When it seems impossible, when it seems like nothing is going to work, you’re usually just a few millimeters away from making it happen.
This year for my birthday, I bought myself a Hubsan X4 micro quadcopter (or ‘drone‘). It is the best £26 that I have ever spent and to say that I love my little quad would be like saying ‘the Sahara has some sand’.
Over the months, I have enjoyed countless hours learning to fly this little machine, playing with it, crashing it, smashing it and putting it back together again. I am now officially addicted to all things relating to quadcopters!
The great thing about all of this is that I have also learned a little bit about how these little machines work and I have begun experimenting with them. As a result, I recently put together a wooden frame and some other bits and made my very own little quad.
I was thrilled with the result and very excited to fly it. So I got the transmitter (the handheld remote thingy) all fired up and connected the battery leads. The lights came on and I heard the familiar beeping sound which told me that the transmitter and the quad were ‘talking’ and ready. With great excitement, I eased the throttle up and the props started spinning—so far so good! I took a deep breath and gave it a bit more throttle to lift the machine up into a hover and … nothing. She’s too heavy and needs more power I thought and so I cranked the throttle… up and up and all the way up and still it wouldn’t leave the ground!
Oh well I thought, it had been fun building this little beauty. But I resigned myself to the fact that it was too heavy and therefore never going to fly. I wasn’t too cut up about it, because this was my first ever attempt. Also, my wife had given me a handsome little frame made of carbon fibre and I knew I could transplant the working parts from this machine to the other frame and it would hopefully fly.
So I attempted the transplant and went through the power on process and still it wouldn’t fly!! And then, it died completely! No lights, no spinning props, no nothing.
I now knew that it was not a weight issue (you can’t really go lighter than carbon fibre). I had to look for other causes. And boy did I find them! For starters, one of the battery wires had become disconnected. Add to that, I also realised that I had not paired the motors correctly (they have to be installed in pairs where one spins clockwise and the other, counterclockwise). No wonder it wouldn’t lift up even at full throttle. It would have needed to defy the laws of physics!!
Would it be possible then, I wondered, that I could replace all the parts back on my home-made frame and that it would fly? Why not give it a try I thought and so I did. And it flew! It didn’t just fly, it was far more stable and graceful than it’s pure-bred shop bought stablemate (this is no reflection on the quality of the Hubsan, it’s just the result of a larger frame and the increased distance between the four motors / props).
I love my Recycl-O-Copter and it gave me such a HUGE buzz to see it work and work so well. I am still high on the buzz and can’t wait to attempt more ‘scratch builds’ in the future!
This experience reminded me of the above words by Tony Robbins and it made me reflect on how close I had come to accepting defeat, when one small adjustment (pairing the motors correctly) was all that was needed.