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Posted by on Jun 1, 2014

AC1 V6 :The Return

AC1 V6 :The Return

Resurrection Bonus Well I thought my beloved hexacopter AC1 had done its last flight, and had very much decommissioned her and nicked half her bits to go on AC2 my Discovery Pro FPV Quad which I bought with a mind to replace her for something smaller, lighter and easier to get around with. So out went her beating heart, the Naza-M Flight Controller, and her RX, and her lights, and all her video gear. I was unexpectedly sad to dissemble her for what I thought would be the last time, assumedly because I am taking down a machine that has served me well, and got me really very close to the sort of quality footage I am looking for. And then, the following week, as I was building machine no 2, I suddenly remembered that last year I’d dropped my original Devo 10 whilst crossing a road and broken a switch on it, and that there might have been an RX1002 receiver in the box with the one I ordered to...

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Posted by on May 14, 2014

Short Cuts

Short Cuts

Eventful flyings ! Having missed golden hour twice this week, I was a  bit more resolute to go and get it today, so headed up to Harting Down for about 7.30pm, and there it was. Here I had hoped to do some 1000 ft flight tests on the old hex, and had a veritable arsenal of batteries with me, ready to be put through their paces in what I thought was going to be some rather rewarding evening flights… Return to what ? The grass on the hill from where I would normally launch was very long, and would cause my gimbal to bind, and there are reports of big Naza GPS problems if you try and take off from the roof of a car, so I went for an area of car park close to the edge of the grass, and launched from there, making sure I had a full GPS home position register sequence before I took off. I completed a decent first flight (nothing too high,...

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Posted by on Apr 30, 2014

Spring Heath

Spring Heath

After the rain… There has been a lot of rain recently, and this has very much disrupted the flyings, but today it stopped for the early evening, so pre-loaded up and ready to take advantage of any such break in the cloud, I drove down to the local heath to have a quick few flights as the sun went down. Still on the rubber isolation mounts, but taking the time to carefully balance the craft every time a new battery pack went on, I was pretty pleased with the footage I got, which was mainly free of annoying vibrations you can get with an unbalanced craft, GPS mode, and any amount of wind. Frustratingly, I packed up after flight 4, just before the ground mist really kicked in, but not to worry, I’ll be back here again before Spring is out, I’m sure; it’s one of the few places I’ve definitely got permission to fly ! In the meantime, we’ve got some nice relaxing sail-planing around the common, and...

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Posted by on Apr 2, 2014

Heath Greens

Heath Greens

Test Day 2 – Petersfield Cricket Ground …Everything was better in today’s tests – by adjusting some bolts on the isolation mount, and making sure each flight was properly balanced, I was able to mostly get rid of the shakes that were plaguing me yesterday, but for some reason chose to video at 30 FPS, so my turns didn’t come out as smooth as they were. Balancing the craft appears to make all the difference. Had I filmed at 60 FPS I would have produced some really solid footage. Power Lines Took 4 batteries, but discovered a fault with the power connection on one Zippy 5800, so retired that before take-off. Gains are now on Aux 5 rotary, and this was useful in that I was able to turn them down when my newly raised settings (P/R/A centered round 150) proved a little twitchy. GPS lock was flawless except once when it drifted a good 5 m before sorting itself out. There did seem to be a list to...

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Posted by on Apr 2, 2014

Silence Breaks

Silence Breaks

Quiet Skies Ok, well that’s more about the headline – the skies round here are never quiet – there’s usually 1 or more Police helicopters, private planes or Chinooks at 2000 ft, so they’re rarely quiet. But today, it was a little bit noisier because me and Aerocam were back in it after really quite a long time away. So that was nice. Or was it ? Testing ++ Having been sitting in my workshop for nearly a year, there is lots of testing to be done on the AC5 Hexacopter, cleaning up, and making sure every component still works. A lot of that was done indoors, just checking wiring and power, and how my variously storaged (or not) LiPos would do on flight time after so long without any activity. I estimate I’ve lost about 10%, or 30 secs of flight time per battery, so not too bad. I’ve got some new 8000’s I’ll wire up if flyings go well. I needed to get a new FPV-cam, and new...

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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 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 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 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 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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Posted by on Jun 27, 2013

Drive-by Flyings – Guildford / Godalming

Drive-by Flyings – Guildford / Godalming

Go where the wind takes you. Or more specifically, to Guildford, if you’re dropping a friend there. Having done that, I went in the pursuit of great heights, and interesting things to see on the ground. One-shot wonder I’ll be making just 3 flights today before I get rained off, but at least they’ll be at 3 sites we don’t see very often, and one of them is my parents’ immaculate and beautiful garden. So enjoy that. First Flight: The Mount, Guildford Much excites up at the highest place overlooking Guildford, as there was competition for the skies ! Just as I was about to take off I spotted another UAV, doing a straight rise and hover at the other end of the hillside. I took off and flew over to investigate further, but as soon as I gained any sort of height, they had descended and gone. I went looking for them in the car briefly, but no joy – would have been nice to say hello and...

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Posted by on Jun 24, 2013

Skate Park Sunset

Skate Park Sunset

The Light fades over Petersfield… This one’s going to start off a photo-blog, and then get added to when I’ve done the video until it’s a proper one. Which is now – video complete, so lets get today’s flight log logged… Urban Flyer I’m here to test the recent changes I’ve made to my craft, which include some levelling on the front rotors, and to film a nice sunset, this time from the middle of my home town, Petersfield. It’ll be a nice change from all the countryside stuff I’ve been doing recently, but with lots of Spring greens around to give us an interesting view on the ground beneath us… The Test Zone The 5 flights I completed here today proved that I was correct in my most recent assumption that my craft was yawing left without my input because I no longer had a perfectly coplanar rotor alignment, following some of my arm extension plates being mangled, (and then re-straightened) after a recent terrible crash. The good...

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Posted by on Jun 21, 2013

Spring Falls

Spring Falls

The sun sets on Spring for another year …and I’m up at Ditcham Park at the top of a very high hill. No change there then. In celebration of it being almost the longest day, I arrived very late, and got in the air just as the sun was about to disappear over the horizon. I’ve chosen this fly-site because I’m aware that the rotation problems I’m having whenever I move forward may lead to loss of orientation, and a range of circumstances that might culminate in a heavy landing, so I was after a location that had lots of the very best thing to crash into – and that’s corn, which surrounded me in most fields, like a velvet cushion, should it all go horribly wrong… In theory and practice… As it happened, although the yaw problem was very much in evidence, because I was expecting it, it wasn’t the end of the world to compensate for it and generally make the craft go where I want it to....

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Posted by on Jun 19, 2013

Stoner Hill Highs – Part 1: North Face

Stoner Hill Highs – Part 1: North Face

Go, Go Aerial Cinecam Another fine Spring day, and I’m in the air over Stoner Hill, getting enough footage to make 10 videos, let alone 2 or 3. And all from 5 battery packs. We start then with Part 1, the first flight off the… North Face This is a very dangerous fly-site – I hate flying here as much as I love the view and footage it produces.  Even on days considered windless, once you get out over that valley, the wind is always massive. From the second my craft leaves the ground to the second it returns, my heart is thumping fit to burst. Why so stressy ? GPS signal here is ropey as hell, visibility of craft is restricted to a 30 degree angle once it gets into the valley, and those evil gale force winds suck upwards and outwards, and cause the sort  of craft-rocking turbulence that I rarely see at other sites. It’s a nightmare. One tiny mistake, and I could go down in...

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Posted by on Jun 17, 2013

South Downs Sky Surfing XL

South Downs Sky Surfing XL

Up in the sky and it’s full of win ! The tests are over, everything’s fine, and it’s time to go grab some awesome scenery and get it down on film, hopefully without horrible crash disasters and other film-ruining surprises. This is an XL blog – we’ll start with one video, and then add more as the days go on, so worth checking back if there aren’t at least 2 videos here yet. One may even end up on Vimeo, for Xtra high quality… Lost in Hampshire I’m having an extraordinary run of luck at the moment with driving to a potential fly site, getting lost on the way there, wandering off exploring down country lanes and ending up somewhere different, but just as good, if not better. Today was like that. I was trying to get back to the site of my last Hill Rise blog, where a chronic gimbal miscalculation rendered all my otherwise brilliant footage of the amazing location all but useless. Could I find that...

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Posted by on Jun 17, 2013

South Downs End Photo Blog

South Downs End Photo Blog

It’s the end of another sunny Sunday, and if you know me at, I’ll be up some massive hill, flying off the side of it. Today is no exception. We’re at the end of the South Downs. I say the end. The end of this bit of them. We’re overlooking Didley and Cocking. Who thinks of these names ? 4 of these pics are screen-grabs from the raw unedited video – but which 4 ? Answers on a postcard, but not to me. I can promise you some truly exceptional video tomorrow – but for now feast your eyes on this glorious bit of Hampshire, and the breath-taking clouds going on over it as the sun goes down on South Downs End… You’ll find these rewardingly large and a lot of them. See you soon...

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Posted by on Jun 11, 2013

Elsted Common Narrated Flight

Elsted Common Narrated Flight

Same video, different noises. Hey peoples. Haven’t done a narrated jobby for ages, so while I’m in the test flying stages of AC1 V5.0, now seems like as good a time as any. So please enjoy (or mute, as is your wont) my extended ramblings over the entire flight, ruminating on such things as how windy it is, how well the gimbal might be doing, piloting commentary, and why APC can’t f**king deliver anything properly. If you’re wondering why it looks a bit different to the last version, I’ve turned the grading up a bit (too much if we’re honest), and shifted it a bit more sunset yellow / red. That’s all though – no stabilisation. Righty – one whole flight coming up… and this token picture....

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