Pages Menu
TwitterRss
Categories Menu

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

Posted by on Oct 8, 2012

Just too much…

Just too much…

  AC1 V2 Camera Mount Testing Episode 1 I say review, it’s not really; it’s the story of how upgrading my quad-copter’s camera gimbal  went… I’m not very used to my plans going wrong (more so since flying multi-rotors :), but in the thousands of pages of information I have absorbed on the hobby in the last 4 months, I have never come across anything that suggested DJI motors weren’t up to the job. Everyone knows their props are crap, but generally everyone seems fine with the motors. Indeed, AC1 Discovery (there’s a law that states we all have to name our first craft ‘Discovery’. ) v1.2. has always been quite ‘light on its toes’ so when it came to fitting a new and better camera mount I wasn’t thinking the weight of it would be a problem I particularly needed to worry about. The camera, yes, of course, but I didn’t know then how heavy servos are :) I needed to upgrade the cam department because I’m now...

Read More

Posted by on Oct 6, 2012

AC1 Discovery V2 Arrives !

AC1 Discovery V2 Arrives !

Quad Upgrade – New Landing Gear / Cam Mount I’ve been really happy with my TPPacks isolation cam mount, as it gave me a way to get reasonable flight footage right from the start, without being too massively expensive. But now that my flight skills are approaching a decent level, it’s time to try and get some much smoother footage. I looked around at the various options available (not many), and eventually decided that the right system for me to try next was a 2-axis gimbal mount. Cost including custom landing gear / mount to make it fit to my flamewheel frame I got from OnlyFlyingMachines, and was around £500 all in, so quite a major upgrade, I hope. It all arrived in hilarious kit form – the mount being simple enough, but the gimbal itself took quite some assembly – I did a little bit every day, and it took a week. If I’m honest I don’t like the slightly Heath Robinson way the mount attaches to the...

Read More

Posted by on Oct 5, 2012

Autumn Greens – Episode 1 – After the Rain

Autumn Greens – Episode 1 – After the Rain

Well that was Summer, apparently, and now we are firmly in the grip of chillier winds, and unfriendlier clouds. In this, the first of a new series of Autumn-flavoured videos, we catch it right at the beginning, while most things are still green, with the occasional splash of oranges and golds here and there. So I’m here on Petersfield Heath, taking in the scenery, and practicing my moves as a warm up for all the proximity tree-flying there is to come. Inspired by one of Quadcopters UK’s recent vids, I might also be here on a secret scouting mission to see if Petersfield Golf Course is worth a closer fly, so was aiming to get some high overheads of that too. I’ve got a thing for nicely mown lawns and interesting trees at the moment, so that should be ideal. The wind, as always, was present and correct to thwart my smooth filmings, and upgrading this to a level 3 fly site, but I didn’t care – I was...

Read More

Posted by on Oct 4, 2012

Flying Sites

Flying Sites

  It’s another one of those tedious or interesting (depending on how you view these things) informational-type posts, in which I go into a bit of detail about one aspect of flying. Today, it is fly sites. Working as I do with Google maps to plan where flights might happen, and quickly realising there is more to think about when choosing one than I first guessed, I find it helpful to grade areas so that I can easily find and repeat the sort of flight I feel like doing at any particular time. Primarily these comprise my assessment of how difficult or not flying is, and how many things there are that will get in the way of good film results. Typical hazards include roads, people, wind, buildings, animals, water, trees, cables, access etc. Level 1 Fly Site Large area(s) of flat or subtly gradiented open space, protected from wind, with soft ground substrate, devoid of people and animals and anything except clear space. Some trees expected, but easy...

Read More

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,...

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

Posted by on Sep 18, 2012

Drive-By Flyings Episode 4 – Millham’s Copse, Froxfield

Drive-By Flyings Episode 4 – Millham’s Copse, Froxfield

Today we’re at Millham’s Copse, discovered by chance on the road through to Froxfield, Hampshire. Great flyings, and loads of interesting things to see, but I only flew over about a third of them, because I was having to fly eyes-on, not ‘on-board’, due to one slightly forgotten bit of FPV monitor cabling. So I was quite lucky to get the close-ish passes of the spire, as it was quite difficult to guage distances and angles from my position in the field opposite. Tried a low angle of about 60 degrees for one flight, which I think always looks good over trees. Hellos to Caroline & Anne (apologies if no ‘E’) who joined us for one of my 4 flights, and seemed very interested to know all about the quad. Music today harmlessly borrowed from Dream Theater, with their 2007 remix of ‘Another Day’. I must confess I’m mainly in it for the guitar solo and sax work. On reflection this might be my worst choice of music yet....

Read More

Posted by on Sep 17, 2012

Wind Chasing Episode 1

Wind Chasing Episode 1

Although I very much got into quadcopters for the aerial photography aspects of it, it has been a revelation to me just how much fun, and what an exciting experience it is to pilot a multi-rotor. With FPV (First person view) of what the craft is seeing on my video headset, it is the closest feeling you can get (with zero pilot risk) to flying as ‘free as a bird’. Despite all the clever technology I employ to provide the smoothest, easiest, safest flying possible, sometimes it is fun to just turn all that off, and practice your piloting skills by ascending into some reasonable level wind, and fighting your way round a location for nothing more than the sheer fun of it. It is in these situations that I tend to abandon the smooth cinematic moves I am aiming for most of the time, and it becomes more about speed, judgement, decision-making and calculated risk. The fun stuff essentially. I have several of these ‘training grounds’ at my...

Read More

Posted by on Sep 15, 2012

Terminal Velocity

Terminal Velocity

Always good to show the bad bits as well as the good. This is what happens when of one of your props falls off, as viewed by the onboard cam. Lessons learned, threadlock applied, and no probs since. GoPro, as ever, manfully records everything, and sustains no damage itself....

Read More

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    ...

Read More

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…...

Read More

Posted by on Sep 14, 2012

Turbulence at Ground Zero

Turbulence at Ground Zero

And so we return to the field in which I first flew my crappy little spycopter all those months ago when I first realised that flying stuff was brilliant… The cat had agreed to spot for me if I poached her a fillet of Salmon afterwards.  So together we went back to ground zero so we could test the new GoProLens circular polariser that arrived today. It’s not a fair test, as a) this is not the extra bright middle of the day, when the filter is meant to be optimal, b) there aren’t many reflective surfaces with which to judge if it’s working, and c) it has to be installed at the correct angle to work, and there didn’t seem to be any reliable way of guaranteeing that mine was in the right way up. I’m guessing it IS the right way up, as most of the video is too dark :) As soon as I got in the air and attained some resonable height the wind came...

Read More

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...

Read More

Posted by on Sep 14, 2012

Skate Park – Episode 1

Skate Park – Episode 1

…in which I venture out into the world of people, and hover stuff around them while they do whatever they are doing. In this case, it’s Petersfield Skate Park, and the thing they’re doing involves BMX’s. They are quite fearless those guys, I was not expecting them to jump so high and willingly towards the spinning blades of death. As this was a bit of a spontaneous mission (previously planned Devil’s Punchbowl AP mission aborted for various reasons) I hadn’t thought through any action camera moves, so it’s all a bit random for now, but they seem like a decent bunch of kids, so will probably go back there and do it properly, and then do a really good edit, not the sort of rushed out effort you’ve got here because I have to leave the country in 8 hours. But I wanted to get something up from tonight’s flyings so here it is. Some good high bits over Petersfield as well, but it was windier up there than...

Read More