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Posted by on Apr 10, 2013 in Blog, Video

AC1 V4.1 Upgrade

Standby for… Landing.

It’s been ages since I could go flying. Wretched wind / rain / work  nonsense. Finally got time to sit down and fit my new Aeroxcraft landing gear to my 550.

This took much longer than I thought, as I had to rotate the bottom plate which meant taking all the legs off, re-positioning the flight controller and re-wiring everything, hopefully giving me a much more stable camera mount than the previous system and at long last, a decent centre of gravity.

Nicely balanced sturdy landing gear.

Nicely balanced sturdy landing gear, you’d hope.

It might be only changing the landing gear, but that is a pretty big change in the way things are done in the craft. Lots of components have been re-positioned, and we are now at last able to use an under-slung battery pack giving us (hopefully) excellent balance with the gimbal at the front. This should mean that the Naza-M flight controller has less correction to do to keep an unbalanced craft stable, so in theory should provide smoother footage by not making the FC do those corrections in addition to the movements it has to do to compensate for the wind.

But there is a bigger surface area than with my previous landing gear, which might it make it easier for the wind to grab.

We’ll see how much difference all that makes to flight and response to wind in the next few test flights.

To some empty air !

So to test all this, I drove not far to Luddshott Common near Headley Down in Surrey, possibly the dullest and most featureless common I’ve ever seen, but nonetheless providing an adequate amount of free aerial space, I loaded some new settings into the Naza, and went for a series of test flights, checking most aspects of craft agility and safety functions like RTH etc.


Once more into the skies, with a slightly wonky GoPro 3 by the looks of it…

No, to be fair, there are things to see, but not much that isn’t gorse bushes or pine trees, and we’ve had quite a lot of those recently. Never mind, we’ll go and fly nice and close to them, just for fun ;)

Vertical gain is now 180, pitch and roll remain at 140, and yaw is 130. I’ve adjusted autopilot gain down to 100 from 120 to see if that will help smooth out any wind buffet jumps we get when flying high.

But mainly I’m checking video quality. I’ve done a Heath Robinson-style attachment of my X-Aircraft gimbal to the static mounting plate that came with the landing gear, held surprisingly firmly in place by 2 heavy-duty cable ties with some grip-mat in between. It is the connection to the main frame that is so much better this time – we’ll see if it makes any difference to the overall quality of film footage.

Gimbal Wars.

XAircraft vs. Aeroxcraft – at least it’s not easy to confuse their names.

Why have I attached the old XAircraft CM-GP cam mount, when I have a perfectly matched Aeroxcraft VTR-GP belt drive digital gimbal specifically for this landing gear sitting next to me ?



No. Not yet, anyway.

No. Not yet, anyway.







Simply because I want a comparison between this mount and the last one, both of which are self-improvised and therefore prone to problems, but at least ‘known quantity’ type problems.

I can use my existing jello solution, the memory foam mount, so shouldn’t have that problem to contend with…

No doubt I’ll test the VTR-GP soon, but other people’s results suggest I should wait til I can afford a hoverfly gimbal controller, which is leagues ahead of the Naza,  in terms of providing smooth video using this set-up. For now I am using the Naza’s gimbal control output, so we’ll see how we do on that, not expecting miracles.

Good sky. Relatively dull ground.

Good sky. Relatively dull ground.

Results ?

No – not really;  too early to tell. Initial impressions are that it does indeed get kicked by the wind a bit more than before, and that balancing doesn’t appear to have helped much in the ‘unnecessary rocking during movement’ department either. But it was a very windy day (again), so I am asking a bit much to expect smooth video. Did get some reasonable head-cam footage of the new landing gear, which does both work nicely as landing gear, and looks good while it’s doing it. Pleased with that so far.

Video-wise it needed a de-shake, as I’d expect in wind like that, so I’ve given it Google’s best, to generally pleasing effect – there aren’t many low shots for it to ruin, so mostly got away with it.

Settings, settings

There she is, hovering in front of me like a monstrous wind-powered 6 armed puppy with ski-rails, on an invisible leash.

There she is, hovering in front of me like an alien wind-powered 6 armed puppy with ski-rails on an invisible 400 ft leash.

It would be easy to pretend I didn’t notice tiny little jumps on occasions in these first flights. I have set my vertical gain very high, which might be the cause, but will keep an eye on it to make sure it’s not a dodgy ESC, as I’ve had before. Must remember to check them all for overheating signs after every flight.

See you next time it’s not raining…