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Posted by on Jul 31, 2014

Airwheel challenges

Airwheel challenges

Challenge J… I’ve been thinking of challenges to learn with my machines to make me an all round better pilot, and to hopefully generate some interesting video along the way. I’ve divided them into Silver, Gold and Ultra Categories, because nobody makes anything out of Bronze anymore, and Ultra is easier to get hold of. These are just the skill-based challenges, but there are special mission-based ones too, involving, among other things, castles, abbeys, ruins, stately homes, golf courses to name but a few… And I often go to these things for work at weekends and have lots of time spare to ride around them. So unlike my aerial castles dream, this challenge list might actually stand a chance of getting done ;) Anyway, here’s the Skills Challenges Silver Smooth Wide figure 8 turn, 5 mins Jump up and roll down 10 cm kerb Ride on level raised bed 30 cm or less for 50 m and dismount Go backwards more than 50 m Idle on spot 3 mins...

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Posted by on Jul 30, 2014

Airwheel Range Test

Airwheel Range Test

Miles and miles of coastline …await, in this, my first proper range test of the Airwheel X5. In it, I have charged by battery to full, for an hour and I’m going to start outside the Royal Marines Museum with 4 lights and 98% power. I had a plan in mind, and this was it. You can see it better in zoom view. Basically, I’m going all the way along the coast until I run out of range, via the most interesting path I can find. I was going to start at the RMM, and roll to Clarence Pier, roll round the gardens a bit, maybe look at the model village, grab some seaside and come home. But no. Once I got into the busy recreation areas (which were really busy in some places!) it became a much more interesting ride, as I learned to navigate myself through some very tight spaces and between ever-changing seas of people with varying degrees of awareness of their surroundings… so I deviated a bit....

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Posted by on Jul 28, 2014

Park Life – Parts 1 & 2

Park Life – Parts 1 & 2

Find me a lake in the Summer Sun… I thought to myself as I awoke in steaming humidity this morning. So out I went with my Airwheel for Day 10 of my learning diary, and to have a lovely afternoon summer glide about the heath, in the nicely muted receding sun, recording it all as I go to share with you later. If you play the videos fullscreen and point a fan at your face, it’ll help with the realism. Here’s part 2, the slow relaxed actual speed glide around the lake – no de-shake – pretty much raw footage, 1080P from a GoPro3 Black Edition, ProTune Off… Whilst Part 1, top, is more of a speed-through, and mostly at 100-400% real time. If you like airwheels or lakes, you’ll like them both. Part 1 has been stabilized, which leads to some very odd and giddy camera motion, but I thought it suited the speed run we were doing, and riding a wheel feels a bit ‘all-over-the-place’ initially, so I...

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Posted by on Jul 27, 2014

Airwheel Terrain Testing

Airwheel Terrain Testing

Where can we go on one of those ? Pretty much anywhere, as it goes. Today I’ll be transversing assorted types of country terrain and urban thoroughfare alike, as I go for an hour’s ride around the back alleys and paths of Petersfield. Condensed down to a 20 minute video, this saves me a lot of talking / typing about it, but in essence, the surfaces we’ll be exploring include: Gravel, woodland paths, short grass, long grass, bumpy ground, stony ground, wooden slats, loose shale, pavement, road, uphill, downhill, winding tracks and muddy inclines. On the way we’ll meet some very nice people (hello John, and Dave and Tegan, and Steve and Pete – the cat wouldn’t tell me its name), and 1 proper nutter, and roll past some very nice gardens. And a loose dog. And a talkative cat with 3 legs (It would talk about other things, just not its name). Here’s some pics. Cyclists, probably annoyed by all that peddling they have to do :) Sunset...

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Posted by on Jul 23, 2014

Discovery Pro – GL Gallery

Discovery Pro – GL Gallery

View from the Ground. A while back, before all this Airwheel nonsense came along, me and my good friend Graham Larter, photographer for newspapers far and wide, and decent chap all round, went for a little fly with my newly hatched Disco Pro, so I could show him what RC multirotors are all about, and give him a go at piloting a decent sized pro model. He enjoyed the flight he flew, and as I took over the controls for a little flyabout myself, he picked up his camera and produced a truly lovely range of shots of my most recent flyer in action. Here’s the gallery, and thank you, Sir Graham !...

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Posted by on Jul 21, 2014

Learning to Fly…

Learning to Fly…

It’s the Airwheel Learning Diaries… This is something that quickly got too big for the original post, so here it is, edited and reformatted, and all in one logical place – my complete diary of learning to ride an Airwheel to professional standard from no ability or experience whatsoever. It’s proper noobie to master territory with any luck, assuming I don’t break something vital in either me or the machine while I learn. The aim is to document my experiences so that other new riders can pick up tips, or learn from my mistakes. It is also helpful to remind me where I was, and how far I’ve come (see personal achievement). If you are interested in the new wonderfulness that is powered gyro unicycles, and want a real in-depth primer, then read this and this before you carry on here. Ready ? Let’s learn to Airwheel. Day 1 – 2 mins in. Well I don’t know how I’ll EVER be able to get on that. Even with the...

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Posted by on Jul 18, 2014

High Voltage

High Voltage

A cracking bit of luck… If you are up at 3 am, as I almost always am, you really grow to love the silence, and the subtle quiet noises that interrupt it. Tonight was  a bit different, in that the walls, floor and me were resonating along to ever-increasing rumbles of thunder, and then the air went static, the cat went fuzzy, and I picked up my GoPro3, which conveniently, needed a test following a corrupt card problem earlier. How slow do you want it ? It’s all about the lightning, and what I can do with it in the microseconds it is there. I’m in PAL mode on the GP3, so went for the max 100 FPS, 720, Wide, and randomly aimed it out of my bedroom window. I let it go for 12 minutes, which produced a 1.5GB file, and about 30 flashes, including 2 cascading monster shots, where we get to see the actual progress of the lightning through the sky, as it moves in front...

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Posted by on Jul 18, 2014

English Country Garden

English Country Garden

The power of 1… Over in Godalming today, to see my rents, and while I’m there, do a bit more Airwheel practice, and some aerials of the local area, and more particularly, my parents’ immaculate garden. It was a terrible shame therefore that my Kingston Memory Card chose today to corrupt and not record the second and third flights, especially as they featured some really nice cinematic moves, and the garden, and light was at almost its best. So I’ll have to go back and do it again next week. Further investigation reveals the card probably corrupted because I manually deleted (via the PC) all the previous session’s flights except one I wanted to keep, so didn’t format the card in the camera as I normally do before each session. After an in-cam format, I did 3 test vids and didn’t have any more problems. So – my bad then ! Fortunately, it doesn’t take much of an excuse to go home for some of Mum’s lovely cooking, so it’s...

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Posted by on Jul 17, 2014

Airwheel X5 Review

Airwheel X5 Review

Part 1 – Unboxing the Beast I don’t think I have ever had such a protracted and painfully anticipated delivery in all my life – OK – perhaps twice before, when I got my Yamaha S90SX, and again when my first flyer, AC1 arrived. But this felt worse than both, and better than both when it finally rocked up, a mere 3 days after I ordered it, direct from uk.airwheel.net. I paid £599 for the X5 model + £20 postage, and TNT delivered it cheerfully and without damage when they said they would. But not as cheerfully as I received it ! :) Part 2 – Seeing what’s what A neatly packaged box awaited me inside the main shipping outer. Inside, this theme continued and I unwrapped and unpacked a charger, an IEC with UK power plug, the stabilizer wheels and strap you use when you first start, a manual and lastly, a tyre pump extender thing, which you use, with a pump (obviously), to re-inflate the wheel as it...

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Posted by on Jul 15, 2014

Aero…wheel

Aero…wheel

Review – Airwheel X5 Powered Gyro Monowheel Much to my consternation, there are lots of places where either I am not allowed or can’t fly and film from the air. There are a whole lot more places that I probably could get away with flying, but represent too big a risk to craft, building, or people safety. But rather than just giving up on these things, I’ve been trying to find another way… I have previously investigated (and subsequently ruled out) an electric bike, a quad bike, a segway, a scooter, and a BMX, among other things. Mainly I’ve had to rule them out because either they involve a lot of hard work to make go along (no thanks), or are prohibitively expensive, or involve yet another set of rules about where I can’t go. I want something that will power me along, relatively smoothly and easily, and wherever I want to go, on and off-road, with no rules forbidding it ! I want it to go up hills and down hills, and...

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Posted by on Jul 6, 2014

High Dawn – Parts 1 & 2

High Dawn – Parts 1 & 2

King of the Hills… It was 5 am, and I was up the top of the highest hill in Hampshire to capture some rather rare weather conditions, and if possible to use that opportunity to get above the cloud base. Flight 1 up the top there, and Flight 2 below… 1080HD much improves things, so you should turn that on straight away ! Safety safety Butser is the best hill not only in terms of its size, height, parking(!), lack of obstacles and easy but interesting flying topology, but also because it attracts morning cloud / mist, which sometimes rises off the damp grass, and slowly joins the main cloud layer some 500-1000 ft above, around dawn. And in the 3 days a year when that might happen at sunrise (when I want to film), I can safely get above it by only ascending to a nice and legal 100-300 ft, where, thanks to my overdriven LED nav lights, I can still maintain 100% LoS eyes-on contact with my craft...

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Posted by on Jul 3, 2014

Quad-walking PFH

Quad-walking PFH

Cricket Grounds & Burial Mounds Dull sky and no sun, but also no wind means I’m looking for places to fly with interesting things to see on the ground, given that the sky won’t be up to much, and light is failing. Never mind, let’s pop to the woods by the heath, and fly around there for a bit, taking in some higher views of the cricket ground, heath itself and 2 of the ancient burial mounds that dot the heath. So just 2 LiPo packs worth before light at ground level was dodgy, but again, flawless Atti / GPS mode and control behaviour from the Naza – this frame feels very locked in, and I remain delighted with the gimbal performance, which is the best of any platform I have ever flown. The only artefacting on my video now is either down to shoddy non-smooth piloting from me, or because I left it in the sun for 10 mins, and this has resulted in a faint line on...

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Posted by on Jul 3, 2014

Hawkley Down

Hawkley Down

Like an inferior Hobbiton … this field, not for the first time, caught my attention as I was driving past it on the way to somewhere else, and lured in as I was by its undulating hillocks and sunset-through-trees action, I had to park the car, pop into the field, set up, and get in the air for 2 short flights on a very pleasant evening. Wildlife This field was empty last time I was in it, but today there was trio of horses that started off far away from me, wandered towards me, so I moved all my stuff (and latterly me) behind 2 lines of helpful electric fence, which the horses seemed to know about. One remained close until I took off, then looked annoyed, and walked away to join his friends, who then all ignored it together as it was high and out of their way, and I didn’t overfly them or even go down their end of the field much… Monitoring… I am monitoring the...

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Posted by on Jul 1, 2014

Sundown Heath

Sundown Heath

Iping Common. In what will be the last of the initial test flights proving airworthiness, AC2 Discovery Pro is flying like a total dream, and did so for all  of the 4 longish flights I had round Iping common this evening. It was a textbook performance from the Naza M, though I remain ever cautious that a DJI-flyaway is only a mystery circumstance away at any time, but here a wayward craft can go for really quite some distance in any direction without encountering anything except trees, heath, sand and (less ideally admittedly) a water-filled sand pit, and I am prepared for what to do to save or limit its progress if the worst happens. I did have some video power problem that looked like being a problem with my DC board, which is doing power to lights and VTX. Both were dodgy, and the video picture was dreadful so I’ll investigate that, but nothing affected safe flight, which is 99% LoS anyway. Hows video doing ? Had 100% usable...

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