Archive for September, 2011


The curse is lifted from me, finally some nice weather again 🙂

We summoned with some club members at Balltorp field and got our dose of flying. Great times!

My little side project was about to get more interesting recordings from the sky. I had 2 new mounting points on the plane, on the fuselage, under the main wings. The idea was to mount the mini camera pointing downwards and recording “satellite” images. I thought that if I can get very high up and get a good wide-angle view it will look nice.

Well, it did not go so well as I hoped for. One of my cameras died prior to flying. I charged them up from the USB port and went to flying. Unfortunately these 15 dollar cameras don’t really come with any user interface. There is 2 amber coloured lights on it. By shining or blinking them the camera tells you what mode it is in. Or by not responding to the buttons it tells you that it either crashed or just drained its battery. Or in my case just died off.

As far as I understand the charging and battery management in these cameras are not so sofisticated (you can guess from the price), this results in battery overload. I dismantled my camera to examine it. The battery is a 1-cell Li-Po with some 160 mAh capacity approximately. In ideal case it provides juice for 45 minutes. However when you charge them on USB-port you do charging with 500 mA current. That might be too much. Or the battery management circuitry does not protect it from overcharging well enough. Anyhow my camera reached its end of life. At least the battery did.

Luckily solution is not far away. I went on the Internet and found this! (quote from Top Gear 🙂

It is a 240 mAh 1-cell LiPo with a standard JST connector. I just ordered such connectors, so I could solder a connector onto the camera, lead it outside of the plastic housing and attach this “proper” battery on top of the camera. So I could charge it from the iCharger charger with proper current and without overloading it. I could check its drain level with my LiPo Cell Checker and I could have the camera for longer time. Why dispose something when you can mend it?

We shall see how well I manage with this. First I will check if the camera is able to take pictures from the USB port. If it does not work then it is maybe not much idea to attach the external battery since the camera itself is broken even. I need to investigate further.

Back to the flight. The weather was reasonably good.  Some clouds, some wind. Later the wind picked up speed but it was manageable. I did some good hand starts (I am still learning to throw with left hand). Then I had some really bad start attempt. There are some insects that love to fly around the eyes. One got into my eye precisely when I launched the model. I have got totally distracted and launched the plane into the ground. Very embarrassing. I became nervous and did it again, now without the insects, just me being clumsy. This did not really help. So a club member launched the model for me, then I calmed down and could continue flying. Pretty ashamed I was, dropping the model twice is just silly.

I did some high altitude recordings and then I noticed that the other camera (the one still working) was drained as well. I assume that the internal battery is giving in there also. So I might need to upgrade it.

I noticed that even though that I bought these cameras from Hobbycity I have two different batches. One renders pretty nice green colours and handles light changes quite well. The other (the one still working) is worse. It renders more like cyan and blue colours and is pretty bad in high contrast situations. Like sky/ground scenario. Which is little unfortunate when you try to use it as an airborne recording device.

So I am very much looking at this.

It is a much better camera from Hobbycity. It has 720p HD resolution. Not FullHD, but 1280×720 at 30 fps is far better than the one I have right now (being 640×480 with crappy plastic lens and much noise).

A pretty good comparison of what you get is possible to see on following Youtube video.

Author is ultralajt, he made a video comparison of both cameras on same plane. Basically you get much better dynamic range, much longer battery life and much nicer wide-angle view. For roughly twice the money, this one costs 35 USD without memory card of course.

It is far from being a GoPro HD Hero action camera, but the price is far from it as well. I think GoPro would be a later step, when you are flying like an ace then you would put such a marvel onto the plane. Not me. Just look at me launching my plane into the ground twice this weekend 🙂

I flew out all my 6 batteries but the day was far from being over. I recorded some Tricopter action. HaBoRC built one and flew it first by eyesight, then by FPV. We helped him by telling altitude, so in initial takeoff phase he did not get disorientated. Quite fun it was. The footage looks great.

Another colleague came with a Quadcopter. That is a funny beast as well. There was a Yak55 even. HaBoRC showed some acrobatics with this light plane in turbulent conditions. The cherry on top of the cream was when he catched it while hovering. Another club member recorded footage of this.

All in all it was a great day. Here is my recording.

Best regards,

Sir Crash a Lot



I am not flying for 2 weeks now, the weather is really bad here. We got some storm called Katia, lot of wind and rain. So no flying outdoors.

I had to do some simulator flying, no other option is working in these days.

Since I never really used rudder for more than correcting some turns I though that I need to get more advanced in this question. Doing a knifeedge seemed a good point. What does knifeedge mean?

Knife-edge means that the plane flies 90 degrees roll and altitude is held by the rudder.

I started to do practice runs in simulator. Crashed maybe 20 times before it started to work for me. You need to compensate for the speed and rudder in order to have proper speed and altitude. And of course holding the plane in 90 degrees roll is important as well.

Please take a look at how I managed:

For a first attempt it is okay. But I need to practice a lot more before I get a rock solid knife-edge in a perfectly straight line. Long way to go 🙂

Best regards,

Sir Crash a Lot