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Old Dec 22, 2012, 03:58 PM
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First purchase and upgrade path plan for AP/AV. Advice?

Hi All. I've spent the last three days reading and watching everything I can find online about capturing video and photo from multirotor. If anyone would take the time to understand my situation and offer advice I would greatly appreciate it. I feel like I have plan to follow, but would like to get some feedback before I get started.

Thank you!

A little background:
I'm a professional photographer in Alaska and also shooting more and more video now that it's so accessible with the HDSLRs that I shoot with. (canon 5DmkIII, 7D) I have a lot of experience shooting aerial from airplanes, helicopters, and most recently a lot from my powered paraglider (paramotor). I'm also being trained to operate a cineflex from a robinson r44 helicopter currently.

I intend to work my way into offering my aerial photography and videography services with a multirotor this winter. I can clearly see its advantages and unique offerings compared to my other aerial platforms.

What I'll be shooting
I'll mostly be shooting action sports such as surfing and snowsports, but also some scenic/landscape type of establishing shots. I'll be operating from a boat, snowmachine, snowshoes, beaches, mostly all in remote locations. So portability is certainly a concern and there will be plenty of unfavorable environmental situations to deal with i.e. snow, rain, marine/mountains environments, COLD etc. This is Alaska after all.

My plan goes like this:
Buy a beginning multirotor to learn on and make sure this is really something that I enjoy and seems practical for my business. I would like to get a frame that is relatively inexpensive but similar enough to my eventual working machine to offer good practice. I would also like to buy the frame with the parts that will be useful for my professional working machine so I can just upgrade and not have to buy everything again. I'm starting from nothing.

Starter Kit
- DJI f550 with Wookong M ARF Kit
- A good quality radio (Futaba 8FG super?)
- Some kind of camera mount, maybe gopro just to play with, or possibly something that could carry a GH3 or Nex-7. Don't mind spending a few hundred here if it makes sense.
- batteries/charger
- what else do I need for this? Specific product recommendations are very helpful.

Pro Kit
- DJI s800 and ZenMuse for either GH3 or Nex 7.
I'm a big fan of the zenmuse stabilization. It's almost like a mini cineflex! really impressive. If there are other competitive systems I'd be happy to consider them. Eventually I may want to shoot with a canon SLR or RED camera, but I think I'd be ok investing in a system built for the smaller lighter systems like the GH3 or Nex 7 at this stage. If it comes time to need a big machine for the RED or c300/f55 etc. That will be the next chapter of this business for me.

I'd love to hear some specific product recommendations as well as dealers that you think would really be helpful in getting me the most ideal equipment. My main thought is that I want to have a smooth and well thought out upgrade path from my beginning MR to my pro kit. It seems this should be possible. I am happy to do my own kit building and customizations if needed.

Thanks again for taking the time to read this. Your advice is greatly appreciated.
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Old Dec 22, 2012, 04:05 PM
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>>My plan goes like this:
Buy a beginning multirotor to learn on and make sure this is really something that I enjoy and seems practical for my business. I would like to get a frame that is relatively inexpensive but similar enough to my eventual working machine to offer good practice. I would also like to buy the frame with the parts that will be useful for my professional working machine so I can just upgrade and not have to buy everything again. I'm starting from nothing.<<

That sounds like a good plan. One of the better ones I have read.

Forget about starting with something that you can still use when you are ready to do it professionally. Your requirement will be so different between what you need to learn and what you need to use professionally there is really not a whole lot of cross over. By the time you learn and know how to fly safe enough to do it professionally the equipment available may be totally different. Technology is really moving pretty fast.

Just get something good with replaceable parts to learn to fly. So when you crash you can replace each part instead of buying a totally new machine. Learn to build and setup instead of buying an ARF or RTF package.

One thing you may do is to start with something large enough to carry a medium size camera gimbal and a GoPro to shoot some video for fun. The GoPro is pretty sturdy and not very expensive so you can test the water without destroying expensive cameras.
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Old Dec 22, 2012, 04:07 PM
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For the frame, take a look at this excellent frame with great design and quality and price.
http://www.vulcanuav.com/vulcan-multiframe.html

The DJI F series are "Hobby" grade quality, where as this frame is a professional quality. Check out their dealer list to find one near you. Along with that invest in good motor, ESC, Radio TX/TR and FC. Anytime you carry those expensive Camera, make sure you can carry it safely.
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Old Dec 22, 2012, 04:10 PM
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Originally Posted by SeismicCWave View Post
Just get something good with replaceable parts to learn to fly. So when you crash you can replace each part instead of buying a totally new machine. Learn to build and setup instead of buying an ARF or RTF package.
Any recommendations on frame, motors and ESC as a starting point?
Thanks!
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Old Dec 22, 2012, 06:28 PM
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Originally Posted by SeismicCWave View Post
Forget about starting with something that you can still use when you are ready to do it professionally. Your requirement will be so different between what you need to learn and what you need to use professionally there is really not a whole lot of cross over. By the time you learn and know how to fly safe enough to do it professionally the equipment available may be totally different. Technology is really moving pretty fast.

Just get something good with replaceable parts to learn to fly. So when you crash you can replace each part instead of buying a totally new machine. Learn to build and setup instead of buying an ARF or RTF package.
Thanks for your thoughts SeismicCWave.

Let me clarify that I plan to be shooting professionally quickly. I know I will have a lot to learn and need a lot of practice, but being self employed with time available an intensive training schedule is an option. I got up and running shooting from a paramotor starting from scratch in a single winter, and I'm hoping I can follow a similar path with this endeavor. I expect my flying will be improving greatly for years to come, but I believe that I'll be able to make some shots this winter once I get the basics down. I'm not afraid to risk some equipment with my beginner-intermediate flight skills.

The parts I thought that would be applicable to my 'pro system' as well as trainer are the Wookong M, radio controller, batteries and charger, and possibly some other things if I did this smart? It seems reasonable to think these items won't be badly outdated within 6 months?

I have nothing against a BYI system vs ARF except the knowledge required to make sure and get compatible components. At this point, that is the most difficult part, knowing what is worth the money and what's not, what's compatible and what isn't. I'd prefer to spend a bit more $ and get stuff that works well together and has readily available replacement parts. That's what I liked about the DJI systems, they seem to be very popular and well regarded. They also have the zenmuse that appears to be the best system in the under $10,000 budget range.

I'd love to see some specific product recommendations if you have any. Like I said, that's the hard part at this point!

Quote:
Originally Posted by BenHayat View Post
For the frame, take a look at this excellent frame with great design and quality and price.
http://www.vulcanuav.com/vulcan-multiframe.html

The DJI F series are "Hobby" grade quality, where as this frame is a professional quality. Check out their dealer list to find one near you. Along with that invest in good motor, ESC, Radio TX/TR and FC. Anytime you carry those expensive Camera, make sure you can carry it safely.
Thanks Ben - That vlucanuav frame does look good. looks like an alternative to the s800 for my 'pro' system if I decide the go the route of piecing my own system together. If there was a substantial benefit or savings to this option of piecing my own together, I'd be keen. Otherwise, I would prefer to just buy something like the s800 that is a complete setup with many other users out there testing and developing solutions and upgrades for it constantly.

Since this is a business for me I'm motivated to keep the 'hobby' aspects to a minimum - I'd much rather be out flying/shooting more than working on finding the right parts for my custom built system. Hope this makes sense. In other words - If I can spend $6,500 for an s800, Wookong M, Zenmuse gimbal. Or piece my own similar system together for $5,500, I'd probably just rather get the production model. Unless there were considerable performance/repairability/upgradeability advantages to the custom route.
Thanks for your thoughts.
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Old Dec 22, 2012, 06:54 PM
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Originally Posted by photism View Post
Thanks Ben - That vlucanuav frame does look good. looks like an alternative to the s800 for my 'pro' system if I decide the go the route of piecing my own system together. If there was a substantial benefit or savings to this option of piecing my own together, I'd be keen. Otherwise, I would prefer to just buy something like the s800 that is a complete setup with many other users out there testing and developing solutions and upgrades for it constantly.

Since this is a business for me I'm motivated to keep the 'hobby' aspects to a minimum - I'd much rather be out flying/shooting more than working on finding the right parts for my custom built system. Hope this makes sense. In other words - If I can spend $6,500 for an s800, Wookong M, Zenmuse gimbal. Or piece my own similar system together for $5,500, I'd probably just rather get the production model. Unless there were considerable performance/repairability/upgradeability advantages to the custom route.
Thanks for your thoughts.
Your point is well taken and makes a lot of sense.
This new "Tripod in the sky" will give a nice point of view to take great shots and films.
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Old Dec 22, 2012, 07:32 PM
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Hi Scott

Can't help other than to say I am in exactly the same position as you, maybe a week or two ahead. I am a professional photog in the UK and your thoughts 'hit the nail on the head' for me also.

The advice I was given from someone I consider to be very knowledgeable was exactly what you set out in the original post. I followed the first part of that advice and bought a RTF F550 and I am getting really fine and considering the options for the next move.

The zenmuse looks amazing but in my (likewise) considerable reading of all of this wealth of knowledge and information available here and elsewhere, the concerns I have are over the S800. It maybe a purchase of this kit package right now is a very wise investment. It is a possible/likely that all the problems are now behind them probably as a result of all the testing guys on this forum have done for DJI.

Whether the rapid camera development in quick enough for you and I, it is likely the zenmuse with a small camera is all we will ever need for video! I am staggered at the output I get from my GH2 which I think is improved on with the new GH3. I don't think that it will be very long before the C300, Red quality will be captured in a device the size of a NEX or GHwhatever.

Good luck on your mission, these are very exciting times. I would be very interested in how you get on. My current thought (based on no knowledge!) is a zenmuse on a Vulcan frame, indeed Vulcan is what I put in the search bar and found your post!

This is my first post here and I must wholeheartedly thank the contributors for the knowledge that I have gained so quickly.

Happy Xmas to all, Steve
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Old Dec 22, 2012, 08:11 PM
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Originally Posted by steve9996 View Post
Hi Scott

Can't help other than to say I am in exactly the same position as you, maybe a week or two ahead. I am a professional photog in the UK and your thoughts 'hit the nail on the head' for me also.

The advice I was given from someone I consider to be very knowledgeable was exactly what you set out in the original post. I followed the first part of that advice and bought a RTF F550 and I am getting really fine and considering the options for the next move.

The zenmuse looks amazing but in my (likewise) considerable reading of all of this wealth of knowledge and information available here and elsewhere, the concerns I have are over the S800. It maybe a purchase of this kit package right now is a very wise investment. It is a possible/likely that all the problems are now behind them probably as a result of all the testing guys on this forum have done for DJI.

Whether the rapid camera development in quick enough for you and I, it is likely the zenmuse with a small camera is all we will ever need for video! I am staggered at the output I get from my GH2 which I think is improved on with the new GH3. I don't think that it will be very long before the C300, Red quality will be captured in a device the size of a NEX or GHwhatever.

Good luck on your mission, these are very exciting times. I would be very interested in how you get on. My current thought (based on no knowledge!) is a zenmuse on a Vulcan frame, indeed Vulcan is what I put in the search bar and found your post!

This is my first post here and I must wholeheartedly thank the contributors for the knowledge that I have gained so quickly.

Happy Xmas to all, Steve
One of the nice things about Vulcan is that, you can start with a Quad (either 900 or 1200) and then add two more arms, and you got Hex and two more arms, you got Octo. All the initial investments are saved.

I've had several email with the architect of this product, and I can tell he really knows his stuff and this product has full engineering mind behind it. All the holes on the arms and plates are designed for expandability. And the quality seems to be very grade as well.
This is my frame of choice even as a starter, because I can grow with it.
Just a thought!
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Old Dec 23, 2012, 02:57 AM
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Hi Scott

Can't help other than to say I am in exactly the same position as you, maybe a week or two ahead. I am a professional photog in the UK and your thoughts 'hit the nail on the head' for me also.
Hi Steve - Great to hear I'm not alone! There must be thousands of people like us at this stage . . they saw that zenmuse footage and thought. Oh, wow, this is really something, sign me up!

Maybe you could list the details of what you actually did buy? That would be helpful for me, and if at this stage you have any regrets on your purchases. In other words, what would you tell me to buy! Thanks for the response.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BenHayat View Post
One of the nice things about Vulcan is that, you can start with a Quad (either 900 or 1200) and then add two more arms, and you got Hex and two more arms, you got Octo. All the initial investments are saved.

This is my frame of choice even as a starter, because I can grow with it.
Just a thought!
I hear you Ben. I really like the sound of that and for my hobby kind of projects that is my style as well. Good quality custom components. For my entry into such a new and confusing field as multirotor av/ap I want to keep things as simple as I can and this would mean trying to avoid a situation of sorting out the compatibility issues. I don't even know if there would be many or not. But, like I said, I'd rather spend a bit more and have all those things sorted out for me! Also the cost of the f550 system is not much of an issue for me if it's a disposable trainer. The most expensive part is the WKM and I can carry that over to my next system if I understand this correctly.

Thanks for your input.
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Old Dec 23, 2012, 03:12 AM
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Any recommendations on frame, motors and ESC as a starting point?
Thanks!
There are so many good frames, motors and ESC's on the market it really is up to the individual.

Carbon Core has some nice frame. Jakub makes some great ones. Rusty has his ever so simple and interchangeable UAP1. Tom Stock makes a bunch of really nice frames. The latest trend in a H style frame looks pretty good. Andrey (askman) is making crabs, shrimps and lobsters. David is still going strong with his plywood frames. Dave Thacker has some really inexpensive plywood frames from Radical RC. Then you have Dennis that makes great DEX frames. The DJI frames are great for just trashing around having fun. There are so many frames is really the user's choice and what you like.

As far as motors there are also lots of good alternatives. The Avroto's are the standard for smooth running and reliable. Then you have Tiger motors, iPower motors, iFlight motors and I especially love those Sunny Sky motors. You also get the newer pancake Hengli motors from HiModel and Hobby King.

The old standby Hobby King KDA's are still very good. There is really no reason to have to suffer with the DT750's anymore unless budget is a main issue.

ESC's are even more options. A lot of people are using the SimonK software and you get a lot of choices in ESC's. Pick the ones with some external oscillators (I have no clue what that does since I am not an electronic guy) and flash them with SimonK software and you are all set. I always over size the speed controllers though. Not that I need the current rating. I just like to keep the ESC cool in temperature. The larger ESC runs cooler because I am not pushing it as hard. For some flight controllers I found that it is better to use t he Silab processor based ESC's. The Naza is pretty finicky in ESC's certain ESC's work better with the Naza in the arming process.
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Old Dec 23, 2012, 03:17 AM
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>>Let me clarify that I plan to be shooting professionally quickly. I know I will have a lot to learn and need a lot of practice, but being self employed with time available an intensive training schedule is an option. I got up and running shooting from a paramotor starting from scratch in a single winter, and I'm hoping I can follow a similar path with this endeavor. I expect my flying will be improving greatly for years to come, but I believe that I'll be able to make some shots this winter once I get the basics down. I'm not afraid to risk some equipment with my beginner-intermediate flight skills.<<

Every one has a different skill set and ability to learn. So I am not going to dictate how long it will take you to learn. You do what you can to learn and that is your schedule.

However the only thing I want to add is please DO NOT cut an corner and compromise safety both to yourself and to others around you. You are not doing yourself and anyone else any favor by taking too much risk. If it is only you and no one around, go ahead and take all the risk you want. Just be considerate of other people. You hurt some one and you have to live with a life time of regrets.
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Old Dec 23, 2012, 05:07 AM
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Hi Steve - Great to hear I'm not alone! There must be thousands of people like us at this stage . . they saw that zenmuse footage and thought. Oh, wow, this is really something, sign me up!

Maybe you could list the details of what you actually did buy? That would be helpful for me, and if at this stage you have any regrets on your purchases. In other words, what would you tell me to buy! Thanks for the response.
Hi Scott

What I purchased precisely is this package here

http://quadcopters.co.uk/dji-naza-f5...-rtf-563-p.asp

In addition, a few days later when I realised I could actually fly this thing, I purchased some more batteries. You will need them because you want to learn quickly!! I purchased three 5000mah 4s batteries. I might have purchased more but it is unlikely that these will transfer to a larger machine, certainly not the S800 which uses 6s batteries.

Vimeo is a great resource to see finished work, some of a very high standard. One thing I discovered which I think is most relevant to you and I is that much of the best footage is done two man. I think the comment by @SeismicC above is the single most important ..... SAFETY. The idea of a one man set up getting the best footage SAFELY I imagine is very difficult.

I looked into AP and AV about five years ago. Did lots of flight sim stuff on a PC, progressing to lessons one to one on a single rotor machine. In the end I gave up because of the commercial viability and the difficulty for me at that time. I think the progress in this field things are very different today. Also here in the UK the guidelines and the licensing is very clear now. Just come back from practicing with my F550 this morning. It was really very windy and the idea of doing that years ago for such a novice would be, I would say impossible! These electronics and satellites are very clever!!!

If I was you I would do exactly the same, buy the F550 RTF and learn. I am out with mine every day because I want to do the same and safely. I am now reading as much as I can to decide on the next move, now that I have a little more knowledge.
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Old Dec 23, 2012, 05:22 AM
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I'd love to hear some specific product recommendations as well as dealers that you think would really be helpful in getting me the most ideal equipment.
Without doubt one of your best decisions will be to deal with Robert at UAVproducts. http://www.uavproducts.com/
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Old Dec 23, 2012, 06:45 AM
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Hi Paul

I have followed your Vulcan thread with great interest and the gimbal you are working on. The likes of Scott and myself and other newbies here will learn so much from you and the great wealth of info on this site. Many thanks.
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Old Dec 23, 2012, 09:34 AM
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Hey there Scott,

Do you have any rc flying experience? If not, I recommend buying yourself an MQX to practice with before flying the larger quads.

Good luck!
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