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Posted by on Jun 27, 2013

Drive-by Flyings – Guildford / Godalming

Drive-by Flyings – Guildford / Godalming

Go where the wind takes you. Or more specifically, to Guildford, if you’re dropping a friend there. Having done that, I went in the pursuit of great heights, and interesting things to see on the ground. One-shot wonder I’ll be making just 3 flights today before I get rained off, but at least they’ll be at 3 sites we don’t see very often, and one of them is my parents’ immaculate and beautiful garden. So enjoy that. First Flight: The Mount, Guildford Much excites up at the highest place overlooking Guildford, as there was competition for the skies ! Just as I was about to take off I spotted another UAV, doing a straight rise and hover at the other end of the hillside. I took off and flew over to investigate further, but as soon as I gained any sort of height, they had descended and gone. I went looking for them in the car briefly, but no joy – would have been nice to say hello and...

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Posted by on Jun 25, 2013

Fields of Gold

Fields of Gold

Red sky at night… Flyers delight. I wasn’t planning to go to the flyings today, but at 8.30 pm decided I probably should, given the lack of wind, and nice, unusually clear skies. I planned to drive to Petersfield Heath, and look at the golf course, something I still haven’t done with my new ultra-slinky brushless setup. And then I found myself driving past all that, and on along the B2146 towards South Harting resolved that as the sun was almost down already, I would stop at the first place that looked a) accessible and b) like it might be nice place to film something I haven’t seen for a while, or at all. In it for the colour That place transpired to be public footpath right at the North Entrance to South Harting, where a nice take-off area on a public bridleway type thing split 2 large fields, 1 of fairly standard long green stuff (I’ll assume it’s grass but it’s probably some sort of crop) and more...

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Posted by on Jun 24, 2013

Skate Park Sunset

Skate Park Sunset

The Light fades over Petersfield… This one’s going to start off a photo-blog, and then get added to when I’ve done the video until it’s a proper one. Which is now – video complete, so lets get today’s flight log logged… Urban Flyer I’m here to test the recent changes I’ve made to my craft, which include some levelling on the front rotors, and to film a nice sunset, this time from the middle of my home town, Petersfield. It’ll be a nice change from all the countryside stuff I’ve been doing recently, but with lots of Spring greens around to give us an interesting view on the ground beneath us… The Test Zone The 5 flights I completed here today proved that I was correct in my most recent assumption that my craft was yawing left without my input because I no longer had a perfectly coplanar rotor alignment, following some of my arm extension plates being mangled, (and then re-straightened) after a recent terrible crash. The good...

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Posted by on Jun 24, 2013

The Golden Dawn

The Golden Dawn

The Night’s Watch… I’m mostly up all night, hence why I’m awake to catch these 4 am sunrises. But thank goodness I am. Here’s another nice...

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Posted by on Jun 21, 2013

Spring Falls

Spring Falls

The sun sets on Spring for another year …and I’m up at Ditcham Park at the top of a very high hill. No change there then. In celebration of it being almost the longest day, I arrived very late, and got in the air just as the sun was about to disappear over the horizon. I’ve chosen this fly-site because I’m aware that the rotation problems I’m having whenever I move forward may lead to loss of orientation, and a range of circumstances that might culminate in a heavy landing, so I was after a location that had lots of the very best thing to crash into – and that’s corn, which surrounded me in most fields, like a velvet cushion, should it all go horribly wrong… In theory and practice… As it happened, although the yaw problem was very much in evidence, because I was expecting it, it wasn’t the end of the world to compensate for it and generally make the craft go where I want it to....

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Posted by on Jun 20, 2013

Stoner Hill Highs Part 2: South-West Rise

Stoner Hill Highs Part 2: South-West Rise

The best direction is up… Well after the horrors of the North valleys, with their GPS blocking, jetstream style winds and tiny viewing windows and all those trees, on the other side it’s a bit different, with lots more open space, and the best wooded valley I have ever seen, immediately off to the left. As soon as I crossed the style into the take-off field, I could see things were very different to my last (Winter) flight here, when the grass was short enough to easily accommodate a take-off, and there were sheep, keeping it so. No, it’s too long… Today, as you’ll see, there’s no sheep (bonus), but grass is now growing quite literally ‘wild’ and is about half a meter tall. Beautiful but unhelpful. There remained only one spot to take off from where the grass was trodden down enough – on the path that leads through to the woods. The problem with this is that my normal fly site is up the other end of...

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Posted by on Jun 19, 2013

Stoner Hill Highs – Part 1: North Face

Stoner Hill Highs – Part 1: North Face

Go, Go Aerial Cinecam Another fine Spring day, and I’m in the air over Stoner Hill, getting enough footage to make 10 videos, let alone 2 or 3. And all from 5 battery packs. We start then with Part 1, the first flight off the… North Face This is a very dangerous fly-site – I hate flying here as much as I love the view and footage it produces.  Even on days considered windless, once you get out over that valley, the wind is always massive. From the second my craft leaves the ground to the second it returns, my heart is thumping fit to burst. Why so stressy ? GPS signal here is ropey as hell, visibility of craft is restricted to a 30 degree angle once it gets into the valley, and those evil gale force winds suck upwards and outwards, and cause the sort  of craft-rocking turbulence that I rarely see at other sites. It’s a nightmare. One tiny mistake, and I could go down in...

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Posted by on Jun 19, 2013

Springtime@Stoner Hill Photo Blog

Springtime@Stoner Hill Photo Blog

The Epic heights of Froxfield… Yes, it’s been a mainly nice day, and I’ve been out in it, to bring you some more awesome hill / tree / field / cloud / sun action. Full blog coming soon, with a lovely bit of video, but for now, here’s your rewardingly large and abundant photo gallery. Click for full view, obviously. AC1...

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Posted by on Jun 17, 2013

South Downs Sky Surfing XL

South Downs Sky Surfing XL

Up in the sky and it’s full of win ! The tests are over, everything’s fine, and it’s time to go grab some awesome scenery and get it down on film, hopefully without horrible crash disasters and other film-ruining surprises. This is an XL blog – we’ll start with one video, and then add more as the days go on, so worth checking back if there aren’t at least 2 videos here yet. One may even end up on Vimeo, for Xtra high quality… Lost in Hampshire I’m having an extraordinary run of luck at the moment with driving to a potential fly site, getting lost on the way there, wandering off exploring down country lanes and ending up somewhere different, but just as good, if not better. Today was like that. I was trying to get back to the site of my last Hill Rise blog, where a chronic gimbal miscalculation rendered all my otherwise brilliant footage of the amazing location all but useless. Could I find that...

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Posted by on Jun 17, 2013

South Downs End Photo Blog

South Downs End Photo Blog

It’s the end of another sunny Sunday, and if you know me at, I’ll be up some massive hill, flying off the side of it. Today is no exception. We’re at the end of the South Downs. I say the end. The end of this bit of them. We’re overlooking Didley and Cocking. Who thinks of these names ? 4 of these pics are screen-grabs from the raw unedited video – but which 4 ? Answers on a postcard, but not to me. I can promise you some truly exceptional video tomorrow – but for now feast your eyes on this glorious bit of Hampshire, and the breath-taking clouds going on over it as the sun goes down on South Downs End… You’ll find these rewardingly large and a lot of them. See you soon...

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Posted by on Jun 16, 2013

Flipping the Bird

Flipping the Bird

QR Ladybird V2 Flip action ! Hey peoples – JW here with another video report. Today I have been taking breaks from my normal silent reflective prayer  to spend short moments of my Sunday afternoon twatting my ladybird round the back garden. If I was in charge, everyone would be issued a QR Ladybird and made to practice on sunny Sundays. Anyway – let’s watch me, who’s not very good at this sort of thing, having the best time learning to flip my amazing little micro-quad. How to do flips (well, my best guess) You need to be in Acro Mode (Green light) so there is no restriction on the angle of the craft. Begin with quad in stable hover in front of you, and begin gentle, firm climb. When you’re at about 70% throttle, simultaneously push cyclic hard in the direction you want to flip, and drop collective to 40% – no lower or you won’t have enough momentum to go a full 360 degrees. Watch the quad...

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Posted by on Jun 15, 2013

Xtreme Wind Battles

Xtreme Wind Battles

AC1 & Aeroxcraft vs. 50 mph Wind All the fun to be had as I got up in time to test the hopefully better gimbal settings I programmed in last night, and keen to test GPS with newly hard-mounted mast, I was undeterred by the signs of epic wind I’d been hearing all morning. “Excellent !”, I thought, imagining that this might be a great test for both the Aeroxcraft and the GPS hold with Naza V2. I only had time for two 6-minute flights, but all the ‘fun’ was to be had as I entered a furious wind battle – as soon as you went above 10 ft, GPS hold had its work cut out, and it was all it could do to stay still. Despite my new rock solid mast arrangement, GPS control seemed worse than ever, though at this stage I am happy to blame the wind at least partially. It’s a long way from unflyable, but something isn’t right there… We shall see. What we...

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Posted by on Jun 15, 2013

Hill Rise

Hill Rise

Left Hand Path. This evening’s flyings were a surprise at every turn. The plan I had was to pop down to the local lake to finally get some crystal clear top-down action of the trees surrounding the cricket ground, but I arrived there only to find the cricket ground being used for… cricket, of all things. Right. Plan B. I drove out towards Buriton, through South Harting, but instead of turning right there and heading up towards Harting Down, I went left instead, and headed into uncharted territory and the ‘other way’ along the South Downs… Hobbiton in Hampshire. Driving until I found something cool to film, it wasn’t long before I found myself in Didling, Hampshire’s own version of Hobbiton, a nice little  hilly valley I hadn’t yet found the name of. A public bridleway led me all the way to a public footpath, and across a style into a beautiful take off area – some flat ground to launch from, but mainly loads of undulating hills and...

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Posted by on Jun 14, 2013

Breaking Dawn Photo Blog

Breaking Dawn Photo Blog

Photoblog Just for a change, here’s what the rising sun looked like from my bedroom window this morning, as seen through the lens of my Nikon...

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Posted by on Jun 13, 2013

Aeroxcraft Brushless Gimbal Setup

Aeroxcraft Brushless Gimbal Setup

Setting up your Aeroxcraft Brushless Gimbal This is a (vaguely) technical document rather than a normal blog post. It will be of interest only to those people who have just bought, or are considering buying an Aeroxcraft Brushless GoPro Gimbal. If that’s not you, I’d stop reading now. Here I will briefly go over setting up for coms with PC, updating the Firmware, and then changing settings. Be aware that updating the firmware for this board will overwrite your existing firmware, and you will not be able to easily get that back. You will require: 1 Aeroxcraft Brushless Gimbal (Martinez Brushless Controller / IMU) USB A to mini B cable Arduino (latest version) Whichever version of the firmware you want to install / configure 7.4v Power Source (2S 850 maH compact LiPo ideal) The GoPro, loaded into the gimbal assembly (for balancing during settings config) I’m using Windows 7 Professional 64-Bit, and version 49 beta r77 of the controller software which I got from here The procedure I followed...

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Posted by on Jun 11, 2013

Elsted Common Narrated Flight

Elsted Common Narrated Flight

Same video, different noises. Hey peoples. Haven’t done a narrated jobby for ages, so while I’m in the test flying stages of AC1 V5.0, now seems like as good a time as any. So please enjoy (or mute, as is your wont) my extended ramblings over the entire flight, ruminating on such things as how windy it is, how well the gimbal might be doing, piloting commentary, and why APC can’t f**king deliver anything properly. If you’re wondering why it looks a bit different to the last version, I’ve turned the grading up a bit (too much if we’re honest), and shifted it a bit more sunset yellow / red. That’s all though – no stabilisation. Righty – one whole flight coming up… and this token picture....

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Posted by on Jun 11, 2013

The Golden Spring XL

The Golden Spring XL

Moor sun please ! Yep – I’m back at Elsted Heath, this time making it to the site uninjured and without breaking anything important. I’m here to test my Aeroxcraft Brushless Gimbal, and this is the first flight of the day. Settings… I’m doing 1080, 30 FPS, and no ProTune because we’re in light that is soon to be dying, and we know the GoPro does much better with all that turned off, as the sun makes its exit. I’m on an 8000 maH Zippy Flitemax LiPo, which is going to give exactly 7 minutes 20 secs worth on this flight… Still haven’t programmed the gimbal to drop 90 degrees yet. Lazy. 20 degrees still looks nice. And we do have a working FPV system today – a miracle considering the shitty little cables they plug into the VTX with… I have never seen a more ridiculous connection, and my one is dodgy, despite being almost new. I say working. I can see, but the picture is fuzzy as...

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Posted by on Jun 10, 2013

Racing the Sunset…

Racing the Sunset…

Double Sun Action… Excellent news – following last week’s ‘unpleasantness’, it’s nice to have a working gimbal again and a new Devo 10 TX with all its switches intact. Quick ! Resume the testings… Yes, let’s not forget I’m still in the test phase of the new build of my hexacopter, and this is… Ding Ding – Round 3 For Rounds 1 and 2 we were in my back garden / ground zero test ground, and my tremulous early flights there involved almost no risk and very minimal height. Now that I trust the set-up a bit more not to fall out of the sky, it’s time to venture a bit further afield so that I can improve the scenery I’m pushing past the lens, and have the freedom of a bit more space to play with, meaning I can test fly a bit more thoroughly / aggressively. I’m still not going to take big risks – there will be no overflying water or anywhere where recovery would be more...

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Posted by on Jun 6, 2013

Spring Break

Spring Break

AC1 V5 fails test round 3… It’s the latest episode of what I am rapidly coming to refer to as ‘The Great Spring Crash Marathon of 2013’. No more flyings for potentially quite some time, due to 2 tiny errors I made as I ventured out for the 3rd round of tests (Open field). Ok, this wasn’t a crash; I made it to the location, but didn’t even get off the ground, and ultimately had no choice but to pack up and bugger off home. For my own reference, and as forewarning and schadenfreude for the rest of you flyers, here is the whole sad sorry tale of today’s non-flight adventure. 1. TX Down I arrived at Elsted Common, one of my favourite fly sites – got all my kit out of the car, and had only to carry it the 40 ft across a road, through the sunlit woods and on to the open moor and tree banks I was trying to film with my exciting new gimbal....

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Posted by on Jun 5, 2013

Aeroxcraft Brushless GoPro3 Gimbal XL

Aeroxcraft Brushless GoPro3 Gimbal XL

The dawn of a new era… With every addition you make to your craft as your kit evolves, you hope to get a little tiny bit further toward the ultimate goal of pro-quality film footage. Most times you are disappointed, and the improvement you get is either minimal or not really noticeable, or actually makes things worse. But very occasionally, you find a bit of gear, or technology advances, and this results in a quantum leap upwards. Today was such a day… If you fly multi-rotors and haven’t seen them already, get a load of this… it’s a brushless gimbal. Apart from the makers themselves, I may even be the first person on youtube to get some footage up with this one. It’s new, from UK maker Aeroxcraft, and uses the latest in gimbal tech to deliver a terrifyingly good result. Gimbals – what’s all that then ? Because of wind, and the various other problems inherent in trying to film from a platform that is suspended in a...

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