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Posted by mandevil | Sep 26, 2016 @ 01:56 AM | 4,271 Views
Finally, after all that time procrastinating, I had my first FPV flight. I thought my Sky Surfer will be the first to fly, but equipping the F550 turned to be much easier with some velcro and binding wire. Currently I use extra battery to power VTX/camera, which adds about 140 g of weight.

Everything worked out beautifully. The video link was absolutely clear with no static whatsoever. I only dared to max 280 m away from myself. I will put together short video later today.

Can't wait to fly again.

Update: Here's the video. No sound, just a quick edit.

My First FPV Flight (DJI F550) (6 min 54 sec)

Posted by mandevil | Aug 22, 2016 @ 07:15 AM | 1,594 Views
After some waiting, my FPV kit is mostly complete:
  • Eachine LCD5802D as LCD display with integrated 5.8 GHz diversity receiver and DVR
  • Eachine ET600R 600 mW 5.8 GHz video transmitter
  • pair of Aomway cloverleaf antennas
I forgot to order the camera, though, so there's some more wait. Meanwhile, I range tested with my GoPro (thanks to Eachine to supplying two cables with their VTX, so that I could use one for the testing). I range tested by walking away from the transmitter with the receiver. The picture was perfect to about 300 m, then it started to exhibit some minor graininess. By 500 m mark the picture degraded quite a lot. I would be still able to control the aircraft, but it wasn't pleasant. I don't have much experience with this, but given how low both the transmitter and receiver were above the ground, I can only assume lot of the quality loss could be attributed by the Fresnel zone 1 getting big enough to be blocked by the ground.
Posted by mandevil | Aug 02, 2016 @ 07:07 AM | 1,186 Views
For ages I had selected several clips that didn't fit anywhere else and I wanted to give them some kind of home. That is, to compile them into a video. Finally got around to complete the job. It's nothing special really, just some random bits and pieces.

Anyway, as I was editing this, I got bit tired with Sony Vegas and decided to try DaVinci Resolve as NLE. I think it worked well enough that I want to repeat the experience. Few words about my Resolve impressions are below the video embed.

Compilation of unused aerial footage (5 min 25 sec)

Totally Green Video Editor's Impression of DaVinci Resolve

I was fairly conversant with Sony Vegas and I liked the way basic timeline editing was implemented in it. There were some problems, though. The UI wasn't properly supporting high DPI displays; when using Lagarith VfW codec, audio playback lagged terribly; crashes were a thing. Then I have found out that Resolve 12.5 is free to download and use. Free as in free. Wow. Let's give it a go! I edited two little videos and I think I have switched for good.
  • UI works beautifully on 4K HiDPI display; no more broken menus; no more microscopic type; letters are properly scaled, everyhing looks gorgeous
  • VfW is not supported at all; good bye Lagarith. Looking for an intermediate format, I converged on using Apple ProRes -- the format is supported by Resolve for reading and ffmpeg supports encoding it. What's better, I can write Deshaker output directly into ffmpeg ProRes
...Continue Reading
Posted by mandevil | Apr 10, 2016 @ 12:44 PM | 1,778 Views
After not much happening during the winter, I have ordered and received some new gear. The first one is FrSky Taranis X9D+ TX with X8R RX module. This means I have RX for each F550 hex and Super Sky Surfer. I also ordered Zaggometry, so I can receive telemetry from Naza M V2 flight controller. And the last order were two more 5 Ah LiPos, so I can finally get more training time.

Now if weather would cooperate...
Posted by mandevil | Nov 01, 2015 @ 02:28 AM | 3,575 Views
Yesterday I maidened my F550. Everything went smoothly.

DJI F550 Hexacopter Maiden Flight (6 min 36 sec)

Posted by mandevil | Oct 30, 2015 @ 12:02 PM | 2,356 Views
The (initial) work is done, my bare-bones F550 hexacopter is ready for its maiden flight tomorrow. Building from ARF kit wasn't too involved, though at times I wished the manufacturer actually had written something useful in the user's manual (recommended placement of stuff mainly).
Posted by mandevil | Oct 16, 2015 @ 04:26 PM | 2,393 Views
Gf wants me to do some nice aerial videos and all that... so after long time avoiding this topic, we're planning to get a real multirotor for aerial photography. After lot of deliberation, the choice is:
  • DJI F550 "Flamewheel" hexacopter frame in kit (with E300 propulsion)
  • DJI Naza M V2 (mainly because it allows for clean landing with one motor disabled)

After the craft is flying reliably, I would add a camera gimbal mount for my GoPro Hero 4. Not sure which at the moment. The contenders are Tarot T-2D, DYS Smart3 ... or something else altogether.

We'll see tomorrow, nothing's ordered yet.

UPDATE: Ordered!
Posted by mandevil | Feb 24, 2015 @ 02:17 PM | 3,715 Views
Here is compilation from 2014 footage from my Super Sky Surfer 2,4-m wingspan EPP plane.

Super Sky Surfer - The First Year (6 min 49 sec)

Posted by mandevil | Sep 27, 2014 @ 01:09 PM | 2,480 Views
On the last day of my vacation at our favorite place I was to show the plane to a visit from my girlfriends' father and his wife. Well, it didn't go as planned. Shortly after the launch the stock moter seized up and I had a forced landing (without any damage, luckily). I shudder to think what might happen on my previous flights. Here's the video from the abortive flight, in the audio you can hear the chatter of the seized motor.

Super Sky Surfer – Stock motor seizes up shortly after a launch (0 min 53 sec)

Posted by mandevil | Jul 13, 2014 @ 02:09 PM | 3,078 Views
Yesterday I took my Super Sky Surfer out, this time with the second 5 Ah battery, which turned out to be faulty. One of the cells can't be fully charged. I wanted to know how will it perform -- it performs noticeably worse than my first battery and on the end I actually had the three good cells at 3.6 V and the bad one at 3.2 V. It also seems very soft, I actually aborted third launch because just putting in full throttle made the undervoltage protection to kick in.

Anyway, the flight was actually rather nice, even if it was somewhat windy. I tried to reach clouds that seemed to be fairly low, but they probably weren't low enough. Anyway, as I was gliding down, I noticed buzzards circling around so I joined. Not sure if it was thermal or slope lift (there was gentle downslope), but it was definitely there. Not enough to keep me afloat, but it definitely slowed my descent substantially. And surprisingly enough, I even got one close encounter with one of the birds on video. Here's the picture, the video will hopefully come later. The quality isn't great, but still, it's my first such encounter.

Posted by mandevil | Jun 29, 2014 @ 02:40 AM | 2,910 Views
I put back the stock motor and bought new undrilled 9x6 propeller and went for a test flight. The vibration are much less pronounced, almost unnoticeable for the most part. It was rather windy, so the video was not as stable as the previous one. I made some high ascents (I assume the highest being to some 300 m). Apparently, there was some slope lift at the place, because my first glide (from the lowest height!) lasted almost 10 minutes (with heavy 5000 mAh battery and a GoPro in original housing), which is pretty impressive. At those distances I'm getting frequent RSSI beeps from my FrSky transmitter, wonder if the default setting is too conservative. I made total of three ascents. The last glide had to be aborted because of approaching air ambulance helicopter -- the abort with flaps and nose down worked nicely and I was on the ground in about 30 seconds (from less than 100 m, though).
Posted by mandevil | Jun 13, 2014 @ 07:54 AM | 2,875 Views
I have replaced the stock motor with Turnigy D3536/5 1450 KV outrunner. I had to redrill the propeller, since the new motor has wider shaft. When I finally got to flight test it, it performed well, but something (probably the hole drilling) is not right, since there is quite strong vibrations. With the stock motor there were no noticeable vibration even over 50% throttle, but with the new one, most of the powered flight gives useless video. The flight as such, however, is nicely stable, as you can see from the video containing mainly the gliding sections of the test flight. Note: the video is just a test, it's long and has no sound.

Super Sky Surfer - Test camera flight (9 min 12 sec)

Posted by mandevil | Apr 30, 2014 @ 08:13 AM | 3,439 Views
I have finally finished video from last year's vacation.

Vacation in Kopec, part two (3 min 50 sec)

Posted by mandevil | Apr 28, 2014 @ 04:59 AM | 2,949 Views
After almost three monts my Super Sky Surfer flies again. All servos are replaced with PowerHD 1711MH, ESC is now Hobbyking YEP 60A and power source is 5000 mAh 4S battery. I also have replacement motor, but I will need to redrill the propeller, so that's not in yet. I had two flight sessions including one with camera on. The plane flies OK, but the tendency to roll left is till there, so this is something to work on.

The next thing to do is to make some proper camera mount.

Some pictures from this weekend
Posted by mandevil | Jan 19, 2014 @ 05:32 AM | 4,259 Views
I had two more flights with my SSS. The latter ended with one of the flap servos breaking (gear breakage). So I decided to replace all servos. After long search I settled on Power HD 1711MG's I ordered locally. Also I have received YEP 60A ESC which is going to replace the stock ESC. As for the servos, I have found that the supplied arms are too small (I guess they are "micro servo arms") and the arms from the stock servos don't fit very well. So now I'm searching for suitable arms. If I have to order them from abroad, this will add few more weeks of no flying. Sigh.

Also, Hobby King drives me mad. The web site timeouts often (with Cloud Flare error message...). When I get through, however, I find that half of the stuff I need for my build is backordered in EU store (things like 14 AWG wire, connectors etc.) So it's mid-January and I don't even have my order sent off.
Posted by mandevil | Dec 30, 2013 @ 01:39 PM | 3,212 Views
Today I have maidened my new Super Sky Surfer plane. The maiden was successful, the plane is still in one piece. I plan to do some work on it (replace at least ESC, if not servos as well), but nothing major. I can't wait to put my GoPro on it and take it for a camera flight!

Super Sky Surfer Maiden Flight (4 min 5 sec)

Posted by mandevil | Aug 20, 2013 @ 08:18 AM | 4,388 Views
I finally got to compile a video from my last year's vacation in my favorite place, the NP Bohemian Switzerland in the north of the Czech Republic. This was the vacation where I crashed my Bixler and almost lost my GoPro cam (see previous entry).

Aerial from NP Bohemian Switzerland (Bixler / GoPro HD) (4 min 33 sec)

As always, better quality file can be downloaded here.
Posted by mandevil | Nov 20, 2012 @ 06:51 AM | 3,938 Views
Video from my recent Bixler crash (caused by flying to far away downwind and subsequent breaking of LOS).

Bixler Crash (3 min 18 sec)

Posted by mandevil | Oct 06, 2012 @ 03:39 PM | 3,908 Views
Today I barely escaped total loss of my Bixler with GoPro HD Hero with it. I am on a vacation and have made number of camera flights without a hitch. Today I saw the morning is nice and bright and so at 8am I was in the field ready to fly. I launched, there was not much wind on the ground level, but in height there was quite strong wind. I ascended as high as I dared (about 300 m I guess). It was pretty difficult to keep the plane's attitude and it was clear that the video is not going to be very good. Anyway, I switched off the motor and hoped some usable footage during gliding descent. Because of the trouble holding the plane flying straight, it was steadily drifting downwind. Very soon it was so far away, that I started to have severe trouble controlling the plane. Keeping the plane flying straight into the wind requires fine control which was impossible without seeing the plane clearly. I struggled for about 2 minutes trying to get the plane closer to me, but all I managed to do was to lose more height. I knew I was in trouble. Soon the plane disappeared behind the horizon.

I went home and consulted on-line map to see the crash area. It was mostly forest -- the worst possible case. Nevertheless, we searched for about three hours in vain, hoping to hear the plane's beeping. The outlook wasn't good at all. In the end I went to check one meadow and found the wreck there. The plane was mangled less than I expected and I believe the damage is repairable. More importantly,...Continue Reading
Posted by mandevil | Aug 26, 2012 @ 04:14 AM | 4,520 Views
Here's new video from last Sunday (as usual, I recommend downloading this file instead of watching it mangled on YouTube). The air was completely calm so I managed some quite stable shots, including this 1 minute long straight take it's probably as stable is it ever gets with 1400 mm wingspan EPP plane.

Ústí nad Labem From RC Plane (Bixler / GoPro HD) (4 min 33 sec)