fpv

Kajabe Can Can

November 11, 20140 Comments

Have you ever gone to an event where everyone knows about what’s going on except you?  That’s how I felt last Friday night when we went to cover aerials for a church event at 1BL in Long Beach. They were holding a “Kajabe Can Can” tournament… “a what?!” — that was me. Turns out this is a ancient game that lots of people knew about. Just not me. Here’s the scoop:

Usually played outdoors or in a big room, but could be played in a smaller facility with smaller groups.

The participants get into a circle around the trash can and hold hands. If a player touches the trash can in any way, they are out. Also, if players break their grip on one another, they are both out. Play pauses after an elimination, giving a much-needed time for players to re-firm their hand-holds.

The game is pretty intense, and I’m not entirely sure how tempers don’t flare, but the refs and all the people organizing kept is really loose so I think that helped a lot.  Looked like a lot of fun!  But not as fun as flying over it!

This was the most we’ve flown over people… like ever.  So we make sure we gave the copter some good testing before flight.  Once we were confident in it, we took to the skies.  And you see the result above.  It was a great night!

Gear used:
– Homemade Hexacopter (Rusty/aglhobbies frame)
– Sony NEX-5R w/ 20mm prime lens
– 3-axis RCTimer ASP gimbal
– both 1.2 and 5.8 VTx video downlink
– custom Wild Pilots ground station
– SunnySky 3508-16 700kv/12″ props/40A esc
– 2x 4000mah 4S lipo
– Futaba 10CAP (Pilot), Taranis (CamOp)

TBS Discovery

October 5, 20120 Comments

Well I ordered my TBS Discovery back in late July and I finally received it a few weeks ago. The demand for the Disco is so high and it takes a while to get it (at least for me it did). And after I opened the box I realized the reason for the high demand. This frame is VERY well built and thought out. And assembly was very easy too! I had a few screws missing from my order, but a quick email to Trappy at TBS solved that – they’re sending the extra hardware free of charge.

To me, the icing on the cake for this copter would have to be the TBS Core. I’ve always flown 4S and when I got into FPV that posed a slight problem because FPV equipment runs off of 12V or 5V and the 14.8V+ from my 4S LiPo’s would most certainly fry them, so I resorted to running a separate 3S battery. In no way did it ever keep me grounded, but it certainly was a thorn in the side – having to deal with the extra batteries, charging them, dealing with excess weight, another thing to plug in and slap a LiPo alarm to, blah! No thank you. With the Core all I have to do is solder a few jumpers (once) and plug in the battery and GO! AND… I now have OSD (On Screen Display). The Core only informs you of battery voltage, current, mAh used, RSSI, and flight time – and really when you’re flying a multicopter, you don’t need anything else.

Here are my built pictures showing each step I took in assembly. I’m very pleased with this quad and I know its going to be my no. 1 quad for a long, long time.

Building the DJI 550 Flame Wheel Hex with NAZA-M and GPS

September 3, 20120 Comments

With most of the parts finally delivered, my DJI 550 Flame Wheel hex build has begun. There is something very gratifying about having all the necessary components spread out on your work bench before assembly commences. Before I did anything I spent a great amount of time doing research and probably spent more money than I needed to but in my opinion this hex will be made up from “the right stuff”.

The frame is a DJI product and is made from high-quality components. The 550 Flame Wheel is nearly indestructible and based on the way I usually “fly” that feature will surely come in handy.

The ESCs are Hobby King 20 amp UBEC flashed with SimonK firmware and soldered directly to the bottom frame plate. The 550 Flame Wheel bottom plate has circuit board traces built in resulting in tidy wiring. I trimmed the ESC wires to the exact length required in an effort to keep the total weight down and also making for a cleaner appearance. The signal wires are braided wherever possible to avoid unnecessary RF noise which could potentially interfere with control system, video transmission, and GPS module.

Once assembled the frame has very little flex which is an important factor as I will be flying with 6 powerful 900kv 210 watt Tiger Motors. Each of the high-strength polymer arms are held in place by 6 aircraft-quality hex screws. The Dragon Link long-range system which will eventually be installed down the road.

Initially I had purchased six custom made G-10 landing gear legs which bolt directly below the motors without needing to drill any holes. It sure makes the hex mean looking!

The 6 landing gear legs have since been replaced with AeroXCraft’s fantastic DJI 550 landing gear and GoPro gimbal which attaches to the frame using existing holes. This lightweight landing gear is very well designed and allows for super easy CG balancing by sliding the battery carrier and gimbal back and forth on black anodized aluminum rails. Assembly took a couple of hours but I can’t say enough about how clear the included instruction booklet is. This is certainly a well thought out product.

I assembled the AeroXCraft 2-axis camera gimbal with HiTek high-speed metal gear mini-servos. Both axises rotate on flanged bearings and is super smooth. Rubber grommets hold the G-10 gimbal in place on aluminum rail mounts and combined with the foam padded lining on the inside of the camera box, the camera gimbal should dramatically reduce in-flight video “jello”. Again, assembly took some time but the included instruction booklet is excellent.

My mini FPV camera is placed directly above it between the mounting rails.

FPV is transmitted using a 900mHz 500mW transmitter mounted directly below the propeller tip on one of the arms for optimal cooling as video transmitters typically generate a fair amount of heat. To avoid RF interference, an in-line low-pass filter is installed where the antenna comes out of the transmitter.

The 900mHz dipole antenna for video transmission is mounted below the lipo battery carrier keeping it well away from the GPS module, thus reducing the potential for GPS interference.

The on-screen display is handled by an early version of the EasyOSD which is mounted on a different arm. The EasyOSD comes with a small GPS antenna (not plugged in here) which gives compass headings in the display but I haven’t tested it yet to see if it will interfere with the NAZA GPS module.

EasyOSD’s in-line current monitor module is conveniently mounted behind the battery carrier.

The NAZA GPS module comes with upper and lower aluminum mounting brackets and a CF post. There are several ways to assemble the GPS post including epoxy glues and velcro but it is important to retain the ability to rotate the module for slight magnetic declination adjustments based on where on the planet you might find yourself flying. I chose to drill and tap 2 set screw holes in each bracket (top and bottom) which do a great job of holding the CF post in place yet still allows for any adjustments if needed. I mounted the GPS module as far away from the camera gimbal as possible because it is known that GoPro cameras are guilty of being super noisy when it comes to RF interference. At some point in the near future I may look into building a thin copper-clad G-10 lining around the GoPro to shield any potential RF interference leaks.

The all-important NAZA V-SEN unit with built-in BEC and status LED is temporarily mounted on the back of the battery carrier. I intend to mount it in a more unobstructed area where it can easily be viewed from the ground no matter what direction the hex is flying. The V-SEN unit also has a USB port which enables programming by the Assistant Software I installed on a cheap little PC notebook.

And finally, the heartbeat of the beast: the NAZA-M flight controller. It is mounted in the center of the frame as close to the CG as possible. This unfortunately makes access to the ports a bit tedious but with long-nose pliers the job gets done. It certainly is well protected in there!

One of the early flights after the GPS module was installed. The hex did a pretty darn good job at pirouetting during an altitude hold, all without any fine tuning! Needless to say I was pretty impressed. Now for the fun stuff: tweaking! Stay tuned…

Flying Around Bluff Lake Reserve

August 1, 20121 Comment

A little over a month ago, we were camping up in the San Bernardino Mountains and came upon a HUGE meadow.  Turns out it was Bluff Lake Reserve.  This place is cool!  There’s a big lake, and the meadow has a dense tree-line surrounding it, and even though the wind wasn’t really cooperating, it made for some fun flying.  While we were setting up to fly we ran into Evan Welsh, who manages the preserve, and Doug Chudy, one of the summer rangers.  We showed them our gear and explained what we were up to and they told us that it was “coolest thing they’ve ever come across someone doing on one of their properties” — needless to say they were excited about the footage.  If you’re interested in the area, check out their page on Facebook or their web site. It’s only a short drive through the countryside south of Big Bear Lake.

School Flyin’

July 4, 20120 Comments

Fun outing with the WildPilots. I made sure to keep within the confines of the school’s playground – no need risking a crash into someones backyard!

This was one of my favorite flights so far. Beautiful time of day – Golden Hour! Enjoy.

New Frame and new Goggles!

May 20, 20120 Comments

This was my first FPV flight with my Fat Shark Dominators, and it just so happens it was my first “real” flight with my new frame, the Hoverthings HT-FPV.

Rail Jumpin’

April 5, 20120 Comments

Crispy Cargo went to the canyon.. the Grand one!

First Person View — Flying FPV, Baby!

April 5, 20120 Comments

Seems like Mark posted that setup for his FPV command station forever ago! Michael and I have just recently dove into the FPV world. Yesterday was my first outing piloting from behind the monitor, and man, it was a surreal experience. Really fun! I only flew through two batteries, but that was enough for the first time out. I only rolled the thing once on a hard landing–the battery alarm went off and my mind blanked. But why am I telling you… watch!

Yep, My first attempt at flying by way of FPV monitor (I don’t have goggles yet)
This is recorded with a GoPro Hero 2 on 1080p Medium setting, and there was all kindsa shutter roll (jello) so I used a bit of post-production in FCPX to fix that a bit, but it’s not great at that so I have some balancing to do with the copter, once that’s done the shakiness should go away.

My quad uses a gimbal for the gopro by sexycopter, and is controlled by an openpilot copter control. This was my first flight with the gimbal as well and it also could use some tuning.

Looking forward to the GoPro firmware release next month where I can shoot 720p @ 60fps on the Medium field of view setting.

My FPV gear was purchased mostly from bevrc.com, but a little was from readymaderc.com and ebay.

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