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RoryG's blog
Posted by RoryG | Mar 02, 2015 @ 09:19 AM | 1,612 Views
I've been wanting a Y6 for a while as it's considered a good format for flying in windy conditions. I had thought about converting my 900mm Vulcan Mantis to Y6 layout but it's setup and flying well so decided to keep it a flat 6 and source a coaxial frame - enter the Sky Hero Spy.

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The Sky Hero Spy complete and ready to fly

Sky Hero is a Belgian company that produces a range of multirotors including the Little Spyder, a 450 quad; the Spyder (up to 1000mm) and Spyder 6 (1000mm) that can support a range of configurations from quad to X8; and the Y6 Spy available in three sizes from 600mm to 1000mm.

I went for the middle sized 750mm frame which is perfect for lifting a GoPro and more. I wanted 4S as that's what I use on the Vulcan and have plenty large 4S LiPos. She's fitted with T-Motor MT2814-11 710Kv motors, T-Motor 40A Pro ESCs, Naza M V2 with GPS, H3-3D gimbal, Futaba R6303SM Rx, 200mW Boscam VTx with skew planar antenna and a range of props including the T-Motor 13x4.4 carbon (shown fitted in these pictures), T-Motor 13x5 beechwood and Graupner E series 12x6 for high winds.

All up weight with a single 4S 8Ah battery is 3.3kg and just over 3.5kg with 2 x 5Ah batteries. eCalc indicates around 12 minutes with the 10Ah setup; I've found it to be quite conservative with flight times so I'm expecting around 14 minutes in calm conditions and flying gently.

I'm very impressed with the build quality of the Spy, solid components and all pre drilled holes match up....Continue Reading
Posted by RoryG | Feb 27, 2015 @ 06:50 AM | 1,736 Views
Here's a short film shot on Wednesday on a rare sunny winters day! Filmed in Shetland's West Mainland - known locally as "Da Wastside" - there's some stunning coastal scenery and views of our beautiful islands. The colours are amazing this time of year!

Filmed using GoPro Hero3 and 4 Black cameras in 2.7K/30 on a Vulcan Mantis 900 hex and Phantom 2 with H3-3D gimbals. Conditions were quite breezy at 15mph with gusts.

Westside (5 min 32 sec)

In this short film we take a winter flight through some of Shetland's scenic West Mainland. Commencing with some spectacular views from Silwick we'll fly the along the road to Olas Voe with its colourful peat bogs. Next is Westerwick, a tiny hamlet with sheltered bay and dramatic rock stacks before completing our flight at Hulma Water next to the main A971 Lerwick to Walls road.

Shot with GoPro Hero3 and Hero4 Black cameras at 2.7K on a DJI Phantom 2 quadcopter and Vulcan 900 hex. Rendered in 21:9 HD ultra widescreen.
The Shetland Flyer on Vimeo

The Shetland Flyer on Facebook
Posted by RoryG | Feb 04, 2015 @ 06:51 AM | 2,976 Views
A short film by The Shetland Flyer

Filmed between July 2014 and February 2015 at Cunningham Way, west of Lerwick. This film shows the town and surrounding area through the seasons, from the warmth and green of summer to the cold of winter's snow.

Shot with GoPro Hero3 and Hero4 Black cameras in Protune 2.7K with H3-3D gimbals on a DJI Phantom 2 quadcopter and Vulcan 900 hex. Rendered in 21:9 HD ultra widescreen. Music is "Veloma" by Fabrizio Paterlini.

Seasons (2 min 56 sec)

The Shetland Flyer on Vimeo

The Shetland Flyer on Facebook
Posted by RoryG | Dec 28, 2014 @ 02:58 PM | 1,516 Views
With the build complete, half a day of prop balancing and - at last - cooperative weather, the Vulcan finally took to the sky! The first flight was without the gimbal/camera and she flew for 12 minutes in freezing conditions with 37% remaining in the two 5000mAh 4S LiPos. The second flight lasted just over 10 minutes with the gimbal/camera and still 35% left in the cells.

I'm delighted with the stability and handling of this big hex, and flight times look to be a lot better than predicted by eCalc. The frame is rock solid with hardly any vibration, the time spent balancing the props really paid off.

Vulcan Mantis 900 Hexa Maiden Flight (3 min 5 sec)

See my last blog post for full specs on the airframe.
Posted by RoryG | Dec 05, 2014 @ 03:42 PM | 2,927 Views
My Phantom 2 is a great little video platform with the Zenmuse H3-3D and the Hero3 Black. It's highly portable and lightweight, but the downside of this is it doesn't handle the wind very well.

Enter the Vulcan Mantis! I got a fantastic deal on a nearly new airframe complete with two Z arms and landing gear, 6 x Tiger motors MT2814/10 and 6 x 40A Simon K flashed MayTech Harrier Supreme Opto ESCs.

It arrived on Monday and I've been building it through the week. FC is a Naza M V2 with GPS, Futaba FASST S-Bus Rx, H3-3D gimbal on a custom quick-release plate, iOSD mini and 2.4GHz datalink. Video downlink is a Boscam 200mW VTx. Nearly done, just need to install the VTx and voltage regulator and tidy up the wiring and she'll be ready to fly!...Continue Reading
Posted by RoryG | Nov 27, 2014 @ 08:37 AM | 2,577 Views
Another video in the Shetland Aerial Video Project. Shot back in September, this flight takes in some stunning scenery on the Eswick Peninsular in South Nesting, Shetland.

South Nesting, Shetland (4 min 38 sec)

Nesting is situated on the east side of the Shetland Mainland, a few miles north of Lerwick. Lingness is a small headland near Eswick, a peninsular that forms the southernmost boundary of South Nesting Bay. This beautiful area is a hidden gem on the isles with fertile land and sheltered bays, and two of the nicest headlands in Shetland. It's a haven for wildlife, with otters regularly spotted fishing and playing in the calm waters.

Shot in Protune with a GoPro Hero 3 Black at 1080/25 and Zenmuse H3-3D gimbal on my DJI Phantom 2 quadcopter. Rendered in 21:9 HD ultra widescreen. Music is "Fragmentos de Emociones" by Norman and Real © 2007.
The Shetland Flyer on Vimeo

The Shetland Flyer on Facebook
Posted by RoryG | Sep 20, 2014 @ 02:42 AM | 2,444 Views
Shetland lies over 100 miles from the northern coast of mainland Scotland. It's an archipelago of over 300 islands and skerries (16 inhabited) stretching 97 miles from Fair Isle in the south to Unst in the north, with most of the islands at a latitude above 60º north. The largest island - Mainland - is 55 miles from north to south, 20 miles at its widest and only 75 yards at its narrowest!

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The Shetland Aerial Video Project is an ambitious project to document the archipelago from the air using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). The project started in August 2014 and will take over two years to complete. A showreel of each area filmed will appear on my Vimeo channel, and the final footage will be assembled into a one hour documentary style feature.

Because of our position in the North Atlantic the weather can be variable to say the least! Wind and low cloud are regular conditions even in the summer months, and with only five hours of daylight and frequent gales in mid winter, flying can be challenging.

Filming is currently done from a Phantom 2 with H3-3D and GoPro Hero 3 Black, with a Vulcan Mantis Hexa 900 under construction.

A Vimeo album for the project can be found here:


Some stills from videos shot so far:
Posted by RoryG | Sep 19, 2014 @ 09:22 AM | 2,332 Views
The latest video in my Shetland Aerial Video Project.

Voe & Mavis Grind, Shetland (4 min 21 sec)

The village of Voe lies 30km north of Lerwick and nestles at the head of Olnafirth, almost 10km from the open sea. Its traditional buildings and location give it a very Scandinavian look. The old Voe pier was a busy herring station back in the 1800s, and the village now boasts a new pier and small marina, as well as one of Shetland's network of traditional camping böds. Set back from the road and surrounded by trees is Voe House, a category B listed building built in the 1700s for the estate tenants. On the north east side of Olnafirth sits the Voe Kirk, unusual in that it's panted pure white. It was built to replace Olnafirth Kirk which dates from the early 18th century and its ruins can still be seen close by. Many newer houses have been built on this side of the firth, providing easy access to Brae to the north, the Sullom Voe Terminal to the north east, and Lerwick to the south.

From here we head to Mavis Grind, the narrowest part of Mainland Shetland (only 75m) and the gateway to Northmavine. On the west side of the road is the Atlantic, and to the east the head of Sullom Voe which will lead you to the North Sea. Boats were once hauled across Mavis Grind to save having to sail or row around the north coast of the Mainland, and it's said to be the only place in Britain where you can throw a stone from the Atlantic into the
...Continue Reading
Posted by RoryG | Aug 26, 2014 @ 04:22 PM | 2,259 Views
Advanced Navigation Techniques (PDF Download)

For Naza-M V2 multirotors fitted with a video downlink and iOSD (II or mini), such as the Phantom 2 (not Vision or Vision +). It should also apply to aircraft with a WK-M controller equipped with an iOSD, although I haven't flown the flight exercises with one.

I'm planning a web version of this tutorial here on my blog but it will be a while before I reformat the images and tables. In the meantime enjoy the PDF version which you can print out or read on your computer or tablet.

Multirotor craft fitted with GPS enabled Naza-M controllers are capable of very accurate flight, such as holding hovers with sub-metre accuracy and flying flight paths that compensate for drift with data from the built in GPS and compass. DJI has added some great features such as Intelligent Orientation Control (IOC) providing home lock (HL) which allows you to return to the home point by pulling back on the elevator control, and course lock (CL) which will fly the aircraft on a preset direction regardless of the aircraft’s orientation. The home point is an arbitrary location either set by the aircraft at startup (providing enough GPS satellites are available) or by the pilot using a toggle sequence on the IOC switch. For Phantom 2 users IOC features are only available in Naza mode, selectable in the Software Assistant.

Flying your aircraft on arbitrary headings or to a point in the air roughly above a place of interest is...Continue Reading
Posted by RoryG | Aug 11, 2014 @ 07:31 AM | 2,440 Views
Here's a short video I made yesterday, another beautiful day in Shetland!

Cunningham Way (2 min 49 sec)

Another beautiful day in Shetland! Cunningham Way is a track that runs between the Sandy Loch reservoir and the south and north Staney Hill to the west of Lerwick. The Sandy Loch reservoir provides the water supply for much of the Shetland mainland and some of the islands. The launch point is about 260' above sea level, and reaching a height of 530' above this the panoramic views of Lerwick from 790' are stunning. Conditions were quite windy with gusts to 20mph at ground level, with stronger winds at 790 feet!

Shot with a GoPro Hero 3 Black at 1080/25 and Zenmuse H3-3D gimbal on my DJI Phantom 2 quadcopter. Rendered in 1920x900 HD ultra widescreen. Music is "Bubbelicious" by VYVCH, released under a Creative Commons license.
More R/C aerial videos on my Shetland Flyer Vimeo Channel
Posted by RoryG | Aug 08, 2014 @ 12:20 PM | 2,273 Views
I've put together a showreel of various locations I've filmed around Shetland and Lerwick since getting my Phantom 2 at the end of June. FPV kit is a TS351 with a skew planar on the P2, and a matched skew planar and five turn helical fitted to a Black Pearl diversity on the ground. It's a fantastic portable system that all fits in a carry on sized backpack that I can take anywhere. I have a T8FG Super on the way to replace the stock Tx which will give me super smooth yaw and tilt control

August 2014 Showreel (4 min 41 sec)

More R/C aerial videos on my Shetland Flyer Vimeo Channel
Posted by RoryG | Aug 02, 2014 @ 03:51 PM | 2,594 Views
My home town from the air on a beautiful summer morning. Filmed with a Phantom 2, Zenmuse H3-3D gimbal and GoPro Hero 3 Black. Shot from various locations around town, including the iron age broch at Clickimin.

Lerwick From The Air (4 min 59 sec)

More R/C aerial videos on my Shetland Flyer Vimeo Channel
Posted by RoryG | Jul 31, 2014 @ 02:57 PM | 2,985 Views
I've been flying my DJI Phantom 2 for just over a month now and can honestly say what a great little quadcopter it is! She's fitted with the Zenmuse H3-3D sporting a GoPro Hero 3 Black and I've managed to amass a huge amount of video footage as well as having a great time flying her. So much so my other aircraft have mostly remained in the hangar, although I've had my gliders out a few times along with the Phantom.

The Phantom 2 in flight

Phantom 2 with Video Downlink (2 min 10 sec)

A short video showing the setup and ground monitor view

The FPV setup feeds the GoPro video through a Boscam TS351 200mW VTx fitted with a RHCP skew planar antenna, with OSD data provided by the DJI iOSD mini. On the ground I have a FlySight Black Pearl 7" diversity monitor fitted with a matched skew planar on channel one and a five turn helical on channel two. This setup provides a perfect FPV display out to 600m (the furthest I've gone so far) with no glitches or interference. In practice as long as the helical is pointing roughly towards the Phantom then the monitor will use channel 2, only when directly overhead does it switch to the skew planar.

The monitor is fitted to the R/c Tx using the excellent Rave Creative mount. I had one of the cheap carbon mounts to start with but the balance was terrible. It's easy to hand hold now but I normally rest it on my legs sitting on a camping chair - glider habits die hard!

Skew planar and five turn helical on the Black Pearl...Continue Reading
Posted by RoryG | Jul 30, 2014 @ 04:05 AM | 2,809 Views
Scudding under a 400' cloud base with the Phantom 2:

Under Low Cloud at Vementry (3 min 30 sec)

Vementry is situated on Shetland's Westside, three miles north west of the village of Aith. It's name refers both to a farm on the mainland, and an uninhabited island just to the north across the Cribba Sound. The Phantom was flying just under the 400' cloud base and captured some dramatic shots of the coast and lochs that abound in this area. Taking off to the south east towards the south Loch of Hostigates we climb to 380' alongside the Wards (hills) of Hostigates. Ahead is the North Voe of Clousta, and as we pan you can see the Loch of Clousta to the south east. Continuing round you can see the island of Muckle Roe (with Papa Little to the south) across the Swarbacks Minn, a deep water anchorage used by the Royal Navy in WW1. The small body of water on the north east side of the road is north Loch of Hostigates, with Vementry farm to the north and the island just beyond.

Filmed with a GoPro Hero 3 Black at 1080/25, mounted to a DJI Phantom 2 with Zenmuse H3-3D gimbal. Music is "Science of Sleep (Instrumental)" by Silence is Sexy.

More R/C aerial videos on my Shetland Flyer Vimeo Channel
Posted by RoryG | Jul 19, 2014 @ 05:19 AM | 2,629 Views
Here's my home town of Lerwick, Shetland, shot with the Phantom 2 and H3-3D from the range of hills that forms a boundary to the west of the town. The take off point was 80m asl and with the P2 at 80 to 100m above the take off point I got some good footage at fairly high altitude without the Phantom becoming a spec in the sky! I use a video downlink but mainly for framing shots, I like to keep my investment in sight!

Shot with a Hero 3 Black at 1080/25, shame about the overcast conditions though...

Lerwick from Staney Hill (2 min 47 sec)

More R/C aerial videos on my Shetland Flyer Vimeo Channel
Posted by RoryG | Jul 12, 2014 @ 04:38 PM | 2,877 Views
A perfect evenings soaring at my local flying site. The 3 to 4 bft breeze was creating some good lift off the banks, even for the 2.5kg FPV equipped Diamond 2500. Sandy had his Radian Pro up which you can see on a few occasions in the video.

D2500 Evening Soaring at The Knab (4 min 8 sec)

More R/C aerial videos on my Shetland Flyer Vimeo Channel
Posted by RoryG | Jul 05, 2014 @ 11:15 AM | 2,693 Views
Typical for summer weather than my other recent videos - cloudy! Half an hour earlier it was bright sunshine... Still, some nice views of Lerwick and the surrounding area.

Cloudy Morning at The Knab (2 min 8 sec)

More R/C aerial videos on my Shetland Flyer Vimeo Channel
Posted by RoryG | Jul 01, 2014 @ 05:15 PM | 2,813 Views
Beautiful flying weather this morning, here's a short video of the St Ninian's Tombolo, Shetland, the largest active tombolo in the UK. Filmed with a GoPro Hero 3 Black on the Zenmuse H3-3D gimbal, and the 808 #16 on the tail of the D2500.

St Ninian's Tombolo (2 min 44 sec)

More R/C aerial videos on my Shetland Flyer Vimeo Channel
Posted by RoryG | Jun 01, 2014 @ 05:46 AM | 3,499 Views
I've just completed the installation of the Mr RC Sound 4.1 module with two TT-25 transducers in my FMS 1700mm P-51D "Ferocious Frankie". I'm surprised just how loud these transducers are! The Merlin sound is excellent, sounds just like the real thing, especially the startup and shutdown sounds. There's a short video of the startup and shutdown sounds over on my Vimeo page.

I've also installed an electronic fuel gauge sensor from Thomas Jørgensen in Denmark. He makes the units himself and it provides mAh used, real time current, voltage and frame rate error - it's really three sensors in one! The sensor is only €35.00 (or $50.00) plus €5 postage (to the UK). More details at his website.

The FFS-330 dynamic airspeed sensor is a great little unit providing indicated airspeed via a pitot tube. You can set the telemetry alarm to go off just above the stall speed which makes flying in windy conditions much easier. Coupled with the Guardian 2D/3D stabiliser it makes windy flying a "breeze"!

Things are getting pretty cramped under the canopy, but I've tried to keep it as neat as possible. I'm now using Nano-Tech 6S 5000mAh LiPos which give excellent flight times, and pushed right forward the CG is spot on.
Posted by RoryG | May 27, 2014 @ 02:34 PM | 3,522 Views
FPV was always on my project list and the big Diamond D2500 was an ideal choice, particularly for aerial video and getting to decent altitudes.

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Description: Flysight Black Pearl display with OSD

She's been fitted with a #16 v3 KeyCam with the B lens, Suppo Free Bird v3.51 OSD and a Boscam TX58-800 5.8GHz video downlink. The ground station is a Flysight Black Pearl 7" screen with a built in diversity two channel Rx. The on-board FPV kit is powered by a separate 3S 1800mAh LiPo, with 12v to the Tx and OSD and 5v to the camera via a Castle BEC.

The antenna in the photos is just for testing, I have two skew planar antenna on the way, should be here before the test flights....Continue Reading