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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 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 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 20, 2013

Stoner Hill Highs Part 2: South-West Rise

Stoner Hill Highs Part 2: South-West Rise

The best direction is up… Well after the horrors of the North valleys, with their GPS blocking, jetstream style winds and tiny viewing windows and all those trees, on the other side it’s a bit different, with lots more open space, and the best wooded valley I have ever seen, immediately off to the left. As soon as I crossed the style into the take-off field, I could see things were very different to my last (Winter) flight here, when the grass was short enough to easily accommodate a take-off, and there were sheep, keeping it so. No, it’s too long… Today, as you’ll see, there’s no sheep (bonus), but grass is now growing quite literally ‘wild’ and is about half a meter tall. Beautiful but unhelpful. There remained only one spot to take off from where the grass was trodden down enough – on the path that leads through to the woods. The problem with this is that my normal fly site is up the other end of...

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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 Apr 26, 2013

Cloud Connected

Cloud Connected

The misty sands. I was planning on heading into QE Country park for some sunlit woodland flying, but before that, as I was driving along the South coast on a brilliantly bright and sunny afternoon, suddenly, as if from nowhere, a large bank of cloud / fog / mist started moving rapidly inland from out at sea to the South East. I’d never seen weather conditions quite like it, and had my hex in the back, so overjoyed at the possibility that the cloud may have actually come to me for a change, and that I might be able to legally get above it without breaking the 400 ft rule (usually impossible), I parked up, got down on the beach and launched skywards for what would be 8 exhilarating (and at times quite tense) 6-7 minute flights. Yes the cloud is perfect, but the wind is pretty full-on – most of the time manageable, but sometimes less so. Fortunately, it was blowing inland, and was fairly constant. Testings But...

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Posted by on Apr 10, 2013

AC1 V4.1 Upgrade

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. 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...

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Posted by on Mar 22, 2013

Sand Pits @ Sunset – Episode 2

Sand Pits @ Sunset – Episode 2

High Times Spin Panoramas in glorious Technicolour.  Watched Part 1 yet ? This is the bit after that. This episode sponsored by the Cat’s Protection League.   Yes, I am still using my unique location-based freedom from responsibility (see part 1), to do some high flyings over treacherous waters. We start high, and get to the lower stuff at the end. Conditions were good – there wasn’t that much wind to be any sort of threat to control, but it was there enough to have an unhelpfully profound effect on filming, during descents especially – prop wash + wind can’t ever be good. We’ll see how de-shake copes with all the long fades… Even if it’s duff video – I really don’t care – that sand pit isn’t going anywhere, and I’ll do it better next time with more wind-defying equipment as time goes on – for now – I got some great flying fun, and some amazing screen-grabs, and I’m happy with that. For anyone wondering why I...

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Posted by on Mar 21, 2013

Sand Pits @ Sunset – Episode 1

Sand Pits @ Sunset – Episode 1

It’s there if you dare… Hey Internetsters – it’s me, back with another trip out to see something nice, mainly from the air. Today’s niceness is… West Heath Sand Quarry, or as some people know it, Borrowers Sand Pit is just outside Rogate, off the A272.  Google maps found it for me, and I’ve flown here once previously, well before I started this blog, so it’s an aerocam.org.uk first. Let’s not get bogged down (pun intended) about what constitutes a quarry or a sand pit… we’re flying over it whatever it’s called. Double Bill Not much wind in my bit of the air today, so quite a lot of usable footage ! And because I had so many nice comments about my last adventure, up at Stoner Hill, I thought you deserved another multi-parter. Part 2 isn’t up yet, but will be, hopefully within the week. That one will be ultra smooth and ultra slinky, but this one is pretty much straight out of the cameras and up, give or...

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Posted by on Mar 19, 2013

Stoner Hill XL

Stoner Hill XL

At-height and In-depth Hey kids – and welcome to an expanded flight log.  This time it’s longer, and has got some behind-the-scenes stuff in it, as I report on Thursday’s Stoner Hill mission… Just as I suspect that fishing is mainly an excuse for sitting by a nice lake all day, flying gets me out wandering through my favourite bits of the beautiful British countryside and there is a certain joy and freedom in scouting potential fly-sites on foot, before you even get off the ground. So this time, I thought I’d include some extra video from my head-cam, which shows getting to the site, a bit of set-up, and hopefully gives you some idea what goes on that you don’t normally see. Don’t worry – if all that bores you silly, then skip straight to video 2, which is all the smooth, high stuff, or part 3 which is the exciting, fast, low stuff. Yep, there’s a lot more that goes on before and after the flights themselves....

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Posted by on Mar 11, 2013

Forest Flyers

Forest Flyers

Slightly sunny Saturday afternoons… I’ve been looking at the upcoming weather forecast, and it’s really not good. Even as I write this, my house is shuddering ominously in the freezing gale force winds that are battering Hampshire at the moment. And it’s snowing, and what isn’t being blown away is remaining. I could see it might be a while before flying was a good idea, so took this Saturday as something of a last opportunity to go. Weather isn’t ideal, but at least the sun is trying to emerge… To the forest ! So here we are on Liss Forest Heath, with a vague plan in mind, and Capt. McT on the ground with a GoPro2 on a hand-held gorillapod, while I’m in the air (not bodily) with a GoPro3. Yet he still has the advantage… Yes, of course we are also joined by stalwart of British weather ‘The Wind’, which once more set about its furious task of ruining my aerial filmings, and I’m ashamed to report that...

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Posted by on Mar 5, 2013

Ghosts in the Mist

Ghosts in the Mist

Winter is…going …but it hasn’t gone yet, and this morning I awoke to the ethereal light of trees shrouded in thick fog. Flying in fog is usually a massive waste of time – everything has no contrast, there’s not much to see – not much you can see, the sun is usually entirely obscured by cloud, and there really has to be some pretty special scenery around to make this sort of thing worthwhile. This morning, however, the intense Winter sun and a cloudless sky (obviously not counting the fog) was making all the difference and I got out there just as the mist began to lift. And I wanted to get my GoPro 3 in the air again as soon as was humanly possible… Testing Times It’s always testing time in one way or another, but today’s flight is mainly about the video test rather than choice location. That location is my back yard, and I have permission from the owner (my landlord) to fly here. Today I am...

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Posted by on Feb 17, 2013

AC1 v3.6 reclaims the skies…

AC1 v3.6 reclaims the skies…

Summon the repair crews! Oh, that’s me. Right – spent Saturday lovingly restoring my craft to its former glory. Just 2 new arms and a carbon fibre prop to replace initially. Did that, and connected to the computer to check settings, motor and prop direction, and to realign the gimbal, which had been knocked off whack by the impact. Got that done, but having removed all the props to test motors safely, I noticed ESC 4 was getting substantially hotter than all the others after a 2 minute unloaded 50% motor test. I looked closely at it and saw a massive dent in its underside (yet more previously unnoticed crash damage) which can’t have been helping, so out it went, and in went my spare. Hurrah for Power Distribution Looms, as mine made this a quick and painless plug and play sort of process rather than having to resort to the soldering kit. Can we fix it ? Yes we can. OK, so up to my ground zero test...

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Posted by on Jan 30, 2013

AC1 V3.5 Upgrade

AC1 V3.5 Upgrade

Rain, rain, nothing but… Yes, there is only one thing to be done when it’s raining lots – to the test bench for some tweakings and upgrades ! Tweak 1 – Re-route ESC Power This is being done in order to try and fix the recent ‘throttle-jump’ problems I’ve been having since back at this post… it hasn’t affected my flyings too badly, but it was there often enough to ruin my cinematic moves with sudden unwanted ascents, and to make landing a tedious drawn-out process of ‘catch the bouncing hex’. Having scoured the internets for solutions and people having similar problems I found largely nothing, except one thread by a guy who had identical symptoms, and swapped out every single component and wire in an effort to solve it. After trying everything, he finally thought to re-route ESC power away from the lower circuit boards internal tracks and direct from battery pack to the ESCs via a 6-way power distribution harness, and it cured the problem for him....

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Posted by on Jan 21, 2013

The Winter Freeze – Elsted Common

The Winter Freeze – Elsted Common

In the bleak mid-winter… It might be bleak, and very very cold – indeed I very much froze my proverbials to the core getting you this footage, so let’s enjoy a Wintery look round over some evergreen trees, my second favourite quarry, and marvel at the intricate network of paths and symbols on the frozen ground that make up one side of Elsted / Iping Common… Yep, it’s one of my favourite flying grounds, and being determined to capture it in all seasons, I am pleased to add Winter to the list. Only Spring to go, and I have a complete year. Cinematically speaking… There wasn’t that much wind today, and what there was didn’t really get above 12 mph, so whilst it’s certainly not the smoothest flight vid I’ve ever made, at last I can add a snow-flight to my collection that doesn’t also involve the ridiculous shaking of previous efforts. I was on my own, and didn’t meet a single soul today, so was able to focus...

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Posted by on Jan 19, 2013

The Winter Freeze – PF Lake & White flights

The Winter Freeze – PF Lake & White flights

No Business like snow business. 2 vids in one this time, as one really isn’t very good, and yesterday’s flight is just me whazzing about in some real-time snow, so we’ll gloss over that (it’s at the bottom somewhere if you really want to watch it), and get on to today’s, which is much more interesting… Songs of Fire and Ice (no songs, or fire though) So, I woke up today to find it had stopped snowing, which meant I could venture further afield than the field by my back garden. To the lake then, which seems the obvious choice, given that Petersfield Town Council have just kindly extended my flying area until March so I can capture the wintery goodness. So here I am, doing that. What’s that, Mummy ? Loads of people, and their children / dogs about, so mostly flew over the lake where they weren’t, and my rigorous preflight checking paid off in that I didn’t fall into the lake at any point. So that’s...

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Posted by on Jan 16, 2013

Broom Channel 7’s

Broom Channel 7’s

What the hell is a Broom Channel ? You might well ask. Hey Kids… I’m back, and it was almost another castle before I decided that the wind was just too high for any sort of town center fortress flying. So this is the backup plan, and we’re on the South Coast (almost) just off the A27 to Southsea flying next to an inlet called.. you guessed it;  the Broom Channel.   There’s a sailing club, a quarry, a large field, and a lot of sea, sandbars and islands, not to mention a massive industrial estate over the other side of the road, and it’s all lit by some rather nice Winter sun on a Sunday afternoon… Having said that, it was so cold my nipples were talking to me, like Jean-Claude Van Damme’s in that advert. Lot of wind as well, gusty and around 30 mph in places. Home lock had to be employed once, and worked a treat. Because of the wind, I’ve had to get de-shake...

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