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Jul 22, 2014, 08:10 PM
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The big 3 without editing

Collinn Quinn demos (54 min 23 sec)

With so many unemployed programmers, it was only a matter of time before someone would try to free the bits & upload some videos. We'll see how long this lasts until the indy movie studios crush the rebellion. These videos covered what currently are the 3 mane copters, in a rare appearance without any editing.

Collinn was a lot more down to Earth than when we was at DJI. It was still definitely a choreographed team demo, looking a lot like a Vegas trade show.

As with personal experience, the 1st attempt at a programmed flight was a hair raising flyaway & it took 2 attempts for it to work. He assumed it was a conversion from centimeters to meters, but the team never said what it was. When it did work, the droidplanner eye candy obscured what was happening, but you could barely see that it wasn't able to fly in a circle, in the wind.

They may have removed the circle from the flight plan because it wouldn't work. The user interface never showed it.

The eye candy made Droidplanner worthless outdoors, but it did show the potential for easy mission planning. It just needs a way to play back a simulation before flying, in order to avoid take 2.

DJI Phantom Vision demo (46 min 41 sec)

Mark was quite a contrast to Colinn. He expounded so much, he ran out of time & wasn't allowed to show his Lightbridge system. Both these videos were manely manually flown, as it's been during any fly-in. For all the hype, the latest autopilots & sensors just aren't fluid enough to compare to manual control, especially in the wind. It also seemed to take the DJI's too long to get a GPS lock to be practical. They need to install the backup battery in their uBloxes that Pixhawk uses in its uBloxes. So the autopilot is still rarely used, even in a product demo.

He mentioned the robustness of his diversity video system, but when actually flown, the quality was worthless.

The Phantom Vision was a piece of work. DJI is still the only one offering a fully integrated camera/copter system with the video controls & flying controls together, digital video downlink, & a standardized RC control. While all the video downlinks were horrendous, the downlink from the digital DJI system was lightyears ahead of the others.

The lowly Phantom Vision made the Iris look pretty crusty, with the team having to explain to Colinn how the jiggered RC controller was configured, the user being required to configure the camera the ages old way by hand, the user having to supply an ages old glitchy analog downlink. As much as customization can be desirable, the integration is why the Phantoms are everywhere. 3D Robotics just needs to start hiring people.

Wheatcraft DJI octocopter demo (1 hr 5 min 40 sec)

Finally, we have 1 of the DJI octocopters of stadium crash fame. This was the only demo which was manely flown on autopilot, but he was focused on still photos more than video.

The DJIs were flown in autopilot stabilized mode a lot more than the Pixhawks, as it tends to be in every video featuring DJI. Their autopilot stabilized mode seems to give a real good feeling with the controls.

It was interesting to note how bad Canon DSLR's are. Without Magiclantern, the bitrate is too high for any normal SD card & the recording time is too short. So he complained about recordings stopping spontaneously & his live demo was stopped after the 12 minute time limit, with a big error message covering the entire downlink.

All the downlinked video was consistently worthless. They blamed it on wifi, competing copters, & competing electronic gadgets. This seems likely, since personal experience at fly-ins has been a lot better, but that was 20ft range. The requirement for direct line of sight continues to be a showstopper for FPV flying, after 8 years.

Things were a lot different in the unedited demos than the usual, heavily edited sales pitches. The promises seem to be racing farther & farther ahead of what the technology can achieve, with every new promise built on the same outdated gear & standards, cameras that don't really work, radios that don't really work, batteries that only last 12 minutes. It's a lot like how the e-commerce boom was first built on 56k modems or the refinancing boom was first built on 6% interest. The promises just kept racing ahead of technology that was stuck.

Of course, eventually mortages didn't have any interest & modems got fast enough to actually support e-commerce, but it took 10 years. It's just a matter of technology catching up to the promises & then whoever is still standing is going to be Google's next buyout.
Last edited by Jack Crossfire; Jul 22, 2014 at 08:33 PM.
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