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Posted by on Jun 6, 2015

Old Litten Lane

Old Litten Lane

Spring into Summer From the ground at least, the weather looked perfect for a spot of flying half way through this week, and I thought it might be time to head up high to Stoner Hill, and see if I could capture the beautiful Spring greens along the ridge of the hill just outside Petersfield. I only had 3 charged battery packs with me, so I knew my time there would be brief, but it was enough to gain some reasonable height and check out the view both sides of the hill crest. Although there is a public footpath that runs through the fields and woods to the left of Old Litten Lane, I was especially delighted to randomly meet the owner of the surrounding fields as she checked on her horses, and was delighted that she gave me permission to take-off and overfly her land, so thank you very much to her for that. In-flight I took off from the field closest to the footpath where the charming...

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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 15, 2015

Above Harting Down

Above Harting Down

Test flight 4 complete… Harting down is a good place for test flights – acres and acres of high hilltop greenery, relatively good recovery possibilities if anything should go horribly wrong, and a clear line of sight in every direction. Nice long grass as well, except on the pathways, so we can expect some cushioning should we have to come down in a hurry. Not that I was expecting, or experienced any problems at all – it was 3 pretty much perfect flights with full GPS lock all the time, on the red, blue and red/yellow battery 5000 mAH Turnigy packs, which are the only ones that have proved reliable so far, and still hold almost a full charge 3 years after I bought them. Higher, please… There are good video reasons to fly Harting Down every so often, you start high, and it’s worth going to the (CAA imposed) max 400 ft above that to gain some spectacular views over South Harting and East Harting, and all 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 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 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 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 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 24, 2013

The Golden Dawn

The Golden Dawn

The Night’s Watch… I’m mostly up all night, hence why I’m awake to catch these 4 am sunrises. But thank goodness I am. Here’s another nice...

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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

Springtime@Stoner Hill Photo Blog

Springtime@Stoner Hill Photo Blog

The Epic heights of Froxfield… Yes, it’s been a mainly nice day, and I’ve been out in it, to bring you some more awesome hill / tree / field / cloud / sun action. Full blog coming soon, with a lovely bit of video, but for now, here’s your rewardingly large and abundant photo gallery. Click for full view, obviously. AC1...

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Posted by on Jun 10, 2013

Racing the Sunset…

Racing the Sunset…

Double Sun Action… Excellent news – following last week’s ‘unpleasantness’, it’s nice to have a working gimbal again and a new Devo 10 TX with all its switches intact. Quick ! Resume the testings… Yes, let’s not forget I’m still in the test phase of the new build of my hexacopter, and this is… Ding Ding – Round 3 For Rounds 1 and 2 we were in my back garden / ground zero test ground, and my tremulous early flights there involved almost no risk and very minimal height. Now that I trust the set-up a bit more not to fall out of the sky, it’s time to venture a bit further afield so that I can improve the scenery I’m pushing past the lens, and have the freedom of a bit more space to play with, meaning I can test fly a bit more thoroughly / aggressively. I’m still not going to take big risks – there will be no overflying water or anywhere where recovery would be more...

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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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