Thursday, August 6, 2015

3DR Solo - Drone Tooth Pull

We had faimly over this week, and my Nephew had his first loose tooth. He was pretty excited about the Solo, and when I jokingly asked if he wanted me to pull it out with the Drone, he was all about it.

After verifying that it was loose enough to proceed, we tied floss around it, and took off!  Video of the shenanigans below.

Still waiting for the Gimbals to ship for the Solo, but until then enjoying just flying around and doing fun (although un-stabalized) videos like this.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

3DR Solo - Unboxing

I have my SOLO!  The original Best Buy pre-order still hasn't even shipped yet, but I was able to walk into a local store and pick one up, and then promptly canceled the pre-order. Was also able to grab a spare battery, and some props. No Gimball or Backpack available yet.

Also sold my previous DYI quad on Craigslist.  There were a lot of people calling about it, generated more interest than I thought it would. 

And now back to the SOLO. Here are some juicy Unboxing pics...

 Solo, extra battery and props.

 Temporary "travel" case that comes in the box.  Not too bad, but I have a hard foam case coming as well.

 The inside is put togeher pretty well, good presentation.

 Here is the "Smart Battery" showing its current charge level.

 Solo from the front.  The gimball hasn't been released yet, so using the standard frame to hold the GoPro for now, shakey video and all.

 Top shot with all the Quick Release props.  Seriously easy to take on and off, no tools required.

 Shot from the front with the GoPro Here 4 Black in tow.

 Solo, props installed, ready to FLY!

 Controller /  Transmitter.  Can hold smartphones or 8in tablets.

Using my Nvidia Shield tablet for FPV and flight control.  Update process for both controller and drone was really using the SOLO app.

 Decided to go with the PadHad Hybrid Mini as a sunshade / hood when flying in direct sunlight.  Fits the Shield perfectly, and does a great job keeping the glare off of the screen.

Everything is charged, updated, and ready to fly... but I had to go out of town to work. Super excited to fly back home and put the SOLO through its Maiden Voyage!

Will be posting  that video soon. Thanks for stopping by.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Quadcopter Drone - 3DR Solo update, Tarot 2D Gimbal flight Test

I have pre-ordered the 3DR SOLO, and there is currently good news, and bad news...

The good news is that is has finally shipped!  Although a week late, mine should arrive this weekend.
The bad news is that the gimbal has been delayed until late June / early July. That just plain stinks, as I was hoping to use it a bit over 4th of July weekend for some aerial videos while down in Southern Colorado near Durango.

 So even though I should have the drone this weekend, I can't really capture any great videos until the gimbal arrives.  Until then I will just mess around with it, and order all the accessories I can get a hold of, like this awesome hard case. 

More info, and maybe even an unboxing video once I actually get my hands on the Solo.

Since the the quad will arrive soon, I have decided to sell my DYI quad and GoPro Hero 3 black. Have it listed on Craigslist, and have actually received a few inquiries.  But one thing I realized is that I don't have any footage from the platform that is stabilized via the gimbal. 

So I did a quick 2min sample of the stabilization properties of the Tarot 2D Brushless Gimbal.  The quadcopter is flown in full manual mode without GPS assistance. Note that I couldn't fly very high and basically kept the quad in my front yard, as I am in a residential neighborhood, and near power-lines, but it should still be enough to get an idea of the gimbal's abilities. I really tried to jig it around a lot to show how well the gimbal copes with rapid movement.

If you want to watch it in full size 2K HD, here is the link:
Tarot 2D Gimbal Test 2kHD

Hopefully there will be a fun new update later this week! Thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Quadcopter Drone - Tarot 650 Frame, FPV, 3DR SOLO Announcement

Last week I was in the process of ordering a few parts that would expand my ability to get better aerial footage with my quadcoper.  Was looking at a new frame that was a bit larger to accommodate a few additional components, and the parts required to allow me to do FPV (First Person View).

Made a small order to get me started, that consisted of a few wiring components and the new frame, a Tarot 650 Ironman.

In addition to having more room for components, it also has a folding frame design that allows for easier storage / transportation.

 Also has the option for a "Stealth" Canopy that makes is look a bit like a F117.

I ordered everything via AliExpress, so it was pretty inexpensive, but would take a few weeks to get here.  I held off on getting any FPV equipment this time around, as I was going to wait until I had the new frame built, and I am very glad I made that choice.

Was pretty excited to change up my current configuration and start on this new project.  Then 3DR (3D Robotics) decided to throw me a curve ball, and disrupt my plans.  On Monday, April 13th, they announce their new SOLO quadcopter.

I am usually a DYI kind of guy, and love to mod / hack things to my desired specifications. But with the done 3DR has put together, I have decided to abandon the new FPV build, and get the SOLO instead.   I was already planning to upgrade my flight controller to the 3DR Pixhawk, but the SOLO has the newer version and all kinds of other goodies. Here are the main things I wanted from a new FPV drone, and the SOLO executes on every one of them.
  •     Ability to use the GoPro I already own for HD videos
  •     FPV capability for better (perspective) video
  •     Ability to Mod or Hack if needed / wanted
  •     Fly by waypoints for specific aerial shots, controlled by phone / tablet
  •     Ability to use "Follow-Me" mode via phone's GPS
  •     Ability to add additional accessories or upgrade parts as needed

Since the SOLO hits all of my "wants", I am going to save time by not building another quadcompter and just purchase the SOLO.  It will actaully save me some money as well since I wont have to build / purchase a ground station, being that the controller is made to accommodate a phone or tablet for both FPV and waypoint selection.  I have plenty of those laying around.

So now that I have made the decision to get the SOLO, I need to decide what to do with my existing components.  I could sell the drone altogether, or maybe convert it into a smaller "FPV Racing" drone, and get a taste for what its like to ride a speeder bike through the forest moon of Endor.

Either way, I am pretty excited with 3DR's announcement, and can't wait to get my hands on one in a few weeks.  My wife also agreed that it could be a combined Birthday / Father's Day gift!  Gives me a bit of time to see some cool accessories roll out like this awesome foam hard case.

Stay tuned for more details as they are announced.  Will also put together the Tarot 650 frame and compare it to my current DJI F450.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Quadcopter Drone - New Landing Struts

With the new gimbal installed, I thought I was good to go with for aerial videos. Turns out I was wrong.  Although I had about 2cm of clearance between the gimbal and the ground while using the carbon fiber landing struts, I quickly found out that 2cm of clearance on a flat workbench surface does not equal 2cm clearance out in the field. Grass and uneven surfaces would still touch the gimbal, and cause stabilization issues.  So I set out to find longer landing struts to fix the issue.

I eventually want to get a retractabal landing gear system, but not going to worry about it until I change to a larger Hexacopter frame in the near future. As a shorter term fix, I went with the landing struts made by DJI for the F450 Quadcopter frame.

Here is what is included within the packaging, x4 landing struts, a few screws, and an instruction sheet.  Seems pretty easy, but I did have to mod the front struts a bit to accommodate my gimbal.

Here is a look at the modification.  Just used a rotary (Dremel) tool to eliminate part of the plastic that was conflicting with the gimbal.  Doesn't  seem to affect the stability or strength of the strut at all, so should work out well.

Close up of the modification and install onto the frame.  Gimbal compression grommets now sit neatly above, but done touch the struts. 

Underside shot of the frame.  Pretty simple install.

New clearance is around 4cm.  Still not a lot of clearance, but that's about as high as I can get for now.  Should be enough to do what I want outside. 

Final picture of the new install. I removed the carbon fiber ones since they are no longer needed.  I do think they look better, but can't use them anymore.  Now its time to get outside and get some video... after this March snowstorm passes.

Thanks for looking.  More videos of the new gimbal in action coming soon.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Quadcopter Drone - Tarot Gimbal Setup, Install, Studder Fix

I have done a few upgrades in the last few months, but haven't had much of a chance to post anything. First off, I wanted to post some pics and video of the Tarot 2D Gimbal I recently install.  It greatly improves the quality of my video while flying around, as it is smooth and no longer "jiggles" during flight.

I had to made a few modifications to the drone to accommodate this gimbal, but overall I am very pleased with the result. I did have a issue initially where the gimball would shutter when it would first power on. But after some forum searching I was able to find some recommended settings that ended up fixing the shutter.  Here is a video of the setup, along with the settings I used to fix the issue.

Taking a step back, here is what comes in the box, ready for assembly.  I took about 20min for me to put everything together and get it mounted on my drone.

One thing that I don't like about the way the gimbal holds the GoPro Hero 3+, is that once it is secured, there really isn't a good way to protect the lens.  So I found a 3D printer design for a modified GoPro mount that allows you to mount the camera and still use a protective lens cover.  The picture below shows the original GoPro mount, and the 3D printed version below it.

Another shot of the two different mounts side by side.  Original on the right, 3D printed version on the left. 

Here we have the new mount installed along with the protective lense cover.  It fits perfectly, and the screws that come with the gimbal thread it perfectly.

Side view of the Gimbal with the new camera mount. 

With the new gimbal installed, I have roughly 2cm clearance with the landing struts that I currently have installed.

At first I thought this would be enough clearance, but I quickly learned that was not the case. A future post will explain why and show what I did to fix the problem.