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Posted by on Feb 25, 2013

GoPro3 Black Edition / Aeroxcraft VTR-GP First Impressions

GoPro3 Black Edition / Aeroxcraft VTR-GP First Impressions

A very nice box… …is the first thing I noticed – more ingenious in design, sleeker and slightly better than those provided by shiny toy maker Apple and HTC etc. It is a very good box, which bodes well for the contents. (Update: this turns out to be not entirely the case) Out of the box, it looks like this, except with only the one camera. There are already a million videos and reviews going through all the features, so I won’t do that here, suffice to say there are a lot of them, and some of them I will find really quite useful if they do what they say on the tin. (Update: this turns out to be not entirely the case). Get out there, boy… I didn’t even stop to update the firmware or charge the remote – I just whacked half an hours worth of power into the camera so I could get it in the air as darkness fell, and get some low-light footage before tomorrow’s full light tests....

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Posted by on Feb 25, 2013

The Cost of Flight

The Cost of Flight

Raining outside ? Too windy for flyings ? Bored ? Yes it was, and yes I was, so I thought I’d work out how much on average it costs to regularly fly a multi-copter, because that’s the sort of anally retentive thing I do sometimes. I find these things interesting. If you don’t, stop reading now, and go and watch a youtube video… It costs more to go flying than I thought (surprise, surprise). There is a lot of scope for error in my calculations here, but it’s just for fun, so I’m not too worried about being massively accurate – I’m trying to get more a general idea of what it costs to stay in this hobby and go flying regularly… Initial cost of equipment Pretty much written out of this equation, but will be brought back in at the end for some overall totals. Battery Pack charges I have 10 batteries, which take between 1- 2 hours to charge – this costs about 15 hours in time, and...

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Posted by on Feb 22, 2013

Scouting the Trundle

Scouting the Trundle

The best laid plans… Oh dear – this, my 250th hour of flying was not quite the jubilant ascent into gloried cinematography I had hoped it might be. In the beginning… 3 days ago I had found the Trundle on Google Earth, and decided it was well worth a visit, could make an excellent fly site, and knowing my 250th hour in the air was impending, I resolved to do something a bit special and go on a dawn film mission. There are lots of interesting things to see on top of that hill – 2 transmitter masts and an iron horse sculpture, Goodwood Racetrack right the other side of the hill, the beautiful grounds of West Dean College on another side, and generally amazing views all the way to the coast in at least 2 directions. I was resolved to take Special Assistant M with me, not entirely because of the heaviness of battery packs and the massive hill between the car park and where I wanted to fly from....

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Posted by on Feb 20, 2013

Altered Earth – Part 1

Altered Earth – Part 1

Reality. Tilted a Bit. This is the first of a series of Altered World videos where we look at things from a slightly odd angle… We start here with a stranger, colder version of my last flight round Elsted Common, as imagined in some sort of parallel universe… the video quality is a bit ropey – sorry about that – I’ll work on trying to get that better in the future. The reason it’s rubbish here is because I left ProTune on, which you shouldn’t do in failing or contrast-y light, because of the massively increased noise that appears in the darker bits, and generally. Both of today’s vids are in 720 rather than my normal 1080 as I knew the quality was going to be a bit questionable. Sorry bout that. Normal service will be resumed etc etc…  ...

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Posted by on Feb 20, 2013

Winter Gold

Winter Gold

Winter Sun, Sail-plane fun. Today I am back at the site of Thursday’s crash excitement. Elsted Common. Why back so soon ? Partly because I couldn’t think of anywhere more interesting to go, partly because I wanted to go flying in a ‘golden hour’  forest (that didn’t happen in the end), but mostly because I’ve lost the 8000 mAH battery that came down with the crash, and those are expensive. What are the chances of finding that on a public heath that massive, 4 days later ? Extremely good as it turns out – I’d been looking for less than 3 minutes before I saw it – it must have slipped out of my bag without me noticing, and escaped the final look-round I mostly don’t forget to do before I leave anywhere… Amazingly, despite being outside in sub-freezing temperatures, and more than a little rain, I was very surprised to find it un-puffed, and apparently none the worse for wear for its experience. I checked the foil really...

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Posted by on Feb 17, 2013

AC1 v3.6 reclaims the skies…

AC1 v3.6 reclaims the skies…

Summon the repair crews! Oh, that’s me. Right – spent Saturday lovingly restoring my craft to its former glory. Just 2 new arms and a carbon fibre prop to replace initially. Did that, and connected to the computer to check settings, motor and prop direction, and to realign the gimbal, which had been knocked off whack by the impact. Got that done, but having removed all the props to test motors safely, I noticed ESC 4 was getting substantially hotter than all the others after a 2 minute unloaded 50% motor test. I looked closely at it and saw a massive dent in its underside (yet more previously unnoticed crash damage) which can’t have been helping, so out it went, and in went my spare. Hurrah for Power Distribution Looms, as mine made this a quick and painless plug and play sort of process rather than having to resort to the soldering kit. Can we fix it ? Yes we can. OK, so up to my ground zero test...

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Posted by on Feb 15, 2013

High Dives

High Dives

Mystery crash investigations… Hey kids – JW here, back with some quality unbiased reportings; showing you what happens when it all goes horribly wrong, in the hope that I can re-run the clip, do some investigations, and at the end of all that, hopefully find out what actually did go wrong, fix it & avoid it happening again… It’s been rubbish weather all week so pretty much as soon as I awoke today and saw the sun out, I barely stopped to check the wind reports, and headed down the coast. Well, by the time I got there, winds that had been advertised as 15 mph were more like 30, and blowing straight out to sea, so my spider-safety-sense kicked in and I packed up and moved inland… It doesn’t matter though – we’re in for a crashing… but at least it’s not in the sea. Enough with the flashing lights. There were multiple aims to today’s flights. I wanted to try and find out whether the red lights...

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Posted by on Feb 9, 2013

Aerocam Photo Log – Episode 1

Aerocam Photo Log – Episode 1

Aerial Stills Sep 2012 – Jan 2013. It’s raining outside, and nothing needs maintaining or doing on my hex, so I’m using the time to do a little compilation of photos that me and my craft have taken in the last 6 months or so of flying about over (mostly) the Hampshire countryside. Twitter has started reducing the resolution of all my photos, so I wanted to do a slideshow people could watch in reasonable HD, although I have used some low-res shots from the earlier days that I wasn’t expecting to ever be used in a video, but even so, it’s nice to have a little slideshow every so often… All these are stills taken from 1080p video filmed with a GoPro2 on-board or from 720p video from a FLIP or Nikon D3100 from the ground. Photoshop has been fairly seriously involved in most of them as I really hate washed-out photos and as these images were all taken whilst moving I usually have to reduce resolution and...

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Posted by on Feb 9, 2013

Sunsetting – Petersfield Heath

Sunsetting – Petersfield Heath

Up, up and away. Mostly away. As in ‘away in a workshop at home’. Haven’t done any flying this week, for reasons that may include what might later be referred to as ‘The Great Warning-off of Feb 2013’, but today the sky was doing good enough things to tempt me out and over to the Heath with a fresh rack of batteries and set of gloves B. My temporary flight area extension kindly granted by Petersfield TC so I could get extra good snow vids has expired, so I’m back in my ‘normal’ permitted areas. Never mind though, the sky is looking good wherever I point a camera this evening, especially if I then point photoshop at it afterwards… Mainly about the sky… Apart from a short whinge about battery / flight times, and wondering if that red light is trying to tell me something other than ‘battery low’, and also testing my new FPV cam mount that allows it to move with the main camera (that went very well...

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Posted by on Feb 4, 2013

Racton Tower Rise

Racton Tower Rise

It’s all in the follow-through… Perhaps I mean follow-up. Yes. This is a follow-up from yesterday’s scout mission, where I discovered what I didn’t know at the time was Racton Monument, but I was too far away from it to see anything properly. I resolved to come back and do better. Well I did come back, and only a day later.  Today, I’ll have you know, I half killed myself trudging across acre after acre of muddy field and windswept grassbank this afternoon with 10 kilos of batteries, a metal tripod, field monitor, transmitter and hex, all in an effort to get close enough to film the ruin properly for you all. Especially you, Nicky. I thought my heart was actually going to explode in several places,  but  I stopped before it did and when I could breath again, filmings could commence. I was too knackered to be annoyed that there was car sitting right next to the tower, which meant I could have driven there and avoided all...

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Posted by on Feb 3, 2013

South Downs Wind Riding

South Downs Wind Riding

Drive-by Flyings in the Winter sun. I had sort of decided the night before that today was going to be too windy for flyings, but when it actually got here, the sun was so resplendent and something of a novelty after the last 2 weeks of mainly grey, that not to fly would have just been the wrong thing to do. To the hills ! Whenever it’s a weekend and windy, I head for big open high spaces where people aren’t. Today’s big high open space was, as I later discovered, just outside Funtingdon, and I had spied from the road an interesting tower that I now know (cheers Richard Graham) is part of Racton Folly. Oh look at the tiny tower ! Oh wait, it’s massive, and miles away. From the road this looked very much like a small tower reasonably close, but as soon as I got in the air transpired to be a large tower a lot further away. It was within my flyable range, but...

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Posted by on Feb 3, 2013

Night Falls

Night Falls

Floating in the half-light For those who like their fly-abouts dark and grey and vaguely post-apocalyptic, but with nice shiny gold bits every so often, this should do the trick. It’s a largely unremarkable flight other than that it is one in which I am not for once plagued with technical problems, and everything is going  pretty much according to plan. Fade to Grey Yes, it’s dusk over Petersfield, and I am disguising both the GoPro2‘s rather hopeless low light performance and the fact that I am quite lazy, and got out of bed too late for the light, with some moderately arty (pretentious) VFX which serve to make the horrible graininess look vaguely intentional. Annoying that on the one day there is virtually no wind, I’ve missed the light, but not to worry – flights were mainly rewarding, although a little short on battery performance. Yep, remember 2 weeks ago my Zippy Flitemax 5800’s both began flahsing 1st level failsafe pretty much as soon as they’d taken off...

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Posted by on Feb 1, 2013

Testing Times Part 5

Testing Times Part 5

Killing Throttle Jump. Yes, that is today’s mission, after re-routing ESC main board power to a separate power distribution harness proved to have no effect at all on the problem, so looks like the internal circuitry of the lower board was not to blame. On yesterday’s test flights we had unrequested throttle all over the place – very much not the result I was hoping for. Next on the blame list… …is my DJI 30A opto ESC‘s – if one of those has gone dodgy that might produce the unwanted throttle bursts I’ve been experiencing, as the flight controller tries to compensate for a temporary loss of thrust. I found a spare ESC from my original quad, and extended the wires / fitted a deans plug so it could reach the PDH from any arm position, and resolved to do 2 test flights for each time I replaced an ESC with my temporary one. The first flight would be mainly hover, and trying to ‘tempt’ it into low level...

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