I'm ecstatic to announce that, with the help of my good friend Tobe Greider, the Ugly Duckling took her first (and subsequently second) flight today!
The project started out in Tobe's garage, where he had abandoned her in a pre-assembled state a few years back. A few weeks ago, I offered to take it over and complete it, as I've been drone crazy for the longest time. I have a micro Hubsan X4, which is fun to fly but I wanted the experience of a real machine.
The surprising part is that the cost of components is not all that much. The Angel A2212-9 motors are around $12, the KK2.1 flight board is around $20. Everything else but the battery, the controller and the receiver are similarly priced.
The controller, a rather nice Spektrum DX6i, is great but it's Mode 1 (not convertible to Mode 2 without a LOT of pain and a few parts), and that lead to a lot of confusion while in the air. I've only flown with Mode 2 controllers (this is very typical in the US), so when I got her up, about all I had nailed was how to control the throttle.
There is also a LOT more power behind these motors then the tiny Hubsan X4 motors. As a result, during her second flight, she zipped off to the left and I had to bring her down hard. This snapped the landing peg on the front left strut. However, being that the frame itself was the cheapest part of the whole project, this was kind of expected.
There are two things I will take away from this. First, a thirst to fly more. But, most importantly, the sense of accomplishment in actually assembling my own quadcopter is incredible. Now I understand why people make.
Because they can!