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Nightstone's blog
Posted by Nightstone | Sep 28, 2014 @ 02:53 AM | 2,351 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.

Posted by Nightstone | Sep 27, 2014 @ 01:20 AM | 1,753 Views
Quick guide for setting up the Multiwii MWC FC Bluetooth Module Programmer from hobby king to work with the Multiwii 328p.

Its real easy to do.

RXD - Goes to signal pin on AUX3
TXD - Goes to signal pin on AUX2
VCC - Goes to power pin on AUX3 ( Middle pin)
GND - Goes to GND on AUX3

Download Multiwii EZ-Gui from the droid app store. Make sure your BT is enabled on your android device. Do the config in the software then connect. Works well off both my phone and tablet. Note - Both my droid devices are rooted. Don't think its needed though.

*** Note - this is a nice way of tuning your quad without having to constantly plug in by USB. You want to do this before enabling aux2.

Next up we will be hooking the BT device up to an APM 2.5 unit.

Posted by Nightstone | Sep 24, 2014 @ 01:15 AM | 2,253 Views
Decided tonight to see if I could get this cheap board working in Flying wing mode. Made a dollar tree mockup and took a go at it. Here is how I did it.

1.) Flash board with flying wing mode. Define your board.
2.) Right servo on D11 - Left Servo on D12
3.) Roll to roll - Pitch to Pitch
4.) Set Taranis to simple 4 channel mix. NOT ELEVON
5.) Chan 5 to aux1 on board
6.) Use win Gui 2.3 beta to program
7.) Program Aux1 with pass through/Angle/Horizon or combo you want Add baro in. Etc

Here is a vid of the results. Servos chatter a bit. It works. Going to take some tuning I think. Will try it on a wing when my bluetooth comes in from HK. This way I can program from my tablet or phone in the field.

HK328pWingMode (0 min 57 sec)

Posted by Nightstone | Sep 23, 2014 @ 05:37 PM | 1,866 Views
Just went through the whole setup on this FC. Thought I would share My setup. This is basic. Google is your friend for further info.

1.) Do throttle range on all esc's
2.) Use arduino to flash 2.3 ( Set quad type, Board type, #define RCAUXPIN12 )
2a.) Do multiwii esc calibration - define ESC_CALIB_CANNOT_FLY
3.) Set trim in acro mode. Acro is no mode selected.
4.) Calibrate ACC & Mag
5.) Set throttle curve to 30
6.) Setup aux1 and 2 for switches. Connect aux 2 to pin 12 NOT aux 2. Only signal wire is needed.
7.) Do sticks calibration while in Angle.
8.) Play with your pids
9.) Cover Baro with foam.

Have fun flying.

Posted by Nightstone | Sep 23, 2014 @ 05:25 PM | 1,716 Views
Built 2 new Multiwii copters. A tri and a quad. Both flew fine. I ended up parting out the Tri. I just could not get into how it flew ( Plane like ).

The small H copter flies really nice. Its light at 634 grams without a battery. With a 5000 mah I get about 15 mins of flight time.

To keep the frame light I used epoxy to hold it together. No hardware. Zip ties for everything including motor mounts and props.

This will be my main FPV quad going forward. Keeping the nice quads for photography.

Posted by Nightstone | Sep 19, 2014 @ 01:19 AM | 2,376 Views
Built this today. It was quite a challenge coming up with a yaw control that was light and effective. I think I succeeded. Frame with 11 gram servo came out to 64 grams. 209 grams with motors, esc, rec, props. Pretty light copter.

So far have only flown it in the work area. Will trim and tune it tomorrow.

Posted by Nightstone | Sep 18, 2014 @ 01:47 AM | 1,803 Views
Picked up a couple of cheapo HK multiwii boards to play around with. They arrived this afternoon. Fearing another KK nightmare I bravely started reading. OMG, soon scores of oh $%#$ posts were scrolling across my screen. Lots of folks with issues.

It really was not bad. Flashed the board over to the latest firmware. Set prefs in config.h. Used the win config util. Calibrated. Set switches and she fired up just fine. Smooth as silk. Will do first real flight tomorrow. My work area does not count lol.

I have parts for 3 Tri Copters. This should be fun.

Posted by Nightstone | Sep 16, 2014 @ 06:23 PM | 2,264 Views
Finished off my second canard. This was built to fit an APM 2.5 Unit. Fuse in the back is wider to accommodate the size. Plane is roughly 40x30 in size. Fits in a trunk. 15-18 min flight time. More time with a 3k in it.

Plane flies very well. I have 2 of these right now. One for low FPV and this one for general flying. Yellow and black is the new one.

Posted by Nightstone | Sep 16, 2014 @ 06:02 PM | 1,987 Views
Hobby Partz had a nice deal the other day. 4 Emax Motors. 4 20A Esc's and 8 props for $88 shipped. Decided to give them a try. Yes Emax stuff is not the top of the food chain. But I have yet to loose a single Emax motor. Thats 2 years of over propping and abusing the %^$$ out of them. I even use them on 2 of my FPV planes.

So I took the plunge. Free priority USPS had the parts to me in 2 days.

Motors were 935 KV. Same look as the rest of their line. 2 sets of screws and a prop nut. The motor shaft has the same kind if indentation as Naza uses. They also fit perfectly on a set of naza arms.

Emax Esc's. These I am sure are re-branded. They are slightly larger than the HK afro series. They do have SimonK firmware. Instructions were included. Throttle calibration was cake.

Emax props. These look a bit cheap. But time will tell. Going to try them out and see how they do.

I picked up a Disco frame from GetFPV for $75. Added 4 extra Naza white arms I had. Pulled my Second naza unit off my HK failure and we have a quad.

Flew perfect first go. Motors sound nice. Plenty of power. Was running with a 5K battery. Will do some FPV runs on it this weekend. Nice secondary quad.

Posted by Nightstone | Sep 16, 2014 @ 05:40 PM | 1,868 Views
My luck with HK parts has been pretty dismal when it comes to quadcopters. 2 bad KK boards. 1 DT700 failure ( Video ). 2 Multistar 20a ESC failures ( Camera and frame lost ).

My second time around I went again with what I thought were at least descent parts. this turned out to also not work out real well but I did dodge the bullet.

A buddy of mine gave me some old quad frames. Deciding to play around I disassembled my Iron man. The Iron man had 12 flights on it.

2 NTM motor mounts had broken in multiple places. 1 motor solder joint was hanging by a thread. 2 of the HK 12x4.7 props had cracks in them. I was a flight or 2 from loosing my nice Ironman frame.

I will never use an NTM motor on anything with any value again. The vibration caused by the poor bearings will cause a failure.

The cheap HK props. Fine for foamys. Not for quadcopters with any kind of value. These do crack and will fail.

No more NTM motors, Multistar Esc's and cheap props. At least not for quadcopters.

Posted by Nightstone | Jun 22, 2014 @ 06:24 PM | 2,296 Views
Went downtown yesterday for an IT job. Brought the quad to take a few pics. Wish the monsoon skies were rolling through the valley but hey you take what you can get.

Posted by Nightstone | Jun 18, 2014 @ 05:05 PM | 1,993 Views
I have built a whole bunch of different types of air frames in the last few months trying out different types of airframes for flying low FPV. You would think this would be an easy choice with a flying wing being the best choice. For me it was not so. Once a wing gets down to a smaller size and you heavily load it launching can be an issue. That and gear load out in a very small space can be very difficult to manage.

As I tried different air frames there were always unwanted characteristics that would come into play. From bad flying behavior to not being able to load gear in a manner that suited me. Add to that the need for small and not very noisey and this was a challenge.

After todays flights I think I have a suitable plane. A small 40" canard. lots of room to organize gear. Small foot print. Quiet. Able to fly low. Maneuverable.

When your trying to do photography or video at a small park you don't bring a large several kilo plane and expect no one to notice you. You want that plane up and away without a lot of attention.

Anyways... Here is some footage from flying at the local park today. Trying to get a good feel for the plane down low. It did great. And of course a few of the guys had to give me a double moon ending. Now we are ready to go dodge some cactus in the desert.

CoyoteLow (3 min 27 sec)

Posted by Nightstone | Jun 18, 2014 @ 12:54 AM | 2,780 Views
Sharing my latest build. I was going to build a homemade version of the FPV Drifter. After thinking about it I decided to do this instead. 40" wing span. Fits in the trunk of a kia. 1100 kv motor. Dos Autopilot. Frsky and 5.8 vid. 18-20 min flight times on a 2200 3s. Fits a Mobius in the nose and a small cam up top.

Flys Excellent. Will be using it for trunk flights, Flying on the deck and some photography.

Posted by Nightstone | Jun 13, 2014 @ 09:25 PM | 1,947 Views
Update - Note on Sunhans Below.

I was looking into doing an antenna mod to my Taranis to increase the range. After reading up a bit I found a much easier way to do this without the risk of botching a solder on the board.

I ended up buying the XJT module and plugging it in. The module is then setup from inside the radio menu. Even bind works from the menu.

I tested the XJT and the 5db antenna at the park this morning on 3 aircraft. A Bixler, Park jet and my quad from inside the car. Flying in the city where I live we get alot of interference. In the test area we can not get past 1100 meters without a fail safe on stock. I blew past that point out to about 1600 meters with my rssi still in the sixties. Now there were points where it did drop but I never hit the warning point. I had no warnings on any flight. Antenna worked great.

As a side note I will be testing some home built antennas on the tx and rx. I also have a 2w booster on the way that I will be giving a test run with. I find it kind of stupid that folks complain about pushing the 2.4 on a radio but its excepted when we do it for video. I think this falls into the buy my product crowd ( LRS ). If I can safely/cheaply and consistently push FRSKY out to 3-5K in areas with interference I can retire my openLRSNG.

Lastly... I flew my quad from the inside of nicely air conditioned car today in the blistering Arizona heat. I ran antennas up on 3 foot dowels hooked up to some window mounts I made from...Continue Reading
Posted by Nightstone | May 25, 2014 @ 12:35 AM | 2,129 Views
Hit the local park for another sunset flight. Just me and the Bix. Met up with a few other Rc guys I had not met before. Just had to put the goggles on them. May have created a couple more FPVers.

Anyways... Beautiful eve to fly. Thank full my health is getting better again... Hopefully it holds for a while and I can get out to some new spots again.

Posted by Nightstone | May 23, 2014 @ 01:49 AM | 2,647 Views
With APM hardware being affordable now decided to do the plunge buying 2 units with GPS from hobbyking. I received the units on Saturday and was flying the next day. The Mission Planner software made it pretty easy to do. Even making tweaks along the way.

First flights were great. It works well. I think it handles the plane I have it on better than the fieyu equipment does. Ways points are easy to setup and seem to be working well.

I could go and do a detailed review but lets just say I like the way it works and the cost fits well into my budget. Only complaint at the point is the size. Its big.

One thing I would like to note is the huge price increase if you buy the version from 3DR. Someone noted better soldering and support. Are folks being taken for their money? At half the price I could buy 2 for what they are selling one for. Time will tell and we will see how the HK's hold up.

Did 2 FPV flights with it today trying various functions. A morning flight and a sunset flight. Here are the pics.

...Continue Reading
Posted by Nightstone | Apr 25, 2014 @ 01:14 AM | 3,526 Views
Just getting over my latest bout of illnesses... Decided to try something different. My partner uses a lot of Flite test plans. So this is a Flight test wing on a basic home built plane with a twist.

I put pods on the wings and calculated camera angle so I would not get prop in view. Secondly the plane has a low kv high power motor. DT700. I'm hopeing for a nice slow low FPV flyer with alot of power when needed. The 700kv motors is very responsive and should be great for low level flying.

My experience with the higher kv motors at low level has not been stellar. It just takes way to long for the response.

I put that DT700 motor on a small 3D plane for giggles and its actually fun to fly being that over powered. 300 gram plane with 1200 grams of thrust. Thats what gave me the idea here.

Posted by Nightstone | Apr 13, 2014 @ 02:24 AM | 2,725 Views
Redid my base station today and added a different tripod and an 8" monitor. What prompted this is I wanted to play around with a display other than the googles.

Most folks doing home made googles are using a small screen, fresnel and head attachments. Its bulky, heavy and ugly. There had to be another way to do this and sit comfortably.

What I came up with was mounting a 8" screen to the ball head on a funky tripod I have. With 2.5x readers its the same as standing six feet away from a 60" TV. Thats at 7 inches. The monitor swivels on the ball head so its easy to move it right where you need it. I added a foam enclosure and a safety glass frame to see how emersive it will be. So instead of attaching things to my head I just swivel the unit over.

From what I can tell from indoor testings is that its a lot larger looking than the googles. Over twice larger. Its also brighter. I'm really hopping this will be a step up from the goggles when I fly.

Other equipment being used - 2 Immersionrc 5.8 units v2, Flysight 32 channel 5.8 reciever, C-DVR, Eagle eyes.

Tripod is an odd ball. Its a Benbo Trekker. You can put it into just about any position imaginable. Its just takes a bit of getting used to.


FYI - RMRC - If you sell an FPV monitor it would be really nice if it came with a power cord. The one that connects to the wall is worthless. Its a 50 cent part.
Posted by Nightstone | Apr 12, 2014 @ 01:11 AM | 2,696 Views
Range video has some new 200mw 5.8ghz 2 gram DIY flysight transmitters and the new 32 channel receiver.

The VTX's are cheap at $15.00. The VRX is nicely priced at $39.99.

The VTX's need to be soldered and are a DIY project. At 2 grams they are light.

The VRX has 4 bands of 8 channels allowing it to work with most anything out there. Its also very small.

I will be using the VTX's on small foamies for those places a larger plane is just not appropriate. I have the harness done and both the fatshark camera and VTX are powered by a simple bec.

Have tested the two together and they work. Have yet to field test them for range. Antenna being king here I really don't expect any issues.

2 transmitters and one receiver for the price of a competitors single transmitter.

Will post my results here as I do tests.

Posted by Nightstone | Apr 11, 2014 @ 10:58 PM | 2,785 Views
My video switchers came in today. These were cheap ( $10 ) ones from Value Hobby. Came in a nice box with a 1 year warranty.

With HK out and other vendors over priced this seemed like a good choice.

Wired them up tonight. Worked perfect. I have 2 cameras setup on 2 of the channels and hooked a lost plane finder up on number 3. Yes the plane finder goes off when you flip the switch.

The switcher will be used on my FPV aircraft mainly to provide video backup in case of failure. The alarm working with it was a bonus and saved me a channel on my receiver.