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!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


I hinted that there would be more info to follow, well here it is.

I took the MaxiSwift out to fly again, and did a couple of flights with it to test out the new ground station as well as the monitor on a a tripod.

The ground station was a pleasure to use, and the cleaned up wiring payed off in easier setup and teardown.  The monitor, on the other hand, didn't do so well.  It was one I had picked up some time ago, most likely at at hamfest.  I had used it a few times on the bench when I needed a monitor for whatever, and it did fine.  However, during the longer flights I was putting in, it failed.  The LCD went wonky, and was rendered useless.  Good thing I was wearing my goggles and using the monitor for passengers!  The upside is Eli liked having a monitor to watch while I flew.  Luckily,  I have a few more that work correctly for long periods.  I just need to modify them to use with my setup.

The last flight of the day started at dusk, and was a lot of fun.  I have video of it, and while the recorded video isn't great, I still enjoyed watching it.  The view in the goggles is allot better than what I captured, due in no small part to my budget recording setup..but hey, it works and it is cheap!  Anyway, the video is here:

I am looking forward tuning and tweaking the platform more until I get it right.  It flies pretty darn good now, but like anything else, it can always be improved.

In other news, I am assisting the guys over at with their sUAS vehicles.  I have known Marcus for a while now, and I was pretty blown away when he asked if I would be interested in helping out.  So far, we have flown a couple of times, tweaking the flight control system on Catfish.  I have also visited the lab, and will soon (tomorrow) have a hexa in my hands to set up for use with the program.  We have some exciting missions coming up and I am looking forward to participating in them.  It is an interesting application of the hobby for me, and I think I will learn more from the rest of the team than they will learn from me..but either way, it will be fun.  I will have a chance to contribute to research that could have huge benefits for folks around the world!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Planes, Multirotors, and friends

Allot has happened since the last update, but this will be a short entry..more to follow later.

Something struck me since my last entry...I hear how technology has made it harder for people to communicate face to face, what with texting, and email, and social media.  My experience has been the opposite.  Some of the best friends I have are a result of forums and electronic communication.  Just tonight, I had dinner with a buddy from Alabama, passing thru town on his way to see a mutual friend we have in Va.  Another friend from Michigan who has recently moved to NC joined us.  These are guys I met while discussing RC stuff on, and subsequently have met in "real life."  I was thinking about that on my way home from dinner and I realized I have friends from all over the world that I have met because of my involvement in the RC hobby, and these are guys I get to see once every year or so at an event, yet I can really call them my friends.  I can pick up the phone and call them to ask for advice on a project, or just to see whats going on.  It occurred to me that maybe technology isn't the problem here, instead it might be how some choose to use technology...strangely enough, that can be applied to more than just electronic communication methods.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

FPV adventures

I have been tweaking my FPV setup.  I currently am flying a MaxiSwift, using 1.2Ghz video gear, and 72Mhz for the RC side.  I am happy with the airframe, but my ground station needed some attention.  I have cleaned up the wiring quite a bit, made a 1s2p 1400Mah pack for the flight video recorder, and added a tripod mounted 5" display screen to be used in addition to the Trimersion goggle set I have.

Anyway, now that things in the ground station case aren't so cluttered, I wont have quite the rats' nest of wires to sort out when it is time to fly.  Since I also have a 5.8Ghz setup on a mini quadcopter, I needed to do something to clean it up..switching wiring between RX's was a pain when I wanted to fly the quad vs. the plane.

Hopefully I can test it out this weekend and get some pictures posted as well.  It isn't much to brag about but it works, and it didn't cost allot, so I am happy.

A new blog...

Maybe I will do better with keeping this one updated..only time will tell.  Follow along on my adventures in my many hobbies..