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Posted by KevinBuckley70 | Dec 27, 2012 @ 06:36 AM | 1,870 Views
Santa's elves were good to me this year! This is the Walkera Ladybird v2.

It flies really well - very stable in 'very stable mode'

However, it seems to steer nothing like my mCX2 co-axial heli's (which steer with the rudder & a touch of roll in FFF). So far, every attempt to fly in a circle (rather than hovering in a circle) have ended pretty quickly in a crash as it skids out of the turn!

Fortunately, it seems to be pretty indestructible apart from the battery which keeps falling out due to being too loose.
Posted by KevinBuckley70 | Nov 19, 2012 @ 07:31 AM | 4,168 Views
Finally got to fly the 450x at a proper field! It's a bit dumbed-down (slow head speed & D/R) but was nice to have some space to start to throw it around without worrying about banging it into anything - except the ground which, luckily, I managed to avoid.

I also took the 130x, lots of batteries & the charger. However, my DX8 transmitter ran out of battery after just two flights, even though it was fully charged. It has never lasted more than an hour from new & has slowly been getting worse.

I think I will seriously consider looking at the LiPo option.



UPDATE (20/11/12): Seems it may be broken so it might have to be returned for repair/replace (talking to supplier/HH)
UPDATE (22/11/12): Gone back to HH (via supplier) to be 'looked at' ... grounded
UPDATE (1/12/12): Returned from HH today (via supplier) with replacement battery ... hopefully that will fix it!
Posted by KevinBuckley70 | Nov 09, 2012 @ 08:16 AM | 2,405 Views
Been practicing basic flying skills recently with a Blade 130x - very robust product! However, since I had it, it has been developing a screeching noise which sounds like a faulty main shaft bearing. It hardly has any hours on it so I am reluctant to believe that is true. Below is an example of the problem:

Blade 130x - strange noise (1 min 25 sec)


UPDATE: Lub'd all the bearings with this: http://www.tredz.co.uk/prodimg/25854_1_SuperSize.jpg and the problem went away.

I also have a couple of Blade mCX2, co-axial indoor heli's which I picked-up broken & really cheap - now fixed! They are fabulous for indoor hovering, orientation practice. It all goes wrong so, so slowly!
Posted by KevinBuckley70 | Oct 15, 2012 @ 07:42 PM | 2,033 Views
Finally got to fly the Blade 450x today with the replaced metal-gear servos. No pictures unfortunately but it went without incident

Flew a couple of packs - it has a bad vibration though. The last time I tried to fly it, & tipped it over, I thought the main gear had survived OK. But it looks like it has one damaged tooth & I think that's causing the vibration. If I flip it into throttle hold at full revs, the vibration stops immediately. I made a training gear to protect from further tips but it probably wasn't necessary now the stripped servos are replaced.

Also playing with a v2 Blade mCPx which is a lot of fun. Have flown it both inside & out (& into things). It's a bit of a handful in the breeze though.

Both of them could very easily get away from you if your attention wanders even briefly!

EDIT: It was the slightly damaged main gear causing the vibration on the 450x. You could barely see it - just looked like a few strands of hair-thin plastic where the tip of the tooth had been damaged.
Posted by KevinBuckley70 | Oct 09, 2012 @ 08:24 AM | 2,592 Views
In a moment of insane nostalgia, I decided to use a few left over bits to put my ancient Robbe 'Eolo R22' back into the air: using the 'free' 6-channel Rx which came with the Spektrum DX8 & a tail gyro off a long-abandoned micro-copter (whilst waiting for the upgraded metal replacements for my shredded Blade 450x servos).

One of my 5000mAh, 3s LiPo multicopter packs is 100g lighter (& slightly higher voltage) than the 3000mAh, 9.6v, 8-cell NiMH pack I used to fly it with.

Amazingly, after a bit of messing around with the settings in the DX8, it demonstrated the ability to lift off & hover successfully, with correct pitch & roll control. However, it yaw'd madly & nothing I could do would fix it.

On closer inspection (see attached picture), one of the tail blade pitch arms has snapped. I imagine this is probably the result of the plastic becoming brittle with age? For sure, it hasn't been bumped into anything since it last flew successfully (about 12 years ago!).

So the hunt is on for 'Antique heli-spares-R-Us'.

EDIT: Amazingly, Midland Helicopters has the bit I need! Just 2.94.
Posted by KevinBuckley70 | Sep 27, 2012 @ 06:00 AM | 2,403 Views
2012_9_27 Wobbly Gaui 330xs (1 min 26 sec)


This resonance on the Gaui 330xs didn't happen until I put the NAZA GPS/compass on a longer (& admittedly thinner) stalk so that it clears the GoPro which can be mounted on the top deck. I tried shrouding the CF rod with some silicone, fish tank air-tube to see if that would damp it. It made no difference at all.

I guess if I don't resolve it, eventually something will shake off & break. Interestingly, the vibration doesn't seem to affect the NAZA/GPS flight capabilities.

EDIT: Does anyone know if an aluminium rod (of the same, ~3mm diameter) is likely to be more rigid & less prone to that resonance?
Posted by KevinBuckley70 | Sep 22, 2012 @ 09:16 PM | 2,592 Views
One thing I noticed with the gimbal I have on the F550, which is designed to be used on this 'hexapod' crawler: http://www.hexapodrobot.com/products...R-H01-PTH.html is the fact it only has a single arm attached to the pitch servo which allows the camera to vibrate a lot.

So I recently added a second arm to improve the support (see image below). The camera mount is now MUCH more rigid - I hope to flight test that soon.

I really like this gimbal. It's extremely well manufactured & uses full size servos. It's not actually designed to accomodate a GoPro but with the custom mount I made (a business card box dremel'ed in half), it performs very well.

The gimbal is mounted to the camera platform using some hacked parts from a switch mount: http://www.sloughrc.com/default.asp?...itemid=P-MG119
Posted by KevinBuckley70 | Sep 14, 2012 @ 05:21 AM | 2,591 Views
I took some video & snapshots for a friend of a new-build house/estate. This is the longest FPV flight I have done so far & it was really fun!

2012_9_13 First significant FPV with Flamewheel F550 (16 min 28 sec)

Actually it was two flights: the first one to capture some video & the second one to take snapshots. The live feed on the GoPro blanks-out for every camera shot (2 seconds) so the second flight video only shows the OSD/FPV camera view.

There still seems to be some jerkiness coming from the gimbal mount which I think is because the final, camera link arm just hangs off the servo. I may try beefing that up.
Posted by KevinBuckley70 | Sep 13, 2012 @ 12:00 PM | 2,662 Views
Well ... second flight but the first flight was just hovering.

Even with the GoPro onboard (on top) & over 1Kg it flew just fine as you can see from the video:

2012_9_13b Gaui 330xs with new upper deck & GoPro (4 min 30 sec)

Definitely more thought needed about the GoPro 'Jello' issues on the F550.
Posted by KevinBuckley70 | Sep 12, 2012 @ 07:22 PM | 2,581 Views
Naza all calibrated, everything seems to be working ... tomorrow, see how the new layout flies with the upper deck & GoPro.

With the GoPro it's a bit overweight at around 1.06Kg, so that may have to go.
Posted by KevinBuckley70 | Sep 08, 2012 @ 10:40 AM | 2,657 Views
Last step in this phase of building the F550 was to add the 2-1 camera switcher & make up a cable to get the GoPro live video feed (so can switch the video downlink between the fixed/OSD camera & the GoPro) & fix the VTX which turned out not to be broken (it was a connection error in the ground station). Also added some small CF struts between the front landing gear & the other ones to stabilise it (see pic).

With the GoPro & 5000mAh, 3s battery onboard, the all-up-weight is 2.46Kg - which makes it 60g overweight according to the DJI spec. So the question is ... do I go to 4s LiPo because I would really like to swap to the Graupner prop's due to fear of breaking a DJI prop., or stick with what I have, which flies just fine. The problem with going to 4s is that it will add another 500g or so (extra weight of the 4s pack plus an additional, small 3s pack for the video). I noticed, at the end of the flight (8.5min), all 6 motor bases were too hot to touch; although the battery & ESC's were totally cool. The OSD reports around 37A - so 6-7 amps per motor. Would going to 4s (with the added weight & the Graupner prop's) make this whole rig better or worse I wonder? Would it increase my flight times? If anyone has any opinions on that which they would like to share, please comment or PM me.

Whilst I ponder that, I plan to tidy-up my Gaui 330xs, give it an upper deck & remove the rear facing gimbaled camera/switch which seemed like a good idea at the time ...
Posted by KevinBuckley70 | Sep 07, 2012 @ 04:13 PM | 3,086 Views
Flying the F550 with Graupner 10x5 electroprops really compromised the performance (with 3s LiPo's anyway). This is the same as happened with the F450 although I didn't realise it at the time.

This flight is with the original 10" stock prop's again - much more power & predictable behaviour, even with the gel mounted anti-vibration platform.

Also tested the remote camera pitch control.

2012_9_7 Put stock props back on F550 (removed the Graupner 10x5's) (5 min 16 sec)


A few people have asked about the gel mounts. They came from here: http://mikrokopter.altigator.com/ and they are called 'Anti vibration Silicone Gel Mounts'.

They are not very strong in tension so notice the piece of foam between the bottom two decks. This stops the upper deck being pushed upwards too easily via the suspension links & also provides some lateral & torsional stability to the camera deck whilst not transferring vibrations from the main frame. It's just some packing foam I had lying around.

The threads on the gel mounts (M4) are quite long & I wanted to keep a reasonable gap between the upper two decks, so the spacers above & below the gel mount are some kind of hard rubber bushes I got from a local tool & car parts store. I have no idea what they are really for (nor did the store owner!) but they were a perfect & lucky fit.
Posted by KevinBuckley70 | Sep 06, 2012 @ 04:38 PM | 2,826 Views
I changed the rubber, anti-vibration standoff's on the F550 with gel type. It definitely improved (removed?) the GoPro 'Jello' issue.

However, the F550 is now very unstable - presumably because more than half the mass is significantly decoupled from the FC/motor platform.

Ho-hum. Back to the drawing board ...

2012_9_6 Added gel dampers but now very unstable (fixed the 'Jello' though) (2 min 5 sec)

Posted by KevinBuckley70 | Sep 06, 2012 @ 05:12 AM | 2,699 Views
I replaced the stock 10" props with Graupner 10x5 Electroprops on the F550 today to see if that made any difference to the Jello. It didn't.

However, it did reduce flight time by around 1 minute & decrease lift significantly.

So maybe the Graupner 10x5's are not the best after all ...

This is similar to the situation I had with the F450 which caused me to upgrade to an F550. So maybe it wasn't the weight-bloat after all.

I also changed the standard prop. nuts for M6 nyloc.
Posted by KevinBuckley70 | Sep 05, 2012 @ 05:20 PM | 2,939 Views
Came across 'Moongel' vibration absorbing material used by drummers to kill resonances. Thought I'd give it a try on the F550 - see if it improved the GoPro 'Jello'!

Alas, it didn't work. Although it was VERY windy today.
2012_9_5 F550 with camera supported on 'Moongel' pads (7 min 41 sec)

Posted by KevinBuckley70 | Sep 03, 2012 @ 01:35 PM | 3,031 Views
Test of the F550 anti-vibration platform (with as much mass as possible decoupled from the frame/motors).

Still some 'jello' but much better than with the GoPro mounted directly to the frame.

The GoPro is on a gimbal (servo rate is 100Hz) using the latest firmware.

This is just straight up/down above my lawn & not FPV (for those that take note of these things).

Must do something about that landing gear though!

2012_9_3 F550 with gimbal & anti-vibration platform (2 min 10 sec)

Posted by KevinBuckley70 | Sep 01, 2012 @ 09:19 PM | 3,706 Views
Quietly assembling the electronics for the retrofitted F450 frame using the new Crius All-in-one-pro & extender board.

Currently stuck trying to figure out how to connect the Crius bluetooth & HC-SR04 sonar modules.
Posted by KevinBuckley70 | Sep 01, 2012 @ 04:26 AM | 2,855 Views
Flew just fine with the new NAZA/GPS v2.02 firmware. Got just over 9 minutes with a not-quite fully charged 5000mAh, 3s Lipo.

Interestingly, I could not get the compass to calibrate; although IOC seemed to work just fine. I wonder if this is something to do with the new firmware?
Posted by KevinBuckley70 | Aug 29, 2012 @ 04:41 PM | 2,779 Views
Finished the F550 flight electronics today, NAZA/GPS, Spektrum AR8000/TM1000, harvested from the F450 which is now in pieces awaiting the Crius AIOP (actually I have already but still need to test some of the subsystems & clean-up the F450 before fitting).

Also fitted the leg extensions & shiny landing balls as the leg extensions on their own tend to dig-in &, on the F450, tip the quad over.

Tested in NAZA Assistant with no problems. If time allows, I should get to flight test it this week.
Posted by KevinBuckley70 | Aug 27, 2012 @ 07:44 PM | 2,854 Views
This was the last flight of the F450 prior to stripping it down & refitting (eventually) with the Crius All-in-one-Pro. It flew OK but it's a bit ponderous at 1.5Kg (the spec. limit for the F450), compared to the performance of my little Gaui 330xs which is totally fab!

2012_8_26 F450 in Glossop (Derbyshire) (4 min 48 sec)