out there and have some fun!
If you have questions or need additional details feel free to contact me or leave a comment below.