USE YOUR BRAIN! Mind-Controlled Quad!
VOL 2, FALL 2014
WHAT’S INSIDE. PILOT REVIEWS
16 Sky-Hero Spyder 6/12 The 1000mm, 12 motor heavy-lift workhorse—by Erick Royer 28 DJI Innovations Phantom 2 Vision+ The ultimate aerial camera! —by Joe Cannavo
22 Zeiss Cinemizer OLED Virtual reality video glasses —by Erick Royer
12 How to Catch a Train —by Petr Hejl 32 View From Above Greenskies Solar Energy Company —by Joe Papa 40 Shooting the Red Bull Frozen Rush—by Petr Hejl
48 Inside UAV Direct and the Zero Tech Product Line —by Joe Papa
52 DYS Smart 3-axis GoPro Gimbal First Impressions —by Petr Hejl
28 36 Lumenier QAV250 Mini FPV Quadcopter 250mm of pure FPV fun! —by Erick Royer 44 DJI Innovations F550 Hexacopter DJI gives you an eye in the sky! —by Petr Hejl 64 Gaui 550H Hexacopter A solid aerial video platform —by Mat Maziarz
76 HobbyKing Alien 560 A foldable FPV frame —by Jon R. Barnes 82 Lynxmotion/Robotshop Crazy2Fly Quadcopter Aggressive looks with performance to match! —by Matt Maziarz
36 FIRST LOOK
58 JR XG14E Computer Tray Radio Perfect for Multirotors! —by Erick Royer 80 ReadyMadeRC Quick Start FPV Package 5.8GHz with CCD Everything you need for your FPV multirotor —by Joe Cannavo
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60 DJI Innovations Lightbridge —by Joe Papa
68 RC Technik Stick Switch for Futaba 14SG —by Erick Royer 70 HobbyKing Apache OSD System All the data you can possibly need for FPV —by Joe Cannavo
COLUMNS 8 Editorial
10 From the .com 26 Multirotor Tech A Mind-Controlled Quadcopter A UConn student brings Sci-Fi to reality —by Erick Royer
56 Visual Tech GoPro Frame Rates & Resolutiojns —by John Kopec 86 Multirotor Photography Taking better images with your camera & your copter —by Joe Papa 90 Return to Home BirdsEye View Aerobotics FireFLY6—by Jon R. Barnes
LIFT.OFF A view from above It is no surprise that the most common use for multirotors is for aerial photography and videography. There are so many machines on the market and more coming every day that are designed to specifically fill this need. The flight controllers have so many advanced features that even a novice pilot can be up and flying successfully in very short time. Hopefully the FAA will have its final guidelines in place so pilots know where they stand legally. Once this hurdle has been overcome, we will see the multirotor industry explode. I think about all of the amazing videos and photos that I have seen so far and I can only image what is in store. Our very own editors, Joe Papa and Petr Hejl, are both professional pilots and aerial videoographers. Petr’s articles on the “Red Bull Frozen Rush” and “To Catch A Train” feature some amazing photography with a view that you can only get from a multirotor. Joe recently shot promotional photography for GreenSkies Solar Energy Company and was able to stitch together an amazing shot from one of their solar farms in Connecticut. These are a few examples of some amazing things that we can see from above. If you have some epic photos or video that you shot from your multirotor, we would love to see it. Please email me at email@example.com and hopefully I can feature them on our website, Facebook page or in an upcoming issue of the magazine. THANK YOU FOR MAKING MULTIROTOR PILOT A SUCCESS I had a very good feeling that the industry would accept a magazine about multirotors with open arms, but I had no idea to what extent. Since the launch of the first issue, we have received emails, Facebook and website comments, and even phone calls from all over the world, excited about the magazine, wanting information on how to subscribe and offering suggestions and comments for future issues. I can’t express enough how touched and humbled we are to hear from you, our readers. As we assembled this issue, we pushed even harder to give you more content including reallife multirotor applications, reviews of the latest products, like the DJI Lightbridge and lots of tips, tricks and advice; so much so that we expanded the magazine by eight pages and still had tons of material left over that we published on our website (see the FROM THE .COM article in this issue). On behalf of our entire team at MultiRotor Pilot magazine, we thank you for all your support and we look forward to serving you in the future. Erick Royer, Executive Editor multirotorpilotmag.com Facebook.com/multirotorpilot
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MULTIROTOR PILOT VOLUME TWO 2014 EDITORIAL Editor-In-Chief GREG VOGEL Executive Editor ERICK ROYER Associate Editor MATT MAZIARZ Associate Editor TONY PHALEN Technical Editor & Test Pilot JOE PAPA Creative Editor & Test Pilot PETR HEJL Copy Editors SIRI WHEELER, JENNIFER RUSSELL Editorial Coordinator CINDI VANDEMARK
CONTRIBUTORS JON BARNES, JOE CANNAVO, PETR HEJL, MATT MAZIARZ, JOE PAPA
ART/DESIGN Design Director ALAN PALERMO Art Director VICTORIA HOWELL Corporate Photographer WALTER SIDAS Staff Illustrator DAVID BAKER Web Developer and Design TONY PHALEN Web Content Manager JEFFREY WARNER
MARKETING Consumer Marketing Director NED BIXLER Marketing Manager SIRI WHEELER Hobby Shop Manager WHIT CAMPBELL
ADVERTISING Advertising Sales Manager RICHARD HAUPTNER Account Executives LISA BLUMENSCHINE, GREG SMITH Advertising Coordinator CINDI VANDERMARK
PRODUCTION Production Manager BOBBI-JO BALDWICK
PUBLISHING Publisher SHARON WARNER Associate Publisher NED BIXLER Editor-in-Chief GREG VOGEL Executive Assistant to Publisher SIRI WHEELER
CORPORATE CEO SHARON WARNER President & Chief Financial Officer ELLEN BALL Corporate Editorial Content Director GREG VOGEL
Multirotor Pilot (ISSN 2334-0827) Copyright 2014, all rights reserved by Maplegate Media Group 42 Old Ridgebury Road Danbury, CT 06810, USA.
PRINTED IN THE USA
FROM THE .COM
ith so many multirotor kits, accessories and news popping up on a daily basis, we have more than enough
.TIPS & TRICKS
content to fill the magazine but we only have so many
pages to fill, so we filled our website with additional reviews, tips and tricks and bonus content. Please visit our website and “LIKE” our Facebook page at facebook.com/multirotorpilot.
.BONUS CONTENT Follow our blog about the Sky-Hero line of multirotors, including the Spyder 6/12 which is our cover machine and reviewed in detail in this issue.
Resident software and electronics extraordinaire, Joe Papa, gives the do-it-yourselfer a lesson in tuning the AlexMos gimbal boards to obtain the best results when constructing a custom gimbal for your aerial photo/video copter.
multirotorpilotmag.com/ alexmos Johnny Beavers sheds a little light on the safety concerns regarding multirotors and looks to dispel some of the myths concerning their use.
We take an in depth look at X-Aircraft’s new flight control system, the SuperX. Its simple design and ease of use coupled with the almost limitless capabilities are sure to make it highly sought after.
Mike Wright shows you how you can extend the flight time of your DJI Phantom with a few simple upgrades.
multirotorpilotmag.com/ phantom The new Quantum Q-2D 2-axis brushless gimbal for the GoPro camera caught our attention as came to market with a very attractive $99 price point.
Matt Maziarz reviews HobbyKing’s new Rotorbits quad and hex frames for the multirotor pilots on a budget. Less money doesn’t always mean a smaller machine!
multirotorpilotmag.com/ rotorbits 10 MULTIROTOR PILOT
CATCH A TRAIN Words and Photos by Petr Hejl
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If you’ve ever taken a ride on a historic or scenic railroad, you may have noticed the train enthusiasts snapping pictures of the train passing along the rail line. The introduction of multirotor copters has changed the hobby of trainspo ing forever by giving the photographers freedom to cover never before seen angles from viewpoints impossible to access otherwise. I love shooting trains, filming the steam engine with multirotors and seeing these two technologies from the opposite ends of the industrial revolution era together leaves one impressed about how much the technology has advanced over the last 200 years. When I started venturing out and flying in diﬀerent places to shoot videos, I had an opportunity to film trains in two wonderful places: The Valley Railroad Company in Essex, CT, and the New England Railroad Museum in Thomaston, CT. Both places maintain a few miles of railroad tracks and oﬀer historic train rides aboard nicely restored Pullman coaches pulled by historic steam and diesel trains. The Valley Railroad Company also combines the experience with a historic riverboat ride. Here are a few tips for your next train adventure. PLAN AHEAD
Find your local railroad museum website and check out their schedules and months of operation. Don’t forget to check their calendar of events; many of them run themed trips (holiday decorated trains) or occasionally bring out engines not usually operated on their tracks (Thomas the Train at Valley Railroad). Those occasions can add a li le “bonus” to your trip. I strongly recommend reaching out to the management of the railroad you’re trying to film, introducing yourself and some of your work (a short video reel and some experience make this much easier). You may be
MULTIROTOR PILOT VOLUME TWO 13
HOW TO CATCH A TRAIN risking being turned down (some folks still tend to be a bit wary about the “drones”), but they can be a great help with finding the right locations to shoot. Oﬀering them your pictures and footage may help them warm up to the idea and having a UAV operator liability insurance is a big plus. They can also put you in touch with one of their photographers (usually an enthusiast on their staﬀ) who can help you understand the light conditions in diﬀerent locations and times and time the train as it’s coming down the track. Knowing how many minutes it takes the train to reach each location is important with our limited ba ery life. There may also be some oﬀ-limits areas and rules. My experience with the railroad folks was great. They were really nice and accommodating, set me up with their photographers and even called me when the train left the station so that I was ready. I also recommend checking in if you’re operating in any managed parks. In one case I shot a train going on a face of a flood-control dam managed by the Army Corps of Engineers and was really happy I asked for permission. If you take the time to explain people who you are and what you do, you build a relationship and a good rapport and you’ll be welcomed back with open arms. SET UP LOCATIONS AND YOUR TRAVEL PLANS
Get familiar with the diﬀerent locations and their accessibility and if possible, find a fast way between them. Keep yourself mobile to move quickly between the locations. These train rides happen at fairly large intervals, and you don’t want to spend a few hours waiting for the next shot. The trains move rather slowly and with a li le bit of planning you can “beat” the train to the next location in your car, ge ing multiple flights and loca-
tions out of a single train pass. It is a good idea to get some shots of the station (there are usually more trains on display there). The best time to do so is early morning or late evening (depending on the light conditions), when there are no or very few people around. PRACTICE
Flying a location without the actual train helps you get familiar with the environment and figure out the right angles without having to worry about “missing the train.” Try following the tracks at diﬀerent angles and altitudes. The intelligent orientation control modes can be a big help when trying to follow a straight section, as they allow you to correct the pan without aﬀecting the heading of your copter. ACTION!
Keep your copter on the ground until you see the train coming. The train whistle carries over a long distance, and I’ve experienced up to a five minute interval between hearing
and seeing the train. If you have a plan as to what to shoot, there is no need to waste your ba ery life by just hovering in the air and waiting. You can also ask an engineer to give you a distinctive signal (say three short whistles) as he passes a predetermined location. The trains look be er slightly from the side, looking directly down at the roofs of the coaches is not terribly appealing. My first day of shooting trains has left me wishing I stayed a bit lower and to the side. I would not recommend getting directly in the train’s way or hover low right over the track as it passes. I was able to get some nice shots of the oncoming train by catching it at the station and then just flying my copter down the track towards the front of the engine, raising the copter up and tilting the camera down right in front of it. Even though the train is stationary, this gives a nice “motion” feel to the shot. DON’T FORGET TO SHARE
Share your pictures and videos with others. Find suitable music for your vid on an online freelance marketplace (audiojungle.net), find your best shots and keep your video length to 2-3 minutes. Don’t forget to share your work with the railroad company. They usually have a fan network online (Facebook, Twi er, their website) and will be happy to share it with their supporters and visitors. Keep in touch with the happenings at your favorite railroad by simply liking their Facebook page; their posts will alert you to any special events in the future. Filming historic trains with multirotors is fun and with a li le bit of preparation, you can get some pre y amazing footage. Please, fly responsibly and build a rapport at the locations you fly at by introducing yourself, your work and involving them in the planning process. = Please visit notadrone.com for more information on Petr Hejl and his work.
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PILOT REVIEW By Erick Royer
The 1000mm, 12 Motor Heavy-Lift Workhorse
I first saw the Sky-Hero line of multirotors at the Weak Signals Show in Toledo, Ohio, this past April. Up until that point I had only seen photos of them online. I was really drawn to the Spyder 6/12 that they had on display. It is a 1000mm hexacopter that can be set up with 6 or 12 motors. I was hard-pressed to find the electronics and wiring, as they were contained between the upper and lower frame halves with plastic side frames that keep everything out of view and give the machine a very clean look. I spoke with Allen, the owner of KDS Models USA, at great length about this machine as well as the rest of the line. He showed me some videos of the Spyder flying and I was very impressed with its design as it was MANUFACTURER: Sky-Hero very easy to maintain DISTRIBUTOR: KDS Models USA orientation in the air. He said that the machine TYPE: 1000mm Co-Axial Hexcopter could be set up with a FOR: Intermediate to advanced pilots lot of diﬀerent motor PRICE: $799.00 (airframe only), Sky-Hero and prop combinations Upgrade Combo 6 - $1250.00 (6 motors, to make it a practical 6 ESCs, 6 propellers, wire harness and a DJI solution for useful Wookong with GPS), Sky-Hero Upgrade Combo 4 - $550.00 (6 motors, 6 ESCs, payloads of 25 pounds or 6 propellers and wire harness) more; the perfect machine
» NEED TO KNOW
to lift a cinema-grade camera like the Red Epic with a gimbal. Add to this the fact that it can be easily folded without any tools, making it easy to transport. The Sky-Hero multirotors are extremely well constructed, using high-quality 2mm carbon fiber main frame plates and 30mm carbon fiber booms. The landing gear is made from 20mm carbon fiber booms. The injection-molded plastic parts for the motor mounts, frame spacers, landing gear mounts and landing gear bracket are very solid and durable. Until you hold them in your hands it is hard to describe how robust they really are. It would take an extremely hard impact to damage these components. The Spyder 6/12 is finished oﬀ with a beautiful, high-quality fiberglass canopy painted in olive drab, which you can paint any color you like. The plan for the Spyder 6/12 was to fly a DJI Zenmuse gimbal with the Canon 5D Mark III camera. The weight of the camera with the lens is just short of three pounds. Then you need to add weight of the gimbal and the minimum of two battery PHOTOS BY JOE PAPA
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SPECS WEIGHT: 13.5 lbs. (ready to fly, minus camera and gimbal with one 6S 5000mAh battery pack) DIAMETER: 1000mm RADIO SYSTEM: Flown with a Futaba 14SG and Futaba R7008SB receiver MOTORS: (12) Sky-Hero 470Kv 6S brushless outrunner (included in Combo 4 and 6 kits) ESCS: (12) Sky-Hero 40amp 6S (included in Combo 4 and 6 kits) PROPELLERS: (12) Sky-Hero 13x6.5 Carbon (included in Combo 4 and 6 kits) FLIGHT CONTROLLER: DJI Wookong with GPS (included in Combo 4 and 6 kits) BATTERY: (2) Agile Competition Grade 6S 5000mAh 50C LiPo FLIGHT TIME: 9-12 minutes (average)
FEATURES Robust frame with 2mm carbon fiber main plates and 30mm carbon booms. Very durable, injection-molded plastic motor mounts and landing gear mounts.
Flight controller mounting options include mounting between the main frames, thus protecting it from crashes.
Traditionally, large hex and octocopters are used for professional camera work because they have a high lifting capacity and large frames that can easily outfit all of the required electronics to get the job done. The Sky-Hero Spyder 6/12 is going to make a big impact on the professional aerial video market. It is strong, wellbuilt and the 12 motor configuration gives it excellent flight characteristics in the wind with the capacity to lift heavy loads. The design of the frame also makes it very easy to maintain orientation. The Spyder 6/12 also presents a very clean and professional looking layout that will surely impress your clients.
28mm to 36mm brushless motor mounting options; includes pancake motor mounts for high-capacity, lower Kv motors. 12 motor co-axial layout is perfect for stable flight on windy days and for heavy payloads. Easily-removable dampened camera/battery mounting plate that can accommodate a wide variety of gimbals and camera systems. Battery tray extends through the frame so one battery can be installed on top of the frame and one below (shorter canopy option required for top mount). Tool-less folding capability.
PROS Solid construction with high quality components packs to get the required flight time and you have about 10-14 pounds of payload. With close to $9,000 in camera/gimbal equipment in the air, a machine was needed that would be reliable, durable and powerful. The Spyder 6 with 12 motors gave us exactly what we needed.
Versatile design that can be adapted to your specific needs Flies great in the wind with the 12 motor configuration Very cool looking design that is easy to maintain orientation in flight
CONS WHY 12 MOTORS?
There is a lot of talk online about the advantages and disadvantages of coaxial multirotors. Many argue that just because you have two motors on each arm, it does not mean that you have twice the lifting capacity. This is very true. The design is not very eďŹƒcient and on average, you can gain about 25-35 percent more lifting capacity and still require the power to spin 12 props. So why use a 12 motor setup? The main reason is redundancy. Should you lose a motor in flight you still have the other
Instructions are difficult to understand (PDF only) Included power wire harnesses in the combo kits have too much wire. I suggest cutting and modifying them or adding a power distribution board MULTIROTOR PILOT VOLUME TWO 17
PILOT REVIEW I SKY-HERO SPYDER 6/12
IN THE AIR I setup the DJI Wookong flight controller as instructed for the Y6 configuration, which is fairly simple thanks to the intuitive Wookong Assistant software. I was not sure about the gain settings, so I started with the DJI recommendations and using a BTU Bluetooth unit, I was able to refine the settings in flight to get optimal performance. I also assigned the remote gains to one of the knobs on the front of my 14SG so I could adjust it while in flight based on the wind conditions and payload. When you first spool up this copter, it is quite impressive. The sound is amazing. I always take off in attitude mode, which I find lets the machine lift up much smoother. I started with a single 6S battery and no camera/ gimbal to see how it was going to respond. Honestly, it flew as well as I expected. It is very stable and predictable. It was breezy, but as I said earlier, the coaxial design really slices through the wind making it a non-issue. The machine is very powerful and is very much overkill for a sport flying multirotor, but since we were building this to carry a high-end camera system, it was time to land and attach the gimbal and 5D Mark III. We used a quick release system to attach the gimbal, which makes it easy for us to move it from one copter to another. With the gimbal on and an additional battery pack installed in the back, I spooled it up again. The added weight made it even less affected by the wind. I did make a minor adjustment to the gains, but as far as power and performance, it was rock solid. There was plenty of power in reserve. We did some test video shooting and were very happy with the results. Currently, Joe Papa flies this camera/gimbal with his octocopter so we were comparing the two machines side by side. They are both 1000mm. The Spyder was much less affected by the wind. The vertical performance was very good, but the octo’s was slightly greater, mainly because of eight motors all generating lift and running 16-inch props rather than the 13-inch ones on the Spyder. The only thing missing to make this the perfect high-end camera ship was retracts. The fixed landing gear that we customized to get the clearance for the gimbal worked well, but it prevented us from panning 360 degrees, which is the main advantage of the Zenmuse with a two operator setup. I am told Sky-Hero is working on a solution for this. In the meantime, we are looking for aftermarket retracts that will work.
motor on that arm to fly the machine safely back to the ground. The way we configured the machine also attributes to this redundancy; more on that shortly. The other reason to use a 12 motor setup is that the coaxial design makes the copter fly much better in higher winds. Just like a coaxial RC helicopter is perfect for beginners because of the inherent stability of the counter rotating blades, the same holds true for the multirotor with this setup. When you look at the prop surface area of a large 1000mm octocopter with 16 inch or larger props, there is a lot of disk area that can be aﬀected by the wind. With the 12 motor Spyder 6/12 we are using six sets of 13-inch props, giving us a much smaller disk area and the counter-rotating props slice though the wind much more eﬀectively. The downside of this configuration The motor mounts can accept a wide variety of motors is that you need to including popular pancake styles.
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The Spyder 6/12 folds easily without any tools using the machined thumb screws.
have enough battery to supply 12 motors; however, the lower motor gets a lot of help from the prop wash of the upper prop thus causing it to draw less current. The top motors do tend to run hotter in this setup because they are doing the majority of the work. The optimal setup would be to run larger props on the bottom, which I will eventually do and report on. Visit the blog at multirotorpilotmag.com/skyhero for more information on the setup and future enhancements and upgrades that I will incorporate into this machine. HOW IT’S CONFIGURED
For the initial review of the Spyder 6/12, I wanted to use the stock SkyHero motors, ESCs and propellers since they sell combo kits which come with everything you need including the power wiring harness. To configure this machine we used the Sky-Hero Combo 4 and Combo 6 kits. The Combo 6 kit comes with six 470Kv brushless outrunner motors, six 40amp ESCs, six carbon props, a power wire harness that is preterminated with bullet connectors and a DJI Wookong flight controller. To get the additional six motors the Combo 4 kit comes with everything as the Combo 6 minus the flight controller.
PILOT REVIEW I SKY-HERO SPYDER 6/12 Now that I had everything I needed to get this copter in the air, I needed to figure out how to wire it up. Thankfully Gryphon Dynamics has a very handy 12-motor setup guide that we will link to on our website at multirotorpilotmag.com/skyhero. The basic configuration is to set up your flight controller as HEXA Rotor Y in the DJI Wookong Assistant software. Each pair of arms will be connected together, so essentially the Wookong will think it is flying an Y6 configuration. The diagram below illustrates how I have the system set up.
Motor and wiring layout configuration. Illustration courtesy of Gryphon Dynamics (gryphondynamics.co.kr).
The one problem with this setup is that there are a lot of wires. Between the 12 sets of power wires, 12 ESC wires and six Y harnesses, it is a lot of work to keep everything neat. I decided not to use the entire supplied power harnesses and I opted to cut them and shorten them and solder all the power wires together and then to a pair of EC5 battery connectors and an additional power lead for the PMU and gimbal. This saved a lot of weight and about three feet of wire. I mounted the IMU on the top of the frame so it was away from the wiring so if I ever needed to get to it, I would not have to remove the 30+ screws that hold the top frame on. The lower battery plate has an extended platform that passes through the main frame and is completely dampened by rubber mounts. This is designed so you can put a battery on the top of the plate and a second one on the bottom. Doing this will require that you purchase an optional short canopy. Since I was running a lot of weight with the Zenmuse and 5D Mark III on the front of the copter, I ran the battery packs strapped under the rear of the machine to obtain proper balance. I love how the bottom battery/camera plate is easily removable from the machine without any tools. Just remove the knurled thumbscrews and it comes apart. It is also completely dampened via rubber isolators from the main copter frame, arms and motors which greatly aids in getting the best possible video quality. ASSEMBLY
If you spoke to me about assembly as I was putting it together for the first time, I would not have been too positive about it because the instructions, only available in PDF form, are not that great. It does have color photos, but the mentions of hardware and the order of assembly WE USED left me scratching my head for a while. TRANSMITTER: Futaba 14SG I turned to Google Images and found RECEIVER: Futaba R7008SB some assembled photos that other BATTERIES: (2) AGILE 6S owners posted and they helped me 5000mAh 50C LiPo determine which holes to use and gave 20 MULTIROTOR PILOT
me a better idea of which screws to use and where. While I am not going to rewrite the manual in this review, I will have some photos and notes that will help you when you assemble the model available on our Multirotor Pilot magazine website at multirotorpilotmag. com/skyhero. After figuring out which screws went where and the proper holes The Spyder 6/12 has a very clean installation with all of the in the frames to use, I wiring hidden between the top and bottom frame plates. am confident that I can Notice the secondary battery mount just forward the GPS get this machine from antenna where it says Sky-Hero. box to flight-ready in a couple of hours. To be clear, it is not hard to assemble as the fit of all the components is flawless, but the instructions make it a bit confusing. When you assemble the motors on the mounts, be sure to use the outermost holes of the motors and use a washer and thread lock on each screw. Since the ESCs install inside the tubes, the Y6 requires that you have two ESCs stacked on top of each other, but slightly oďŹ€set. This is probably the most diďŹƒcult part of the assembly. Thankfully Allen at KDS Models USA shot a very helpful video that explains the best way to get these ESCs installed in the boom. You can view that video at on our website too. If you follow his tips, the motor mounts and ESCs will slide right into position. There are a lot of screws that hold the top frame plate to the copter and if you choose to install your electronics inside the frame, please be sure to test everything prior to putting that top frame on. This includes testing the motors to ensure that everything is in the correct position. Be sure to mount the LED in a place where you can easily see it from the rear of the model and where you can easily get to the USB jack so you can setup and tune the flight controller with your computer. The stock landing gear gives you about six inches of clearance under the copter. Because we were installing the 5D Mark III and Zenmuse, we needed a lot more clearance, so we modified the existing gear and added some 20mm carbon tubes to give us longer legs. While they are not retractable, they worked great to test its ability to fly the camera/gimbal. We are trying to source retracts for this machine now and Sky-Hero is also working on a solution. THE LAST WORD
If you are in the market for a high-end camera multirotor platform that is not only well constructed, but looks very professional when you bring it on set, the Sky-Hero Spyder 6/12 is a winner. A setup with 12 motors gives you redundancy and exceptional flight characteristics when flying in the wind. With the Sky-Hero motors and props included in the Combo kits, you have enough capacity to lift payloads up to 18 pounds. The beauty of the Sky-Hero Spyder is that you have a lot of options for motors and plenty of room for larger props which gives you the ability to lift much heavier payloads. While this may be overkill as a GoPro ship, if you want to fly the 5D Mark III or high end movie cameras like the CONTACTS Red Epic, the Spyder FUTABA futaba-rc.com 6/12 has you covered. It KDS MODELS USA kdsmodelsusa.com is a workhorse that will SKY-HERO sky-hero.com impress. = For more information, please see our source guide on page 89
PRODUCT SPOTLIGHT by Erick Royer
Virtual reality video glasses In the world of FPV (First Person View) flying, image quality is everything. There is nothing worse than straining your eyes to make out objects and landscapes in your field of view. Poor quality video goggles can mean the diﬀerence between a fun flight and getting hung up in the trees. There are a lot of good quality goggles on the market, but I recently had the opportunity to get some FPV flying in with the Zeiss Cinemizer OLED video glasses and I was really blown away by how much of a diﬀerent experience it was compared to other goggles. First oﬀ, they are OLED which gives you super detailed and very bright video, even when using a small 480p standard definition video camera. The aspect ratio of the screen is 16x9, which replicates more of a movie theater experience. It took a li le ge ing used to, as most goggles are 4:3 or some-
thing close to that, but after a few flights I really liked the wider screen and the clarity is out of this world. The Cinemizer glasses are designed and sold more for personal video entertainment use than for FPV. They can be connected to an iPhone/iPad, smartphone with HDMI or analog A/V interface, gaming consoles, PCs and more. However it was discovered that they provide an FPV experience like no other. They come with a built-in rechargeable ba ery that gives up to six hours of use between charges; long enough to watch a couple of movies on a coast-to-coast flight and more than enough to enjoy a full day of FPV flying. The Cinemizers have an integrated diopter adjustment so eyeglass wearers can adjust them to their prescription, from -5 to +2 diopters in each eye via a se ing wheel. I found them to be very comfortable to wear for long durations. They
have a soft silicon nose pad and adjustable ear clips so they can be adapted easily to your head. The optional Eye shield allows the glasses to fit tight against your face, keeping out the light, which is a must for FPV flight. A tethered cable a aches to the control unit externally, which contains the audio/video controls and ba ery. This is a nice feature because it makes the glasses as light as possible. A pair of earbud headphones is incorporated into each side of the glasses and there is a handy integrated holder to store them when you are not using audio. This is a nice feature if you plan to use the Cinemizers for personal video, but they are not required for FPV. I first saw the Cinemizer glasses at the Weak Signals Toledo Show in Ohio this past April and one of the demos had the glasses connected to a 3D video camera, showing oﬀ their capability to support 3D video. This is something that I predict we will see more of in the world of FPV over the next year. There are a lot of companies working on 3D camera and video transmission solutions and eventually it will become a much more aﬀordable option. THE LAST WORD
The Zeiss Cinemizers are not the least expensive video goggle system on the mar22 MULTIROTOR PILOT
Cinemizer Glasses Nose pads, including two adjustable elements Two 2.5mm headphones HDMI adapter HDMI to mini-HDMI adapter cable USB cable AV video cable (3.5mm) Travel case User manual
OPTIONAL ACCESSORIES Head Tracker (motion sensor) Eye shield Adapter kit for the iPod and iPhone
IN THE AIR My test machine consisted of a Hextreme hexcopter outfitted with a GoPro Hero 3+ Black Edition that is mounted on a 2-axis gimbal. I am feeding the GoPro video signal to an Immersion RC 600mW video transmitter. I have an Immersion RC receiver with a Spironet antenna that feeds into the Cinemizer. The video quality was nothing short of amazing; very clear and bright. The one thing that I had to get used to was that the video screen seemed a little farther away than I am accustomed to. The best way to describe it is that if you are used to watching a movie at a theater from the first row, the Cinemizers give you the feeling that you are 10 rows back. This is quickly overcome once you immerse yourself into the FPV experience, especially with how clear and bright the video is. The optional Eye shield is a must for FPV use as it keeps the light out, allowing your eyes to adjust fully to the video screen. I always suggest sitting down when flying FPV and if you feel yourself getting motion sickness, place your chin to your chest as this helps to stabilize yourself; at least it does for me. I have a place that I fly FPV a lot and it consists of flying down a wooded path which can be tight in several places. I quickly noticed that I did not have any depth of field issues with these glasses. The experience was as if I was onboard the copter. Some systems that I have used in the past had very poor depth of field, making it difficult to tell how close you are to objects and to the ground. The experience with the Cinemizers is very life-like and I had no issues with determining distances. Another great use for the Cinemizer glasses is for the camera operator on a two-person aerial video/photo ship. Many times the camera operator uses an external monitor which works well, but in bright conditions or when getting the shot is ultracritical, the Cinemizers really allow the operator to immerse him/herself into exactly what is being shot.
ket, but when you consider that the quality is unlike any other system currently out there and combine that with the fact that they can easily double as a personal video system, they now become an excellent value.
Carl Zeiss is known for having the best optical lenses in the world and after several weeks of using with the Cinemizer glasses, I can see that the same quality has been put into these as well. =
DISPLAY: Two high-resolution OLED displays (Organic Light Emitting Diode) each with 870×500 pixels and a fill factor of 100 percent SIMULATED IMAGE SIZE: 40 inch (= 1 m) at a distance of 2 meters ASPECT RATIO: 16:9 COLOR DEPTH: 24 Bit RGB FOV (Field of View): 30° DIOPTER RANGE: -5 to +2 on each side INTERPUPILLARY DISTANCE: Between 59 and 60mm EXTERNAL CONNECTORS: Mini-USB to charge the integrated battery and a 3.5 mm audio port for external stereo headphones LIGHT SOURCE: Class 1 LED BATTERY/POWER SUPPLY: Rechargeable lithium-ion battery (Charge via USB) VOLTAGE: 5V POWER SUPPLY: 450mAh BATTERY LIFE: Up to six hours for iPod/iPhone and AV-In and up to 2.5 hours for HDMI CHARGING TIME: Approx. 2.5 hours WEIGHT AND SIZE: Battery unit: 60g, HDMI adapter: 30g WEIGHT ON NOSE: Approx. 75g TOTAL WEIGHT OF THE VIDEO GLASSES: 120g
CONTENT FEED HDMI: 640x480p 60Hz, 720x576p 50Hz, 720x480p 60Hz, 1280x720p 50/60Hz, 1920x1080i 50/60Hz, 1920x1080p 50/60Hz, 1920x1080p 24Hz, HDMI 1.4 3D 1080p 24 Hz, HDMI 1.4 3D 720p 60Hz
iPod/iPhone: iPod and iPhone models with video capability via optional accessories
AV-In: 3.5 mm/4-pin connector for audio and video (PAL/NTSC)
CONTACTS TOTAL 3D SOLUTIONS total3Dsolutions.com/hobbyist.html ZEISS zeiss.com/cinemizer-oled/en_de/ home.html For more information, please see our source guide on page 89.
MULTIROTOR PILOT VOLUME TWO 23
MULTIROTOR TECH by Erick Royer
A UConn student brings Sci-Fi to Reality
A Mind-Controlled Quadcopter I recently attended the National Invention Convention at the University of Connecticut campus in Storrs, CT, to support my son who had an invention that was entered. While walking around looking at some of exhibits staﬀed by students at the university, I noticed a Parrot AR Drone sitting on the floor and a female student with a very sci-fi-looking gadget attached to her head. The first thing I thought was, “Could she be flying this with her mind?” So I introduced myself to her and her
MULTIROTOR PILOT: Ashley, can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself including your major, grade and personal interests that relate to this project? ASHLEY DUMAINE: I’m a rising junior and honors student in UConn’s Computer Science and Engineering program. Initially I entered UConn as a mechanical engineering major, but switched into CSE by February of my second semester. I’ve only been programming for 15 months and I had no experience prior to college. My interests include programming and working on tough projects, especially those that involve hardware such as circuits and microcontrollers. In this project, I used a Parrot AR Drone 2.0, which was my very first RC quadcopter. I did practice flying a 4-channel RC helicopter when this project was still in its infancy to get a feel for the controls. Ironically, I found flying the AR Drone with the EEG (electroencephalogram) easier than using a controller to fly the four-channel helicopter.
professor and both Ashley Dumaine and her professor, Jeﬀ Meunier, were very gracious with their time to answer my questions and give me a demo. As everyone cleared the way to give her some space and without the aid of any controller in her hands, she began to fly the AR Drone. I was certain that there was a controller of some sort in her pockets or perhaps they hired David Copperfield for the day to make this illusion happen; but she was, in fact, flying using this device on her head. It was very impressive and a little bewildering. After that demo it started to get very busy and I was not really prepared to do an interview, so I asked if I could email some questions to learn more about her invention and how it works.
MRP: What inspired you to do this project? AD: Most of this I can attribute to my advisor/independent study professor, Jeﬀ Meunier. When we were discussing independent study ideas, he sent me a link to an Emotiv EPOC EEG headset. I really liked the idea of developing a program to control devices with my mind. It sounded like something from science fiction and a good challenge for me to get working on my own. Initially we were going to use the EEG to control a motorized wheelchair, but I preferred to control something aerial since there are more axes of movement. I began my search for the perfect RC helicopter with stability and good battery life. Jeﬀ sent me a link to the AR Drone and I decided to spend the money on it. Given the end result, I’m very glad I did. MRP: What do you call this project? AD: The project has no oﬃcial name, but the title we chose for the independent study class is “Functional Programming and Microcontrollers.” However, the major final project for this independent study was a mind-controlled UAV that utilizes a Java program in order for intercommunication between the EEG headset and UAV. We usually just refer to this as the EEG-Drone project, but in public we try to call it a quadcopter or UAV instead of a drone. People tend not to like drones. MRP: Please explain in detail how it works. AD: First, I bought an Emotiv EEG and a Parrot AR Drone 2.0. The EEG has the ability to read electrical signals to sense your mood, facial expression and even conscious intent such as push, pull, left, right and even disappear, to name a few. It sends data to a USB dongle connected to a computer over Bluetooth. The AR Drone is a quadcopter that emits its own Wi-Fi that a user can connect to and control over the smartphone app called AR Free Flight rather than by using a remote control. PHOTOS BY ERICK ROYER
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I spent a couple months trying to figure out the best way to get the EEG headset to control the drone. I purchased the EEG and its software development kit in Linux, planning to have the whole project take place in Linux. However, the first issue was sending the brainwave data from the headset to a program that would be used to control the quadcopter. After some searching, I found a program called Mind Your OSCs, which can send the information from the headset in data packets to another program called Processing 2.0 that is meant for data processing. However, this would occur in Windows since Mind Your OSCs was not made to run in Linux and would not work successfully in Wine, a Windows emulator for Linux. Nevertheless, I attempted to use VirtualBox to run the programs in the guest OS Windows on the host OS Linux. However, this posed the new issue of sending the processed information back to Linux, which sockets could not easily accomplish. Instead, I tossed that idea aside and tried to find a new way. It struck me that since the software development kit of the EEG has a keystroke emulator called EmoKey, I could instead use these emulated keystrokes to control the drone over a KeyListener inside a Java program. After much more searching, I saw someone had found a way to use AT commands to control the AR Drone with keystrokes. This is done by connecting the computer to the drone’s Wi-Fi, running the Java program, and entering certain mapped keystrokes into the pop-up window. After altering the code to remap the keys and remove the use of the shift button, I then set up an EmoKey file to send the specific mapped keys based on certain cognitive and expressive triggers. Much to my surprise, this worked on the first try. By the beginning of April I had created a mind-controlled UAV. MRP: How can it be scaled or used in other applications? AD: We haven’t spent too much time thinking about where to take the project next, but we do have a few ideas. Jeﬀ has a plan to use an electric wheelchair as an autonomous or wirelessly controlled robot base. We thought we could use the wheelchair as a mobile takeoﬀ and landing platform for the UAV, which can also act as a charging base. As a senior honors student, I will need to develop a larger thesis, so I’m thinking about using the UAV’s built-in camera with MatLab’s
image processing libraries in order to do some obstacle avoidance, or maybe with Java to do some path planning. Another possibility could be to give it a bit of artificial intelligence: keeping the UAV in contact with a base station would allow the base station to do some heavy processing, allowing the UAV to have a bit more intelligence than if it were completely autonomous.
than your mind was possible. Then again, five years ago, I would not have imagined that we would be able to have GPS-enabled machines. This is very exciting as it oﬀers a glimpse into the future of the exciting and rapidly expanding world of multirotor flying machines. We wish Ashley the best of luck in her future career and we will be anxiously waiting to see her on the cover of Popular Science some day soon. =
THE LAST WORD
I want to personally thank Ashley and Jeﬀ for speaking with me and doing this interview. Up until I saw her demo at UConn, I never would have imagined that flying a quadcopter with nothing more
CONTACTS EMOTIV emotiv.com PARROT ardrone2.parrot.com UCONN uconn.edu For more information, please see our source guide on page 89.
MULTIROTOR PILOT VOLUME TWO 27
SPECS AIRCRAFT WEIGHT: 2.56 lbs DIAGONAL LENGTH: 350mm BATTERY: 5200mAh LiPo HOVER ACCURACY: Vertical: 0.8m; Horizontal: 2.5m MAX TILT ANGLE: 35 degrees MAX ASCENT/DESCENT SPEED: 6m/s MAX FLIGHT SPEED: 15m/s AVERAGE FLIGHT TIME: 25 minutes TRANSMITTER OPERATING FREQUENCY: 5.8GHZ TRANSMITTER EFFECTIVE DISTANCE: 300-500m BATTERIES: 4 “AA”
CAMERA CAMERA RESOLUTION: 14 megapixels SENSOR SIZE: 1/2.3 FOV: 110/85 degrees RESOLUTION: 4238 x 3288 HD RECORDING: 1080p30 WI-FI REPEATER DISTANCE: 500-700m GIMBAL CONTROL ACCURACY: +/- .03 deg. CONTROL RANGE: Pitch: -90 deg to 0 deg MAX ANGULAR SPEED: 90 deg/sec
RADIO SYSTEM TRANSMITTER OPERATING FREQUENCY: 5.8GHZ TRANSMITTER EFFECTIVE DISTANCE: 400-800m (open area) BATTERIES: 4 “AA” (included)
MULTIROTOR PILOT VOLUME TWO 29
PILOT REVIEW I DJI INNOVATIONS PHANTOM 2 VISION +
IN THE AIR Prior to flying the Vision+, you need to be aware of your surroundings. Pay close attention to things like trees, power lines and other people that might be in the area. When you power on the Phantom, you need to wait until the LED indicates that it has found GPS. Do not fly until this happens or you run the risk of the Return to Home feature not working properly. The switches on the front of the controller previously controlled the flight modes and intelligent orientation control on earlier Phantoms, but on the Vision+ they are used to enter the calibration mode and to tell the copter where the home position is. You can connect it to the Naza-M application software and enable those features if you like. On the subject of calibration, it is very important that you calibrate the compass on your first flight and I also suggest that you do it every time you fly in a new location. The instructions tell you how to do this step commonly known as the “Naza Dance.” While you do “fly” the Phantom 2 Vision+ in the air, I choose to refer to it as “moving” it around the sky since when you remove your hands from the controls, the copter will stay exactly where you left it and the Naza controller will work to maintain that position in space until you give it another command. So essentially, you are moving it around the sky as you shoot video. The
throttle stick is spring-loaded so it remains in the center when you let go of it. This is different from most controllers where the throttle is linear from low to high. You use this stick to change the altitude of the Phantom and when you release it, it will remain at that altitude without
color corrections. What really makes the camera amazing is that the integrated 3-axis gimbal provides precision stabilization of the roll, pan and tilt axes, giving you extremely stable, highquality video footage. Two-axis gimbals have been common for a while now, but The Phantom 2 Vision+ smartphone app allows you to conthe addition of the third pan axis adds trol all of the camera settings. a whole new level of improved video quality. As you yaw the copter, the third axis smoothes out your movements, is located in the center. Should you ever lose allowing you to create much more your bearings while flying you can simply use dramatic sweeping video. However, it the radar and fly the copter back to the center is important to note that this is not a full (home) position. You can also adjust the camera’s 360-degree pan. It is limited to about parameters from the app (white balance, ISO, 30 degrees in each direction. resolution, etc.). You can start and stop the video The integrated HD video camera provides stunning video quality at 1080p. One of my favorite features of the and even activate the shutter to take still photos. Phantom 2 Vision+ is the integrated FPV You can then wirelessly transfer the photos and (first person view). When you power up video from the copter to your phone for viewing your Phantom and turn on the Range or online use. If all that was not impressive Extender, your smartphone will see enough, one of my favorite features that I grew the Phantom as a Wi-Fi hotspot that to really like is the ability to control the tilt of you connect to. As you fly the copter, it the camera using the accelerometer on your wirelessly streams a live video feed via smartphone simply by tilting your phone. You 2.4GHz to your phone using the free DJI can also tilt it by moving a slider on the apps app. The Phantom also includes an OSD screen with your finger. I was not a fan of that (On Screen Display), which displays because I don’t like taking my fingers oﬀ the flight data on the app, allowing you to controls. Typically, the tilt function would be monitor battery life, your altitude, your assigned to a knob or slider on your transmitter airspeed and a new feature called Radar which you need to manipulate, but the Phantom The 3-axis gimbal gives you amazingly smooth video by stabilizing the image for pan, tilt and roll. Positioning. The Radar Positioning 2 Vision+ allows you to keep your hands on the feature displays a radar image on the controls and simply tilt the transmitter with the screen much like what an air traﬃc control oﬃcer would use. It phone attached to achieve the desired camera aim. displays the location of the copter in relation to the pilot, which The heart of the Vision+ is the Naza-M V2 flight controller with
30 MULTIROTOR PILOT
any further input from the pilot. So you can think of the throttle as the “altitude” control. Since the Phantom is so stable in flight, it allows you to get used to flying with a camera, especially the tilt control. You can use the left control stick to pan the copter and subsequently tilt the phone (or controller if the phone is attached) and you have full ability to keep your subject centered in the frame. It takes some getting used to, but once you do, you have a very powerful aerial video platform. I did test the return to home feature early on as it offers a level of confidence once you experience it working correctly. I flew the machine about 200 feet away and then turned off the transmitter. After about 10 seconds, the Phantom flew to about 60 feet altitude and began to fly back towards me. Once overhead, it proceeded to descend until it sat gently on the ground within a couple feet from where it took off. This is why it is so important to wait for the machine to find the satellites and its home position before you take off. While I love the FPV functionality and all the data and settings that the app offers, I do find it very hard to fly and frame shots on my iPhone 5. The screen is great for a smartphone but, in my opinion, it is too small for FPV flight. I did try to use my iPad with the app and while the image was bigger, it was simply too heavy and large to connect to the transmitter. Apple offers a Lightening digital AV adapter that you plug into the phone and it allows you to view your entire screen on an external monitor. This gives you the ability to view the video on a much larger screen, making the experience a good deal better and more useful.
GPS. The Naza-M is one of the most popular flight controllers on the market and it gives you amazing stability and performance with the added benefit of position hold and return to home capabilities. If you ever lose orientation you can simply power the transmitter oﬀ and the Above left: The self-tightening props deliver a ton of lift and are very quiet in the air. Above right: DJI’s new 5200mAh smart battery gives flight Phantom will return to times of up to 25 minutes. home and land within a few feet of where it took oﬀ. It will also return home if you fly out flights in restricted areas like airports, the No Fly Zones feature of range or if the battery on the transmitter fails. It is important will not allow the Phantom to take oﬀ if within these zones. Even to note that you do not need to be a seasoned RC pilot to have though we are limited to a 400 foot ceiling when we fly RC models, successful aerial photography flights with the Vision+ as the if you are in a runway approach zone, flying can be disastrous so Naza-M takes all of the hard work away from the pilot. All you this feature is not only innovative, but necessary; especially for need is a basic understanding of what the controls do, a bit of new pilots. patience and to be aware of your surroundings to enjoy safe and THE LAST WORD successful flights. The Phantom 2 Vision+ is an incredible machine that makes it The Phantom 2 Vision+ uses DJI’s Smart Battery system. The easy for you to successfully fly even if you are a novice pilot. The battery that comes with this Phantom is a 5200mAh lithium onboard camera and new 3-axis gimbal give you professional qualpolymer battery (LiPo) that gives the Phantom up to 25 minutes ity results. The Phantom is loaded with features including FPV and of flight time. The battery is called “smart” because it has builtOSD functionality. When you factor the cost to buy everything that in charge protection and maintenance reminders. The battery is is included in the turnkey Phantom 2 Vision+, it is not only a great self-locking so you can simply push the battery into the Phantom machine, but a very good value as well. = and when it clicks, it’s ready to go. Taking it out is just as easy. To power up the Phantom, you press a button on the outside, then press again to start and the same to turn oﬀ. The new battery saves you time and hassle. About the only downside to this new battery is that fact that they are expensive, costing $159 each. Another new feature on the Phantom 2 Vision+ is the No Fly Zones. In an eﬀort to increase flight safety and prevent accidental
CONTACTS DJI INNOVATIONS dji.com UAVDIRECT uavdirect.com For more information, please see our source guide on page 89.
MULTIROTOR PILOT VOLUME TWO 31
by Joe Papa Photos by Joe Papa
VIEW FROM ABOVE Greenskies Solar Energy Company I do have the best job in the world. Rarely do people say that these days. Multirotors have given me a lot of pleasure and relaxation. Join
32 MULTIROTOR PILOT
me for a day at the oﬃce as we travel to Waterford, CT, on a real location shoot. Greenskies is solar energy company that’s making a huge impact on our environment and our future.
Their solar panels generate megawa s of electricity silently and eﬃciently. With customers like Target and Wal-Mart using their products, its nice to know that solar energy is doing its part to save our beautiful planet. While their products often go completely unnoticed, my camera operator, John Kopec, and I traveled across the tri-state area over the span of two New England seasons to help Greenskies get the word out. On our final trip we headed to the holy grail of solar farms in Waterford, CT. Spanning what seems like a third of a mile, this solar farm feeds the grid and supplies the town with five megawa s of electrical power. Union Productions and Go-Media contacted us to bring the big boy out for some fun. Arriving with our 1000mm Carbon Core octocopter, we chose the Canon 5D Mark III and Z15 Zenmuse to capture some high resolution still images and 1080p video footage. With perfect weather conditions, bright cobalt blue skies and 75 degree temps, we arrived with our gear. Steve and Jason from Greenskies met us at the location and we
talked about the types of shots that they were looking for. After ge ing the feel for what we needed to accomplish, we chose a location on-site that would be out of the camera’s field of view and began to set up. Included in our truck was a bedslide–a tray the size of the bed that unlocks and moves outward to allow access to everything we need. Tucked in the back was the ultra-quiet yet powerful Honda E6500 inverter generator. Capable of providing us with nearly unlimited power during our excursions, it does so without dis-
turbing or being a distraction to others. When we arrived, all our flight packs were charged. This allowed us to unpack and get in the air in less than 20 minutes. Our shots began with a fast diagonal forward pass just 10 feet above the solar panels. To keep the speed consistent, I always fly in a itude mode. Since the field of solar panels was so expansive, I stood on the roof of the pickup truck’s cab. This allowed me to maintain line of sight visual contact with the octo at all times. While I piloted the copter,
John was at the controls of the Zenmuse. Our octocopter has retractable S800-style landing skids that, when retracted, allowed him to pan the Canon 5D Mark III in any direction while maintaining a view free from all obstructions. After reaching a point in the distance, we repeated the shot in reverse, changing angles and altitudes over a series of shots to provide the client with diverse options they may not have thought of. As the sun began to work its way toward the horizon, the quality of light became bu ery and absolutely exquisite. Known as the magic hour, it’s the opportunity to get the money shot, and we certainly weren’t going to let it go to waste. It was during this time we did some tracking shots of a company truck driving along the road. We came up with about 15 diﬀerent sequences and combined tracking shots with crossing movements and altitude changes. While we were up there, we did a quick series of high resolution images. If you look very closely on the far left you can see the white speck of the Dodge Ram pickup. At about 7pm we said our goodbyes and headed home to get some sunset photos of the Sky Hero coaxial hex for the next issue of MultiRotor Pilot magazine. Now that’s what I call a day at the oﬃce. Life is good! = CONTACT GREENSKIES greenskies.com For more information, please see our source guide on page 89.
MULTIROTOR PILOT VOLUME TWO 33
PILOT REVIEW by Erick Royer
250mm of pure FPV fun!
QAV250 Mini FPV Quadcopter
36 MULTIROTOR PILOT
SPECS AIRFRAME WEIGHT: 6 oz. READY TO FLY WEIGHT: 19.1 oz. LENGTH: 8.75 in. WIDTH: 8.2 in. HEIGHT: 2.75 in. BATTERY: Lumenier 1300mAh 3S 11.1V LiPo RADIO: FrSky Taranis X9D transmitter and a FrSky X8R receiver MOTORS: (4) Lumenier FXC1806 2300Kv brushless outrunners ESCS: (4) Lumenier 12 amp ESC with SimonK firmware PROPS: (4) Gemfan 5x3 FLIGHT CONTROLLER: OpenPilot CC3D NEED TO COMPLETE: Four 2206 20002300Kv motors, four ESCs, four 5x3 props, 1300mAh LiPo and flight controller
I am a huge fan of FPV flying and the virtual experience that it gives me. Seeing that I am a private pilot who does not fly full scale anymore, it is the closest thing I have to ge ing in the cockpit. I have a few machines that I fly FPV with but they are larger 450mm and up which is great when you are in a large open field, but they are not the best when flying in tighter spaces. When we received the Lumenier QAV250 FPV quad, I jumped at the chance to fly it. I have been reading a lot about these mini quads for FPV and have seen a lot of videos online; everyone raves at how much fun they are and now I have a chance to see for myself. The Lumenier QAV250 is made from very durable G10 material. The lower frame is all one piece and aluminum stand-oﬀs support the G10 upper deck. They include a power distribution board, which installs on the bo om of the main frame to supply power to the ESCs and FPV electronics. Two integrated LED strips (white and red) illuminate the front and back of the copter to aid in line-of-sight orientation. The rear of the frame holds the LiPo ba ery which is held in place with a Velcro strap, making it easy to change between flights. The front of the frame has plenty of room for a variety of FPV cameras. There are bumpers designed into the ends of the frame to protect the motors in the event of a crash. A carbon fiber version of the QAV250 will be available as well by the time you read this review. To power the quad, I installed four Lumenier FXC1806 2300Kv brushless outrunner motors with four Lumenier 12 amp ESCs with SimonK firmware. Using Gemfan 5x3 props, you will be more than impressed with how much power this machine has. I powered the motors with a Lumenier 1300mAh 3S LiPo which gave me flight times about between 6-8 minutes. The brain of the copter is the OpenPilot CC3D Flight Controller. There are stand-oﬀs in the middle of the frame specifically placed for this board. To control the Quad, I used a FrSky Taranis X9D transmi er and a FrSky X8R receiver. I
Thick and durable G10 main frame board. Bumpers on the end of the arms protect the motors during a crash. Integrated power distribution board for ESCs and FPV electronics. Two integrated LED strips (white and red) to aid in orientation. Easy LiPo access. Support for a variety of cameras. Integrated landing gear.
MULTIROTOR PILOT VOLUME TWO 37
PILOT REVIEW I LUMENIER QAV250 MINI FPV QUADCOPTER also have a professional travel case designed by GoProfessional Cases that is specifically water jet-cut for the QAV250 and sold by GetFPV.com. Assembly of the QAV250 is very straightforward and the manual that they provide online is outstanding. The entire copter can be built and ready for flight in less than two hours, and that takes into consideration that I have never used the OpenPilot board before so I had to learn how to set it up as well.
IN THE AIR For FPV, I installed a FatShark AĴitude SD V2 FPV goggle system, which came with a 250mW video transmiĴer and 600TVL tuned CMOS camera and the goggles have an integrated 5.8GHz receiver. To ensure that I had the best possible video quality, I installed FatShark SpiroNet circular polarized antennas on the goggles and transmiĴer. THE LAST WORD
If you love FPV as much as I do and have not experienced flying FPV with a mini quad, I strongly suggest that you check out the Lumenier QAV250. It is very well-built and with the recommended combination of power system and flight controller, it has amazing performance and is easy to fly. Combine your 250 with an FPV system like the FatShark AĴitude SD V2 or for an even more breathtaking experience, try using the Zeiss Cinemizer glasses reviewed in this issue. Even if you don’t want to fly FPV, the QAV250 is a great flying mini quad that will handle well with wind. It fits easily in your car so you can fly whenever you get the urge. GetFPV.com is the supplier of the Lumenier product line in the U.S. and after working closely with them over the past month, I can tell you that they are very knowledgeable and their website has just about anything that you can imagine for multirotors and FPV flying. Be sure to check them out if you are in the market for any FPV equipment. = CONTACT GETFPV.COM getfpv.com For more information, please see our source guide on page 89. 38 MULTIROTOR PILOT
When I got to the field I was not sure what to expect from this little quad. It was a breezy day and I assumed that it would be a bit of a handful in the air. My first flight was line-of-sight, and with a freshly charged battery and quite a bit of expo programmed in the transmitter, I was ready to go. As I gave it throttle, this little monster bolted into the air. I totally was not expecting it to have that much power…a pleasant surprise. Once I got a feel for the throttle sensitivity, I brought it back within eight feet of the ground to get a feel for its stability in a hover. Mind you, we had a steady 10 mph breeze with gusts up to 18 mph. This OpenPilot flight controller is not GPS enabled, but when I put the QAV250 in a hover, it felt very locked in and was surprisingly unaffected by the wind. Minor corrections were needed to keep it in one place, but it was nowhere near as much as I expected. Satisfied with its stability and hovering ability, I flew some circuits around the field for a while. It tracks very well and at times I almost forgot it was a quad and not an airplane. My buddies were egging me on to open it up to see how fast it would go, and I am not one to back away from peer pressure, so I boosted the throttle and the QAV250 turned into a little rocket. It was amazing how fast this thing flies. After about nine minutes, the throttle seemed a little mushy, indicating that the battery was getting low, so I came back for a new battery. The next flight was full-on FPV with the FatShark Attitudes strapped to my head. The FatShark camera is one of my favorite FPV cams to date. It is very clear with a good color spectrum and I have no issues determining the depth of field when flying. Some cameras that I have used make you feel like you are much further from objects than you actually are. Since my plan was to fly this copter in some of the tighter places that I cannot fly my larger machines in, being comfortable with the camera was imperative. Sitting in a chair, I took off into a hover at about 15 feet to get acclimated. From that point on I became a huge fan of the Lumenier QAV250; so much so that it is my main FPV machine now. Many times, you read reviews with the author gushing over a product and you wonder how much of that is fluff. Well I am gushing over this and I can tell you that this little machine is a blast to fly and I have several buddies that will back me up on this after they had a spin. In fact, I felt like I was going to need to hire a security guard to keep my QAV from disappearing behind my back. Everyone wanted one. The owner of our local hobby shop, RC Hobbies and More in Winsted, CT, came out and everyone demanded that he carry these quads. I called Sean at GetFPV.com and handed him the phone and by the time you read this, they will be the proud dealer of the Lumenier FPV quads. Back to the FPV experience…since the copter is so small and the field of view on the camera is so good, I felt very comfortable flying in, around and through objects. The frame produces no Jell-O in the video, which left me with a very pleasurable experience. The controls were spot-on and in FPV mode, I was able to perform slow movements in tight quarters as well as high speed runs that were all effortless. I was very impressed with the OpenPilot flight controller. It did a great job at maintaining stability. On subsequent flights, I lowered the expo to make the controls a little hotter. After about six flights, the sun was going down and I had to call it quits, at least for FPV, as the camera does not work as well in low light conditions. So I switched back to line-of-sight and got a couple more flights in. The integrated LEDs made it very easy to maintain orientation as the sun went down.
Words and Photos by Petr Hejl
Shooting the Red Bull
FROZEN RUSH 40 MULTIROTOR PILOT
In the hobby of aerial videography, we spend countless hours learning, tuning, experimenting, building, rebuilding and upgrading. The reward for all our eﬀorts is the joy of ge ing our machines up in the air for those few precious minutes and the great feeling when we know we got the “money shot.” Being able to fly in so many diﬀerent places, getting to see them from perspectives not seen by many before and meeting all the great people I wouldn’t have met otherwise are my favorite parts of this hobby. My entrance into the RC hobby was through 1/10-scale short course truck racing and while most of my RC time is now spent up in the air, I still have a great aﬀection for oﬀ-road RC racing. When I got the opportunity to fly at the Red Bull Frozen Rush race, it was like dying and going to RC heaven. The Red Bull Frozen Rush was an event held at Sunday River Ski Resort in Newry, Maine. A ski slope was turned into a race track (figure 8 with jump
MULTIROTOR PILOT VOLUME TWO 41
SHOOTING THE RED BULL FROZEN RUSH crossing-over) and eight 900 horsepower Pro-4 4X4 trucks were equipped with studded tires (700 studs in each tire) to move up the ski slope at unbelievable speeds. This was the first time these trucks were being raced on the snow and it was promising to be a pre y epic event. I sent my video reel to the production company along with an oﬀer they could not refuse, oﬀering to trade them the footage for an opportunity to fly. I was not a commercial UAV operator anyway and really wanted to see and fly at a place like this. It was a pleasant surprise to get the call asking me if I was available to do this even though it was only three days before the event. After spending a couple of late nights ge ing my 550s and the rest of my gear ready (at the time, I had two DJI F550s with
2-axis gimbals), I set out for a short five hour drive up north. It may be diﬃcult to explain to my friends who are lucky enough to only tell it’s winter by looking at their calendar, but winter flying can be just as great of an experience as any other time of the year as long as the machine, pilot and the ba eries are properly “winterized.” I was “lucky” to catch seasonably warm temperatures around 15F (-10C) and just a slight breeze, so my controller mi , gel warmer packs, and battery “pouches” came really handy. After a morning call, I was assigned a location and area to fly, got my pass, radio, a fashionable reflective vest and my personal chauﬀeur - on a snowmobile. Here came a valuable lesson and the ride of my life. I did not have my equipment in Pelican cases yet (never really needed them before), so getting two copters, a ground station, ba eries and the generator halfway up the ski slope was quite an adventure. We loaded all my stuﬀ into the sled and I was holding the copters by the arms with my hands stretched to my side as we went up the slope. With nothing more than a quick prayer to hold onto, I kept myself entertained by the looks on the faces of the spectators as we went by. I set up on location about half way up the track and spent a couple of hours ge ing some b-roll shots of the mountains and ski slopes while waiting for the race. I was only allowed to fly over the top half of the track, far away from
the spectator area along the bo om part of the slope and was asked not to hover directly over the path of the trucks and to stay above tree tops. The race itself was an eliminationstyle two-lap timed run. The trucks were not starting at the same time (this would be simply too dangerous in this environment); there was about 20 second gap between them. When the race started, I learned another valuable lesson: always bring a back-up (two of everything). After I turned my copter on for the first run and even though it worked with no problems the entire morning, I had no video downlink (I later discovered my video transmi er must have figured this was the best time to quit working). Nothing was more liberating than grabbing my second machine and getting it up in the air just in time. I was having a bit of a hard time keeping my hands steady on the controls as these 900 horsepower monsters “flew” right by me with a deafening roar. The biggest challenge was ge ing the right angle as my perspective was quite a bit skewed by being on a steep slope. Looking up the slope meant the trucks went through the frame too quickly, looking down the slope made them seem too small. I think the best shots I was able to get were when I “parked it” to the side of the slope, looking at about 45 degrees to the right or left and by following the trucks up and down the slope (while still over the tree tops). The fun I had flying and watching the shots on my screen well- outweighed the wish that I had a bit more of a free hand. After the race I had an opportunity to visit the pits, check the trucks out up-close and meet some of the racers. The excitement from this great day helped me stay awake on my brisk five hour drive back home. I’ve flown countless hours in many diﬀerent places, but this lifetime experience still holds the number one spot on my list. = Please visit notadrone.com for information on Petr Hejl and his work.
42 MULTIROTOR PILOT
PILOT REVIEW by Petr Hejl
DJI gives you an eye in the sky! Multirotor RC aircraft are definitely a booming segment of the RC hobby market and it is amazing to see how many diﬀerent aircraft and accessory manufacturers have joined the multirotor “revolution.” The models available vary in size and purpose from small nano-sized quadcopters to huge, heavy-lift octocopters used to carry video or other equipment. This article is about the DJI F550 hexacopter from DJI Innovation’s Flamewheel series and its strength as a multi-purpose platform, from simple sport flying to FPV to aerial photography and videography.
Author’s Opinion The DJI F550 is a great machine for amateur and even professional aerial video enthusiasts. It is very durable and easy to assemble. The combo kit comes with the Naza-M V2 flight controller with GPS. This is one of the most widely supported multirotors online and there are tons of communities (Facebook, forums, YouTube and blogs) that are dedicated to supporting the F550. There are also a ton of aftermarket accessories that really allow you to expand the capabilities of what you can do with your F550. It is an excellent, versatile hexacopter for just about any light-duty application.
The 2912/92Kv motors coupled with the E300 15 amp ESCs provided by DJI in the combo kit offer a great balance of power, agility and long flight times.
DJI Innovations is one of the pioneers of the multirotor industry and their high-end flight control equipment and camera gimbals are considered to have set the industry standard. To give hobbyists a somewhat aﬀordable kit that is fairly easy to set up and modify for desired purposes, they introduced their Flamewheel series and Naza-M flight MANUFACTURER: DJI Innovations controllers in 2012. AVAILABLE FROM: RC MADNESS While the smaller F330 and F450 quadcopters TYPE: Hexacopter are fun fliers and can FOR: Intermediate to advanced pilots be used to carry a small MINIMUM FLYING AREA: Club field camera, the DJI F550 PRICE: $549.99 (Kit with ESCs, motors and Hexacopter deserves Naza-M V2 control system) consideration by anyone
» NEED TO KNOW
looking for a multirotor capable of carrying a GoPro in a gimbal. The F550 is a very popular platform amongst multirotor videography enthusiasts for a few good reasons: it is fairly aﬀordable (not cheap, but a good value for your money), it’s rather easy to assemble, made by an established manufacturer with a U.S. dealer network and great spare parts availability, it has many available upgrades and accessories as well as a ton of useful online resources (guides, forums, groups) that can support you when learning how to fly or troubleshooting problems. To name one, our DJI F550 Owners page on Facebook has now grown to 2,300+ members worldwide and has became the go-to place for advice and sharing experiences with others. THE KIT
Our kit was supplied to us by RC Madness located in Enfield, CT. They are a full-line hobby shop that specializes in the Flamewheel line from DJI. They have expert staﬀ that can customize these machines to work PHOTOS BY PETR HEJL, JOE PAPA AND WALTER SIDAS
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SPECS FRAME WEIGHT: 16.9 oz. FLYING WEIGHT: 2.6 – 5.3 lbs. (depending on options and batteries) FRAME SIZE: 550mm PROPELLERS: Three 9x4 CW, three 9x4 CCW (self-tightening, include with combo kit) RADIO: Futaba 14SG with Futaba R7008SB receiver POWER SYSTEM: (6) DJI 2212/920Kv brushless motors, (6) DJI E300 15 amp Opto ESCs (included in combo kit) FLIGHT CONTROLLER: DJI Naza-M V2 with GPS (included with combo kit) BATTERY: MaxAmps 5450mAh 14.8v 120C 4S LiPo NEEDED TO COMPLETE: Minimum six-channel radio system, 4S LiPo battery
PROS Frame arms use PA66+30GF ultra-strength material design providing optimal
The arms of the F550 key into the main frame plates to ease in the assembly process as well as to provide un-matched durability during hard landings or unforeseen crashes.
crashworthiness Integrated compound PCB frame board makes wiring the ESC, battery and accessories safe and easy The optimized frame design provides lots of assembly space for the flight controller and related accessories The included Naza-M V2 flight controller provides lots of functionality including full GPS flight assistance and return-to-home failsafe
CONS The stock landing gear is short, which requires that you buy an aftermarket one if you intend to use a GoPro with a gimbal
IN THE AIR
There are a few laws in place that regulate the use of “UAVs.” They must be flown under 400 feet, away from the airports and heavily populated areas and kept in visual range. It is easy to follow these rules and still get great footage and have fun flying your F550. Lots of common sense and self-discipline need to be exercised to keep everyone safe. There are some state and local laws regulating the recreational use of these too, so please check what they are for your location. When you bring your copter places, you’ll meet many curious and even concerned folks with many questions. Be a good ambassador to our hobby and take some time to explain them what is it you’re using these for. People’s concerns are mostly coming from the “fear of the unknown” and a bad rap the “drones” get in media, so every opportunity to show and explain that not all of them are merciless killing and spying machines is good. The F550 in its stock configuration is relatively light (around two pounds) which is good and bad. The good is that you can see flight times exceeding 15 minutes (depending on the battery you use), but because of its light weight, it is more susceptible to being tossed around on windy
days. However, The Naza-M in GPS mode does an amazing job of keeping the copter in place without any input from you. The stock motor and props make the stock F550 fairly aggressive in the sky with plenty of power to climb and produce quick forward speeds. By adding a small camera and video goggles, like one of the Fatshark or Zeiss systems, the F550 can be an excellent FPV machine although many prefer tri or quadcopters for FPV use. Where the F550 really shines is when you add a gimbal and a GoPro (or similar) camera system, as well as a video transmitter with a monitor and receiver in a ground station. The F550 is small enough to maneuver into tight spaces to get those seemingly impossible shots from the air. Larger hex and octocopters can be too large for many applications. I own a pair of F550s that I used specifically for my aerial videography business, NotaDrone.com. To read about my system, including what gimbals I use, my video equipment, ground station and my landing gear, please visit mulitrotorpilotmag.com/notadrone, as there is simply too much to cover in this article. MULTIROTOR PILOT VOLUME TWO 45
PILOT REVIEW I DJI INNOVATIONS F550 HEXACOPTER
A shot of the F550 fully outfitted for video duties. Notice the LEDs on the arms to both aid in gaining orientation as well as allowing for night flight capabilities. The forward location of the GoPro camera mounted on the Tarot T2-D gimbal is offset by placing the flight battery in a more aft position. The Aero-X-Craft landing gear provide the needed clearance for the camera and gimbal.
for your specific application. I mention this because it is important to find a shop that can oﬀer this support. The F550 is not a hard machine to put together, but setting things up improperly can lead to frustration and it is always nice to be able to rely on a local source to help you when you need it. While the “ARF” kit gives you the frame (top plate, bottom plate with integrated power distribution board and six arms), six DJI 2212/920Kv brushless motors, six E300 15A OPTO ESCs and a set of self-tightening nine-inch props, it is pretty far from “ARF” and you still need a few more things before you can take to the sky. There is also a “crash kit” available which includes just the frame and arms for those unforeseen incidents. The bottom center plate serves as a power distribution board with soldering pads by each arm for the ESCs and a set for the battery power leads. The manual is available from DJI’s website. Some of the directions are still very crudely translated, but with a little patience, it’s very helpful. DJI also has some nice build videos to help you along. Their DJI Wiki website is a great knowledge-base full of good articles and answers. The DJI 2212/920Kv brushless motors are powerful enough to carry the weight of the F550 with the gimbal, GoPro and all other accessories. While they are not the fastest motors out there, they do not leave me wishing for more speed either (slow and smooth motion is desired for taking videos with a gimbal anyway). They work fine on 3S and 4S batteries; watch the temps with 4S in hot weather or after “spirited flights.” The motors can be upgraded to faster/heavier-load motors if your particular needs require them. If you decide to upgrade your motors, spend some time researching prop selection based on your motor choice and battery. If your setup requires 12 inch and larger props, you will need longer arms or arm extensions which are readily available online.
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DJI E300 15A OPTO ESCs are rated up to 4S and work well out of the box without any required initial setup. The standard location for the ESCs is under the arms. I strongly recommend putting some hot glue over the solder joints once you solder the ESCs and battery/PMU leads to the pads on the bottom plate. This helps protect the joints from vibration and solder pads from being pulled oﬀ in crashes. Use zip-ties to hold ESC and motor wires in place. Be cautious not to over-tighten the zip-ties as you don’t want them to cut into the wires. The most recent kits come with self-tightening nine-inch props which are smooth and flexible and are my props of choice with the stock motors. I also use Gemfan 1045 carbon-reinforced props which are much sturdier and feel more aggressive with less flex than the stock props. The props should be balanced to reduce vibration that shows as “Jell-O” in the GoPro images (unbalanced props are a number one reason for “Jell-O” eﬀect in the video caused by vibration). Due to its symmetric shape, it is a good idea to add LED lights along some arms to define the orientation of the hex a little better. Silicone-covered LED strips last longer than strips with LEDs exposed. FLIGHT CONTROLLER
The Naza-M V2 sits about in the middle of the flight controller price scale and it is a robust and reliable controller to complement the F550 hexacopter. It features three flight modes - manual, ATTI (altitude
The GPS module or “puck” for the Naza-M flight controller, outfitted with different colored strips of tape to depict magnetic north and true north directions, allowing for a straight and true flight path.
hold), and GPS (position hold). Its failsafe mode lands or returns the copter to the launch point if transmitter signal is lost. It also features two orientation control modes (home lock, course lock), low voltage protection (warning/auto-land), geo-fencing (altitude/distance limits) and gimbal control. While the Naza-M V2 is available without it, the GPS/compass module is a must to enjoy all of the Naza-M’s functionality. The Naza-M should be installed as close to the center of gravity as possible; the best location is in the center of the bottom plate to stay protected. There is a small arrow on the unit that must be pointed directly at the nose of the aircraft otherwise it will not fly straight. Naza-M assistant software is required for setup and can be downloaded from DJI’s website. It is available for both Windows and Mac platforms. It is helpful to download and open the assistant before building the F550, as it provides a lot of useful information about mounting locations and wiring. You can simply hover over diﬀerent sections under tabs with your mouse to reveal explanation and directions in the window to the left. iPhone users (no Android at the time) can enjoy the convenience of a mobile assistant app by using the optional Bluetooth module (BTU). The app is very handy when tuning the F550 in the field, even up in the air, making any adjustments a breeze without having to plug the unit into the computer. Please note that if you’re planning to use a Zenmuse gimbal, the communication hub (Can-Bus Hub) is also required to be able to plug both the Zenmuse and BTU in at the same time. Alternatively, you can unplug the Zenmuse for the times you need to use the BTU module and save yourself some money. Tarot T2-D gimbal works independently from main controller, leaving the Can-hub plug free for the Bluetooth module. The GPS/compass unit comes with a small mast and couple of 3M VHB dual-sided tape pads. Its usual mounting location is on the top plate and the distance of the GPS unit from the center of gravity (the main controller location) needs to be accurately entered in the “Mounting” section of the assistant app. The arrow on the GPS should be pointed at the nose of the aircraft, but its exact direction needs to be adjusted for magnetic declination (the angle between magnetic north and true north) in your particular area. The declination slightly changes with area and time and the compass adjustment is necessary for the aircraft to fly straight. Please see our article explaining magnetic declination and online tools and apps to help you in our areas by visiting multirotorpilotmag.com/declination. Turn the GPS (clockwise for positive, counterclockwise for negative) so that the arrow on the GPS points in the same direction as the magnetic north in the picture on your phone/computer. There are four tiny adhesive strips in the box that can be used to mark the true and magnetic north directions on the unit. Readjust for declination if you travel far away from your usual flying area. The GPS and gyro can be calibrated using the assistant software and it’s a good practice to occasionally check if the calibration is needed (the assistant app will tell you that). The compass is calibrated by a procedure referred to as a “Naza dance” and the instructions for this procedure can be found in the manual or the Naza-M iPhone app. For best performance, I strongly recommend doing the compass calibration procedure every time you move to a diﬀerent location. The main controller comes with separate power management unit (PMU), which provides power to the controller and also serves as a communication hub (the GPS and other accessories plug into it). The PMU is rated up to 6S, but the 15A DJI E300 ESCs are only rated up to 4S (which is plenty). The PMU power leads get soldered to the same pads as the battery power leads; I strongly recommend soldering another set of 14GA wires to the battery lead pads for your accessories (gimbal, video transmitter, LEDs, etc.). Install the PMU in between the center plates as far away from the controller as the two cables in
between them will allow. Plug the GPS and accessories into the PMU before taping it in place to make sure the plugs are still accessible in the location you chose. I taped my PMU to the underside of the top plate, close to the edge, so I can easily get to the plugs if needed. SETTING UP THE FLIGHT CONTROLLER
There are a few flight parameters that need to be setup in Naza-M V2. The gains are perhaps the most important to set up and the hardest to get right. The gains control the attitude of the aircraft–how quickly it reacts to the stick input (attitude gains) or how quickly it returns to level/ GPS position with no input to the sticks (basic gains). The gains setting depends on the battery/props/ motors used, wind conditions, weight of the aircraft and pilot’s preference. The basic gains can be set separately for pitch/roll/yaw/vertical direction, while the attitude gains have pitch and roll setting. A good starting point for a fully loaded (gear, gimbal, GoPro) F550 is 135 percent for pitch and roll, 120 percent for yaw, 145 percent for vertical basic gains and 120 percent for both pitch and roll attitude gains. If the basic gains are set too low, the aircraft will oscillate a few feet in corresponding direction and will have a hard time locking in the GPS location. Basic gains too high will cause it to oscillate quickly (shake) in corresponding direction. If the attitude gains are too high, the copter will react very aggressively to the stick input (not great for smooth videos). Attitude gains set too low will make it “lazy,” and less responsive. A good way to set the basic gains is to bring each of them to the point that the copter quickly oscillates, turn it down until the oscillation completely stops and then down another 10 percent. The attitude gains can be set up by observing the copter’s reaction to the pitch/roll stick input and adjusting the gains up or down to make it more/less responsive. The gains can be tuned using the Naza-M assistant app (it requires you to land and plug the Naza-M into the computer for every gain adjustment. Setting up the gains this way takes a painfully long time). They can also be tuned using the DJI BTU Bluetooth module and Naza-M iPhone app (with a little practice this can be done mid-air to instantly see the result of changes, speeding up the whole process). If you have an available knob or slider on your RC controller, it can be set up so that the gains can be adjusted by turning the knob (remote gain adjustment). The gains should first be set using the app to get them in the right proportion. Once you’re happy with the aircraft’s attitude, enable the remote gain adjustment with your settings being at the mid-point of the knob. Turning the knob up or down instantly adjusts the gains. This works great for fine adjustments (to compensate for wind and other conditions). While the gain values are set separately for each axis, they do aﬀect each other, and it takes a little patience to get them right. The reward for this patience is a nicely behaving and confidence-inspiring copter, with no unnecessary wobbles in the images or video captured. THE LAST WORD
The DJI F550 is a great machine for shooting amateur aerial video and lends itself to being possibly the coolest GoPro mount ever. With practice and a properly set up machine, you can shoot some really jaw-dropping videos and have tons of fun taking them too. The F550 is a very versatile machine and many people call it the “Swiss Army Knife” of multirotors. If you are graduating from a smaller multirotor and want to dabble in aerial video/photography but want the ability to customize your machine, then the DJI Flamewheel F550 is definitely worth the investment. = CONTACTS DJI INNOVATIONS DJI.com GOPRO gopro.com MAXAMPS maxamps.com NOTADRONE notadrone.com RC MADNESS rcmadness.com For more information, please see our source guide on page 89. MULTIROTOR PILOT VOLUME TWO 47
Steve Klindworth, CEO of UAV Direct.
UAV DIRECT by Joe Papa
Nothing in radio control history has changed business more than multirotors. While all the uses have yet to be fully realized, the benefits are nothing short of staggering. DJI has led the paradigm shift with their technological prowess, but Zero Tech has developed their own flight controller and incorporates features that may leave even DJI scrambling to catch up. To find out more about Zero Tech and the Gemini series of flight controllers, I traveled to UAV Direct in Liberty Hill, Texas. When I arrived, I spent some time getting to know the UAV Direct StaďŹ€, got a tour of the facility and had the pleasure of meeting Eric and Brooks, two of the industryâ€™s most knowledgeable and passionate UAV specialists. During the two days I was there, Eric and Brooks took countless tech support calls, han48 MULTIROTOR PILOT
and the Zero Tech product line
dled walk-in customers, did repairs and talked with me about their custom builds. So often, retailers in this industry have forgo en what service is and resort to voicemail or email for the majority of their correspondence and communication. UAV Direct customers get VIP treatment both on the phone and in person. INSIDE THE ZERO TECH GEMINI M The Zero Tech Gemini M has a few features that are not available from DJI. Aimed directly at the professional or serious enthusiast that wants the ultimate in peace of mind and reliability, the Gemini has the ability to automatically switch to a backup IMU, GPS or main controller in the event of a failure in flight. Included with the E1100 is a integrated safety parachute recovery system
Brooks performing a test flight with FLIR Infrared Camera designed for search and rescue. Paul from Minute Man Search and Rescue (shown on the center of the screen) used this to obtain footage of widespread fire damage that tragically destroyed a small neighborhood. The footage obtained with the Phantom was featured on local news.
PHOTOS BY JOE PAPA
Eric installing an interference board.
that is automatically deployed if the aĴitude of the copter exceeds 70 degrees of angle while simultaneously shuĴing down the motors. A channel on the radio can be used to arm and disarm the system as well as override it if the pilot desires. The parachute lid is controlled by a servo and deployed by a spring. Tethers to the airframe are tied to three of the copter’s arms. These features will likely be very aĴractive to both pilots and regulatory legislation. Another amazing feature included in the E1100 is a ground station Data Link, but while the DJI version requires a receiver on the ground, the Gemini uses a Wi-Fi transmiĴer to send the data directly to your smartphone or tablet. The transmiĴer creates its own Gemini network and instantly connected without exception each time I tried. All aspects of the configuration are made wirelessly via the tablet. Another feature DJI users have begged for is a way to monitor excessive vibration. Long considered the cause of unexplained crashes, the Gemini provides a vibration rating on a scale of 0-10. While hovering, the number never exceeded one, which indicated the airframe was not experiencing any type of issues, and I didn’t balance the props at all. The E1100 arrived mostly assembled and completely wired. Its carbon fiber arms fold down in a similar fashion to the S1000. The frame utilized is more rigid and robust than I expected it to be, despite having arms that are smaller in diameter.
UAV Direct’s Drone 101 training class.
INSTALLATION The Gemini controller was factory installed and the connections are very similar to DJI controllers. One cable connects the two controllers together for autopilot redundancy and every wire was labeled for simple identification. MULTIROTOR PILOT VOLUME TWO 49
INSIDE UAV DIRECT
The FLIR camera is installed on a gimbal on the DJI Phantom.
CONFIGURATION While the software interface isn’t as refined as others I’ve used, it isn’t terribly diﬃcult to decipher if you spend some time ge ing accustomed to it. The most diﬃcult aspect was determining the type of copter motor configuration to select. For example, there are two Octocopter motor setups. One is a cross Octo, and the other is an X Octo. They both sound the same and finding documentation to clarify which is a flat traditional Octo and which was the coaxial quad Octo was more diﬃcult than I care to admit. In the end, the X Octo was the flat one, which was counterintuitive to my DJI DNA. Compass calibration is also a bit more precise. Using the Android tablet software, you start
The Zero Tech Gemini M flight control system with redundant controllers.
50 MULTIROTOR PILOT
the calibration with a bu on and do the typical dance like you would expect. However, the copter must remain nearly perfectly level while rotating it. If you tilt it more than five degrees, an LED indicator will let you know you are messing it up. You have to dance with it for at least two turns for each step. Once the first step is complete, you touch the “calibrate vertical bu on” and tilt the nose down for two more precision turns. I don’t know about you, but I got dizzy just typing this. Because of the precision needed, it took Brooks and me about three a empts. When done correctly, the app will display two circles. If they overlap and are about the same size, you are good to go. PERFORMANCE Whenever I pilot a new controller for the first time, I always weigh down the landing gear with sandbags. I spool up the props with light thro le, and test the forward, back, right and left movements to ensure they all go in the direction intended. I give just enough stick movement to look for a hint of frame movement. With no issues apparent, I removed the sandbags and took oﬀ. It only took a moment to realize that this flight controller has a very unique feel. Its just so smooth and easy to control. The system exibits amazing stability and inspires the pilot with unrivaled confidence. It was an experi-
ence that left Brooks and me smiling from ear to ear. In comparison to the S1000, the E1100 was absolutely more enjoyable to fly. It was actually very relaxing to pilot this machine. THE FINAL WORD Before I caught my flight home, I was fortunate enough to spend the followng morning with the UAV Direct staﬀ, as they taught their weekly Drone 101 introductory training class. The class starts oﬀ in a large conference room where Eric used a white board and a DJI Phantom to cover the basics before moving outside for a demo. Both the S1000 and Phantom were demonstrated that morning. Overall, I couldn’t have had a more enjoyable experience during my stay. The UAV Direct staﬀ is very knowledgeable and devoted to a level of customer service that raises the bar to a new high. They believe that education and training are the keys to keeping this safe for everyone now and in the future. I don’t know if this is a Texas thing, or if it’s the Yerba Mate tea they all drink, but UAV Direct is a pre y special place. Check them out. You’ll be glad you did. = CONTACTS UAV DIRECT uavdirect.com For more information, please see our source guide on page 89.
PRODUCT SPOTLIGHT by Petr Hejl
Smart 3-axis GoPro Gimbal FIRST IMPRESSIONS DYS
Three-axis stabilization seems to be the flavor of this season. As I’m writing this, the online groups are lighting up with “test videos” of the newly arrived Zenmuse H3-3D and many are calling it a game changer. The H3-3D sure is a nice piece of equipment with great stabilization and straightforward installation (I’m hesitant to use the term “Plug & Play” when it comes to anything multirotor) which makes it a nice option for anyone looking for some silky smooth footage without much effort put into tuning. I often compare DJI to Apple. Their products are nicely designed and fairly easy to operate and install, however they usually come with limitations that leave one looking at some other, more “customizable” options. For Zenmuse, these limitations are the inability to control third axis (third axis is currently follow-only) and not-so-precise tilt control (absence of stick rate mode). While I was patiently waiting for my H3-3D
PHOTOS BY CHRISTIAN H. ROBISON
52 MULTIROTOR PILOT
to arrive, I came across the DYS Smart 3-axis gimbal and decided to give it a try. This gimbal is not plug & play and requires quite a bit of tuning and “tinkering” to take advantage of all it has to offer. I would definitely not recommend it to anyone just getting into the hobby or anyone without a good amount of patience, passion for building and the ability to invest a considerable amount of time into learning and tuning it. The DYS utilizes a BaseCam 8-bit 3-axis board which is programmed via USB cable with Basecam’s assistant app. This app allows many setting and adjustment possibilities and this process may seem quite daunting for novices. The ports on the control board allow a connection to the receiver and three channels can be used to control any of the axis or switch between operating profiles and various functions. I assigned my tilt and pan
PILOT REVIEW I DYS SMART 3-AXIS GOPRO GIMBAL control to the side levers on my Futaba 8FG and used one three-position switch to select operating profiles. I set one profile with motors off (great if I need to reset the gimbal or push buttons on the GoPro), one profile with third-axis follow-only and tilt controlled in stick rate mode and one with pan and tilt controlled in stick position mode. A buzzer can be connected to the board for the gimbal to give audible signals (low battery, profiles) and a small push-button can be added to switch between profiles and other user selectable options. It is possible to easily switch between single and two-operator setups. Encoder joysticks can be plugged in to give tilt/pan/roll control if the gimbal is used as a handheld. After close to 15 hours of tuning, wiring and six-point calibrations, I had the gimbal tuned to the point where I was reasonably happy with it. The gimbal is fairly well built, but they do seem to come from a few different “sources” and user experiences vary (beware that there are also some low-grade counterfeits on the market). The gimbal uses compression vibration dampeners between two nicely cut carbon fiber plates and features nice fit and finish on the arms. The wiring is pulled through the hollow shaft of the third axis motor, but the absence of the slip ring and the fact the GoPro video/power cable is not pulled through this ring means that the third axis is not quite a 360-degree free-spin. With a bit of a stretch, it may do one 360, but it won’t do two full rotations. A separate low-profile GoPro cable is needed to power the camera and transmit the video. I installed the gimbal on my DJI F550 with Aero-x-craft landing gear. I brought the gimbal forward and hung it as low as I could to get the gear and props out of the view. Flying with the third axis in follow mode is great as it smoothes out the side-to-side “wobbles,” but takes some getting used to when framing the shots because of the delay it causes to the pan motion. I am still learning how to account for this “delay” in different situations, as it actually makes it a bit more difficult to hold the shot when I need to follow a moving object while panning the copter around it. I discovered that the dampening blocks were a bit too soft, allowing gimbal to “float” a little too much, causing the image to shake. I used a set of dampeners from my old Tarot gimbal and that seems to
have corrected this issue. So far, I have about five hours of flight time with this gimbal and am very pleased with the results. The footage is very smooth and I’m able to do long, sweeping shots without annoying side-to side wobbles. My next project is fitting this gimbal on a Tarot T680 with retracts, so I can take even more advantage of its 3-axis control capabilities. The DYS Smart 3-axis gimbal is a well-priced option for advanced (and very patient) hobbyists or professionals who are looking for the ability to tune the gimbal to their liking or a two-operator control. If set up correctly, it will reward you with silky smooth footage that will make you forget about that “stabilization” check box in your editing software. I would like to thank my friend Mike Kraus for his guidance through the set-up process. = CONTACT HOBBYKING hobbyking.com NOTADRONE notadrone.com For more information, please see our source guide on page 89.
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VISUAL TECH by John Kopec
Frame Rates & Resolutions
Now that you are the proud owner of a new GoPro Hero3+ Black edition camera with fullycharged batteries and you just installed a lightning-fast microSD card, you can just point and shoot, right? Then you feel your confidence waning as you boot up the camera and a big question marked looms in your mind…huh? 1080p or 2.7k? NTSC or PAL? 48fps or 24fps? What do all these numbers mean? After all, you just want to shoot some video, right? Well, let’s take a brief look over all the settings, break it down, and learn which settings are better for your environment. 56 MULTIROTOR PILOT
As mentioned earlier, you are going to want to make sure you are using your GoPro Hero3+ with a fast microSD card. If you don’t have a fast enough card, a GoPro camera starts to reduce the bit rate (read: quality) to compensate for the lack of write speed and in some cases the camera won’t even record. GoPro recommends you use at least a Class 10 microSD card up to 64GB with their cameras. You should note that not all Class 10 cards have the same write speed and the Black edition needs a minimum write speed, so please refer to GoPro’s recommendation list on their website if you have that specific camera. Next to set up is your camera’s video broadcast standard: NTSC or PAL. While we don’t need to know all the nuts and bolts between the two standards, just know that NTSC is 30fps and PAL is 25fps. Here in the U.S. and in most of North America, we use the NTSC standard and almost everywhere else uses PAL. For a complete list of countries and which standards they use, a quick Google search can tell you more. Now to set our correct frame rate. As I just mentioned, here in the U.S. we use 30fps, or frames per second, as a standard for
our television broadcasting. But, to confuse you, there is actually another standard that the film/cinema industry uses: 24fps. Quick history lesson…it is commonly thought that 24 frames per second became the standard because it was least amount of frames to use, but still have the film look real and smooth, not choppy and uncomfortable to watch. As you might expect, shooting on film was (and still is) an expensive way to capture motion. When you think that some movies can take several hundreds of thousands of feet of film during production, even one frame per second can save a production lots of money. Thus, that’s how film standard of 24 frames per second, or 24p, as it is commonly called, was born. So what should you choose? It really is personal preference. Many untrained eyes can’t discern the diﬀerence, so it’s not a crucial decision either way. If you are on the fence, I’ll leave you with this. Besides adding a “cinematic feel” to your footage, shooting at 24 frames per second will result in smaller file sizes, leaving you with more room on your card. Because you are capturing six frames per second less then 30p, you are freed up by 20 percent, which leaves more room on the card for filming your next skydiving outing. You’ll also notice other frame rate options, such as 60p or 120p. These higher frame rates are great for recording an event that you know you’ll want to see in slow motion during playback. Essentially, the camera will record extra frames per second knowing that when you bring it back to your computer, you are going to stretch the video out back to 24p or 30p, whichever frame rate you’d like for your project. This way of shooting is commonly called “overcranking.” (By the way, this is a great word to throw around when talking frame rates to make you sound like you really know what you are doing.) If you don’t overcrank and you stretch regular 24p footage by double, you are going to get a “choppy” feel when you play it back. This is because each frame is told to play itself twice before going on to the next frame. You will get slower footage, but nothing that is pleasing to the eye or is comfortable to watch. If we overcrank to 60p, we now have the ability to smoothly slow down the footage 2.5 times (60/24=2.5), and if we overcrank even more to 120p, we can smoothly slow it even further to five times the original speed. (120/24=5) Once you have chosen the right frame rate, you’ll want to make a choice on your resolution. Currently, the GoPro Hero3+ Black edition can shoot over 10 types of resolution,
from 4k down to WVGA. “But John, I just want to shoot HD footage, is there a mode for that?” Well, let’s dive right in to better understand the diﬀerent options and see what each of them can do. Let’s start at the lowest resolution, WVGA. WVGA, which stands for Wide Video Graphics Array, has a resolution of 848 pixels wide by 480 pixels high with a ratio of 16x9, which is the most common aspect ratio today. Now if this were 1992, this would be fantastic, but unfortunately, it is 2014 and is no longer impressive. So why, might you ask, would this option be included in the camera? Well, because the camera’s computer doesn’t have to worry about recording all the other pixels on the sensor, it can take the resolution of 848x480 and overcrank the frame rates to 240p, or 10 times slower than 24p. While most of your projects won’t need this type of frame rate, it will come in handy if you want to capture, say, a hummingbird chilling out in your garden. Next up you have 720p, which has a pixel size of 1280x720, giving it an aspect ratio of 16x9. While technically considered HD, 720p in 2014 is thought to be not that impressive when capturing video. However, the same applies to 720p just as it does to WVGA; you can get higher frames rates, up to 120p. The most common resolution to film in currently would be in full HD, or 1080p. This is this resolution of Blu-ray discs and streaming video services such as Netflix. With a ratio of 16x9, you are getting a pixel size of 1920x1080. GoPro oﬀers a variation of the 1080p resolution with an aspect ration of 4:3 and pixel size of 1440. While this “square” aspect ratio was the standard for TV up through the 90s, it has fallen out of vogue now that “widescreen,” or 16x9 is able to be shot on cameras. Why would you want to shoot with this format? One reason would be if you wanted the ability to pick which portion of the frame you wanted to use, either the bottom, middle, or top, and crop the rest out to a 16x9 aspect ratio. For those that fly multirotors this might come in handy to crop out the sections of the video where you see your props poke in on the top of the frame. Going up in resolution, we next have 2.7K, which gives us a pixel size of 2704x1574 and aspect ratio of 16x9. When the GoPro Hero3 came out, it was considered a breakthrough that a camera of this size could shoot over
1080p, which for a while seemed like a glass ceiling for consumer and prosumer cameras. By shooting at a higher resolution, not only can we make out more detail in the image, but when downscaled, that is to say shooting in higher resolution but resizing for a smaller resolution, we have the added side eﬀect of a sharper image. Downscaling, even at the professional end, is popular. We can see it in Sony’s F65 camera, which has a very large 8k sensor, but downscales when recording to its memory cards to 4k. Just as with 1080p, GoPro oﬀers a variance to its 2.7k aspect ratio from 16x9 to 17x9. This is actually going the other way by recording a wider image than a taller one at the 4x3 aspect ratio. While not a “broadcast friendly” aspect ratio, 17x9 could be shot with the intention of cropping in post, or if you just wanted to have a wider video; it’s up you. The final option with the GoPro camera is to shoot at 4k, which seems too good to be true. And this is because it is. The one caveat of shooting in this mode is that you are limited to 15 frames a second, which as we discussed earlier, is less than ideal as it creates a choppy video and is unpleasant to the human eye. Because the processor has to record the whole 4k sensor, it just isn’t fast enough to do it at 24 times a second. So, while I never recommend shooting in this mode, at the very least it tells me that the camera is downsampling from 4k when shooting in the Ultra Wide mode, which has a positive eﬀect on the sharpness of the camera. So, now that you know the diﬀerences on frame rates and resolution, go out and start shooting! But don’t forget to check back next month, when I’ll go over some other
important settings in the camera, such as the diﬀerent white balance modes, field of views, and what the heck Protune is and why you would want to use it. Happy shooting! = CONTACTS GOPRO gopro.com For more information, please see our source guide on page 89.
MULTIROTOR PILOT VOLUME TWO 57
FIRST LOOK by Erick Royer
XG14E COMPUTER TRAY RADIO Perfect for Multirotors!
When I fly multirotors, especially when shooting aerial video, I always have my radio either on a tray or at the very least, a neck strap. I don’t like the weight of the radio on my hands because I like to have total motion on the sticks. I also fly multirotors with the “pinch” method, using my thumbs and index fingers. I find this diﬃcult with the shorter stock sticks on most radio systems. Even with them extended, it is often not enough. I recently acquired a JR XG14E computer radio system, which is popular in overseas and is not really sold here in the U.S. It is a tray style which is intended to be used with a neck strap. JR makes a few accessories that make this even transmi er even be er; the tray arms, palm rests and extended sticks with integrated switches. You can visit our bonus page online to see the installation process of these accessories at multirotorpilotmag.com/jrxg14e. The XG14E is a very light radio which is comfortable to wear. The extended sticks and palm rests make this radio a great solution for multirotor pilots who fly with their thumbs and index fingers. I love the extended sticks because you have more mechanical range of motion, which translates into much smoother control inputs, which translates to smoother video.When you couple the extended sticks with the aluminum to allow precision ball bearing-supported gimbals, you have one of the smoothest stick actions of any radio on the market. The transmi er itself oﬀers a full 14 linear channels with a variety of switches and sliders that you can configure to meet your needs. The menu system is easy to use and can be set up to meet the needs of any multirotor. JR uses a DMSS 2.4GHz FH-SS frequency-hopping spread spectrum band with a very high sampling rate providing you with unparalleled control feel. JR’s X.Bus system is not 58 MULTIROTOR PILOT
compatible with S.Bus, which is commonly used with popular flight controllers like the DJI line-up, so you need to wire it in the traditional method, using a wire for each channel from the receiver to the flight controller. This in no way aﬀects the flight performance; it is just another step that you would have to use with any non-S.Bus radio. JR also includes a custom carrying case for easy and safe transport. In the next issue of Multirotor Pilot magazine we will have a full review on the XG14E, along with setup and configuration se ings for various multirotor applications. For more information on the JR XG14E radio system please visit JRAmericas.com. = CONTACT JR jramericas.com For more information, please see our source guide on page 89.
PHOTOS BY JOE PAPA
by Joe Papa
LIGHTBRIDGE The DJI Lightbridge is perhaps the most highly anticipated and sought after product to be released in 2014. Analog video transmi ers and receivers provide reliable video links to our models, but the standard definition video quality can make it diďŹƒcult to clearly judge focus, determine distances, or even recognize familiar objects. While the technology to transmit video in HD has been available for some time, the range has been extremely limited, and well beyond the reach of most enthusiasts because of their cost. While the Lightbridge promises to sha er these barriers, its capabilities go well beyond HD video transmission. The most advanced on-screen display is also incorporated, so flight information and orientation are just a glance away. Lastly, the Lightbridge also takes the place of your traditional receiver that came with your radio. Sixteen channels are supported at this time, and both single and dual operators can share the channels equally. This allows a second person to control a gimbal. UNBOXING AND INSTALLATION The small box consists of dense molded foam to protect the ground unit and air unit 60 MULTIROTOR PILOT
devices. Both main components are made from billet aluminum, and are absolutely beautiful and extremely high quality. Also included are all the required cables, an aluminum mount to fasten the Lightbridge transceiver to your stick radio handle, and a jaw-style clip to hold a smartphone.
INSTALLATION Since the Lightbridge air transceiver is three devices in one, it really makes for a clean installation. You will no longer need your regular receiver, video transmi er or receiver, on-screen display, and all the associated cables. This makes it possible
The Futaba receiver gives you a good idea of the size of the Lightbridge module.
SPECS PERFORMANCE PARAMETERS TRANSMISSION DISTANCE (Outdoor and unobstructed): 1 mile EIRP: 100mW RECEIVER SENSITIVITY: -101dBm ±2dBm WORKING FREQUENCY: 2.4GHz AIR SYSTEM ANTENNAS GAIN: 2.0±0.7dBi@2450MHz GROUND SYSTEM ANTENNAS GAIN: 5.0±0.7dBi@2450MHz
to have all the benefits of the Lightbridge on copters with very limited space. I really appreciate neat installs, and with the Lightbridge, wiring is painless. Wiring for the new HD Zenmuse is the simplest of all. One connection goes to the gimbal and one to the flight controller X2 port. Standard definition gimbals and more ordinary installs only require a couple more connections, and up to two cameras can be connected simultaneously. The ground system has a lithium ion 4000mAh ba ery inside and is charged with the included power adapter. The LED lights on the unit indicate charge level and up to 4.5 hours of continuous use are possible before recharging. If you are se ing this up as a single operator, a short cable connects your transmi er to the ground system, and a micro USB cable goes to your Android device for video. A mini HDMI can be used for simultaneous video monitoring on a compatible device. While all installations are similar, there are a couple of issues I came across that are a bit of a disappointment. Zenmuse Z15 owners, including the Canon 5D Mark III, will find that the only connection from the GCU (gimbal control unit) are standard definition sources. The way around this is to run an HDMI cable directly from the Lightbridge air system to the camera. The limitation with this is that you no longer can pan the third axis continuously without strangling your expensive gimbal. The only HD-capable Zenmuse is the new Black Magic Pocket camera model. It passes HD video through the slip ring in the third axis, and on to the GCU. As a single operator, the Lightbridge supports 16 channels, and if you are flying the A2, you can map your channels for camera control directly through the A2 assistant software. Channels D1-D4 are assignable to control the gimbal functions. DUAL OPERATORS If you are planning on giving gimbal control
to a second remote, a spli er is included to allow you and your buddy to both connect to the ground system together. While some may find this to be limiting, the reality is that in most cases you will be standing next to your camera operator anyway, as communication between the camera operator and pilot are critical to successfully coordinated movements. It’s important to note that in a dual operator configuration, the 16 channels are divided equally between the two transmi ers. If you are flying the A2, you may be utilizing more than eight channels for various functions. If you do not want to give up that functionality, the solution is to put a traditional receiver back on the gimbal. This will also eliminate the spli er cable that formerly joined the two remotes. Creative enthusiasts have also implemented an alternate method to unlock more channels by using a Futaba S.Bus decoder. You’ll need to do a li le homework on that, but the forums do talk about this work-around. ON-SCREEN DISPLAY The Lightbridge will be a very easy transition for Phantom 2 Vision owners. The OSD is very similar to what you’ve already been using. I liked the OSD so much that I would say it’s worth half the investment alone. Vastly superior to DJI’s IOSD Mini and IOSD Mark II, the new interface is clean, clear and unclu ered. While the previous generation of OSDs can sometimes cause you to think about what you are reading, the Lightbridge is much more userfriendly and easy to understand. Seconds count when flying, and anything that helps prevent a crash is money well invested. My favorite feature is the radar blip in the lower left. Losing your orientation is a common cause for crashes and close calls, but with a quick glance, your orientation and location can be instantly determined. This feature is a perfect example of simplicity and brilliant engineering at its best. Across the top is Flight mode, intelligent orientation on/oﬀ,
PHYSICAL PARAMETERS DIMENSIONS (no antennas): Air System: 68x48x21mm; Ground System: 125x90x20mm WEIGHT (no antennas): Air System: 71g; Ground System: 295g HARDWARE FUNCTIONS SUPPORTED ANTENNA CONNECTOR: MMCX Male (air system), SMA Male (ground system) AIR SYSTEM OPERATING VOLTAGE: 3S-6S GROUND SYSTEM OPERATING VOLTAGE: 3S-6S AIR SYSTEM CURRENT DRAW: 700mA ±20mA(@12V) GROUND SYSTEM CURRENT DRAW: 600mA ±10mA(@12V) APPLICATION EQUIPMENT VIDEO INPUT FORMAT: AV: PAL25, NTSC30 HDMI: 720p50, 720p60, 1080i50, 1080i60, 1080p25, 1080p30, 1080p50, 1080p60 RECOMMENDED MOBILE DEVICES Samsung Galaxy Note3 QCOM, N9005, N9006 Samsung Galaxy Note3 Exynos, N900 Samsung Galaxy S4 Samsung Galaxy Mega Optimus G Pro LG Electronics G2 Sony Xperia Z (L36h) Sony Xperia Z Ultra (XL36h) SYSTEM REQUIREMENT OF MOBILE DEVICE Android system (version 4.1.2 or above) SUPPORTED HD DISPLAY DEVICE Konka 32-inch LED32M1200AF Konka 42-inch LED42M3820AF Konka 42-inch LED42X9600UF Skyworth 55E680E TCL L40F3309B TCL 4K*2K Smart 3D Cloud TV L5E5690A-3D Konka LED46F5580F LG 27EA33 Monitor 12-inch ORTECA Portable Monitor 7-inch FEELWORLD Portable Monitor 27-inch Samsung S27D360H Monitor
MULTIROTOR PILOT VOLUME TWO 61
PRODUCT SPOTLIGHT I DJI INNOVATIONS LIGHTBRIDGE resolution. You will be impressed, but your clients will be astonished and amazed. The Lightbridge could easily earn you business that would completely oﬀset its cost.
Power LED Indicators
ba ery voltage telemetry, signal strength and satellites. Across the bo om is altitude, distance and speed, as well as system preferences. While flying, if you decide you want to hide the on-screen display, a tap of the screen will make it disappear or reappear. The on-screen display is only available on the USB device. It did not appear on the HDMI output. VIDEO DISPLAY PERFORMANCE Since I pilot a huge array of airframes and cameras, the Lightbridge has to perform reliably every time I use it, and it needs to do it be er than the older components it replaced. Professionals will expect perfection, and any delay will especially be a problem for mission-critical scenarios. Cinematographers love to control focus, and a delay in the video transmission could cause them to adjust focus at the wrong time. For the rest of the world, a li le latency is no problem at all, and most of us wouldn’t even notice it. To give you a reference, the Futaba 14SG has less than 11 milliseconds of delay. This leads to a very connected feeling with your model. The Lightbridge claims to have a maximum of 170 milliseconds of latency. While that may sound like an eternity in comparison to the 14SG, it takes about 300 milliseconds to blink your eye. Latency of 500 milliseconds or longer will be very noticeable and could border on dangerous if moving fast or close to objects. The last
The Lightbridge camera captures an actual stopwatch. The difference in time between the two is the latency or lag. The lowest latency was measured when the HDMI output was connected to the high performance SmallHD monitor.
62 MULTIROTOR PILOT
Connections to the Futaba receiver, HDMI and USB video out.
thing you want is to crash and then watch it happen on the display like an NFL instant replay. We need latency to be minimal in all situations for the Lightbridge to be truly useful. To complicate ma ers further, the camera and display add their own latency to the mix. The total latency is a sum of all the devices in line, and not just from the Lightbridge alone. For this review I tried two USB Android devices and two HDMI monitors including a professional SmallHD DP6 display. The camera I used is a GoPro Hero3 Black edition. While I had other cameras I wanted to test, no other camera in my arsenal had a micro HDMI output. To use a USB smartphone as a display you will need to download the DJI Lightbridge app before proceeding. DJI claims the Lightbridge will work with Apple iOS devices, but no iOS devices are listed in the supported device list. The first device I connected was a Samsung Galaxy S3. While not on the list of supported devices, it did work. With the GoPro set to 720P at 60fps, the recommended configuration, I experienced significant lag due to the phone’s own limitations. To get a more precise measurement of latency, I placed a stopwatch in the camera’s field of view. By taking a photograph of both the stopwatch and the display, I could compare the time in each, subtract the diﬀerence, and calculate the delay. With the GoPro set to the recommended 1080p at 30fps, the latency with the Samsung Note 3 was about 310 milliseconds. The SmallHD DP6 monitor 30 percent faster and clocked in at 210ms. This was a noticeable diﬀerence and explains why DJI recommends using the best equipment possible to get the best experience. When moving my hand slowly in front of the camera, the movement was very close to being in sync, and certainly is more than adequate for any of our needs. Cameras like the new Black Magic are touted as having very li le latency, and could reduce latency even more. Since most multirotor movements are smooth and slow, the quartersecond delay is insignificant. Once I proved this to myself, I sat back and admired the HD
CONTROL Initially I was very apprehensive about le ing the Lightbridge control the copter. I originally installed it in my DJI FlameWheel 550, but quickly moved it into my Carbon Core Octocopter. To test the water, I even tried the Lightbridge as a video-only transmi er. I placed it right near my Futaba 7008SB 2.4GHz receiver, and had no issues whatsoever. In fact, the Zenmuse for the 5D Mark III was also being controlled by another 2.4GHz Futaba 8J, and even with both 2.4 radios transmi ing alongside the Lightbridge, we had no problems, interference or video issues. The signal quality and range of the Lightbridge easily outpaced the analog 5.8 gear we relied on since the beginning. While I was unable to get the OSD portion to work while connected this way, I was able to use the GoPro as my pilot cam, and loved the new sense of clarity. THINGS TO CONSIDER The Lightbridge is not completely smooth sailing. Sometimes it takes the right combination of powering up devices to get the video to display. Selecting the wrong camera resolution will also leave you pulling your hair out. SD video sources cannot be connected until after the Lightbridge is powered up, and a few times I had to disconnect the GoPro and reconnect to get the video to show up. The Note 3 must have debugging enabled, and certain video se ings are not compatible with dual monitor setups. Lastly, the Note wasn’t the easiest display to see in the bright sunlight, and rigging up a shade with Scotch tape wasn’t on my list of things to impress your friends and clients. THE LAST WORD While I haven’t even covered all the features built into the Lightbridge, I do hope to have given you a lot of the nuts and bolts you may need to know. I read hundreds of posts in the forums, and set out to cover as much info as I could. While it may not be perfect for everyone, its benefits far outweigh the temporary limitations. I am very confident in its performance, and commend DJI for the innovations that have truly changed what is possible. = CONTACTS DJI INNOVATIONS empirerc.com EMPIRE RC empirerc.com For more information, please see our source guide on page 89.
PILOT REVIEW by Matt Maziarz
A solid aerial video platform
64 MULTIROTOR PILOT
Author’s Opinion Gaui is reinventing their name in the multirotor world with a brand-new machine to appease their masses of loyal fans. The 540H fits nicely into the 500-class of hexacopters, but it offers up a robust frame and overall design with awesome electronics. Our test unit was a Super Combo kit that included the DJI Naza-M V2 flight control system. Such a potent combo in such a well-built machine is sure to perform well, but we’ll reserve judgment until the final flight is in.
» NEED TO KNOW MANUFACTURER: Gaui
FLYING WEIGHT: 1150g without battery, camera or gimbal DIAMETER: 540mm MAIN BLADES: 10 in. (3 CW and 3 CCW) RADIO: Spektrum DX9 RECEIVER: Spektrum AR7010 POWER SYSTEM: Six 960Kv brushless motors, six 18 amp ESCs BATTERY: 11.1V 5000mAh 70C LiPo
ESCs fit into the booms and the sandwich plate design makes for a nice, clean layout
Alloy construction not only looks great, but limits the overall cost of the machine
DJI Naza-M V2 included with the Super Combo we received for testing
Optional retractable landing gear for un-obstructed photo opportunities
TYPE: Hexacopter FOR: Intermediate to advanced pilots MINIMUM FLYING AREA: RC club field PRICE: $679.00 NEEDED TO COMPLETE: Minimum of six-channel transmitter and receiver, 11.1v 3S LiPo with charger. Camera and gimbal are optional.
If the stock dome canopy is used, the GPS compass must be placed on it, rather than the mast
Gaui is back in the multirotor game after a hiatus of a few years. If you remember back to the days of the Gaui 330x, you’ll realize that the manufacturer had actually been one of the few companies to produce such platforms in the early days. Well, they’re back in it with a new breed of machine and we got our hands on their new 540H hexcopter. I was pleasantly surprised by the inclusion of an actual printed manual that clearly documents each individual step all the way throughout the assembly process. A lost art in this day and age! MULTIROTOR PILOT VOLUME TWO 65
PILOT REVIEW I GAUI 540H HEXACOPTER
PRO TIPS • The manual instructs the builder to place the
top plate into the grommets once the electronics are installed onto it. DO NOT do this. Wait until all the wiring is installed, confirming that everything is plugged into the correct port and the system is ready to be programmed. Installing and removing of the top plate to adjust wiring will result in the need to fish the grommets out from in between the frames. • Mounting the LED module for the Naza sys-
tem on the underside of the machine and outfitting it with a larger lens is strongly recommended. It’ll be much easier to see during daylight flights when the sun is out. • Calibrate the GPS compass if you change
your flying location. Performing the “Naza Dance,” as illustrated in the DJI web manual, will ensure that the GPS parameters of the system are functioning properly.
All dressed up and ready to go, featuring a freshlypainted dome, retractable landing gear, a new Sony AS30V camera and a custom 3D printed gimbal to top it all off.
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IN THE AIR While there is a definite amount of uncertainty involved with every maiden flight, there is absolutely something comfortable about using a Naza system on a new craft. Once everything is programmed and checks out okay, you know you’re good to go. After doing the “Naza Dance” to calibrate the GPS compass and arming the motors, skywards she went. Easing back on the throttle at around thirty feet, the machine settled into a steady hover as the GPS lock took over for me. With little other than the camera mounted on the belly to gain orientation, I was hesitant to allow the machine to get too far from me, but I had programmed the IOC (intelligent orientation control) into the radio so it really wasn’t a worry. For future flights, I am planning on installing some LED strips on the underside of the booms, which will also give the machine night-flight capabilities. The 540H, while dead stable in the default gain settings, seemed a bit sluggish concerning control inputs. A quick twist of the knob on top of my DX9 served up higher rates, giving the machine a much more responsive feel. The vertical climb out is not as impressive as some other machines, but I had no doubts that the 540H would easily carry much more weight than what we already had packed into it. The 10 inch props offered a gently floating platform that would serve any aerial photography buff’s needs well. The real test of my mettle came when I wanted to try to employ all of the features of the Naza-M V2 control unit. I put the 540 at around two hundred yards out with one hundred feet of altitude and flipped the toggle into failsafe mode. Without so much as a stutter, the machine flew slowly back to where I had originated the flight from and lowered itself into a perfect landing. Toggling back into attitude flight mode, I was able to punch it back into the sky, all while the control system kept the machine perfectly level. The weight of the big battery coupled with the camera and gimbal below it showed no ill effects in the handling of the hexcopter. Carrying such a heavy payload, one might expect this size of machine to suffer from a bit of inertia when changing course, but again, the Naza system held everything perfectly level and only bowed to a couple stiff gusts of wind when at higher altitude. For low altitude video recording or FPV flight, the 540H outshines most other platforms out there and does it all for less money. The robust, yet simplistic design of the frames and arms are sure to stand up to a good deal of abuse should a crash occur. If all else fails, Gaui offers replacement parts that are priced just as low as the machine itself. While the Gaui 540H might not be as responsive, agile or flat out fast as some other machines out there, remember that aerial photography and videography are friend to none of those attributes. This hex is the perfect machine to get into aerial filming and is half the price of comparably-equipped rigs. Besides that, all of our test flights were conducted using an 11.1v 3S LiPo.
before to understand, as well as adding new features to their Naza Assistant programming tool. The software basically guides the user through each step of the procedure and offers helpful hints when needed, as well as a glossary of terms that might be unfamiliar to first-time users. THE LAST WORD
The main frame of the 540H features an upper deck that is damper-mounted and is large enough to fit the control board, receiver and PMU comfortably, while still looking fairly tidy.
The entire assembly process was easily completed in three to four hours, as the manual is very well laid out. The fit and finish of the parts are also on par with the usual high quality of the Gaui products. Whereas most quad and hexrotor designs have oodles of extra wires and connectors that need to be bundled and/or hidden, the design construction of the main frame on the 540H lends itself well to a nice and tidy build. If that wasn’t enough, they also include a flexible, white ABS dome canopy to conceal any dirty little secrets you might have hiding under the hood. The frame itself doesn’t offer much in the way of space to mount a gimbal, but both the stock landing gear and optional retracts allow plenty of room vertically to mount an adapter plate below the battery. The LiPo is fastened to the bottom using hook-and-loop material. Planning to use a gimbal on this machine, we simply removed the stock bottom plate and
traced it onto a piece of fiberglass which we then cut into a duplicate. Add a few stand-offs and some countersunk hardware and voilà… instant gimbal mounting plate. The folks at Sony were happy to send us one of their new Exmor R action cameras. To devise a gimbal for the Sony cam, we turned to Erick Royer, the corporate 3D printing guru. He quickly came up with a custom gimbal for the Sony camera that uses a Martinez board along with two brushless gimbal motors. After getting everything mounted per the online DJI manual, it was on to the programming aspect of the build. The one biggest fear newcomers might have regarding the use of multirotors lies within the electronics programming. Some manufacturers offer little to no help, or even manuals, for their flight control boards. But fear not novices, DJI has done an awesome job of making their new online resources even easier than A Martinez board and a couple of inexpensive brushless gimbal motors from HobbyKing, coupled with a 3D-printed, custom mount offer the Sony Action Cam a safe place to capture some great shots and video. Notice the sections of fuel line in between the battery mount and gimbal, strictly for vibration dampening.
The 500-class multirotors seem to be popping up in more and more places these days and while some are more popular than others, I am sure that the Gaui 540H Hexcopter is sure to develop a strong following. Nowhere else can one find such a quality machine with such quality components at such a rock bottom price. The assembly manual is awesome, the Naza-M V2 flight control system is awesome and the machine itself is awesome. The build is painless and is done in a very short amount of time. The flight characteristics are perfect for aerial photos, as well as for pilots who are looking to transition into larger machines after mastering smaller RTF multirotors. The gentle flight characteristics, as well as the capabilities of the Naza system, are sure to make this machine very popular in the multirotor area. = CONTACTS DJI-INNOVATIONS empirerc.com EMPIRE HOBBY empirerc.com IFTRON TECHNOLOGIES, INC. iftrontech.com GAUI empirerc.com THUNDER POWER thunderpowerrc.com SPEKTRUM spektrumrc.com SONY empirerc.com For more information, please see our source guide on page 89.
We Used TRANSMITTER Spektrum DX9 (SPMR9900)
RECEIVER Spektrum AR7010 (SPMAR7010
BATTERY Thunder Power 11.1v 5000mAh 3S LiPo (TP5000-3SPF70)
CAMERA Sony Exmor R Action Cam (HDRAS30VPK)
MULTIROTOR PILOT VOLUME ONE 67
PHOTOS BY WALTER SIDAS
PRODUCT SPOTLIGHT by Erick Royer
STICK SWITCH for Futaba 14SG
When I was at the Weak Signals show in Toledo, Ohio, this past April, I was visiting the Open Hobby booth, admiring a Graupner MC-20 transmitter that had taller gimbal sticks with a switch on one and a potentiometer on the other. I thought that they were a standard feature of the radio but after talking to them, I discovered that they were an aftermarket product by a German company called RC Technik. Flying multirotors, especially with a gimbal-controlled camera, you have two functions that are frequently used: flight modes and gimbal tilt control. Often, you assign a 3-position switch to the flight modes and use a slider or a dial to control the camera tilt. The problem is that you must remove a finger or two from the control sticks while flying to use these features. The RC Technik Stick Switches allow you to activate a 3-position switch on one (I use it on the left stick), and using the potentiometer on the 68 MULTIROTOR PILOT
right stick allows me to tilt the camera with the same two fingers that I use to fly my machine. Additionally, the sticks are much taller than the stock sticks, which makes controlling the multirotor much smoother for me. I noticed that they also had a stick set for the Futaba 14SG, which happens to be a radio that I use a lot for multirotor flying, so I got a set of sticks and installed them. I will say that this is NOT a simple task. You need to disassemble the radio and cut and solder wires, and this will void your factory warranty. If you do not have electronic soldering and metering skills then I suggest you summon a friend or even contact a repair center that might be willing to take on the task. The instructions that come with the sticks are more general in scope and are not specific to the 14SG. Because of that you will need to use a meter to determine the correct wires to connect inside the radio. Explaining this would take more room than I have available in this article, so I created a web
page that documents this to the best of my ability. You can visit multirotorpilotmag.com/ rctechnik for instructions on how I did it. The only downside to pu調ing these sticks on my 14SG is that the radio will not work for me for RC helicopter flying anymore, as I use my thumbs when I fly helis. I use the pinch method with my index finger and thumb for flying planes and multis. While this is not an easy mod, if you are a diehard multirotor and aerial photography pilot, I am positive you will find these sticks invaluable, as they greatly increased the smoothness of my flying and made things much more comfortable, especially when a higher level of flying precision is required. CONTACTS FUTABA futaba-rc.com RC TECHNIK rctechnik.de For more information, please see our source guide on page 89.
PRODUCT SPOTLIGHT by Joe Cannavo
Apache OSD System
All the data you can possibly need for FPV
Being a full-scale pilot, your gauges are an extension of your body. They tell you everything about your aircraft and if you fly in instrumentonly conditions (IFR), you need to rely on them 100 percent. Flying FPV, whether a multirotor or an airplane, is a lot of fun without an OSD, but adding an OSD to your system opens up a whole new FPV experience. When flying with just a camera and goggles (or a monitor), you have visual references and some relative idea of your altitude and speed and if you pay close attention you might be able to remember landmarks to help you determine where you are in the sky. Add an OSD to your model and now it is the equivalent of flying in a full-scale aircraft. You no longer need to guess. You will always know your altitude, air speed, attitude and battery status; information that is priceless. Even a basic OSD will give you this information. But, if you are like me, you are looking for more live data on your display and features like distance to home, battery current consumed and home direction are often times features that you wonder how you ever lived without. I got my hands on the Apache OSD from HobbyKing after doing some research looking for an OSD that gave me more data than some of the other more mainstream units on the market. I used my DJI Naza-M V2equipped Hextreme multirotor from Hobby Express as the test platform and here is what I found. INSTALLATION
When you open the container that the OSD comes in, you might be overwhelmed with all the wires, sensors and modules that it contains, but the system is actually very simple to set up. The main components are the main board, power module, GPS sensor, IR sensor, USB interface and a temperature sensor. The power module comes with pre-installed Deans-style connectors, which was good because that was what I used on my hex. I installed it close to the battery power connector with double-sided 70 MULTIROTOR PILOT
» NEED TO KNOW MANUFACTURER: AEO RC DISTRIBUTOR: HobbyKing TYPE: Modular On-Screen Display System FOR: Any multirotor/aircraft with FPV video and a separate video transmitter PRICE: $121.10 (International warehouse) SPECS WEIGHT: Main board: 17g Power module: 23g USB module: 10g GPS module: 14g DIMENSIONS: Main board: 60x18x34mm Power module: 57x13x31mm USB module: 45x9x16mm GPS module: 30x9x17mm CAMERA USED: GoPro Hero3 Black with Tarot video-out cable VIDEO TRANSMITTER USED: Immersion RC 600mW on 5.8GHz OSD DISPLAY FEATURES: Timer Date Temperature Power Battery Voltage Power Battery Current Power Battery Gauge Power Battery Consumed Energy GPS Status Position Coordinates Main Sea Level Altitude Compass Direction Heading Home Direction Relative Altitude Altitude Scale Climb Rate Maximum Altitude Reached Distance To Home Speed Scale Speed Reading Auxiliary Voltage Status Horizon Datum Flight Recorder Status
tape and a zip-tie. I placed the main board on the top frame plate where I would have easy access to route all the wires. The GPS sensor was placed on one of the rear arms, as far away from the power module as I could get it. The system comes with both a USB interface so you can configure it via a Windows-based computer and an IR interface and remote. When using the IR remote, a menu comes up on the video screen in place of the OSD data and you can easily manipulate the settings. I placed the IR sensor on one of the legs with no obstructions in its way. The OSD can also monitor temperature, which is a great feature with airplanes to measure ESC and motor temps, but with a multirotor this is not as important. So I mounted the sensor on the copter and it feeds back ambient air temperature. If you don’t require temperature measurement then you can simply not connect it to the main module, so that data and label will not show up on the screen. An auxiliary voltage monitor cable is also included so you can keep track of any other battery you might have on your aircraft, such as one to power the video system. Perhaps the most important cable to connect is for the video. This is also the one part where I had some trouble. The main board outputs 5V DC, which can be used to power your camera and video transmitter, so I connected everything the way the manual described. The yellow video wire connects in parallel to the video wire from the camera to the transmitter. When I first powered on the system, I had a working OSD, but there were terrible scan lines in the video. I thought that perhaps I had the system set for PAL rather than NTSC, but I checked and everything was set properly. The scan lines rendered the OSD useless because you could not make out what the camera was looking at. After an hour of trying various things and major troubleshooting, I discovered that if I powered the camera and video transmitter directly from the main battery rather than through the OSD, that the scan lines disappeared and I was left with crystal PHOTOS BY ERICK ROYER
PILOT REVIEW I HOBBYKING APACHE OSD SYSTEM
clear video and OSD reception. So apparently, the power is not perfectly clean as it comes out of the main controller. In my final installation, I omitted the power and audio wires from the video harness and just connected the yellow video signal wire and ground.
Above Left: The control unit is installed on the top of the Hextreme frame. Above: There is a large amount of flight data overlayed on the video screen.
Once everything GPS to initialize and locate was connected enough satellites. Once that is and tested, it was The GPS sensor is attached to one of the set and your flight controller time to access arms with double-sided tape and a zip tie. is ready, then you can take the controller’s flight. I used a GoPro Hero3 configuration Black for video and transmitting the video menu. I first connected to a laptop and then back to my ground station via a 5.8GHz used the IR remote as I wanted to be sure Immersion RC 600mW transmitter. The the information and settings were the same video quality was very good and I found for each, which they were. that the data was very easy to read. The manual for this OSD is very wellI am not going to lie, the OSD does put a written and illustrated so I will not go over lot of information on the screen and it can every section, however there are a few be overwhelming at first. I suggest that if items that you must set correctly. First, you you are using a GoPro, that you turn oﬀ need to make sure the basic information is the camera’s OSD as it will be much too correct. If you are in the US then you want confusing with overlaying data on your to make sure the video setting is set to NTSC monitor. It took me a couple flights to get and you can also set the unit measurements used to where everything was and begin to either metric or imperial. You also need to actually fly according to the data that to set the time zone, especially if you plan was being shown. As predicted, I really to use the integrated flight data recorder. found the home position, current consumed You can set up the system to show a horizon and distance from home measurements datum, center home indicator or simply invaluable, especially when I flew using display nothing in the center of the video video goggles. It was nice to know that I was screen. I like the center home location flying towards or away from myself and it for multirotors and horizon datum for allowed me to calculate how much time it airplanes. would take me to get back in the event my The most important settings that you battery got low. Many people I know use the need to make are the max and min voltage voltage indicator to determine how much settings so the warnings are indicated at flight time they have left. This is fine, but if the correct time. You also need to connect a voltage meter to your battery to determine the voltage oﬀset. To make sure you are properly measuring the current consumed, you need to connect an amperage meter in line with the battery and set the current oﬀset to match the meter’s reading. Beyond that you are ready to fly. FLIGHT TESTS
When you first power up the system, it takes anywhere from one to three minutes for the
72 MULTIROTOR PILOT
The Power Module has integrated Deans connectors to easily connect in series with the battery.
you fly many diﬀerent cell count batteries, you might not instantly remember your low cut-oﬀ voltages on the fly, especially while concentrating on flying. This is why I like the current consumed measurement. If I have a 5000mAh battery pack, I know that once I reach about 3500mAh consumed that I should head back home. The system has a flight data recorder which, as of this writing, I have not had any need to use. The main controller and instructions indicate other optional data modules that can be added in the future to further expand the capabilities of the OSD. THE LAST WORD
For around $120, the Apache OSD from HobbyKing delivers a lot of value, features and functionality. If you love data like I do then you will appreciate everything that it monitors and displays for you. Other than the problem with the scan lines, the installation was easy and the manual made the whole process a breeze. If you are currently flying FPV without an OSD, then you are missing out on a whole new flying experience. So if you are ready to add an OSD to your aircraft, give the Apache OSD a look. = CONTACTS GOPRO gopro.com HOBBY EXPRESS hobbyexpress.com HOBBYKING hobbyking.com IMMERSION RC immersionrc.com For more information, please see our source guide on page 89.
PILOT REVIEW Words and Photos by Jon R. Barnes
A foldable FPV frame HOBBYKING
ALIEN 560 HobbyKing has an impressive and ever-expanding selection of aﬀordably-priced multirotor components and I enjoy regularly poking around their website to see what is new and notable. I was barely able to resist their new Predator 650 folding
» NEED TO KNOW MANUFACTURER: HobbyKing DISTRIBUTOR: HobbyKing TYPE: Quadcopter FOR: Intermediate multirotor pilots MINIMUM FLYING AREA: Appropriate outdoor area PRICE: $73.04 (frame only)
76 MULTIROTOR PILOT
quad frame when it appeared, telling myself it was probably a little larger than what I should go for as my next build. I talked myself out of their Hercules 500 frame when it debuted, mainly because it was only incrementally larger than my current 450 sport quad. The sudden appearance of the Alien 560 folding frame kit totally caught me oﬀ guard and before I knew it, I had one on the way from the HobbyKing International warehouse. The Alien is a rectangular, stacked frame design that is constructed out of lightweight 3k carbon fiber and CNC-machined aluminum parts. The flat plate carbon sections are 1.25mm thick. The four motor arms are made out of 16mm diameter carbon tube and collapse in such a way that the entire frame becomes quite compact. Several smaller carbon plates attach to the top and bottom of the main frame and oﬀer up plenty of options for mounting one’s electronics and gear. A small
SPECS SPAN: 560mm FLYING WEIGHT: 4 lbs. 7 oz. FOLDED DIMENSIONS: 240x340x200mm MOTORS: Turnigy Multistar 2814-700 brushless outrunner (4) ESCS: Turnigy Plush 30A (4) PROPS: 12x4.5 RADIO: Futaba 14SG 2.4GHz, Futaba R7008SB S.Bus2 receiver, Futaba SBS-01G GPS telemetry sensor FLIGHT CONTROLLER: DJI Naza-M w/GPS BATTERY: FlightPower EONX 4S 14.8V 5000mAh 30C LiPo DURATION: 10-12 min
Authorâ€™s Opinion The Alien 560 is an affordably-priced, alternatively-styled foldable carbon frame that can be used as a solid and stable aerial media and/or FPV platform. Everybody likes longer flight durations and this multirotor can be set up to achieve 15+ minute flights. Being able to fold the four motor arms inward keeps this quad compact when not in flight. This makes the Alien easy to transport and store and also helps keep hangar rash to a minimum. The kit even includes an isolated, twin rail mount system that can readily accept a gimbal and action camera.
NEEDED TO COMPLETE/GEAR INCLUDED: Frame kit requires radio system, flight controller, four 2820-3110 brushless outrunner motors, four 30 amp speed controllers, 4S 3000-4000mAh LiPo battery, 11 to 12-inch props, and a power distribution system
FEATURES The larger 560mm span and ability to use 11 to 12-inch-diameter props make the Alien a notably stable aerial platform. There is plenty of clearance for suspending gimbals and/or other camera gear beneath the Alien. Flight durations of 12 to 16 minutes using the power systems components listed in this article. The unique styling and overall appearance of the Alien frame offers helpful in-flight orientation cues. The included hook style, twin rail mounting system makes attaching a camera gimbal quick and easy.
PROS elevated platform located at the aft end of the main deck serves as a GPS mount and also promises to enhance in-flight orientation. HobbyKing includes an adjustable twin tube hook/rail (10mm carbon tubes spaced 60mm apart on center) that can be mounted to the front of the Alien using the included rubber dampeners. This standard width mount can be used for attaching gimbal equipped cameras and other FPV gear. ASSEMBLY TIPS
HobbyKing provides very basic suggestions on what power system components can or should be used when outfitting the Alien, but to many multirotor pilots, half the fun is configuring their machine and with the tons of power system and prop choices out there, it is kind of an art. The assembly instructions written for this frame are a bit lacking. They fail to outline where the small upper and lower plates get mounted, but a few minutes spent studying the included photographs will sort it out for most. I was a little concerned that it would be confusing knowing which fasteners to use for each step, but all screws are packaged in small plastic bags and segregated with the particular components that they are intended to be used on. I do wish that HobbyKing would include a couple spares of each type of fastener in the kit. I did have one round metal landing gear spacer strip out. Sourcing this particular component locally can be a little diďŹƒcult. I finally remedied it by using a little epoxy to lock it firmly (and permanently) in place. By my own admission, I am borderline OCD when it comes to wiring my electronics. I spent several
The foldable arms help keep the Alien compact when not in flight The kit includes a twin rail hook system for mounting gimbal equipped camera A rear mounted, elevated platform for mounting a flight controller GPS is included
CONS The quality and quantity of the included fasteners could be improved The assembly instructions fail to cover certain parts of the build No spare frame parts are listed as being available
MULTIROTOR PILOT VOLUME TWO 77
PILOT REVIEW I HOBBYKING ALIEN 560
IN THE AIR My ultimate goal when purchasing the Alien was to use it as a first person view (FPV) aerial media platform. I find it especially valuable though to employ the KISS principle (keep it simple, stupid) when it comes to the first flights of a newly-built multirotor aircraft. Taking a new multirotor build and stuffing it to the gills with a full load of FPV camera gear, OSD and GoPro/gimbal assembly is almost always a recipe for being totally overwhelmed on the maiden flights. Add in the audible alarming capabilities inherent to the Futaba telemetry system and you can cause yourself to be confused beyond belief as you are confronted with a cacophony of beeps and alarms! I thus like to start with just the basic flight controller-equipped model and add additional components and audible alarms as I get the quad progressively dialed in. For my first flights I used a 4S 3000mAh LiPo. I flipped the mode switch to GPS, armed the motors and took a deep breath. As I eased the throttle above 50 percent, I was impressed with the Alien as it slowly rose into the air. The 12 inch props and 560mm span make this the largest quadcopter that I have flown to date; the stability as compared to smaller copters is instantly obvious and noteworthy. For the first flight, I kept the Alien in close and flew some easy circuits. I logged several more flights using this exact configuration and when I was completely comfortable with everything, I started adding a few programmed Futaba telemetry alarms. I set one alarm to alert me whenever the flight battery dropped below a safe voltage threshold. I also set up an alert to notify me any time I dropped below 25 feet of altitude. I then configured the 14SG to announce my altitude in spoken format every 20 seconds. I would, again, caution that it is probably best to start
hours laying out my speed controllers and power distribution wiring in order to try and keep the overall aesthetics neat and tidy. I opted to mount my ESCs on the main deck of the frame rather than on the landing gear plates, positioning them near the pivot points of the folding arms. It was necessary to solder motor extension wires and I used a large piece of heat shrink to protect the motor wiring where it enters the outer ends of the carbon arms. The mounting holes of the Multistar motors matched up to the Alien’s motor 78 MULTIROTOR PILOT
slowly when it comes to adding alarms, vibratory alerts and spoken annunciations, lest one become overwhelmed by the sheer abundance of alerts and alarms being presented. All of the telemetry data being received by the 14SG can also be viewed on the transmitter’s large LCD display. Like many multirotor pilots, I wanted to explore longer flight durations and so I shifted up to a 4S 3750mAh battery. The Alien really did not seem much affected by the slight increase in net weight. Vertical climb out, though not as spritely as a sport quad, was still good. With several dozen flights now logged, I went up to the largest pack that I intended to try in the Alien, a FlightPower 30C 4S 5000mAh LiPo. I was impressed to find that it only weighed about a half an ounce more than the 4S 3750 battery I was using. I also went ahead and added my FPV gear, an EZOSD and a GoPro Hero2 camera fixed directly to the twin rail mounts. To take full advantage of the Alien’s twin rail mounting system, I do plan to eventually switch to my Tarot gimbal-mounted GoPro Hero3 Black. The ready-to-fly weight of my Alien had now worked its way up to four pounds, seven ounces. I set my countdown timer to 12 minutes and sent the Alien up in its heaviest iteration yet. I included several good ascents and flew the Alien out to the limits of my visual acuity. Keeping a close eye on the reported voltage of my flight pack, I landed the Alien at the 12-minute mark. The charge cycle saw 3200mAh put back into the battery, which works out to around 266mAh used per minute. These calculations reveal that it should be easy to hit the 15 minute mark, provided that I stick to my somewhat reserved, aerial media collecting style of flying.
mounting holes perfectly. It is important to make sure that the four motors are oriented perfectly vertical when clamping the motor assemblies to the ends of the four arms. When mounting the Naza-M flight controller components, it is necessary to locate the main controller as outlined in the DJI instructions. It is important to mount the status LED so that it is visible in flight and the USB programming port so that it can be accessed after the frame is completely assembled in order to make any required programming changes. In hindsight, I would recommend mounting the gimbal
rail supports and all small flat carbon pieces to the two main frame pieces before assembling the top and bottom main frames together. It is possible to remove the top main frame piece in order to gain access to the innards of the Alien but doing so requires removing dozens of fasteners. USING FUTABA S.BUS2
Naza- M flight controllers possess the ability to communicate with PPM and S.Bus serial protocols (except for the NAZA Lite). Thanks to its implementation of the S.Bus/S.Bus2 protocols, the Futaba 14SG transmitter is a high-end, full-featured, telemetry-capable transmitter that allows you to tap into some of the more advanced capabilities of the Naza-M flight controllers. In addition to its ability to receive realtime data from a suite of S.Bus2 telemetry sensors, the 14SG can log flight data received from these sensors to an SD card for post flight analysis and trending. I could not get the DJI Naza-M Assistant software to recognize my transmitter until I upgraded the Assistant software to version 2.20. I then let the Assistant install the latest firmware in my flight controller. With that small hurdle cleared, the balance of the remaining programming continued with minimal setbacks. I set up the Futaba 14SG to use a three-way toggle switch to select between GPS, attitude, and manual modes. The switch immediately to the right of the mode switch was configured to activate the Failsafe function (return to home) feature of the Naza flight controller. I am not a huge fan of the various Intelligent Orientation Control (IOC) related options of this flight controller and thus left IOC disabled. Another nice feature of the Naza-M controller is that the gains can be configured to be remotely adjustable, even while in flight. I assigned this feature to a rotary knob on the 14SG. One of the benefits of using an S.Bus connection from the receiver to the flight controller is reduced wiring. I had one standard servo lead connection between my Naza-M flight controller and Futaba R7008SB receiver (connection is from the Naza X2 port to the S.Bus port on the R7008SB receiver). Another valuable benefit that the 14SG brings to the table is that it is capable of receiving flight data from a host of diﬀerent Futaba telemetry sensors. Though the GPS sensor is the costliest sensor of all, it oﬀers an amazing variety of useful in-flight information when used on a multirotor aircraft. This includes speed, altitude, variometer function, the distance that the aircraft is from the pilot and the GPS coordinates of the aircraft. The GPS sensor (and almost all of the Futaba telemetry sensors) plug into the S.Bus2 port. In addition to the GPS sensor, I used a special Futaba cable to connect the flight battery to the receiver. The Futaba R7008SB receiver is capable of monitoring and transmitting a voltage of up to 70 VDC back to the 14SG transmitter right out of the box. With the combination of these two sensors installed on my Alien, I have about 90 percent of the functionality of a full onscreen display (OSD) system. The missing ten percent of the formula is that I do not have any indication of the amount of current being used
by the Alien in flight, something that many OSDs do provide. The Futaba 14SG transmitter allows the user to configure an amazing diversity of alarms based on the received telemetry data. These alarms can be set to enunciate audibly or using vibratory alerts. The latest firmware for the 14SG even oﬀers spoken word enunciation. An internal speaker is not provided in this transmitter; an earphone must be used to hear many of the alerts and alarms. I sourced a small amplified speaker and mounted it to my radio tray in order to avoid having to use an earphone. THE LAST WORD
The HobbyKing Alien 560mm quadcopter frame is not designed as a heavy lift quad per se but, equipped with the Multistar 2814-700 brushless outrunners and 12 inch props, it is most capable of hauling a gimbal-mounted action camera and FPV setup aloft with power to spare. The FlightPower EONX 4S 14.8V 30C 5000mAh LiPo battery makes flight durations of 15+ minutes a safe and attainable proposition. The overall layout and design of this foldable carbon fiber frame is aesthetically refreshing and diﬀerent; its unique in-flight profile oﬀers the added benefit of enhanced and distinct orientation visuals. The Naza-M flight controller does a superb job of keeping this rig stable and smooth while in the air, making it a very nice aerial media platform indeed. As a technology nerd, I find that using the Futaba S.Bus/S.Bus2 systems and protocols as an interface to the NAZA M flight controller and as a means of receiving real-time in-flight telemetry data is downright slick. Though it cannot completely replace a standalone OSD system due to its lack of current sensing capabilities, it does present and log an amazing abundance of useful, critical flight data. The Futaba GPS telemetry sensor is quite small and utilizes but one simple connection, making it easy enough to share it between multiple multirotor aircraft should one need a little help in justifying its expense. The versatility available in the programmable alerts, alarms and audibles make the Futaba telemetry system eminently configurable for the needs of most pilots and their multirotor aircraft. HobbyKing has yet to list any spare parts for this frame online. Any crash damage to my Alien frame will consequently require the purchase of another entire frame set as the only current means to source replacement parts. The assembly instructions are painfully basic, although intermediate and advanced builders can probably build this frame CONTACTS DJI dji.com without much more than a quick glance at them. However, do not let these FLIGHTPOWER flightpowerbatteries.com minor issues scare you away from this frame. With a unique design, long flight FUTABA futaba-rc.com durations, foldable arms and an attractive HOBBYKING hobbyking. com price point well south of one hundred bucks, there are plenty of reasons to For more information, embrace this Alien! = please see our source guide on page 89. MULTIROTOR PILOT VOLUME TWO 79
FIRST LOOK by Joe Cannavo
Everything you need for your FPV multirotor
QUICK START FVP PACKAGE 5.8GHz with CCD When it comes to FPV, there are so many options and configurations between camera, monitors, video transmitters and frequencies that it can make your head spin. Thankfully, the folks at ReadyMadeRC have taken the guesswork out of FPV with the introduction of their Quick Start FPV Packages. Each affordable package is preconfigured based on items that they recommend to get you up and flying FPV fast; all you need to do is provide the airplane or multirotor. The Quick Start package includes: RMRC-420N NTSC CCD Camera with a built-in micro phone ImmersionRC 5.8GHz 600mW video transmitter ImmersionRC 5.8GHz Uno receiver Spironet Omni Circular Polarized Antenna set RMRC 7-inch monitor Lightweight tripod with carrying bag Hook and loop tape for attaching the receiver and battery to the monitor 1100mAh 3S LiPo battery and a charger Deans battery tap to power the transmitter and camera Mini camera cable When you receive your Quick Start FPV Package, all of the wires are terminated, so you simply need to setup the tripod, attach the monitor and then using the hook and loop tape, fasten your battery and receiver to the back of the monitor. Then you just need to install the camera and video transmitter into your airplane or multirotor and you are in business. The RMRC monitor comes with a sunshade to make it easier to see in the sunlight. I am a huge fan of this monitor. Compared to some other monitors I have used, the clarity and brightness of this unit is outstanding. 80 MULTIROTOR PILOT
If you are looking to fly FPV for fun from the cockpit of your model and prefer a monitor over video goggles or you are a remote camera operator looking for a nice setup to frame your shots, the ReadyMadeRC Quick Start FPV Package is the perfect choice. We will be using this system in several upcoming articles in future issues of Multirotor Pilot magazine so you will see much more about this RMRC system in the future. ITEM NUMBER: RMRC-QUICKSTART-5.8-CCD-NTSC PRICE: $359.99 For more information please visit readymaderc.com. =
MULTIROTOR PILOT VOLUME TWO 81
PILOT REVIEW Words by Matt Maziarz
Author’s Opinion While most multirotor manufacturers are busy focusing their design efforts into creating the latest camera rig for aerial videography or photography, Lynxmotion is still focused on the fun aspect of flying the machine. This sporty little quad is light and powerful as well as quite nimble and, given its use of the Flip 1.5 Multiwii based board, is tons of fun to fly. Axial and vertical rolls are only a part of this quad’s repertoire, as it is also capable of high speeds and vertical punch outs. Thankfully the builds are fairly quick with the Lynxmotion machines, because I couldn’t wait to fly this little beast!
Early 2012 was actually the time when the Crazy2Fly was dreamt up and subsequently released. It was produced to be durable, easy to assemble, agile on the sticks and extremely light to aid in its performance. Though it is capable of carrying a small camera (DialFonZo is currently developing camera plates specifically for this machine), the sole purpose of this diminutive quadcopter is to thrill the pilot with acrobatic skill akin to those found in 3D heli and airplane flying. It will not hover inverted and it will not carry hefty payloads, MANUFACTURER: Lynxmotion/RobotShop but again, those are not DISTRIBUTOR: Lynxmotion its intended venues. Robotshop.com enlisted TYPE: Quadcopter the expertise of Eric FOR: Intermediate to advanced pilots Nantel (screen-name, MINIMUM FLYING AREA: Any outdoor DialFonZo) to add flying area UAVs to their product PRICE: $320.00 (Base combo kit including line and while we everything except flight controller, battery, reviewed the Hunter charger and radio system) V-Tail in the premier
» NEED TO KNOW
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issue of this magazine, the Crazy2Fly was Eric’s first multirotor under the Lynxmotion name. Until his arrival, the company had focused exclusively on land-based robotic machines including, but not limited to, rovers and multi-legged walkers. While many other manufacturers had already released multirotor platforms at this point, none of them were in kit form that were highly customizable, allowing the user to cater the machine to their own preferences and flying styles. Nantel came up with the original design of the Crazy2Fly in March of 2012 and then tweaked it repeatedly to save weight while retaining the rigidity that his designs are renowned for. The end result was a futuristic, almost alien-looking quadcopter with lofty abilities and he did it all for less than 400 bucks on the consumer end. Like the V-Tail, the Crazy2Fly utilizes PHOTOS BY WALTER SIDAS
Aggressive looks with performance to match!
FLYING WEIGHT: 24 oz. (680g) AUW LENGTH: 340mm HEIGHT: 110mm WIDTH: 340mm PROPS: Gemfan 8x4.5 (2 CW, 2 CCW) MOTORS: (4) Maytech 1000Kv brushless outrunners ESCS: (4) Lynxmotion 12amp ESCs RADIO: Spektrum DX9 transmitter and Spektrum AR600 receiver FLIGHT CONTROLLER: Multiwii Flip 1.5 BATTERY: Thunder Power 11.1V 2250mAh 45C LiPo DURATION: 5-6 minutes. NEEDED TO COMPLETE: Minimum five-channel transmitter, receiver, battery, charger and flight controller (using the base combo kit). Lynxmotion also offers the Crazy2Fly as an airframe only or with all the electronics minus a battery and radio system.
PROS Simple build with intuitive online manual Double-deck frame and arms provide unmatched durability Lightweight and small for aerobatic maneuvers and easy transport Airframe will accommodate a multitude of electronics and motors
CONS With no real landing gear, gimbal mounted cameras arenâ€™t an option
a G-10 fiberglass frame that is assembled in a sandwich plate design. Aluminum alloy spacers are used to separate everything except for the arms of the quad so the weight savings is huge, but the structural integrity of the frame itself was not compromised. The result was a rock solid acrobatic multirotor that exhibited little to no flex; allowing for an inexpensive machine that had perpetually predictable performance in the hands of a well-trained pilot. SETUP
Because of the fiberglass frame and arm construction, the packaging for the Crazy2Fly quad is quite less than those of comparable pod-andboom type machines. The main components go together easily and quickly when using the online manuals found at Lynxmotion. com. The web-based instructions feature a step-by-step build
process that even the greenest of builders should have no problems with. There are sections of each frame piece removed for the explicit intentions of producing a lighter multirotor and to allow the builder to route the necessary wiring through certain areas, creating a nice and tidy build once it is finished. There is ample room within the arms to retain the ESCs and all of their respective wiring. The inner portion of the arms also feature a large cutout on top and bottom so if you choose to mount the ESCs inside of the structure as I did, there should be no worries about cooling air not getting to these integral components. Perhaps the most diďŹƒcult aspect of the assembly process lies in mounting the motors. There is very little room at the MULTIROTOR PILOT VOLUME TWO 83
PILOT REVIEW I LYNXMOTION/ROBOTSHOP CRAZY2FLY QUAD
IN THE AIR I’ll admit, I was slightly more than a little nervous when I flew my first Lynxmotion machine a few months ago, but it was almost entirely due to the fact that I had never used a MultiWii-based board or the GUI (graphic user interface) that they enlist for the setup. This time around, I was more familiar with the setup procedures and had thoroughly checked and re-checked all of my setup on the GUI so I strolled out to the field for a maiden flight that I was greatly anticipating with excitement. After powering up the Crazy2Fly and allowing it to initialize, I armed the motors and punched the throttle. To no surprise, the little quad shot skyward with authority and leveled off at my thumb’s discretion. It was quite windy on our test day, but the power of the Maytech 1000Kv motors, coupled with the Gemfan props, produced a rock-solid machine that held its location and attitude with nary the assistance of a GPS module. While I had no doubts as to its acrobatic capabilities, I was downright impressed with how solid this quad felt in the air. Don’t let the 340mm diameter scare you; the Crazy2Fly feels much larger in the air. The accelerometer and magnetometer kept things perfectly in check while cruising simple circuits around the field, even when I tossed in some high speed passes. The second battery pack had to wait for the next day as a light rain began to fall on us during the maiden flight. With a few battery packs at hand and a substantial amount of gain increase dialed into the control board, I readied myself for some upside-down action. The Crazy2Fly did not disappoint. I was already used to the sort of maneuvers it would accomplish as I fly the V-tail fairly regularly, but the smaller diameter of this machine brings those stunts to a whole other level. Blasting across the field at a high rate of speed in forward flight, followed by burying the elevator to its full up position, had the little quad performing backward flips while traveling forward. I drained an entire pack just doing this maneuver and I didn’t stop smiling the whole time! Loops and rolls in fixed wing fashion were also quite thrilling with the Crazy2Fly. By time the last of my batteries dumped, I had attracted quite a crowd at the flying field, as most of the pilots on the scene were only accustomed to the slow, lumbering behavior of the camera-rigged machines they saw so often.
end of the arms and you have to get the mounting holes on the motors lined up just right to get them in synch with each respective x-mount which can be tricky, as the neither the mounts nor the motors feature symmetrical holes for mounting. Size them up first, measure twice and cut once…so to speak. Once you get the first screw into each motor, the whole the rest of the install glides right along. Bundling the wires for each motor also took a little bit of time and eﬀort as the leads on each are very long as these are the same power-plants used on the larger V-tail airframes. Like I said before, there is plenty of room within the arms to conceal and house the wires, but caution must be taken to not crimp any of the wires. I also 84 MULTIROTOR PILOT
restrained each bundle of motor wires with a zip-tie around the lower plate of each arm to keep the wires from coming into contact with the can of the motors during acrobatic flight maneuvers. Perhaps the most complex of tasks when building and setting up a Lynxmotion machine is in the programming of the Multiwii-based Flip 1.5 control board. I can attest to the problems that a naïve, non-PC friendly person might have when programming this board, but when I had my first ride on the Multiwii train, there was no type of online manual. Again, Nantel has come through with flying colors, having written and published a fully intuitive electronics setup guide on the Lynxmotion website. This board might take a little longer to set up than others, but it is far more customizable, is quite a bit more capable in the air and it does it all for less than 30 bucks! Take your time with the programming and read through the guide thoroughly before starting and you should have no problems. ASSEMBLY TIPS Do not fully tighten any screws until each sub-assembly
has all the necessary hardware in place. Use thread locker on all metal-to-metal contacts using a
toothpick to coat the female threads. Remove the entire lower portion of the frame when
installing the ESC parallel harness as there is very little room between the frame spacers. Take notice of the USB port on the board when installing your radio gear, you want to make sure to leave it accessible. THE LAST WORD
As I mentioned before, I was fretting a little on my first go-around with the Flip 1.5 control board, but this time, I had no issues and required no assistance. The build for the Crazy2Fly is both quick and easy, the electronics are mated well to produce an astonishingly fast and nimble aircraft and the little quad is just outright fun to fly. These days, it’s commonplace to see a bunch of larger multirotors suspended in the air simultaneously; stationary thanks to their GPS enable flight controllers. If standing still and going slow isn’t really your thing, get yourself a Crazy2Fly. It’s fairly economical by comparison, goes together in one night’s time, CONTACTS uses smaller batteries GEMFAN gemfanhobby.com than most other quads, LYNXMOTION lynxmotion.com is tons of fun to fly ROBOTSHOP robotshop.com and is as tough as SPEKTRUM spektrumrc.com nails. Kudos to you THUNDER POWER thunderpowerrc. Mr. Nantel! This pilot com cannot wait until you develop and release For more information, please see our source guide on page 89. your next line of machines. =
We Speak Your Language! •DJI and Zero Tech UAV dealers •Full service including training and repairs •35 acre flying field attached to our office
We will match or beat any legitimate authorized dealer price
www.uavdirect.com or call us at 512-778-6363 MULTIROTOR PILOT VOLUME TWO 85
MULTIROTOR PHOTOGRAPHY by Joe Papa
Taking better images with your camera & your copter I’ve been a professional photographer for over 15 years. Starting as a child in the fifth grade with a 110 film camera, my life changed forever and photography was going to be at the center of it. When I was in the eighth grade, my dad gave me his Canon AE-1, along with a flash and 10 rolls of 400 ISO film, to shoot photos at his wedding. That was the first wedding I ever photographed and there was nothing automatic on this camera; everything was manual, including focus. While I loved shooting photos, paying to have the film developed was a real drag when you’re 11 years old. When digital cameras came out, I got hooked pretty hard and I believe that with passion and determination, anyone can learn the skills needed to be great behind the lens. Over the years, I have seen cameras get better and more aﬀordable, but the quality of photography has actually gone down. In the world of social media, people shoot more photos with cell phones than any other type of camera. While the technology is nothing short of incredible, it certainly doesn’t replace the quality and control that comes from a professional camera in the hands of a skilled artist. Many people assume that a better camera will get them better photos, but the truth is that it may not. Often I find that most people who buy DSLR cameras have absolutely no idea what makes a picture great, or why the camera doesn’t capture it the way you see it. A camera is a box that lets light through a hole, for a set amount of time. “P” DOESN’T STAND FOR PROFESSIONAL
That “P” mode on your camera dial stands for Program Mode and it’s meant to take plain, average photos in most situations. For amazing, spectacular and magnificent images, its time to turn that dial to A (Aperture), S or T (Shutter/Time) or M (Manual). Without bogging you down with all the technical information, here is a brief summary of what each does, why you would use it and what setting may get you the desired result. “A” IS FOR AMAZING APERTURE
The aperture of your lens is like the pupil of your eye. When it’s dark your pupil opens to let in more light. By opening the aperture of your camera, you can make a photo brighter. The bigger the opening, the less you need flash and the more your subject will seem to pop out of the image. Apertures are also known as “F stops” and the lower the number, the bigger the opening will be. Bigger is better and lenses with 1.4, 2.0 or 2.8 apertures will let you take amazing images of people. This is the magic trick that lets you blur out the background behind your subject. Apertures like 8, 11 and 16 are like pin holes, and let in very little light. This is what your phone uses most of the time
and creates snapshots. Avoid large apertures like f/2.8 when doing aerial, as you generally want everything sharp and in focus. Choose the higher numbers like f/11 and f/16. SHUTTER SPEED
Shutter speed controls motion by holding the aperture open for a period of time. The faster the shutter speed, the less time there will be that light can be recorded and the less motion will be caught. Think of the props on your multirotor. If you take a photo of it with a slow shutter speed like 1/250 of a second, the props will spin many times during that fraction of a second. This will record in the camera as spinning propellers. If you choose a very fast shutter speed like 1/2000, the props won’t have enough time to move much at all, and the photo will show propellers frozen in time. This makes the copter look like it would if you just hung in in your living room with strings. You need to control the shutter speed to show the motion. Look at the cover of the magazine, and you will see props which appear to be spinning, because the shutter speed was 1/250 of a second. The exact same applies to waterfalls. YOUR MISSION
So here is your mission: put your camera in manual and you will notice that somewhere on the display is a bar graph. In the middle is a zero, and a + (plus) on one side and a – (minus) on the other. Figure out what dial controls aperture and set it to the lowest number. The graph should move to the + direction. Now adjust your shutter speed until the graph gets to the zero line in the middle. Take a picture. If the photo is dark, turn the shutter speed to a longer time to make the next photo brighter. Too bright? Turn it up a few clicks to make it faster. This lets in less light and makes it darker. Remember, moving to the minus direction makes it darker, plus direction makes it brighter. You are now in control and the best part of manual is that all the photos you take will be exactly the same brightness. As long as the light doesn’t change, you can get even, consistent images. Now when you take your copter up to shoot some images, all the exposures will be exactly like you want them! = PHOTOS BY JOE PAPA
86 MULTIROTOR PILOT
MULTIROTOR PILOT VOLUME TWO 87
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88 MULTIROTOR PILOT
Multirotor Source Guide Please check with your local hobby store to find products reviewed in Multirotor Pilot Magazine. Additional sources are listed below. BirdsEye View Aerobotics Phone: (603) 927-4236 www.birdseyeview.aero Email: support@ birdseyeview.aero DJI Phone: (818) 235-0789 www.dji.com Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Emotiv www.emotiv.com Empire RC 950 E Baseline Ave, Unit 210 Apache Junction, AZ 85119 Phone: (480) 982-0909 www.empirerc.com Email: email@example.com Flight Power Distributed by Great Planes Model Distributors P.O. Box 9021 Champaign, IL 61826 Phone: (217) 398-3630 http://www.bestrc.com/ flightpower/index.html Available at your local hobby store, or online at www.towerhobbies.com Futaba Distributed exclusively by Hobbico P.O. Box 9021 Champaign, IL 61826 www.futaba-rc.com Phone: (217) 398-3630 Available at your local hobby store, or online at www.towerhobbies.com
Gaui Distributed by Empire RC 950 E Baseline Ave, Unit 210 Apache Junction, AZ 85119 Phone: (480) 982-0909 www.empirerc.com Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Gemfan www.gemfanhobby.com Email: sales1@ gemfanhobby.com GetFPV.com 1127 Goodrich Ave Sarasota, FL 34236 Phone: (941) 444-0021 www.getfpv.com Go Pro Phone: (888) 600-4659 www.gopro.com Greenskies 10 Main St., Suite E Middletown, CT 06457 Phone: (860) 398-5408 Fax: (860) 398-5423 www.greenskies.com Email: email@example.com Hobby Express Phone: (866) 512-1444 www.hobbyexpress.com Email: customersupport@ hobbyexpress.com HobbyKing www.hobbyking.com
Iftron Technologies, Inc. Phone: (303) 378-8726 www.iftrontech.com Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Immersion RC www.immersionrc.com Email: info@immersionrc. com JR Americas P.O. Box 8757 Champaign IL 61826-8757 www.jramericas.com KDS Models USA 1730 Preston Ave., Suite E Pasadena, TX 77503 Phone: (713) 475-5855 www.kdsmodelsusa.com Lynxmotion, Inc. Phone: (866) 627-3178 Fax: (450) 420-1447 www.lynxmotion.com Email: support@ lynxmotion.com MaxAmps.com 1015 W Garland Ave Spokane, WA 99205 Toll Free: (888) 654-4450 www.maxamps.com Email: max-info@ maxamps.com Notadrone Phone: (860) 480-1982 www.notadrone.com
Parrot Phone: (877) 972-7768 http://ardrone2.parrot.com
Thunder Power RC 4720 W. University Ave. Las Vegas, NV 89103 Phone: (702) 228-8883 Fax: (702) 228-8885 www.thunderpowerrc.com Email: info@thunder powerrc.com
R/C Madness 101 North St Enfield CT. 06082 Phone: (860) 741-6501 www.rcmadness.com
Total 3D Solutions 2685 Lapeer Rd., Suite 210 Auburn Hills, MI 48326 Phone: (248) 494-4460 Fax: (248) 494-4431 www.total3dsolutions.com/ hobbyist.html Email: service@ total3dsolutions.com
RC Technik www.rctechnik.de Email: email@example.com ReadyMadeRC 7719 Graphics Way Ste F Lewis Center, OH 43035 www.readymaderc.com RobotShop Phone: (866) 627-3178 Fax: (450) 420-1447 www.robotshop.com
UAV Direct 14365 W State Hwy 29 Liberty Hill, TX 78642 Phone: (855) 778-6363 www.uavdirect.com Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sky-Hero www.sky-hero.com Sales Email: patrick@ sky-hero.com
UConn Phone: (860) 486-2000 www.uconn.edu
Sony Phone: (212) 833-6849 www.sony.com Spektrum Distributed by Horizon Hobby 4105 Fieldstone Rd. Champaign, IL 61822 Toll Free: (800) 338-4639
Zeiss http://www.zeiss.com/ cinemizer-oled/en_de/home. html
MULTIROTOR ADVERTISER INDEX A Main Hobbies .................................24-25 Academy of Model Aeronautics ........34-35 AGAPower ...............................................54 Altitude Hobbies .....................................88 Atlanta Hobby..........................................55 Blade ......................................................4-5 BP Hobbies LLC ......................................88 Castle Creations, Inc. ..............................39 Designatronics, Inc. ................................89 Dronebanners.com .................................81 Du-Bro Products ......................................85 Empire Hobby ...........................................9 Futaba................................................... CV2 GETFPV ...................................................11 Go Professional Cases ............................74 Heli-Max ..............................................3, 69 Hitec RCD USA, Inc. ................................21 Hobby Express ........................................15 HobbyKing ...................................... CV3, 59 Innov8tive Designs ..................................53 KDS Models USA ....................................63 Landing Products ....................................88 Max Amps .................................................7 Motor City Drone Company ....................87 ProtoX ......................................................73 Ram Radio Controlled Models ................81 RC Logger ...............................................51 RobotShop Inc.........................................71 Total3DSolutions .....................................75 UAV Direct ...............................................85 Unmanned Experts .................................87 Windsor Propeller....................................81 XAircraft America ....................................19 Xheli.com.................................................43 MULTIROTOR PILOT VOLUME TWO 89
RETURN TO HOME by Jon R. Barnes
BirdsEyeView Aerobotics FireFLY6 The number of full scale aircraft with the ability to perform both Vertical Takeoff and Landing (VTOL) operations and truly useful forward flight capabilities is extremely limited. Only two, the Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey Tiltrotor and AV-8B Harrier II Jump Jet, have managed to successfully achieve meaningful production numbers. In the world of RC models, there have been even fewer aircraft that possess VTOL and forward flight capabilities and that have also managed to achieve mainstream success. A small start-up called BirdsEyeView Aerobotics, located in the state of New Hampshire, has recently rolled open their hangar doors to reveal an amazing model aircraft that is aiming to do just that. The BirdsEyeView Aerobotics FireFLY6 is a 60-inch wingspan flying wing that also features a total of six brushless power systems arranged in a Y6 configuration. This unique aircraft is capable of taking off and landing vertically, hovering and transitioning into and out of forward flight at the pilot’s whim and fancy! Founding partners and designers Adam Sloan and John Hampton have capitalized on the extreme advances in multirotor and stabilization technologies by merging the best of both fixed wing and rotary winged models into an amazingly versatile hybrid aircraft with almost unlimited first person view (FPV) and aerial imaging (AI) potential. Multirotor pilots are ever on the prowl for ways to extend the overall flight durations of their FPV and AI platforms, but the laws of physics preclude the solution being as simple as just adding bigger batteries. The FireFLY6 takes a fresh and ultimately successful approach to achieving longer in-flight durations. Its ability to transition into forward flight comes with the tangible benefit of drastically reduced power system current draw. Multirotor aircraft must at all times generate enough thrust to overcome their own weight. However, once the FireFLY6 transitions into forward flight, the lift generated by its large wing area helps reduce the net power required to perform that task. With two of the six motors shut down, and the remaining four motors providing only the thrust needed to achieve forward flight, total current demand is substantially diminished. The end result is 90 MULTIROTOR PILOT
potential flight durations of up to 30 minutes or more (load dependent), but the FireFLY6 retains the same convenient ability to operate out of small and limited space airfields as multirotor aircraft, thanks to its ability to transition into and out of a hover. A proprietary electronics module developed by BirdsEyeView Aerobotics and known simply as the “Bridge” handles and coordinates the transition between hover and forward flight by interfacing to both the hover flight controller and radio receiver. The long, spring-loaded retractable landing gear offers plenty of under wing clearance for camera gear and other payloads. Manufactured out of EPO foam, this ARF flying wing features a wood and composite internal skeleton. Electric servoless tricycle retracts are included, as are servos and all of the mechanical components required to drive the pivoting “axle.” At least one flight controller (Naza-M V1, Naza-M Lite) is required and serves as the hover controller. An optional second flight controller can be added as a forward flight controller and can be used for autonomous flight operations to achieve autonomous operations. Two sets of camera mounts, compatible with the GoPro 3 and 3+, are also included. An optional propulsion system called the PowerPACK was optimally designed for the FireFLY6 and includes six tried and tested brushless motors, speed controllers and propellers. Detachable and magnetically retained wings, tails and hatches allow the airframe to be easily disassembled for transport. Adam and John comment in one of their promotional videos that an “aerobot” is, by definition, “a flying robot for everyday people.” They also give ample proof via amazing in-flight footage that this unique aircraft is truly capable of both VTOL operations and forward flight. We will be watching closely to see what impact this revolutionary model has in the world of RC and if it indeed succeeds as a mainstream VTOL and forward flight capable RC aircraft. = CONTACT BIRDSEYEVIEW AEROBOTICS birdseyeview.aero For more information, please see our source guide on page 89.