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DJI NAZA M V2 - Review

DJI revamps their NAZA M multirotor controller, and adds in a few extra features.

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Introduction


Multirotor Autopilot System
Supported Configurations:Quad-rotor I4, X4, Hex-rotor I6, X6, IY6, Y6, Octo-rotor I8,V8,X8
GPS Hovering Accuracy:Vertical:0.8m, Horizontal:2.5m
Max Tilt Angle:35
Ascent / Descent:6m/s,4.5m/s
Weight:MC:27g, PMU:28g, GPS:27g, LED:13g
Dimensions:MC: 45.5mm x 32.5mm x 18.5mm, PMU: 39.5mm x 27.5mm x 10.0mm, GPS & Compass 46mm(diameter)x10mm, LED: 25mm x 25mm x 7.0mm
Functions:Multiple Autopilot Control Mode, Enhanced Fail-safe, Low Voltage Protection, S-Bus Receiver Support, PPM Receiver Support, Independent PMU Module, 2-axle Gimbal Support
Price:$428 w/GPS, $259 no GPS
Manufacturer:DJI Innovations
Available From:Hobby Retailers

There's no doubt about it, the NAZA M has been extremely successful with hobbyists all over the world. With it's easy to use computer interface for setup, and simple all in one design, it remains one of the "go to" controllers for many multirotor enthusiasts.

While DJI have been working hard on other products, they didn't leave the NAZA M behind, they have revamped the controller into the V2 version. With the V2 version, they have added a few more items that will certainly look familiar to Wookong users, namely a separate PMU and a remote LED. In addition to the new hardware, DJI have also improved the assistant software, making it even easier to setup the NAZA. DJI have also added some updated programming features, as well as adding some new ones; including an advanced and improved stabilization algorithm. It's everything we loved about the NAZA M, plus a whole lot more.

The unit I am reviewing includes the GPS module, but the NAZA M V2 is available without it. The new PMU (power management unit) and remote LED w/USB connection are also available separately.

In The Box

As soon as I opened the box I realized that DJI have also spent some time reconsidering their packaging. Before, all of the items would come in anti static bags, loose in the box. The V2 has a nice molded plastic tray that holds the NAZA, and the GPS components are all held in a separate box that sits neatly on top. All of the other miscellaneous items are contained within the usual anti static bags, located underneath the plastic tray. All in all, it's a nice step forward in packaging.

The GPS box contains the GPS puck, stand, and adhesive pads. The stand consists of a carbon fiber rod, and two aluminum plates for mounting to your aircraft and for attaching to the GPS puck.

The main box contains all of the components for the NAZA M system. This includes the NAZA M itself, the new NAZA PMU (Power Management Unit), the added remote LED, several receiver wires to connect the receiver to the NAZA M, and a few adhesive pads to mount the unit.

V1 vs. V2

There are a number of differences between the original NAZA M, and the new V2 version. The good news for V1 users is that the new software used in the V2 version is also available to V1 users. This includes the latest incarnation of the PC assistant software. Out of the box the V2 supports nine different types of multi-rotors, and has an improved attitude stabilization algorithm. The new algorithm gives better stabilization, automatic compass compensation, and a new take off mode (more on that later). It can also help your aircraft if you lose a single motor in flight, by keeping it stable while rotating around the downed motor arm.

Physically, DJI have added a couple of new items to the package. The first is the addition of the new NAZA PMU. This unit provides a BEC to the NAZA M, as well as DJI's CAN bus support. This allows easy integration of other products from DJI, such as their iOSD, or Zemuse gimbals. DJI claim that there will be a future firmware update that will also make it compatible with the optional Bluetooth remote LED, which allows you to make adjustments from your iOS device. The CAN bus is also the same system used on DJI's higher end systems.

The next item is the remote LED. The remote LED is a way for the NAZA M to visually communicate to the pilot. It runs through an initialization sequence, and will let you know if you have satellite lock, and how many satellites you are locked on to. It also lets you know which flight mode you are in (GPS, Atti., or Manual), and also lets you know any errors it might have. Again, this is similar to the remote LED that DJI's higher end systems use, as well as their helicopter gyro - the NAZA H. The remote LED also features a convenient USB port on the side, making it easier to attach the controller to your PC instead of digging deep into your aircraft to plug in a cable.

Below is a complete list of the features available with the NAZA M V2:

NAZA M V2 Features:

  • All-in-one Design
  • Nine Types of Multi-rotors Supported
  • Intelligent Orientation Control
  • Motor Arm and Motor Dis-arm
  • Built-in Gimbal Stabilization Function
  • New Assistant Software & Firmware Online Update
  • Independent PMU With Amazing Function Extension
  • Multiple Flight Control Modes/Intelligent Switching
  • Enhanced Failsafe Mode
  • PPM, S-BUS & Ordinary Receiver Supported
  • Multi-rotor One-power Output Fail Protection
  • Advanced & Improved Attitude Stabilization Algorithm
  • GPS Module Available/Accurate Position Hold
  • Two Levels of Low Voltage Protections
  • Independent LED Module
  • Remote Gain Adjustment

All-in-one Design

DJI adheres to continuous innovation and improvement. With the new firmware, new attitude stabilization algorithm and optimized hardware structure, the Naza-M V2 provides better flight performance. The innovative All-in-one design simplifies installation and saves space and weight. It contains inner damping, controllers, 3-axis gyroscope, 3-axis accelerometer and barometer in its light and small Main Controller. It can measure flying altitude and attitude and therefore can be used for autopilot/automatic control.

Nine Types of Multi-rotors Supported

Naza-M V2 now supports nine types of multi-rotor, which meets the different needs of the enthusiasts. Quad I, Quad X; Hexa I, Hexa V, Hexa Y, Hexa IY; Octo X, Octo I, Octo V; ( Naza-M V2 does not support the aircraft which has large vibration, so when you choose to use hexa-rotor or octo-rotor, please use the vibration dampening devices accordingly.

Intelligent Orientation Control

Usually, the forward direction of a flying multi-rotor is the same as the nose direction. By using Intelligent Orientation Control (IOC), wherever the nose points, the forward direction has nothing to do with nose direction: In course lock flying, the forward direction is the same as a recorded nose direction. See the following figures(Mode 1) In home lock flying, the forward direction is the same as the direction from home point to multi-rotor. See the following figures (Mode 2)

Motor Arm and Motor Dis-arm

There are four ways to start the motors:

When you want to start the multi-rotor, you need to perform any of the ways of CSC. During the flight, if the motors stop, you can immediately execute the CSC and the motors will start. This enhances the safety of the multi-rotor; no uncontrolled starting of the motors.

Motor Disarm: There are two modes of Motor Disarm: namely Intelligent Mode and Immediate Mode. For more information, please refer to the user manual or DJI Wiki.

Note: It has a brand new, smoother take-off algorithm, which is more stable and provides a brand-new experience in supporting double spring TX; every time you let go of the throttle stick it will hover.

Built-in Gimbal Stabilization Function

The gimbal stabilization module is compatible with almost all 2-axis gimbal systems. The system will adjust the gimbal and camera according to the attitude of the aircraft after setting the parameters the first time.

New Assistant Software & Firmware Online Update

The user interface of the assistant software has been comprehensively updated and brings you a new interaction experience. Instructions will automatically appear which is very convenient. In addition, on the left side of each menu section there is additional information. The logical design makes your parameter settings more simple and convenient. Like other DJI products the Naza-M V2 firmware can be upgraded free online.

Independent PMU with amazing function extension

The Naza PMU V2 has enhanced BEC functionality and provides extendable CAN BUS ports, which can support iOSD, Zenmuse H3-2D gimbal (pitch control). Support is also included for optional Bluetooth LED module to allow parameter adjustment via a mobile APP (future firmware upgrade required for this functionality)

Multiple Flight Control Modes/Intelligent Switching

It offers three types of control modes: GPS Atti. Mode (with GPS module), Atti. Mode, Manual Mode. The pilot can switch between the three modes to achieve different flight characteristics. It also can adjust automatically within the flight environment and intelligently switch between GPS Atti. Mode and Atti. Mode to make sure the flight is safe and secure. In the software at the position of the manual mode you can choose manual, attitude or failsafe; it supports one key failsafe trigger.

Enhanced Failsafe Mode

If your transmitter supports failsafe, then you can set failsafe through port-U. Naza controller has built-in auto level failsafe function, which means when the communication between MC and the transmitter is disconnected, the outputs of all command sticks from controller will go to center position. If the GPS module is used, you can also set RTH on failsafe. If your transmitter has only 4 channels, then MC will work in Atti. Mode by default without the failsafe function.

PPM, S-BUS & Ordinary Receiver Supported

Minimum Four channel receiver supported, also PPM and Futaba S-Bus receiver supported. PPM & S-Bus receivers (the general use of the first 8 channels of S-Bus receiver) to optimize the channel connection, the A, E, T, R, U five-channel functions are set using channel X2, use only one servo cable to connect the PPM or S-Bus to X2, this makes installation quick and easy.

Multi-rotor One-power Output Fail Protection

In most conditions, the whole multi-rotor will retain good attitude and rotate around the frame arm with no power output, due to imbalanced mechanical structure and external environment. Rotating is mainly caused by payload and external environment. When payload is heavier, rotating speed is faster. On rotating, the hexa-rotor physical structure can cause rudder to become out of control. This humanistic protection function from Naza-M V2, in Attitude or GPS Mode, keeps attitude under control even with any one power output failed and highly reduces crash risk.

Advanced & Improved Attitude Stabilization Algorithm

The latest fourth generation attitude stabilization algorithm not only inherits the outstanding flight stability of DJI products, but also provides excellent maneuverability even without the GPS module. It is more flexible and stable, and gives the hobbyists a wonderful flight experience. New features have been included such as GPS course automatic compensation, GPS & Compass sensor calibration, new take-off mode and so on.

GPS Module Available/Accurate Position Hold

The plug and play GPS module will greatly enhance the performance for Aerial Photography with accurate Position Hold, Return-To-Home and Intelligent Orientation Control functionalities. With the GPS Module, the multi-rotor will have position and altitude locked accurately even in windy conditions. Hovering accuracy is approximately 2.5m horizontal and 0.8m vertical.

Two Levels of Low Voltage Protections

In order to prevent your multi-rotor from crashing or other harmful consequences caused by low battery voltage, we have designed two levels of low voltage protection. You can choose not to use this, however we strongly recommend you to enable the protection. Both levels of protection have LED warning as default. The first level will blink the red light continuously; the second level will blink red light continuously and the multi-rotor will descend and land. In manual mode when low voltage protection is triggered the LED warning will be active only.

Independent LED Module

The Independent LED module makes the indication of the flight status and the system status to the ground much clearer. The pilot can get information more quickly and more conveniently, even at night, he/she can get real-time flight information feedback through the LED flashing frequency and colour. In addition, the module has a USB interface, which is used for parameter settings and firmware upgrade.

Remote Gain Adjustment

The default parameter settings are preset for you to achieve a normal flight, and also supports remote parameter adjustment by using a control slider on the TX during flight in order to obtain better performance.

Installation

Installation started with the main controller part of the NAZA. I installed it into the base of my F450, dead center in the aircraft. It is important to get the MC as close to the center of gravity as possible. I used the included self adhesive foam pad that came with the NAZA M. There is an arrow on the top of the MC, and this must be pointed towards the front of the aircraft. I also made sure that I was aware of the larger plugs for the PMU and remote LED, so that they would not interfere with anything behind the MC.

I used a conventional receiver setup, as I had a spare 7 channel Futaba receiver aready. Like all of DJI's products, the NAZA M will support S.Bus, but works well with a standard receiver also. The receiver was installed using double sided foam tape. I took some time to make sure that all of my wiring was routed neatly, and in such a way as to prevent any chafing on the airframe. It's worth a little extra time at this point to make sure things are tidy, as it will be next to impossible to take care of it after this particular aircraft is bolted together.

I installed the PMU at a slight angle, so that the GPS wire would clear the arm of the F450. I used double sided foam tape to secure it to the aircraft, just like I did with the receiver.

I used my trusty double sided foam tape to secure the remote LED to one of the rear arms. I wanted the LED to sit upright, so that I could view it from the ground while the aircraft was in the air.

After finishing the aircraft assembly, I then mounted the GPS using the included stand. I used medium C/A glue to attach the carbon fiber rod to the aluminum stand pieces on either end. I then used the same scerws that hold the top plate of the aircraft to on of the arms, to screw the stand into place. The GPS puck is held to the top plate using a thin piece of double sided foam tape. It is important to get the arrow on the front of the puck to face directly towards the front of the aircraft. If you don't get it right the first time, the puck can be pried off of the tape and repositioned a few times. I spiral wrapped the wire from the GPS a few times around the stand to keep it all neat and tidy.

The physical installation was completed at this point, and all that was left was the software setup. The installation is easy to get through, the instruction manual (available as a download from DJI's website) was very easy to follow, with clear wiring diagrams for the various possible receiver configurations.

Software Assistant

After the physical assembly, the NAZA M must be setup via a PC before flight. The display may look a little overwhelming at first glance, but the setup is actually relatively straight forward. On the old NAZA M, you would have to fish your USB cable through your aircraft to attach it to the main controller. With the V2 version, we now have the remote LED, which features a USB port right on the side of it. This makes plugging in the cable a lot easier to accomplish.

The assistant software is split into three sections. Across the top are the various buttons (or tabs) to access all of the functions. The center section (which takes up most of the screen) holds the relevant options for the tab that you click on above. Finally, a thin section across the bottom of the window illustrates the MC status, and current flight mode.

I setup two three position switches on my Futaba 14SG transmitter, one for switching between flight modes (GPS, Atti., and Failsafe), and the second for selecting IOC modes.

The "View" Tab.

This first tab shows basic setup information for the NAZA M. The screen shot is pretty self explanatory, and at a glance you can glean all of the basic information that pertains to the aircraft. It also features a real time channel monitor, so that you can check the response of your transmitter in the software.

The "Basic" Tab.

The first sub tab in the Basic menu is the "Aircraft" tab. Here you can set your aircraft type, as illustrated by small diagrams

The next sub tab is the "Mounting" tab. This is where you input the distance (in cm's) of the GPS from the center of gravity. In the case of the F450, the CG is in the center of the aircraft, so I measured from the center of the aircraft to the GPS. My GPS sat aft and to the left of the CG, which meant I had to input negative values for the X and Y axis (as indicated by the green lines in the diagram). As you can see, I had the Z axis entered incorrectly, as this too should have been a negative value (and was corrected later).

The RC sub tab is used for setting up your transmitter. Very little programming is required in the transmitter itself, and on this tab you can check the direction of your transmitter sticks, and reverse them if necessary. You can also view your auxiliary channel assignments with the X1 and X2 sliders. A new feature here is an option called "Receiver Advanced Protection", which is a new failsafe function specifically for Phantom users (who are also able to benefit from this latest firmware version and assistant software).

Perhaps one of the most important setup steps, is making sure that the Control Mode Switch slider functions correctly. This slider is assigned to a three position switch on your transmitter, and is used for changing flight modes between GPS, Atti., and a user selectable third flight mode. The user selectable mode now includes a failsafe option, which in essence gives you a "Return To Home" switch providing you have your failsafe setup to go home. Using the endpoints on my transmitter for the Control Mode Switch, I set up my transmitter's failsafe mode so that in the event of a loss of signal from the transmitter, this Control Mode Slider jumps to one of the two failsafe blocks on the slider.

The gain sub tab is where the individual gains are set for all the modes and axis. There are some new selection boxes here which allow you to assign the gain value to your transmitter, so that you can adjust your gain settings in flight.

The "Advanced" Tab.

The first sub tab in the advanced menu is the motor tab. This lets you specify the idle speed of the motors, and allows you to chance the motor cut off type from intelligent to immediate.

The failsafe tab is where you specify what happens in the event of a failsafe activation. This is also what will happen if you move your control mode switch to the failsafe position on the transmitter. You can either specify the model to just land where it is, or to fly back to where it started from and then land (return to home).

The IOC tab is where you can activate IOC mode (Intelligent Orientation Control). It also shows the IOC slider, so that you can see what mode your transmitter is telling the software to activate.

The NAZA M does support two axis camera gimbals, you can use the NAZA M to control the gimbal instead of adding an extra IMU. The gimbal tab has all of the settings needed to set up the gimbal.

The voltage tab is where you can monitor, and fine tune, the voltage settings. This is where you specify how the NAZA M behaves when particular voltages are reached. The first level of protection triggers and LED flashing warning on the remote LED, and then the second level of protection commands your aircraft to descend and ultimately land.

The "Tools" Tab.

The tools tab allows you to import/export settings, and run basic and advanced calibration procedures on the IMU.

The "Upgrade" Tab.

The upgrade tab tells you which firmware you are currently using, and will also prompt you to upgrade when new versions are released.

The "Info" Tab.

Finally, the info tab shows you your user account settings, software info, and current license serial number. You can also subscribe to the newsletter from this screen.

Flying

With the software setup complete, there was only one procedure left to do before flying. This was to calibrate the compass. This is achieved by toggling the control mode switch ten times, and then the remote LED light will light up solid yellow. I then held the F450 level, and rotated it around 360 degrees until the light turned a solid green. I then held the F450 vertically, and rotated around 360 degrees again until the LED turned off. It's a quick procedure you must do the first time you fly, but also an important step for correct operation.

When the NAZA M first powers up, the remote LED goes through a number of different flashes, before settling on a series of flashes that tell you what mode you are in, and how many satellites it can see. It will also blink yellow 4 times quickly, indicating that it is warming up. Once it is warmed up, the 4 flashing yellow lights will stop flashing. If the LED flashes a single or double green light, then you are in GPS mode, yellow means Atti. mode, and the LED will go out when in manual mode. The red flashing LEDs indicate how many satellites you are attached too. Ideally, you want the red flashes to stop altogether, indicating that you have the best possible satellite connection.

The single or dual flashing of the flight mode LED, just indicated that the throttle stick is or isn't centered, one flash for centered, two flashes for not centered. So, once I was getting just a double flashing green light, I knew that I was in GPS mode, that my throttle stick wasn't centered, and that I had a good satellite fix.

I brought the throttle up to mid stick, and immediately noticed a difference between it and my Phantom (which I hadn't upgrade yet). The Phantom comes up off the ground fairly quickly, but the new NAZA M V2 sets the props spinning at mid stick, but stays on the ground. I advanced the throttle further, and in a very smooth and steady motion the F450 rose into the air. I brought the throttle back to mid stick, and the F450 parked itself in the air.

The GPS mode held extremely well, with very minimal drift, and was so stable that I was able to take all of these inflight photos myself. I pushed the F450 into forward flight, and it picked up speed quickly. It flew fairly smooth in GPS mode, but I could see the aircraft being compensated by the GPS. Switching into Atti. mode (self stabilization, but no GPS hold), and the aircraft smoothed out in forward flight. It was very comfortable to fly, and completely uneventful. As with most multi rotor aircraft, it is important not to lose orientation, but if you do, you can use IOC mode to bring the aircraft back to you. This works because IOC mode doesn't care which way the aircraft is facing. If you pull the stick back, the aircraft will come towards you, and vice versa.

Manual mode is for the advanced pilot only, and is a fun mode to fly in. Manual mode doesn't use any of the GPS or self stabilization features, so the aircraft is completely under the control of the pilot. I definitely wouldn't recommend this mode to beginners, as they will lose the aircraft fairly quickly.

Beginners?

This is a great setup for beginners. It will get even the newest of pilots up in the air and flying, while having enough features to keep the more advanced pilots very happy. As long as beginners read through the instructions, the setup is relatively straight forward. Of course there will be new terminology for them to learn, but the learning curve isn't steep.

Video

This video shows the F450 in flight. On the first flight I rocked the F450 forwards and backwards, and side to side, to asses the gain values. I then used the rotary knob on my Futaba 14SG to change these values in flight, before testing again. Once I was happy, I started flying around. Towards the end of the video, the view switches to an on board view. I mounted a GoPro 2 to the front of the F450, and took it for a spin.

Conclusion

The NAZA M V2 is a nicely improved version of the original NAZA M. I'm happy to see the PMU and remote LED integrated into this new version, as well as the new software features such as failsafe now being selectable, and remote gain adjustment. The new stabilization algorithm feels good, and I really like the new take off mode. The new take off mode makes a lot of sense to me, being as mid stick in flight holds the aircraft in the air without climbing or descending. I like the fact that the user can update the firmware, it's exciting to think about what future updates may bring us. If you are looking for an all in one system to get your aircraft in the air, be it for sport flying or for camera work, you can't go wrong with the NAZA M V2.

Pros: Cons:
User updateable firmwareNo manual included
Beginner friendly flying
Cutting edge technology
Easy to set up

Last edited by CSpaced; Jun 18, 2013 at 04:18 PM..

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Old Jun 25, 2013, 08:07 AM
WZ9V, AMA 409852
United States, VA, Alexandria
Joined Jan 2007
1,291 Posts
No manual in the box but neither is the software.

You can download the PDF manual from the same place you have to go to download the DJI software. Still have not flown mine yet since its going into an XAircraft Hex I'm still assembling. I'll be using some SimonK FW upgraded HK Blue Series ESC's with it so that should be interesting.
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Old Jun 25, 2013, 08:51 AM
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CSpaced's Avatar
Oak Ridge, NC
Joined Jun 2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dfruehwald View Post
No manual in the box but neither is the software.

You can download the PDF manual from the same place you have to go to download the DJI software.
Correct, the link in the review above takes you to the download page, where the manual and assistant software is available.
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Old Jun 25, 2013, 09:09 AM
WZ9V, AMA 409852
United States, VA, Alexandria
Joined Jan 2007
1,291 Posts
Nice write-up BTW.
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Old Jun 25, 2013, 09:19 AM
Closed Account
Joined Aug 2006
978 Posts
I'm a Hoverfly guy, but I kind of want to try the new Naza with GPS. I wonder how the X8 config would handle an XY8 config.
(A widened front arm spacing, and a shortened front to back arm spacing.)

Oh and , yea, great review. Nice work sir.
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Old Jun 25, 2013, 03:17 PM
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United States, CO, Denver
Joined Jun 2011
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Nice.. Got this exact setup on going onto my work bench this week-end, will certainly use your review for reference.
.
cdee
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Old Jun 25, 2013, 03:42 PM
Videographer/Product Reviews
Joined Oct 2012
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Where would you position the GCB if you add a H3-2D Zenmuse to the mix?

Any good place left?

- - david
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Old Jun 25, 2013, 04:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by daskim View Post
Where would you position the GCB if you add a H3-2D Zenmuse to the mix?

Any good place left?

- - david
Sorry, GCB?...
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Old Jun 25, 2013, 04:40 PM
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Gimbal Control board/unit for the Zenmuse Go Pro.





- - david
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Old Jun 25, 2013, 04:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by daskim View Post
Gimbal Control board/unit for the Zenmuse Go Pro.





- - david
Oh, thanks

I would put this on my F550

If I was to put it on my F450, I would have to add landing gear to accommodate the gimbal. This being the case, I would probably mount the GCU on the underside of the F450.
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Old Jun 25, 2013, 04:54 PM
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thanks

- - david
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Old Jun 25, 2013, 04:55 PM
Please excuse me..
represent's Avatar
United States, TX, Dallas
Joined Feb 2011
803 Posts
Thanks for the review- I wanted to ask, what black coating are you placing over your solder joints?

Are you using any other insulating materials other than shrink tubing on the copter?

Thanks.

John
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Old Jun 25, 2013, 04:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by represent View Post
Thanks for the review- I wanted to ask, what black coating are you placing over your solder joints?

Are you using any other insulating materials other than shrink tubing on the copter?

Thanks.

John
Thanks, the black coating is liquid electrical tape, and other than that and heat shrink tubing I didn't use anything else.
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Old Jun 25, 2013, 05:53 PM
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Great review. Just to be clear though, the firmware's ability to handle a failed motor only applies to hexa and octo configurations.
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Old Jun 27, 2013, 11:13 AM
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United States, SC, Columbia
Joined Feb 2013
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Enjoyed the review. I am currently building my first quad and received my first radio last week, the 14SG. In your video it looks like the 14SG and the V2 are working well together. Any comments on this combo based on your experience?
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