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Posted by on Nov 26, 2012

Wind Chasing Episode 3

Wind Chasing Episode 3

  Take what you can get… It’s been raining all week, but trees are losing their autumn leaves, and winter is coming, so we take what we can get, and today what we get is sunny but windy. 20 mph constant wind and gusting flurries up to 35 mph, particularly up high. And cold. Big Heath So, safely away from dogs and roads and people and buildings, I ventured out to the vast expanse of Iping Heath, off the A272, to get blown about the skies while I get the measure of how my new hex behaves in high wind. It is fair to say that both the Naza and the T-motors have been tested hard today and both performed admirably, safely tackling 10 consecutive 6-7 min flights involving constant correction and hi revs to try and remain stable in all the blustery air currents. Amazingly, nothing was hot, not motors or ESC’s, so I’m pleased that it can physically stand up to these things. It can hold position...

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Posted by on Nov 24, 2012

Scout Mission – Southsea Castle

Scout Mission – Southsea Castle

Scouting the fortifications. This week has been the most rubbish so far for weather, and until today had achieved the grand total of 0 hours in the air. So, when the sun briefly put in an appearance this afternoon I was resolved to do something with it, so hot-footed it down to Southsea Beach where I hoped to blast through 10 battery-packs and fill my camera with (slightly inferior) Castle / Sea style goodness. But no. I had just enough time to unpack, get set up and do a quick couple of test flights before the cloud bank above me decided now was the time to unleash its contents, and I was rained off.  The wind situation was interesting. There was no general wind – so nothing to move the clouds along, yet because I was on the coast, there were lots of small blustery eddies to play merry hell with getting stable footage. Not only that, but Southsea Castle (which, let’s not forget, is not the most brilliant...

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Posted by on Nov 20, 2012

Testing Times Episode 4

Testing Times Episode 4

  The Battle Won. This one has been a long time coming, which is why I don’t care that yet again I’m at my local test-flight field, or that my GoPro is manfully struggling against the fading light. The Deep End Finally, after weeks and weeks of endless research, tests and trials, I have managed to eliminate both secondary micro-shakes and jello FX from my F550 heay-lift hexacopter video setup. It’s been interesting. Skip this next bit if you aren’t interested in the minutiae of how I eliminated shakes and jello – it’s mainly here so I remember what I did if I crash and have to re-build. The setup (in order of vibration transmission chain) is this: Six 11 x 5 Carbon Fibre Props connected to Six T-Motor 2814-10’s connected to 2″ 3mm steel arm extensions connected to A DJI F550 frame with Extra Tall Plastic / Carbon Fibre / Aluminium Landing gear connected to OFM custom Glass Fibre Base Plate with XAircraft Rubber Grommets, which hold 2...

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Posted by on Nov 15, 2012

The Autumn Sun

The Autumn Sun

Maximum gold please. Well it was certainly nice to see a sky that wasn’t entirely grey this morning, and it got better as time went on, so that as I arrived to meet a friend in Worplesdon at 2 pm it was making everything there look pretty stunning. This was Autumn at its best, and I was damn well going to be in the air recording it. All the power… With 2 lots of new 5800 maH LiPo’s and 2 massive 8000 maH packs out for testing, I was hoping for some flight time improvements, and there they were – in the end I got a good 7 minutes of fast flight out of the 5800s and nearly 10 mins with the 8000’s, so now, combined with the veritable arsenal of other batteries I drag round everywhere with me, I can be in the air for about an hour per session, which is about as much as I can concentrate on flying for, so that’s me happy. JFX, I...

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Posted by on Nov 11, 2012

Autumn Dusk

Autumn Dusk

Original video titles Yes, it’s another Autumn ‘something’ video – I’ll run out of appending words before trees run out of leaves. It’s the cinematics from the previous narrated flight video. Or rather the better shots from all that session’s flights. Really pleased with the smoothness of video going on here – is very rewarding to see all that trial and experimentation with prop vibration isolation finally work and not ruin my videoings. Google de-shake has helped, but didn’t need to much. Now I’ve just got to make that hex get better at dealing with wind, and stop that ruining everything. So enjoy this, the latest collection in my Autumn series, as I do my best to catch the trees and lakes of Petersfield Heath at their golden seasonal best while the wind isn’t too bad and consequently, the filmings are quite smooth.. Music today harmlessly borrowed from the 80′ / 90’s best non-goth goth band, All About Eve, with a rare BBC session version of ‘Wild...

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Posted by on Nov 11, 2012

Flying with JW (narrated FPV flight)

Flying with JW (narrated FPV flight)

Does exactly what it says on the tin. My first and possibly only narrated FPV video, which isn’t really FPV (I wasn’t wearing the goggles, but was sort of looking at a 10″ screen giving me the on-board view AND doing normal tail-in, eyes-on flying), and isn’t a narration recorded in-flight, but one I threw on afterwards when I got home after the session. Nothing insightful either – just random thoughts that occur to me as I’m remembering the flight. I could have recorded it live, but I was using my stereo mic plugged into the GoPro and mounted on the underside of the hex, where it is much more protected from distortion-inducing prop-driven air movement, so now we get true stereo motors, and JUST the sound of the motors and props (which sound really nice – those T-motors and Carbon Fibre 11 x 5’s are the one). It’s useful to have stereo motors because you can hear what control movements you made as each side spins up and...

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Posted by on Nov 10, 2012

Drive-By Flyings Episode 9

Drive-By Flyings Episode 9

  Autumn Goodness. Oh, it feels extra good to be back in big open spaces with interesting things to see all around… Elsted Heath is one of my favourite places to fly, it’s not too difficult if you keep nice and high and maintain eyes-on contact with the hex most of the time. I wasn’t feeling brave enough with the new, bigger hex to do much low-fly ground stuff, or the forest flying I thought I might try – the one disadvantage to low flights here is all the small sticky-up things that you can’t really see more than 30 ft away. I will be braver in the future, once I know my new machine really well and tweak its vertical gain so it’s a bit more responsive. Windy Gusts But anyway, from high up today we were getting a good range of autumnal colours on the ground, and a sharp clear November sun popping out from behind the clouds occasionally to bathe everything in its cool golden glow....

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Posted by on Nov 9, 2012

Autumn Gold

Autumn Gold

Golden Hour, Butser North-West Face He-hey – it’s our first proper flying mission with our newly built heavy lift conversion hexacopter, so where better to head than up to the highest point around, which is Butser Hill ? I arrived just as golden hour was kicking off, and after several incidents with dogs (which are never on leads) managed to do some rewarding wide-range, high altitude flying. Lots of people stopped to talk to me, which is why we haven’t got really great cinematic style shots – it’s very difficult to fly, and hold a conversation, and remain focused on the FPV screen to design the best frames. So whilst it is a bit random, and the wind is not making it the smoothest flight in the world, it is a lovely view, and there’s enough sun and clouds and hills and transmitter towers to make the trip well worthwhile… Having now completely lined my camera tray with silicone, this proves to be  mistake on the first flight of...

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Posted by on Nov 8, 2012

Testing Times Part 3

Testing Times Part 3

Ah yes, it’s the last of the testing videos, as I seem to finally solved my secondary inheritance movement (as I call it) and horrible camera shakes (as everyone else calls it). At last, we can get away from boring training grounds with not much we haven’t seen a lot before. But not yet. First we do 2 more sets of flight tests at our usual practice haunts. In the morning session the shakes (apart from those caused by wind) are gone, but the absence of silicone chips has left us prone to rotor jello effects, as we can see at some points in the first flight of the day. This is made infinitely worse by mounting batteries in parallel to the landing gear, because it is not disconnected enough from the gimbal to avoid passing heavy vibrations from the battery back to the camera. So I went home and added 2 pads of the silicone gel chips to the inside of the camera holder tray, and this seemed...

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Posted by on Nov 7, 2012

Testing Times Part 2…

Testing Times Part 2…

Man on a mission Still with the furious testing, and fresh with enthusiasm after yesterday’s last minute shake improvements, I headed out to a bigger field today to see if my shakes were going to be there or not. And they were. Worse than ever – I was really expecting a bit better than that. the only difference between this rig and the one that produced the more sucessful footage yesterday was in the amount of battery packs – today was 2, but on my new, balanced mounts for them both. I was most disappointed to see that all this flight’s footage was subject to possibly the worst shaking I have ever had. Interestingly this doesn’t affect still shots at all. Here’s a nice one… Trying to view this ongoing problem as an intriguing challenge, rather than a massive pain in the arse, I retired to the workshop after just 2 short flights, and tried another plan. This time I kicked out the tit-grade silicone gel chips altogether –...

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Posted by on Nov 7, 2012

The View from above

The View from above

  What with all the upgrades and testing, there hasn’t much in the way of exciting video from me recently. I will be remedying that shortly. But that doesn’t mean there haven’t been some nice views while I’ve been testing. So here’s some recent stills from the last 3 weeks or so in flight…                          ...

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Posted by on Nov 6, 2012

Testing Times – Part 1

Testing Times – Part 1

  Flight 1 Testing: Parallel Lipo packs, motor lift ability, gain settings, gimbal tweaks, flight times, camera shake Right, we’re in full-on testing mode, whereby we eschew to some extent the delights of exciting style flyings, and instead take things nice and slowly, and the review the on-board cam footage, see what’s wrong, and do our best to make things better. Today has been a mixed bag of results. Popped out for three 7 minutes flights this afternoon, so that was 2 x 4A Lipos in parallel, and then 2 pairs of 5A. Last night I had set my gains thusly: I also tweaked down my motor idle speed, thinking that the T-motors were running a bit fast at startup. The good news: Motors easily cope with the weight, though it does feel a little bit sluggish on the reactions with the 10A pair, as we’d expect. But unlike with DJI motors, any amount of sharp descent is rescuable, and hover remains stable at 50%, and flight is still...

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Posted by on Nov 5, 2012

Introducing SkyCrane – AC1 v3 has arrived…

Introducing SkyCrane – AC1 v3 has arrived…

Thrusters to maximum, please… Yes, my quest for ultra smooth cinematic video reaches another climactic landmark as our F450 quadcopter, which was reborn as an F550 hexacopter, which was better, but still not quite good enough to easily lift a stabilised cam mount, is reborn yet again, this time as a heavy-lift sailplane style AP platform… In this vid / blog, we’re having a quick look round it, accompanied by Jon Scofield going mental on a guitar, and then we’re out for a maiden test flight. Yes, like that, but bigger… I have modded the 550 with 2″ arm extension plates, Tiger Motors 2814-10s, and 11 x 4.7 carbon props, so it will now easily carry my Xaircraft dual axis camera mount and GoPro2. This is a great move – new motors sound like a spaceship, and have nearly 10Kg of thrust between them – they make the standard DJI motors look very small and weak… We’ve gone from 3S to 4S power, and after today’s maiden flight, I...

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