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Old Jul 17, 2012, 04:05 PM
Destroyer of G-10
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United States, OR
Joined Jul 2004
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AP/AV basics #1 assessment and gear options

as many of you know, I mostly hang around multicopter forum. Multicopter is latest platform and very popular one to hang camera on to. With technology advancement in gyro and automated flight, multicopter has become to platform to have. anyway, today is all about basics.

now, I've seen lot of post that goes like this.
hi, I am new to multicopter, I think it is great, never flew anything in my life, but I want a multicopter since I saw it on XX and I see the potential to make me rich and famous. my budget is $500.00 and I have several requirement.

1) I need controller with GPS and waypoint programming.
2) need FPV gear (i've done lot of computer flight sim, I know how to fly fpv)
3) I need it to be large enough to carry my D5 but gopro is fine for now.
4) I need fully stabilized gimbal
etc...

now, I know that many of us are excited to jump right in, but before we start any endeavor of this magnitude, you really need to consider what you are really after and assess your situation. In general, you really need to assess why you are interested in AP/AV.

For many of us, it is just cool to take video and picture from the Air. Most of us really are not out to make a living taking pictures though, beyond doing an occasional job for friends and family. (usually for little or no compensation) There are professional AP/AVers though. Most of them started as either accomplished Photo/videographer with some rc experience or RC guy with strong interested in photo/video. owning a D5 is not a sign of professional photographer though. true pro can make gopro image look great. Now, we do have new regs pending for civilian UAV use, so make sure you are upto date on the regulations if you want to do this for money.

In many ways, I think being a good photographer/videographer is a bigger hurdle than being RC pilot, but to be accomplished RC pilot also takes lot of work/practice. AP/AV guy has to be able to take the shot, fly and also edit the material to customer's satisfaction. Each aspect will take time and effort to master. To help get the shot, you need to be thoroughly aware of available tools and use them .

Now, there are many ways to get AP/AV shots. Even though MR(multi rotor) has become very popular recently, we really need to understand the options and possibly have them available.

Airplane : airplanes have been used for AP/AV for long time. From slow stick, easystar, flying wings, they provide a very stable platform for higher up shot. their downside is that they require place to takeoff/land and some type of plane do not handle wind too well. Always moving means FPV downlink is recommended unless you have lot of practice.

Polecam: Most underutilized but very useful too is the polecam. Most shot upto 40-50' can be done with pole and it can be used in areas where you cannot fly, not to mention in incremental weather. with pan/tilt, it can provide very stable solution for lower altitude AP/AV, especially in crowded situation. You will need stable mounting though. tallest will require guywire for stable and safe setup. Since it is tied to ground, it is not considered aerial vehicle.
.

KAP/Balloon AP: one works in wind, the other only really works in calm. pikavet design basically will self level and give you steady shot. just limitation in scope though. cool thing is that rule pertaining to tethered vehicle exist, unlike UAV. helium is very expensive so, it can be pretty expensive to operate helium vehcle. hot air ones also exist, but you will be carrying up flammable device . always be aware of safety aspect of each tools.



MR: I've covered lot of this in TANSTAFL, so read that blog entry. In general. YOU SHOULD KNOW HOW TO FLY ALL ASPECT by LOS (line of sight) FPV can be used for hobby use, but rule is unclear for commercial use. If you are using FPV. test it and make sure you have robust system. Nothing is worse than failure and having 6lb MR dropping on someone.

once you have realistic assessment of what you want out of AP/AV, you need to make a plan to put into motion to achieve your goal including realistic budget.


Upcoming blog: Basics #2: setting a realistic budget
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Last edited by askman; Aug 22, 2012 at 05:56 PM.
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Old Jul 20, 2012, 06:02 PM
manual flying apologist
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United States, CA, Fresno
Joined Mar 2011
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this is a big deal for someone who has the potential to make money off new fliers wanting to get a camera in the air.

Askman could easily sell new fliers $1000 in gear and tell them to go fly, so this is a big deal to see a developer/builder give people advice like this
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