June 2015

In April, the organizers of the Bay Area Motorcycle Show contacted the club to see if anyone would like to come and demonstrate ‘drones’.  Of course, JD & I jumped at that opportunity and on May 2 we headed to the Fairgrounds. After looking at a few spots where we could fly...or, not fly, we ended up in the restricted area reserved for the stunt riders.

Originally, it was thought that the quads would be entertainment for kids while Dad checked out the bikes and the Miss BAMS contest. As it turned out, the kids did love all the various quads that we brought out but adult interest was even higher. Probably, a hundred or so people came up to our table to ask a million questions and watch us fly. Number 1 Question: “How much do they cost?” which was closely followed by, “Are you selling anything?” (We brought 2-Phantoms, 3-scatch built quads, Hubsans, a Dromida, and a couple of micros.) Everyone loves flips!

It was good fun for JD & myself. And, I had the opportunity to do some tricky Phantom video work trying to capture the main stunts by Tony Carbajal on his beast. Very hard to keep track of him and his side kick and most of my ‘footage’ was of blank asphalt. Here you go with what I did capture https://youtu.be/iDcv4HacbS4

Back to Quad Talk…

Every week some new iteration of multirotor devices comes on the scene. Here are a few links to my chosen advancements lately.

Got hydrogen? http://www.gizmag.com/horizon-energy-systems-hycopter-fuel-cell-drone/37585/

The very cool selfie machine that is even waterproof.  Lilly- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4vGcH0Bk3hg  

A local firm making huge advancements in actually solving real world problems using multirotor gear including their own stuff http://www.skycatch.com/

My favorite introduction is Sprite and I think that if its works like the promo and prototype, could well be this year’s ‘game changer’.  http://www.ascentaerosystems.com/

And for those that want a $10k rig that could most likely pick up your Prius, there is Steadidrone http://www.steadidrone.com/steadidrone-vader-x4

For me, the past few weeks have been dedicated to two multirotor goals. One, keep learning to fly my fast quads. And my go-to rig is my Armattan CNC355. http://www.armattanquads.com/cnc-355/

This quad is about 15“, motor to motor and operates with 4- 2822-1800KV Armattan standard motors with 8” props. I use a 2200 3S battery though I might try a 4S one of these days.

Armattan CNC355

After a few attacks on members at the flight line, I finally have the NAZE32 Afro ‘dialed in’ using Baseflight software. But, I have to tell you that orientation would be almost impossible as the quad gets out into our flight area if not for Tim’s terrific strobe light that I Velcro to the end of the batteries. THX TIM!!!  Ed note, glad to help Bill!  See article under Tim’s Tips “Visual Beacon on PCB”. 

My next adventure with this quad is to start doing 3D moves such as flips. I can then make a very weak attempt at challenging Joseph to an Air Show.

My second goal for the last month was to build a hexrotor using a Tarrot 680 folding frame. This was a bit more of a challenge because, unlike the other quads that I have built, there was scant little YouTube help. In fact, there was absolutely nothing about programming the NAZE32 flight controller for six ESCs and motors.

Hexrotor WIP 5-24

The airframe assembly was aided by YouTube contributors but my frame was slightly different for reasons that only our good friends in the People’s Republic would know. Fortunately, this build was my easiest and nothing really went wrong including the very first maiden flight. I was amazed. Still am.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CVpj5RK5Gmk I know it was a tad crazy but it flew and landed twice before I gave in to the wind. I will get it settled down...or, learn to fly it. Like fix wing gear, it seems every multirotor reacts differently to sticks even though I use only NAZE32 flight controllers. After this maiden, I made a couple of subtle FC adjustments, retrained my fingers and it flies great. 

However, this iteration of ‘Spiderman’ is just the beginning of its evolution as I want to end up with a heavy lifting, long endurance airframe for conducting experiments. The next step is to rebuild this prototype with upgraded motors as the current array is small motors with 8” props that I had taken from other quads just to make sure that I could build a hex. In the future, I also want to connect a full array of flight assist modules such as OSD, GPS and sonar. Plus, with JD’s help, I want to make this rig a long range WIFI FPV craft.

Lot’s to learn including finding the best balance between motors and batteries, including the use of 4S. Hopefully, I will have it out at the field a little so we all can play with it this summer.

Finally, we are still intending to have a special quad event at the field so start working on your six axis thumb workouts. Best little rig to learn on is the Hubsan


And, with a little practice, it will do flips in any direction. Remember; two mistakes high. (Your mileage may vary.)

Bill’s Blog link.


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