Author Archive: fpvcentral

FPVCentral is a private, independent news and review site for all things related to First Person View RC model flight. Covering everything from hobby, commercial and military drones, RC models and electronics related to FPV flight, we are not sponsored by any manufacturer or affiliated with any company or project.

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Devention Devo 6 Update adds telemetry without hardware modification

Devention Devo 6 Update adds telemetry without hardware modification

March 3, 2012 17:22 | By | Add a Comment

The Devention Devo 6 Transmitter supports Telemetry out of the box. All you need to do is apply the latest upgrade by Walkera and bind to a compatible receiver with telemetry support, like the one built into the Mini-CP.

Bonus: The Mini-CP has the exact same flight setup as the Genius-CP, so you can just copy your existing model and pretty much fly right away.

Walkera USB Software Update Utility

Devo 6 Firmware v0.3/0.2

 

 

2012: The year of the multicopter controller flood

2012: The year of the multicopter controller flood

January 11, 2012 14:19 | By | 14 Comments

It’s becoming increasingly difficult to keep track of all the multirotor controller boards and units out there. While the level of sophistication is increasing with most of these offerings, some are just open-source projects rebranded and sold under a different name. Here are some of the more interesting offerings at the moment which are either extremely sophisticated, or come at a price that makes it easy to get into this hobby.

 

 

DJI Wookong

http://www.dji-innovations.com/minisite/index_en.html

Source: $1099 at Goodluckbuy

The DJI Wookong is probably the most expensive, and the most complete package out there. This is not only a mere multicopter controller with three gyros. It also incorporates S-Bus compatibility, GPS for position-hold, return home and other nifty functions. At a price of just over $1000 it does not come cheap. However, by adding a data downlink transmitter (=another 300-400 bucks) and using the supplied PC based flight control software you essentially get a turnkey drone system. A quad or tricopter can be built or bought for under $100 these days, and a sub-2000 dollar pricetag for a drone system that is easy to set up and lets you place waypoints on a screen is pretty damn good. Yes there’s the open source Paparazzi project, but that’s far from easy to get to work.

 

 

DJI NAZA

http://www.dji-hobby.com/naza/index_en.html

Source: $238 at Goodluckbuy

The DJI Naza is the low-cost alternative for those of us who don’t need PC control, GPS and all that. At a price of over $200 it is more expensive than the open source counterparts, but it does offer S-Bus compatibility as well as a 2-axis gimbal output for stabilizing camera mounts, and comes with documentation, software and upgrade capabilities.

 

 

Bumblebee

Source: $186 at Goodluckbuy

The Bumblebee controller looks very much like the NAZA, and for a good reason: It’s essentially a stripped down OEM version without S-Bus support and gimbal output. It also only supports quadcopters.

 

 

XAircraft FC1212-S

http://www.xaircraft.com

Source: $150 at Goodluckbuy

The FC1212-S from XAircraft is part of a modular system similar to DJI. In addition to support for an external GPS module and other features, the FC1212 features a 3-axis camera gimbal stabilization output AND a camera shutter output. It should be noted that a high-quality 3-axis gimbal mount will cost you another $300 dollars, but for that you get the best possible camera stabilization.

 

 

Rabbit Flight Controller

Source: $90 at Goodluckbuy

The back says “Love it” and it sounds rather unconvincing. The board features 3-axis accelerometers in addition to the 3-axis gyros, and supports 4, 6 and 8 rotor craft. It supposedly also supports return-home via a GPS addon, but there’s only a flimsy pdf manual, and the included software is not fully translated to english.

The Rabbit software, note the weird button labels...

We have tested the Rabbit flight controller, check our Review for more information!

 

 

FF Free Flight Controller

Source: $50 at Goodluckbuy

The cheapest offering is also one of the best: 3 axis gyro + 3 axis accelerometer, 2 axis camera stabilization, solid PC software, firmware upgrades, and manuals in english and french language. Only drawback: It only supports quadcopters.

On the other hand, you can get the IFLY-4 folding quadcopter kit including this controller for under $200 right here, including the quadcopter frame, 4x 1200kv motors, 4x 12A ESCs, the FF controller and a no-soldering ESC connector board. Even the props are already included.

 

In conclusion, all of these controllers are suitable for FPV flight, and most boards offer stabilization output for creating smooth and stabilized action footage with your DSLR or GoPro HD. Note that it’s not advisable to mount the FPV camera itself onto the gimbal, unless you’re used to flying with a stabilized camera – it’s very difficult to judge your relative motion if you don’t “see” what angle the craft is at.

While a self-made quadcopter was a novelty in 2009, it’s safe to say that the sky will be buzzing with the little buggers in 2012.

Walkera Devention Devo6 Review

Walkera Devention Devo6 Review

October 15, 2011 16:09 | By | 1 Comment

Up until now getting a Transmitter with a color touch display set you back at least 2 grand. The Futaba 14MZ was the de-facto standard for this kind of extravaganza. But bling aside, a colorful touch display has another advantage: It allows for much more intuitive controls.

But who are we kidding? It looks cool too. But is cool enough to justify fumbling with a touchscreen? Find out in our in-depth review!

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Soapbox: Daring FPV Videos

Soapbox: Daring FPV Videos

September 15, 2011 8:06 | By | Add a Comment

In early 2011, an Austrian FPV pilot nicknamed “Trappy” went to New York with his FPV foam wing and recorded a stunning video of his flight:

 

Since then, a number of organizations and individuals have stepped up and complained about the reckless and irresponsible behaviour. The AMA issued a statement that this flight violated the AMA safety code (which is a code of conduct that applies to AMA members, which Trappy is not). Some local politicians issued statements that the person should be locked up. Legal experts called for new legislation, while noting that they can’t prosecute because no felony was committed. Even german magazines like rc-heli-action.de denounced the flight and issued a statement calling for new, stricter laws while denouncing the action as not having anything to do with RC flying anymore.

This is a soapbox column, so here goes my opinion:

We are talking about a piece of foam. It doesn’t matter that there’s a camera on it and a propeller on the back. At the end of the day, the worst thing that could happen is a piece of foam hitting someone. Would that be pleasant? Certainly not. But it would take one hell of a dive and a direct hit to produce injuries. Possible, but very unlikely. The AMA suggests that buildings have been endangered. Buildings! By a piece of foam! Worst of all, many of the people complaining first point out that such reckless behavior could bring about stricter laws – and then they ask for stricter laws themselves, sometimes in the same sentence. “People like you are gonna be the reason for stricter laws (…) – this should be forbidden, we need stricter laws!”

Another issue that is being brought up is that RC planes could be misused in a terrorist attack. Sure, that’s actually a very real issue, albeit a far fetched one – it’s still far easier to drive a bomb in a car, doing special stunts with RC planes is too complex and has too little yield to be practical for would-be terrorists. In the end the issue is not the real threat, but the fear itself. And apparently a good number of people have problems gauging the threat level of styrofoam. And at this point I think it’s no secret that RC planes exist, so saying that this could inspire terrorist attacks is, mildly put, an exaggeration.

There’s a distinct difference between this stunt and, say, flying in the middle of a crowded plaza with a 450-size helicopter. Any mistake would mean severe injuries of bystanders. Interestingly enough, when videos like this one here appear there is no public outcry:

 

 

I don’t want to see what would happen if these rotor blades were to hit someone. This is a stupid stunt.

Bottom line: Don’t fly irresponsibly, and don’t listen to the people calling for stricter laws just to get a brief press coverage. Was it a bright idea of Trappy to fly in New York? No, certainly not. But let’s face it, most people are extremely worked up because this was New York – what with 9/11 and all that. It’s still just a piece of EPP foam, get over it.

And don’t fly helicopters over crowds, unlike foam wings, they can really kill someone.

 

 

KKMulticopter board for $33

KKMulticopter board for $33

September 10, 2011 10:24 | By | Add a Comment

Thinking of buying a KK Multicopter board? While the current sale price over at http://www.kkmulticopter.com is 75 GPP ($120 USD), Goodluckbuy is currently selling the very same board for a mere 33 bucks.

 

This offer even includes the USB programmer…

The KK Board itself without the programmer is available for $25. And to make things even more interesting, worldwide shipping is free (even though it may well take some 2-3 weeks to arrive)

(Disclaimer: This is not an advertisement)

KX171 1/3 Sony CCD Camera Module Review

KX171 1/3 Sony CCD Camera Module Review

July 23, 2011 20:18 | By | Add a Comment

FPV cameras have very specific requirements, they should have a good sensitivity, a reasonably wide field of view, shouldn’t draw too much power and they should react quickly to changes in lighting conditions, i.e. a camera that takes over a second to recover from a bright light means your plane/helicopter travels 30-50 meters without the pilot seeing a thing. While any CCD or CMOS camera module will give you a picture that looks okay at first glance, flying with a bad camera can really ruin your day.

So how did this camera fare? Read on to find out!

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Hobbyking listens, updates Smart6 charger

Hobbyking listens, updates Smart6 charger

July 19, 2011 20:10 | By | Add a Comment

In our Smart6 Review we complained about some bad PCB layout decisions and build quality issues in what’s otherwise a very good balancing charger. Hobbyking has obviously watched our youtube video (which was posted a few months ago) because not only did they fix both the fan connector and the keyboard connector, but they now also make the annoying buzzer shut up with some hot glue.

The revised PCB has all our complaints fixed: Proper connectors for fan and keyboard, and the buzzer is not painfully loud anymore

We’ve updated our review accordingly. Thumbs up to Hobbyking for listening and acting!

Fat Shark Base Edition Review

Fat Shark Base Edition Review

July 14, 2011 20:14 | By | Add a Comment

See someone flying FPV? Chances are they are wearing a FatShark. With a brand this ubiquitous, can they actually live up to the hype?
It should be noted that RCModelReviews have made a excellent review, so we’ll try to shed light on some of the aspects that weren’t the focus of that review. Read on to find out the details!

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HobyKing 3S 4 Balance Charger Review

HobyKing 3S 4 Balance Charger Review

July 14, 2011 9:41 | By | Add a Comment

A balance charger strictly for 3S battery packs? What might sound like an insane design choice at first blush does make a lot of sense when you think about the fact that most FPV platforms run on 3 cells, it’s the most popular pack configuration and thus always the first to go out of stock at retailers. But is this charger a hidden gem or a battery killer?

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RCExplorer.se: “Everglades”

RCExplorer.se: “Everglades”

July 13, 2011 23:52 | By | Add a Comment
Smart 6 Balance Charger Review

Smart 6 Balance Charger Review

July 13, 2011 22:34 | By | Add a Comment

(Note: This review was written by me a couple months ago and was posted on HobbyKing.com and rcmodelreviews.com before)

The Smart6 charger is a 6-cell charger with up to 80W charging and 5W discharge rating, at a max of 7A for charging and 1.5A for discharging respectively. The biggest eyecatcher is of course the graphical display, showing the charge curve just like the much more expensive models by graupner, robbe or schulze. Is that charger a winner? Does chinese quality control get things right with this one? Will it blend?

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Mobile Cinema Glasses Review

Mobile Cinema Glasses Review

July 13, 2011 22:09 | By | 1 Comment

Video goggles designed for FPV flight often cost a fortune, but there’s also models meant for movie viewing – the Mobile Cinema Glasses fall into that category, but are they usable for FPV flight? Read on to find out in our in-depth review!

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FPV Central launched

FPV Central launched

July 13, 2011 11:51 | By | Add a Comment

Hello and welcome to FPV Central!

We’re aiming to provide you with a stable and trustworthy source for news and reviews about the wonderful hobby of FPV flying. We’ll be examining both general RC gear and gadgets as well as FPV systems and components, from camera modules to transmitters, video goggles and On Screen Display systems.

We intend to bring you more in-depth reviews than the usual “seems to work okay”-stuff. Flying a model plane or helicopter from the cockpit perspective is a subject with lots of question marks, and you can easily burn though hundreds of dollars before finding out that what was advertised as FPV system is not really up to the task.

We want to take out some of the guesswork and give you a good, balanced and honest coverage of the products on the market. If something’s a piece of crap, we will let you know!

We’re still getting settled in right now, but expect more content and especially the first detailed reviews here soon!

Upcoming reviews

Upcoming reviews

July 13, 2011 9:00 | By | Add a Comment

There’s a number of reviews being prepared right now. For starters, we will compare the famous FatShark FPV goggles with some non-brand and cheaper competition. Suffice to say that there are a few surprises there!
Furthermore, there’s been a slew of new chargers that we’ll cover, as well as various FPV cameras. We will establish a standard comparison process that will allow you to visually compare the quality of the camera picture, among other things.

Finally there’s a number of HowTo’s on the way, for example a build and wiring instruction for an all-in-one FPV camera pod that can be easily removed and attached to different airframes.

Stay tuned!

HD FPV Tricopter Chasing Planes

HD FPV Tricopter Chasing Planes

July 12, 2011 8:14 | By | Add a Comment