VolantexRC Mini Ranger 1.4m PNP - full review and build log
Hi everyone, I think it has been long enough since I've reviewed a Volantex product, so here is the Mini Ranger 1.4m wing span PNP version review and build log.
Purchase link HERE.
You can find all of the information as well as a detailed parts list in my blog: ArxangelRC.blogspot.com
When Volantex initially told me that they were going to make a smaller version of the Ranger I was very curious to see how it will fly, and whether they will listen to some of the feedback that I've given them on its larger brother - the 2m wing span Ranger EX. Now that I got the plane and had a chance to fly it, even in some pretty high winds, I can honestly say that they have listened and this smaller one is a VERY good flying machine. It has all of the good features of its bigger brother - pretty much no tip stall, and a very controllable one when it does happen, it floats and glides for ages, especially with headwind, flies overall flight performance is stellar, and it is efficient beyond belief! It does still have a few of the bigger Rangers' drawbacks - when you throttle up the nose goes down, and the control surfaces need to be hinged additionally, but at least now the landing gear is in the right spot, so the plane does not nose over when landing on rough terrain. I honestly recommend this plane for beginner pilots and beginner FPV enthusiasts.
Wing span: 1380mm
Wing area: to be added...
Flying weight: ~950g without battery (actual achieved for the current configuration: 1117g)
CG: about 70mm from LE
To be honest, the plane came very well packed and double boxed, so I wasn't expecting much in the way of transport damage. And in fact there was very little damage, and I actually think it was caused before the plane was shipped!
There are a few dents on the top of the fuselage on the right side, just where it meets the wing, but by the way it was packed, I can assume this happened in the factory, not during transport. In any case this is so minor, it was barely worth mentioning.
The other thing that I saw fit to mention was the rudder! Yes, the rudder came with the control surface torn off. I am pretty sure that too happened in the factory. Funny thing is, the ailerons and the elevator were not torn off, yet somebody apparently decided that the rudder's foam hinge was not OK for use as is (hence why it was torn off, so the user will have to re-attach it better), but the ailerons and elevator were more than OK with the same weak and see-through foam hinge!
Everything else in the package was pristine. All wing and tail parts were straight and free of any warping of deformations, including the control surfaces.
WHAT I LIKE
And now we get to the largest section of this post! There is definitely a lot that I like about this plane!
I've always liked the fact Volantex always put in some extra screws, push rods, clevises, etc. They cost literally nothing, but can be so helpful when you are in need! This plane is no exception, the accessory bag contained a good number of self-adhesive velcro pieces, extra screws, extra clevises, extra push rods, a screw driver and a few hex wrenches! Now that is what I call a good product - you literally DO NOT need any instruments of your own to put this plane together. And yes, those big wheels are of the same size that comes with the bigger Ranger... but here they are well suited to the plane's size and weight! Please Volantex, include better and bigger wheels with the bigger plane! PLEASE!!!
Next on my list is this little beauty - a nose weight - just in case you decide to use the recommended 3S 1800mAh battery, in which case the plane will be totally tail heavy and you would need some ballast in the nose. Its a nice touch, but in any case I do prefer to add weight in batteries rather than inert objects!
The landing gear legs are nice looking, shiny, and springy, but not too soft, which will be crucial during those occasional not-so-optimal landings.
Another thing that definitely speeds up the build process and keeps you from having to use any glue is the fact that all servos and reinforcing spars come pre-installed. The servos did feel pretty solidly glued in their respective beds, so I did not feel the need to re-glue them. I also love the fact that the tail servos are right at the back of the plane, which will allow me to load more batteries or FPV gear up front without having an issue with CG.
Also, the main wings come with servo extensions already installed and taped over.
Volantex have also gone to the trouble of leaving an opening right in front of the servo so you can easily tighten the servo arm without having to cut foam away! Good thinking!
The wing mounts to the fuselage with 4 long bolts that slide into plastic inserts on top of the wing, which in turn fit very snugly into their respective beds. The fit of the mounting brackets is very precise, and once inserted the wing feels very solid even before it is mounted on the plane.
The little arched up detail at the back of the wing actually slides in the motor mount and makes it a bit more aerodynamic, but if you plane to take the wing apart for transport be careful with this bit as it would probably be easy to break it off. However, at 1.38m the wing is small enough to be easily transported without the need to disassemble it.
And so we come to the main spar. It is aluminium with a thicker wall, so it is stiffer than you'd expect. Fit in the wing is very nice and tight, and really stiffens it up.
Moving on to the fuselage, even though it has the same general appearance and looks as the bigger Ranger, I can't help but feel that it is more streamlined! It just looks slicker.
Apart from that, almost everything else is about the same as the big one, only smaller. The built in camera mount looks good and my RunCam's lens actually fits pretty nicely in the opening. You also have the same air inlets to help cool the electronics inside. Might be a good idea to tape these over in the winter months to prevent your battery from freezing during flight, as this bird proved to be more efficient that I thought.
There is a spot on the tail boom for the video Tx with an opening right in front of it for the cables to go cleanly into the fuselage. It will be a bit fiddly to get them through, but it will be worth it. You can also see the air outlet hole as well. The bigger Ranger's motor wires were going through there, but this one has been designed a bit differently so it is unobstructed.
The tail assembly is basically the same as on the big one, but smaller. The only difference is that the fuselage is EPO, not plastic. Some people have had issues with the tail assembly breaking, but I personally have been through a few horrific crashes and I've never had a problem with that assembly. Given that this plane is much smaller and lighter, I think it will be fine.
The tail servo extension cables have been wired through the fuselage and you can even see a little glue on them to hold them firmly in place during shipping, so you wouldn't have to go hunting for them inside the fuselage.
Inside the fuselage, the tail servo extensions are actually secured with tape, so they don't move around or fall out. Its so simple, and shows that somebody over there has put some thought into this.
The motor is a 2212 1400Kv bell type and comes pre-installed with this long shaft sticking out of it. It does have an up angle, even more so than its bigger brother, so Volantex have used the feedback from the big one to make this one as it should be.
And now, for the time ever on ANY Ranger that I've owned, I am able to clip the canopy shut, because the lock actually works! I've never been able to get the lock on the bigger one to work, but this one is different and it works perfect.
On the inside the fuselage is spacious for the plane's size and material and would definitely allow a lot of gear to be installed comfortably, without having to crap everything on top of one another.
Right under the wings there is a plywood plate the would be perfect for mounting your autopilot of choice right under the CG and away from the power cables.
And finally, the manual is nice and detailed, comes in both English and Chinese, and has a lot of info in it, though wing area is not mentioned anywhere.
WHAT I DON'T LIKE
Inevitably there are things to be discussed here as well! I guess the time of a plane to suit all needs and tastes is yet to come!
I am going to start off with something that was a big issue with the bigger Ranger, and it can become an issue here as well - the hinges! I know this plane is smaller and lighter, but that does NOT mean you can cheap out on the hinges, and even make the foam hinges thinner and smaller! Just look at the photos below, the hinge line is not whole, there are design holes in there... not sure for what reason other than to weaken the hinge. Furthermore, the hinges are literally see-through, they are that THIN!
Thankfully, somebody at the factory decided to tear off the rudder, so you would have to re-attach it, and hopefully make it tougher than the foam hinge was. I can only hope people would think about all the other hinges as well and reinforce them. NOT cool Volantex, not cool at all! If you have to redo all hinges on this plane (and you do have to, because otherwise you run the risk of a hinge tearing off in flight and crashing your new plane), assembly time goes up into the hours, its not "less than 20 mins" as stated in the manual.
This is just a little annoying - everything else on this plane comes pre-assembled, pre-installed, or in any other way almost ready to use, in order to facilitate a shorter build, and yet a simple thing like hinges are left out of the equation! If you decide to go with anything else but tape to reinforce them, build time will be at least 90 mins, or even 2 hours.
Moving on to less critical stuff now. I want to turn your attention to the total lack of CARBON on this plane! The reinforcing spars in the parts are plywood, the main spar is aluminium. I would have thought by now the price of such carbon parts would have been pretty much the same, but it weights LESS. A carbon main spar would be definitely lighter and stiffer than that aluminium one, plus if they'd used a square one, it would be even stiffer than the round tube. I seriously doubt they have reduced manufacturing cost by anything notable by keeping away from carbon! Volantex, people like carbon parts... keep this in mind for future projects! Its not critical, but it looks nice! Thought I have to admit that the glue work on these parts is pristine.
Another area of concern for me is the LG mounting plate. It is made out of plywood with blind nuts on the other side. The plate itself is glued to the bottom of the plane, but also goes into the foam on both sides, so it does have some support, but I feel like this might become a problem during a rough landing or a light crash. It could literally tear the bottom of the fuselage apart.
I will try to always land as gently as possible, but novice pilots might not be as successful and need to be careful with this.
Continues in next post...
Last edited by Arxangel; Nov 23, 2015 at 09:59 AM.
... continued from previous post.
Another issue was with the tail section, and in particular with the glass fiber strip that was used to reinforce the tail boom. It was not properly glued in, so it was sticking half way into the openings where the tail wheel support goes through.
And now we come back to the motor angle. Despite the higher angle the plane still exhibits the nose-down tendency when you throttle up. I have seen that people are again trying to find ways to raise the angle more, but out of the box it will not fight you too much when taking off, and the plane easily cruises along at less than 50% throttle, so for the most part you will not feel the nose-down issue. I will not be raising the motor angle at this point as I want to test the plane as stock as possible first.
And talking about the motor, some of the mounting bolts were chewed up pretty bad, so I did have a slight problem removing them when I needed to take the motor off. When I put it back on I replaced all bolts with new ones.
Also, the way the prop mounts, the cone covering it are always a bad idea... or at least these ones are! Out of the box this thing vibrated like hell, and it turned out it was not the prop, but the cone! I had to use tape on the cone to balance it, but since I am keeping everything stock I have no choice but to keep using it for the time being.
And last, but certainly not least, is the ESC. Volantex ESCs have been notorious for burning out A LOT! However, I will keep using it just to see how long it will last. So far I've done 2 hours of flying and its been fine, fingers crossed it will stay that way. The ESC also comes with a T-style deans connector, which I hate, so I had to remove the motor, so I can take out the ESC to replace the connectors... This build was definitely A LOT longer than 20 mins!
I have to say, there is noticeable improvement in this plane over its bigger brother. A lot of issues have been addressed and a few still need solving but overall this plane is great! Its actually better than great. Although time consuming, the existing issues can be easily fixed, and once you get to the flying field you will realize that it was ALL WORTH THE SWEAT!
This plane is the best single motor FPV plane I've flown! Flight performance is stunning! And I am not exaggerating here, as you will see in the video later on. I was blown away by the ease with which the plane was controllable in heavy winds, by the ease with which it was able to glide for what felt like ages, and by the pretty much total lack of tip stall (at least at the current weight)!
Unlike the bigger Ranger, this little beast takes off straight as an arrow with very little rudder input, and no modifications to the LG or thrust angle. Take off is short and uneventful, pretty much the same as the landing. The stock 3S setup seems to be performing very well, and does not get hot, just barely warm to the touch. The motor has more than enough thrust even for some very steep climbs, which did surprise me pleasantly, and when you're not going for the clouds it runs so efficiently its hard to believe!
Remember that 2 hours of flight time that I mentioned having done with this plane? Well that was on 2 battery charges only! The second flight was interrupted, at constant speed and throttle, and it lasted 70 mins!!! And that's on 3S! True, I am using a 5200mAh pack, rather then the recommended 1800mAh, but still, this is A LOT more than I would expect from a 3S setup. Volantex really have done a good job streamlining the fuselage, optimizing the motor angle and keeping the wing profile the same as on the bigger Ranger, so we can get these crazy long flights on stock setup!
At this point I do not think I will need to replace the motor to get more out of it, unless it burns out at some point, which I doubt given how cool it was when I landed.
I honestly recommend this plane even for people without much experience. Can't say its good for total beginners, on account of the nose-down issue, and the necessity for careful landings, but once you get it in the air and get used to it... it is amazing! I love it, and I will be installing an autopilot and an FPV system soon, so I can have even more fun with it. I think I will use smaller and lighter battery though, so I can keep the weight around the current one, seems to fly very well like that, and with a smaller plane of this type you wouldn't really be going for distance records anyway!
THE BUILD, AND MODIFICATIONS
And now lets get on with the build.
The absolute first thing I did was to mount the landing gear, so the plane would stay upright while I worked on it. The wheels come with bolts, spacers, and nuts already mounted on them, so all I had to do was mount them to the LG bracket and tighten the locknut. It did take just a little fiddling to get the spacing right, so the wheel would spin freely when the nuts are tightened.
After that, I mounted the LG to the fuselage and put the plastic cover on top. I figured this plane is small enough, and I will try to be gentle on landings so I don't rip it off.
And before I knew it, the plane was standing on its own two feet... sorry, wheels!
Next I decided to deal with the most tedious and annoying task for me - hinges! I prefer the CA hinges as they are easy and quick to mount, and provide very good strength.
I did not want to cut the foam hinges, so I figured out a way to install the CA hinges as the control surfaces were still attached. I decided to mount two of the CA hinges in the already open spaces on the wing, and I cut out two small openings at each end of the ailerons for two additional hinges. Since this is a small plane, I decided that 4 CA hinges per aileron, coupled with the foam hinge, should be about enough.
Then, I would move the aileron to one of its extreme positions and cut holes in the foam on both sides, aileron and wing parts, for the hinge to slide in. I opened the hole a little by moving around the knife inside.
Then, I would get a hinge and slide it in both sides at the same time. With a little adjusting it was perfectly centered between the two sides.
The rest were easy once I knew this system worked. It almost look factory made.
I used the same method on the other wing half, and on the elevator.
Since the rudder was torn off, I had to mark the hinge positions with a maker, not a big issue.
Now that the hinges were done, I went on to assemble the tail. Thankfully, I had the right instrument for my Dremel tool so that I can grind down the strip that was going through the tail mounting holes. It took about 2 mins to fix both holes so that the tail wheel mount would slide in smoothly.
Next I installed the control horn and push rod on the stabilizer and mounted it on the plane, but first I connected the servos to the extensions, and stuffed the excess cable in the opening that was left for that. The stock control horns and clevises should be just fine for this plane's weight and size.
Finally, I installed the rudder. Keep in mind that those mounting screws took a long time to fully screw in and tighten the rudder, so as long as they are going in easy keep turning until they tighten down the rudder well. The push rod was also easy to install and the tail wheel wasn't that difficult to snap into its control slot on the rudder.
Next I mounted the control horns and push rods on the ailerons, and put a piece of fiber tape on top of the servos just to be safe, although they were glued in pretty solidly.
At this point I turned my attention towards the ESC. I took it out of the plane to replace the connectors, and I also disconnected its BEC and soldered a JST connector so I can use an external SBEC. I know I said I will try to keep it as stock as possible, but if I don't do that I KNOW it will burn out and crash the plane. At least now if it does burn out, I will still have working control surfaces and I will be able to land the plane easy.
I actually had to remove the motor in order to be able to take the ESC out. After I put the ESC and motor back in the plane, I mounted the prop on. I hate this type of prop adapters, but I will keep it for as long as I can, so I can test its long term viability.
In order to improve the ESC's odds of survival I cut off the heatshrink on top of its heat sink. In my experience, only super cheap and crappy ESCs come with ribbed heat sinks like this... but since my servos are powered from a separate source, I will keep using it for now and see how long it lasts. In any case, I doubt it would cost Volantex much more to put in a nice HobbyWing ESC for instance, which is much more reliable. I think the ESC will have sufficient cooling inside the fuse, so if it does fail it will not be cause by overheating.
Next I installed the D8R-II Plus receiver I was going to use for the time being.
Below it I used the provided self-adhesive velcro pieces to mount the ESC on the bottom of the plane, and the SBEC on the side wall. That plywood plate is really convenient for mounting stuff there, and will be great for when I install the micro autopilot system.
Next I assembled the wing. The parts fit together perfectly, and the braces on top fit really snug into their respective beds. For the time being I will keep the wing in one piece as it is small enough to be easily transported like that.
Then the wing bolts on to the plane with 4 long bolts. The mounting feels very solid and secure.
The part that slides into the motor mount needs a little massaging to go in, but it fits well after that.
The wing tightens very well to the fuselage and fit is good on both sides. I used a marker to place markings for the recommended CG locations, so it would be easier to test that later on.
Since the D series FrSky receivers use one antenna for reception and one for telemetry, I had to mount both straight up. I got a small drill bit and made two slender holes right in front of the wing, and pushed the antennas through there. It turned out really nice and clean, it should be good enough for now.
Next it was time to find a place for the camera. The designed camera spot looks good, and what was even better was that the RunCam's lens fit perfectly inside the stock hole.
I only had to find something to mount it on that would also keep the back side up, so it will have a slight downward angle.
Continues in next post...
... continued from previous post.
But first, I cut the foam around the lens so that it wouldn't show up in the video. I still need to cut a little more, because it does show in the video, but overall its all good.
Then I made a pile of self-adhesive velcro pieces for the camera to mount on, so it will have a downward looking angle while flying.
Next I put in the battery and played around with the CG. For starters I balanced the plane at 70mm from LE, but I think I need to play some more with it. The battery is the same as MultiStar 3S 5200mAh 10C that is used for the Walkera QR X350 Pro.
And the last thing I had to do before the plane ready for flight was to balance the prop. As it turned out, however, the prop was OK in terms of balance, but the prop adapter cone did need some tape, which brought down the vibrations to an acceptable level.
With everything ready it was now time to maiden this little plane. Since I was travelling over the holidays I decided to take it with me. I came across an abandoned airfield at one point, so I decided it was as good a time as any to do the maiden. Wind was a bit too high, but that is not a problem for me, and as it turned out, it wasn't a problem for the plane either.
Here are some photos at the airfield. The plane does look good.
Emergency crew is standing at the ready in the shade.
Doing some final control and motor tests.
And the plane is ready for take-off!
I have to say, that take-off was better than I expected, and the plane flew and performed very well, especially given the seriously windy conditions.
Coming in for landing.
After a few successful landings the emergency crew chief is doing a post-flight inspection of the plane.
Everything seems in order, so I can start disassembling the wing.
And here is a video from a few of the flights I did with this plane, and everything in this video is from 1 battery only. I did not recharge it between the flights. Total flight time was around 50 mins, and the charger put back 3600mAh... out of 5200mAh!
The actual uninterrupted flight lasted for 70 mins before the LiPo alarm went off and I landed! 70 minutes... on 3S... with a perfectly flying plane that barely needed any trim to fly straight and level!!! Can't add much more to that... just watch:
I just received my Ranger 757-4
This is what i realized so far:
* Moving surfaces need hinges
* Wings and Horizontal/Vertical Stabilizer need laminating
* Motor needs more angle
* Larger Wheels (maybe)
Can you please gimmie some details on how to install the prop on the motor axle with the nut stuck in the way ?
Anything needs gluing ? do you guys glue the wing in one piece ?
Any more advice you can give me, anything else i should be careful about ?
Last edited by biomecanoid; Nov 29, 2015 at 04:22 PM.
I am not certain that the foam parts need laminating, not unless you are planning to belly land into very tall grass, or plan to load the plane to 2kgs.
The motor also might not need more up angle, because you will start sacrificing efficiency. Balance the plane at CG of 87mm from LE and it should be fine. The motor angle will only be an issue if you use high throttle all the time. If you cruise along slowly it will not be a problem.
As for the bigger wheels, that would depend on the surface you will ve taking off from. The stock ones work well for tarmac and small grass.
For the prop, you screw the inner nut all the way to the bottom of the thread, theb insert the white bit that should fit on the nut, then use two prop adapters with the smallest holes, one in front and one at back of prop. You mount the prop on the shaft and then tighten the locknut, then install the prop adapter cone.
Nothing should need gluing on this plane. You can glue the wing together, but I did not, it is strong enough as it is, so didn't it beeds it, plus it will be more compact if it can be taken apart.
Anything else... if you have the PNP version, disconnect the BEC of the ESC and use a separate SBEC, if you are planning to use the stock ESC.
Good luck with your build.
Thanks for the quick reply and the warning about the ESC, i have already bought a separate UBEC and battery:
as i have heard stories about the ESC failing/burning out.
Regarding the prop/motor/axle i don't seem to be able to tighten the locknut because when i do the axle and motor turns with it.
I haven't really had the time to think this through as i am busy with work, i guess i will have better luck during the weekend.
This is the rest of the stuff i bought for my Ranger:
Can you please recommend where to place the diversity receiver antennas ? i have thought of buying extensions for the antennas as they are easily replaced since they have connectors.
Maybe i will bother you with more questions as i slowly proceed build the Ranger so please bare with me
As for the prop, its a bit tricky, and you do have to hold the motor tight when tightening the locknut.
Can I ask, why have you bought so many batteries?
The antennas can go either on top of the plane, or through the bottom. Look through my posts above, you will be able to see in the photos how I've mounted mine and I am getting over 3kms easy. You can also have them go through the bottom of the plane. Keep in mind that it would be optimal to have both antennas a little separated.
No worries, if you have any questions post them, I will do my best to answer.
So, following the maiden flight and the good results I got, it was time to install an autopilot and a video system in this plane and really get it going and performing. Since the space under the wing of the Ranger is not as big as that on the big one, I knew I will have to use something smaller... so my attention turned towards the Mini APM controller, since I already had one master set with OSD, telemetry, GPS, etc.
So, I unpacked it, and when I wired everything together for a test fit... this is the net of wires I got. And this would get even worse once I add the tracker module and video system to it!
My second task was to print out a case for this, mainly so I can mount the foam over the barometer more securely! As it turned out, the HK version of this mini APM was a little different, from the version the file I found was made for..., so it took some post-print cutting to make it fit, but it was all good in the end.
The included PDB, however, was meant for mini quads, which made it hard to use on a plane, so instead I decided to use the much higher quality and quieter ACSP3 power module.
I really like the micro OSD module that came with the master set. Its small and super light, and it comes with a split cable for the telemetry, so you can connect both, without having to make cables.
The OSD even comes with a separate cable to connect to an FTDI adapter, which I used to flash the MinimOSD Extre firmware on it. Works like a treat. Also, the OSD seems to work off of the 5v supplied from the mini APM, so there is no need to power the 12v side.
It was now time to close the case, so I put two pieces of foam on top of the barometer before closing it.
And since there were not bolt holes, I used packaging tape to hold the box together. It worked rather well.
Since this controller was clearly oriented more towards multi-copters, it is not able to power servos, so I had to make a harness that will get 5v directly from the SBEC. Signal wires are connected from the APM. I made one extra 5v lead so I can use it in the future if I need to.
Now that all of the wiring for the AP was done, my attention turned to the video system. Since the RunCams I own have some issue and do not have AV out, I had to send them back to China for replacement. Meanwhile I am going to use one of my ultra-light 170 deg lens cameras. It fits well in the nose of the plane and is light enough not to add much to its weight, while video quality is pretty good and handles sunlight very well!
To keep thing slight, I will also be using a 200mW Aomway micro Vtx with a CP antenna. Since I will be using a separate battery for the video system, I had to wire Ground between the Vtx and the OSD.
Now that the FPV was done it was time to install the mini APM in the plane. I used a double-sided 3M pad to mount it, should hold pretty well.
Mounting the AP and wiring everything resulted in a whole bunch of wires messing the place up, so I used a velcro strap to bind them together and tuck them away at the pack. Really cleaned up the plane.
I decided to mount the GPS unit on the underside of the wing, so I wouldn't have to stretch wires, or cut foam at this point to mount it anywhere else. I put some velcro on top of the GPS (should be absolutely transparent for the GPS signal), and also some on the wing, where it will mount. Works rather well, GPS is seeing 10-12 satellites during flight.
Next, I moved the ESC further back in the fuselage to make room for the power module, which I mounted on the side. I also used 3M double-sided tape to mount the radio receiver on the underside of the plywood plate, while still keeping the antennas where they were initially! Seemes to work really well.
Then, I needed to come up with a way to mount the micro telemetry unit, so that it would have a nice view of the ground at all times. That meant mounting it to the bottom of the plane in some way. The easiest way was to cut a hole in the bottom, only slightly tighter than the size of the module, and just push it in there. The friction alone will hole it in there well. I made sure to cut the hole behind the landing gear plate, as it seems to go into the fuselage quite a bit actually.
The module barely shows through the bottom of the plane, which does not add more drag and keeps the body lines clean.
Then, I installed the Vtx inside the fuselage, with the antenna sticking out through the bottom of the plane, and wired everything together.
Pay attention to how I've mounted the OSD module. I used two little pieces of very strong double-sided tape, no 3M this time, to mounted in such a way as to allow air to flow on both sides of the board. I have also cut the heatshrink that covers the video chip at the front and its heat sink at the back of the board to allow better cooling, as that thing does get hot. I've also placed the OSD right in the patch of the air coming from the air inlets at the front to make sure it will get adequate cooling in flight.
Here you can see the antennas on the bottom, overall it is a very clean build so far. I am happy!
And this is how both batteries fit inside the plane. I am using a 2S 950mAh pack for the video system alone. Spares me the pain of going through filters and such!
But then it hit me... this plane will still be able to fly at least 50 mins, even with added weight of the FPV and AP systems, which means that it can fly far, which means that it will need a directional antenna... which means that I will be limited to only one direction... which means that I will have to turn the antenna towards the plane all the time... which means that I was not OK with this! So, I decided to install a TeleFly OSD module for my MFD tracker, and also this time used a second GPS, so I wouldn't have to go in and modify the wiring of the existing one. This didn't add much weight, but really made my life easier. It did add to the mess of wires, but I bundled them together with a velcro strap.
The tracker GPS is mounted on the canopy with self-adhesive velcro, just like the AP GPS is to the underside of the wing. This GPS unit also sees 10-12 satellites during flight.
Now that everything was installed and working properly, it was time to fly! Coincidentally, I also had to test some new, factory hinged, vertical and horizontal stabilizers for the big Ranger, so I headed out to the flying field with both planes.
Here you can see all three planes I flew that day, including the new Hubsan H301S RTF FPV.
And a few more photos.
And here is my setup on the ground. Its a big mess, but it works! On the far left you can see the video goggles, then immediately to their right is my Android tablet, which receives GPS data from the tracker via bluetooth. This way I am not limited by the range of the micro telemetry unit in order to see where the plane is on the map. Then in the Taranis case is my Windows tablet, which runs MissionPlanner. Actually the micro telemetry unit with its small antenna performed better than I thought. I had signal at close to 1km!
And here is the tracker itself. You the bluetooth module strapped to the AAT driver. Below that, on the tripod leg, is my DVR.
Now, since I am not using a camera that can record video in this plane, I only have the DVR recordings from the ground, and that is nothing special to look at, so I am not going to even bother uploading it. I did send the plane on an auto mission some 3.7kms away, and the FrSky receiver still did not loose connection. Here is a little video showing how the whole tracking and monitoring on the ground works. Don't pay attention to the amp draw reading on the OSD, I did not have it calibrated at this point, although voltage is correct.
This is for the Turnigy Tx :
2 big batteries for the plane ( used one at the time ) :
1 small battery to power the UBEC and the servos ( + camera and VTx in the future )
Regarding the Antennas i think i should get extensions:
and put one along the wing and the hanging down vertically @ 90 degrees with the wing
what do you think ?
I usually connect the SBEC wires to the ESC wires, and power the servos from the flight pack. The secondary battery powers only the flight controller, and video system. This has given me the best results so far.
As for antenna placement, doesn't really matter, as long as the antennas can see the ground where you are. I don't think you need to move them to the wing, because you will have to disconnect them every time you remove the wing. Just stick them out of the bottom of the plane at 90 deg, and keep your FrSky module antenna straight up. That should be enough for a good signal.
My FrSky module has 2 antennas for diversity, and as i understand the antennas must be at 90 degrees from each other, thats why i said one antenna at the wing and one looking straight down
If i power the servos from an external battery i will have control if the flight battery goes empty and in case the ESC burns out. I consider it a safety line.
As for the SBEC, you should always watch for that flight pack voltage! I am no talking about using the ESC BEC, but soldering the SBEC wires to the ESC power cables at the battery side, that way it will get power from the flight pack.
You are free to do it as you think and test it, keep an eye out for interference in the video though. I know that every time I've powered the servos and video system from the same pack, the OSD was going crazy and switching off, hence why I don't do it anymore.
Some good news! My replacement RunCams are on their way to me, I hope it will not take 1 month for them to get here! The moment they arrive I will install one in the plane and will have some high quality HD video, and this time I will get same polarity antennas for the tracker and plane, so I can fly a bit further without issues.