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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 11, 2014

The Damping Factor – Pt 2

The Damping Factor – Pt 2

Video Quickies. New fly site ! Elsted Common LS2 – up the other end of it from where I normally fly, and a much more interesting / diverse landscape. So even though I was flying in horrendous wind, which killed most of my footage, a bit remained, so why not do a little video before I get into working out why the bits that I lost to shakiness were so ? There will be better videos from here, but this one’s helpful as reference for planning those, and then flying them when there’s proper light and my ongoing video problems are no more. Test Week 2. Silicone Triple Iso-mount upgrade for Aeroxcraft Brushless GoPro 3 Gimbal There are few reasons that sometimes cause my love of flying things to wane, and these are they, or variations thereof: Lack of interesting new places to film and difficulty getting permission to do anything anywhere anything interesting is. The very organisations that should appreciate my aerial efforts documenting castles and Abbeys, and ruins...

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Posted by on Jul 13, 2013

Tower View – Mini Scout Flight

Tower View – Mini Scout Flight

Into the Blue, briefly. It was lovely sunny afternoon, and I was down the South Coast with a flyer in the boot, Special Assistant M in the passenger seat, and not much wind on the anemometer. Right, I thought, let’s do an experimental fly of the very Southern-most bit of land I can reasonably get to. And that turns out to be the official end of the A3, where we have a large circular stone seating area in front of one of those Ye Olde Sailors-style pubs. To the South, away from that my launch area, is the sea, where I will spend most of this flight out of all harms way (except to my craft, should it all go horribly wrong). Sky Towers And in the distance, though closer than I have ever flown to it, is my old adversary the Spinnaker Tower, whose looks and height virtually demand that I try and film it from as close as possible whilst making the minimum amount of people cross...

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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 10, 2013

Drive-by Flyings – Hawkley XL

Drive-by Flyings – Hawkley XL

Plan C – the Art of the Drive-by Fly. First stop this evening was a huge array of garden allotments I’d spotted on Google maps just outside Petersfield. They’ll look amazing in Spring, I thought, but no, when I got there, it was all very dull, and would have made for fairly uninteresting filming. Also, some safety concerns. Plan B then was just up the road, but what Google had shown as a through road wasn’t any more, so that was the end of that one too, and the hill view over by Steep Cricket ground was out because there was cricket going on. Which leaves plan C – the default when all else fails – race the sunset, and go randomly driving until you find somewhere to fly… Hawkley Down Just as I thought there wasn’t a single field in West Sussex that wasn’t locked or had horses in it, my luck finally changed when I drove through Hawkley. There I found  an open gate leading to a...

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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 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 4, 2013

Summer Sky Surfing – Penns Place

Summer Sky Surfing – Penns Place

Up, up and away… I haven’t been to my local fly field for a while, and as it’s one of the places I have permission to fly (thank you Councillors !),  and there’s a ton of air space, it’s a good location to test range, and try for large sweeping cinematic moves without worrying about hitting stuff if you overshoot… The one downer about this location is the tendency of everyone who flies anything to do so over the field – police, army Chinooks, gliders, private jets etc. But they do stop at about 8 pm, I notice, and apart from the normal passenger jets I don’t have to worry about, I had the skies to myself. Straight Line Test New front arm extensions on, new cables installed, and battery packs fixed, and we’re back in the air for a superbly uneventful flight, with no technical problems at all, and perfect craft response throughout. My rotor disc integrity has been restored it would seem. Now if I can just...

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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 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 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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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 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 7, 2013

Guildford Castle

Guildford Castle

To the battlements! Today was a rare day, here in the UK, in that there wasn’t much wind and it wasn’t raining. This doesn’t happen very often, so I was duty bound to venture forth and take advantage of excellent flying conditions. Actually it wasn’t that ideal because of all the fog, which ruled out anything really high, but fortunately the things I was trying to film were mainly underneath it. I’ve been getting a bit over-saturated with fields, trees, moors and commons recently, so I thought I’d go and fly round something a bit more interesting, and so I took expert spotter M with me, who was there to double check my flying and explain to the people what was going on / keep them safe etc, and headed to Guildford Castle, a building which has been on my list of photo-targets ever since I started flying. I suspect this is because it is a castle, vaguely near me. As castles go… It’s not the best castle in...

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Posted by on Jan 2, 2013

Festive Flyings – Godalming

Festive Flyings – Godalming

Flying in a Windy Wonderland. Well it’s been a while since an update from me, but that’s because there’s been Christmas… Seasonal flying has been a bit sporadic and opportunist, as I’ve been very busy with Xmas gigs, web work and the weather has been most dreadful, with some really howling winds kicking in as Winter takes hold. Nothing as nice as snow has arrived, but the wind and rain and fog are certainly doing their best to fill the wintery gap its absence leaves. Somewhere (almost) new Was staying with my parents over in Godalming for festivities, so shot out on Xmas day for a quick 3 or 4 flights round the local field, taking in the new forest and spiritual retreat that lies normally hidden from view behind majestic banks of trees. No video for that one, as the 30 mph gusting wind made my footage mostly horrible… as we can see, even stills are not great in the focus department…   The next day was a...

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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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