Monday, July 28, 2014

3D Printer Checklist

Here's the 3D Printer checklist provided by Josh for our shared printer.  There's a few items specific to our site, but in general they're a good set of guidelines.  If you have your own printer you luxuriously won't have to load and unload the filament each time!

Before Printing

  • Sign up for a time slot.  Join the 3DPrint mail alias.
Setting Up
  • Turn on the power switch on the back right side of the printer.
  • PLA Filament reels are in the cabinet to your left (please use your own, or one marked Community or Robot Class).
  • Use the correct sized holder for the reel you picked.
  • Load the reel so the filament goes under the reel and up the tube.
  • Avoid letting the filament cross under itself as this can cause tangles during printing.
  • Push the whole printer back so the reel lightly touches the wall.  This keeps the reel from falling off and also avoids tangles.
  • On the control pad, choose Utilities -> Change Filament -> Load.
  • THE PRINT HEAD IS HOT (230 degrees C, 446 degrees F): DO NOT TOUCH IT.
  • Clip off the end of the filament using scissors.
  • Press and hold the lever on the print head while feeding the filament into the hole.
  • Release the lever and feel the filament being pulled into the hole.
  • If the mechanism doesn’t pull the filament, or you hear grinding & thumping, it may be clogged. Seek help to fix this issue.
  • Watch to see a nice stream of melted filament coming out of the print head.
  • You can use the spatula to clear tangles on the end of the print head.
  • One the control panel, press M a few times to finish the loading process.
  • Inspect the blue tape to make sure it is smooth in an area large enough for your object.
  • If needed, remove the glass print bed and re-surface it with fresh blue tape.
  • At the computer, open MakerWare.
  • Add the model file(s) you want to print.
  • For beginners, we recommend printing one object at a time to minimize the loss if a print fails part way.
  • Position the model so that it will land on a smooth area of blue tape.
  • The middle is safer than the edges in case the plate is not 100% level.
  • Press the "Make" button.
  • Choose a print quality. Low Resolution is Fast and High Resolution is Slow.
  • Decide if you want a Raft or Supports and check the appropriate boxes.
  • Please do not adjust the temperature setting.
  • Check the "Preview before printing" box.
  • Press "Make It".
  • In the Preview window, slide the slider to ensure that it will print as you expect.
  • Note the estimated print time in the Preview window.
  • If everything is good, press "Make It!"
  • You must monitor your print.  We have had at least one case of the printer causing smoke. Please avoid this.
  • You can watch it in person, or watch via the web cam.
Cleaning Up
  • When the print is done, use the spatula to remove your object from the plate.
  • On the control pad, choose Utilities -> Change Filament -> Unload.
  • The print head will heat up again and the motor will back the filament out.
  • Press and hold the lever and gently pull the filament out.
  • Try your best to not leave a gob of half-melted filament inside the print head - that will jam it for the next person.
  • Roll the filament back onto the reel.
  • Put the end of the filament in one of the holes, or tape it down to prev to prevent tangling.
  • Put the filament back into the cabinet.
  • Turn off the printer.
  • Sweep up any debris and tidy up for the next person.
blogodex = {"toc" : "3D Printing", "idx" = "Robotics Class"};

Thursday, July 24, 2014

ArrBot Class 1 Notes

Today's class will consist of two activities, 3D printer training and Arduino soldering.


  • Drop your stuff off in Big Art
  • Proceed to the 3D Printer
  • Be sure and sign the signup sheet
  • Pick up your kit
  • Don't be late, we're pressed for time!!
  • some of these notes are specific for this class.  Ignore the ones that don't make sense to you.
  • Syllabus is here:

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


Oso Grande @ RCGroups has designed and started to sell a nifty looking Power Distribution Board for quads with FPV Equipment.  He explains:

Having watched a few friends build mini-H quads as their first builds and struggling with wiring them up, I thought there had to be a simpler way.

Instead of having the rats nest of wires that most of us end up with, I thought hard mounting the usual components on a power distribution board would make thing much easier. [...]

Most folks that fly the mini's it seems use the ImmersionRC 5.8 video transmitters. With it's filtered 5v output its easy enough to use the Pololu 12v step up to power all the usual suspects in board cameras that everyone prefers. Some folks seem to like using voltage alarms but more and more folks are using OSD's to monitor their voltage so I've not only included a place for the 12v step up but also the HK SuperSimpleOSD. There is an easy modification to that OSD that shows RSSI values for those receivers that have an output for them. Usually 100% shows roughly 30-35v and 0% shows 1.5v or so.

It looks like a pretty nifty solution, and it's not a bad deal for only $10.

blogodex = {"toc" : "SimplePDB", "idx" = "Power Distribution"};

Monday, July 21, 2014

ArrBot: Servo Tester

When you're ready to modify your servos to be continuous rotation servos, it's important to test the servos at three stages of the work:

  • before you start. Make sure you're starting with a working servo!
  • after you've soldered the two resistors in place, while the case is open.
  • after you've reassembled the case.

Here's a simple servo tester you can use if you don't have a store-bought tester.  Wiring is simple:

servo ground (black or brown) to Arduino GND.
servo power (red) to Arduino RAW.
servo signal (white or yellow) to Arduino pin 9.

and then run this sketch.

Default operation is to move the servo continuously, but you can also change the specified position manually.

blogodex = {"toc" : "ArrBot", "idx" : "Servo  Tester"};

Friday, July 18, 2014

Soldering Class, Success!

The calm before the storm.  Would we be able to handle 24 students?  Would the power be enough?  Would the combined smoke of 24 irons set off the fire alarm?
There was a total of 23 people that showed up for class.  We set up the tables in two rows of three tables, four students per table.  Checking with our facilities people, we had two 20A circuits available.  We ran an extension cord from each circuit to the center table of each row, and plugged a power strip into that.  We then ran a power strip to each adjoining table, so that there was an outlet for each student.  Gaffer tape ensured that nobody would trip on a wire and cause calamitous injury to the other students.

Everybody did well.  We covered the syllabus in just under two hours.  There were lots of new Weller irons being taken out of the box.  I'm sorry I didn't use an Amazon affiliate link!

Much appreciation to Tom Duff (who has been fiddling with electronics longer than I have been alive!) and Josh Minor for helping out, and Shaun Brown and Victoria Yu for assistance in setting up.
Some notes to put in the syllabus:

  • re safety: double check that the soldering iron aren't touching any power wires.  Especially important for non-station types.
  • Hold the solder with enough length so you can feed plenty of solder quickly once you establish the heat bridge.

The Khan Academy-style class seemed to work pretty well.  Even with 24 students we were able to jump right in and start practicing each skill.  It was interesting to see the progression in skill as students would make several identical solder joints.  Especially on the PC Board soldering where you could look down the row and see the tangible improvement on each successive joint.
Hmm, how's your work? After a deliberate and careful examination the instructor exclaims, "A textbook job!"

blogodex = {"idx" : "Soldering Class"};

Things to Try: KCITSINIM Canard

By "StukaDave" Dave Gee.
7 inch wingspan.

blogodex = {"idx" : ["KCITSINIM", "Plans"]};

Thursday, July 17, 2014

EastBay RC Supports for AMA Response to the FAA

The Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) has been working diligently to research and explain the recent FAA interpretation of the Special Rules for Model Aircraft that was included in the FAA Reauthorization and Modernization Act of 2012.

EastBay RC expresses support for the AMA in this effort and encourages all those interested in model aviation, FPV flight, or generally concerned with the encroachment of government regulation to read the AMA's summary here

and leave comments with the FAA here.
The language of the regulation is here.  The comment period ends on July 25, 2014.

blogodex = {"idx" : ["AMA", "FAA", "Regulation"]};

ArrBot Syllabus

The first ArrBot session has been scheduled.  It will tentatively run for 5 2-hour sessions, meeting once per week.  This first session is highly experimental.  If we're crunched for time, we may add an extra class at the end.

The ArrBoteers and I are working on the first pass of the software, and there's a couple of "known unknowns" along with (I'm sure) a ton of other things we'll discover along the way.  It will be a journey for all of us!

I'll be revising this as we go along... when we've finished the first session, it should be a somewhat reliable guide as to what can be accomplished by a class in this timeframe.
(end note)

  • Basic Electronic Soldering.  Should be able to solder wires and through-hole.
  • Not required, but familiarity with Arduino is a plus.
Student Tools
  • Soldering iron
  • #000 screwdriver for servos
  • small screwdriver for wheels
  • side cutters
  • laptop w/ micro USB cable

Time is tight, since we have a hard out after two hours.  I will start talking at the top of the hour.  Don't be late!

Introducing the ArrBot!

Over the next couple of weeks, you may see the eyes of EastBay RC turn from the skies we love and focus on cute little ground-based vehicles.  That's because I'm getting ready to teach a robotics class, and I'll be blogging all the notes, assignments, etc.  You may have noticed the past couple of big posts have been oriented in this direction.

What's an ArrBot?

ArrBot stands for "Autonomous something something Robot", or maybe "Advanced"?  Haven't quite figured that out yet, but we'll bravely solder (get it??) forward anyways.

The idea is a robot that is:
  • good for education
  • fun
  • attractive
  • cheap
  • has excellent software
I'm kind of excited about this.  Let me tell you a bit more about each of these goals.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

PC Board Fabrication

Coworker Tony DeRose wrote up his experience in fabbing his own PCBs, and has graciously allowed me to post them here.  Check out his drain cleaner comment in step 7 and you'll know why he's such a great guy to work with! 

 I've finally started to look into making my own 1 and 2 layer pcbs. I've experimented with a few inexpensive methods. Here's a description of the best I've found so far. Let me know if you have a better process.

Step 1: Laser print the layout on transparency film (costs 80 cents at Kinko's). Layout was created in Eagle (lite).

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Coreless Motor for Eflite UMX Aircraft

Heard some good things about the CL-0820-15-9T motor as a replacement/upgrade for the motors in the UMX series.  The video is highly entertaining (quite unusual for a motor spec video!), check it out.  They've got a pointer to 3drankin@rcgroups, who sells some UMX kits.

blogodex = {"idx" : ["motors", "UMX"]};

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Dive Testing CG Position

Here's how to test your CG with a dive test.  This illustration has been floating around rcgroups approximately forever, so I thought I would capture it here.

It's pretty self explanatory.  Go into level flight, pulse the elevator down, and watch how the plane recovers.  "D" is where you want to be.

blogodex = {"idx" : ["flight tuning", "cog"]};

Cheap 2.4GHz Wireless with the nRF24L01

We'll be using these in the robotics class to make a Wiimote based controller.  Here's a few notes, courtesy of Alonso.

More to come, but I wanted to get this jotted down.

blogodex = { "toc" : ["ArrBot", "nRF24L01"]};

Friday, July 11, 2014

LED Lights for EPP Yak55

bhoov128@rcgroups has some good notes on how he mounted SMD LED's on his EPP Yak 55.  He hot glued them to bamboo skewers and connected them with magnet wire.  Lights are aimed to illuminate the plane; blue on the bottom, white on top.  Two white lights mounted on the front shine through and illuminate the prop.

Somebody posted that Leading LEDs is a good source.

blogodex = {"toc" : "LEDs"};

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Low Cost Servo City Crimping Tool

In keeping with this week's crimping theme, here's Servo City's low cost crimpers.  People have reported them being of good quality.

They say "These heavy duty production crimpers are designed to not only crimp servo male and female connector pins but also larger pins for power wires and battery leads."

blogodex = {"toc" : "Crimpers", "idx" : "Servo City"};

Monday, July 7, 2014

EastBay RC Guide to Soldering


This are the notes and videos for a two-hour introductory soldering class.  It's designed to be taken Khan Academy style -- watch the videos and read the notes first, and we'll be able to spend the entire class on soldering.
  • Hands-on class, two hours.
  • Time: 15 minutes, intro and tinning soldering iron; 15 minutes, tinning wire; 15 minutes, soldering thicker wires; 10 minutes, soldering thinner wires; 30 minutes, soldering PCB; 10 minutes, heat shrink; 15 minutes, soldering pads.
  • Watch the videos first, be ready to practice in class.
EastBay RC is a continuing work in progress. Let me know what you think!

Here's all the videos as a playlist.  Watch it in HD, it will be a lot clearer.  I'm trying to figure out how to specify that an entire playlist should be shown in HD.  If you know how to do this, let me know! Individual videos are down below.

Small JST and Molex Connectors

Now that I've got my new micro-crimper based on jj604@rcgroup's suggestion, I find that he's got a thread discussing the naming (and mis-naming!) of various small connectors.  There's lots of good stuff there, including pointers to datasheets; here's a snippet.

JST-XH is 2.5mm pin spacing (same as 0.1inch for all practical purposes)
Not micro size but very common. Used in most balance plugs on LiPos and is the "standard" header spacing in many electronic components including PCs. The standard Futaba/JR style servo plugs are this spacing.

JST- ZH is 1.5mm pin spacing
Used in the Spektrum AR 6300 system and a compatible DSM2 Rx from DelTang (DelTangs are available with all 3 connectors).

Molex PicoBlade is 1.25mm pin spacing.
Used in Futaba, FlyDream, Walkera and the new Hobby King Micro (DSM2) 2.4G systems. The HobbyKing 1.7 and 2.2g Servos have this connector. The 2 pin version is used on the PZ bricks as a battery connector.

JST-SH is 1.0mm pin spacing.
Used for servo connection in Spektrum AR6400 "Brick" and the HobbyKing SuperMicro (not DSM2) systems. Most linear servos have this connector.

You should always check the wiring polarity is also correct. Vendors have had a habit of producing connectors with the wiring swapped around.

blogodex = {"toc" : "Connector Mania", "idx" : ["Connectors", "JST-XH", "JST-ZH", "Molex PicoBlade", "JST-SH"]};

EastBay RC Soldering Class Notes, Coming Soon!

So I'm getting ready to teach a soldering class, and I thought it would be neat to do it Khan Academy Style.  So I'm prepping a couple of videos that cover the actual content, and the entire two-hour class will be devoted to soldering practice.

I'll have the content uploaded in the next couple of days.  I'd be interested in knowing what you think.  Until then, here's a preview of the Official East Bay Soldering Station!

blogodex = {"idx" : "soldering"};

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Switching AS3X off on UMX Radian

You may have noticed I recently got the UMX Radian and have been really loving it.  One thing I've been interested in trying is puting the AS3X stabilization on a switch, so that it can be turned on/off in the air.  92PathSE@rcgroups has a great writeup on what he did to do this, reproduced below.

Executive summary:
  • install driver on PC
  • enable X-Port on channel 5 of RX
  • attach cable to plane
  • read current configuration
  • write new configuration

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Prepping for Robotics Class

It's almost time for the upcoming Robotics class. And the first batch of parts have come in!  I'll be documenting both the build and the class.

How do you cause consternation with your shipping department?  Lots of itty bitty poorly marked packages from random ebay vendors!

Here's the secret sauce for the robot project.  These rubber bracelets will be the tank treads.
Sigh, Hobby King. You come so close to total awesomeness, but you never fail to diappoint in some way. :(
Tidily arranged, easy to carry, and ready for class!

blogodex = {"toc" : "Robotics Class"};

Monday, June 30, 2014

Engineer PA-09: Crimper for Micro Connections

Got a lead on this unit, which jj604@rcgroups says:

My conclusion was that there is only one hand crimper made that works for the 1.25mm and 1.5mm connectors. It can also do the 1mm JST-SH but it's a a bit more of a struggle. They specify it as 1.25-2.5mm but show JST-SH as a typical terminal it can be used for.

On anything above 1.25mm it works a treat. It's not cheap (as in Chinese HobbyKing cheap) but don't let the stamped steel look fool you.

This is a precision Japanese made crimper with a adjustable hinge pin for alignment. It is called the Engineer PA-09.

Engineer PA-09 Micro Connector Crimpers

blogodex = {"idx" : ["crimpers", "connectors"]};

Sunday, June 29, 2014

UMX Radian, Maiden Flight

Woo Hoo, it's sweet.  After I saw Chuck's I had to have one.  It arrived, and I took it out for a spin at Caldecott Field.  No wind on the ground, but gusts up higher where we weren't sheltered in the valley.

Not a whole lot to say about setting up... take it out of the box, attach the wing, attach the velcro (I do it opposite of what they recommend -- soft velcro on the battery), charge up the battery, bind it, and go! You do need to let it sit still for a couple of seconds for the gyro to initialize.  There's no accelerometer, so it doesn't have be be laying flat.  The little batteries are great.  I flew for 30-40 minutes on two, with lots of smooth gliding.

I'll probably try this wing magnet mod.

Here's some clips of the maiden flight. I'm temporarily without a video editor, so I just cut them together with quicktime.  The second version has some music from the YouTube library (the artistry of EastBay RC never ends!), but for some reason that drops the video down from 1080p to 720p.  Anyways, they both show the basic sweetness.

blogodex = {"toc" : "UMX Radian", "idx" = ["Caldecott Field", "maiden"]};

Monday, June 23, 2014

FAA Updating Interpretation of RC Regulations

Found on the AMA blog, the FAA is issuing an update of the "Special Rule for Model Aircraft".  More details to follow, and I'll be filling in links as appropriate.

FAA Press Release:

FAA Document (17 pages)

FAA Guidelines for Hobby/Recreational Flying:

blogodex = {"idx" : ["FAA", "Regulations"]};

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Chuck's New UMX Radian

CME President Chuck Hill picked up one of the new UMX Radians
and brought it in to our monthly indoor fun fly. It's a sweet plane!  Lots of details at the link, but the tldr:  three channel, ASX stabilization, flies nicely, just fits into a single basketball court.  I'm going to get one!

Turn off ASX with the Programming Cable.
Linkage: UMX Radian Mods; Sailplanes; Micro RTF;

blogodex = {"toc" : "UMX Radian", "idx" : ["CME", "Fun Fly"]};

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Wind Resistant H Quad

Kauaiguy@RCG has posted pictures and notes for his wind resistant quad.  I guess that's necessary if you live in Kauai!  I'll be following along on his build, and I'm collecting some of his notes here.

  • I was flying fpv in 20/30 mph winds and not having any control issues,also its easy to fly some distance as its fast!Next version I make ,the frame and motor mounts will come out to about 100g.This frame is a 450 mm frame size and takes 8/9/10 inch props.

  • Build list
    • Carbon tubes 320mm (4) 14 mm Talon v2
    • Motor mounts (4) Hal 
    • Aluminum boom mount (4) Talon V2
    • Flat base plates (2) Hal 
    • All frame parts available from Hobbyking USA
    • Same foot print as the Flip fpv frame ( large frame 450) but 200 g lighter.Next frame is going to be mostly epoxied together and just over 100g with mounts.Cost will be 4 ,14 mm ,320mm long carbon booms($16.40 for 4)from Hobbyking
    • Drilled holes with a drill press after it was glued together.Probably doesn't need the screws .

    blogodex = {"idx" : "H Quad"};

    Monday, June 16, 2014

    Great Video from Jeremy Vickery

    Colleague and friend Jeremy Vickery put this video together.  Sadly I wasn't able to go to the Mount Diablo fly-in, but it looks like they had a great time.  Jeremy was one of the first people I knew that got a quad primarily for video and photo use, and I've always admired his eye and use of aerial perspective.

    Pixar Drone Meet from Jeremy Vickery on Vimeo.

    blogodex = {"idx" : ["Pixar", "video"]};

    9xr Pro Wiring Diagram

    Brent "SkyNorth" Nelson released the 9xr Pro Wiring Diagram, which I've copied here.  Besides being useful, it looks rather nice as well!

    I hope more manufacturers start providing such useful documentation.

    blogodex = {"toc" : "9XR Pro", "idx" : "wiring diagram"};

    Tuesday, June 10, 2014

    joseico90's Workhorse H Quad

    Copied from his notes and photos posted here.

    • 15x12mm strip pine wood for arms and body frame
    • [??] mm ply for the bottom of the body 345mm Long x 125mm wide
    • 3mm light ply for the top cover 310mm long x 125mm wide. (the cover is cut in 
    • two sections at 155mm from the rear edge to allow partial access to the inside)
    • Arms are 450mm long
    • Body box is 120x595mm between the arms
    • the two 15x12mm strips for the box sides are 295mm long, they are glued to the bottom plate in an upright manner, (the 12mm side), the arms are placed resting on their 15mm side, this leaves a gap for cooling the ESC inside the box.
    • Bottom cover is glued permanently, the top cover and tower are secured with self taping screws
    • The arms are secured by two bolts each for easy replacement or dismantling/storage.

    blogodex = {"idx" : "Workhorse Quad"};

    Nifty Taranis Model Notes

    Casey101@RCG posted a nice modification to a Taranis Model Planner by VoBo@RCG.  Wouldn't it be neat if Companion9x could print this out!

    blogodex = {"idx":["Model Planner","Taranis"]};

    Monday, June 9, 2014

    Downshooter Notes

    After many years of faithful service, the old downshooter is being retired.  New downshooter is set up and (as you can see!) being tested.  In this picture the old downshooter is on the left and the new downshooter is on the right.

    Todo: figure out minimum iphone focusing distance, any way to lock white balance.

    First test shots:

    blogodex = {"toc":"DownShooter","idx":"Workshop"};

    Wednesday, June 4, 2014

    ARC - the Alonso Robot Controller

    So I'm teaching a robotics class, and hit a big problem.  Most cheapie robot projects don't include a remote controller, so they only do boring things like follow lines or bump into things.  I added an RC model style remote control to the project, and whoosh... up jumped the equipment price like crazy!!

    Thankfully, I have the awesome good fortune to work with Alonso Martinez, of Gertie the Hopping Robot fame.  He had just the thing for me!  I'm noting the parts list here, and when the parts come in I'll add a build guide.

    All up price range, for controller and receiving radio: $8 (tiny joystick) to $17 (wii nunchuck controller).  Add anywhere from $2 to $10 for your favorite flavor of battery, and it's quite a deal.

    Thanks Alonso, you saved my neck on this one!!

    Radio: $2 for two (transmitter and receiver)

    Knock-off Arduino 3.3v: $8 for two (transmitter and receiver)

    Joystick: $2

    You could also get way cooler and get a wii nunchuck that come with accelerometers and a bunch of other buttons for $7

    cheap Lipo battery for car $10 for two (one for robot and one for controller) :

    If you're not set up to conveniently handle RC lipo batteries, you could use a 9v battery, $1.44 each:

    blogodex = {"toc": "Alonso Robot Controller","idx":["ARC", "Robotics Class"]};

    Welcome to the Turnigy 9XR Pro, Video Tutorial Series

    The 9XR Pro has been released!
    And it's documented...

    The Video Series

    In conjunction with Hobby King and the 9XR Pro development team, EastBay RC has developed an introductory set of videos that will step you through the basics of getting started with the radio and its excellent open source software.

    Here's the series in one playlist:

    And pointers to each part of the series:
    Written Docs
    There are written docs, and they're good.  Read them, you will not be sorry.
    • still trying to figure out permanent home of docs...
    Till  then, I've taken the liberty of  grabbing the current versions and put them here:

    blogodex = {"toc": "Turnigy 9XR Pro","idx"="tutorials"};