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rexless's blog
Posted by rexless | Feb 20, 2015 @ 04:44 PM | 3,510 Views
Today I had the opportunity to pilot the DJI Inspire for some university researchers at the local wildlife park . The papers were all prepared, the researchers had their animal care training, an emergency plan was in place, permissions obtained, the flight control tower was notified, insurance coverage acquired, plans laid out, everything. The wildlife park even provided us with dedicated staff to provide direction and guidance and ensure the health and safety of the animals. My job was to fly the Inspire, the research student controlled the camera from a separate controller and Ipad, and the Professor commanded the mission.

Getting started I was able to warm up with the built-in simulator. This is a great way for an experience pilot to warm up or for interested observers to play around and see what it's like to fly the drone. The flight simulator seems quite true to the flight characteristics of the Inspire. Calibrating the compass was easy and I was surprised at how fast the GPS lock was acquired and how solid it was throughout the mission.

The mission is the first of what is expected to be many. We flew over some carefully selected pens with a few different types of animals to see what reaction they had to the drone. The flights were very simple, take off, ascend to the required height, manually fly to specific areas and then maintain positions while the footage is collected and the Professor and the Animal Care Supervisor gauged the reaction of the...Continue Reading
Posted by rexless | Nov 13, 2014 @ 06:33 PM | 2,291 Views
Greetings Folks,

Over the last couple of days I have been assigned the pleasurable task of working on a new Steadidrone Mavrik Octocopter. This is the first time I'm using any Steadidrone product and this is quite an interesting design. The system comes complete with PixHawk flight controller, GPS, Radio link, FrSky Taranis with basic telemetry, Flyduino AlexMos 32bit gimbal controller, dual Quattro ESCs, unknown motors, 14" Propellers, An Asus netbook ground station and a pair of 8000mAh 4S Batteries. This was shipped as an RTF kit so my job was to check it over, assemble the prop-adapters, mount the Sony A6000 camera, and start testing out the features stopping short of actually flying anything (yet!). So far I am impressed by the design. The folding arms seem nice and strong with minimal play. The centre plates and layout of the electronics is quite clean and reasonable considering the upgrade to the X8 means an extra 4 way ESC and a lot more wires.

I found challenging so far were getting at the USB port for the gimbal controller so I could go through the basecam software and look around at the gimbal configuration. To get at the gimbal controller I had to take off the top cover and an inside electronics plate, then being careful not to pull wires I had to wiggle a micro USB cable into the gimbal controller USB port. I think I'll order a micro USB extender and see if I can permanently route one to an easier to access location.

The one real...Continue Reading
Posted by rexless | Sep 29, 2014 @ 01:48 PM | 2,151 Views
One of the great things about this hobby, for me, is the creation of a new multicopter and then taking it out to the field to see it fly for the first time. This weekend I had the pleasure of doing a maiden flight of the newest member of my fleet, dubbed for now as the CFI XQ550. At 550mm motor-to-motor it's 25cm smaller than my 800mm X8 octocopter. For this build I used Turnigy 28-30s 900kv motors, Armattan 30amp ESCs, KK2.1.5 flight controller, 12" Nylon Propellers (fastened with zip ties) powered by 2 China Hobby Line 3300mAH 3S 30C Lipos. The frame features my new center plates designed for my bigger multicopters (500-800mm), thin carbon fibre arms using a custom designed plate.

I found it took awhile to get a reasonably useful KK2 PID setting. Since I'm using the zip ties I found it quite difficult to centre the propellers over the shaft. I'm flying with zip ties only because I didn't have the right prop adapters on hand. I've wanted to try using zip ties so I figured I'd give it a go. The proper adaptors would have been delivered here today, except the Canada Post delivery person was too lazy to walk up the stairs to my office and instead left a failed delivery card - but that's another story. I haven't bothered to balance the propellers for this maiden flight. I'll do that when I put them onto the prop adapters.

I've never used these Turnigy motors before. To be honest, I'm not super excited about them. 3/4 seem reasonably smooth but one of the 4...Continue Reading
Posted by rexless | Sep 18, 2014 @ 01:56 PM | 1,864 Views
About a month or two ago I decided to build an Octocopter with the carbon fiber frame components I had designed and whatever parts I had lying around my shop. Since I mostly fly 250-450mm quad copters I had a lot of cheap RCX 1800KV motors and matching 30amp SimonK loaded ESCs. I tried one of the new KK2 flight controllers but unfortunately the firmware did not work with an Octo so I swapped out for one of my older KK2's and it worked fine. At first I tried flying with a single 3300mAH 3S 65C battery. It worked but I didn't get much flight time and the KK2's voltage alarm would go off frequently. Next I tried using a 2650mAH 45C and 2700mAH 30C battery in parallel. That worked a bit better, but the 2700 was pretty old and tired so the results weren't a heck of a lot better. Yesterday I tried 2 new ChinaHobbyLine 3300mAH 30C 3S batteries in parallel. I was able to fly tamely around for a but under 6 minutes without triggering the KK2 voltage alarm. When I landed the KK2 reported 11.4v. This seems like good news and inspires me to hook up one or two more of the 3300mAH batteries to see how it performs.

Octocopter flight test with new China Hobby Line Lipo batteries (5 min 29 sec)


It's too early yet to say the CHL batteries are a good replacement for the Hobby King Nano-Tech I usually buy. My first flight impression was great... we'll see how they hold up in real use.
Posted by rexless | Sep 05, 2014 @ 02:52 PM | 2,286 Views
Over the last few months I have been working on my own multicopter designs. Based on the commonly used center plate concept, I designed my own arms and center plates to try and see if I could build a quad that would be light, strong, and offer great protection for the on board components.
I've had my designs converted to CAD drawings and then cut the parts I needed from high strength carbon fiber plate. Today I finished my first custom built full-frame 390mm quadcopter featuring some of the design ideas I'm working on. For now I'm just going to call it my 390 Alpha Quad.

I've been able to place the naze and power distribution between the top and bottom plates. The battery sits nicely on top with the receiver while the speed controllers are strapped to the sides of the center to keep them off the arm. My goal with the arms was to avoid having the airflow of the propellers impeded by wide surfaces or the center body of the aircraft. I expect this will help optimize the efficiency of the motors and propellers.
...Continue Reading
Posted by rexless | Dec 13, 2013 @ 05:59 PM | 8,466 Views
When I recently had some problems with a couple of defective OrangeRX R615 receivers I decided to try some alternatives. Since I'm flying with the Devo 10 on Deviation firmware I thought it'd be fun to try the tiny little RX601 Devention receiver.

At first I had no idea how to bind it. It came with a tiny screwdriver and a bind plug but there's no port marked for battery/bind. I searched and searched but could not find any online documentation. I managed to piece things together from other devention documentation and some trial and error.

*** Before doing this I recommend removing propellers, etc. ****

First - Created a new model in your devo transmitter. I did this by copying a previous one so I could edit it. Change the name, set the type to DEVO and then delete all the numbers in the fixed ID field (if there are any). Save the settings by exiting and turning off the transmitter.

UPDATE-- Today I found I couldn't get the receiver to accept the failsafe settings until I redid the entire bind process. Once I did that the new failsafe settings seemed to work.
Next - Get the little screwdriver ready as you'll need to push down the little "clear" button hidden in the little hole in the RX601 case. Holding that button down, plug in the battery. The red light should flash once per second while the button is held down. This should indicate any previous fixed ID is cleared. You can let go of the button and power on the transmitter. The receiver should...Continue Reading
Posted by rexless | Oct 29, 2013 @ 06:10 PM | 2,743 Views
Here's some recent photos of my Armattan 258 series Quads.
Left is my favourite so far - Milled Carbon Fiber 258. No landing gear and no protective top plate. Nylon screws holding on the motors for reduced weight. Aluminium Nuts to reduce weight. Tri-props for more thrust.

Middle - my latest CNC 258 build. Pretty much a standard Armattan DIY kit.

Finally an amazing Armattan Prototype. Featuring prototype carbon fiber plates, Carbon Fiber/G10 Arms, and Carbon Fibre protective top plate. This is a very strong and tough looking build.
Posted by rexless | Jul 21, 2012 @ 01:00 AM | 3,905 Views
Here is a shot of most of my fleet as of July 20, 2012