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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 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 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 11, 2013

Town Flyers – Petersfield High Meadow

Town Flyers – Petersfield High Meadow

Out of the countryside, into the fire… OK, I mean into the wind, but fire sounded more impressive. There was no fire, unless you’re counting the sun, which I’m not. Due to lack of clouds, incidentally, the sunset was rubbish, except on the ground through the trees, so we won’t be looking at that today. On the ground there are trains ! Much more exciting. Lucky Finds… There’s been a lot of hills and greenery in my videos recently, and feeling like a change, I went on a Google satellite mission to try and find somewhere more ‘towny’, where I can continue to provide us all with interesting things to see on the ground, that don’t necessarily have to have leaves. There will be leaves, but also a big town. Today, there is grass in the field to whose boundaries I am strictly adhering, and I am surrounded by buildings. We’ll get into that later… Despite living in Petersfield for at least 7 years now, I had failed to...

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Posted by on Jul 9, 2013

Sailplanes by Sunset

Sailplanes by Sunset

Cruising the Petersfield Skies… That’s technically cruising the heath, but I’m pretty sure I don’t mean that. I said there’d be an Abbey today, didn’t I ? I was wrong. No, it’s too windy to risk being blown about into ancient stone walls, so off I headed, into the sunset, to more spacious locations, and this sunset was over Petersfield lake and heath, because I haven’t flown here properly with my new camera setup yet, and I know you all like a bit of lake action if there’s some going… Taking the evening air… Apart from the odd Chinook, I had the skies pretty much to myself, but the same can’t be said for the ground. Lots of people out for an evening stroll, and who can blame them ? Certainly not me. And most of the people I met today were great – (Hi Mick !), and even the ones with dogs were mostly aware, considerate, decent people, with well trained animals… The Lunatic Fringe Just occasionally, I...

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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 25, 2013

Fields of Gold

Fields of Gold

Red sky at night… Flyers delight. I wasn’t planning to go to the flyings today, but at 8.30 pm decided I probably should, given the lack of wind, and nice, unusually clear skies. I planned to drive to Petersfield Heath, and look at the golf course, something I still haven’t done with my new ultra-slinky brushless setup. And then I found myself driving past all that, and on along the B2146 towards South Harting resolved that as the sun was almost down already, I would stop at the first place that looked a) accessible and b) like it might be nice place to film something I haven’t seen for a while, or at all. In it for the colour That place transpired to be public footpath right at the North Entrance to South Harting, where a nice take-off area on a public bridleway type thing split 2 large fields, 1 of fairly standard long green stuff (I’ll assume it’s grass but it’s probably some sort of crop) and more...

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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 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 13, 2013

Aeroxcraft Brushless Gimbal Setup

Aeroxcraft Brushless Gimbal Setup

Setting up your Aeroxcraft Brushless Gimbal This is a (vaguely) technical document rather than a normal blog post. It will be of interest only to those people who have just bought, or are considering buying an Aeroxcraft Brushless GoPro Gimbal. If that’s not you, I’d stop reading now. Here I will briefly go over setting up for coms with PC, updating the Firmware, and then changing settings. Be aware that updating the firmware for this board will overwrite your existing firmware, and you will not be able to easily get that back. You will require: 1 Aeroxcraft Brushless Gimbal (Martinez Brushless Controller / IMU) USB A to mini B cable Arduino (latest version) Whichever version of the firmware you want to install / configure 7.4v Power Source (2S 850 maH compact LiPo ideal) The GoPro, loaded into the gimbal assembly (for balancing during settings config) I’m using Windows 7 Professional 64-Bit, and version 49 beta r77 of the controller software which I got from here The procedure I followed...

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Posted by on Jun 5, 2013

Aeroxcraft Brushless GoPro3 Gimbal XL

Aeroxcraft Brushless GoPro3 Gimbal XL

The dawn of a new era… With every addition you make to your craft as your kit evolves, you hope to get a little tiny bit further toward the ultimate goal of pro-quality film footage. Most times you are disappointed, and the improvement you get is either minimal or not really noticeable, or actually makes things worse. But very occasionally, you find a bit of gear, or technology advances, and this results in a quantum leap upwards. Today was such a day… If you fly multi-rotors and haven’t seen them already, get a load of this… it’s a brushless gimbal. Apart from the makers themselves, I may even be the first person on youtube to get some footage up with this one. It’s new, from UK maker Aeroxcraft, and uses the latest in gimbal tech to deliver a terrifyingly good result. Gimbals – what’s all that then ? Because of wind, and the various other problems inherent in trying to film from a platform that is suspended in a...

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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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