Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Cost of FPV?

So, figured I would compile a list of the current best things for a complete FPV setup (including twin video reciever with diversity switching, head tracking, On Screen Display, and with the new low cost of telemetry tracking). This doesn't include S&H or a bunch of the small cables and costs there, or backup/replacement servos, props, multiple batteries, a camcorder to record your flights, etc. This sets up with 900MHz as the basis for Video transmission and 72MHz R/C control (other option is 2.5GHz, but this attenuates faster, so distance is reduced for both video and control). This is also based on an Easy Star plane, but cost is similar for other platforms, like a funjet (actually goes up about $100 for twinstar for multiple motors/esc or the easy glider). So, here it goes (oh, and the final bill is right around the $2000 mark, minimum):

Monday, December 28, 2009

Return of the EZ*

Wow...been trying like hell to find a replacement Multiplex EasyStar Kit. They've been back ordered for around 6 months now. Finally found a place in Utah that had them in stock for $60 each, plus S&H, so ordered 2. Merry Christmas to me. ;) Can't wait to get them here to begin some of the mods I had planned (like carving out the inside and putting the servos in the tail to balance out all the stuff I have in the nose for FPV as well as a heavier battery. Probably will just use the existing wings that I have already with the aileron's already in place. Need to decide if I cut out a hatch into the mid-section where the servos use to go, from the bottom to put the electronics all in there. Feels like it would work out better than trying to cram them all in the main compartment, which always made the camera pod not want to fit on very well (and part of the problem the resulted in the crash).

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Dark Side

I just got my Parkzone BF-109 plane. The latest addition to my livery. Hopefully, it will be nice enough this weekend to fly it while I wait for a replacement fuse for my Easy Star. I have been very happy with my T-28, and really would love to get a F4U corsair as well. These foam warbirds from Parkzone are really pretty good planes.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

RIP Easy Star...

Death of an FPV Easy Star on YouTube Winds were blowing a strong 30mph, with gusts higher. Was periodically blowing over my camera tripod. I wanted to test out my new Oracle Diversity switch and 8dbi patch antenna, and drove 20 miles out into the desert to get away from signal interferance and traffic. I was also trying to fit a new 2600mAh lipo in. It didn't fit well. Got it hand launched, despite the wind trying to rip it out of my hands, and the Eagle Tree OSD Pro had come unplugged from the data logger. No GPS or data signal, but was getting video. Got it back around and landed, and got it all plugged back in. But still not fitting well. Wind blowing more. I almost bagged it, as I kept thinking nothing good can come of this... The last few frames of video show what caused the final death dive. Camera pod popped out and was laying back near the motor after I panned the camera right. Lost video shortly after that due to having the patch pointed SE, but I was flying NE of my position by now, due to the wind.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Oracle Diversity Video Swtich

Got my Oracle Diversity switch in as well as a second 900MHz Rx (which I promptly removed the guts of and put inside the diversity switch hard wired to the power and the Video #2 inputs). Powered it up and hooked everything up (including my previous 2-ch Rx wired into video #1 input). It switches very nice, but I need to probably give it a real test run out in the wild. Just 5 to 20 feet away, it wasn't that interesting (had to remove antennas and stuff to try to block the signal from one or the other). Sure hopes it works as well as I expect it to! Will run my 3dbi omni and the 8dbi patch to see how it works.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Latest FPV flight #7

Flew yesterday again. Had same servo jitter. So, seems like I fly here by my house and live with servo interferance on 72MHz or fly over at the soccer fields by work and get video interferance on 900MHz. Grin. Managed to get up over 1500ft today, easily. I got new LIPO's in that are 2600mAh that should easily allow over 4000ft AGL. Need to probably go out of town to try that. I would love to fly through some clouds and try that out. Would have tried again today, but I was brewing 11 gallons of my beloved Mossy Cup Porter. So, I only had time to fly my Parkzone T28.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

More Stuff

I have some video showing the problem with the Sony DPC 480A AWB and the red hue it has. Turns out, it isn't triggering the DSP to resample on power up without proper amounts of white in the screen. You can force it to trigger/sample by transitioning through the menu settings from fixed->manual->ATW->AWB and it clears everything up. Problem is, it is again hosed the next time you power up. But, setting it to ATW (whatever that is), makes it sample/power up fine everytime. I'm not sure if changing the manual settings to have less red will help where it powers up at or not in AWB mode (probably, but I tried factory resetting it a bunch of times and it was still messed up).

Monday, October 5, 2009

FPV Mysteries, Unraveled!

Well, I keep unraveling more and more mysteries as I learn more. First, I have determined that my AUW Multiplex Easy Star with full video equipment and batteries has gained an impressive 11oz, to top out at 37.5oz (that is just over 2 lbs!!!), which leap-frogs it into second place, just behind my Tiger 2 for highest wing loading at 14.5oz/sq-ft. Second, thanks AGAIN to Thomas Black at DPCAV, my red hue problems are because of some "intelligent" feature in the DPC 480A Sony CCD that reverts settings to the manual color values until its DSP triggers AWB to reset every time you power up. More importantly, I can FORCE the resample if I just go into the menu and transition through the menu to Fixed->Manual->ATW->AWB. Viola! Nice cool normal colors! But bummer to have to redo that everytime I power up. Thomas mentioned it might be better to set some manual values or try ATW. Anyway, I flew tonight with the forced menu reset after power up to AWB.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

FPV with OSD

Went out to fly with the fully integrated OSD Pro and eLogger v3 this morning. Had 3 major problems. First, the weight was too far forward in the plane and caused an immediate nose-in on first launch. This caused a second problem, which was I stripped the tilt servo on the camera, so it was locked in place. Third problem was again with the video goggles (no video out and it refused to function AGAIN). I suspect having the cable partly out of the socket doesn't help, and I need to get the right cable from Gordon (sigh...I really want to fly first person). Also looks like the TempA sensor was not properly zeroed or something. I managed to download the data from the eLogger to the computer and get GPS locations and plots.

Friday, October 2, 2009

First FPV Flight

Flew my first FPV flight today. Well, it probably wasn't really FPV, since the goggles battery supply died about 3 minutes after turning them on. I had to just fly it visually, but I did do some by watching the video camera display. This was without the elogger and OSD, just to make sure everything was working ok. I am getting some interferance, and it really panics me when I'm flying remote watching the first person view and it wacks out. I have no idea where the plane is (invariably, it was always higher than I expected trying to find it in the sky). Wow, it can get a long way away quick just flying via the video feed. I may have to take it out away from the city and see if that helps the reception. I have some torrid coils coming to wrap some of the electric feeds for the ESC and the video.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Gyro Stabilization

I have read a lot about people putting gyro stabilizers on airplanes to correct erratic behavior and wind buffeting. Seems like a natural inclusion for FPV to stabilize the video. Anyway, ideally, you want one that ONLY engages when you flip a switch (meaning you need a secondary channel) or disengages when you get past say 1/3 joystick movement (again, still needs a secondary channel and pmixing). Most of the folks are using GY401's from Futaba, are a bit spendy (at almost $140 each axis), but they have the dual gain you need to disengage and everything. I may consider trying one of the E-Flight 11g dual gain gyros at around $65. DPCAV also has one for around $25, which I will probalby order. I think you would put it on the ailerons for fpv, but you would risk the RTH feature of the OSD not working if it was engaged when you lost control...grin.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Flight of the Phoenix!

Well, I've been trying to fly my Carl Goldberg Tiger 2 electric conversion for a while now, but keep finding reasons not to. For one thing, it is a 5lb model with a 61" wingspan and capable of speeds over 80mph. That isn't something you just take to your local playground park. I went out to the local flying club last weekend, despite a strong 10-15mph wind. There were a ton of folks out there having a fun fly. I watched for a while and asked about what it took to join and stuff. $60 AMA membership dues and $60 for BARKS fees and runway costs. Don't get me wrong, it is probably all worth it (they have a great runway and good pits, despite my not liking to have to try to dead stick in all the sagebrush out there), but I just don't have much time to fly the big models, and mostly the park fliers work great right here by my house.

Some pretty cool FPV video from Sweden

This guy has some beautiful transmission video. I have no idea how he can get that clear of a picture and clean transmission, but I think I'm beginning to see the value in a flat 9db patch antenna. I suspect I will need the signal tracker to properly keep it focused on the plane at only a 15 degree horizontal/vertical window. The alternative is to get an expensive diversity switch that allows you to multiplex in two separate receivers with two different antenna. That begins to get expensive, though.

EZ* Pod Camera

I got the camera pod for the easy star all built. It has the servos for moving the camera all installed, place for a 650mAh 3S1P lipo (for the camera/tx) and I'm trying to figure out the best routing for the servo wires, camera wires and the rx. Uggghhh, don't even want to think about how this is all going to route when I get the elogger/OSD and sensors all in there. Need some double-sided servo tape for the camera and tx and some torrid coils for the camera wires. I think I'm going to try to put the GPS rx back the very end of the tail on the top of the fuse for best reception and most distance from the 900MHz tx. I figured out a motor mount for the obliterated EZ* I have (simple 2.5" angle bracket epoxyed into the old motor pod (which should help with the heat that was building up before in the foam enclosure and allowing the motor to torque and twist and melting the plastic). The mount is also a little further up/away from the fuse and will allow me to use a 6x4E prop with plenty of clearance. Then I'll transfer everything over to the new kit I have coming once I play with it in this reglued frankenstein I have now.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

WARNING!!!! FPV initiated.

I took the plunge and ordered an FPV system. I got it from Digital Products Co in Folsom. Thomas Black is super on support and I would highly recommend ordering a system from him. I got a 480p Super HAD CCD camera and am transmitting with 500mW over 900MHz with a dual A/V output reciever and got the Eagle Tree Systems data logger and OSD Pro (for on screen display of data) with GPS and return to home features. Added altimeter and temp sensors. The eLogger seems to be dead, so I'm sending that back to have Thomas check it out. Hopefully I get it back soon to try everything out. I was having problems getting the camera to show anything but B&W, but it looks like it was falling back into B&W because of low light conditions. Once I got enough illumination (especially sunny outdoors I think it will be very good), it cleared up. Colors are a little off, and I need to play with the automatic gain control (AGC) and white balance (AWB). I think when flying everyone recommends turning some of that off, so that flying into the sun doesn't adjust and make everything else visibile go dark.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Flight Sim Neglect

Well, I have packed up my triple display monitors, touch screens and flight controls to make my desk more useable (it always was just a prototype setup to test out stuff). Did that last December, and I'm REALLY getting pangs of wanting to get back to flying. But I'm not going to do it at my desk. The setup is too chaotic and temporary. I need to figure out if I can build a small cockpit enclosure and get stuff put in. When? I don't know...but I sure would like to get back to flying.

More later.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Electrifly Pluma 3D Build

Started building my Pluma 3D. I'm REALLY stressed about how thin the 3mm foam is on this. It folds/breaks so easy, I'm pretty sure this plane isn't going to last nearly as long as my beloved EPP Piaget, but I sure love flying the Pluma 3D on my RealFlight sim.

The build seems pretty straight forward, so far. I like the aileron connectors and it wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be getting the linkage lengths all matched. I'm pretty disappointed that my CA glue is eating the foam (I haven't had to worry about foam safe CA ever on any of my planes...and actually thought that the ZAP CA+ was foam safe...nope!). It is eating a little of the foam, but seems like if I hit it again after it and accelerate it pretty quick, it stops the eating.

55" BAF YAK-54 from DWFoamies

I want to get a 55" BAF Yak 54 from DWFoamies for some large scale park flying. Here is some good video of a great Tiger paint scheme BAF. Can get one for around $100 from RC Foam, too. Like the torque rod controls and I think this would be a great way of doing all my larger flat foamies in the future. Looks like you want about a 40A ESC and 3S1P 2200mAh lipo. Flying weight looks like about 36oz, AUW.

There is a great build thread here on RCGroups.com. I'm pretty sure the Turnigy 35-42C 1100kv motor from Hobby City that I got to put on my Typhoon would work on this great, along with the 40A ESC I have for it. Then a Neutron 6ch Hitec Rx and hopefully the HS-81's would work ok (though the guys building it don't seem to think the HS-81's are strong enough). I WANT to build this plane...hummm.

On a semi-unrelated note, check out this amazing Red Bull Pylon race video

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Piaget in the Park

Put a new video up of me flying the Piaget in the park. This has become one of my favorite planes. It is getting pretty beat up, and I really need to work on my Pluma bi-plane foamie. With spring days like this, if the wind would quit blowing (it did today!) I could really fly a lot.

Piaget Video [400MB]

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Electrifly Pluma 3D

I picked up an Electrifly Pluma 3D at the LHS for $49. I figure on putting some HXT 5g servos in for the elevator/ruder and one of the 9g servos for the ailerons. I'm going to use the 24g blue wonder motor and a 10A BESC and figure on using 410mAh 2S (indoor) and 640mAh 3S (outdoor) lipos. I sure like the way this plane floats in the simulator, so hope it is as good in real life.

I need to find a good place to fly indoors, some time. It is amazing how well my piaget flies with 2S1P 460mAh lipos when the wind drops to just a whisper outside. Hovers get much easier. I still need to get better doing rolling harriers...

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Tiger2 Electric Conversion

I have had an old Carl Goldberg Tiger2 40 that I had a .61 ASP in that I built over 15 years ago and crashed. The right rear horizontal stab was broken. Anyway, it has been gathering dust in my garage for years, and I was thinking I would try to repair it and outfit it with a new electric motor. Just came across this thread in RCGroups, too, that seems to discuss it.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Cliff Soaring

I have been thinking I really should try to take my Multiplex Easy Star over to Table Rock and try and do some cliff/slope soaring with it. Well, I had my replacement Hitec Mini 6S (yeah...more about that later) that they sent me that still needed trying out, and it was too windy to do any 3D flying with the Piaget, and my Typhoon 3D wings were not being held in by the small plastic tabs that screw together (it had split out last time I flew it), so why not. Plus, it was sunny and the kids might like the drive and hike.

Well, we got up there, and the last mile of the road was closed to keep the mud and ruts from getting too bad, so we hiked. It was really breezy/gusty up on the edge, but got my helmet cam mounted finally and everything ready. Did the hand launch with much concern (those wings catch a LOT of air, and it was pretty breezy). Anyway, the stupid glitching in the Rx was aparent almost immediately, but I just delt with it. I was a little worried about how easy it was going to be to bring it back in and land, because there are about a million power/radio towers and lines up there (more about that later too...sigh)...

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Piaget Video

Got some video of my Piaget this morning, despite it being on/off breezy. I really can't say enough about this plane. This is with the new aileron push rods put in (think it really helped, but have to get the longer horn in next). Also, not sure if it was the wind or not, but I'm pretty sure the Corona SC Rx was gliching on me, mostly when the radio was pointed right at the plane. That really sucks. I've had it with single conversion Rx's. At least with this radio on ch 30, it sure has problems for me.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Refit Typhoon 3D with new Outrunner

Well, it was too windy to fly today, so I spent the day fixing planes. I REALLY needed to change the aileron push rods on the Piaget (they were flexing and not pushing in a straight line). So I did that, and I also was not real happy with the reception on the GWS 4ch SC Rx on the piaget, so I swapped it out to try the synthetic Corona 4ch SC I got. It worked pretty well from what I can see, and has good range. Flew it for just a second, but it was doing 15-20mph gusts, so really was NOT fun with this piaget. Really freaked me out.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

3D Foam flying

I ordered some new lipo's from Hobby City in Hong Kong. This is my third order from them, and they seem to have pretty good stuff. The chargers, lipos and motors are all much cheaper and seem to be ok quality. I've been wanting to try to get into the 3D foamie flying. SloFly.com is a great site and resource for free plans and doing 3mm EPP foam home built. There are also a lot of people that even do plan cuts for you, routinely. The foam seems very inexpensive, once you get use to how to build and work with the carbon fiber rods and all the best components. I gather it takes a little experience to get it all just right and the weight down to a reasonable level (sub-7oz planes are routine fully flight capable with battery and everything).

Sunday, January 11, 2009

New T-28 Trojan

I got a Park Zone T-28 Trojan PNP version for Christmas. It was a scratch and dent special from Air Land Hobbies. It had a slightly crushed canopy and the trailing edge of the wing had been compressed pretty hard, but I got it all repaired pretty well, and it looks great!

I love the way it flies (once I got the CoG worked out and pushed the battery forward better). With the CoG right at 2.25" back from the leading edge of the wing out 1" from the fuse, it flies SUPER. I love how it looks in the air and it glides in nice. It is no where near as knife edge sharp as my Typhoon 3D is, but it glides better, and I love how it looks in the air. It is also SUPER quiet with the 1100 KV outrunner motor. I suspect the corsair flies similar, and I would love to have one of those PNP versions too.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Hitec Rx

Well, I keep having problems with my Hitec Mini 6s single conversion Rx. The gliching happens in multiple planes, different ESC's and all different locations (even way out in the desert where there should be no interferrance). I'm pretty sure it is bad (or maybe the ch 30 crystal is bad???). Anyway, I'm going to replace it with a Neutron 6s dual conversion. I love how they work. I've had too many cases of near crashes or partial crashes (grin) with this Mini 6s. The latest was trying it in my Typhoon. And when those control surfaces go full rail glitch...wow...hard to recover from. I'm sick of it. I don't think it has anything to do with single conversion, but I'm done. It just isn't worth monkeying with. I'm going dual conversion and have had absolutely ZERO problems with two different neutron 6s Rx.