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Old Feb 05, 2013, 05:36 AM
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Joined Jan 2013
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Jumping in with both feet

What do you wish you had known before you started building/flying?

After seeing a few multi-rotor videos, I made a decision to get into this thing full bore.

A bit of background: I work in TV and film, and looking forward I can't see a future where multirotors don't play an integral roll in production. Lets hope all outstanding issues and legal gray areas are resolved.

I also have always held a toe in RC. As a kid I read every magazine I could get my hands on, flew a glider, had a few cracks at helis. Never really got too into it, since I was dead broke, and the only thing that hasn't changed is the price tag.

After a formal introduction to multirotors and a solid 36 hours of cramming with little sleep, I failed to resist the urge to get one, and at the same time made the possibly bad idea of going big out of the gate.

On the way I have the cinestar-8 clone frame, Aeolian C3530 motors, 7x4 props, radios, 4400mAh 4S lipo (which I plan to fly two in parallel), hoverfly sport FC and a few radios (among other accessories)

I hope to one day fly my Blackmagic (1.5kG + lens), but will start with my t3i as an expendable camera (.5kG). I also at some point will upgrade to a cinestar gimbal and a gimbal stabilizer.

There are two big moments coming up before that day however: building the multirotor and learning to fly it. And so, within this thread I will post updates on how it's going.

My question on building is a simple one. Balance. I know from steadicams that balance (and even dynamic balance) is critically important, and I can imagine this is even more critical on a platform that has 8 rotating gyroscopic forces and computerized auto level, where imbalance might be hidden as added stress on props and bearings.

When building how should I maintain balance, and what techniques work? I have found how to balance a motor, I know how to balance a prop, but overall balance I would think is key. should I build frame, balance, add esc, balance, add controls, balance, or is just an overall balance perfect? Good enough in this case is not good enough, perfection will have to do. Any tips would be very welcome.

The second part is flying. I see the device no differently than any other camera platform, where precision and momentum is paramount, specifically like a steadicam, where the inputs one puts on the gimbal are so minute that careful attention must be paid. That is how I intend to fly, but without practice I am not sure how well that mindset will translate. Are there any good way to train yourself to fly a platform in a precise manner? any online tutorials or practices I can do to build up platform pilot skills?

The last bit is safety, I plan to keep detailed maintenance records and details about the flight time of every component in my kit, but the only unknown is the expected life span of some of these parts.

If I loose a motor, what happens? if I loose two what might happen? How long do props last, if they are never involved in a crash? Motors? my ESCs are 40A for 30A motors, how often do ESCs burn out? I have enough of an electronics background to diagnose batteries before flight, but do lipos have an agreed upon charge cycle durability for critical applications? I would love to retire wear-parts as often as may be needed, but I am not going to rebuild after every flight.

Any tips going into this or thoughts on these subjects I would greatly welcome. I expect the first of the parts to start rolling in early this week, and I hope to be tech flight ready within a week. I'll try and keep this post up to date with pictures of the build.
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Old Feb 05, 2013, 06:37 AM
Triple Tree Aerodrome
heli001's Avatar
Charlotte, NC
Joined Feb 2002
406 Posts
Get an MQX and start flying it....IT will be the best 100 dollars you ever spent, to learn the Basics of a Multi Rotor. Just remember...the bigger they are....the more expensive the crash.......

Biggest advice is to NEVER get in a hurry.....you must stow the "I Gotts....Have IT....Need IT....Want...IT ..Now" Syndrome. The technology is changing on a daily basis, so what you order today may be obsolete by the time you get it....Just be patient....!
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Old Feb 05, 2013, 08:06 AM
Out of helis, sanity returning
Tallahassee, FL
Joined Feb 2009
2,146 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by heli001 View Post
Get an MQX and start flying it....IT will be the best 100 dollars you ever spent, to learn the Basics of a Multi Rotor. Just remember...the bigger they are....the more expensive the crash.......

Biggest advice is to NEVER get in a hurry.....you must stow the "I Gotts....Have IT....Need IT....Want...IT ..Now" Syndrome. The technology is changing on a daily basis, so what you order today may be obsolete by the time you get it....Just be patient....!
+1 to this advice. A good pilot is never in a hurry.

If you build a small, simple quad and learn to pilot it, you'll answer most of your own questions and prepare yourself for the big rig that you want.

These forums are littered with the (virtual) carcasses of folks like you that jumped in with both feet, and wound up with expensive piles of carbon shards within a minute or so of first liftoff because they just didn't have the skill necessary to fly. The irony is that most of them were given the advice that you are being given here, and ignored it.

So, there you have it. Start small, learn some flying chops, and then move up to the more sophisticated gear. By the time you've become a competent pilot, your ideas about what you really want are likely to have changed. Right now, you only know what you've read.
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Old Feb 05, 2013, 09:22 AM
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Joined Jan 2013
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Originally Posted by 2400RDR View Post
These forums are littered with the (virtual) carcasses of folks like you that jumped in with both feet, and wound up with expensive piles of carbon shards within a minute or so of first liftoff because they just didn't have the skill necessary to fly.
Good advice that I expected to get. I will try not to ignore it, however as you could guess I am obviously going to go forward with build and flight. In addition to gliders and the old school RC copters (always on trainers), I have flown the little toy copters (which I understand are nowhere near the same) and I got pretty good at flying them. I do have a friend with a quad copter, I will schedule a flight to get the feel of quads.

While I am the sort to jump in with both feet, I am not the sort to lay on the throttle as soon as I have it built. In my mind I have a very slow methodical approach to learning a new skill, and take these sort of things very seriously. My first few days of flying are going to strictly be to take the craft up, and work on calming nerves. I can recall flying helo and gliders the first few times getting a rush of adrenaline, which is no good to anyone, especially if delicate muscle coordination is required.

I do live in an area where there are few people around, soft snow and large open fields, so a pile of carbon shards will be the risk of failure I would face, but no more than that (I even have an extensive collection of safety glasses). My goal is a first flight up in the air, back down with a few seconds to hover. Before that I need to get enough of a base to imagine the whole flight in my head. I am very visual, so if I can see it, and at the same time see all the forces acting against my goal, I have a high chance at success.

But slow will be my montra. You got to start somewhere, and to an extent, this is me starting small, slow and methodical. It is just hard to find good flight tips anywhere, other than your going to crash (many people seem interested in the ways in which others might crash, rather than the way they keep themselves in the air).

I know for sure I will break an arm at some point, dozens of props, burn motors out. I know this will be an expensive hobby, I just want to wrap my head around the whole thing before I try and take off.

And I promise to post my first flight, whether I succeed or crash and burn. I have no ego about this thing, and I will be the first to add a +3 to your advice if I don't fully take it and it bites me in the rear. Until then I am in my Johnny-5 phase I go into with any new venture (Need Input!). Thanks again, and don't be discouraged if you feel I am not taking your advice to heart (I am, just in my own way)

Thanks again. Any other tips or advice? Or stories of first flights?
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Old Feb 05, 2013, 10:03 AM
Out of helis, sanity returning
Tallahassee, FL
Joined Feb 2009
2,146 Posts
I appreciate your enthusiasm, and wish you well.

Have a look at these two videos

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature...&v=l1ffC3X5fJc

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature...&v=IAtDE3X9mME

This is the type of thing that you need to be prepared for.
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Old Feb 05, 2013, 11:40 AM
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Joined Jan 2013
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Originally Posted by 2400RDR View Post
Have a look at these two videos
These are perfect. For the last couple days I have actually been seeking out wreck footage like this, and had already seen these. Seems to be a lot of variables between ESC programming, FC setup (and preflight), and just general build quality. Few of these videos ever list the exact cause of the crash, but it is good to get familiar with the face of failure.

Keep the advice rolling in, I am reading a TON of noob posts similar to mine to hopefully avoid calamity. Advice really does help, this is obviously a very complex endeavor, and I salute the experts who have taken the time to develop their skill and pass it on to others.
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Old Feb 05, 2013, 12:01 PM
Out of helis, sanity returning
Tallahassee, FL
Joined Feb 2009
2,146 Posts
Yeah- you're probably aware by now that all of these modern multirotors have a computer interface with parameters that have to be correctly set before the device will fly. Sometimes I think that learning to correctly set up the flight controller is actually much harder than the flying part.

If I remember correctly, Hoverfly uses a multiwii interface, which has a somewhat steep learning curve. I'd suggest reading all you can about the interface, and studying basic setup for it.

I fly OP CC boards, so I can't help you much on that front. I would say that it might be good to start with the bare board and get it flying before you add enable peripherals like GPS and so forth. The multiwii guys can probably give you starting points for that.
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Old Feb 05, 2013, 01:37 PM
Registered User
United States, MI, Rochester Hills
Joined Aug 2012
280 Posts
I second the microquad advice. I've learnt so much flying every night inside... There' a lot to understand and learn about esc programming, Tx settings, FC parameters, etc, but the BASIC flying skills (like feeling comfortable flying heli nose-to-you or other angles) is something that having a microquad helps A TON.
Get a WLToys Beetle V939, ~$45 with spare batt and props, also with its own (crappy but working) remote
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Old Feb 05, 2013, 03:12 PM
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Denmark, Central Denmark Region, Karup
Joined Aug 2012
254 Posts
Get the DJI Phantom. All ready to go, and if you fly only in GPS mode there much better posibility that it wont go wrong for you and you will build up skill and confidence in flying. Flying a multirotor is quite easy when you get used to it. I have the phantom and its a blast to fly and then when youre good enough you can get a more expensive an bigger model
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Old Feb 05, 2013, 04:16 PM
CunningStuntsFPV
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Australia, WA, Dirk Hartog Island
Joined Dec 2012
647 Posts
The fun is learning....and mistakes are part of that. Read, build, fly, crash,re-build. Start small and cheap. The BEST way to learn to fly is on a simulator, Phoenix, Realflight and a few others have quads to fly. I use it for FPV practise, and when i was learning, I'd spend 10-15 mins getting warmed up before going out to fly. Will save you lots of money and time, and give you confidence.
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Old Feb 08, 2013, 11:40 AM
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Joined Jan 2013
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Well it begins. The frame, batteries, TX and other accessories came in today. I couldn't help from doing some pre-assembly. I left the motor mounts loose, so I can remove them to mount the motors when they arrive.

I changed the motors to something slower, a 910kV with 12x4.5 props (down from 1700 with 7x4 props).

I have been running the flight sim, mostly practicing initiating turns from forward flight, figure 8s, landings etc. not doing too bad. For the first few days I restricted myself to keyboard only so I could clearly line out in my head direction and clear inputs. I am waiting to get on my friends quad to give it a go, but I am eagerly anticipating my first flight on what has become known as Raven-1.

Looking at the landing gear it is clear I have to figure out some sort of snow gear before the first flight. If I put it in a soft bank, I want the legs to stop it at some point. I can easily see it sinking into the snow too deep if I give it a rough landing.

Speaking of, I might need to do something to keep water out of the bottom in such and event. Clean snow has surprisingly low resistance (having almost no salinity) so around the low voltage these craft run on, a short isn't a huge concern, but a little protection goes a long way. I'll have my batteries up top, since the much bigger concern is rough landing + damaged lipos+ moisture from snow melted by the failing batteries warmth.

I am getting somewhat excited though. Trying to quell my confidence and stay focused on the first flights. They will be exceeding boring (hopefully)
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