RCT800 Video – FPV Camera Mount Testing

RCT800 FVP Camera Mount Testing (Also known as the last few videos and pictures I took with my Canon Digital Elf before it went swimming and never came back).

The brushless motors I bought from RCTimer (630KV) seem to have one fatal flaw; the motors are great in terms of performance but the prop mounts are poorly milled and or cast. They make it almost impossible to mount your props without causing an imbalance and vibration. This turns your sweet flying rig into a vibrating machine and makes good videography pretty tough (make that impossible… see the last clip) even if your props are balanced.

I’ve been testing various materials to deaden the vibrations and sponges from the dollar store seem to make great (cheap!!) vibration absorption material. In total, I tried rubber bands, paper, duct tape, string, a homemade shock, and two different sponges before coming to a solution. The homemade shock had some promise but it was outclassed by a simple cheap ($1) sponge so I didn’t take it further than a few quick tests.

As you can see from these two test videos the results for regular dollar store sponges were decent (compare these videos to the last one). I found that all I needed was a little bit of sponge between the camera and the aircraft’s hard surfaces. This almost completely eliminated the vibration from the props.

Got pretty high in this video… You can clearly see the river that I later had to wade into in order retrieve my Hexacopter after it went haywire and crashed.

These results are especially good if you consider the movies I was able to make earlier (before adding the sponge).

Here is a sample of those vibrations, as you can see the movie is unusable and a little sponge will absorb quite a lot of shake (the only real difference between the movies above and below is the camera mount sponge padding)

RCT800 Video – flying at dusk, new LED setup

RCT800 – flying at dusk in a local parking lot. Recently modified the LED configuration in order to see them better. Was using the IOC (intelligent orientation control) in Head Free Mode at certain points during the flight. With this mode enabled it doesn’t matter which way the nose of your aircraft is pointing; the direction of the craft is controlled by the right stick (in Mode 2) and the aircraft moves in relation to it’s takeoff point.

General Multicopter/UAV Parts List – What do I need?

Building your own multicopter or UAV isn’t too difficult providing you can do a little soldering and source parts which work well together and meet your requirements. There are many online hobby shops which will allow you to order every part you’d need to make and awesome UAV.

In general, every multicopter will need some version of the following parts in order to fly:

Multicopter Parts list:

  • An Airframe – It seems somewhat obvious but you will need a frame on which to build your craft. Whether you build it yourself or buy a frame this part will have a large impact on your craft’s performance. Airframes are available in many different shapes and sizes. Generally at the moment airframes are tricopters (3 props), quadcopters (4 props), hexacopters (6 props), and octocopters (8 props).
  • Flight Controller – the flight controller is essentially the brains of your aircraft.  This equipment takes in sensor details and user input to determine what your craft needs to do. There are many different models of flight controller available; each with different capabilities, features, and sensors.
  • Receiver (or RX) – A receiver flies on-board the aircraft and like the name indicates this piece of equipment receives a signal (user input) from your transmitter and then relays that information to the flight controller.
  • ESC (electronic speed controller) – controls the speed and direction of the motors in response to input from the flight controller. Each motor you are controlling will need a corresponding ESC to control it. ESCs vary greatly in design and specifications. In multicopters these are essential pieces of equipment because your craft maneuvers by varying the speed of each motor independently.
  • Motors – If you’re building something that flies it will need motors to power that flight. Motors come in every conceivable shape, size, and power. Selecting the right motor for your application will depend greatly on the purpose, size, and weight of your aircraft (and propellers).
  • Props (propellers) – Propellers come in almost every conceivable design and size. Selecting the right propeller for your craft is very important because it influences almost every other parts choice you’ll make. Props influence flight time, power consumption, and aircraft flight performance.
  • Batteries – The power source for your aircraft. Batteries come in many many different shapes, sizes, and capacities.  The right battery for you will most likely be determined by the purpose, weight, and intent of your aircraft.
  • LEDs – LEDs are very useful for lighting and flight orientation purposes.
  • Wires -of course you’ll need a few wires to connect everything together.
  • Connectors – wiring connectors are needed for a variety of applications; like connecting your battery to your aircraft in a removable way.

Related Parts:

  • Transmitter (or TX) – a radio transmitter is used to control your aircraft by sending signals from the ground to the aircraft. It doesn’t fly on the craft but its obviously an essential part of the kit.
  • Battery charger – this is somewhat obvious but you’ll need one of these to recharge your batteries for another flight.

There are several online calculator tools which are very helpful in determining if your parts will work together. A great example is the xcopterCalc calculator; this tool allows you to input your parts specs and find out things like power consumption, estimated flight times, parts incompatibilities, etc.  If you are planning to build a multicopter this is a great place to start!

**If you are looking for a specific parts list then please review the RCT800 actual parts list.

Turnigy Receiver Controlled Switch – Wiring Setup

The Turnigy Receiver Switch is a neat little piece of hardware (tiny!) which allows you to turn things like LED lights On/Off from a free channel on your receiver. These are also pretty simple to install and use!

Here the switch itself (its tiny)…

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The switch is pretty simple and has:

  • 2 Red (positive) Wires
  • 1 Plug for your receiver

So how do you wire this thing anyway?

Its actually quite easy but I will admit that I did this wrong once ;.)

If you check out the wiring diagram below you’ll notice that the correct way to install this switch is by simply wiring it into the positive line of what you are controlling (between the load and the battery). Its easy to install the switch but also easy to over think this too!

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Here are the step by steps for setting up this switch. I am not going to discuss setting up your transmitter since there are many different models and possible setups:

  • The first step is very easy. Find an unused plug on your receiver and plug in your switch. In this case channel 8 was available.

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  • The next step is still pretty easy. Solder one of the red (positive) wires to your power source/battery/wiring hardness.

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  • Now its time to deal with the 2nd red wire coming out of your switch. The positive wire for anything you are controlling with your switch needs to terminate at this red wire. In this case the switch is controlling 4 sets of LEDs on different parts of the aircraft. I started by lengthening the wire to allow it to reach all the LEDs.

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  • Every installation is bound to be a little bit different however the final wiring setup should look something like the picture below:
    • The switch is secured to the aircraft (circled in purple).
    • The 1st red wire from the switch attaches to the power source/battery (circled in pink).
    • Each negative wire for the LEDs terminates normally as it would without a switch (no change).
    • Now each positive wire for the LEDs only connects to the 2nd red wire from the switch (four connections circled in red).

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DJI Naza-M return to home

One of the great features of the DJI Naza-M with GPS is the “Return to home” failsafe. With this feature enabled, its possible to setup a TX so that you flip a switch and your aircraft comes home. In practice this works really well and the RCT800 always lands within ~3m of its takeoff point. It seems to reliably land ~3m North of takeoff. Its also possible to setup the RX (certain receivers) so that the failsafe triggers this function. I’m scared to test it (turn of my transmitter while flying) but the RCT800 has this feature enabled too.

What “Return to home” does:

  • Craft stops moving
  • Craft climbs to 20m (above most obstacles and trees)
  • Craft turns towards “home” and flies there (scared the hell out of me the first time!)
  • After a brief pause 20m above “home” the Craft slowly lands and disarms

I took the following pictures while using the “return to home” switch on my TX (obviously no hands on the controls).

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About 3m north of takeoff (not sure if I’ve got a config problem)… still very good!

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Cool Turnigy HAL quadcopter

Check out Rob’s cool quadcopter. The Turnigy HAL seems like a robust build. I watched Rob crash fairly hard without damage to the airframe at all. Unfortunately, he did break the landing gear (I have another friend who has broken these same gear in a crash… it may be obvious but these gear aren’t built for too much crashing):

Parts (cool rig!):

  • Hal (585mm) quadcopter
  • Multi Wii Pro 2.0 with ublock GPS
  • JDrones 880kv motors
  • Esc Turnigy plush non simonk

And here’s a shot of why you don’t hold your quadcopter while the props are spinning… Rob had a good crash and it seemed to temporarily put the gyros out a little. Rob was troubleshooting the issue while holding the quad, when the props clipped his arm at start up speeds causing some nice little cuts and bruises on his arm (ouch!):

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I’d hate to see what flight speeds would do to your arm but this was a lesson learned (for me too). I’ve been wondering how dangerous these spinning props are!?