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Posted by on May 7, 2013 in Blog

Harting Down Photoblog

Harting Down Photoblog

Spring has sprung…

It’s been a full 11 days since I last went flying, work and unusual sleep patterns mainly getting in the way of the aerial fun this week.

The Down, at Harting. Nice ley lines there, or footpaths as I like to call them.

The Down, at Harting. Not sure if that’s a sheep pen or a pond on the right there…

There has even been a bank holiday weekend in which I wasn’t out with the band, and the sun was gloriously illuminating the countryside for a full 3 days, and there was almost no wind – but other things conspired, and in the end I didn’t get out until late Monday night – arriving at Harting Down for around 8 pm, in time for the sunset at 8.30.

Technically speaking

I almost didn’t fly at all. When I arrived, I set up half way down the hill, and upon powering up immediately encountered 2 major problems.

  • The start up sequence of ESC beeps was wrong, and continued in a cycle until power was removed. This has happened once before and is a new problem since the last crash. 
  • GPS just would not locate more than 4 out of 7 satellites – not once in 20 minutes.

So I ruled flying ‘unsafe’, and moved all my gear back to the car, ready to depart, but then it occurred to me to check if I could get GPS on top of the hill. I wanted to see if the hill was the problem or if it was my GPS disc, temporarily affixed directly to an arm while I await the arrival of a replacement mounting mast, the original of which broke in the recent crash. And on powering up for the second time, full 7-satellite GPS lock was achieved, although it still took about 5 minutes to get there.

AC1 V4.6 comes in for landing No 8. Here she is not crashing.

AC1 V4.6 comes in for landing No 8. Here she is not crashing.

The other problem seemed to have disappeared as well, and I conducted a good 5 mins worth of hand-held ‘shake and roll’ testing to see if I could get power to fail through what must be a dodgy connection somewhere. It passed that test, so I decided it was safe enough to try some low-risk, low level flights over just the open field parts of the hill. There were no people or animals anywhere near my flight path, and I was prepared to risk a crash from low level onto soft, long grass. And it passed that test, so I did another one, and went a little bit higher and further. And then another. And another.

New antennas worked a treat...

New antennas worked a treat…

A slightly ill-advised, though not unsafe 8 flights later, I landed intact and as intended, with no recurring power or ESC issues.

That’ll be luck, however, and I’m not going up again until I’ve found and fixed the problem.

Testing, Testing…

Although I probably have got enough footage to make one, there probably won’t be a video for today’s adventure – I wasn’t really concentrating on cinematic moves, or overflying anything spectacular because I didn’t want to risk going down in a forest miles away just as it gets dark. If you don’t trust your craft 100%, you are severely limited in what you can do. So mainly I pointed my camera at the sun and high cirrus clouds, and whazzed off some photos we can all enjoy instead.

Here they are.

South Harting in the distance there...

South Harting in the distance there…

Fire in the Sky. Fortunately, not the bits of it I have to pay for.

Fire in the Sky. Fortunately, not the bits of it I have to pay for.

The sun finally sets...

The sun finally sets…

Before it all went red it was lovely and blue...

Before it all went red it was lovely and blue…

300 ft above West Sussex

200 ft above West Sussex

Sunset + clouds + trees = win

Sunset + clouds + trees = win

GoPro3 really goes to town with blues.

GoPro3 really goes to town with blues.

Back in the air as soon as I can…

JW