Tag Archive: fpv


Hello,

Spring is here, the long winter sleep is over. I haven’t been flying for real for the entire winter, only did some simulator practice. So when time was ready to actually fly I was rather nervous.

To cure the lack of fingertip feel I launched the simulator to get some reflexes. Please find some hovering exercise with an Ultimate biplane.

I observed great interest in this plane, ArcticRC and his mate fly this model in the North of Norway. Great plane, great recording.

Nevertheless, I am still flying my modified Multiplex Easystar. I plan to learn flying more before I build a new model. Need to get more confidence in hand starting (although that it might not be needed with planned models), also handling wind gusts and of course flying more stable. I think the more practice I gather with current plane the more I can avoid some stupid mistake with future planes. Although that pilot error is never excluded, how much I might practice.

We had some promising weather during the week, so on Thuesday after working hours we drove to the field and started flying. Clouds around us were rather threatening, wind gusts came from nowhere, but overall conditions were okay.

I had some problem with one of my mini cameras, so I just have the hat cam and the Hobbyking Wing Camera recording. Anyhow it is more than enough material.

I managed to start and land without incidents, however once I did a full roll without willing to do it. I was subject to a stronger wind gust, the plane was tilted almost 90 degrees along longitudinal axis. I wanted to correct, but did not react fast enough and this let the plane do a full roll without me doing really much about it. I think I started to correct but was more amazed by the fact that my Easystar can fly “so advanced” than I was ready to act. Fortunately I was at altitude, so the plane did not lose height that it became dangerous. After this happening I was more alert and could correct wind gusts.

I did some low passes, also some gliding.

My conclusion is that this 3-blade propeller is not really god. It makes transportation much more difficult. The wings cannot be stucked close to the fuselage as you have a blade every 120 degree. With a conventional 2-blade this is no issue. The efficiency is lower, this results is loss of power. And for some reason even though that I have reasonable pitch on it the motor revs crazy high. So I did not dare to use it on full throttle for long.

I ordered APC 6x4E pusher props, will mount one when I get them. That configuration worked much better, but I cracked that prop earlier. Hence the try with 3-blade.

Here is my 11th flight, please check it out.

With best regards,

Sir Crash a Lot

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Hello,

I am proud to announce that I had my first proper crash. It comes sooner or later, you cannot avoid it. Mine came today.

We went out flying with HaBoRC, even though that the city was covered by fog. We thought that it might clear up during the day so we took our chance. When we arrived to the field conditions were far from perfect. I could hardly see the forest close to the field. I took a sweep recording, that shows a more cleared up view actually, in the beginning it was much worse.

Our initial activity involved recovering a plane that was crashed onto a tree some 7 meters high from ground level. We constructed a set of poles (taped together with Duck Tape, a special version of the famous Duct Tape actually 🙂 ). One member of our team was brave enough to climb up on the container containing gardening tools and nudged the plane down carefully. It was as slippery as ice, the fog made everything wet.

HaBoRC started to fly with his flying wing, I took off shortly after him. We agreed to fly close to the field so that we don’t lose sight of the planes. So did we. I started to turn tight so that the plane would stay in sight. I managed to make contact (collide) with the flying wing. I lost orientation of the plane (was extremely high adrenaline all of a sudden), to stabilize it I leveled it out. I was close to the lake, wanted to avoid it. Leveling out was good, but this enabled the plane to fly out of my sight, it went into the fog. I was desperate, tried to turn back blind but realised that with power on in the fog I will just smash it, so I chopped throttle and hoped for the plane gliding smoothly onto the fields.

What I managed I was unsure of. The very last moment I could turn away from the lake, that was good. But did it manage? Or is it in thousand pieces?

I started to walk into the generic location where it went lost. Unfortunately HaBoRC had similar problems. He looked at me fighting and forgot about his own plane. It went into the fog as well. We lost 2 planes within the first minute. Not good…

I walked along the small road and then discovered the plane. It was stuck into the soft vegetation covering the rocks. Pointing downwards, but the wings were on, control surfaces were on. Even the shape was normal. As I got closer I could see that it was gliding against a huge pine tree and ricochet to the soft bush. I could move the ailerons, elevator and rudder. Even the prop could spin up. The only thing missing was the canopy. I tried to find it but the fog was so thick that I couldn’t. I thought that it might popped off when I collided with the flying wing.

So I started to wonder around in the deep wet vegetation behind the field. My boots got totally wet, socks wet, then the trousers got wet even. Nothing. I thought that I might find it when the sun comes around. Recorded the others flying then I got back to the pine tree when the fog cleared up. And there it was my canopy. Close to the other big pine tree. That might took the first contact, the canopy popped off and then the plane crashed into the bushes.

The plane glided so far in the fog.

When I got back HaBoRC recovered his flying wing as well. I just tried to help him, wondered around the motorcross track and when I was back he had his plane as well. Great relief, I felt really badly after colliding in the air.

After a while I started flying again and could record some nice low passes. I still haven’t got my 2nd mini camera working, the replacement battery haven’t arrived yet.

Could record some nice multicopter flight. Quad- and tricopter. And some airplanes. I fetched some chocolate coated cookies, they were a welcome addition. Club members could replenish energy when needed. I will need to get some portable gas burner and make real coffee. Could a future project 🙂

Please see the recording of my flight here.

Hopefully soon I will get my Hobbyking Wing Camera and can get you much better looking recording.

Best regards,

Sir Crash a Lot

Hello!

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

Hello!

My 6th flight was a special one. My wife joined me this time. She is not really interested in RC, but wanted to give me company so she did. While being there she recorded some of my flying even. This gave me some funny footage of me launching the model and landing.

On the other hand she became very bored after a while so this flight was shorter than I anticipated. I could only fly 4 batteries instead of 6. Anyhow it was a good flight, I could do what I wanted during this shorter session.

What I aimed for:

– to fly higher and further away than before,

– to do some basic acrobatic flight

– to not crash on a treetop 🙂

I am proud to tell that I managed all these above-mentioned aims. Despite the strong wind gusts I could fly really high this time. I had difficulties to see the model, I was so far up. Could record some remarkable footage from the area of Arendal. This is the industrial port of Göteborg (Gothenburg) city. On the footage you can see Volvo Bus Corporation head office building, Volvo Museum, and numerous industry buildings along with the container buffer outside of the port. Very exciting location with all the wind mills.

I am getting very good results with my 180-degree fisheye converter. The field of view is good, it really opens up the horizon. When soaring with the plane there are no vibrations that mess up the image. I am getting more and more into gliding actually. The sensation of using the wind and gliding without vibrations from the motor is attracting. I will need to experiment more with gliding.

Best regards,

Sir Crash a Lot

Hello!

As you could read I fixed the electrical problem that arose on 3rd flight. Since weather was promising I took my plane to the office and we went flying after office hours on Thursday.

I had my 2 keychain cameras along with 2 wide angle converters. No hat cam this time, I am working on my updated design.

We had a guest pilot from the office, he is flying a nice DG1000 glider. Something like this:

And we had a moderately tuned (according to the owner, he plans to tune it further) Funjet on 4S battery and some insane motor and prop. Like a missile it flew.

I had some incident again. One of the wide angle converters unscrewed itself, and the bigger half with the lens in front fell off. During flight. Into the propeller and away it flew. I have mathematical chance to find it, I will look next time though.

I made a slow-motion replay of it happening, you can see that it falls off and then blurry image. Since the other half with the macro lens stayed on (has magnetic lock) the image lost focus totally.

I decided to use thread-lock on the remaining converter, CA might create some white fog on the lens itself.

Then I started my plane twice (yes, 2x) into the vegetation. Very embarassing. And once I tried to hand start and failed badly. So my self confidence was quite low in the first part of flying. Anyhow with some careful flying this came to a reasonable level, I had some great fun in the sky.

Our colleague Fredrik was kind enough to record some of my flying with his mobile phone, you can see me from his point-of-view during the second half of the clip. Great recording he made. I just had to align my onboard camera footage and then you can benefit of 3 cameras at once picture-in-picture. I wish I had more cameras, 3 is just enough 🙂

This time I could fly much farther away, as I gain experience I manage more and more. This gives much nicer footage from the air, the area in which we are flying is really beautiful this time. A lot of green and vegetation everywhere, great variation in height as well.

When I flew out the juice from my batteries I started to record others flying. Fredrik made some nice flying with the DG1000, very fine landing and turns.

We had great time again, a nice day it was indeed.

Best regards,

Sir Crash a Lot

Easystar schematics v1.0

Hello!

In last post I showed you my shiny new aircraft, in this one I will publish my shiny new schematics.

I colleague of mine is great expert in RC flight and he created such a mapping of what does he need to have. He intends to build a much more complex system with stabilization, real good OSD and some sensors even. So his schematics are really advanced. Mine is more like something basic, still I thought that this could drive some order in what I do.

This setup would include first of all an UBEC for safety reasons. This would enable me to have backup power if the ESC might fail. UBEC does not equal to Union of Banana Exporting Countries, it means something else. It is a power supply that handles current for power hungry components other than electric motor. One example here.

Other interesting item is an OSD. That means on-screen display. I chose (so far) the Flytron SimpleOSD XL Edition v2. This can do some important stuff that I look forward to.

It can for instance monitor 2 batteries. I plan to use 2, one for driving the plane, one for FPV. This will get less interference. It is always good to know how much capacity you have left, specially if you plan to glide for longer time. Simple time calculation will not work in this case.

Secondly it can monitor RSSI data, this will enable me to see when does my radio link lose fidelity, when it is time to turn back for sure.

Thirdly it can do some basic GPS functions even. I don’t know if I will use this, could be good later.

What I need to check out is how to connect these in reality. Schematics help quite a lot but details are not there yet. I also need to check out how to connect current sensors. I will need 2 of these, so that OSD can count how many mA are used up from the battery.

I also need to know how big UBEC do I need. No idea yet, I will do research on this. Notice the question marks on schematics.

My intention is to build the plane so that I don’t need to cut holes on it later. So I try to build in everything that I might need in the beginning. So I might need to get current sensors and OSD prior to build it. Or I can insert them later, I need to learn more about this as well. A lot to learn, as it looks like. It is highly possible that I will come back with v1.1 and other versions of my schematics.

If anybody wonders what program I used for this schematics I can recommend OpenOffice and its Impress component. It is comparable to Powerpoint, a bit different. But it is freeware.

I hope my schematics is not full of errors. Consider it as a work in progress, not final version at all.

Best regards,

Sir Crash a Lot

Hello!

I had some brainstorming on which airplane shall I begin with and convinced myself that the collective wisdom on the Internet could be right and I shall start with an Easystar from Multiplex.

As I am a methodic person I have my methods, of course 🙂

First I did some research on which parts do I need in extra. Also checked which upgrades shall I perform. I had in my mind FPV, this is driving some parameters that influence my choice of parts.

I narrowed down my criterion for the following items.

– brushless motor for increased payload (due to FPV)

– ailerons for more control

– simple OSD for battery control and RSSI display

What do these points mean?

Well, brushless motors are giving you much more power at almost same weight. They require a speed controller that controls the motor. In the end you receive unseen power compared to older type brushed motors. In my case this is actually needed, since I am going to mount FPV gear to the plane and this means more weight and more drag.

Just for reference. A brushed motor glider has difficulties staying in the air and climb. A brushless glider can climb at approximately 70 degrees. When you have FPV gear on board you need more thrust. And more power (in this case) does not hurt.

Second point is ailerons. Easystar uses only rudder by default. For me this sounds like steering a car only with braking on one side. It does work for tanks, nevertheless I find this limiting. So I will add ailerons. How? There are several options for this.

You can cut out aileron control surface on your own and hinge it somehow. You can either use some tape as a hinge or even get real hinges. I went for this latter. Bought Du-Bro hinges.

Other question is to how to do servo layout. As Easystar does not have any aileron by default you don’t get any pre-made allocation for them. But with a sharp knife and some love you can make wonders and “machine out” some foam from the wings. Or even the fuselage. Depending on how do you want to place your servos. The linkage will be different but not impossible. I am still investigating this, so more details to come later on aileron modification.

Third point is OSD or On-Screen Display at full length. I plan to build FPV equipment at a later stage. However Easystar build is meant to do so that you glue together two halves of fuselage. So you need to insert all components prior to gluing. Of course it is not impossible to cut it out later but I would like to have a clean build. We shall see how I manage, though.

Back to OSD. I plan to build in a Simple OSD from Flytron. What I need from its capabilities in first place is that it can monitor 2 batteries and display RSSI even. Monitoring batteries is quite good option. Since I plan to glide with the plane the classical time-based estimation of remaining battery capacity does not really work. Other important factor is RSSI. If you fly FPV you got to know how well radio signals reach your receiver. If you fly out of range you can lose your plane. If you can have RSSI gauge you can see when to turn back. Added safety.

For the sake of battery readings I will need current sensors. 2 of them. One for the plane battery and one for the FPV battery. For interference reasons it is better to have 2 batteries.

For the rest I will proceed as RC Explorer did in his build tutorial.

As you can see he is stiffening up the plane with carbon-fibre rods, pipes and strips. I will do the same, this will give better handling in turns with G-load.

I expect to have some of these items arrive this week. Very exciting.

Best regards,

Sir Crash a Lot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What to have for FPV?

Hello!

This is my first post that actually happens in present time. So far I told stories of my adventures with helicopters. I got into FPV and understood after a while that helicopters are not really suitable for this task. It is not impossible as Muni86 can demonstrate.

As I understand he is something like 10x more talented with his helicopter as I am so far. I need to find an aircraft that I can pilot well and provides a more manageable platform for FPV. I tried to think outside of the box and started to read again.

I found some FPV homepages and started to browse them. I would recommend to check out.

RC Explorer

FPV-Community

RangeVideo

At first I was overwhelmed by the amount of information on these sites. But with some processing I could find a trail that looked possible for me.

A very popular airplane for beginners and FPV pilots is Multiplex Easystar.

It has a wingspan of 1.3-meters. This plane is somewhere between a glider and a motor plane. It can glide quite well, if you know how to use upstream you can stay up in the air for long-long time.

What is important for me is that it is a very kind airplane, a great introduction into airplane flight for a beginner.

Another factor is its moddability. People created a lot of possible modifications for this plane. Some of these are offered as a ready pack, others you can do yourself. Like adding ailerons. Or more powerful electric motor.

A good summary of mods can be found here (petleh82 made it)

RC Explorer has a great review of this plane. If you check out his FPV videos you can see that this plane is present during many clips.

This plane is possible to glide, this has several advantages. First you spare energy and can have longer flights. Second you eliminate almost all vibrations, since the motor is not spinning. Do you remember my vibration issues with helicopter? These are going to be removed alltogether when gliding. A video from Intense Tobak, he flies an Easyglider (1.8-meters).

I colleague of mine has ordered another Multiplex plane, it is called Twinstar. It is not much a glider, more like a motor plane.

This plane has ailerons by default, you don’t need to modify it. However due to the gliding question I stick to Easystar instead. I am such a beginner that it is better to start with a beginner plane.

Easystar is going to be a good sample of both worlds, (motor and glider) so I can decide which direction I shall continue. Right now it feels like that gliding it is. I am amazed of the perspective of using the winds only as a propellant force. A nice upstream above a field in summer can give me almost infinit flight time. For safety I still have the motor. I like this combo.

My dream glider right now is Cularis from Multiplex. This has 2.6-meters wingspan, a different class already. Just look at it:

Isn’t it beautiful? 🙂

Now I am doing studies to get some depth in FPV. There is a lot of reviews, mod listings and videos of how you can start. I already posted this link but it is so good that I do it again.

FPV Starting guide from RC Explorer. I am going to do a listing of what do I plan to order. Hopefully it will help those that are in same shoes as I am.

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