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Posted by live4java | Nov 19, 2017 @ 06:39 PM | 842 Views
Gone, but not forgotten. At least not entirely.

In the few years since the last post I've added a couple more quads to the collection, a couple more Helis, including the V977 I'd been wanting since they came out, introduced my kids to the joys of RC flight, flown combat with Game of Drone before they became the Aerial Sports League, taken up Archery, and now added a couple of RC trucks to the paddock.

The joys of it all...
Posted by live4java | Jun 08, 2014 @ 12:38 AM | 3,239 Views
FrankenQuad I was a learning experience to build and fun to fly. The lights look great in flight and are great for orientation. However, the Tarot 450 frame, itself a knockoff of the DJI Firewheel 450, has a couple of weak spots. Most notably at the junction between the motor mount / landing gear and the main structural arm.

A gust put mine into a wall during an early back yard flight and one of the arms broke. I was able to fix it with CA and flew it at Maker Fair with Game of Drones - where a bump in the obstacle course broke it again - though I was able to fix it.

Lesson learned there was that the airframe, with various exposed parts and thin points and stress concentrations wasn't really ideally suited for the kind of stress I'd be throwing at it in air combat.

Which led to the "Easily Repairable Airframe" idea using PVC. Replaceable, really, since the original hope that friction alone would be enough for the arms and motor mounts proved wrong. With the airframe fully glued, it's not "yank, replace, fly" simple. But the entire airframe is about $5 in PVC pipe and fittings, and I could swap the entire flight control system, and motors, out in about 10 minutes.

So . . . here it is. My second homebuilt. Same FCB and receiver as the original, with Turnigy MultiStar motors and a 4 in 1 ESC module.
Posted by live4java | Apr 14, 2014 @ 10:01 PM | 3,667 Views
OK, so Frankenquad isn't really right. It's just a collection of assorted parts that flies more or less as intended. I'd wanted to build my own almost since the start and after doing a bit of research, and meeting the guys from Game of Drones, I decided to take the plunge and do the build.

Shopping for bits led to a collection of parts from Banggood and Hobby King.

From Banggood:
Tarot 450 airframe.
KK 5.5 FCB
4 Motor and ESC combos - XXD 2212, ZTW 30A ESC, hardware and props
LED strip lights in Red, Green, Yellow, and White.

From Hobby King:
OrangeRX 6 channel DSM2 receiver
HK FCB (as an alternate to the KK)
A bunch of 10x4.5 props in several colors

Ordered after the fact, since I'd wanted the HK 2.1 FCB
HK 2.1.5 FCB

I'm using the 3S2200 mAh flight batteries I already have for my Blade 350QX and Blade 400.

So, the initial build with soldering the leads to the base plate and soldering the ESC's in place. I did consider using connectors to make the ESC's easily swapable, and I might revisit that later. For the first stage though, they are soldered in place.

First flight video is in the second "Comment" I posted. Completed airframe with props and lights in the second.
Posted by live4java | Mar 03, 2014 @ 10:20 PM | 3,177 Views
I was tasked with not only setting up the VM's we ran our demos on, but booth duty for the whole conference. Fortunately, we had a good location, the folks from Microsoft and Qualys both had coffee on tap, and the event manager gave me permission to fly the Quad around the booth pre-opening on the last day.

This is in the North Hall, QX in Stability mode. GoPro Hero2 in the standard mount. Shot at 60FPS in 720P resolution. There was actually a fair amount of airflow from the HVAC inside the building, which blew me around a bit more than expected.

Blade 350QX indoors at Moscone Center, RSA 2014. (3 min 7 sec)

Posted by live4java | Feb 11, 2014 @ 10:37 AM | 3,166 Views
Thanks to fellow local pilot HPCR (Thanks Mate! Was great to meet you in person), I've happily taken possession of a brand new, in the box, mCPX BL.

This is a really pretty little bird, but too much power to try to maiden it indoors. Nice thing was having the configurations all ready in hand for the DX9, so very little configuration other than setting up a couple of voice alerts.

Can't wait for some rain and wind free time to take it down to the local field to fly.
Posted by live4java | Jan 28, 2014 @ 09:38 AM | 3,973 Views
Just got word from another RC pilot at work that our LHS, Franciscan Hobbies in San Francisco is closing their doors at the end of the month - after 68 years in business.

The guys at Franciscan were a big reason I went into this hobby full force. There's a lot of information and a good community to be found here, but it's hard to beat a store that greets you by name the 3rd time you come through the doors, and has the knowledge and experience to help a new pilot face to face.

Guys, you will be missed.
Posted by live4java | Jan 16, 2014 @ 08:35 PM | 3,216 Views
I'm doing a couple days in Houston at JSC for work. Completely unrelated to our RC hobby. But I had a chance to stop by Rocket Park on the way back to the hote and see the last of the Saturn V rockets in the hanger they built around her. I was, literally, the only one in the hangar when I took these pictures.

It's actually pretty moving to be alone with such an epic machine.

Just wish I'd had my QX350 and GoPro....
Posted by live4java | Dec 24, 2013 @ 07:29 PM | 3,328 Views
Finally got a chance to maiden my UMX Sbach 342. First the wait for the batteries after the plane arrived, then the wait for a charger after I found out to my annoyance that it wasn't compatible with any of my other multi-cell chargers. I have found that the complaints others had about the color scheme being easy to lose orientation with are valid, and even with AS3X gusting winds can blow it around quite a bit.

Probably not the best fixed wing plane to start with, but given my propensity for jumping in face first (S107 Coax straight to a V922 FBL for example) this plane is par for the course.

Need to work on the landings, and find that sweet spot in the local weather where I have good light and low wind at the same time.
Posted by live4java | Dec 23, 2013 @ 03:31 PM | 3,347 Views
After Fyre's advice and a bit more reading through various forums and the depths of the Blade 400 Bible, I finally got weather and time to take the B400 out for its first flight with a carefully leveled swash, re-tuned (stock) Gyro, and the new Tarot 325mm CF blades.

Overall, great success. Tail was steady, the bird flew well and I felt like I was in control flying it around the "big" field at the local grade school. Which is funny, because since the Futaba GY401 came in, I was going to replace the stock tail gyro. Now . . . Maybe I'll keep it a little longer. Of course, I still feel butterflies with this thing, which is kinda silly for a 400/450 class bird. But I've only flown it a handful of times and the thrill's still there.

Only down side was I didn't have velcro on the "other" flight battery, so only put one battery through it so far today. Weather holds I may run back down in a couple hours when all my flight batteries are charged up.

The cool part, was my first successful inverted flight with the mCPX. First attempt, not so good. Second try, with more altitude, got her cranked tail over nose, leveled out inverted, stabilized, held for a bit, then flipped it back over to gear down flight.

Technically, that's a no brainer for all the experienced 3D pilots. But it still feels good to flip it over, hold it, and flip it back without ending up with a puff of dirt and grass at the end.

All in all, a good day so far...
Posted by live4java | Dec 01, 2013 @ 09:14 PM | 3,295 Views
Flew the QX350 around Coyote Point earlier in the day with a friend. Stayed in Safe Mode with the camera aboard. Seems to be pretty consistent flight times, with the "slow flash" starting at roughly the 7:30 to 8 minute mark depending on whether I'm slinging the camera, then putting about 1000 to 1100 ma into the pack when I get it home.

In theory, I should have at least 2 to 3 more minutes left in the pack when I bring it home. Do notice the Tenergy pack goes to slow blink earlier than the E-Flight, which is expected with the lower C rating.
Posted by live4java | Nov 29, 2013 @ 11:48 AM | 3,269 Views
Had a chance to meet up with FyreSG last night up in the City.

Very cool. Learned a lot and am even more convinced that this hobby has a fantastic Real World community to go with it.

Great meeting you, Fyre!
Posted by live4java | Nov 28, 2013 @ 04:43 PM | 3,758 Views
A couple of people have asked me how I carry my QX350 or B400 to the field on a motorcycle. For the Micro class Heli's, it's a no brainer. They're small enough to fit in a backpack easy, along with a TX. But the "Mini" class birds are too big to fit in a pack.

My initial thought was just to get a frame pack that was big enough to fit the B400's case. Which worked, mostly, but the case I got for the QX350 was too big in cross section to fit into the pack I'd purchased.

That left the luggage carrier on the F800GT. I'd been thinking of attaching a frame, but realized that with a little padding on the rack itself, and good cross strapping, it would be fine - even on the freeway.

I'm usually flying at a local school, but I've taken the QX350 down to the Marina to shoot some video there and it went without moving even a smidge.

Anyway . . .
Posted by live4java | Nov 09, 2013 @ 03:53 PM | 3,095 Views
I'd planned to video this with my Hero 2, but forgot the "head mount" so I could fly the B400 and film at the same time.

The good news is it wasn't worthy of a YouTube video where someone takes out a new 450 and grenades it in the first 30 seconds. I actually put two batteries through mine with only a minor "tips into soft dirt" incident which, after inspection, only managed to scuff up the blade tips a bit. Linkages, feathering shaft, servos, etc., are all good.

I did find I needed to have put a bit more trim into it (blade tracking was off) and have the right setting for the tail gyro. Through the second battery especially, I couldn't keep the nose pointed without a lot of stick.

In theory, everything is set up now to fly correctly and, once I get both batteries recharged, I'll see about taking her back out.

Also managed to rig the case to the BMW securely enough that I'm confident riding around town. Not sure about freeway though. Probably want to add another set of straps before I risk that.
Posted by live4java | Nov 03, 2013 @ 10:07 PM | 3,695 Views
First, it was the V922. Then the mCPX. Then buying a DX9 so I would have a good computer radio, and with it first a Nano QX and very shortly thereafter a QX350. But I've been wanting to go to 450 class for a while and debating with myself between a TREX 450 (in one of the FBL forms), a Thunder Tiger Mini Titan, or, recently, a Blade 450X BNF. The 450X seemed like the most economical choice, since it was under $500 ready to go, including the receiver with integrated BeastX.

And then this came across the bench at my LHS...

Blade 400 in good condition. Spare rotors. Spare bits. Aluminum case. Complete spare Carbon frame. Shopped around on ebay and other places checking on prices, and $250 for the whole setup seems pretty decent.

Haven't had a chance to fly her yet, but I got her bound to the DX9 and checked servo travel, motor, etc., with the rotor blades off and it all looks good. Might do the maiden (to me) this week, or on the weekend if I can't get home with enough light to fly.

If anyone has any recommendations for things to look out for beyond the obvious and following the manual, I'd love to hear it. I'm using the radio setup that's a cross between the recommended DX6i setup from the 400 manual (there is none for the DX8 or above) and the DX8 setup from the early flybar Blade 450, which is very close from what I'm reading.
Posted by live4java | Oct 07, 2013 @ 10:07 PM | 4,695 Views
Quickie flight with the QX350 carrying the GoPro Hero2 (3 min 6 sec)


Just a quickie flight with the new QX350 toting my Hero2. Winds are gusting between 15 to 20 knots, which is actually pretty common for up here on the hill. The QX is very stable, but with the gusts I chickened out on actually getting close enough to the weather station head to properly inspect it.
Posted by live4java | Oct 05, 2013 @ 11:26 AM | 4,047 Views
I mentioned before asking my LHS (Franciscan Hobbies in San Francisco) to put a DX8 "on the next order" for me, going in to check on it when I hadn't gotten a call, and being (easily) convinced to wait another three or four weeks to get the upcoming DX9.

I mentioned pre-paying for the DX9 a couple days before leaving on a business trip, since it was supposed to arrive while I was in the air to my first destination. I think I even mentioned the disappointment of returning two weeks later to find the radio hadn't arrived. That wasn't too bad though, as they had just started shipping a couple days before after an initial delay.

I've been following the DX9 thread here and been a little frustrated with the fact that other people were getting their radios, but mine still hadn't arrived. What's up with that?! But, finally, the wait is over and my DX9 arrived at Franciscan yesterday.

I'd planned to do a Grand Unboxing and take pictures and post them here and on my Failbook page and G+. But, alas, the box for the radio is too big to fit on the bike without strapping it to the rack, which I didn't really want to do. Hence, the less-than-grand unboxing happened at the hobby shop and the radio came home in my pack with it's accessories, the box got folded up, and the foam stayed in the city.

First impressions: Me likes. The feel is great, the voice, after update, is pleasant.

The manual, though, is a little sparse. It superficially covers all the...Continue Reading
Posted by live4java | Sep 26, 2013 @ 09:23 PM | 3,709 Views
Heading home tomorrow after nearly two weeks on the road. I've managed to fly the V922 every day, except the first where my flight was delayed for far too long. It's survived well, with only a broken tail fin for wear and tear.

Highlights: managing to get it inverted and back upright without crashing - once. Some open field flights without wind, which I haven't been able to get at home because, well, at home there is ALWAYS wind outside. Having people in upper rooms waving and beckoning the little bird up towards their windows from the second and third floors while flying in the hotel courtyard, which seemed rather popular, and just generally having a good time with the little beast.

In theory, my DX9 will be waiting for pickup at the hobby shop on Saturday. I'll likely come home with a Nano QX and something fixed wing as well. I'd love to get a Citabria or Decathlon and paint it up like a good friend's real Citabria - but I'm also thinking Night Vapor that I can fly indoors.

Ahhh, decisions...
Posted by live4java | Sep 16, 2013 @ 02:36 PM | 4,405 Views
The V922 survived the trip to Florida in my luggage, even if there were moments I had doubts about it. Not a bad flight, but so many delays we didn't get here until 2 in the morning.

Evidently the TSA thought the 922 was interesting enough to check into my bag. Maybe they had v never seen one with the radio and all three spares I brought.

Wind is lighter than home and the yard is better suited to flying than at home too. First front flip to inverted flight. Did OK but the wind kind of blew me down range and I had to hit the HT and drop on the lawn. Still. First forward flip to inverted! Harder than in the simulator with the 700, but I had a good idea what to expect and it built confidence.
Posted by live4java | Sep 11, 2013 @ 07:38 PM | 3,944 Views
The DX9 is supposed to arrive at the LHS on the 14th, which is the day I leave for Florida for a two week business trip. Knowing how their stock is, I've pre-paid for the radio so it should be waiting for me when I get back. Barring some kind of miracle and it arrives in the next two days.

Unboxing pictures and such to follow, though it'll probably be the 27th when I get back before I manage to post it.
Posted by live4java | Sep 05, 2013 @ 11:45 PM | 4,203 Views
After a couple weeks waiting for UPS and the service backlog at Horizon Hobby, my mCPX is home with the failed servo replaced under warranty. Only charge was $8 for UPS. Hobby shop took care of everything.

Interesting notes on the service order. Some of which had me scratching my head, like comments about the drive gear showing signs of flight and the Microheli swash not being under warranty. Of course, the service request was pretty specific about what we were having fixed.

But, then, it's probably good that the tech who worked on it made extensive notes.

Still has the tail drift issue, which I can trim out on the DX4e, but it's mildly annoying. I suspect I'll just replace the tail wires as I did on the V922 and extend the boom another 20mm. May or may not cure the issue, but it does improve the tail authority.

Pics after the next mod.