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Posted by Nightstone | Dec 15, 2014 @ 11:56 PM | 1,045 Views
Here a while back I was working on some junk quads for FPV. Keep my nice quads for film and photography and use the junk ones for FPV and taking skills up to the next level.

I picked up a few real cheap multiwii boards and got things working fine. They flew fine but just had a lack luster feel when flying.

Last week I decided to try my stand alone Fy-dos unit. Was I pleasantly surprised. It did a great job as a quad controller. Much smoother and precise than the multiwii. this is without the compass or advanced features.

So this is what I ended up putting together. Quad weighs under 1000g loaded with a 5200mah battery, mobius and FPV xmitter. Flight times are around 15 mins and it fly's very well. Wood, epoxy, zip ties and rubber bands. No screws.

Posted by Nightstone | Dec 07, 2014 @ 05:57 PM | 789 Views
Here is my latest project. It started when I was looking through my old projects and came across my wing and a half pusher. That got me thinking and it soon turned into a seaplane I'm calling a "Bicuda".

She is pretty much put together except for esc, reciever and servos. That and a bit of touch up. Not to mention battery tray and some panels.

Pics 1-3 show what she looks like and pic 4 shows the hatch and push on wing floats.

Maiden should be in a day or so. It will be off grass as there are no RC water parks near me. I expect water performance to be good with the raised wing.

Oh... Wing is 39" and 32" long. 2200kv motor. 4 servos. Etc Etc.Etc.

Posted by Nightstone | Nov 26, 2014 @ 10:23 PM | 1,484 Views
Sharing my Bixler 2 build. Do not use this build if your not going to FPV with a large battery in the front. The plane will be tail heavy.

Parts -

SK3 - 2836 - 1500 Motor.
2 Metal gear servos for Rudder and elevator.
2 HXT 9 Gram for Ailerons.
45A Turnigy Trust ESC
Apm 2.7 + Gps
7" Prop
IRC Pan and Tilt Cam
IRC 600mw 5.8 Tx
Frsky Rec Xp Series.
Turnigy 5200mah Battery

I did not want this plane to be a butcher bird and chop it all up. I also wanted to enclose as much of the plane as possible. Less on the outside the better it flies. Note the IRC TX mounted inside the cockpit. Cockpit retains the plastic shield and is held on by Velcro underneath.

Flying weight is around 1130 grams with a 5200 mah. Flight time is 30-60 mins depending on how you fly.

Rear mounted servos. Carbon fiber rods for linkage.

Small hatch on the side for APM access. Apm, case and GPS is all that I use.

Plane was maidened yesterday. Will do 2-3 more LOS flights prior to FPV. Wing tape on order for some color.

Note - Used that new gorilla glue clear repair tape to glass the bottom of the fuse.

Posted by Nightstone | Nov 18, 2014 @ 12:23 AM | 1,798 Views
It was going to happen. I knew it was inevitable. A while back I had my first run in with a park person...

I'm not going to go into alot of detail. I was flying a quad FPV while doing photography. Alone. No one around me. I was confronted, threatened with a citation, etc. I managed to talk my way out of it and left. After the fact I did make contact with the organization.

The level of ignorance about what I was doing was pretty high. They considered my activity as an act of vandalism. They did not want me there because they wanted to keep the park vandalism free. This is how they viewed me. When I mentioned that I was a photographer and had been photographing in this manner for over a year now I was told that those photographs were "just" evidence of my criminal activity. At this point I quit while I was ahead.

I have been mulling this over for almost a month now. The conclusion I came to was that I need to stop posting any media that can be construed in a negative manner. And that boys and girls is anything shot in park areas or any other spot where someone may take offense. Till the madness ends I'm just not posting.

The citation that they were trying to hit me with carried a 30 day jail time. A non supportive judge and a bad day could have made life very unpleasant for me.

The point that ended up working for me was when I pointed out that the Quad was autonomous and was flying itself. Therefore I was not flying a remote controlled aircraft in the park. Thin but technically correct. Not something I would want to argue in front of a judge and I don't think the park official wanted to either.

I will continue to fly and photograph. I will not post anymore though...

Posted by Nightstone | Nov 14, 2014 @ 06:17 PM | 2,024 Views
I almost missed it. Oct 10th was my one year anniversary for flying FPV. One very fun year.

I fly anywhere between 3-7 days a week averaging any where between 3-6 flights a day. I conservatively estimate I made 600 plus flights in my first year.

I,m one of these guys that if I like something I do it. Alot!!!

Also in that first year I have put FPV gear on and flown over 30 different home made planes. I have yet to lose a plane.

Multirotors were a different story. I had one Naza fly away and 3 crashes due to equipment failure. 2 esc's and one motor failed.

3 different types of auto pilot ( Feiyu, Apm, Naza). Spektrum, Frsky and Uhf. Video was all 5.8. Tons of homemade stuff and experiments.

Well that was year 1... Hopefully year 2 will hold more of the same.

Posted by Nightstone | Nov 13, 2014 @ 12:25 AM | 2,822 Views
Just picked up 2 more APM 2.7 Units. $83.60 gets you The Board case and a cheap GPS.

This is all you need to safely fly FPV. You don't need the power adapter/ OSD / Wireless link. The units work fine powered off your ESC.

So how do you get home without an OSD? RTH will point you back the way you need to go. That or use way points to do the same by placing them strategically.

How do you tell battery voltage? Using your Taranis bound to an audible switch. Same for RSSI.

How do you maintain altitude or get to an altitude. You can use way points or program altitude using FBWB.

By creatively using the APM and your Taranis you can avoid the screen clutter, extra cost and weight.

I have been flying OSD free since starting this sport and have never lost a plane. And I fly in an environment with a very noisy ground floor where disconnects are common place.

Posted by Nightstone | Nov 13, 2014 @ 12:01 AM | 2,768 Views
I just purchased 4 3s 5200 mah batteries. Weight wise they are over 25% lighter. The form factor is smaller also coming in 2 different sizes. long and thin and brick like.

These are being marketed as multirotor batteries. The 3s versions I have would not be great for this purpose on my 2 450 size quads. 52 amps divided by 4 is 13 amps per motor. My quads can easily attain this and more.

Where these batteries really shine is in the smaller foamy FPV planes. My 40" canards can easily carry one of these boosting flight times out past 30 minutes.

I took my old bixler 1.1 and gave it some upgrades. A 2830 2200 motor and these batteries. The FY-dos Autopilot and 50Amp esc are pushed far to the back. My flight times with this setup are now 30-60 minutes. The battery size and weight made for near perfect cg balance. The plane flies great. Add to this mix a new L9R Receiver and we have a small plane that fits in a kia and has a 4 plus mile range. Perfect for my kind of flying.

I fly smaller planes that I take remote places and then fly there rather than fly large FPV aircraft and fly long distance. Each to their own.

FYI... I am charging these at half normal amperage and keeping them matched with motors that don't pull more than 30 amps.

Lastly... I have a bixler 2 coming that will be set up with an APM 2.7. These batteries have had an impact on how I fly.

Posted by Nightstone | Oct 24, 2014 @ 06:28 PM | 1,289 Views
Did the first flight with the Gimbal this morning. It worked perfect right out of the box. Very happy with the results.

Some side notes...

Workflow. Premier does not work well with the Raw 4k footage. Stuttering on a striped SSD drive Array. I used the go pro software to do the conversion prior to editing in premier for this video. Since processing will be required I intend to run it through Mercalli first for minor tweaking and then off to Premier skipping the Go Pro software entirely.

I have decided to go and learn Premier a bit better than I do. So thats going to be soaking up some time also.

Gopro 4 Black, F450, Tarot 2D V2 Test (6 min 4 sec)

Posted by Nightstone | Oct 24, 2014 @ 01:03 AM | 1,701 Views
Mounted a Tarot Gimbal on my F450. Its a small piece of light bass wood that is in between the Tarot and frame. 3 Zip ties and 1 bolt hold it in place. Seems very sturdy. This was the lightest method I could think of. Fully loaded flying weight now is right at 1.6kg with a 5k 3s and FPV gear. Expecting 10-12 min flight times.

Tarot was disappointing in one aspect. The gopro mount does not allow for a lens protector. V2 Should have addressed this. Other than that the Gimnal worked first go around. Test and tuning coming up.

2 Planes shown are a 3D plane to replace the one my dog accidentally wrecked. The second is the one I use my new Gopro On.

Posted by Nightstone | Oct 16, 2014 @ 10:38 PM | 1,436 Views
I have been having issues with jello for a while now. I think I did what most would do. Match a balanced prop with a motor and go from there. Results were anything but good. Best I could get still had some jello.

Yes there are ND filters and dampening. This adds weight and is not always an option.

Yesterday after another day of you guessed it "jello" I decide to bench the motor and start testing props using a seismograph app. The results blew me away. I was stunned.

Quality well balanced props were still causing large amounts of vibration. Motor and prop feeding off each other. Getting through my plane props I still had not found a suitable combo. Then it dinged and I decided to try a Quad prop. Stuck on a 10.45 prop and for the first time we had harmony.

Flight tested two of my canards with this prop win no jello. Even the mobius behaved in bright Arizona sunlight.

Thought I had it in the bag when I began testing again today but was again thrown several curve balls. Here is what I have come up with.

1.) If you want jello free video you need to have extra motors and a variety of props.
2.) A prop may work well on one motor yet poorly on a different motor even when the same model.
3.) Its a matching game. Keep trying different props till you find one with low vibration throughout the throttle range.
4.) Lower pitch is usually less vibration.
5.) Keep some Xanax on hand.
6.) Do not give up.
7.) Try your Quadcopter props on your planes.

Basically there is no use this prop with this motor solution. Motor/prop variances are too many for that.

2 canards are jello free and I did my FX-61 tonight. Hopefully it will perform well. Next up my bixler.

Posted by Nightstone | Oct 16, 2014 @ 04:04 PM | 1,305 Views
Finally got the jello out of my 2 canards. While testing the jello issue I followed my buddy around in his Storch.

Quick 5 min vid.

Following A Storch (5 min 50 sec)

Posted by Nightstone | Oct 16, 2014 @ 03:37 AM | 1,781 Views
I decided to put my Hero 4 Black on one of my foamies to see what video quality would be like. Shot in 2.7k/48 and posted at 1080P/30.

This was taken late afternoon today. Plane is of of my small Canards. $500 camera on a $3 dollar tree airframe.

Results look promising.

Hero 4 Black on an RC Plane (6 min 52 sec)

Posted by Nightstone | Oct 09, 2014 @ 05:33 PM | 1,802 Views
Took the quad out today to get some sample photos as the weather started to break. These are shot in continuous mode with Protune active. Iso set to 100. Gopro color.

Do with them as you will. Have not fully looked over them yet. What I saw though was pretty good for a camera of this type.

5 pics in 2 rar files.

Posted by Nightstone | Oct 07, 2014 @ 10:08 PM | 1,490 Views
Here are some examples of pictures taken with my 4 Black. Images are sharp edge to edge. Dynamic range seems adequate. Exposure is all over the place. None of the images were blown out. Histograms were fine with a tendency to under expose. Contrast was all over the place.

Pretty much what you would expect from this kind of camera. With a little post processing decent/sharp images should be no problem.

PtGui at times had issues with my Gopro 2 images. Ptgui seems to like my black 4 images just fine. No weirdness.

Im very happy with the camera.

The pano is what I did in post processing. The rest are as shot.

Posted by Nightstone | Oct 05, 2014 @ 01:42 PM | 2,251 Views
Just picked up my Gopro 4 Black. Wanted to post weights.

Gopro 4 - 65 grams
Gopro 4 W/Battery - 88 grams
Gopro 4 W/Battery and case - 152 grams

Will post more stuff after battery is charged!

Posted by Nightstone | Oct 04, 2014 @ 01:47 AM | 2,470 Views
Me and my usual flying buddy hit one of the parks today. I flew one of my small canards. What a blast. Flying low has its challenges but I cannot seem to get enough. Its like a drug.

Canard FPV in the Cereus Giganteus (7 min 52 sec)


And a pic of the plane...
Posted by Nightstone | Oct 01, 2014 @ 12:17 AM | 2,118 Views
Here is how I am doing my tail assemblies on my tricopters. The original idea was rcexplorers version with linkage. Linkage is always sloppy. Explanation is in the pictures. Pretty self explanatory.

Posted by Nightstone | Sep 28, 2014 @ 02:41 PM | 2,330 Views
Disassembled the quad last night and started the process of putting equipment where it should go.

Here is some equipment weights to give you an idea of how out of balance the quad is. So that's 127 grams up front and a whole lot more in the back.

Gopro 2 and flight cam on the front - 127 grams
5000 Mah battery and video TX - 450 grams
6000 Mah battery and video TX - 530 grams

The battery has to come much further forward than the quad will allow with the FC at the recommended location. Even with it further forward it still will not balance.

Only solution is to put the FC on top and leave the entire inside for battery placement.

From TBS web site -
DJI Flamewheel Motors with Graupner 10x5 or 9x5 E-Prop
3S 5'000 - 6'000mAh or 4S 2500 - 3700mAh

Second issue NOT listed on the main web site is that you cannot go wide angle with 10" props and have prop free video/pics. They suggest using 127 degree field of view. Another design flaw.

We don't want to forget that when an FC manufacturer recommends the FC be located at CG its best to put it at CG. When you read the naza manual the GPS location numbers are measured against the CG not the FC location. Syncing the GPS to CG while the FC is at a different location cannot be a good thing.

So far I have moved the FC up top and i'm going to design a plate to extend the gopro position out of the props. Hopefully it will become usable at that point.

I really wish I would have done more research prior to buying. Bad design and bad layout.

Posted by Nightstone | Sep 28, 2014 @ 04:08 AM | 2,301 Views
Was out this afternoon in north phoenix on an IT job. When I left the job I could see this massive shelf coming in. With time limited I ran to the nearest park and launched my quad. Got in about 2 minutes of flight time before having to land. I got the quad back in the trunk just as the drops started to fall.

I also got to meet a gentleman from Monsoon Tracker ( Storm Chasers ) who watched me make the flight and came over to say HI.

Biggest challenge was the wind. GPS hold was struggling in the rough winds. Very scary flight for me.

We had over 70mph winds and a bunch of damage.

Here are some pics

Posted by Nightstone | Sep 28, 2014 @ 02:53 AM | 2,302 Views
I recently picked up a TBS Discovery. Had it out today for a full FPV test. I'm disappointed in it at this point. There are issues with design and weight distribution.

With equipment in suggested positions and a 5K 3s battery it flies real tail heavy. This results in a tilted flying attitude and flight times were about 10-15% less because of it. That and there was a constant struggle for the FC to control the imbalance.

Secondly... The suggested FC location is not at CG. When a company says mount the FC at CG... That is where it should go.

At this point the only solution is going to be to mount the FC on top at CG. This will allow equipment to be placed where it should be.

There are alot of posts regarding this issue. Consensus seems to be to up your pids and fly it tail heavy with the FC mispositioned. Unacceptable. FC should be at CG and quad should balance.

I wish at this point I would have done some in depth research prior to purchase. Another over hyped product.