UAV / RC aircraft

time

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Thought there were probably enough geeks here to start a separate thread for this. I was inspired by the amazing MicroKopter RC helicopters, which really qualify as UAV. There are other consumer-UAVs out there, but these just blew me away.

HexaKopter

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The active-servo anti-shake camera-mounting can produce some excellent results, which you can find if you look into this further. MicroDrones offers the same setup, but nowhere near the kinematic performance.

To top it off, you can actually buy these as kits! 1200 euro for the basic HexaKopter, although I'd guess it would approach 2000 euro by the time you add all the goodies. IMO, still an amazing deal for the Sci-Fi technology that you get.
 

ddrueding

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I have been a big fan of these for a long time, primarily because my RC helicopter skills are so poor. All I want is a stable flying camera platform ;)

That one looks really awesome...pricing one out now...
 

Handruin

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I love the features on it with the GPS and the way points, etc. That would be fun to mount a wireless camera to fly it like a first person vehicle.
 

ddrueding

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They way I would want it would be with an HD camcorder. The current videos online are using the FPV stream and it sucks. Since I can't fly the darned things by hand anyway, I'd just be programming in waypoints and viewing the video afterwards. Looks like octocoper (higher payload), GPS kit, panning/stabilizing camera mount, wireless computer interface, misc (not including camera or computer) would be about $5k. Add to that an average of ~$50 worth of damage per flight (usually none, sometimes lots). A bit out of my price range at the moment.
 

time

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How did you calculate that, Dave?

From the What do I need? page:

MK Basicset Okto 1500€
DX7 transmitter 260€
Receiver cable 7€
Ultramat 14 charger 90€
Charging cable 6€
Tx charging cable 4€
Navi-Ctrl 120€
GPS receiver 70€
Compass 65€
2x Bluetooth sets 114€
HiSight II camera mount 100€

Spare propeller pair 4€
Spare 5000mAh battery 150€

Total 2490€ or $us 3400

The HexaKopter is significantly cheaper, so I think my initial guess wasn't too far off. For comparison, googling suggests professional alternatives go for $us 15k-25k ...

Apparently, the bluetooth gives 1000m range, so I'm not sure you'd need anything other than the basic transmitter they recommend for beginners.

Also, because all the parts are available separately, stuff like the GPS navigation, camera mount and huge spare battery can be added later.
 

time

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Also, I think your damage allowance is way over the top. The craft is self-righting and designed to fly with missing or damaged propellers, so unless you slam it into the ground, I'm not sure how you could cause significant damage.

It's also significantly more robust than toys like the Parrot, or indeed a lot of model aircraft.
 

ddrueding

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Also, I think your damage allowance is way over the top. The craft is self-righting and designed to fly with missing or damaged propellers, so unless you slam it into the ground, I'm not sure how you could cause significant damage.

It's also significantly more robust than toys like the Parrot, or indeed a lot of model aircraft.
I'm having a hard time imagining any way to damage a model aircraft that doesn't involve it slamming into the ground. That is how my chopper always dies.

The plans I'm already making involve GPS managed flying fairly close to the ground. Collision with trees would be a distinct possibility.
 

time

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What may be more of a deal-breaker for you is that the current software limits way points to within a 255m radius of the starting point (510m diameter area). Don't know if that's a temporary limitation or a safety feature. The software is open source, so in theory, you should be able to change it if you're keen enough.
 

ddrueding

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Yeah, that wouldn't be an issue. While it is actually an FAA restriction, I consider it more of a guideline.

One of the other costs I had factored in was assembly and testing. I know from fine-tuning my own chopper that balancing and calibration can be more than half of the work, and I'm not very good at it. I'd want someone with considerable experience to make sure everything is put together and working optimally before I took delivery.
 

udaman

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I was inspired by the amazing MicroKopter RC helicopters, which really qualify as UAV. There are other consumer-UAVs out there, but these just blew me away.

The active-servo anti-shake camera-mounting can produce some excellent results, which you can find if you look into this further. MicroDrones offers the same setup, but nowhere near the kinematic performance.
UAV???

Won't a good OIS in a high-end consumer HD camcorder be sufficient/better?

What is FPV (explanation, not what the letters/words stand 4)


What was wrong with the vids' I linked in the DSLR thread?
 

udaman

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I know from fine-tuning my own chopper that balancing and calibration can be more than half of the work, and I'm not very good at it. I'd want someone with considerable experience to make sure everything is put together and working optimally before I took delivery.
^RC forums doesn't work 4 U, or U haven't explored it enough?
 

udaman

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Handy needs to setup a Chat forum so we can go @it faster :D
 

Chewy509

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Also, I think your damage allowance is way over the top. The craft is self-righting and designed to fly with missing or damaged propellers, so unless you slam it into the ground, I'm not sure how you could cause significant damage.

It's also significantly more robust than toys like the Parrot, or indeed a lot of model aircraft.
One of these: http://www.gizmag.com/aa-12-combat-shotgun-frag-12-automatic/11393/

Or one of these: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_purpose_machine_gun

It'll be fun trying!!!!
 

Handruin

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What may be more of a deal-breaker for you is that the current software limits way points to within a 255m radius of the starting point (510m diameter area). Don't know if that's a temporary limitation or a safety feature. The software is open source, so in theory, you should be able to change it if you're keen enough.
I looked through the waypoint C++ code and it looks like there is a limitation on the number of waypoints (20) but I haven't (yet) found a radius limitation. There may be some restrictions in this ubx code, but I can't tell all of what's going on in there.
 

Chewy509

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I looked through the waypoint C++ code and it looks like there is a limitation on the number of waypoints (20) but I haven't (yet) found a radius limitation. There may be some restrictions in this ubx code, but I can't tell all of what's going on in there.
Without digging too much, it appears that the distance calculation is of type 'u8', which would indicate a unsigned 8bit value, which the max value is 255.

Change the calculations/variable and that restriction is broken.

PS. I won't standby the above, as it's only from a 2sec glance at the code, so there may be more to it.
 

Handruin

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I see the u8 type for the variable 'i' which is in the first loop, but it's stopped by the defined constant 'WPLISTLEN' which is hard set to a value of 20.

Where did you see distance being calculated?
 

Pradeep

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I'm having a hard time imagining any way to damage a model aircraft that doesn't involve it slamming into the ground. That is how my chopper always dies.

The plans I'm already making involve GPS managed flying fairly close to the ground. Collision with trees would be a distinct possibility.
How did you get trained on it? From what I understand it's usually best to have an experienced pilot at a second set of controls, he can take over if the poop hits the proverbial. Not that I've ever flown one.
 

Handruin

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Sorry can't find it. It wasn't in those 2 files you posted, though.
Bummer...I looked through almost all of them and didn't see anything related to distance. Not a big deal though, but it was nice to see they published the source code for this.
 

LunarMist

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Nope. If they are spying, they are at a longer range with a longer lens. Odds are you wouldn't have any idea they are there.
I can wear the very large green sombrereo outside then. ;)

If the aircraft were within visual range, would it be possible to jam the controls by sending a strong signal focused with a parabolic dish? How much money do consumers spend on these spy planes anyway?
 

ddrueding

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Depends on how paranoid you are. I'm seriously considering budgeting about $4k for this project; and I assure you I won't be interested in following you around ;)

In theory, if you could identify the right frequencies, you could jam the controls without much power at all. Of course, the one I'm looking at would be completely autonomous; no communication with the ground is required for the duration of the flight, so good luck jamming it ;)
 

LunarMist

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Depends on how paranoid you are. I'm seriously considering budgeting about $4k for this project; and I assure you I won't be interested in following you around ;)
It depends on the area. In the city I think there would be some attention to low-flying craft, including from law enforcement types concerned about terrorist threats. You would also need to be sure that insurance covers property damages and injuries should the vehicle crash in a populated area.
 

ddrueding

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In my city the tallest building it about 6 stories, so keeping it at 150' would be high enough to not be audible and low enough to not interfere with flights. I doubt many would even see it, much less be able to identify it.
 

ddrueding

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Good find Uda. That guy is out of Austin, if he were any closer, I'd see if I could hire him for a day to play with that wonderful toy.
 

Chewy509

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Where did you see distance being calculated?
In uart1.h in NaviCtrl.

The "u8 OperatingRadius; // current operation radius around the Home Position in m - since 0.15b" in the NaviData_t data structure is what you are after.

Change the u8 to u32, and find all references to that variable in code to ensure all code related to that parameter are ok, and you should be good to go.

Also check "GPS_PosDev_t" in uart1.h as well... (The distance variable is u16 and marked in cm, so max distance would be 16,384 cm or 163m).
 

flagreen

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How did you get trained on it? From what I understand it's usually best to have an experienced pilot at a second set of controls, he can take over if the poop hits the proverbial. Not that I've ever flown one.
I flew RC planes for many years. You're right there is a steep learning curve when learning to fly. A buddy cable is a must at first. That's a cable that connects your transmitter to an experienced flyer's who can take over in an instant if needed. Hardest of all for me when learning was this - left is left, and right is right, when an RC plane is flying away from you, but left becomes right, and right becomes left when its flying towards you. That and learning to land are the biggest stumbling blocks for new folks.

Interesting thread!
 

ddrueding

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I flew RC planes for many years. You're right there is a steep learning curve when learning to fly. A buddy cable is a must at first. That's a cable that connects your transmitter to an experienced flyer's who can take over in an instant if needed. Hardest of all for me when learning was this - left is left, and right is right, when an RC plane is flying away from you, but left becomes right, and right becomes left when its flying towards you. That and learning to land are the biggest stumbling blocks for new folks.

Interesting thread!
Great to see you back, Flagreen!

I wish I knew someone who was competent at the controls. As it is, every mistake is a crash, and that becomes very time consuming in repairs. Very frustrating as well, which slows the rebuild, which slows the learning curve.
 

flagreen

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Great to see you back, Flagreen!

I wish I knew someone who was competent at the controls. As it is, every mistake is a crash, and that becomes very time consuming in repairs. Very frustrating as well, which slows the rebuild, which slows the learning curve.
I tried to learn on my own for a couple of years with very little success. What I finally did was join a club. That way I finally learned (without crashing) with the help of an instructor. More than likely there's a club in your area as well. Clubs also give you a way to regulate frequencies so there's less chance of crashing due to someone else jumping on the same frequency.

Thanks for the welcome back.
 

blakerwry

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I was recently gifted one of these by a family friend who had had it sitting in the basement for a few years (unused).

Definitely a good starter plane which got me interested in the sport without too much of an investment. The plane was recently carried off by a large wind gust into some nearby woods on a windy day (I shouldn't have been flying anyway), so I'll need to get a replacement. Those hexacopters are supremely cool, but my budget is probably < $200 until I feel more confident and experienced.
 
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