Sunday, December 1, 2013

A day of FPV fun

Novemeber 30th, 2013.  What a day that was!  Several guys got together at RAMs to have an un-official FPV fly-in.

It was a great day, albeit a little cool.  Tim Walker and his son, Bob Gusek, Marcus Wright, Max Messinger, Kevin (whose last name I didn't catch) and myself had a day of FPV fun.  We had an assortment of airframes, My ADS and MaxiSwift, Tim's Quinticle, Marcus brought his Tri and the Phoenix, Max brought the Deacon Aerial Observatory and his FPV Raptor.

We had several great flights, and made some changes to the Quinticle software to get it flying better.  It is very close to being right now, just a little more PID tweaking, and some accelerator trim settings will make this a great platform for fun or FPV.

Since the majority of us are involved with DeaconEye, we did some testing on the DAO systems for an upcoming objective we have, and found out we have a very solid system.  We have to tweak the UHF control system a bit, but we set a new record for ourselves, and everyone on-site was pretty excited to see what we accomplished.  It was neat to be able to show off what we have been working on to a group of modelers that might not otherwise have the opportunity to take a look at how far technology has come for model airplanes.

We are already planning our next gathering, and looking at how we can make the gatherings more efficient for all of us.  Stay tuned for updates and pictures/video!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Just some stuff..

Here we are into November, and flying season is still hanging around.  We have already had flurries of snow here, but the weather is still cooperating for the most part.

Quads are still the order of the day, and I am enjoying them.  The ADS 400Q is finished and flying, and man is it fun!  On 4 cells, with 1250KV motors, it is a real beast.  I am impressed with the acceleration and speed, though in all honesty its gonna take me a while to get used to that while I am under the hood.  Flying this thing FPV is pretty cool, the clean plate/dirty plate design makes for some great video.  I am going to look at different lenses for the FPV camera, though, since the 2.5mm seems way to wide for this thing.  I am thinking maybe a 2.8 or a 3.6, to narrow the field of view a bit, which will bring back my depth perception.  With wide angle lenses, things appear farther away than they actually are.  In a plane, this isn't a problem, but for me and a quad, it might result in an encounter with tree branches.  Thankfully, the noise I heard was allot worse than any actual damage.  While it sounded like I had cut the tree down, in reality, I had only hit a small branch with the left front prop..and didn't even nick the prop!

I have found yet another project, too.  The guys over at Flitetest had posted this cool FPV ground station:

The Flitetest post can be found here:

The full build thread can be found here:

Several YouTube videos about the cockpit can be found here:

That is the most immersive thing I have seen for FPV so far.  While I don't know that I will go quite that far, I do want to duplicate the control setup.  I have already worked out how to use an Arduino to generate the PPM stream needed by today's R/C transmitters, which means I will be able to simply plug in my "full scale" controls to the trainer port of the R/C radios I use to fly my models.  The advantage is that no mods to my radios are required, and other folks can try out the full scale controls with their models.

So far, the code works, but I have not acquired/built the full scale controls.  Heck...I just found out about this ground station on the  14th of November, and it's only the 17th.  It's gonna take some scrounging to get the controls together, so it will be a while till I get this I really need to clean up the shop.  It's really bad.  To many projects, and not enough time spent putting things away.  I really need to do another purge, and dispose of allot of stuff.  Every so often I have to do this, I have noticed I collect stuff, strip down the usable parts, but I never throw away the useless parts..which results in "stuff creep."  That's kinda like feature creep, but allot more messy.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Addicted to quads?

I have another quad in my collection ADS 400Q.  This is a purpose designed FPV bird, in an "H" style to allow for more room on the frame to include FPV goodies.  It also has a forward shelf for a GoPro camera.

Once again, I will be relying on for the flight controller.  I am using the ProEz3.0, and the uBlox 6M GPS module.  Since this one will be for FPV, I will also be using the MinimOSD, which only needs a feed from one of the serial ports on the FC to provide me with all the info I need in a heads up display while flying.

2216-8 1250kv motors and 8" Gemfan full carbon fiber props, with SimonK flashed speedcontrols round out the basic setup for this machine.  I have yet to decide on what FPV gear to go with, though.  The rest of my gear is 1.2, but I am giving serious thought to going 5.8 on the quad, so I can fly tandem with some friends.  Also, if I go 1.2, then I will either need to run low pass filters on the video TX, or use something other than 2.4 for the RC link.

I am seriously considering remodeling the trailer to account for the changes in my hangar.  I still enjoy fixed wing aircraft quite a bit, but something about the multirotors is sucking me in.  I think it is the combination of the challange of setting up the flight controller just right, coupled with the design aspect of the frame, and the power system.  There is a fine line to walk in order to get all these things playing together well, and getting them to function correctly for the style of flying you intend to do with the craft, that I really enjoy.

With winter fast approaching, I do need to pull back a bit from flying and get the shop in order.  I have projects I need to finish, other than multirotors, and it would be nice to be able to get to the various workbenches again...right now they are covered with tools, parts, planes, all kinds of stuff..and I just know that I am going to find all kinds of small parts I have needed all summer when I finally clean up.  Plus, cleaning up would make Brandy happy..and keeping the wife happy is always a good thing!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Almost a month has passed, and allot has happened.  The Hexa went back over to Deaconeye, and has been flown a bit by those guys.  The consensus is it is just about ready to be pushed into service.

I have a couple more multi's in the collection.  My personal OPQ is doing great.  Set up with house reds and 9" props, on 1600mah 3s packs, it truly is an aerobatic monster.  I have the rates set pretty high, and the expo pretty low.  It is set up allot hotter than any of my other quads, and since we have proven you cannot break the frame, I have been using it to practice my aggressive flying.  Luckily, it can stand up to the abuse of my learning curve!

I built another Tricopter to showcase the 32 bit ESC's (ESC32) I got from  These things are amazing...I have never seen anything so smooth.  The switching frequency is pretty high, and as a result, the motors run smoother, and have more resolution..and punch!  The speed controls have their own 32 bit processor, and can run in a closed loop mode, which basically means they interpret a request from the flight controller as a direct RPM request, rather than a generic set point.  They attempt to maintain the requested RPM, within the limits of the settings you program.  This all means that you have even better, more stable control of your multirotor.

Did I mention you can completely program the ESC's?  Basically everything you can set with any other high end ESC you can set with these.  Current limiting, PWM start point, end point, all kinds of stuff..and they are reasonable as well, only 20 bucks.  You do have to solder on the stiffening cap as well as the RX connection, but that is child's play for any electric modeler.

Next up on the list of fun stuff, was a trip to HHAEFI.  It was an epic journey for sure, Nav and I headed down after work on the 16th, and drove all night, pulling in at 3:00am Thursday.  Our buddy PCPhil was kind enough to allow us to crash in his camper, to save us the trouble of putting up our respective tents at that hour.  Matter of fact, PCPhil was a most gracious host for the entire trip...allowing us to take over his campsite, and make ourselves at home.  We traveled light, with only what we could stuff in Nav's Forerunner.  We discussed taking my trailer, but the fuel costs would have doubled, and for that short of a duration, it wasn't deemed worthwhile.

Crash rolled in from Texas about noon on the 17th, and much fun was already underway.  Nav, Phil and I had already been flying quite a bit, as had all of the other ~120 pilots on hand for the event.  We hit up Hodges and looked around, walked the line a couple times, and then flew..and flew..and flew.  Well, I did, anyway.  Of course, I tend to fly allot anyway.  The best part was all the borrowed flights I got.  I got to try out some neat aircraft, get in some FPV flights with some cool equipment, and generally have a great time.  Much night flying, and hangar flying was accomplished, and we got to hang out with some of the listeners as well.  The "virtual campfire" gatherings were a blast!  All we needed was a campfire to make it better, LOL. Anyway, much fun was had, and I had a great time hanging out with old friends, as well as new ones.  

I am already looking forward to the next event, when we can all get together and commit aviation again!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Random news

This is for the CrashCast listeners, pictures of the battery mount for my OPQ.

Its a simple system..I simply drilled out the extra mounting locations and use an 8/32 machine screw and Velcro straps to wrap around the battery.  You take the Velcro, cut to length to hold your battery, and fold it in half.  At the center, you snip the Velcro, and push the screw thru.  Pop that thru the OPQ frame, and throw a matching nut on the other side.  Simply, quick, and cheap...and effective!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Six Spinning Blades of Fury

I had a little time between getting the Hexa and when we went live with the podcast, so of course, I had to give it a shot.  I bound it to my radio, loaded up mission planner, did the calibration song and dance, set up flight modes, and gave it a try.  Acro mode flew pretty well, a little soft for my taste but not bad.  Stabilized mode was interesting to say the least, and altitude hold was just plain stupid.  It bounced up and down like a 5 year old on Halloween candy!

Thursday night, I spent a little time tweaking the PIDs, and while it isn't perfect, it is better.  Stable mode is much more stable, though I need to do the auto trim routine.  Acro mode is nice now, and man, this thing is fast!    Altitude hold is still crazy, but I have at least figured out why.  Obviously this thing is stupid powerful, and until I ballast it properly to account for the weight of the camera it will carry I will tweak curves to get altitude hold to work properly.

The compass and GPS are working quite well, as is the telemetry,  I have not yet noticed any frame or motor/prop issues, but as I get a little more time on it, those issues, if any, will become more apparent.

My immediate goals are to spend more time getting the PIDs as good as possible, and then spend a little time getting to know the machine.  I am going to try to induce oscillations during flight, just to be sure I have everything set correctly.  Once I am happy with that, then I will move on to altitude hold and position hold.  After that..its on to RTH and missions.

I did discover my laptop doesn't like the Mission Planner for some reason...of course, I haven't booted it into windows in so long..I need to look and see if there is a version of Mission Planner for Linux.  

I should mention, the Hexa uses Arducopter on an APM 2.5 system, instead of my "usual" MultiWii.  Ardupilot is very capable, but it is VERY different from MultiWii!

More to follow..

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Multirotor Madness

The multirotor collection grows...
to a total of 7, for now.  With the latest addition to the fleet (more on that in a bit) I decided to drag them all out for a photo.  The QSC Tricopter started all this a couple of years ago, and was my only multi for two years...then, in January of this year at the urging of a friend in Idaho, and Crash, I picked a V202.  From there, I got swept full speed into the multirotor scene...and this is where I am today.  Paul over at didn't help much, (I say that with my tongue firmly planted in my cheek, by the way) when I got one of his Flip 1.5 boards for my Tricopter.  Shortly after that, the Flip quad he produces found me.  Then..a Frankenquad and a V212 joined the collection, followed by an OPQ (one piece quadicle) not pictured here.  My buddy Nav has it, since we built it in a night at a fly-in, and used his electronics.  The OPQ was a design Crash came up with, and all of the hosts and close friends of the show ( helped alpha and beta test.  The white OPQ frame is the final result, and I still have to load it with gear.  The Hexa showed up today, and while it isn't mine, it will be in my hangar quite a bit.  It belongs to the guys at Deaconeye, and will be used in the program over there.  I have it so I can set it up and get it flying correctly. Man...mutli's are just so much fun!