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Old May 18, 2015, 05:49 PM
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I want to FPV explore (not race)

Hello! Looking for advice... buy, build, ARF, don't care as long as it gets the job done.

If this isn't the right place, please redirect me...

I'm jumping into this hobby feet first and thrilled. So far I'm practicing on a number of mini-micro and nano systems, more recently the Blade 200 QX. As I contemplate what I really want out of this, it's somewhere between AP and FPV.

Really, I want to do FPV exploration. Pop on a headset and fly stable, controlled, far, long duration... It shouldn't be a snail but doesn't need to be a racer. I want to be able to navigate through a forest but don't need to do it at 50 Mph. It's preferable if this system is relatively small (easier to get between obstacles) but not so much that it will only fly for a few minutes with the solid FPV gear I'm looking for.

For these purposes, I'm not sure how important GPS lock and altitude hold would be. It seems like that'd make it easier to navigate but I haven't had the chance to use either yet. I imagine that if something catches my attention I want to look at and I lose my forward momentum, GPS lock could keep me from drifting backward into something.

Just looking for direction or advice, especially if it doesn't cost a fortune or take a lifetime to source parts and build from scratch. Off the shelf is nice, but I'm perfectly willing to break out the tool box.
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Old May 18, 2015, 06:06 PM
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If your looking for 20-25minute flights a 650 size quad on 4-6S is what you want, maybe a 450but not sure on duration. But the 650,maybe the 450, wont be great at going thru the woods just based on their size.
Whether you go with GPS is purely personal preference, typically they're more forgiving and return to home in the event of video or Rx signal loss is such a nice safety feature. The simpler (CC3D, Naze32 and several more) are amazing controllers at a fraction of the price but you wont get the GPS function. I've not used one on a larger quad but I'm sure they will work. They also allow for a more dynamic flight envelope but that may not be what you want on long duration FPV.
I have CC3D and Naze 32 boards on 250 size racers and their amazing. I also have Naza w/ GPS on a larger quad and it will practically fly itself. I haven't tried photography/video but I would think the more stable GPS system would be preferred. There are several more systems out there with GPS, only mentioned Naza as I have a couple.
I would watch the f/s ads on here, see killer deals come thru all the time .
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Old May 18, 2015, 07:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Flying glass View Post
If your looking for 20-25minute flights a 650 size quad on 4-6S is what you want, maybe a 450but not sure on duration. But the 650,maybe the 450, wont be great at going thru the woods just based on their size.
Whether you go with GPS is purely personal preference, typically they're more forgiving and return to home in the event of video or Rx signal loss is such a nice safety feature. The simpler (CC3D, Naze32 and several more) are amazing controllers at a fraction of the price but you wont get the GPS function. I've not used one on a larger quad but I'm sure they will work. They also allow for a more dynamic flight envelope but that may not be what you want on long duration FPV.
I have CC3D and Naze 32 boards on 250 size racers and their amazing. I also have Naza w/ GPS on a larger quad and it will practically fly itself. I haven't tried photography/video but I would think the more stable GPS system would be preferred. There are several more systems out there with GPS, only mentioned Naza as I have a couple.
I would watch the f/s ads on here, see killer deals come thru all the time .
I've got a 650 hex, 450 quad and a 250 carbon racer.

You're right on the 650. I wouldn't even cruise mine through a forest. It's too much of a barge for that. It's not that slow (about 60km/h top speed), but it's not nimble and it's a bit on the large side. A small twig that's hard to see in the goggles might bring it down and it's a bit on the fragile side.

I use the 650 for aerial video with a gimbal.

I built the 450 on a f450 clone frame (http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/s...arehouse_.html ) with the intention of it being a spare aerial video machine, but I then took the landing skids off, fitted a FPV camera and a Mobius to use it as more of a FPV cruiser.

http://i.imgur.com/dF9cpqX.jpg

That photo doesn't show the Mobius anti-vibration plate or Mobius camera. Those and a 10C 5200mah multistar 3S battery are usually on the top plate. I get 17-18 minutes of gentle flying with it. It can climb reasonably fast and top speed is something like 65-70km/h.

The 450 has taken some decent knocks without damage, but I have broken an arm on it once. Parts are dirt cheap and an arm swap is fast.

I fly the 250 the most. It's an adrenaline packed nearly indestructible beast. When I run out of props for that, I sometimes take the 450 out and it is a lot of fun. I have flown it through the trees, but it's not as tough as the 250, so I don't go racing through small gaps at full speed.

I'm flying the 450 with an APM in acro mode. Acro in APM is much more sedate by default compared to the Naze with auto level off. I do need to spend a bit more time acro PID tuning it. It's a bit soft and wallowy at the moment.

You can get good APM clone controllers with GPS/compass board for about $60 now. This is the combo I have fitted to my hexacopter:

http://www.goodluckbuy.com/side-pin-...?&currency=usd

I have GPS/compass fitted to the 450, mainly because it started out as an aerial video machine, but really I hardly ever use GPS or altitude hold. It's almost always flown in acro or stabilize mode. I sometimes get lazy and flip the return to launch switch, but that's a problem if I've forgotten to give it enough time to get a good home lock (which I do forget sometimes, because I just plug it in and take off in acro).

This is onboard video from me almost losing the 450 on its first acro flight because I forgot to wait for a home lock:

https://youtu.be/hIROSmiLiYQ?t=1m9s

Apparently the full version (funfly) of the Naze32 works well with GPS now for return to home and position hold, but the funfly Naze32 and a gps module probably cost more than an APM clone (which has more full featured and mature GPS support). You also don't need to mess around reprogramming the GPS board for APM if you buy one of the many that are sold to work with it.

(6/8) Naze32 Flight Controller - Adding GPS (NE-06, NEO-06 module) (22 min 19 sec)


I've seen a few videos of 450 frames fitted with Naze32 controllers, and they seem to fly well.

For APM, it has a reputation of flying well with stock PID settings on a range of frames. I found that it worked very well out of the box on my 650 and was excellent after running auto tune.

The f450 frame flew with stock APM settings, but it didn't fly that well. Bad full throttle oscillations and it would rebound badly on an aggressive pitch and roll change. Surprisingly it wasn't that great after autotune either. You might have to do a bit of manual PID tweaking with APM on a 450.
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Last edited by neilmc; May 19, 2015 at 06:58 AM.
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Old May 19, 2015, 12:16 PM
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Thanks for the insights guys. If I could pull a good 15+ minutes of controlled flight out of a 250 I might go with that - youtube videos of people flying the little racers around parks and forest are so compelling! Everyone jumps between three numbers: 250, 450, and 650... Forgive the naivete but isn't there some in-between to be had?

I suppose a 250 wouldn't support very good AP but some of the flight videos look really good! I live in a very forested area (near Portland, Oregon) which is why I place such high priority on being able to navigate around the forest and dodge between trees. Most of the wide open spaces here are public parks. If I still lived back in Southern Cali I'd probably just jump for a 450-650 without as much hesitation.
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Old May 19, 2015, 05:21 PM
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Forgive the naivete but isn't there some in-between to be had?
Yes, you can do a 330-400mm size with 8" props. What I've coined as a "Scout", bigger than a 250 racer and smaller than the 450-550 camera carriers.

One I just finished is the QAV400, although I did deviate from the build plans a bit.

Check this thread out, my QAV400 is at the bottom. I've also built a 330 size from wood. I'll get some pics tonight if you like.

http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2395135
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Old May 19, 2015, 06:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Methodician View Post
Thanks for the insights guys. If I could pull a good 15+ minutes of controlled flight out of a 250 I might go with that - youtube videos of people flying the little racers around parks and forest are so compelling! Everyone jumps between three numbers: 250, 450, and 650... Forgive the naivete but isn't there some in-between to be had?

I suppose a 250 wouldn't support very good AP but some of the flight videos look really good! I live in a very forested area (near Portland, Oregon) which is why I place such high priority on being able to navigate around the forest and dodge between trees. Most of the wide open spaces here are public parks. If I still lived back in Southern Cali I'd probably just jump for a 450-650 without as much hesitation.
I guess it depends on the style of flying you are after. I just love the big grin fun of a really tough 250 frame.

The crash compilation at the start of this was a selection of crashes at that location, there were more Dust it off, fit more props and try something silly all over again. (there are rare occasions where a camera gets thrown free or you break something though).

DXL Forest Adventure (3 min 43 sec)


The video is a bit rubbish compared to a camera setup with gimbal, but the 250 is much more about the fun than it is AP.

I've flown up to 1.5 hours of flight time in a sitting, 5-7 minutes at a time with 7 batteries and a charger attached to my car.

Having said that though, some guys build up enough flight skill in acro mode that some of their flying looks like it was filmed with a gimbal.

Like William A said, there are sizes between 250 and 450. Machines like the QAV 400 and TBS DIscovery can be fitted to gimbals and are still good at sports style flying (though you'd want to minimise bouncing off things with a gimbal up front).

There's also things like this which are a bit bigger than the little racers with a protective housing for a gopro (but no gimbal):

http://store.red20rc.org/buy-multiro...00-quadcopter/

PM300 Power Run - still tuning (4 min 10 sec)


Still not really a long flight time machine though.

Maybe something like the QAV400 is what you need
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Old May 19, 2015, 08:51 PM
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Here's my woody.

Don't know where I come up with 330, it's a tad over 370.
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