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Posted by on Aug 2, 2014

Town Glide

Town Glide

An early morning glide round a few towny bits and a few lakeside bits of Petersfield, Hampshire, UK on an Airwheel X5. Original sound from the GoPro3 black Edition, in its open-back case. Mostly actual speed, occasionally 200% to get through the duller bits. And dull it can be, for it’s the whole 20 minute extended video version, whilst I play about with various pole-cam positions to try and find the ones that work best. I start off outside town, glide in, round the church, through the market, and back out to the lake, where I do a circuit and then back to the car. Took about an hour in real time with stops. Captured by a GoPro on a pole, which used to be a broom. Also testing DeShake 3.0 running under VDub on the lake run, which worked really well, so did a separate speed-round of that… Deshaking that is a tedious multi-stage process involving four separate apps / plugins, buggering about converting things to avi format...

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Posted by on Feb 9, 2013

Aerocam Photo Log – Episode 1

Aerocam Photo Log – Episode 1

Aerial Stills Sep 2012 – Jan 2013. It’s raining outside, and nothing needs maintaining or doing on my hex, so I’m using the time to do a little compilation of photos that me and my craft have taken in the last 6 months or so of flying about over (mostly) the Hampshire countryside. Twitter has started reducing the resolution of all my photos, so I wanted to do a slideshow people could watch in reasonable HD, although I have used some low-res shots from the earlier days that I wasn’t expecting to ever be used in a video, but even so, it’s nice to have a little slideshow every so often… All these are stills taken from 1080p video filmed with a GoPro2 on-board or from 720p video from a FLIP or Nikon D3100 from the ground. Photoshop has been fairly seriously involved in most of them as I really hate washed-out photos and as these images were all taken whilst moving I usually have to reduce resolution and...

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Posted by on Jan 5, 2013

South Downs Heights

South Downs Heights

Cloud-bashing for beginners. There have been a lot of flights since Christmas, but not many have made it into videos so far in 2013, either because I’ve been using old flight grounds that you’ve all seen many times before in my vids, or because of our old friend the wind, and its comprehensive video-ruining properties. So this is another one that ends up more about the flight than the video footage… It’s Queen Elizabeth Country Park… Today, more specifically, I was meant to be heading down to the D-Day museum in Southsea, to do the seafront there, but aborted that plan because of distance and the likelihood of rain, so stopped half way at Queen Elizabeth Country Park, and drove all the way to the top car park to see what the view was like from the hill the other side of Butser. Normally, given the blanket tree cover, I don’t fly from here very much because the clear spaces in the trees aren’t huge, which makes eyes-on contact...

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Posted by on Nov 26, 2012

Wind Chasing Episode 3

Wind Chasing Episode 3

  Take what you can get… It’s been raining all week, but trees are losing their autumn leaves, and winter is coming, so we take what we can get, and today what we get is sunny but windy. 20 mph constant wind and gusting flurries up to 35 mph, particularly up high. And cold. Big Heath So, safely away from dogs and roads and people and buildings, I ventured out to the vast expanse of Iping Heath, off the A272, to get blown about the skies while I get the measure of how my new hex behaves in high wind. It is fair to say that both the Naza and the T-motors have been tested hard today and both performed admirably, safely tackling 10 consecutive 6-7 min flights involving constant correction and hi revs to try and remain stable in all the blustery air currents. Amazingly, nothing was hot, not motors or ESC’s, so I’m pleased that it can physically stand up to these things. It can hold position...

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Posted by on Nov 15, 2012

The Autumn Sun

The Autumn Sun

Maximum gold please. Well it was certainly nice to see a sky that wasn’t entirely grey this morning, and it got better as time went on, so that as I arrived to meet a friend in Worplesdon at 2 pm it was making everything there look pretty stunning. This was Autumn at its best, and I was damn well going to be in the air recording it. All the power… With 2 lots of new 5800 maH LiPo’s and 2 massive 8000 maH packs out for testing, I was hoping for some flight time improvements, and there they were – in the end I got a good 7 minutes of fast flight out of the 5800s and nearly 10 mins with the 8000’s, so now, combined with the veritable arsenal of other batteries I drag round everywhere with me, I can be in the air for about an hour per session, which is about as much as I can concentrate on flying for, so that’s me happy. JFX, I...

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Posted by on Oct 19, 2012

Drive-By Flyings Episode 8

Drive-By Flyings Episode 8

  Some people stop flying as soon as Summer is over. I am not one of them, but sometimes I very much see their point. This week has been absolutely awful for flying. If it hasn’t been raining it has been threatening to, and when it is dry, winds have been silly high, forcing me to go find new fly sites miles away from people and buildings and wires etc, where the wind would have less opportunity to get me into trouble. The other day I went exploring the South Downs, driving along its highest ridges, looking for launch spots. I found a few, the best and worst of which are covered here in this video, which gives up on cinematic aspirations about 10 seconds in, and is here to show you the various moments of joy and terror I had while learning how to fly in what felt like extreme gales, a skill I feel will be very useful living in the UK. This is really the ultimate...

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Posted by on Oct 17, 2012

Sunsets and Spaceships

Sunsets and Spaceships

2 Flights today. Epic wind in the morning at Liss Forest. But horrible flying, and lost a (previously damaged) landing leg in the process. (Mental note: never trust superglue) so abandoned that, deleted the relatively tedious video, improvised and attached a new landing leg, and went out again at sundown to investigate some crop circles I’d heard about. It is worth the 28 minute drive on the A272 to Winchester to get to the inexplicably named ‘Cheesefoot Head’, where there is a car park right next to some amazing high landscape, and as a double bonus there’s some crop circles to make the ground interesting. Unusually big danger factor from the air, of all places – several very low flying planes spotted, making this a level 3 fly site, I reckon – extra vigilance required. And the sun is going down, so we’re getting some golden hour goodness. My new favourite flying site :) There is no need to whinge that I’m re-using soundtracks :) It’s the Moonbeatz remix...

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Posted by on Oct 11, 2012

Autumn Falls Episode 1

Autumn Falls Episode 1

  ..in which we faithfully record and transcribe what stuff looked like when Summer stopped and everything started raining. Knowing how rubbish the weather was going to be tomorrow, I thought I’d make the most of the day’s brief respite from the rain, and did 2 flight missions, the first of which I haven’t bothered uploading because it’s Petersfield Heath, and we’ve seen it all before… And indeed I’ve flown from the ‘Hyperview’ at Litten Lane before too, but not this side of the hill.  Driving on down the dirt track for another 500 yards from the original viewpoint, I found easy(ish) access to a nice big field with amazing adjoining forestry happening on all sides, and beautiful drop off the South Face of Stoner Hill. The wind was there, as ever, ruining all my shots again, and I’m back on my 1.2 setup with a fixed cam mount, so the only weapon in my armoury is Google De-shake, deployed here for the first time on one of my...

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Posted by on Oct 4, 2012

Drive-by Flyings Episode 5

Drive-by Flyings Episode 5

  … in which we combine 4 days flyings into 1, because I’ve had to go rain-dodging, and grab the odd flight here and there in between bouts of British weather. Notably I haven’t managed to avoid the wind, so join me as we get buffeted around the countryside and take in a lovely view or two along the way… These are the flights with my brand new set of Graupner Electros, following the horrible crash in the quarry, held down with star washers to see if that kills prop slip. On reflection I think it probably does. Have also tweaked the gains a bit while I had the props off, and not sure I have done entirely good things there. Oh well – will have to redo it anyway when I add the new cam mount and landing gear… Talking of which, as my TPPacks Isolation cam mount is slowly dying, as can be seen in various bits of footage here,  fortunately I am already building its replacement,...

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Posted by on Sep 22, 2012

The Epic Heights of Hampshire

The Epic Heights of Hampshire

This particular mission took a bit of planning. I didn’t want to get in the way of public and their dogs or the RC glider club that flies from there, but I did want some video of the epic hills of Hampshire viewed from the highest place I can reasonably get. 3pm yesterday was the perfect time, I had deduced, and indeed there was no wind, only about 3 people and no flyers at all (I had hoped they’d be there on windier days, and perhaps not when there was none). There was a hang glider off the South West face, but I was miles away from him and a lot higher. That is a very impressive mast they have up there. In bigness, if nothing else. It felt a little bit like all my piloting training had to come to this, and I had my own little Olympic ceremony moment, basking in the glory of all that I might achieve etc. I didn’t cry, or thank god, but...

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Posted by on Sep 21, 2012

Mystery Flyings Episode 1

Mystery Flyings Episode 1

For today’s adventure I thought I’d add some excitement in the form of some breaking and entering. Not really. Although it is fair to say they have made a reasonable effort to keep people out, certainly cars, I was able to walk in unobstructed, though mainly because I am quite thin, but was fairly confident the owners would be absolutely fine with it, I was certainly going to do no damage. It could be argued that were accidental damage to happen, then there’s possibly no less harmful place for it to do so, and it’s not going to cost anyone else anything to fix. I had seen the area on Google maps, and was very much looking forward to a close ground flight round a disused limeworks, but Google had let me down, and everything was massively more overgrown and inaccessible, and newly fenced than their satellite photography had led me to believe. I had to miss out all the amazing rusting mining machinery they have dotted around the...

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Posted by on Sep 15, 2012

Introducing Discovery 1.1

Introducing Discovery 1.1

In the beginning there was AC1 Discovery v1.0. then we had a crash, and a repair upgrade, and v 1.1 was born. AC1 – Discovery Version 1.0 DJI F450 Frame DJI 30 A ESC DJI 920KV Motors DJI 10″ props DJI Naza Flight Controller + GPS upgrade Camflyer FPV Video (stock antennas) 5.8GHz GoPro 2 HD Hero TPPacks Isolation Cam Mount / Landing Gear Walkera Devo 10 / RX-1002 TX / RX  2.4 GHz 2 x 2200 mAH Li-Po Battery packs AC1  -Discovery Version 1.1 Replaced 2 new frame arms, and lower board after crash DJI props in bin. Graupner 10 x 5 (8mm Bore) fitted + threadlock Added LED Navigation Light Kit Swapped standard video antenna for Cloverleaf / Skew-planar type (massively extended range) Replaced 2 x 2200 batteries with 4 x 3300, and 1 x 3900 Added programmable message board for public flying Added forward pointing Strobe Position Indicator Added permanent mount Voltage Alarm New Battery Cradle straps    ...

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Posted by on Sep 14, 2012

AC1 Discovery Gets An Upgrade…

AC1 Discovery Gets An Upgrade…

The DJI Naza-M flight controller does a damn fine job of keeping my quad upright, and fighting the most piercing of winds to remain where I put it in the sky. My TPPacks camera mount does an admirable job of eliminating ‘jello effects’, which are video artefacts caused by the vibrations of the 4 rotors. But all my footage to date lacks that real sense of professional smoothness I am aiming for. No matter how smoothly I fly, I just can’t get rid of the movements and wobbles caused by fighting the wind, and flight controller stabilisation. To do that, I need a camera gimbal, like this one.   This will absorb the majority of smaller shakes and bounces that flight generates, and assuming my flying continues to get smoother and less ‘flingy’, then we should be on the road to broadcast quality video. Of course if you have a gimbal like that, you have to also have some landing gear so it can mount to the quad properly…...

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Posted by on Sep 14, 2012

Tide Lines and Sandcastles

Tide Lines and Sandcastles

Just got back from what can loosely be descibed as ‘work’ over on the Island of Jersey, where I was playing a client’s wedding. Took my faithful quad with me in case opportunity should present itself whilst I was there… On the Saturday we had a day free, so straight down the beach for four or five 8 min flights, and we can all admire the beautiful coastline of St Helier. I thought that would be my flyings over, but no ! We had a couple of hours the morning after the gig too, so we took the coast road to Gorey, where they’ve got a suitably excellent castle. They’ve chosen to call it Gorey Castle. It lies on a very steep cliff top with densely populated town on one side, sea on the other, and jagged rocks everywhere. It is what I would describe as a ‘level 3 flying challenge’, that is to say fairly bloody dangerous and high risk of ‘money intensive’ damage or even losing craft...

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Posted by on Sep 14, 2012

Big Blue Sea

Big Blue Sea

Lovely as fields and trees are, you can have enough of them sometimes and on occasions I yearn to do my flyings nearer something a bit different, a bit more challenging and with  colours other than green. So taking one of those rare British weather opportunities in which the sun remains out for longer than 4 minutes, myself and Special Assistant M went to Hayling Island to see what was going on down there. Pretty good views, and a lot of water was the answer. Lots of sea and a big lake. People and dogs and curious children and fairly epic 30mph gusting wind. No ice cream, but no wasps either, so swings and roundabouts etc… All started well. Began with the epic heights and got some good panoramics of the harbour and all the little boats… A while later I was having maximum FPV fun when I went for a steep descent round the back of an embankment, and lost FPV for a few crucial seconds in which...

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Posted by on Sep 14, 2012

High Times

High Times

I’ve been saving a few bits of video from the last week’s flights, as I’ve been pushing new boundaries in the height department on occasions. So here we fly as high as I dare (highest so far at the end) in a variety of places, and you can all admire the views thanks to my thoughtfulness, a TPPacks isolation cam mount from the US and the GoPro2 Hero, which certainly lives up to its name. How high is ‘high’ though. No idea. I’ll have to wait til I get an OSD to know anything like exactly…so for now I guage relative height with the amount of seconds at which I give the craft maximum elevation. The quarry one was 40 seconds, and I guestimate the quad climbs 5m/sec at full whack with the load I’m giving it, so that’s about 200m or 600 ft. But it feels higher than that, so will be interesting to see. Annoyingly my flight controller contains an altimeter but only for its own purposes,...

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Posted by on Sep 14, 2012

Dawn and Dusk

Dawn and Dusk

Got up early (by which I mean ‘remained up’) long enough to be at the peak of Butser Hill by 6 am. It was absolutely covered in mist, and you couldn’t see anything, so I waited half a hour for it to clear, which it didn’t, and so I moved down to the lower fields, under the mist… Much fun to be had trying to keep horses in frame, and trying not to worry sheep, and then a nice climb to the cloud layer where everything goes surreal and drifty for a bit. Then, later we’re back nearer home for the second golden hour of the day, and trying out our new antenna combo with some FPV tree skimming. I miss the GoPro2’s wide angle, but it annoys me that there is no way to get the legs out of shot if I use it. I’d hoped angling it right down might solve that, but no – it really is VERY wide angle. Will do more with the (almost)...

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Posted by on Sep 14, 2012

Waverley Abbey

Waverley Abbey

Hooray etc ! It’s my first video where I’m not massively embarassed by the piloting. Was making a bit more of an effort to try cinematic stylee moves. Had a great time today at Waverley, and no crash action despite taking more risks than usual. Even flew down the river for a bit, but didn’t have time to get it in this vid. GPS assistance disappeared whenever I went into the ruined buildings, so that was all additional fun. Nice panorama at the end; you can never have enough of...

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Posted by on Sep 13, 2012

Petersfield Cricket Ground Aerial Panoramic

Petersfield Cricket Ground Aerial Panoramic

‘The Only Way Is Up’ warned 80’s pretend musicians Yazz and the Plastic Population in their horrible song of the same name. But I mean ‘up’ as in the sky, and it’s not the only way. Sometimes I am painfully reminded that there is ‘down’ too. But not today. Today it’s up all the way… As I didn’t have any spare friends this evening, I thought I’d try a solo height challenge and some ‘quad-walking’. This video is about the first bit of that. Deliberately chose launch sites right in the middle of trees, so that I become comfortable working very close to them, and become less paranoid that I will lodge my quadcopter in one, as happened with my original RC helicopter several hundred times. But a quadcopter, especially my one, with its GPS / Naza Flight Controller, is not a little toy heli, and it has the sort of power and control that makes the fear of trees entirely unnecessary. Yes I don’t want to fly into...

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