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Posted by on Feb 20, 2013 in Blog, Video

Winter Gold

Winter Sun, Sail-plane fun.

Today I am back at the site of Thursday’s crash excitement. Elsted Common.

Sunlight floods the tree canopy

Sunlight floods the tree canopy

Why back so soon ?

Partly because I couldn’t think of anywhere more interesting to go, partly because I wanted to go flying in a ‘golden hour’ ¬†forest (that didn’t happen in the end), but mostly because I’ve lost the 8000 mAH battery that came down with the crash, and those are expensive. What are the chances of finding that on a public heath that massive, 4 days later ? Extremely good as it turns out – I’d been looking for less than 3 minutes before I saw it – it must have slipped out of my bag without me noticing, and escaped the final look-round I mostly don’t forget to do before I leave anywhere…

Amazingly, despite being outside in sub-freezing temperatures, and more than a little rain, I was very surprised to find it un-puffed, and apparently none the worse for wear for its experience. I checked the foil really carefully for punctures, found none, so risked a charge, and that’s all worked fine so far. I’ve labelled it so I can keep an eye on it, but if it does work, then I’m back to my arsenal of 10 batteries for 45 mins flight time per session.

Always looks good from 400 ft up, no matter what time of year you go...

Always looks good from 400 ft up, no matter what time of year you go…

Confirmation Bias

Today I had turned the Naza’s Voltage Protection circuitry back on to see if I would get my red warning lights just after take off that may or may not have been related to batteries or the duff ESC I have just replaced whilst looking for the answer to unexpected throttle jumps. And that does seem to be the case. Not only am I getting no red lights until I’d expect to see them now, but flight times are definitely longer as well – back to what they were before all this trouble started, in fact. So, it was the faulty ESC ¬†causing flashing right after take-off.

DJI – I must question your decision to make the signal for ESC error exactly the same as the one for low battery warning. That has caused me no end of confusion, and is helpful in no way at all in diagnosing the problem.

The good news is, I had another 8 flights with not a single throttle jump, and flawless control, so I am calling that problem resolved, and will stop banging on about it.

Common Ground

As you know, I do very much like this fly site. It’s no more than 15 mins drive from my back door, there’s parking, and only a short walk to some utterly secluded heathland beyond a small area of widely spaced forest complete with woodland pool and everything. Lots of my favourite type of trees, really interesting terrain, and to top it all, a massive water-filled quarry over the other side of the road.

Trees. Not as good as castles, but quite nice anyway.

Trees. Not as good as castles, but quite nice anyway.

Flying here in Winter is much safer than it would be in Summer. Certainly recovery-wise. At the moment the ground is covered in brown spindly root systems, but when Spring kicks in these will transform into huge un-traversable gorse bushes, armed with the very worst sort of spikes and many millions of them.

The quarry lake, at completely the wrong angle to reflect the sun.

The quarry lake, at completely the wrong angle to reflect the sun.

It’s a level 3 fly site because of the all the natural flying hazards around, and the difficulty (or impossibility) of craft recovery if it goes down in certain places. If it falls in that quarry lake for example, it ain’t ever coming out of there…

The road goes ever on…

As the quest for smooth and slinky video progresses, albeit in somewhat sedately fashion while funds are scarce, I have decided that I am going to try and improve on the x-aircraft GoPro gimbal I’ve been using for the last 4 months. I am not unhappy with it, indeed it has proved itself highly reliable in the time I’ve had it, and will probably hang on to it to re-use somewhere else.

But the limited servo travel, and the less than ideal method I am forced to use to make it fit the F550 and the landing gear results in footage, that whilst a hell of a lot smoother than if it wasn’t there, is still a way short of what I’m aiming for.

Oh that much-championed human need to constantly improve stuff – where will it end ? Not yet apparently.

Arriving shortly will be, or already has…

  • Aeroxcraft VTR-GP belt-driven digital servo dual-axis stabilised gimbal
  • Aeroxcraft Landing gear
  • GoPro3 Black Edition
  • 1 x 6V UBEC
  • 3 servo extension cables to make servo loom.

 

A lot of haze at the base of the clouds, as you'd expect...

A lot of haze at the base of the clouds, as you’d expect…

If only I wasn't such a lazy sod, I'd walk over to those lakes and film them more closely...

If only I wasn’t such a lazy sod, I’d walk over to those lakes and film them more closely…

Gold Dust

Tori Amos has popped in to contribute her lovely song ‘Gold Dust’, which you should all buy, but not from iTunes, if you like it.

Me, as I looked earlier this afternoon. I look nothing like that now.

Me, as I looked earlier this afternoon. I look nothing like that now.

OK, so there’ll be a video up when I’ve edited it… the wind is looking quite hairy for the rest of this week, so not sure what the flying will be like. I will try and think of more interesting places to go where wind doesn’t matter.

JW