Back from the Brink…
Long time no fly !
Aerocam has been grounded for the last 3 years, mainly because of ‘trust issues’.
After the 3rd crash caused by DJI flight controllers and no pilot error, I was at the point where I simply could not and would not trust that company again. Their lack of concern or willingness to admit to or address a problem that has plagued their flight controllers since the first one they ever built has left DJI’s reputation in tatters for me. They might be the biggest in the world, but they are flawed and have let me down 3 times too many.
I loved that machine, and in the year I had it before DJI trashed it was one the happiest and most rewarding periods of flying I’ve ever had, and the first time I had ever achieved proper broadcast-smooth footage, with that amazing gimbal and My GoPro 3+. Very keen to differentiate between the excellent Team Black Sheep, who have designed a brilliant system there in the Disco Pro and made a properly awesome craft, and DJI, whose crappy erroring IMU killed it.
Rebuilding a Disco
After the crash, I was going to rebuild my discovery with a Pixhawk flight controller, a challenging mission as the hardware involved is a little bigger and different form factor to the Naza contollers. And then 3DR went out of business, leaving that plan relatively unsupported. I held on to it for a long time, loathed as I was to see it go, but ultimately decided it was no longer the way forward…
A Yuneec Solution ?
So with that going on, there wasn’t much to be done, as none of the commercial UAVs on the market at the time (within my price range at least) did what the Pixhawk / 3DR system did. And so I resolved to wait for the 3DR Solo 2 that was sadly never to be released.
And so I retired from model UAV flying, and mainy did other stuff, just occasionally checking the latest releases to see if anything had come close to the incredible machine that solo 2 would have been. I missed my flying, but not enough to go back to DJI. And so I waited a bit more.
It was only a full 3 years later that by sheer accident I saw a Yuneec Typhoon H in action on Youtube, and was a bit blown away by everything that could do, and the brilliant compactness of the setup. Suddenly, my pilot senses were reactivated, and I felt the pull back to the hobby got stronger and stronger until there was a Typhoon H Pro sitting on my doorstep.
Trust Building begins…
And so we start the long (but hopefully enjoyable) process of developing and building trust in another flying machine. Endless YouTube searches have revealed that these machines don’t really do ‘flyaways’, or at least not in the same sense as DJI get them, and unlike a quadcopter can recover and land safely even if a motor / ESC blows, and are supported by people who do appear to care what happens to their customers after they have the money ! I have yet to test that last theory but the signs are encouraging, and I love their T-H machine, which is an awesome bit of UAV design…
Compact and Bijou
One of the least enjoyable things about my last setup was all the stuff I had to bring with me – at least 3 massive bags, and tripods and screens, and all sorts of peripheral stuff, a lot of which was quite heavy ! I was delighted to find that the TH came in a backpack, and condensed down everything I would need to just that.
There is a screen in the control surface, so no need for tripod or extrnal screens and the ton of cables that needs. Batteries last 20 minutes each now, so only need to bring 2 of them per session, and of course this UAV is foldable, so that it takes up a lot less space and makes backpacking a 650 style hexacopter a much feasible proposition and even leaves your hands free !
The First Tests
I am currently re-learning to fly manually (comes back surprisingly quickly!) and thoroughly conducting field tests of both the craft and the camera so I have enough trust in it to bring it on some more risky and exciting missions and hopefully bring us all some beautiful and spectacular views of the British Countryside
My original mission statement was to overfly castles and interesting buildings, the sea, and areas of outstanding natural beauty. When I was originally in the hobby, the world was still largely unprepared for UAVs, and so I wasn’t very restricted in what I could film. That is not the case in modern times – in a good few of the places I used to regularly fly there are now specific signs and orders banning drone use, and it has become very difficult to find approval to overfly the sort of ancient buildings I was primarily interested in. For those that exist in cities or town centers, FAA rules make hobby flights here impossible.
So I am altering my mission statement !
Now I’m all about the landscapes, the clouds and the sunsets, and that will be my main focus from now on – this will place me mostly in fields, miles away from people and traffic, but I will try and find fields (and the skies above them) that are exceptionally nice to look at.
We also have to contend with the 400-ft rule, which theoretically keeps us 100 ft clear of commercial airspace. Just 122 m of height isn’t much, but at least that’s based on the ground level, so great heights can be achieved if only I find launch spots at the highest points of land. Flying at Butser Hill for example, presuming we started at the apex, would be fine (once we’ve checked for low-flying chinooks!) – I could still get above the tower, and we’d actually be a few thousand feet above the level of the surrounding countryside, so I don’t see this as a massive problem going forward.