Category: helicopter


Hello,

I need to start with an apology, my blog activity was plumeting to new depth since my last post. As you can see the title I try to summarize what happened since February.

Last time I talked about the Ladybird quadcopter. I did a maiden and several fun flights with it since. It is a bliss to fly when weather is not allowing outdoor flights. You can fly it in the flat easily. I checked whether the propellers can be any harm. They aren’t, I tested them on my own palm, it doesn’t hurt the skin. My cats are very keen on catching the copter, but I keep it a bit off of their proximity. As I know that the prop cannot hurt them it is more like a precaution for the sake of the small copter. No animals were hurt during the making of this clip:

The 16th flight of my Easystar. Some Ringebu RC style landing even:

17th Easystar flight:

18th Easystar flight:

19th Easystar flight:

20th Easystar flight:

21th Easystar flight:

I am getting more and more used to the Easystar and fly it faster and lower. So far I had some hairy moments in combination with wind gusts, but did not crash it yet. I think that I am getting more and more interested in extending my flights to other models as well. Easystar is a great plane to begin with, it can show you many different flight types. It can glide, it can do loops. It can fly rather fast. It is easy to land and it has a forgiving character. Maybe this latter is its biggest weakness after all, as it lacks “the thrill” when you are getting used to it.

I will keep my Easystar, since I really like it. A great allrounder plane with high fun factor. But I will purchase some other models soon. Which ones? I will tell in my coming post.

With best regards,

Sir Crash a Lot

Hello,

I wasn’t flying too much during this year, had some issues of private matter that took my energy from flying.

Now I am back, trying to catch up. It seems that part of my club is already flying multicopters at an advanced level. And there are also some news about our flying field. Unfortunately bad news, the local council is taking it away from us, we are no longer welcome there from 1st of January 2013. So rather interesting flow of events.

The multicopter issue is worth covering in more detail. I am learning the important notions about multicopter flight, will try to get more advanced in this matter during the Spring. I plan to build one beginner model actually, that will teach me the basics.

The flying field issue is more complicated. There is a motocross track in the vicinity, it is quite loud and dirty. But hey, dirt biking is so. Anyhow the council wants to move them and also us. First they did not give anything in return, then the club protested. Now they consider to offer another field somewhere close to the city. It is not so easy to just pick an empty land. We have to process the land, make it smooth, plant quality grass, cultivate it to be smooth and also transport our tools and containers there. And build up the fences, the benches and the basic club facilities. So a huge piece of work that the council does not want to help with. Very awkward way of handling this issue.

Update. End of 2012 we received some great news, we can stay on our flying field for some time. The council changed its mind.

My 12th flight from week 17 you can look at here:

My 13th flight is also recorded:

I just had my 14th flight with the Easystar, please find the video here:

During my summer holiday we were taking care of the house of our friends. They live in the countryside, close to a lake in the forest. Very nice location, calm and peaceful. I could not resist to explore their garden with my Lama v3 helicopter. So I did. I came up with some challenges that I pursued. Some hovering, then some flying around the garden. Also some precision landing on our car.

Then my fantasy got cranked up and I came up with even more exciting plans. Why not try to fly through the car? I mean, how hard can it be? 🙂

And while I am at it. While not fly into the baggage compartment, land there? Then take off from the baggage compartment and land outside the car? It is really that hard? 🙂

During the winter I had very few flights. Two of them were recorded, these were indoor flights in Mölndal school sports hall.

I am getting more flights now. This Spring I am stepping up from the Lama v3 and will start with multicopter action. On last flight 13w07 I crashed the Lama and I do not intend to repair it any more. I had a lot of practice on it, it helped with orientation skills. Hovering nose-in and orienting at low speeds. However I am getting tired of the stupid limitations of Lama v3. It cannot fly beyond a lean angle, otherwise its control system just locks up and the heli gets in an unstoppable dive. It is very sensitive to wind and at the same time does not have the power to cope with it. Even its own turbulence disturbs the flight, so I am happy to consider it part of my past.

I am looking at a tiny multicopter called Ladybird. It is from Walkera. Helipal.com has a nice description to it, you can read it on their page.

There is a v1 version of the Ladybird. That has a much bigger radio controller with some programming possibility. And it has a 6-axis gyro system (gyro and accelerometer) instead of a 3-axis system (only gyro) of the v2. As I understand the v1 is slightly more stable, but the v2 is still very stable so if you are not looking for the nicer radio you might just as well like the v2.
Hobbyking has a detailed review of the v2 Ladybird, where they tell about the differences.

I have another project, will tell about it later.

Thank you,

Sir Crash a Lot

Hello!

I had some flying at last! This winter wasn’t really rich in flying. I haven’t got any plane that can be flown indoors, although I started to practice at least in simulator. I received a car as a present from my mother-in-law, now it is registered in Sweden, so I can drive it. This makes transportation to the flying field much-much easier. Carrying my plane on public transport was always a mess, people stare at you and you have to be extra careful to not break the model on the bus/tramway. Every grab handle or door is hazardous for the integrity of the airplane.

I took my Lama v3 to the club, Friday night we met at Mölndal in the sports hall of a school. The others had various slowflyers and multicopters even.

My flying skills got rather rusty (or dusty?), so I took caution. Practiced some rounds and 8 figures. Had to be careful to not fly too high, since the others were flying airplanes there. Was fun after all.

I wanted to spice up my recording, so had my hat cam and a mini camera on Lama even. The mini camera influenced flight characteristics of Lama, it became nose-heavy. So I had to fight with cyclic to maintain constant speed. If I sped up Lama lost control and dived into the floor. Lama cannot fly fast at all.

I have seen a clip on Youtube that explains how much difference it makes to have the music of Inception in a clip.

 

 

So I just put Inception music into my clip, the effect is dramatic 🙂

 

 

You can even see another recording from a club member. At 3:12 you can see me with hat cam and full concentration on the face. Quite amazing to see myself flying, now I understand why the others laugh at me when I have my hat cam on 🙂

 

 

With best regards,

Sir Crash a Lot

Hello!

The title gives away already what will happen during this flight. September 2010 it is.

I had some simulator training sessions, wanted to do nose-in hovering finally. I did not succeed with it yet, with Lama I could do that but on CopterX I had some reluctant feeling about full nose-in hover. In simulator I could do it. However I neglected the golden rule. Simulator is approximately 2x easier than real flying. As I could just do simulator hovering I did not have the necessary margin for real flight safety. I paid the price for this, you can see later in my video.

I friend of mine joined me this time and we drove to my usual flying place. However it was too much wind there, I did not dare nose-in there. Chickened in, like McFly in Back to the Future. We moved location to a shooting range. There it was less wind, at least we hoped for it.

At 3:50 I do my first nose-in hover. You can observe that upon turning out from it I lose some altitude. I did not pay attention to that at that time, however this turned out to be a crucial part of my crash later.

At 4:25 my second nose-in happens. Great feeling, but I am way too scared to enjoy it really 🙂

Upon turning out I lose altitude again and during rudder input have some cyclic as well. Two pilot errors at same time is way too much, I crash my helicopter. I crashed lot of times with Lama but this time I can see that the consequences are more severe. This bird will not fly for some weeks.

At 4:55 I disconnect battery. This is good to do first, so you can avoid any injury. If you have the heli in your hands and check the damage and the throttle stick is activated you can get serious injury. Disconnect battery first. Depending on impact magnitude it might be good idea to have the battery some meters away of you. Li-Po can be dangerous if damaged in crash.

Main rotor is “done” more or less, mechanism got a big slap. Flybar is bent. At first I thought that main gear got stripped but later I discovered that electric motor moved forward in its slot holes and main gear survived due to this. Very rare.

I bent the main axle slightly, I think that this is a part that sacrifices itself in most of crashes.

Both front servos died in the crash, plastic cogs stripped inside servo mechanism.

I even broke the landing stip pipe. It is quite weak, almost elastic so that it can take up energy in a harsh landing. This impact was too much, the front section broke off.

From 6:47 you can see my detailed damage assessment.

Later I started to take apart my heli. I wanted to salvage those parts that are still fine. Unfortunately I faced some difficult challenge here.  To be able to salvage rear cyclic servo and tail gear drive I wanted to take apart two sides of the main frame. And here I faced problem. There are M2 bolts on heli, very tiny cross-recessed ones. Material quality is very low. When I tried to untighten them with my jewel screwdriver I just destroyed the head. I tried with other screwdrivers, did not succeed. I suspected that Loctite 243 threadlock was too strong or I did apply too much of it. I ended up with destroyed screw heads and the frame still in one piece.

I tried with a heat gun even. According to specifications Loctite eases up if temperature is applied. Not in my case, the frame was stuck. So I give up on it.

At this point I was not really sure if I will build a new heli. During flying helicopter I realized that I am more and more interested in FPV rather than helicopters specifically. So I suspend my helicopter activities temporary and face new endeavours. I found another platform that support FPV in a much better way, I am going to try airplanes now.

Best regards,

Sir Crash a Lot

Hello!

Mid July, 2010 it is.

I had some maintenance beyond the normal checking procedure before each flight. Normally I go through connections, bolts and check if something is loose. Cable clamps are tight, no connectors get undone. It is good to do this, otherwise you don’t get any warning and crash.

After every 10th flight it is recommended to do some extra work, lubricate rotating parts, check belt tension. I did that, no problems were found.

We spent some days at a friend and his wife in Hindås. Since he is interested in RC I took my heli. We did some flying in his yard and did some roof checking. I hovered around the house and tried to capture how the tiles are sitting on the roof. No problems were found.

Hovering was pretty challenging. As you get higher the more wind you get. Even if it feels very calm on surface level, at 10 meters you get some wind anyhow.

Hovering just above my head was tricky. I could not really see if the heli starts to bank, I could only track that it starts to drift. Then it is late, I lose maybe 1/2 second reaction time. Tricky.

The biggest problem was however vegetation. Huge trees around the house, a lot of branches which are like death traps for a heli.

Instead of hatcam we recorded with a mobile phone. Sony Ericsson X10 Mini Pro it is. Quite good quality for a phone, mine records much worse video.

For second half of the clip I skipped tail camera, so you get almost real FPV this time. I like FPV more and more as I do it.

Best regards,

Sir Crash a Lot

 

 

Hello!

July 2010 it is. I had my first triple camera flight. What needed a fix:

– better camera mounting

– vibrations

– nicer frame layout

First point was easy to fix. I put more attention to “aim” the cameras. These cameras had focal length that provides normal field-of-view, they are not really wide-angle. So aiming them well is important.

Second point was more tricky. I made some research and found out that you need a combined solution. You have to dampen vibrations and at same time (!) have a stiff connection. Best is to have something relative soft material under your camera and have some clamping that gives firm and stiff connection. If you would only have the soft part you will have a flimsy mounting, just as I had last time.

At this time I increased the size of my velcro tapes, this alone stiffened up a lot. I could not use plastic clamps as I only had short ones at that time.

At 1:40 I almost crash into myself. I get some sudden wind gust that pushes my heli at me. I could correct this move but it got uncomfortably close. Those blades spin at something like 2000/min so it is good to avoid them.

This time I could do much better shots of the area, quite nice weather and scenery.

At the end of the clip you can even see some special event, let it be a surprise 🙂

Please find some extra material from same flight here. I chase a motorbike (only a bit) and follow a car.

Best regards,

Sir Crash a Lot

Hello!

End of June 2010 it is. I bought 2 keyholder cameras recently and tried them out on my helicopter. Weather played with, nice sunshine and not much wind.

I wanted to create a picture-in-picture experience in my video, when you can see simultaneously both onboard cameras and my hatcam.

I had one camera on the tail in portrait orientation. This showed most of the helicopter. The other camera was fixed under the canopy upside down. It doesn’t matter which orientation I used, I could set them upright later in video processing. Third frame was my hatcam. I used adhesive velcro tape to fix my cameras.

Quickly after starting the motor I could see that I have a problem. Vibration. The tail camera was badly influenced by this. The picture got wobbly, all sort of wavy interference disturbs the footage. As far as I understand CCD cameras record line-by-line. So if you have some quick moving object in the frame it gets bent or tapered. Like my rotor blades look like banana as the sensor cannot read so quick as they rotate. Vibration becomes very quick movement, video compression just gets confused by this and you get this wavy image.

If you read this guide of RC Explorer you can see how CMOS and CCD cameras handle vibration. See some comparison examples here even.

At this point I still used the stock slow memory cards, so there is lag problem on top of vibration issues.

I tried to make some shots of the bay close to us. It looks great from the air, however all this shaking and wavy image ruins the experience somewhat. I see the light at the end of the tunnel but we are not there yet…

This setup gave me a lot of excitement, having those cameras on the heli is very promising. I need to sort out vibration issues. Started to read a lot about it and found the solution actually. More of this in next post.

Best regards,

Sir Crash a Lot

Hello!

Earlier I posted about basics of FPV and my quest for finding a camera small enough to be carried on my helicopter. I did not really get to the very moment of purchasing. And actually that was a good thing. Why? Because I found a much better solution.

I bought some keychain cameras from Hobbycity. They are not the best, rather medium quality among all those cheap keyholder (keychain) cameras.

A good type should give you footage like this. Notice the yellow timestamp. (video of salvix001)

This camera sets audio gain automatically, has quite okay metering and color rendition for such a small and cheap device. We are talking under 20 USD just to put things in perspective.

The camera that I bought was like you can see on following clip.

Notice the white timestamp, the jerky movement (lags in video stream, the footage “jumps”), the different colour rendition. Maybe it is not so noticeable now as I profit from bright sunshine while the “good” camera is indoors but my camera has worse colours in comparison. Later I learned that mine does not compensate microphone gain for exterior noise level.

I was amazed by the possibility of recording from the helicopter, but was somewhat unhappy about the lagging. Nevertheless this was possible to cure. I read on Hobbycity forums that with higher speed memory cards this is no problem. I bought my 2 cameras with memory cards, at that time you could only get them with memory card. Those cards were very low spec.

I try to give you some crash course on memory cards. Probably this will be obsolete in short time as computers evolve with the speed of sound, standards come and go all the time. So please consider this valid at the time of being written and maybe 1 year ahead.

These cameras use MicroSD cards, another name is Transflash. You usually find these in mobile phones.  They are smaller than SD (or Secure Digital) cards, much smaller indeed. What I was looking for is actually High Speed Micro SD or MicroSDHC cards. These have same form factor as MicroSD but have more speed. The one that I was going for was Class 6 speed level. It sounds like sci-fi to me.

With such a card (Class 6 speed Micro SD HC at 4 gigabytes capacity) I managed to get video without lag.

This was already acceptable for me. I did not know yet of the audio problem (the lack of gain compensation), video was okay. I tried this setup on CopterX on my next flight. Stay tuned for this coming post.

Best regards,

Sir Crash a Lot

Hello!

June 2010 it is. My 8th flight was a bit unusual. I flew just as I did earlier but did not have any recording device at my disposal. My wife took her camera on a business trip and left me without any video recording device. Can’t really blame her, it is her camera after all 🙂

Anyhow I came up with a plan. What if I “fake” my flying in simulator. These modern simulators provide such nice graphics that probably only the eagle-eyed viewers will notice.

Please see my flight or my visual story of my flight more likely.

This is a short post, since the video tells everything that happened. I learned a lot this time as well, was hoping to be able to do more advanced flying soon.

Best regards,

Sir Crash a Lot

Hello!

My 7th flight took place end of May 2010.

7 is a nice prime number, I wanted to do something special. I am a big fan of Isaac Asimov sci-fi books. He was a great writer, his robotic novels are my all-time favourites. So why not have robotic commentaries in my video?

Since we are talking sci-fi I have to mention Arthur C. Clarke as well. The movie based on his novel 2001: A Space Odyssey is also my favourite. I tried to incorporate a bit of that into my clip.

I watched some Nightflyyer videos. He told story of RC flying in early times, a control method of “U-control”. If you watch the videos you can see quickly how it works. You hold a U-shaped object and control the model with strings or steel cables. You will stand at one point and fly around yourself while you rotate together with the model flying in circles.

He even converted a modern electric model to U-control.

I think you have guessed how I will fly. Yes, around myself. But instead of strings I use the Marconi-magic: radio.

This gave me good possibility to practice forward flight without getting very far away with the model. I tried to practice slow and smooth turning. The slower the more difficult it will be. Flying fast is more easy actually since your helicopter will become more and more like an airplane. When you are close to hovering difficulty level will increase.

When the heli is banked and turns and you can see your own rotor blades (rotor disc) from slightly above then you feel that it is worth it. Great sight, lot of fun 🙂

Best regards,

Sir Crash a Lot