Recent Articles

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.

Mercalli Stabilization Settings Comparison

March 26, 20120 Comments

Playing with the different settings on the mercalli stabilization plugin, the results are in.. judge for yourself which you think is best.  keep in mind the original flight was pretty shakey!

Almost there

November 9, 20110 Comments

With my sister’s wedding all finished I have suddenly found some time on my hands. Thankfully my Hexacopter is high enough on my priority list that I gave it some time the other day. Here are some pictures for this little update.

I was actually able to get a lot done. All that is left is mounting the props and RX, and configuring the CopterControl. Hopefully I will be flying by this weekend.

Tiny Update

October 26, 20112 Comments

As you know, all of my copter stuff (As well as Joe’s stuff) was locked in a trailer up near Mammoth Lakes for about a month and last week we finally got everything back.

Last night I got to working on the New Hex and here are a few pics of what I got done

Christmas came early this year…

August 22, 20110 Comments

Welp, I decided to take the plunge and buy some really nice motors for Hexacopter build. And before you get excited and expect some maiden flight video, I’ll just be clear and say that this will be a SLOW work in progress. The reason why is because I want to buy some really nice equipment for this build and unfortunately, “nice equipment” = more money! So… I’m going to be patient with this build – just taking it one step at a time, but I will let you know that this Hexacopter will be a beast! It’s purpose will be for lifting my Canon 7D for aerial videos and pictures (of course) so I’ts going to need some substantial components if I am going to feel safe strapping some $2k to $3k worth of video equipment to it.

 

So here are a few images of the new motors:

 

 

Stable Flight Success :-)

June 21, 20110 Comments

Welp, the time has finally come. I am able to fly with (some) stability.

I still plan on chopping those spider legs off and going with a carbon fiber landing structure, but that one will be inboard and have a much smaller landing platform – so I need to get better at flying first. Going with a different landing structure will not only save a TON of weight and give me longer flight times, but it will also be more stable and agile. With all that weight so far on the ends of the arms, the motors have to work even harder to make pitch/roll/yaw changes.

Here is a video I shot last night after I got all my prop savers on and motors balanced.

Testing out a new Gimbal

June 11, 20110 Comments

Picked up a new gimbal and got it to work on my Paris 3.0 multiwii board.

FPV Base Station build

May 29, 20111 Comment

I have finally gotten around to posting a basic documentation of my first FPV base station build.

closed-case open-case
It all started with a spare hard shell case that I had laying around which was actually my first quadcopter travel case. After staring at it for at least a week I determined that I would be able to fit all the necessary base station components inside of it and still close the lid. A quick stop at the hardware store secured a couple of panels of cabinet quality 1/4″ birch plywood, some hinges and magnetic cabinet door catches, as well as other assorted hardware.

fascia-back
Here is the fascia panel (back) with the monitor and panel meter openings, and other various mounting holes drilled. I used a forstner bit in a bench top drill press to make the large round holes. Dry fitting consisted of many rounds of assembly and dis-assembly. Once everything seemed to work well in place, I disassembled everything for the last time and sealed the birch wood with clear varnish.

fascia-back-with-monitor
The monitor in the fascia panel is a 7-inch, 16:9 wide-screen color LCD display, displaying 720p. It also has stereo speakers which play the audio from the microphone on-board the quadcopter. The LCD TV is held in place with a very simple aluminum strap pressing against a round rubber pad on the back of the monitor and is powered by its own 5300mAh LiPo battery pack.

panel-meters fascia-back-with-monitor-and-panel-meters
Two panel meters are installed to monitor the operating voltage of the entire base station. The round switch in the center is used to switch the 9-volt battery supply on/off, independently powering both LED panel meter displays. Each panel meter has an individual lead coming from a 5000 mAh LiPo pack.

post-sleeve-1 antenna-posts
I cut short sections of aluminum tube and secured them into the back corners of the bottom of the case. These are the sleeves which securely prop up the 21-inch tall “towers” holding high-gain 8dBi antenna panels. Each antenna “tower” is actually a lightweight telescoping handle from a bathroom shower cleaning tool with the cleaning pad removed. Once installed, the antennas can be easily be turned or “tuned” for the best reception.

base-out base-in
The bottom of the case was designed to contain the video signal diversity box, LiPo battery packs, and power supply hub, as well as the twin high-gain antenna panels when stowed. I built the base partition assembly out of birch and oak which fits into the bottom of the case. Careful planning ensured that all components fit neatly and do not infringe on each other once the station is packed up and closed for transport.

receivers receivers-mounted
The dual high-sensitvity audio/video receivers operate on the 900Mhz frequency ensuring perfect compatibility with my 2.4Ghz Futaba FASST radio control system. Each is mounted on either side of the 7″ LCD TV on the fascia panel.

diversity-front diversity-back
The Oracle video diversity controller automatically switches to the best signal picked up by the two audio/video receivers. It has 2 sets of audio/video “in” ports as well as 2 sets of audio/video “out” ports connecting both the LCD TV monitor in the case fascia panel and the FatShark video goggles.

powerbox-front powerbox-back
All base station power, with the exception of the LCD TV, is routed through a PowerBox hub which simplifies cable mess and provides clean, redundant, distributed power. It has a video buffer ensuring that each of the connected devices receives a clean signal. Each of the DC power jacks contains a heavy-duty LC filter for clean, glitch-free power to each connected A/V device. The PowerBox hub accepts power supplied from 2 separate LiPo battery packs and even has an audible low-voltage alarm.

diversity-and-powerbox-in
Heavy duty Velcro pads hold the PowerBox hub and Oracle diversity controller in place.

hinge-front wires-and-zipties
Simple galvanized hinges allow the fascia panel to partially swing open allowing access to the hidden wiring behind. Wiring is kept tidy with zipties and self-adhesive ziptie mounting pads.

magnet magnet-plate
Magnetic catches installed in the case lid hold the fascia panel in place using metal plates attached to the back of it.

mock-up packed-up fully-packed-up
Here is the base station in an early operational mock-up state, then halfway packed up, and fully closed with the lid latched. The laptop is used to capture the live video feed to a hard drive for post-flight reference and sharing. So far the system has worked well and as an added bonus the case easily fits into airline overhead luggage compartments for convenient “cross country” transport.

 

FPV video capture success!

May 25, 20110 Comments

It might look like a spaghetti explosion but the mess of cables in front of me has somehow resulted in a successful video capture test of my new FPV system (more on that later). I’m using an $8 Amazon.com find called “EasyCap” and plugged it into my Mac laptop to record the video AND audio signals coming from the on-board camera and microphone on my Gaui 330Xs quadcopter. Without further delay I proudly present to you the following “in-kitchen” aerial video… stay tuned for daytime flights OUTSIDE :-)

(please excuse the quality – the video uploader limits file size to 7mb or less)

FPV video capture test

And now for some Progress

May 6, 20111 Comment

Yello Hall!

So, I know its been forever since my last post and I am sorry. BUT, that means there is a lot to update!! You’ll see lots of pictures from what I have been working on and later I’ll have some video up too.

So! Lately it has been very difficult to find time to work on the Y6, but finally, once we finished our front lawn I found the time. It took about three nights of staying up till about 1am but I was determined to get a lot done. As of right now all that is left to do is:

  • connect motors
  • load software
  • set up radio

…and that’s it. I am waiting on a shipment from HK and once that arrives I figure it would be about a day or two until I am in the air!!!! Well, assuming I haven’t royally screwed something up. Ok, enough talking, here’s what I have been doing…

Most of the pictures are self explanatory… so I’ll just let you have at it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

oh yeah, i’ll be flying with you boys soon!

 

Vork’s First Quad Experience

April 18, 20110 Comments

And it wasn’t a great one.  The Turbo Ace did more flipping than flying back then.

There’s been a UFO sighting in the neighborhood!!!

April 4, 20113 Comments

After hacking apart a cheap Disney light-up toy, I used the remaining battery, wires, and LED lights to create a light-weight and attention getting lighting system for my Gaui 330XS QuadCopter. I inserted the LED bulbs into white ping pong balls and cut slits in them to attach under the arms of the quad. By pinching each ping pong ball, the slit opens and releasing the ball clamps it tightly to the frame – pretty simple. This way I can easily remove it for daytime flights. I estimate the entire lighting system with the ping pong balls weighs in around 18-20 grams. The original Disney light-up toy had 6 different settings, for various colors and flash patterns, controlled by sequentially pushing a single button.

More detailed pictures to follow, but in the meantime enjoy this YouTube clip I posted of my “UFO” quadcopter during a recent night flight:

The Other Prop Savers

March 27, 20112 Comments

I’m doing a rebuild on my quad, enough to where I wanted to add some protection for my props as I re-tune after the the new configuration takes flight.  If you’re not 100% confident in your flying ability just yet, or you’re just sick of buying props ever time you get a little aggressive with your stunt flying, consider this method.  I used a training landing gear set from an old copter, but you can get them for around $5 online for a set.  I just tie-wrapped one on each arm and made sure it stuck out a bit passed the end of the prop.  I had a couple of white ping pong balls laying around that I drilled a hole through and that was it.

Protected Prop!

White for fronts and Orange for tail

Cut and Drill

March 15, 20110 Comments

It was a successful time in the garage last night. Again, it might not seem like tons of progress, but for a guy who is very particular with his projects this work is right on schedule. I was able to cut out the upper and lower frames, square everything up, layout the frame plates/components/boom arms and finally drill my starting holes for when I begin to mount the booms to the frame. I took a lot of pictures, so enjoy!

I began with clamping the carbon fiber plate to the workbench and I cut almost every line free hand with a Dremel. I started using a blade that had teeth on it – like the kind you would use to cut wood – and that didn’t work out too well. When I started using the carbon-like disk it was much more like a hot knife through butter! It made all the difference in the world – less heat, faster cuts, and slower speeds.

framebuild1

And here is the bottom frame. All cut out and ready to fly!!! Well, almost.

Next was the top frame. And since this carbon fiber plate is strong only in one direction I mad sure to cross the lower plate’s linear strength with the upper plate’s linear strength.

Once I had both the upper and lower plates cut out I wanted to stack them and line them up as close as possible and then grind down each edge where it didn’t line up perfectly.

Before

After

Here they are, all finished.

A glimpse of how it will look

Yes that is BBC’s Top Gear playing in the background.

Wtih some fake components

I then stacked the two plates together again and got it ready to drill the holes for mounting the booms. I measured 1cm in from each end point and drilled a hole.

Next I spend a lot of time drilling the holes on the booms. Since I do not have a drill press I had to measure 5cm from the end of each boom, mark it, then find the center of the width of each boom.

I then used a drill punch to make sure I was starting in the right spot when I drilled and so the drill bit didn’t move on me when it started to spin. I did this on each side of each boom because I didn’t want to simply drill straight through the boom to the other side. Had I not been level with my drilling then the hole on the other side of the boom would not have been centered.

And that is all I had time for last night. I ordered some screws for securing the booms to the frames. And I still can’t wait until all the electronics start showing up on my front door. I only wish I had some tracking numbers for them. It’s too much agony just waiting without knowing!

Thanks for reading. And as always your questions and comments are much appreciated.

FlyLites installed

March 14, 20113 Comments

I recently installed luminescent wire lighting on my Gaui 330X-S and I’m very pleased with the results! The colors are bright and easy to see even at higher altitudes. I threaded the FlyLites wire through semi-transparent flexible plastic tubing to help protect it and shape it into arcs. The wires came with controllers that allow you to change the lighting state from flashing to steady (I prefer steady). The kit cost less than $17 and is super lightweight. One controller can power 2 wires (even of different colors) and gets its “juice” directly from the radio receiver, provided you have an empty servo port. FlyLites are made by ElectriFly.

It’s a start…

March 14, 20112 Comments

I got to workin on my Y6 last night and I certainly took my time making sure every measurement was exactly right. I want to eliminate any extra bit of computing that the Controller has to compensate for. Below is my 12″ x 12″ x 0.1″ plate of carbon fiber. I got it from a place here in the states and it’s incredibly strong, but only in one direction. So my bottom layer will have the strength set from front to back and the top layer will have the strength set from side to side.

CarbonFiber_1

Gotta love cardboard. I decided to lay everything out (to scale) with cardboard. Once I had the boom arms where I thought they should be I then measured the distance between the ends of each arm and made sure they were exactly the same – this way I knew I had a perfectly equilateral triangle (my 8th grade Geometry teacher would be so proud).

Y6Design_1

Y6Design_2

Once I had everything in place and measured out I then outlined the dimensions and got it ready to cut out.

Y6Design_3

Y6Design

Once I finally cut it out (this morning) I taped it to the carbon fiber plate and masked off the area around it because I wanted to “trace” the outline of the cardboard onto the carbon fiber by the use of spray paint.

CarbonFiber_2

CarbonFiber_3

CarbonFiber_4

And there you have it. One perfectly outlined bottom layer of a tricopter. Since this picture I also traced the top layer of the Y6 to the carbon fiber.

CarbonFiber_5

I know it doesn’t seem like much, but I really wanted to make sure everything was perfectly straight and even. I don’t want to mess up on a plate that cost me about $35. I am hoping (if I have time) to have this cut out by either tomorrow or Monday night.

More to come!!! Thanks for reading.

I’ll give it a Tri…

March 14, 20110 Comments

I’ll see your Quad and raise you a Tri.

So… as my brother posted eariler he is building a quad-copter. And since I wanted to join in on the fun while not being a copy-cat I decided to design and build a Y6 tri-copter. It has the same similar concept to the quad-copter, but with only three arms. At the end of each arm there are two motors which totals to 6 motors. Now that the intro is out of the way, here we go.

After reworking my budget and finding out just how much I have to spend on this thing I have been able to start buying some stuff for the Y6. And before anything has arrived I’ve begun designing the center plates.

ControllerLayer_1

the bottom plate will be much larger than the top because the battery will mount underneath it.

Only 3 esc’s are showing because the other three will mount underneath the top plate and it will all sandwich together.

ControllerLayer_1

The top plate will be much smaller because all it needs to do is give a surface for the flight controller to be mounted and also to hold down the boom arms (dashed lines).

So far I have bought the ESCs – 50AMotors – 2830-14Batteries – 4000mAh 11.1v 30C, and a carbon fiber plate – 12″ x 12″ x .1″

ESCs – When it comes to cooling I am hoping that because I got “over-sized” ESCs (50A instead of 30A) they will not be working as hard, ergo not as much heat? I am also going to have holes cut out beneath each ESC where air will be able to circulate through. And I might put an elbow fitting at the end of each boom (under the prop) so it will catch the rotor wash and channel it through each boom all the way to where the ESCs are – essentially blowing air onto the ESCs (I hope that made sense).

Flight Controller – I found a really cool DIY board kit that you actually solder all the parts together yourself. You save a lot on cost. And this controller uses parts from three $15 gyros. It’s certainly a cool project to tackle. I still don’t know, however, if I will go that route.

Can’t wait until it all gets here. The carbon fiber plate should get here Today!

It should end up weighing about 1100g, or 2.4lbs, and be able to lift about 2100g, or 4.6lbs. The goal is to carry an HDSLR

Give me your comments and let me know what I have not thought of, or what might be better in terms of design.

Thanks!

Up, Up in the Air in my Rudimentary Looking Quadcopter

February 21, 20111 Comment

The air up there in the clouds is very pure and fine, bracing and delicious.  And why shouldn’t it be? – it is the same the angels breathe.  ~Mark Twain

Okay that may be a bit heavy, but I gotta say… it was quite a thrill to push forward on that throttle stick and have the quad lift off for the first time. Don’t confuse that with the quad being successful on its first attempt. But it was close. A couple of settings tweaks later and it was flying pretty well, even with my lack of experience at the controls. We got some late afternoon flying in and Monique, Brenna, Vork and Michael were there for moral support, successful flight ro not. Actually Vork might have been there to mock me if it didn’t work. Not sure.

So no pictures today, as the whole build was really completed yesterday. But what I do have for you today is a incredibly quickly thrown together video of some of the highlights. **Spoiler Alert** there’s a big crash at the end!

The crash was from about 35-ish feet and it snapped off two of the “landing gear” which were temporarily attached with servo tape and a couple of tie-wraps. OR you can say that they were engineered to break away in the case of a rough landing. Yeah, let’s say that. At any rate, damage was cosmetic and had we heeded the incessant beeping of the “low battery warning alarm” (whatever) that had been going off for around 30 seconds, then we probably could have avoided this. I was just getting started though! Somehow batteries seemed optional when I was lost in flight. Wrong.

The quad has been dubbed the “VorkMike Mark 1″ after the three guys that donated most, in money, time, and interest. Also, much thanks to Monique for putting up with me taking on a new hobby somewhat out of the blue and putting in some nights of work in the garage. I’m leaving for Florida tomorrow morning and I’ll be back Sunday, so no flying my quad until I get back, I guess. Glad we got it off the ground today!

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