Sunday, June 24, 2012

Travelling with model aircraft and LiPo batteries

Some hints from Chris Anderson:

I carry the drones in a Pelican case, which is checked luggage
I enclose a note in the case explaining what they are, for the TSA to read. I use phrases like "robots for a competition" rather than use the word "drones".
I carry the LiPos in my carry-on luggage, in a bag that clearly marks them as batteries.

And a document with guidelines for travelling with batteries.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Friday, June 15, 2012

Checking out ArduCopter 2.6

king pretty good!  I went out with Andreas who had downloaded 2.6 onto his heavy lifter hex.

There's been a lot of discussion about Turnigy 9x failsafe.  The solution is simple, in both Andreas' and my opinion:  swap out the module for FrSky... cheap too, at $40 for the module and Rx.  I'll cover setting the failsafe in an upcoming post.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Prop Reaming for HobbyKing Micro Quad

 I thought I had solved the prop mounting problems by using the prop savers and the semi-drilled out props, but I couldn't get the props balanced and there was a lot of vibration.  So I ordered a prop reamer to see if I could get the prop onto the collet adaptor.

It turns out you can ream the hole to be just big enough, but you have to be pretty careful.
 Here's the before and after pictures.
It's reamed almost to the limit.  Just a tiny bit over and it cracked through the side.  It would be wonderful if HK would sell some props matched to the size of their prop shafts!

Update:  the collet works a lot better than the prop saver.  The only downside is that if you come close to anything your props will break in half at the thinned point.  If anybody knows of a prop of this size with a thicker shaft hole please let me know!

Mixing THRO to ELEV on DX6i

Here's some notes I posted on rcgroups about DX6i mixing.  The goal is to mix the throttle to the elevator, so that increasing the throttle doesn't make the plane rise.

  • MIX1 and MIX2 are "free mixers" that can mix any two channels together
  • pick THRO as the master and ELEV as the slave
  • the THRO has two things that can be mixed: D and U. D for when the throttle is between 0%-50%, and U for when the throttle is between 50%-100%. (This makes more intuitive sense if you think of the rudder -- you might need some correction when turning right but not left).
  • set the switch to SW = ON. This makes the mix always active. You can bind to one of the switches if you want to turn it on and off.
  • pick some small values: 0% for D and -10% for U (negative percent = down)
  • take off, and get some altitude.
  • give lots of throttle. you should see it rise like you are used to, but a little less
  • the ELEV mix is proportional to the THRO
  • play with the two percentages until it's how you like it
  • be careful and don't do too much at the beginning. If you mixed -100%, you would go right into the ground as soon as you throttled up!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

EasyCap Notes

Received my EasyCap USB video adapter (model DC60) from DealExtreme and gave it a try... not bad for a $9 piece of equipment. Here's some random notage:

Mac EasyCapViewer is here. It's a port of the reversed-engineered linux version.  Seems to work pretty nicely. has record mode.

There seems to be a lot of variations in model numbers, features, video resolutions, etc.  Not sure what they all mean, but seems to affect which drivers, etc. you need.  It seems the DC60+ doesn't work on Mac at this time.

Includes a CD with ULead for windows.  There's also a drivers directory which seemed to install the right things on Windows 7.  I installed that but not the ULead software.

 Here's the video input running through the APM Planner.  I was at work so the only handy video input was my gamecube.  Let's FPV through Pikman 2!
Turn the video on under Configuration/Planner.  Here's the parameters I used for the shot above.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Walkera QR Ladybird now at HK!

Walkera QR Ladybird now available at HK!

I've had a chance to try out a couple of these microquads, and the Ladybird is definitely the best.  If you're a beginner, you'll be able to get it flying with no problem.

If you're in the USA, get the model with the Mode 2 Tx and it will have everything you need to take off!

Ladybird with Mode 2 Tx
Ladybird with Mode 1 Tx
Bind-n-Fly, Ladybird, no Tx

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Turnigy 9x module-less, and available modules

So by now you've probably heard that the King has started to sell Turnigy 9x radios without a pre-installed module.

Any JR-compatible module can be used.  Here's a list of what I've found to be available:

  • Frsky -- $50 for module and one Rx. I've got the older, non-telemetry model.
  • Assan X8 -- $85 for module and two Rx
  • Corona -- $30 for module and one Rx
  • Spektrum DSM2 -- note, this is not DSMX.  Available here for about $50
So I don't think any of these are the original module.  Anybody know if those are still around?

Friday, June 1, 2012

Short clip of recent DIY Drones Fly-in

Chris needed to do some prep for the upcoming SparkFun Challenge, so he asked if anybody wanted to get together for a Memorial Day fly-in.  I drove up with Andreas and Charlie Burtoff; there were about 15-20(?) people all together, although I didn't actually count.

Here's a shakycam of Andreas flying the Zii, a hex, some of the flyers, and Andreas with his fine-looking FPV mask.