natester's blog View Details
Posted by natester | May 24, 2016 @ 09:29 PM | 1,339 Views
Thanks to everyone who came to visit at Maker Faire Bay Area 2016 where we were showing folks how to build their own mini quad!

If you didn't have a chance to check out the booth at Maker Faire, all the basic info needed to choose parts, order and build your own mini quad is over at Your input and feedback is much appreciated!

Another great resource are the build guides for specific drones on my blog.

Be sure to scroll down to the bottom of and join the community based organization to fly under our guidelines.

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Posted by natester | May 10, 2016 @ 08:44 AM | 954 Views
I just built the new Rctimer BeeRotor ultra 210 and it is awesome! Not only is it easy to build, but with the latest BetaFlight, it also flies amazingly well.

Checkout the full build guide, setup and review here:

Here is some video from the maiden flight:

Dusk (0 min 59 sec)

You can download my BetaFlight configuration and PIDs here:

Here are some photos from the build:

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Posted by natester | Apr 07, 2016 @ 09:57 AM | 1,579 Views
I flight tested a few Hobbyking Graphene and Bolt High Voltage LiPos and compared them some other brands.

You can read about my methodology and the full analysis of my results on my blog:

Here are the results:
Posted by natester | Apr 02, 2016 @ 02:33 PM | 1,412 Views
I've setup my 9x for in-flight-adjustments, allowing me to tune my PIDs while flying. Checkout the guide here:

The idea is that the nob controls which component to tune, P, I or D. Gear controls the direction (up or down) and the momentary switch TRN makes a 1 step adjustment when switched on.

This is a little tricky as I use the only 3 position switch for flight modes, but with some magic mixing, it all works out.

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Posted by natester | Mar 31, 2016 @ 10:46 AM | 1,077 Views
If you live in the SF Bay Area, come to Make Faire on May 20-22 and build a drone with me!

I'll be hosting an exhibit called Drone Building 101 where I'll be helping folks build their own FPV mini-quad. We'll be building stuff like this little 160mm FPV racing drone: BeeRotor160 Build.

Fill out this google form so I know you're coming:

Here are some ways you can join in on the fun:

If you're into drone building and would like to help others with their builds, fill out the above form and I'll add you to the schedule!

If you have a mini-quad you're working on building, bring it and we'll help you get it setup and flying! Wondering what else you need to bring or what day to come? Fill out the form and I'll coordinate!

If you're new to the scene, order all the parts for a mini-quad, bring it to Maker Faire and we'll help you build it! Wondering what parts to order? Fill out the form and I'll help you out!

If you're a supplier, I'm looking for sponsors to help other Maker's make drones. Let me know, fill out the form!

You can see the profile page for my exhibit on the Maker Faire website here:
Posted by natester | Mar 29, 2016 @ 10:00 AM | 1,414 Views
So, you want a flying camera to take videos of you and your awesome friends doing amazing things. You've thought about getting one of those pre-built drones by DJI or 3D Robotics, but those are expensive little drones that only carry weak little cameras.

Building a giant rig to carry your full frame DSLR isn't ideal either, because it will need to be huge and therefore less portable.

So what should we do? Build something to carry our NEX-5T micro 4/3rds camera! This camera weighs 397g with the standard lens and the video can be viewed and the camera controlled over Wi-Fi, ideal for when we're in the air.

Checkout my build guide and review here:

In the process of building the Q600 quadcopter to carry my NEX-5T, I also wrote guides for the various subsystems:

ASP Gimbal:

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Posted by natester | Feb 03, 2016 @ 11:57 PM | 3,045 Views
Rctimer just released the new BeerotorF3 (BRF3) all-in-one (AIO) flight controller.

Check out the full review and guide here:

You probably know why having an OSD that displays current consumption is so important, but I'll reiterate it anyway. A current sensor measures the exact amount of battery that has been used and the OSD displays this information as text overlaid on your video feed along with all the other available sensor data like RSSI, Voltage, mA currently in use, total mAh consumed, flight mode, an artificial horizon and GPS coordinates. This way you know exactly when you're going to run out of battery.

The BRF3 adds a barometer which will give you altitude information as you fly.

Before the BRF3, to get all my stats to display on an OSD, I had to build something like this, with a mess of different wires and 4 discrete components:

With the BeerotorF3, the current sensor, dataflash logger, PDB and OSD look like this:

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Posted by natester | Dec 11, 2015 @ 02:33 AM | 2,242 Views
The BeeRotor 160 from Rctimer is an awesome micro-quad frame that, when paired with the OZE32, can carry a Naze32, MinimOSD, current sensor, and still protect up to a 1500mah battery inside the frame!

Checkout the review and build guide for everything you need to know to build your own:

Skip to the build section if you've already read the review:

This is the only frame in the 150mm class that I've seen with HD vibration damping camera mounts.

Without a battery, it weighs in at 158g. With a 900mah 3s it hovers at 1/3 throttle.

With a 900mah 3s battery and a Xiaomi Yi camera, it weighs in at 295g and hovers at 1/2 throttle.

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Posted by natester | Nov 13, 2015 @ 08:37 PM | 2,486 Views
The OZE32 from RCTimer is a Naze32 with an integrated current sensor and MinimOSD.

This is a great way to get an OSD into a micro quad.

Checkout the review and setup guide here:

If you already have your hardware setup, skip to the firmware setup section and flash the Naze32 and MinimOSD:

Feel free to email, PM or leave a comment with suggestions or corrections.
Posted by natester | Jul 07, 2015 @ 10:52 PM | 2,614 Views
Not too long ago, I built my first FPV250 quadcopter.

Before building, I went through the great component list by Oscar Liang, tabularized it and added some data to pick the components with the biggest bang for the buck.

Here's the Google sheet with all the parts:

And here I summarize why I picked the components I did, plus show the build log:

After building it I'm super happy, the only thing I would change is that I would have bought a full Naze32 clone (Flip32) instead of the CC3D flight controller. The CC3D is great for acro mode, but having altitude hold and the opportunity to add GPS would be nice and for $10 more, totally worth it.

Suggestions / corrections and improvements are welcome.

Hope this is useful to someone.

Posted by natester | Jun 02, 2015 @ 11:29 PM | 3,671 Views
Read the full article, with photos, to learn how to DIY yourself some ultraHD goggles for less than $25:

FliteTest was recently in the Bay Area and had a siiiick meetup. I’d never been to a flying event before – it was awesome. Met lots of cool folks who taught me how to fly safely with other people, thanks Nathan2 from Oakland!

While I was signing up for a 5.8ghz video channel, lots of folks were asking about my googles. Here they are in action. That’s my daughter spotting for me. Good job, Abigail!

Inspired by FliteTest, these are my DIY 3D “Go FPV” goggles. They have much higher resolution, depending on your phone, than Fatsharks and are waaaay cheaper as well. What is the resolution of these goggles you ask? Using my Nexus 5, which runs at 445 PPI 1080p IPS, that’s 1920x1080 pixels. The screen is split between both eyes, so each eye gets 960x1080. Plus, if you have 2 cameras, they’re capable of realtime 3D video. Awesome!

The physical goggles are just Google Cardboard with a Boscam RC805 Video Receiver (I use this Boscam TS351 transmitter) velcroed on and hooked up to an analog to digital converter (ADC) that speaks the UVC protocol. You’ll need a USB OTG cable to hook up the ADC to your phone. This cable and the other cables big and bulky, so I soldered on my own shorter, lighter cables, including a custom made OTG cable. I also soldered in a JST connector, so I...Continue Reading
Posted by natester | Apr 21, 2015 @ 10:15 PM | 3,977 Views
I've just finished flashing BlHeli on some HobbyKing F20 ESCs with an Arduino Nano. I had to pull together how to do this from a bunch of different places, so I've compiled all the steps.

Let me know if anything needs clarification or I missed anything.

The formatted version with images is here:

Step 1. Gather Tools


Here is the $3.60 Chinese Arduino Nano Clone I used:
chinese Arduino Nano Clone

If you use this specific Nano clone, it uses a ch340g usb chip, the driver for which is here:


Since we’ll be using BlHeli’s Windows app to flash the ESCs, You’ll need a VM. I have a mac, skip this if you already have Windows. I used Vmware Fusion this free Windows XP VM, straight from Microsoft:
curl -O -L " me=VMBuild_20141027/VMware/IE6/Mac/{.001,.002}"

BlHeli Suite

Download the BlHeli Suite from the sketchy-ist looking post ever: Here is the direct download from that page Media Fire Link Best I can tell, this is the right place to get it from. If anyone knows where the source code for the BlHeliSuite is, let me know. I’d much prefer to compile this myself. Alternatively, I have a copy of the version I used in this guide DropBox Link.

For your...Continue Reading
Posted by natester | Apr 13, 2015 @ 12:26 AM | 3,762 Views
When trying to decide what size batteries to get for my new mini-quad, I did some pricing analysis, starting with Since ordering from hobbyking is always a bit of a gamble, I hope to add a few more suppliers soon and get a relative view of pricing across the landscape. I am curious about the actual pack composition. If anyone knows what manufacturers (aka, factories) make these, shoot me an email. I’d love to talk to them directly and find out if there is any real difference between brands and suppliers.

To use this report, pick the number of cells S from the selector on the right, Weight and any other properties on which you want to filter.

Note that the Discharge filter allows you to pick a pack that has an adequate C rating, regardless of the mah rating. Simply drag the bottom slider up to the maximum amp draw of your aircraft. E.g. my miniquad will draw at most 11.5amps/motor on a 4S so I would set the minimum Discharge filter to 11.5 x 4 = 46

Here is the data: