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Posted by on Nov 17, 2018

Patchwork Gardens

Patchwork Gardens

Almost a Home Ground… Technically, this fly-site is the closest to my house of anywhere I fly, but despite one very successful flight here around 5 years ago with my Discovery Pro, I have been reticent to return because I don’t want to worry or harass the gardeners by flying there too often. The last thing I would want is for them to think I am spying on them, or up to anything nefarious, so I always go and talk to at least a few people of whoever is there and ask if they mind if do some aerial photography. Everyone has been very kind so far. Flight Planning Although I didn’t seem to need it last time I made my close-proximity flight, this time one of the resident gardeners advised that I should probably ask for permission to fully overfly the site, which I will do in due course, but in the meantime I do remain free to fly in the large public fields next door to the...

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Posted by on Nov 17, 2018

Lammas Land Spin Glides

Lammas Land Spin Glides

Losing Light… Over in Godalming again visiting Mum, so paused on the way to go grab some dusk footage from the Lammas Lands, this time from the ‘Farncombe’ side of it. It’s another huge wide-open space largely devoid of people, except the odd dog walker, and this makes it a similarly great place to fly as the other side of the road is. Safe and legally distant from structures, but close enough to a built-up area to get some decent views of the town. Light wasn’t on my side this time – it was failing fast at only 4.30 pm or so, but I got there and set up in just about enough time to get a couple of flights under the darkening grey skies. Testing Times Flawless performance from the H again, even better now that I have recalibrated the compass after finding the odd occurrence of ‘error 32’ in my flight telemetry. I am beginning to really trust the H now, and as I approach the 150...

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Posted by on Oct 19, 2018

Ashford Hangers

Ashford Hangers

250 yards further… Exciting new fly site time ! I’ve lived in Petersfield for at least 10 years, and have known about Stoner Hill and Ashford Hangers for most of that, but recently my good friends Matt & Joolz told me about a viewpoint I had never found in all that time, so today I set out on a mission to find it, and when I did I was rewarded by one of the best potential fly sites I’ve seen for a while ! And it is a mission to get there – I have to drive all the way to the end of Litten Lane, a fabulously unmaintained farmers track that puts my cars suspension to the maximum test – indeed have lost 2 exhausts to this road before, but I got away with it this time. I used to fly from the main viewpoint, but for various reasons had since decided that wasn’t safe, and the only other option is a gated field on the left that...

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Posted by on Oct 19, 2018

Butser Hill South

Butser Hill South

If at first you don’t succeed… …go back again and have another go. Last time I was here, the sun had already gone down, I inexplicably had an ND4 filter on, and had to set ISO way high, so footage was quite bad and trees got turned to mush – eurgh. So this time, I’ve got there an hour earlier, and all my ND filters remain in the bag, and things are looking much better for it… also less wind today, so that’s nice. The Road to the Top This is one of the fields that lines the main road up to the summit of Butser, but I’m saving flying from up there until conditions are perfect, so for now I am content to stay on the South Side ridge, flying from my favourite easy-access field where I have excellent views of all the surrounding skies and roads, and I have special assistant Andy spotting for me, so this makes me feel very safe for this session. There were...

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Posted by on Oct 19, 2018

Godalming High Rise

Godalming High Rise

Flying Back Home New Fly-site time again, and this time we’re in my former home town of Godalming, where we have time for 2 slow panning rises from carefully selected locations around the town. First up is quite a high base, on Busbridge Recreation field, where we get a decent early evening view of the town from the top of the hill, and then we’re down on the Lammas Lands, one of the only safe and legal places to fly close to the town center, and this one really is very rewarding in the afternoon light, being as we are right on the river and right next to the attractive churchyard and greens that run alongside it. It was quite windy on both occasions, and being new to the sites I flew quite cautiously and close to me, so restricted the footage to the main rises, as we’ll have time for all the ‘attractive tree-line river following’ when I go back there from time to time.   Multi-session Flying...

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Posted by on Jul 27, 2018

Harting Heights

Harting Heights

Freewheeling over Harting Down Another one of the places I am very pleased to have revisited is Harting Down, a very pleasant fly site, a largely unobstructed wide open field, only made Level 3 by the often turbulent and prodigious wind, and by the difficulty of recovery should things go wrong while you are over the edge into the valley beyond. But the careful pilot who goes on the right day, when the wind isn’t too bad gets rewarded by some epic views of the Hampshire countryside in the afternoon sun. Afternoon Artefacts I am beginning to see the wisdom of getting a neutral density filter set. As I venture out on flying missions in the day, as opposed to golden hour / sunsets, then I find myself having to set exposures very low (shutter speeds of up to 1/1000 needed today), which, given that I was filming at 60 FPS, is a long way from ideal. 1/120 would be the perfect setting for ultra smooth video there, and...

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Posted by on Jul 23, 2018

Petersfield Pans

Petersfield Pans

It’s not a good idea (or legal) to film in town centers, where there are a lot of people, but for a long time I have been looking into other ways to get decent shots of my home town without breaking any rules. It all comes down to finding launch sites that are in exactly the right place – right on the edge of town, and I have been looking for those a lot recently. As you’ll see, I found 2 suitable sites, where I could launch in green fields with good tree protection, and more than 50 m away from any building, and 150 m away from any building with people in. Hospital Recreation Field Not alot of room to play here, but we do meet the minimum requirements for distance from buildings at launch, and if we go pretty much straight up and down in a single line we are doing considerate flying, not overflying any building or structure, and generally keeping out of the way, and...

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Posted by on Jul 23, 2018

New Fly Site – Rake Lane

New Fly Site – Rake Lane

The Lay of the Land… Special Assistant Andy told me about a cool little field he passes on the way from Milland to Petersfield, and having pre-flighted on google maps it did look ideal, in that it was vast, safe, miles from anywhere, and the landscape was very attractive, and contoured interestingly, and today it was particularly good because of all the black-wrapped hay bales everywhere. But we did get there quite late, so light was fading fast, and there wasn’t as much time as I would have liked to really use the space to our advantage, but the sunset was great, a nice ethereal spooky pink and purple one that made a nice end to the fun flyings in the field below. Can we fly here ? My main concern with any fly site is ‘Is it safe to fly?’, but there are other considerations too. It is very difficult to seek permission to fly at these sorts of places because it is almost never clear who owns...

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Posted by on Jun 28, 2015

Treyford Rise

Treyford Rise

Summer Solstice, almost… OK, 2 days late for the solstice, and 3 days short of the longest day of the year, but thought it was about time I went and got some sunset action while the daylight hours are so long. So as 9 pm approached the sun was heading behind some fairly epic clouds, and the skies were turning golden just as I was rolling along the road between Treyford and Didling (really ?) hoping to find somewhere good to launch from, ideally next to a fairly impressive bit of the South Downs. Luckily, half way along it I found a convenient layby, and a newly sown field with an open gate, and perfect launch spaces, so resolved to do 3 quick flights here in what I had been led to believe by the BBC was fairly light wind. Up, up and away… No craft in the air around me at first launch, so I went for ‘cams-pointed-at-the-sky’, and a fair bit of height. And the height was where it was...

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Posted by on Jun 17, 2015

150 Tiny Gardens

150 Tiny Gardens

Interesting Things on the Ground… Constantly on the look-out for new places to explore from the air, my various wanderings took me just up the road from home, where I discovered a vast empty field neighbouring a pretty large set of allotments. Intrigued to see what they would look like from above, I set about planning this flight session extremely carefully. No, I haven’t counted them. But there’s loads. It is my hope that the individual allotment owners (I couldn’t ask them all) won’t mind my brief sailplane around their growing efforts, and  might appreciate an unusual view of their produce. Safety first… There is more need for safety and risk assessment at this fly-site than at almost any other I have flown before, entirely due to its proximity to the railway track that passes behind the allotments. Although a lot of it is protected by tall trees, not all of it is, and I needed to be able to guarantee that I would not overfly the track, or...

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Posted by on Jun 15, 2015

Petersfield Heath Summer 2015

Petersfield Heath Summer 2015

Rain stops, let’s go Hello archaeologists ! And Summer. Join me for an aerial view of some of Petersfield Heath, replete with burial mound dig sites, and a bit of lake action. There’s also a golf course over there somewhere. I say Summer, but not sun, as it had been raining all day (despite being the hottest day of the year) and this somewhat lucky flight is the result of me checking the weather every 10 minutes, and then running out with my RC gear to grab a skyfull in the single half hour in which rain had ceased. Eye on the sky… I can fly in rain, but choose not to on the whole, as it’s not much fun flying in the wet, and it also makes battery pack connections more sparky and unpredictable. But dry sky was mine for the whole session, despite rather impending clouds, and I had 3 pretty much perfect flights, of around 9-10 mins each on my Turnigy 5 amp power packs. Kept the...

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Posted by on May 21, 2015

Golden Heights

Golden Heights

Drive-by-flyings Today I was out looking for the few rapeseed fields that haven’t yet been harvested, and I must have driven for a good 40 minutes without finding a single suitable one, but as I turned back on to the A3, I wondered if there were any on the way up towards Butser Hill, which I would shortly be passing. A worthwhile digression as it turns out, because there’s at least 3 of them nearly at the crest of the hill, and one of the fields had helpful unrestricted access (yep, I could get through that gap). As it was the middle of a working day, there was almost nobody about, but I was resolved to be especially vigilant about other things in the sky (although I didn’t see a single flying thing other than the one I put there in the entire session) and having a clear view in all directions from my launch site, I felt confident to gain a bit of height, and have a pan round the...

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Posted by on May 11, 2015

2015 Test Flights 2 and 3

2015 Test Flights 2 and 3

Higher, Faster, Longer Yep, it’s a double entry for test flights 2 and 3, which went on last week in the gaps between all that mental wind. The Naza-M V1 (v2.12 software) continues to fly perfectly, and film beautifully, and my ongoing battery tests are re-familiarising me with what keeps me in the air and for how long, so I am gaining confidence that I still have a pretty much perfectly optimized aerial rig I can start to set on some decent photo missions without worry. The GoPro4 Black Edition does OK, but if I’m honest, not as well in some respects as its predecessor the 3+ which seems to give a better average light setting, and records arguably higher quality footage than the 4 does at high frame rates. It’s battery also does better, although with only 4 power packs, giving around 25 mins of flight, camera power isn’t a problem. We do have a cable that’s gone intermittent – the flyout cable that connects to the GoPro from...

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Posted by on Apr 24, 2015

Spring Rise

Spring Rise

Long Time, no Fly… It has been a fair few months since my Airwheel arrived and almost completely subsumed my aerial photography / flying adventures, but now Spring has sprung it would be most remiss not to wind up the flying gear, and head out into all this beautiful evening sunshine. I’ve renewed my BMFA membership, completed the various tests and tightenings to make sure I still have a viable flying machine, and today is the first of 2015 that I’ve been able to head out and start the seasons outdoor test flights, before attempting more cinematic missions. Safety First And so to the local cricket ground, where I have permission to fly, and can safely complete my low level flight tests and ascertain which of my battery packs have survived the year. The good news was that 3 out of the 4 I tried still gave me a good 7-9 mins of flight time, but I had to bin one which had a dodgy cell that alarmed pretty much from...

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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 5, 2014

Drive-By Flyings, Chalfont

Drive-By Flyings, Chalfont

  The Lure of Gold… There’s something really quite good about the particular flaxen yellows of a massive field of flowering rapeseed. And they’re not doing the flowering for very long, so as soon as I see one, I know it’s time to go drive-by flying, and see if I can find a field of it that has parking and isn’t locked. Today’s field was a chance find on the hill-top road out through Clanfield, then through to Chalton and beyond, nearly all the way down to Denmead. Having passed up about 30 alternative fields as having one thing or other wrong with them on the way here and the sun was not far off setting, I stopped here mainly because there was lots of parking space, it was adjacent to a public footpath, didn’t have a 300 ft electricity pylon in it, and because I didn’t think I’d find a better one before the sun disappeared. Swings and Roundabouts Once in the air, it transpired that I’d picked...

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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 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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