Tricopter - A Custom Aerial Photography Platform

  • Steven Thomas

This project is the result of an ambition to get into aerial photography. It has undergone many iterations to get from the pine and acrylic frame with a custom made flight controller, to the folding carbon fiber version you see here. This project has been hugely rewarding and whilst it is still a work in progress the current version flies very well

The first iteration, based on a custom made flight controller using an Arduino Uno and an MPU6050 accelerometer/gyroscope. It used the open-source MultiWii code.

After switching to a purpose-made flight controller with more sensors, a new folding frame with vibration
dampening was designed. This frame was far stiffer and lighter, and combined with new bigger motors, improved performance significantly.

For more challenging aerial photography shots, a small first-person view camera and transmission system was wired in. This allows the user to fly the drone through a converted Nexus 7 tablet with a live feed. A HUD was also added to display vital stats.
Finally, a converted brushless gimbal and controller was added to the front of the drone. This allows a GoPro to stay perfectly level even if the drone rapidly changed direction. It was designed to be as modular as possible so it can be taken off when not needed.