Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Pattaya Beach Fireflies are born

We had another gathering of our group of night time beach flyer's last night with me (Scotty), Big Paul, “Paul the Toy Man”, Andy and our entourage of my side kick Ann, Andy's wife and some of our beach bum friends also attended including Raf, Barry, Peter and a few others we know that just dropped by for a chat and watch the show. Andy mentioned he come up with a name for our group. He said we should call ourselves “The Fireflies” as we fly with our lights on as we fly at night, we kind of look like fireflies in the sky. “Paul the toy man” added it should have the word beach or pattaya in the name so for now we will call ourselves “The Pattaya Beach Fireflies”.
A shot of Andy setting up for a flight at the beach taken by Ann
 On this night we had a bit larger than normal number of events with a total of 3 minor crashes, one forced rx failsafe mode landing where a TX radios (the Taranis) battery went dead and at least one cool semi coordinated flight of all four aircrafts flying in the air in patterns without crashing. On this night we also had a new virgin Black Gaui quad-copter aircraft to play with that was not fully tested before this night with it's new configurable led lights installed and all working.
The Black Gaui quad-copter at the beach taken by Ann the camera girl
 The first event was the Black Gaui on it's second flight that suddenly went into failsafe mode and did exactly what it was supposed to do in failsafe, by rising to 20 meters then waited 10 seconds and landed less than 2 feet from where it took off even with the breezy wind conditions. I was panicking when I saw this happen.   I couldn't understand what had happened as I kept flipping the mode control on the Taranis radio in an attempt to regain control of the aircraft but the failsafe mode continued all the way down to the ground to the point the motors spun down. I later found that the problem was the Taranis radio battery level was down to 4.6v. At this voltage level I was surprised the LCD on the radio was still working but it seems the TX stops transmitting. The radio had been verbally warning me throughout the flight of the battery condition, but I had mistakenly taken that to be the A2 primary airborn battery telemetry voltage level warning that I forgot to disable before flight as this new aircraft didn't have the voltage sensor installed yet. So that's very bad to have so many warnings that you should think you have to ignore all of them. In this case we got very lucky as I did remember to set the failsafe on the RX on this aircraft before we came. Other wise it would have been a disaster with the default Frsky failsafe settings that just hold the last seen signal levels until radio signal is recovered so it would have just flown off to a random location most likely out at sea. So with that we installed a new battery for the taranis and continued flying it. On the good side of the Black Gaui quad-copter, we (me and Paul) found it to be one of the most stable flyer's we ever flew, with even very fast decent full throttle down drop, it would hold rock solid with minimal osculation even in the windy conditions on this day. The next crash of the night was Big Paul that did a minor crash into some chairs that were stacked next to the wall at the edge of the sidewalk about 20 feet to the right of were we sat.  I didn't realize it at the time but my side kick Ann was playing with my phone filming at the time of the event and got a good shot of it as seen here:
Thanks to Ann our new camera girl for the cool captured video above

   He said it had to do with having some unexpected people come down the stairs onto the beach as he was flying low altitude that ended up blocking his vision at the wrong moment in time. With this one we just dusted it off and it was back flying again in seconds. The next crash was with Paul the Toy man crashing into the big tree to the right of us, and getting it stuck up there. This time I was watching as he did it when he was deep inside the tree branches doing a stunt he completely took his eyes off the aircraft to turn his head more than 90 degrees to talk to someone. It only took that moment to have the aircraft drift 12 more inches and tangle the blades into the leaves of the tree and crash. So what did we learn from this? “Keep your eyes on the aircraft during flight in stunt modes. don't get distracted by other people when you fly, talk to them AFTER you land”. But I should talk as I was the next and last one to crash the Black Gaui quad-copter on this night, and I did a much better job of it in my crash than Paul did. The last crash was me going full lateral speed of about 20 miles per hour from the right side of the beach and dropping altitude very fast when I started giving opposite thrust to try to stop the aircraft directly in front of us at about 15 feet out. But at the new gain settings at this speed that I had now set at minimum of 80% the aircraft wasn't as responsive as what I had been used to flying just moments before when I had it set at about 137%. So instead of stopping quick in flight it continued to the left off past us and just nicked one prop on the trunk of the coconut tree to the left of us. This put the copter into an unrecoverable spin so I shut down the motors in hopes to minimize damages. The quad ended it's flight upside down in the sand about 8 feet to the left of the coconut tree with no real damage but one prop had spun off in the impact on the sand but was not broken. We were able to locate the prop on the sand but the prop nut was much too small to be located and we gave up after a 10 minute search for it. So that ended our somewhat eventful night of flying and crashing. All the crashes made for some excitement but I think the best flight of the night was when we had all four aircraft in the air at the same time. We had begun to learn to fly patterns together with one pattern that I found fun and cool to watch was to juggle aircrafts where one drops down and under another aircraft and then he would fly up and over with the other aircraft doing the same to make like a juggler juggling balls. We also had a coordinated quick fly up where we would all be near the ground and on a signal would all fly way up at the same time and spin around at the top. We will have to later learn to plan new cool patterns before we fly and figure out some code signal words to signal when a part of a pattern should start or change. It's also one thing to focus on just one other aircraft target other than yourself but with 4 aircraft I have a bit of a problem keeping track of all of them at the same time. So I think its is eventual that we will have a midair at some point if we don't practice and learn to fly together in some orderly manner. I think some cool patterns would also be horizontal circles clockwise then counter clockwise switch on command then maybe a figure 8 pattern clockwise and counter clockwise, then vertical circles much like our juggle mode we do now but with all four aircraft not just two or three as we had going yesterday. with all four aircraft I think it will be a real challenge at the cross point of an 8 pattern so we better take our time on that one when we get a bit better at it. Maybe a mirror flight mode method might work where we each are set to follow just one other aircraft but in a chain so all each pilot needs to do is focus on one target that is his link in the chain. Each aircraft keeps some specified distance behind his target in the chain. The lead of the chain would have to be sure not to drag the chain of aircraft into itself. Just a thought as I'm not sure this idea would really work if we were to try this method of pattern flight.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The X-525 quad does a splash down crash at the beach

It was another night flying day at Pattaya beach with “Toy man Paul” and Big Paul his friend with the phantom 2 and of course myself Scotty. The evening was about to end almost without incident when Big Paul and his friend at about 12:00am packed up and went home. It was just me and Toy man Paul left to do one last flight with the X-525 Quadcopter that had already flown two batteries this night and we had one more fully charged battery left for it. So Paul took it up and flew for the first  few minutes of the last flight and then passed me the controls to finish off the last of the three batteries we have for it. It was flying very stable with no problems with the audio voltage telemetry return now fully calibrated with the naza so you didn't have to worry about the battery going dead without giving you plenty of warning. I started getting cocky and confident at this point and flew it out over the side walk and at very high altitude of about 150 feet I took it a ways out over the water when suddenly all the lights on the aircraft flickered for a moment. When I saw that I knew there must be something major going wrong. I immediately pulled the stick back to try to at least get the X-525 over sand instead of water but it was already too late the lights on the aircraft stopped blinking and the aircraft appeared to just disappear like magic if just vanished with nothing but darkness to see. At the high altitude it was at I couldn't see anything at all up there. I continued to pull the stick back with lots of down in hopes it was just the lights that had failed. But about 3 seconds later the X-525 came back into view when it got to the altitude of the big lights at the beach that light up the ground, but now it was falling like a rock at 32 feet per second per second with no lights and no props spinning just tumbling down to make a big splash into the ocean about 80 feet off shore. I took some quick land mark readings in hopes we could at least recover what we could of the aircraft. I then made a big line in the sand from where I was sitting on the side walk to the waters edge. I pulled out all the items in my pockets including my phone and went for a swim to see how deep it was at the approximate point of impact. We picked the worst night for this to happen as it was a spring tide that we were only about 80 minutes past one of the highest tides of the year. When I got out about as far as I thought the aircraft was I found that at that point it was about 9 feet deep as I put my hands up I could feel the tips of my fingers go under water about 1 foot more before I could feel any sand at my feet. I boobed up and down a few times in hopes that I would feel the aircraft with my feet if I got close enough but luck was not in our favor this night. I gave up hope at that point that the aircraft was going to be recovered at this point in time with tide levels now at about 3.5 Meters. When I got back to shore I gave Paul the bad news that he must have already known as I was coming back empty handed and he was also a witness of the incident. He asked “what do you think is it a goner”. I said “no way!” I was sure we would recover the aircraft when the tide goes out since tomorrow was also going to be a near record low tide at 2:03pm the next day of about 1 meter. At that level the aircraft will be almost completely visible and maybe even poking out of the water at that depth. Paul was ready to give up and head home and he asked “so what's the plan, come back tomorrow then?” I said “no way I'm camping here until the tide goes out”. All I really need is the tide to go down about 3 more feet so I can still stand on the bottom to setup a search pattern. Paul laughed “camp here OK good luck”, he said “I'll take the second shift tomorrow in the event you fail and bring my dive mask to find it in the light”. I said “that's a very good idea”. So he headed home and so it was just me and my present side kick Ann to keep me company and boost my spirits. She's been into playing the musical instruments I have programed into my android phone so we continued to play with it together and worked on some of our new songs with a program called Looper. With that we managed to make some of the worst sounding things in history from grunts to farts and other strange noises we could figure out how to make and laughed as we mixed then together to make some strange sounds that maybe some might want to consider as music. Who knows maybe we created the next hit single on this night. Anyway it was a good way to pass the time and it seemed like no time at all had passed when it was almost 2:00am when I could see the waters edge had gone down about 2 meter from the reference marks I had made in the sand to track tide changes. At that point I was ready to give it another attempt to see if I might reach the bottom near where we think the aircraft was. I had also added a few other lines in the sand that were added as worst case error lines to use as ends of the search pattern as we went out that I had planed before I started my search. Paul had also got some information earlier from another group that had been siting on the beach not far from were the aircraft went down that said from were they were siting it was strait out. So I had also added lines in the sand from there vantage point to the water to add a second reference that we could triangulate to get an approximate distance out to sea that it resided. So it was time to act after all this planing I jumped into the very nice cool water and put my plan into action. The water was perfect not cold at all in fact I think I'll start swimming more often in the evening to cool off in this very hot weather we are now having and also find it even more fun when I get Ann to join me witch she already had done in this night in an early second attempt to find the aircraft that ended up being more of a pleasure swim than a search attempt with more opportunities to grope on Ann's perfect 20 year old body instead of a search, as I found it was too deep on that try that I didn't even count it as a search. But now this time things were looking up. I was near were I thought it was and I was still able to keep my face above water. I had already did most of the planed search and I was working on new ways to move my feet in a wide circular pattern to widen my swath without the possibility of missing anything. I was hitting a few other object most just rocks but lucky I didn't run into any broken glass yet. Finally I hit something just barley in reach of my foot as I just nicked something tall with my toe that was out about 30 degrees down angle and out about another 3 feet from were I was now standing. I started slowly moving in the direction of this only brief touch of something to see if I could again feel with my foot with more detail if I was to hit it again. Sure enough I got a few more taps of something that didn't feel like a rock or any other debris that I had felt in the past. When I was only inches away I could now feel the legs of the aircraft at my feet wow I had found it almost for sure! I grabbed it with my toes like the monkey that I am and pulled the aircraft to my hand and then to the surface of the water and was able to get the first glimpse of the recovered aircraft. It was still too deep at this point to analyze it with any detail so I had to make head way back to shore that was now about 60 feet away. As I made progress in the shallower water I was able to lifted the aircraft above my head and shouted to Ann that was now at the beach edge guarding the stuff and watching me as I did the search. She jumped up and down with glee for me for my now heroes success in that cute little energetic body she has. She would have been swimming with me on this search but we had some Thai boys hanging around scouting our stuff so she had to stay behind on this swim and keep an eye on our remaining equipment and my phone and wallet that I had to leave on shore. So in my opinion she is just as much a hero as me finding it, since we couldn't have done the search without her present. When I got to shore I did a bit more analysis of the aircraft condition to note that the battery was no longer installed in the Velcro holder. I was quite certain it must have released on impact with the water as when I watched the splash down there was only one splash not two when I saw it hit the water on it's crash. If I could have seen that the battery was not on the aircraft when I first found it I would have continued the search near it but now it would be almost impossible to find an object that small out there at the present depth. Maybe we will get lucky and find that part tomorrow. Also there was two broken props on the X-525 on one side of the aircraft that must have taken a hard hit on impact. But props are cheap and we have plenty of those in stock. I also made a phone call to Paul telling him we found the aircraft and a brief report of it's condition almost as soon as I got to shore with it. I recorded the time of the call to him at 1:53am. So after that I packed up the gear and headed back home to see what else we might be able to recover on this aircraft that has now spent around 3 hours in sea water at about a 9 foot depth. I've never had much luck with electronics in sea water in most cases but I have had a few parts that I have worked. I have become more of an expert at electronic sea recoveries with all the flying we do at the waters edge we have had many things go down there. So my plan was to go after the most expensive parts in hope to recover the Naza flight controller and the frsky receiver first. My plan was to first dissemble and soak them in reverse osmosis (almost distilled) water for a few minutes and a little more dipping and drying and dipping in the water in hopes to remove most of the minerals between contacts. After that let it dry for a bit then spray it with WD40 then sponge it dry of that with a paper towel and put under a fan to try to continue to dry it out. As soon as the sun comes out I plan to let it sit in the sun and bake for a at least a day to dry it all out. The other parts of the aircraft I did much the same as above with the motors and the esc. I am confident we will recover the motors but less likely we will be able to recover the esc but I haven't given up hope yet. They now are all siting in the the very hot sun we now have baking dry as we speak (or write). I will later update this article with what we got to work after the process we documented above.   Also there is data that is captured in the Taranis radio that I have setup to record all the telemetry from the aircraft and all stick movements detected on the radio with time stamps that we can look at later to see what we can find.  I am quite certain that the problem that caused the crash is due to an intermittent contact at the point of power from the battery from the balance connector that is used only to power the aircraft lights, radio and the naza flight controller.  The power to the ESC on this aircraft come from the main battery plug that wouldn't have effect the lights on the aircraft if it had failed as we saw before the crash there were no lights.  There is a small posibility that the battery completly disloged from the aircraft as we didn't see it still hooked in after recovery but it is very unlikely that case as we only saw a single splash at crash.  In the future I don't think I will depend on the balance plug power for flight critical parts in future designs.  I've also added another step to the above by using a contact cleaner called Kloud that I had already in the house.  I was told by Big Paul that WD40 leaves a residue that may not be good on electronics so the Kloud acts like a degreaser that I hope fixes what might have been a bad idea with the WD40 I used before.

Update Jun 3, 2014  14:46pm
I made another attempt at recovering the battery that has not yet been found at the beach today at 2:00pm that was supposed to be low tide on this day of about 1 Meter.  When I got to the beach I could see the lines in the sand I had made the night before as there seems to have been alot of trafic of something that seems to have wiped both my lines out.  I made new lines that are not as acurate as my first and with these I continued the search in the water.   The water at the estimated point of the estimated aircraft crash was at about .5 meter water level.   The water was very dirty with limited view of not more than 4 inches at best.  So there was no chance of finding it visually.  I continued using my feet to search but later found nothing but broken glass and then some kind of strange sea creature dashed out from under my feet that freaked me out to a point to abandoning my search efforts.  I covered about 100 sq meters at that point with nothing to show for it.  I also offered Loe and the gang of bums at the beach a 100 baht reward if they were to find it but they didn't think that was enough to even give it a try.  What does the labor of a beach bum run these days?  That would have got them 3 Sato's if they found it!

Update jun 3, 2014 16:25:
I powered up the Fr-sky D8R-XP receiver and did a full lab test everything is ok after the clean up above.  So things are looking up so far.  I continue to dry the other parts before power up tests on them.

Update jun 23, 2014 8:19am
we got all the parts of the X-525 working again after a loan of the star tool needed to open up the gps module that we got from Big Pual.   That was the last part we couldn't get to work without opening it.  After we opened the gps module and soaked it in distilled water for 10 minutes and dried it in the sun for 2 days we got the complete set working again.  We now plan to give it a flight test tonight to see how it really goes.   I also looked at the flight logs from the Taranis on the night of the crash and noted the failure couldn't have been the power connector for the lights that failed since there is redundant 5vdc power to the receiver and flight controller that comes from each of the four esc's to each prop.  The last telemetry signal received from the aircraft showed that we had 11.8vdc at A2 and 5.04vdc at A1 then a sudden rssi signal loss from 63 to 0 from the reciever at 23:26:11.409 on Jun 2, 2014 when I was in hover mode with all sticks almost at perfect center positions with mode switch still set to gps.  So all I can think it could be is that we had a complete battery failure from both power path of the lipo at the same time since loss of power from ether power path would not have looked like this.  If the balance plug power failed as we had originally thought, then the lights would have gone out as we did see but the aircraft would have been put into auto land mode as the flight controller would have sensed battery power low so the aircraft would have come down with controlled decient and the telemetry would have sensed the A2 power voltage drop to zero.  I plan to simulate the broken balance plug to be sure I'm correct  to see if we need to make any changes in wiring for future flights of this aircraft.

The X-525 after disasembled and drying in the sun:

Friday, May 23, 2014

Military coup shows it's face in Pattaya Thailand

Update May 27, 2014 11:50pm
Last night on May 27, 2014 Me and “Paul the Toy Man” went flying quad copters at Pattaya beach as usual. At about 10:40pm as I was flying the Phantom s/n 3 I could hear in back of me the sounds that you hear from a two way radio normally carried by the police. I did a quick glanced over my shoulder and verified there was indeed a group of 3 or more dark blue colored cops the kind that carry guns (the real ones not the tourist police). I continued to fly like I didn't know they were there and acting as if I didn't know I was doing something wrong. Paul in his infinite wisdom and charm goes and talks to the cops and finds out they just stopped there to see some of our quad-copter air show. For a bit I thought I was about to have some hand cuffs put on my wrists and dragged to jail for being out past the Curfew that was supposed to be at 10:00pm. Paul even ask them when all this curfew stuff was going to be over and we hear “oh tomorrow all done”. Shortly after my battery was dead and I had to land the phantom, the group of police continued on there way down the beach to look for real criminals. So that was a relief. So with that we continued to fly till 11:50pm until we were all out of batteries and had already crashed and broken one prop on the X quad that we were testing this day. So we packed up all the gear and headed home, but before we did I went to see if the Family Mart was still open but to find it had already closed some time before 11:50pm so not sure how late they stayed open on this day.

Update May 26, 2014 11:10pm:
The coup in Thailand may not be fully over for most of Thailand, but it has started to lax now here in Pattaya on May 26 2014 at least up to 11:10pm when I was out. The most important improvement is that all the family Marts on the beach are no longer closing at 10:00pm. Starting with the the one at Soi 1 at the beach I was able to go in and buy the peanuts I wanted at 10:38pm. As I walked down the beach back to my apartment at soi 13 I noticed that all the Family Marts on the way were still operating but all the 7/11 shops are still closed at what seems to be the prescribed time of 10:00pm. By the time I got to the last Family Mart near my apartment it was 11:10pm and I was able to buy a bottle of water just to prove to myself and others that it was really open. On my walk along the beach walk I didn't see any police flashing any lights at anyone for the entire hour past curfew. The ladies were still in full force in there normal locations. The bars again many closed but some still operating in stealth mode with the lights and music off but still serving beer. So as far as I'm concerned the coup is OVER in Pattaya. I, being a beach bum, buy my beer from the Family Marts or 7/11 stores and normally go home by 11:30pm any way so at least for me it's over and things are almost back to normal here. I also took some short videos at about 10:50pm of some people exiting the Family Mart at Soi 8 and the activities still seen at the beach if you don't believe me I'll publish them for you to see for yourself.

Update May 25, 2014:
Last night I went out at 11:00pm May 24, 2014 around Pattaya central just to see if I could get some peanuts at the 7/11 store but found both the 7/11 and Family Marts near my apartment were all still closed. As I walked the block of Soi 13 to soi 12 I did note that some of the bars were dark and quiet but still had a small number people in them and they were still serving beer much like they do when we have other dry religious holidays here. I didn't see any police or military personnel any where in site on my short walk. My satellite TV service has also begun to open at least for HBO and all the movie channels and others, but all the news channels like CNN, BBC, CNBC, BMBG are still all disabled on my True satellite service here in Pattaya. Internet service has continued to work throughout the military coup and I haven't noticed any added network filters preventing access to any websites yet.

Update May 24, 2014:
At least the 7/11 stayed open about an extra hour now close at about 10:00pm instead of 9:00pm last night. We did our normal beach party thing at Mike's shopping Mall beach stage up until about 11:00pm when a police man on a motor cycle that was riding on the foot path stopped and flashed his flashlight at us and told us we had to go home. We pretended not to notice and continue to finish off the beers we still had. He gave up on us as he was probably too lazy to climb the 4 steps of the stage to make a closer apearance to our group. He then continue down the beach to harass other people instead of us as there were still many people along the beach at that time. By about 12:00am there was a few more cars and motor cycles with flashing lights so I decided maybe it was better to move down to the beach on the sand were there was less light and we wouldn't be noticed and in a worst case we could just go swimming if the police or military ever came to give us any more trouble. At about 12:45am I saw another group of police moving up the beach toward us. At that point I was getting tired anyway and thought it not worth having any problems and I also used it as an excuse to my friends that it was time for me to go. Many of our beach bum gang stayed behind and told me the next day that they had no problems when they continued to party at that location long after I had left.

Original article published 5/23/14 9:23am
I was here in Pattaya for the last coup in 2006 that seems like nothing compared to this one. In 2006 there was no curfew and things in Pattaya went along as if nothing happened. In the last coup most of the action was centered in Bangkok. Last night when we heard the news that there was going to be a 10:00pm – 5:00am curfew nation wide we thought no way that was going to be happening here in Pattaya. I said “they would have to bring in some tanks and start shooting if they expect any of the whores to go home”. So we went to fly our quad copters at pattaya beach as we had originally planed. The first thing we noticed was at 9:00pm they closed all the 7/11 stores and Family Mart stores. That has never happened before. The 7/11 stores never close 24/7 365 days a year over the last 12 years I have never seen one close. Even when we had the flood were there was a river of water 3 feet deep in the streets the 7/11 store still stayed open. So this was history in the making. But I already purchased all the beer I needed for the night as I suspected the stores might stop selling beer so we continued to fly and party as normal. A bit later the tourist police came by and told us about the curfew as it was about 9:30pm they told us everyone should go home. Big Paul says “ do you have a gun? No? So I guess we don't have to go then.” in a joking manner not to the police but to our group as we all laughed and continued to have fun. It was about 11:00pm when our group started to break up as all the batteries were dead and my aircraft had malfunctioned with another broken wire. So Big Paul went home and “Toy Man Paul” also went home a bit early to try to find a restaurant that wasn't closed. So me and Raf were left and we had to take one last scan of the beach to see if there were any bargains to be found with any girls that might need a place to stay during this turmoil. In most cases when there are problems like this there are always good opportunities that show them selves. But at that moment as we were walking past Pattaya police department suddenly a group of large green military vehicles pulled up around the police station and a group of about 20 solders fully armed with automatic weapons jumped out and ran down the street beside the police station and stood in force all around it. Wow I couldn't believe it so they are serious. So I pulled out my camera phone and shot a short video just to show that I'm not just kidding about this, it is really happening.

If that last video fails to render in this embeded video I'll add this one just in case with both videos I captured combined and compressed to 11mb:

When I saw this I said to Raf, we got to go check out Walking Street. There is no way they could shut down Walking Street in this city that never sleeps. As we walked to Walking Street we passed the Royal Garden that was completely closed down. Even the Macdonalds Restarant that is open 27/7 was closed for the first time in history.

When we got to the Walking Street entrance we found only a group of about 10 tourist police guarding it with all the streets completely barren of people. Never in my life at any time of day or night have I seen walking street without a soul on it. At this hour of 12:00am there are normally wall to wall people or at least 1 for every 2 square meters of street. As we approached the entrance to walking street one of the tourist police came forward and put out his hand and told us it was curfew and that no one could pass. I insisted that I wanted to take a photo of this for the news and that if he didn't let us pass we would have to take the shots from the air with our quad copters. I was still carrying the quad that was now broken and I just used it as an excuse in hopes to get one shot. I asked who would I have to speak to to get the shot and he pointed to someone in the group near the walking street gate. I started walking toward the group and got to the point I wanted to take the shot and started filming.

It looked like one was just about to move on me until he saw what I was trying to do. I got my shot and said that's it that's all I wanted. And with that me and Raf headed home. There were still many whores on the street and a few Indians still working them as that was the only thing left open in pattaya. We had no beer but we never run out of whores. Even with a military invasion it would take more than 30 troupes to get our girls to go home. This is just the first day so I wonder what going to happen in the next few days. When I got home I turned on the TV to find every single one of the 300+ channels of my True satellite service were ALL just a picture of some military symbols and some background music.

Wow even in the last coup they only shut down the local television stations. How did they shut down the satellite with HBO, BBC and all that turned off this time? With this I suspect at some point they might also shut down the Internet so I want to make sure I get this out before everything goes black here. I also plan to pull about 20,000 baht out of the bank or ATM as I think that might become a problem if they close the banks. I've now stock piled a 50 day supply of rice (15 kilo rice) and beans and some coffee and a few other staples like BEER (3 day supply of beer) and pulled cash from the bank to last me up to 60 days (26,000 baht) just as a security measure. As they say expect the best but prepare for the worst. I can't wait to see what tomorrow brings.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

ToDo List of future and present projects

This is just a reference to possible future projects that we have with present inventory and there present status:
If any one has a preference or would like to help on any of them you are free to do so or add suggestions.
I'll later add pics to each to show what each is.
* asterisk at the front will indicates the task is completed.

Todo list:

Phantom s/n 1:
Is fully flight operational with 250mw 5.8ghz video feed working (no gimbal)
replace 5.8ghz video antena system with new spironet we got from berry shipment
problem we need an sma female to rp-sma male adapter for rx unit to work with new spironet antenna set #2

Phantom s/n 2:
is fully flight operational but has some of the added led lights not working that could be fixed at some point

Phantom s/n 3:
reasemble and just fly it (just need the screews that Paul has someplace or lost) or isolate what problem it has with it not reading the compass that makes it not operate in gps mode. It does fly very good in atti mode, so I'ed be happy with it just assembled and flying.
update may 15, 2014 tried replacement of the magnetometer in phantom s/n 3 failed to correct compass reading problem.
after replacement still fails to calibrate in compass calibrate mode after rotation stops blinking green goes solid green but after second rotation 90 degress it blinks red (error condition blink code).

Dex quad:
*install new frsky reciever s/n2 with voltage sensor and program taranis for voice actions on voltage thresholds for telemetry actions
b.replace led lights with standard strips of red and green or something we have in inventory.
*update may 15, 2014 now have programed Taranis radio for telemetry and also added timer and log recording during flight. first test flight with taranis was ok at the beach with only one 2200ma batt tried. haven't tested the 3 rate modes on ruder and right stick yet. Audio indication added on all active switches that aids in knowing what each switch does and what mode it presently is in. Also A2 voltage sensor to primary battery power value is called out every 30 secounds or on command with SD switch.

Aqua Quad:
install new frsky reciever and integrate voltage sensors
program channel of taranis to operate and setup voltage thresholds for telemetry actions

*Walkera X350 quad:
replace bad motor
optionally replace video 5.8ghz tx antena with new spironet antenna system and incorporate on video rx
or move video tx from this to one of the other phantoms like s/n 1 or 3
note: spironet antena set #2 in inventory has incorrect connector type to be used on the brown video tx box

Ardu quad renamed to X525 quad or just X quad for short:
*remove arducopter controler replace with the new Naza M system we got from Nick.
*install frsky receiver and voltage sensors and calibrate
measure current draw at hover with current meter jig to see if we are using the correct battery type
*we are now getting good flight times with this aircraft up to almost 16 minutes on 6000mah batts with no extra payload

M2 delta wing aircraft (Zepher wing clone):
*A. install voltage sensor to monitor battery condition that hooks to frsky receiver
*A1. reprogram taranis to respond to voltage thresholds for the M2 with 3S batts and test with 4S batts also
*B. reprogram arducopter controler to arduplane config and install on this aircraft
C. Install video tx unit and video camera to prepare for FPV operation
D. optional install cheap gimbal to steer camera angle up and down and maybe try stabalize software in arduplane
E. program and test for Return To Home mode and waypoint modes and stabalize modes and make sure manual mode still works
F. optional maybe later add a better gimbal to make some cool smooth long distance video shots
G. very optional with gimbal above we can also experment with waypoint preprogramed camera angle pointing

*Honda Phantom V2:
incorporate 5.8ghz 250mw fatshark video transmiter system with spironet antenna system.
not sure we have the needed bec to power tx for this yet and I'm not sure about the video wiring at this time.
task completed May 9, 2014 fully tested and working

450 firefly quad (standard 450 frame):
build up kit to be used to test props and motors and use as spare camera ship
later if we finally get this to fly for more than 15 minutes we can try add a gimbal to it to add to the list of camera lifting aircraft
this is now almost a complete kit in the box all accept a good controler
not sure what controler to use on this one yet. thought about testing with a multiwii card but can't find one in our inventory that I thought we had
option is to steel the naza M out of the Dex or aquaquad at some point since this aircraft will carry bigger battery and have longer flight time posibility than the dex or aquaquad.
at some point would need to add lights to fly it at night

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Our first airborne video gig

"Paul the Toy Man" had been talking about this crazy gig that someone had been asking him to do that I thought sounded impossible. He said that someone named Barry Upton that is a combo music writer, event producer, radio video announcer producer and much more. He's a famous figure head here in Pattaya, were he spends much of his time now. In any case I guess Paul gave Barry the idea we could get some amazing video footage for this Barry Upton Introduction of some famous Thai supper star that was coming to visit Pattaya. For this we were expected to fly our video equipped quads in and on Walking Street and inside and above and in back of the Insomnia disco with literally hundreds of people swarming in and all around it, with lights and cables strung all over including overhead with laser lights mirror balls, high voltage lines and every other unimaginable obstetrical that you would never want to fly closer than 300 meters from. When I first did the walk by in the morning hours and saw all the telephone lines and banners and other objects hanging across the road I already thought it impossible and I told Paul just how risky I felt it was going to be. But not more than 7 days past and Paul said this is it we are doing it. I told Paul I would just go as an advisor and technical assistant and that he was going to do ALL the flying. At that time I still thought it would all blow over and never happen or at least that's what I was hoping. But this night he gave me final notice with “we are on”. The plan was to meeting at 9:30pm at front of Insomnia with Barry Upton who was going to be the master mind director of the shots and we would just tell him what we could and couldn't do and fly it. When we first got there it seemed the bouncers at Insomnia didn't have a clue what Barry Upton's plans were with us and didn't even want us coming into the bar with our equipment. But when Barry Upton arrived a few minutes later things suddenly changed. We could do ANYTHING, and that's just what Paul started to do with his first flight he flew Phantom s/n 1 all the way through the Insomnia disco with hundreds of people and dancers still doing there thing. I was stunned that any one would dare to do something like this but we got so incredibly lucky it all just worked. After I saw the rear of the bar was an open roof I started to think that it was going to be possible for me to do a flight and I went and setup the Honda Phantom V2 with the gopro 3 and gyro stabilized platform installed. Lucky I had two big beers before hand to calm my nerves because other wise I would have never done it. The first launch was perfect but in thinking too much about the surroundings and the flight I forgot to activate the camera so I had to land and start the flight over again. I used the technique we had been learning at the beach to launch and land from our hands so we didn't need as much space and made it much safer in this kind of location with a higher launch and landing location with less obstructions to get in the way. The rest of what happened in the flight is now history as I condensed the total of 45+ minutes of airtime we shot together down to about 3 minutes to capture just a few of the best moments of the flights that you can now see the preview here:

After the indoor shot I got from inside Insomnia I had more confidence and took one more shot with the Honda phantom on walking street. Paul continued to make history with his flights on walking street with Phantom s/n 1 with the gopro V1 mounted. With this he not only flew through the bar but also above the famous star that arrived that Barry was interviewing at the time above hundreds of people watching them as he did so. We gave all the footage from both aircraft that ended up being almost 8Gb of compressed video data as a promotion to Barry Upton to be used in in his TV video production he is working on that I'm looking forward to seeing in the near future that I will provide a link to it when I find it. So this was the first of possibly many new video cinematography adventures if we continue to get lucky. I'm hoping the future doesn't include as much risk as this one, but I guess you sometimes have to take risks to become known. Now people will start looking at us as the airborne video group that can fly and do ANYTHING. Only time will tell.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

New Phantom V2 with zenmuse gimbal added to toy inventory

Paul picked up another new toy this week. A second hand DJI Phantom V2 with Zenmuse gimbal. We later found that the Zenmuse gimbal didn't support the Gopro V1 we already had so I personally invested in a second hand Gopro 3 Camera that I was looking to get in the near future anyway. Before we got the new Gopro we attempted to use what we already had including giving the Gopro V1 a try with the zenmuse gimbal. With only one flight with it we were able to get some good shots but at landing I noticed the gimbal went into overcurent mode and auto shutdown on the vertical axis. So the next day I incorporated a cheap 1000 baht camera I got from Tokcom some time back that is made to record from a cars dash board. It still required adding counter balance using some balance mass and some rubber bands to hold them in position to reduce torque load on the brushless motor drives. The cheap cam has a good wide angle view and captures HD at settings up to 1080p at 30fps. I set it to 720p 30fps for our flight test to reduce file size as only plan to web publish the shots they can't be very big. Cool thing is the camera auto powers up and records when you power up the Phantom. Bad part we later learned is that it seems to erase the last video and record a new video when you power off and then on again with phantom V2 power switched. I'm not sure this can be set someplace to not happen in the cam like this or not yet. But now with the new Gopro 3 I don't think I'll be using it on the phantom anymore anyway but might find it useful on one of the other aircraft at some point as in the daytime it took nice good quality shots. But when we tried the cheap 1000 Baht cam at night at the beach we found that there wasn't much to see, so it's strictly a daytime shooter. Another cool thing on the gopro 3 is that it has a wifi preview that is visible from my android phone as an app that can also be used to change camera resolution and settings and take still frame shots in flight if desired. Not sure what kind of range we will get out of it but should be good to about 30 – 100 meters that should be far enuf for most shots we will be taking with this aircraft. If that doesn't end up being enuf there is also an option to use the zenmuse video output that taps video feed from the back of the Gopro 3 and feeds it out with 4 wires that provide for 12vdc with 2 ground wires and video output. I'm not sure my fatshark video tx can handle 12vdc for power yet but will check that out if the wifi isn't doing what we want or at some point we will want to try fpv with this cool new toy. Some videos captured with the new aircraft seen here:
This first video was taken with the Gopro V1 rubber banded onto the zenmuse gimbal. Video mode on the gopro was set at 720p and later recompress for the web with ffmpeg with H264 codec at 2000kb/s compression.

This next video was taken with the cheap 1000 baht camera made for car dash board recording as seen here:

. Video mode was set to 720p and later compressed with ffmpeg in H264 codec at 2000kb/s same compression used in gopro video above. still takes good shots in the daytime as you can see here:

Some shots taken with the gopro 3 at Pattaya beach at night to show how it's working in low light conditions:

For reference when we got this now called Honda phantom V2 the gain settings were set to:
Pitch Roll Yaw Vertical
130 130 180 110 Basic
80 80 Attitude

we later tried to slow down yaw for smother camera movements:
Pitch Roll Yaw Vertical
130 130 90 110 Basic
80 80 Attitude

and today May 8, 2014 we have it set to:
Pitch Roll Yaw Vertical
130 130 40 110 Basic
80 80 Attitude

Update: May 9, 2014
With the yaw gain set to 40% it didn't seem to slow yaw much at all as I had hoped it would. What it seemed to do is make it not hold it's yaw position. With a small breeze on the 12th floor balcony it seemed it would rotate as much as 45 degrees without me giving it any command to do so. It also failed to stop moving when I did a quick flick of yaw it would take time to stop yaw movement. So I went and set the yaw gain back up near what it was at 80% and gave it one more short flight test on the balcony. This time I gave it big quick movements and when I let go it would halt movement and lock it's yaw position more like I had hoped. So it seems yaw speed can't be controlled at this point with gain settings. I will just have to adjust to the way it now flies until we replace the receiver with an frsky and program the Frsky Taranis transmitter to control it at some point in the future. With that we can setup expo and dual rates on yaw to provide the kind of movements I really want. With the frsky receiver we will also have telemetry to indicate battery status that will be very useful when flying FPV where we will not be able to see the status led lights.

present gain settings now:
Pitch Roll Yaw Vertical
130% 130% 80% 110% Basic
80% 80% Attitude

Saturday, April 5, 2014

UFO spotted above Pattaya flys 10 meters over Hilton Hotel and off over the sea to never return

We (Me, Raf and Dave) saw A real UFO last night flying over Pattaya. Me and my two friends Raf and Dave were walking down the beach walk at Pattaya beach looking for girls when I noticed and pointed out an object flying over the Hilton Hotel headed toward the waters edge and continue on a perfect strait line with never a change in direction or altitude. No one took much notice of it as we have these things fly around here all the time with me piloting some of them, but this one wasn't flying a normal flight path.

I think it must have been something like this image above or at least similar.
I first saw it flying over the Hilton Hotel only about 10 meters above the building or a bit to the north of the building and a bit lower at about 11:05pm around Soi 9 that from what I saw looked like it must have been a quad-copter that was about 450mm in size that when it flew almost directly over my head was a symmetrical design (square shaped), with 4 props. It wasn't low enuf to be able to hear any prop sounds but we were also near Soi 8 that had a lot of live band noise that would have covered most of it up at that altitude. It had 4 dim led lights of different colors in front and back on each corner and one white strobe light that flashed at about 1 time per second. It continued to fly off out past the coast of Pattaya on a north east heading at about 30 – 50 meters altitude at a rate of 30 - 50 km/h and continued as far as my eyes could see up until about 11:09pm when I lost site of it when it was about 3km off shore to never return. I had originally thought it was something I had seen before that belonged to our Russian friend that flys with us at the beach that also has a 450mm quad with a naza M controller on it, but I don't recall his having the white strobe on it but I could be wrong and forgot about that. This aircraft I estimate must have been about a 20000 baht aircraft from what I could only estimate. This is the second aircraft that I've seen in the last 2 mouths that looks to have crashed off the shores of pattaya. The first one I saw about 2 months ago looked to be a cheap counter spinning prop copter that I've seen that are made in China that I saw were being sold at some of the booths during the music festival for 1000 bhat or less complete with radio. That one looked to be spiraling in a circular pattern and moving off the coast at about 20 km/h until I again lost site of it about 2km off shore so I'm sure it could never have returned. That one was more toward the Hard Rock hotel when I first saw it fly off shore from what I could see. This is just another reason we should make sure that the failsafe settings on the receiver are setup correctly if you fly anything that can take advantage of them. To make sure an aircraft can do an auto return on radio failure with a naza or other controler that has GPS data available, the receiver radio on the aircraft still has to have the failsafe setup properly or as we should know it has no function at all.
My best guess from the direction this last object came from, it came from and the distance I estimate that one of these objects maximum range will take them of about 10km or a bit more with 50km/h max speed and about 12 minute max flight time. It would appear it might have come from the elephant village groups airfields flight path. So maybe we will hear about it soon enuf when we start talking to some of the local remote pilots about it.

The image above is the estimated path from what we saw and the range the aircraft is estimated to be able to fly.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Strange control problems with DJI Phantom s/n 4 quadcopter

We took the DJI phantom s/n 4 quadcopter to the beach last night and had a majority of perfect flights. With these new advanced 9.4 inch props, We now have the gains set at:
pitch roll yaw vertical 
Basic: 180 180 100 125
Attitude: 90 90

Update May 1, 2014
We have continued to have intermittent problems with this Phantom aircraft and we are now trying another set of gain settings in hopes to partly correct some of the problems:
Pitch Roll Yaw Vertical
180 180 100 125 Basic Gain
90 90 Attitude gain

changed to:
Picth Roll Yaw Vertical
120 120 80 115 Basic Gain
95 95 Attitude Gain

As some of the problems seem to happen when we do radical quick stick movements I'm hoping that the reduction in basic gains might prevent this from happening. Also a slight increase in attitude gain might improve correction times. Without high Basic gains the small increase in Attitude gain should balance out and hopefully still not cause oscillation problems. I've also had problems with one crash from a quick decent that put the aircraft into an unrecoverable spiral so I'm hoping the reduced vertical gain and slight increase in Attitude gain might lesson that from happening again. I also resoldered the power connector leads as one has lead already broke so I resoldered them both today.

Update Mar 29, 2014:
We had another day at the beach with phantom s/n 4. This time most the flights I flew with it were all perfect. I was flying conservative in most my flights to make sure not to put it into the theoretical oscillating state that cause it to crash. I went through about 4 batteries OK but the last one I flew flight 5, I was taking very fast runs up and down the beach when again on the right hand side of the beach I was in the return phase back to launch when I pulled full back pitch to gain full speed and started also an almost full pull back in throttle to get maximum rate of decent for about 2 seconds. Suddenly the aircraft went into a wobble oscillation in about 1 foot radius and continued to descend. I let go the controls hoping it would stabilize but after 2 second off the stick the wobble continued and so did the rapid decent with the aircraft almost always at a bit more that 45 degree pitch average but in a rotating pattern. At that point I started to pull back on throttle to get it to descend before it would drift into the sidewalk as pulse input on roll and pitch had no noticeable response. It came down a bit hard but undamaged. I spun It up back at camp and all was looking OK. After that Paul took it for another flight and it was still flying OK. So I guess you just can't do radical high rate of decent on this aircraft. Does that mean I should crank up the roll pitch gain or down gain? Or maybe crank down some on vertical gain? I'm not sure. Maybe this is just something as a pilot you just have to know the limits for. Never pull full stick down throttle for any long durations. For longer decent times limit throttle pull back to 25% instead of 0 - 5%. Limit full stick down throttle (0%) for less than 2 seconds and only at very low altitude and limited rate of decent speeds.

Update Mar 26 , 2014
We had phantom s/n 4 out again at the beach last night with at least 4 good flights but then Paul said something funny happened. He said he had no pitch or roll control. We powered it up again and this time I took it out. It took off fine but I also noted that I had no pitch or roll control at all. I still had total control over throttle and failed to even try yaw control. I landed it on the ground gently and told Paul I would have a look at it in the morning to see what might be the problem. This morning before I even fired up the phantom s/n 4 I took apart the TX and checked that the pots were turning and all the plugs were plugged in. I saw nothing mechanical wrong at this point. So I fired up the full set phantom and TX with the phantom aircraft hooked to my computers flight assistant. I looked at the radio control section and everything was moving as it should on all sticks of TX. I ran over 200 cycles on each stick to see if it had an intermittent problem but it continued to work. I cycled power on both the TX and the aircraft 10 times each time it came up OK fully functional. So this is some kind of intermittent problem that has no known point of failure. So the option is to try bind our spare TX s/n 3 to this aircraft s/n 4 and see if the problem duplicates again. Another possibility is maybe the mode switch was set to failsafe mode. But even in that case I would think the throttle would also fail to respond until the mode switch was toggled from atti to gps or other mode. This symptom explains the first problem we had when I had to put it down on the edge of a tree on the first beach flight day on 3/18/14. Paul also had one flight yesterday where he put s/n 4 into a rocking roll action for more than 20 cycles and got it to crash but at low altitude with no damage. This was a flight before the flights that we didn't have any roll or pitch control. Still could be more than one problem. Just wait and see?

Published 3/18/14:
Paul flew it at least 4 times without a single incident and seemed happy with the flight characteristics of these gain settings. However on 3 of my flights I had some strange things happen. The first incident for me was when I was at a distance up the beach of about 50 meters away at about 20 meters altitude when suddenly it seemed I lost control like it pulled right without input in gps mode. I let go the controls thinking I must have brain farted and I would wait for it to stabilize and pulse the stick to find out how it was really oriented. But even when I released the controls it didn't level and it started moving toward the side walk. It still had altitude of about 10 meters so when I saw it wasn't going to level I pulled back on the throttle in hopes it would at least start to loose altitude and it did follow my input in this case. I was able to get it to the ground just before it hit the sidewalk and ended up with a bit of a hard landing on the sand after having to fall threw the edge of a tree. I looked at it after impact and it looked physically unharmed. One prop spun a bit hard with some sand but we were able to spin it out in no time. I continued to fly out the battery in a second attempt but only at very low altitude and no more than 10 feet away as my original theory was a radio hit. Again everything seemed to fly OK but when I started to rock the aircraft as fast as possible with fast stick roll actions it suddenly fell to the ground but this time it seemed like the left side dropped all the way to the sand. Lucky it was only about 6 feet altitude and crashed into the soft sand again with no damage. Paul was able to continue to fly it 4 more times after this and he never had any problems with it in his flights. I flew it for the last time as it seems it has some kind of problem with high speed rocking rolling action. This time I made sure not to attempt any actions like that. I flew only smooth flight on the last one but did some more distant flights up to about 40 meters away and with this I tried high speed flight with rapid deacceleration. All those seemed to go OK. I also did fast as possible climb and decent but only from 2 feet to 15 feet and back down as fast as possible thinking that this might also trigger an event but it didn't. So at this point I'm not really sure what's up with phantom s/n 4. Maybe one of the esc is a bit dodgy and can't handle quick rpm changes on a regular basis or maybe the present gain settings have some kind of resonance at some point that at high speed rocking gets it into an over correcting loop? Maybe the problem is just me brain farting as it seems it never happens when “Paul the toy man” flies it and he had more flight time on it than I did. None of these theories can explain all 3 events perfectly so maybe a combinations of problems like brain fart and bad esc. Until it happens when someone else is flying we can't be sure. I think just fly this one a bit easy and not push it too hard and maybe try to avoid flying over water until we isolate something.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Tunning our new DJI phantom with 9.4 inch props

We have added another toy to the inventory that seems to be a basic phantom without the camera but a newer version of the phantom with the bigger 9.4 inch advanced props that now come with the new phantom 2. But this one still uses the original battery type so it's some kind of hybrid of half phantom 1 and half phantom 2 I guess.

My first test flights from the balcony of my condo, I noticed a bit of instability and some 3 Hz wobble oscillation that didn't seem normal to me. I did some research on gain settings to see what was needed to correct the small problem. When I hooked up the unit to the assistant software I noticed it was running the newest versions of Naza M V2:
phantom s/n 4
hardware firmware
main controller 4.02

I also noted some differences from our other 3 phantoms that must be the older models that use ppm instead of what this new one uses D-Bus on the receiver settings. Also I don't recall seeing the receiver firmware settings in the older units but maybe that's part of the new naza M assistant software that is now version 2.20 that I used to view and change settings with on this aircraft. I was running naza M assistant software version 2.18 on our older units. Also our older Phantoms have the stock 8 inch props installed.

All test seen here are run indoors in my apartment off my bed.
in atti mode unless specified other
these tests were run on phantom s/n 4 with the new V2 9.4" props
I used this link as a reference http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2075124
in making any attempted changes from what effects were seen.

All gain values bellow are in order as seen in assistant software as
basic: pitch roll yaw vertical
attitude: pitch roll

original settings when we got this aircraft from the shop
125 125 100 125
125 125
with the original settings I noted oscillation when flown on the balcony from wind turbulence without any stick input that at times become a bit scary
, with as much as 2cm roll and pitch osc without any stick input from just outside wind turbulance effects

Today first tried with these values
140 140 100 125
140 140
with this we still have high speed oscillation but tolerable with very fast pitch roll movement when flown indoors.
not sure how stable this would be in windy turbulent conditions or in rapid descent, but I might give it a try
outside later.

140 140 100 125
90 90
OK no osc but slow handling

170 170 100 125
90 90
OK no osc but still slow handling pitch roll

190 190 100 125
90 90
still the same slot pitch roll and also note that slow to go back to center
as I'm sure was same above but
didn't notice till this try.

120 120 100 125
200 200
in this setting I get very fast return to center and still controllable indoors (a bit scary fast for indoors)
I also note that when I give quick pulse of roll or pitch that I see oscillation of 3 cycles of overshoot but only about 1cm or less before it dampens
so I would assume that means that attitude at this setting is a bit too high?
But this is also what I was told is the default settings from the factory in Phantom V2. But the V2 have bigger battery and must be a bit heavier so need more gain to compensate I would think.

200 200 100 125
95 95
has some improvement in response but I still note some overshot in quick pulse of roll pitch that dampens in about 2 cycles
and is very small over shoot of less than 1cm at the aircraft lifting tips.

200 200 100 125
90 90
same as above still over shot with dampening at 2 cycles

tried this outside on the balcony on the 12th floor
180 180 100 125
90 90
flies OK stable without any noticeable oscillation
even with rapid decent from 20meter above launch had only expected roll pitch wobble of about 2cm at tips probably from prop wash
. it doesn't seem quite as responsive in roll pitch as the other phantoms in our inventory with slow to break on center stick when flying at high speed
also seems to hold position in both altitude and lateral outside in gps mode very well. stayed within 1 foot in most cases
I'm ready to give this a try at the beach. but I might also try the 140 gain at some point outdoors also
I'm guessing that with this slower response time will also act in favor of longer battery life without high speed feedback in motor pulses
also probably a better setting for camera applications (better than fast mode) for smoother movments.

Last try outside today
120 120 100 125
190 190
I flew this outside on the 12th floor balcony and find it not as stable in many ways
I think there was a bit more wind on this flight so maybe not a good compare.
But on rapid decent it had big wobble oscillation that got very scary to a point that I had to decreased my rate and in fact I would only take small steps as I took the aircraft down.

I've now returned the settings to my present favorite for these conditions
180 180 100 125
90 90
These settings will now be tested at the beach to see how that goes.

Update May 1, 2014
We have continued to have intermitent problems with this aircraft and are now trying another set of gain settings in hopes to partly correct some of the problems:
Pitch Roll Yaw Vertical
180 180 100 125 Basic Gain
90 90 Attitude gain

changed to:
Picth Roll Yaw Vertical
120 120 80 115 Basic Gain
95 95 Attitude Gain

As some of the problems seem to happen when we do radical quick stick movements I'm hoping that the reduction in basic gains might prevent this from happening. Also a slight increase in attitude gain might improve correction times. Without high Basic gains the small increase in Attitude gain should balance out and hopefully still not cause oscilation problems. I've also had problems with one crash from a quick decent that put the aircraft into an unrecoverable spiral so I'm hoping the reduced vertical gain might lesson that happening again.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Day 2 of Flying the QR X350 FPV quad by Paul the toy man, "WELL HMM"

2nd Day of Flying the qr X350


Paul Rosenberg

Okay , lets start form the beginning. Well I had pretty well adjusted childhood. Liked toys, obviously. Ha ha

Whoops, okay, not that far back. Let’s start from today:

So this is the 2nd full day of flying the Walkera, QR X350. I entitled this page “WELL, HMM””. Best way to sum it up.

Began flying today with 8 fully charged batteries. 5 used and three brand new. The new batteries gave me maybe 6 minutes of flight time whereas the used ones hardly two-four minutes. And this is without the FPV on. No camera, no transmitter. So, “well, hmm”. Not the best for flight times. And this is also with a new set of balanced carbon props that came with the deal.

Then, half way through those flights, the transmitter battery for trhe DEvo went out, and YES, when you lose the transmitter, you lose every thing!! The quad comes straight down. Gives you about one minute of vibrating and audio warning coming from the transmitter, which is good, but I was high up, so took me almost that minute to get down, When the screen wen t out, the quad landed hard the last ten feet. (but at the beach in big sand dunes, so no damage) Well, hmmmmmm Will have to carry a spare two cell or get a bigger one

Now, for the real “meat” of this article: finally realized this is a lower end system so calibration is needed after some flights, and especially harder landings, any shock, and just when it feels like it. Arming is a real mystery and more like rolling the dice. Sometimes it arms, most of the time, it does not. So the only cure seems to be unplug the battery and reboot. It does nto matter much where the switch settings are. But I did arm enough times to go through all batteries.

Now for the flight. “Well, hmmm”. Seems to have a mind of it’s own. IN manual mode it is controllable and about what you expect and can be steered, sort of. On occasion, it just likes to sort of……….”hiccup”.m Wel;l that is the best way to describe it. Maybe a quick downward andgle to the right, and traveling that way for about three feet. Or maybe a drop in height pretty radical to where you hjave to be on the throttle to save it and then it shoots up. And again, the trims don’t really do that much. If i9t wants to drift right or left, it does. Just makes you a creative pilot and you are paying attention all day.

Now, on the second day, the GPS decides to finally work better and maybe all this recalibration finally sunk in . For example, return home works great! Really great. It goes where it wants and finds an awkward path back home that is NOT a straight line, but if DOES find it’s way back to the take off site, and then bounces a few times. This is a plus.

But, GPS attitude hold or lock, is scary. Well it does hover and it does go back top the spot you drag it away from in hover, but under flight command, it might glitch quickly to the right, it might rock a few times like a rocking horse back and forth, it might decidxe to yaw a little more than I am giving it. Kinda like a quad thatis showing all the signs of going bad soon and goind to take off on you, you know. Just little gliches and kinda hard to explain, but think about it this way: You are flying at sio 5 and have a nmice wide area or the stadium, and I take a pin and jab you in the ass! Yea, that is it. Then you jump, and the quad gliches to the right or left fcast and then recovers. Yea , like that. Kinda nerve wracking.

Well, hmmmm.

But it is what it it. I see videos all day on You tube that show it hovering in doors or out and not drifting or gliching at all.

So I got caught in a gimmick is what I am thinking. A lower end quad but with a very cool feature of a built in screen on the controller. Neat toy, but the quad is not that much fun to fly. Well, hmm.

Took the phantom out after that and WHAT a difference. Like driving a rolls Royce. Smooth, dependable, goes where you point it, and stays there.

Maybe have to buy another one. Ha ha

And that ends my article.

What did ya think>
[1:48:44 PM] laserpaul: well?

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Creation of a UFO hoax with quad-copters

With all the cool aircraft and equipment we now already have in our present inventory of toys and after watching a preview of an episode in UFO Hunters TV program, a crazy idea popped into my mind. Wow we could create a cool UFO hoax video and publish it on youtube.com. I'll bet if it was believably enough it would get a lot of web hits. I started chatting about this crazy idea with Paul the toy man and without any hesitation he responds “I'm In!!”. So the basic concept of making this video is that it centers around a small group of 3 or 4 people out in the country side in an outdoor event or camping trip party like atmosphere at night. In this event they are also playing with two video cameras or maybe one good cam and another being just a good telephone video, filming there trip activities around a camp fire telling jokes and other such things. Suddenly one of the people in the group points up and says “what's that up there!”.

It doesn't look like much at first with just one light in the sky that blinks at some odd intervals. As they all look up and the video also points at the object suddenly the single object breaks apart into 5 flying object and they all move in a controlled pattern as they continue to move closer to the the group. Some people in the group start to get scared but others think its cool and one of them wants a closer look. But as the objects get closer more strange lights begin to be seen including a bright light that lights up the one interested party in the group that goes to get the closer look. It lights him up with a bright white light and then some laser lights also begin to be seen from another of the flying objects. The group of aircraft now surround the single guy as the rest of the group yell at him to get out of there. He seems stunned and suddenly falls down. Then as suddenly as the aircraft appeared they all fly away out of site as a controlled group. The group runs to see there friends to see if he's OK. He looks back up at them and says wow that was cool. He is drunker than most of the others in the group so it's understandable he might think that was cool. But the others in the group are scared and all pack up quickly and get the hell out of there. And that's how it ends as they pull away from the site on there bikes or cars.
To achieve this we will use 5 of the quad-copter aircraft we now already have In our inventory that we will just need to add some additional lights and lasers to. We will also need 5 pilots, one on each aircraft and a 6th person that also has a remote that is dedicated to controlling just the lights on all the aircrafts. So the pilots can focus on just flying a planed flight sequence while the light controller can focus on controlling the lighting sequence events and synchronize the events between all the aircrafts at the same time. We will also need 4 more actors for the field shot that has to include 2 of them that will operate the video cameras at the same time. So we are now up to a total of 9 – 10 people needed for such a project. Another item we might want to add some speaker system with sound effects to play back some audio in the background to create some sound effects of the UFO as they approach and then depart the stage aria. To make the video more realistic there will be no sound or video dubbing or overlays that can be analyzed by experts that view the video. With two video perspectives that are captured and uncut it will proved from mathematical triangulation that the objects in the video are real UFO as they really will be. Another added possibility that would require more funding for equipment we don't presently fully have yet is: to use a group of APM (arducopter) equipped aircraft like our Arducopter that at present we only have a quantity of one. With an autonomous sequence that we could program into the group of aircraft we could do some cool stunts like have them all fly in sync in a circle around an object and all fly off as they form a line in and off the center stage of the event. Also another sequence could be that they all start at or fly in at the same position X Y for lat, long but would be at 10 - 20 feet apart from each other in altitude then at a sync signal point in time they all fly into a hex pattern out from the center then all stop then start to all fly in a circular pattern around the center point and later change to a figure 8 pattern or other more complex shapes of flight pattern. I think with practice human pilots can perform this also but with the auto pilot we should be able to create repeatable and more complex precision sequences in the APM that could also control turning off and on the lights and lasers on the aircraft as part of the autopilot sequence program. This all sounds like it would be fun but may end up being much more work than I realize and also to organize a large number of people to perform such a task won't be an easy thing to do. But even if it never gets done. It sure is fun just thinking about it. And if we don't do it I'm sure others are already plotting to be doing it someplace if they haven't done it already. So we best start to practice with a group flights in planed sequences just to see what can really be done before we continue any of this plan. Also some test shots need to be done to make sure not too much video resolution is available to identify the aircrafts. Some added smoke might also help to make the lasers and lights show up better. I'll keep thinking about this crazy idea as others add to what they think could or should be done. So if you read in the paper in the near future or see a video news clip about a UFO sighting in Pattaya, you can bet I had something to do with it. Or did I? It was all a plan to cover up the truth. I love UFO's so much I guess if I can't find one I'll just have to make some.

Update from the producer:
[10:39:32 AM] laserpaul: no no, wait wait, this scrip[t has to be re-wreitten. First, the guy that gets surrounded by UFO's would have to be me, and this character is making out around the camp fire with one of the hotter go go girls from a disco on walking street. Yea, that's it. okay, since you are the producer and director of acting, it is up to you to talk her into this, but I can find several who would be in this video for the right price.
[10:42:36 AM] laserpaul: Okay, then the script goes on to the show the couple are getting down and naked when the UFO's surround them. Yea, that's the ticket. sure. so, sorry director, but you have to find another pilot, as I want to be the star of this one (and director of laser and special effects) ha ha. oh yea (how in the world are you going to get five rc pilots to fly in tandem or formation , even in a circle. ha ha. But on another note, we actually could have five systems flying soon if we wanted. Two running phantom systems, one walker, one H2O. THen fly the arduo or tube copter from the DX6. yea, it would work. and good luck on the formation. ha ha. If I were you, I would start working on designing the switching circuit for the onboard laser. yea. should not be hard. then get me a leading lady, and no, you cant count on Namfon
[10:43:31 AM] laserpaul: and found a couple of orange rx units. Will pack them up.
[10:43:47 AM] laserpaul: so we have enough

[11:02:00 AM] Scotty so it sound like this is becoming a porno flick also? I'm not sure about publishing it on youtube.com then.