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Posted by on Jul 31, 2013

Thrusters to maximum…

Thrusters to maximum…

A massive power boost …for the groundstation. And not even the aerial rig groundstation. It’s time for a PC upgrade. There’s been no flyings at all this week, as other things in my life take over, so now is as good a time as any to get the production hardware up to scratch. And so that we can all laugh along 5 years from now about how puny computers used to be, I’ll do a quick post about it while I build the sort of machine that is not only equal to the task of producing 2.7K and 4K flight videos (you  know, like in the future) but also one that will do 10 multimedia-intensive things at once without whinging about it – as helpful for business graphics as it will be for everything else. And it will run Maxon Cinema 4D R15 like a blazing rocket in a very thin atmosphere, so that’ll be nice. I should be able to shunt about 250, 000,000 polygons at a time without...

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Posted by on Jul 25, 2013

Flyaway Flyer Update – Emergency Retrograde

Flyaway Flyer Update – Emergency Retrograde

 Naza-M V2 / 3.12 Advisory This post may update over several days... In my last crash, 3 blogs back, until today I have been reluctantly blaming a GPS disc mount fail for that loss of control and resulting accident. I have never been more than 20% happy with that explanation. Yes I can think of reasons why it may have come loose, but overriding everything is the fact that in the on-board footage, I can see no sign of anything moving  independently of the craft itself. At several points, as the flyer tumbles I am fairly sure I should be able to see some sign that the GPS disc had come off, and even looking frame-by-frame (and I have the entire crash at 60 FPS !) I do not once see any evidence that is it is anywhere other than its post. Naza-M v3.12 But, knowing the Naza’s flight characteristics quite well, as I thought I did, I was convinced nothing else could cause such an unpredictable and unusual...

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Posted by on Jul 22, 2013

Fields of Gold

Fields of Gold

Ditcham Heights Day 3 of the trust-building test flights in big open spaces, and they don’t come much bigger or more open than the various fields and rolling hills up by Ditcham Park School. This is where I go when I’m doing height tests and want some nice easy recovery options if anything goes wrong. Sun, sun, sun Thought I’d time my arrival to coincide with the start of golden hour, so got there for 7.45 pm to find some breathtaking golden vistas surrounding me, and views for miles – almost to the sea. I didn’t get high enough to fully exploit those – my plan for slow incrementally adventurous flying limited me to about 250 ft on  the 3rd day of tests. But the sights were wonderful, and it was great to be out in the fresh evening air on another big hilltop. Over here, please… Just 2 short flights before I noticed my TX was getting a bit low on charge, so rather than risk an involuntary...

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Posted by on Jul 20, 2013

The Morning After…

The Morning After…

…that horrible crash, all night re-builds have been done, a day of testing has already taken place, and AC1 is back in the air, now at version 5.3… So it’s not the morning, nor is it the day after. It’s sunset, and 2 days later, but that’s not a phrase is it ? Round 2 – Open Field Today’s open field should have excellent GPS reception, has only 1 big important building I’m 99% certain I can stay away from, even if my craft goes batshit on me, and for that reason, I am launching far far away from it nearer the other end of the field. Not too close though. There are cows in the field beyond, though I know from experience they really couldn’t care less about the presence of my multirotor. They can barely be bothered to even look up, though of course this is probably partly because I was always at reasonable height when directionally near them… So – 3 flights, and 1 of them...

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Posted by on Jul 17, 2013

Flyaway Flyer

Flyaway Flyer

The Buriton Mystery. Semper cadentes…   This post due to update over the next few days as investigations progress…   A sad (and expensive) day for Aerocam’ers everywhere (me), as AC 1 lies in many pieces after experiencing the most disastrous technical failure of all her time in the air so far last night, during her first and only flight launching from Buriton Recreation ground yesterday. As an RC pilot of some 300 hours experience, I’ve seen a few crashes, and try and fly in places where if the worst should happen, I can keep people, animals and property safe, and restrict damage to only my craft. What I am not, and have never been expecting, is for my craft to fly perfectly for about a minute, and then suddenly go full speed away from me in a direction of its choice, ignoring all input from me that might stop it, other than cutting motors to send it to the ground, hopefully minimising any damage when it gets there....

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Posted by on Jul 16, 2013

Chalk Pit Wind Chasing

Chalk Pit Wind Chasing

A Whiter shade of shale… Sorry about that. But what I lack in punning excellence I hopefully make up for in brave(ish) piloting, and today I am being tested to the max by everything nature and engineering have to throw at me, as I manfully take to the skies over Portsdown Chalk Pits, just over a bit from Portsmouth. I’ve got my friend Tudor with me, who is both spotting (and heroically keeping the dogs away) and floating about on the ground with my GoPro 2 and his own muchly superior Nex 5, the footage from which hasn’t quite made it over to me in time for this video, but will be very interesting to see as I’m planning to mount one of those on my flyer at some point, and it’ll be nice to see the quality first-hand before I do. Location, Location Ray, the plane guy I met up at Butser last week had kindly sent me the link to this place, and cliffs, and chalk quarries...

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Posted by on Jul 13, 2013

Tower View – Mini Scout Flight

Tower View – Mini Scout Flight

Into the Blue, briefly. It was lovely sunny afternoon, and I was down the South Coast with a flyer in the boot, Special Assistant M in the passenger seat, and not much wind on the anemometer. Right, I thought, let’s do an experimental fly of the very Southern-most bit of land I can reasonably get to. And that turns out to be the official end of the A3, where we have a large circular stone seating area in front of one of those Ye Olde Sailors-style pubs. To the South, away from that my launch area, is the sea, where I will spend most of this flight out of all harms way (except to my craft, should it all go horribly wrong). Sky Towers And in the distance, though closer than I have ever flown to it, is my old adversary the Spinnaker Tower, whose looks and height virtually demand that I try and film it from as close as possible whilst making the minimum amount of people cross...

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Posted by on Jul 12, 2013

King of the Hills XL

King of the Hills XL

At last, we meet again… That’s right folks – I’m up as high as I can reasonably go, at the grand daddy of local viewpoints, Butser, off the A3 in Hampshire (UK). That’s why there’s 3 videos. There might be less than that when you see this, but the others will be coming soon. I’m slightly to the west side of the main run up to the mast, and I’m focusing my aerial efforts into getting the awesome array of valleys to the South and West. The mast deserves a separate flight session all to itself, and this isn’t it. That’s not far off. But you won’t be disappointed in today’s efforts. It’s all pretty epic up the top of the highest hill in Hampshire. Weather Report It had been quite windy earlier, but as the afternoon set in, it died right off, and as soon as that happens I immediately think of places to go on calm days that might not work so well on more windy ones…...

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Posted by on Jul 11, 2013

Town Flyers – Petersfield High Meadow

Town Flyers – Petersfield High Meadow

Out of the countryside, into the fire… OK, I mean into the wind, but fire sounded more impressive. There was no fire, unless you’re counting the sun, which I’m not. Due to lack of clouds, incidentally, the sunset was rubbish, except on the ground through the trees, so we won’t be looking at that today. On the ground there are trains ! Much more exciting. Lucky Finds… There’s been a lot of hills and greenery in my videos recently, and feeling like a change, I went on a Google satellite mission to try and find somewhere more ‘towny’, where I can continue to provide us all with interesting things to see on the ground, that don’t necessarily have to have leaves. There will be leaves, but also a big town. Today, there is grass in the field to whose boundaries I am strictly adhering, and I am surrounded by buildings. We’ll get into that later… Despite living in Petersfield for at least 7 years now, I had failed to...

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Posted by on Jul 10, 2013

Drive-by Flyings – Hawkley XL

Drive-by Flyings – Hawkley XL

Plan C – the Art of the Drive-by Fly. First stop this evening was a huge array of garden allotments I’d spotted on Google maps just outside Petersfield. They’ll look amazing in Spring, I thought, but no, when I got there, it was all very dull, and would have made for fairly uninteresting filming. Also, some safety concerns. Plan B then was just up the road, but what Google had shown as a through road wasn’t any more, so that was the end of that one too, and the hill view over by Steep Cricket ground was out because there was cricket going on. Which leaves plan C – the default when all else fails – race the sunset, and go randomly driving until you find somewhere to fly… Hawkley Down Just as I thought there wasn’t a single field in West Sussex that wasn’t locked or had horses in it, my luck finally changed when I drove through Hawkley. There I found  an open gate leading to a...

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Posted by on Jul 9, 2013

Sailplanes by Sunset

Sailplanes by Sunset

Cruising the Petersfield Skies… That’s technically cruising the heath, but I’m pretty sure I don’t mean that. I said there’d be an Abbey today, didn’t I ? I was wrong. No, it’s too windy to risk being blown about into ancient stone walls, so off I headed, into the sunset, to more spacious locations, and this sunset was over Petersfield lake and heath, because I haven’t flown here properly with my new camera setup yet, and I know you all like a bit of lake action if there’s some going… Taking the evening air… Apart from the odd Chinook, I had the skies pretty much to myself, but the same can’t be said for the ground. Lots of people out for an evening stroll, and who can blame them ? Certainly not me. And most of the people I met today were great – (Hi Mick !), and even the ones with dogs were mostly aware, considerate, decent people, with well trained animals… The Lunatic Fringe Just occasionally, I...

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Posted by on Jul 8, 2013

Field Lines & Forest Hills

Field Lines & Forest Hills

Starting out low Remember my last visit to Stoner Hill, in Froxfield, particularly the part 1 video, which mainly focused on the North Face ? It’s a very difficult fly from the top, but the view is so epic I am duty bound to try and find other ways to commit it to film. And today, mainly by chance, I found one – fly from the bottom of the hangars instead ! Yes, I get the same scenery, but from another angle, and flying from here I replace the difficult, restricted-viewing-window, woodland-based launches of previously with nice, easy, big, wide-open, spacious ones here. Launch Control But still, it took quite a bit of driving to locate a suitable take-off site on the lower edge of Stoner Hill. In the end, I found 2 fields separated by a helpful public footpath, and so was able to launch from that. In the danger department, we’re not up for much fun if we go down in the trees, but if anything goes...

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Posted by on Jul 6, 2013

Town Rise – Petersfield

Town Rise – Petersfield

To a small field in the middle… …of Petersfield, the home town of me, and a fair few of you reading this, I’d bet. I don’t often venture right into the center of town, but this is the closest I’m safely going to get, and it’s an almost windless night, so let’s get in the air and see what’s what. All About the Sky. And the Ground. And the Lake. The sky is very much what’s what. I arrived with my good friend Rich just as golden hour kicked in, and wasted no time in strapping on an 8000 pack, and pushing some sky past that lens. The sky was ablaze with high cirrus and various other noctilucent cloudforms, which only got better as the sun went down, until it was finally just a blazing orangey red on the horizon. Beautiful. Rich and I sat entranced. Rich more than me – I was trying to make sure the gimbal was aimed mostly at the right thing at the right...

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Posted by on Jul 5, 2013

South Downs Sky Rise

South Downs Sky Rise

To the hills once more… Just never the ones I’m trying to see… Today’s flyings took me back to the site I found a couple of weeks ago, in the foothills of the South Downs, close to Bepton and Didling. Last time you didn’t see the flights because gimbal settings were awful, and this time you’re not going to see it because my take-off area was full of sheep ! I like sheep, and have no wish to worry them. So back in the car I got, and after a bit of random driving about, eventually found myself heading steeply upwards, and then down the sort of road that might have stopped being a road a couple of miles back… By the time I realised I was actually driving the South Downs Way, I had come dangerously close to grounding my car twice, and the track in front of me seemed to go on ad infinitum into the distance with no turning places, or ways to get back. So...

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Posted by on Jul 4, 2013

Summer Sky Surfing – Penns Place

Summer Sky Surfing – Penns Place

Up, up and away… I haven’t been to my local fly field for a while, and as it’s one of the places I have permission to fly (thank you Councillors !),  and there’s a ton of air space, it’s a good location to test range, and try for large sweeping cinematic moves without worrying about hitting stuff if you overshoot… The one downer about this location is the tendency of everyone who flies anything to do so over the field – police, army Chinooks, gliders, private jets etc. But they do stop at about 8 pm, I notice, and apart from the normal passenger jets I don’t have to worry about, I had the skies to myself. Straight Line Test New front arm extensions on, new cables installed, and battery packs fixed, and we’re back in the air for a superbly uneventful flight, with no technical problems at all, and perfect craft response throughout. My rotor disc integrity has been restored it would seem. Now if I can just...

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Posted by on Jul 2, 2013

The Night Workshop – AC1 V5.2

The Night Workshop – AC1 V5.2

Making things better by the light of the moon… Not literally – that would be ridiculous. You need good light to fix these things. Anyone who regularly reads these posts will know I’ve been having some minor tracking problems since my V5 rebuild, and tonight I have all the parts required to make everything good as new, and time to ‘make it so’… Operation 1 – Replace Deans Connector on 4S 8000 LiPo Pack If you ever find yourself in a situation where a pair of Deans connectors have arc-welded themselves together, you might be able to find a way of safely getting your craft home without doing what I had to do, which was to physically pull the battery off its plug with enough force to break 2 huge solder joints. I did not like having to do this, and hold the designers of Deans plugs entirely responsible. So, a new connector has to go on that battery pack, because I’m not binning an 8000 maH pack because...

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Posted by on Jul 1, 2013

Forest Flyers

Forest Flyers

Can’t see the wood …for the Trees, they say. But today I can see both, and I’m just off the A272 in Hampshire to grab some aerial shots of the lovely bit of woodland I found myself driving past on my way to my intended fly site, which was high on the South Downs (again). Fly-style This is actually a L4 fly-site, with a lot of danger around everywhere, mainly in the form of trees, and narrow fields of view. Any RTH action (once, shown in vid) MUST be above the level of the trees when called, and any GPS drift had to be tightly controlled as I manoeuvred through some pretty tight spaces in the tree canopy. Whilst doing this meant high-ish gains, guaranteeing craft fast reaction, and worked in that I didn’t crash, it did mean that some of my moves were less smooth than they could be – we’ll see how much my gimbal forgives that in the edit :) Yes, but is it safe ?...

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