Not Flying Again

It’s a bright, sunny, crisp Autumn morning today. There is also a very strong wind blowing, but I probably would have gone flying if I wasn’t busy with other things today. The only flying this week is going to be the test with the micro FPV quadcopter in the garden and around the house yesterday.

I’ve switched to a different frame from the one I crashed and broke last week. It wasn’t badly damaged, so I’ve stuck it back together with cyano, but I think I prefer the “X” frame with the HubSan prop guard attached to the motors.

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As you can see, the flying weight is 55.8 grammes, but 12g of that is the white 3D printed PLA frame, which can be lightened a bit more. The battery, which is stuck underneath, weighs about the same as the frame, while the black plastic prop guard which came out of the HubSan box weighs 3.5g. Finally, the FPV camera is 4.5g, so the rest is made up by the HubSan flight controller and four motors and props. The camera is only held on by being pushed into the sticky foam tape that’s on top of the flight controller, but it’s a system that has worked really well. The additional wiring, which we added for the Royal Institution project so that the students could construct their own quadcopters, only adds about 1g extra. We’re going to be running another “Drone Masterclass” at the end of the month, so I’ve been busy checking out all the equipment. As the next group is 16-17 years old, we’ve got to add a bit more content, so I’ve been looking into the feasibility of taking pictures with a micro quadcopter and then using that to do a 3D reconstruction. My initial thought was to arrange a load of empty cardboard boxes on the floor to simulate buildings and try to reconstruct it on the computer. This might not be feasible, so I’ve got a bit more experimentation to do.

In the meantime, I’ve been practising with FPV goggles in the garden. I had a go inside to start with, but figured that the extra space and soft grass of the garden might be a better idea. I’m going to have to do something about the goggles, though, as they just don’t work for me. I’m using the Fat Shark Predator V2, but most of the time I can only see the left eye image. My first thought is to make an extension lead for the battery to take the weight off of the goggles. They don’t stay on my head at all and the angle that the screen makes to your eye is critical to seeing a sharp image rather than a blurred one. I might also try out some of the corrective lenses as there is a big difference between the vision in my left eye and right eye.

Despite all these problems, though, I was starting to get the hang of flying FPV. The impression of speed is huge because of the camera view and there is a lot more space around the aircraft than you think. Just don’t fly backwards. When I did try it inside later on that evening, I just about managed to fly forwards, turn left through a doorway, left again, through the next room, left, across the landing and left again to return to where I started. Looking at the gap I managed to get through to do this, it’s amazing that I had that much control with a HubSan flight controller. I’ve got a couple of F3 EVO controllers which run Cleanflight on order which should arrive later this week. My aim is to film my own video where the quadcopter flies through the house at amazing speeds, just missing everything. I’m going to try some filming later today as I’ve figured out how to record from the FPV camera onto the computer. Using the first person view, along with third person RunCam and camera phone videos, I should be able to put together something good. Well, that’s the plan anyway.

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