Group 13 - Syma X1 Quadcopter (Bumble Bee)

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This is the project group page for Group 13, who are dissecting and analyzing the Syma X1 Quadcopter (Bumble Bee).

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Gate 1

1. Introduction

The purpose of Gate 1 is to provide an overall plan and outline of our group/group project. It entails our plan for working as a group, in addition to our plans for our product and product dissection. From Gate 1, we can move on to the next Gates in the project while having an initial plan to reference. In Gate 1, there is a Work Proposal, Management Proposal, and Product Analysis. The Work Proposal provides an explanation of our dissection process, a list of required tools, perceived challenges, and capabilities/shortcomings of group members. The Management Proposal details basic information about each group member (name, email, role, responsibilities), a meeting plan for the group, and how we intend to resolve group conflicts. The Product Analysis describes the various aspects of the product (the Syma X1 Quadcopter), providing profiles of its development, usage, energy consumption, materials, and other factors related to the quadcopter.

2. Project Management

A) Section Introduction

This section (Project Management) includes our Work and Management Proposals. The Work Proposal details our dissection plan, any tools required for the assembly and/or disassembly of the quadcopter, any challenges we currently foresee in the dissection or assembly processes, as well as a description of each group members capabilities and shortcomings. Essentially, the Work Proposal explains our plan for the disassembly and assembly of the quadcopter, the tools we will need, and possible issues with the process resulting from either the product or group members. The Management Proposal includes the name and email of each group member and their role and responsibilities. It also includes information about our meetings-- how often, where, when, the duration, and what they will be used for. Lastly, the Management Proposal includes our prevention and resolution process for group conflicts, explaining how and when we will approach them.

B) Work Proposal

The following proposal provides the required material resources and steps involved with the dissection and analysis of the Syma X1 "Bumbebee" Quadcopter. The following document also provides group member analysis as well as the specific technical challenges that will need to be overcome during the process.

Materials Required
  1. Philips-head Screwdriver:
    • Used for removing screws holding key components of the Quadcopter together
  2. Needle-nose Pliers:
    • Used for the removal and handling of small delicate parts that cannot be handled by hand
  3. Camera:
    • Used to record and document images of the dissection process
  4. Laptop:
    • Used to record images, update wiki, and provide detailed dis-assembly instructions
  • Scheduling Issues
  • Technical Difficulties
List of Skills


  • Skill Set
    • Familiarity with MATLAB, C++, Excel, Arduino platforms
    • Familiarity with schedule-keeping, technical writing
    • Knowledge of quadcopter functionality and structure
  • Disadvantages
    • Difficult schedule
    • Lack of experience with hand tools
    • Lack of organization


  • Skill set:
    • MATLAB Programming Ability
    • Able to use Microsoft Office, Moozilla Open Office, GiCL Wiki
    • Leadership Skills
    • Experience in operation of hand and power tools
  • Disadvantages
    • Procrastinator
    • Conflictig Schedule
    • Unfamiliar with Engineering Process in practice


  • Skill Set
  • Diadvantages


  • Skill set:
    • Microsoft Office, Apple iWork, GiCL Wiki
  • Disadvantages:
    • Conflicting Schedules
    • Unfamiliar with technical writing

Our skill set means that we are very well prepared for the process of physically disassembling and analyzing the various components of the quadcopter. However, we have a shortfall in skills like technical writing and organization, which will present a significant challenge over the duration of the project.

We intend to alleviate this problem by keeping a detailed schedule and engaging actively in class to acquire the technical writing skills we lack.

Disassembly Steps
Step Materials Time Description
Removal of Casing Hands 5 minutes Remove the outer, bumblebee-shaped casing from the quadcopter.
Disassemble the Frame Philips Head Screwdriver Set, Hands 15 minutes Using the screwdriver set, we unscrew the screws that hold together the frame and detach the four support bars, while carefully avoiding breaking any wires.
Removal of Engine Mounts Hands 15 minutes While carefully avoiding the fragile wires that connect the motors to the control board, detach the clips that hold the motors to the frame.
Removal of blades Philips Head Screwdriver Set 15 minutes Unscrew the blades from their mounts on the engine mount.
Open the Controller Casing Philips Head Screwdriver Set 5 minutes Unscrew the screws that hold together the casing for the RC controller.
Unscrew the Joystick Casing Philips Head Screwdriver Set 5 minutes Unscrew the screws that hold together the casing for the two joysticks on the RC controller.
Document parts Camera, Laptop, Hands 30 minutes Take photographs of each part and its arrangement within the quadcopter system. Store these photographs and information about each part on the laptop computer, preferably on this wiki.
Store the Parts Box 20 minutes Taking care not to damage any of the parts, store them within a designated storage container until they are to be reassembled.

The procedure to re-assemble the device is identical to the procedure to take it apart, but in the reverse order.

C) Management Proposal

i. Team Members

Andrew Harris ( : Project Manager

  • Responsibilities:
    • Planning of meetings
    • Maintenance of wiki page
    • Keeping the group on schedule
    • Acquiring materials/space for the project

Garrett Rice ( : Lead Engineer

  • Responsibilities:
    • Guides the team through the dissection
    • Aids in the research and other areas
  • Skill set:
    • MATLAB Programming Ability
    • Able to use Microsoft Office, Moozilla Open Office, GiCL Wiki
    • Leadership Skills
    • Experience in operation of hand and power tools
  • Disadvantages
    • Procrastinator
    • Conflicting Schedule
    • Unfamiliar with Engineering Process in practice

William Krause ( : Technical Expert

  • Responsibilities:
    • Familiar with QuadCopter and its components
    • Be able to speak about QuadCopter outside of engineering group
  • Skill set:
    • Microsoft Office, Apple iWork, GiCL Wiki
    • Leadership, Organization Skills
  • Disadvantages:
    • Conflicting Schedules
    • Unfamiliar with technical writing

Eric Bigenwald ( : Communications Liaison

  • Responsibilities:
    • Responsible for communication between professors or TA's when necessary
    • Ensure that the Project Manager's directions are followed and completed
    • Ensure that everyone knows of the time and place of group meetings
  • Skill set:
    • CAD, Microsoft Office, C++, MATLAB
    • Organizational skills
    • Time Management
  • Disadvantages:
    • Limited computer hardware knowledge
    • Limited hands-on dissection experience
ii. Meeting Plan

Meetings are planned for every Tuesday and Thursday at 11 AM in the Clinton Hall First Floor Lounge, with emergency/other meetings being organized by the Project Manager and told to everyone by him or the Communications Liaison. Depending on the day of the week that the gate is due, one will be a planning meeting and the other will be a working meeting. I.e., if a gate is due on a Monday, then the previous Tuesday will be a planning meeting, where the group decides what needs to be done (and how) and the Project Manager assigns specific work to each group member. This meeting should not take more than an hour. The Thursday prior to the Monday due date, on the other hand, will be a working meeting, with all the group members meeting and working on their assigned sections of the gate or project. These will last longer, closer to two hours in duration.

iii. Plan for Group Conflicts

To try to avoid group conflicts in the first place, work will be assigned at the planning meeting each week, so that each group member must take full responsibility for completing their work (as in they cannot use the excuse that they didn't know what they were supposed to do). Also, the working meetings can be used to get a glimpse of how each group member is progressing, and whether people are doing what they are supposed to do. The end of the working meetings will include a brief discussion of where each group member is on his assigned work, and if there are any issues that topic will broached. So if in this discussion, the group learns that a group member is falling behind on their work, then that issue will be brought up and hopefully resolved (i.e., either make sure they complete their work or at least understand why they were unable to get their work done). Basically, we will try to use the end of our working meeting to resolve and group conflicts and failing that, the Communications Liaison will contact the course instructors if the conflict continues to persist (i.e. if someone is continually late with their work).

D) Transition

This Project Management section is followed by the Product Analysis/Archaeology section, which focuses more on the product than our group. This section entails our plan for working with the quadcopter, as in the process, tools, and any possible challenges. It also includes how we plan to function as a group, how are meetings will be utilized/organized and how we will resolve group conflicts. The Product Analysis section profiles the product in a variety of ways, analyzing the numerous aspects surrounding the quadcopter and its production. Basically, this section discusses how we will work with the quadcopter, and the following section details how the quadcopter works.

3. Product Analysis

Product Development Profile

  • Release date
    • Summary of global economy (read: it was bad)
    • Analysis of market trends in RC toys (it has to exist)
  • Target markets
  • Intended impact (read: provide entertainment)

Usage Profile

  • Intended use
    • Usage environment
  • Affordances provided for the user

Energy Profile


On the quadcopter, all energy used by the system comes from an onboard 300 mA*h battery. This battery provides 8 minutes of flight time for 60 minutes of charging. Based on the commands of the flight board, the battery's electrical energy is transmitted by wires hidden in the frame of the quadcopter to each individual motor. The quadcopter's motors act as energy converters, converting the battery's electrical energy into a proportional amount of shaft energy and a small amount of heat. The shaft energy of the battery is transmitted directly to a small gear attatched to the shaft of the motor. This gear meshes with another much larger gear that is attatched to the shaft of the propeller. This gear ratio converts the high-RPM motor's shaft energy into a lower RPM, but higher torque form of energy more suitable for usage by the propeller blades. This conversion is accomplished by the conservation of angular momentum. The propellers, which are shaped to form simple airfoils. Their motion through the air generates lift in the same manner that an airplane wing moving through air generates lift.

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A diagram of the energy flow within the quadcopter


Within the controller, energy is converted between different types of electical and electromagnetic energy. When a joystick is moved, it activates a corresponding sensor within the controller. A microprocessor within the controller converts that sensor input into an electrical signal, which it then sends to the radio transmitter. The radio transmitter converts this electrical signal into a series of electromagnetic waves. All of this energy is supplied by four (4) onboard AA batteries, which must be supplied by the user.

Complexity Profile

A list of the estimates of the components used and their quantities is listed below.

  1. Quadcopter
    1. Propulsion
      1. Motors: 4 small-diameter inrunner electric motors are mounted at the ends of each frame bar.
      2. Propellers: 4 propellers are mounted on shafts connected to the motors by a simple gear mechanism.
      3. Gear mechanism: Each motor/blade assembly is joined by a gear mechanism.
    2. Frame
      1. Screws: We estimate that there are eight to ten screws holding the frame components together.
      2. Cross bars: There are four metal cross bars that hold the motor frames.
      3. Motor Limits: There are four plastic motor limits which hold the motors in place.
      4. Body Frame: This component joins the four cross bars and provides a platform for the electronic components of the quad copter.
      5. Battery frame: This component holds the battery on the underside of the quadcopter and allows the user to replace the battery for charging
    3. Electronic Components
      1. Control board: This board houses the microprocessor and radio receiver that controls the quadcopter.
  1. Controller
    1. Interface Components
      1. Joystick: Two plastic joysticks allow for control input into the quadcopter.
      2. Buttons: Simple plastic buttons allow the user to adjust the sensitivity of various components of quadcopter control.
    2. Structural components
      1. Plastic frame
      2. Metal sockets
      3. Screws
      4. Battery cover

Many of these components have very straightforward interactions, such as the relationship between the screws and the frame, or the frame and the motor assemblies. For this reason, the relationships between the frame components are not discussed. The mechanical components whose interactions are of the greatest interest to our team are those of the propulsion system. The characteristics of these components most directly influence the capabilities and performance of the quadcopter.

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Conceptual model of interactions within the Quadcopter

When a flight command is sent via radio link to the quadcopter, it is received by the flight board's onboard antenna. This radio signal is converted by the flight computer into a pulse width modulation (or PWM) signal, which directly controls the amount of power sent to each individual motor [Fig. 1.1].

This signal directly controls how fast- and therefore with how much power- the motor spins. Because of the high speed (and therefore low torque) of each motor, a simple gearbox consisting of two gears is used to convert this low-torque, high-speed motion into low-speed, high torque motion suitable for driving the copter's blades.

Material Profile

This section lists materials used within the quadcopter.

  • Visible Materials
    1. Injection-molded plastics: Found in the frame, blades, controller casing, and outer casing.
    2. Carbon Fiber:Found in the rods that connect the engine mounts to the body.
    3. Various metals: Found in the screws, motors, control board and joystick frames.
  • Non-Visible Materials
    1. Copper- Found within the wiring of the quadcopter.
    2. Lithium-polymer: Found within the battery.

Due to the simple construction of the quadcopter, it is a trivial task to examine the materials it is made from, as the frame hides few components.

User interaction profile

  • Description of user interface
    • "How intuitive is the interface?"
  • Description of maintenance requirements
    • Controller battery replacement
    • Copter battery replacement

Product Alternative Profile

AR Parrot Drone 2.0
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  • Flight time of up to 36 minutes.
    • Utilizes a two battery system, which must be changed after 18 minutes of flight
    • Allows for one battery to charge, while one is being used
  • Battery charge time of
  • Indoor & Outdoor flight capability
  • Ability to upgrade components
  • Ability to record flights with on board camera
  • Ability to play augmented reality video games


  • Price: $369.99 (retail)
  • Intended for more experienced users
  • No stand-alone receiver
    • Designed to work with a smartphone for a receiver

Hubsan X4 H107C
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  • Micro Design
    • Lightweight
    • Easier to maneuver
  • Standalone, ergonomic receiver
  • Indoor & Outdoor flight capabilities
  • Charge time of 40 min
  • Ability to record flights with on board camera
  • Price: $79.99 (retail)


  • Flight time of up to 7 min
  • Intended for more experienced users

  • These alternatives are very similar. Unlike the Syma X1, the AR Parrot and the Hubsan X4 both are equipped with cameras that allow for flight recording capability. The AR Parrot drone is much larger than the Hubsan X4. These two designs allow for very different methods of flight. While both are capable of flying indoors and out, the Parrot is suited more for outdoor flight while the Hubsan is suited better for indoor flight. The AR Parrot is unique because it relies on the user to have previously owned a smartphone. The smartphone is used as the quadcopter's receiver, and utilizes a touch screen to operate as opposed to physical buttons or levers. The Hubsan X4 has a short battery life of roughly 7 minutes, and takes roughly 40 minutes to reach a full charge. The AR Parrot drone has a flying time of roughly 18 minutes on a 1.5 hour charge. However, the Parrot utilizes a dual battery system, which means one battery can already be charging while the drone is being flown. The AR Parrot can be considered much more sophisticated than the Hubsan X4. While the Hubsan relies solely on user interface to fly, the Parrot can automatically land when the battery is low, balance itself when the user makes the quadcopter unsteady, and can utilize the camera and smartphone to play augmented reality games.


  • AR Parrot Drone: $369.99
  • Hubsan X4 H107C: $79.99

A customer may consider either of these products based on numerous factors. The most obvious factor would be cost. The AR Drone, Hubsan X4 and our Syma X1 are all priced in considerable different ranges. If a customer has more disposable income than normal, they may invest in the AR Parrot. However, if a customer is looking for entertainment, and to also save money, they would likely choose the Hubsan X4. A customer may choose either of these if they wanted to record in flight video, as the Syma X1 does not have that capability. Another factor is the size of the two QuadCopters. The Hubsan is considerable smaller than the Parrot. If the customer wants to mainly fly indoors, they may choose the Hubsan, and they may choose the Parrot if they want to fly outdoors. A customer may consider the environmental impact of the two QuadCopters. The AR Parrot Drone utilizes two batteries, whereas the Hunsan uses only one. A customer may consider the energy usage of the QuadCopter over its lifecycle.

Gate 2

Gate 3

Gate 4

Gate 5