Category: News

Black Knight Transformer is what happens when the military plays with multirotors

Black Knight Transformer is what happens when the military plays with multirotors

May 12, 2014 6:50 | By | Add a Comment

While not exactly FPV related, this is a multirotor: The Advanced Tactics Black Knight Transformer adds VTOL capabilities to a land vehicle using several rotors. According to AT, it can survive the loss of one engine without problems, and the whole system is modular so it may be bolted onto other vehicles in the future.

 

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Hubsan X4 Pro – even more footage

Hubsan X4 Pro – even more footage

April 28, 2014 19:14 | By | 2 Comments

Apparently the Hubsan X4 is slated for a big reveal at the Bejing Expo soon. And in preparation they’ve posted another video which does look quite awesome indeed. And compared to the Phantom 2 (which we are currently reviewing btw) the X4 appears to be in another class entirely. Hubsan seems to have spent their time perfecting the stabilization to a level we’ve only seen with the Blade 350QX – at least when it comes to RTF quads.

Will the X4 be amazing, or will it be plagued by design flaws like the Phantom 2’s magnetizable compass sensor cover? Hopefully we will find out soon! If this footage is anything to go by, we’re going to have a really hot summer.

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Oculus FPV is yet another stereoscopic FPV project for RC models

Oculus FPV is yet another stereoscopic FPV project for RC models

April 28, 2014 9:23 | By | 3 Comments

We love our Oculus SDK1, so much that in addition to a DK2 preorder, we also backed the RiftUP! project. So it’s all the better to see more and more RC applications to pop up.

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The Oculus FPV is a project by the Norwegian Institute of Science and Technology, mounting two cameras on a 2-axis servo mechanism (no brushless gimbal there sadly) and using two separate video downlinks for left and right eye. Sadly they went the cheap route, simply using a tiny program running on a full Windows PC to calculate the image distortion required to make things look good on the oculus. We’d say this is the easiest way to achieve this effect without designing custom hardware like the Transporter3D.

Commendably, the full writeup of the project as well as all sourcecode can be found on Github.

 

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Align M480 Multicopter

Align M480 Multicopter

April 26, 2014 9:13 | By | 1 Comment

Align, still remember that name? They’re back in force, showing off their new M480 Multicopter system. Featuring retractable legs, a quad or hexcopter setup and running on 6S 5200mAh for up to 20 minutes of flight time, we don’t know the price tag on this one yet, but it sure ain’t going to be cheap. Or maybe Align will surprise us and the competition, and finally drive down the inflated price points of some of the RTF systems out there. Yes DJI, we’re looking at you.

 

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HK KK HC adds rugged case to the KK 2.x, is not a secret message

HK KK HC adds rugged case to the KK 2.x, is not a secret message

April 25, 2014 10:35 | By | Add a Comment

The nifty KK2.x is an awesome flight controller regardless of whether you have one of the earlier or the later models. Now Hobbyking adds a Hardcase variant into the mix: Realizing you only really need the display and buttons during initial setup, they moved those components into a separate programming box, while also giving the main controller a rugged case.

hkhcInternally, it’s a KK 2.1.5, which means a solid MPU6050 sensor and excellent performance and stability. The connectors now exit to the side, which is good news for a lot of people who had problems with the layout of the KK 2 board until now. The external programming box is hot-pluggable, allowing you to connect and disconnect it at any time. The previously optional buzzer is now already installed inside the controller case. In our review we found the KK 2.1.5 board to be ideal for both people looking for great stability as well as aerobatics.

The whole thing is being sold for USD $35.- which is slightly more than a “naked” KK 2, but in our opinion a very welcome upgrade. Now Rolf just needs to add GPS support… 😉

Product video after the break.

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Hubsan H109S X4 Pro “throw” teaser

Hubsan H109S X4 Pro “throw” teaser

April 23, 2014 11:52 | By | Add a Comment

Hubsan posted a new short teaser video showing the upcoming H109S X4 Pro RTF Quadcopter being thrown into the air. While this is standard fare for 350QX owners, and even a homemade $120 Quadcopter can do the same thing, it’s good to see Hubsan spend time on testing and tweaking their upcoming Phantom-competitor.

 

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FAA announces investigation into drone flying at 4/20 rally in Denver

FAA announces investigation into drone flying at 4/20 rally in Denver

April 23, 2014 8:51 | By | 1 Comment

The 4/20 marijuana rally in Denver was scene to a nervous and typical reaction by US authorities to a private hexacopter with a camera flying overhead and filming the event.

Denver police say they found two unidentified men flying a drone over the rally in Denver’s Civic Center Park. The men were asked to leave the top of the McNichols Civic Center Building because they didn’t have the proper permission.

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The FAA is now investigating this event, issuing several statements alleging that even private, non-commercial use of model aircraft may be a problem – if they don’t want you to, of course.

“Anyone who wants to fly an aircraft — manned or unmanned — in U.S. airspace needs some level of authorization from the FAA. Routine operation of Unmanned Aircraft Systems over densely-populated areas is not allowed,” the FAA said in a statement.

Did the persons operating the hexacopter fly below 400ft AGL? We don’t know, but it appears the burden of proof is on the side of the FAA. However, it is disturbing to see the FAA mix and match regulations from manned flight operations, controlled airspace and commercial UAV regulations and apply bits and pieces to effectively claim that they are to be asked for permission for any flying thing. The fact of the matter however is that they are not, and while flying a multirotor craft over a public event may not be the most politically sensitive thing to do, it remains to be seen whether the FAA can substantiate their claims – or whether they’ll just wait until new, restrictive regulations are being passed into law. The FAA has issued a fact sheet regarding the use of UAVs, which of course does nothing to substantiate whether a flight such as in Denver is illegal or not. It should be noted that no arrests were made, and all the police could do was to “ask” the pilots to leave the roof of the building from which they were controlling the craft.

Our guess is that the US will see restrictive regulations and classifications eerily similar to the ones recently passed in Austria.

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Hobbyking announces Quanum Nova RTF Quadcopter, a rebranded CX-20

Hobbyking announces Quanum Nova RTF Quadcopter, a rebranded CX-20

April 17, 2014 12:24 | By | 8 Comments

HK recently announced that they’re going to sell a rebranded version of the Cheerson CX-20 soon, calling it the “Quanum Nova”:

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The CX-20 is a GPS-capable quadcopter comparable to the DJI Phantom. We haven’t had a chance to review one yet, but from various flight footage on youtube this model seems to be very stable and have a good GPS position hold function. The RTF copter features a replaceable RC receiver so you can connect your favorite RC control system and use your existing transmitter instead.  Interestingly, the cool-looking external GPS antenna seems to be for show only, as images by customers show that the actual antenna is right inside the quadcopter’s main body.

The original CX-20 is on sale for $330 on Banggood, so it remains to be seen how much HK will charge for this one.

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Skylark FPV Remote

Skylark FPV Remote

April 14, 2014 14:00 | By | 2 Comments

Skylark is offering an FPV remote that integrates a high-brightness 7 inch screen, 430MHz long range remote, and 5.8GHZ 8-channel video receiver.

skylarkfpvBefore you reach for the buy button, current price on GLB is over $1000.- which is quite steep. In addition, we don’t know which long range HF system this is compatible to. Does it come with a receiver? How much do they cost? We don’t know yet.

More features and buy link in the overview after the break.

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EU Commission working on stricter rules for drones

EU Commission working on stricter rules for drones

April 9, 2014 14:03 | By | 2 Comments

The European Commission has today proposed to set tough new standards to regulate the operations of civil drones (or “remotely piloted aircraft sytems” – RPAS). The new standards will cover safety, security, privacy, data protection, insurance and liability. The aim is to allow European industry to become a global leader in the market for this emerging technology, while at the same time ensuring that all the necessary safeguards are in place.

Civil drones are increasingly being used in Europe, in countries such as Sweden, France and the UK, in different sectors, but under a fragmented regulatory framework. Basic national safety rules apply, but the rules differ across the EU and a number of key safeguards are not addressed in a coherent way.

Vice-President Siim Kallas, Commissioner for mobility and transport, said: “Civil drones can check for damage on road and rail bridges, monitor natural disasters such as flooding and spray crops with pinpoint accuracy. They come in all shapes and sizes. In the future they may even deliver books from your favourite online retailer. But many people, including myself, have concerns about the safety, security and privacy issues relating to these devices.”

The technology for civil drones is maturing and there is potential for significant growth and job creation. On some estimates in the next 10 years it could be worth 10% of the aviation market — that’s €15 billion per year. The Vice-President added, “If ever there was a right time to do this, and to do this at a European level, it is now. Because remotely piloted aircraft, almost by definition, are going to cross borders and the industry is still in its infancy. We have an opportunity now to make a single set of rules that everyone can work with, just like we do for larger aircraft.”

 

So much for the press release by the European Commission. Interestingly, nobody talks about regulating the sale and use of ladders, to help prevent people from peeking into your bedroom. If anyone was hoping for a liberal, progressive stance on the private and commercial use of UAVs by the EU Commission, today’s news is less than positive, to put it mildly.

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Fednav Shipping uses multirotor as scout for their ships

Fednav Shipping uses multirotor as scout for their ships

April 3, 2014 11:03 | By | 2 Comments

Fednav recently announced that they are now using multirotor craft to scout out ice conditions ahead of their vessels.  Their vessels are indeed capable of navigating ice up to a certain thickness, so knowing when things get too thick is indeed very valuable to them.

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“The deployment of drones fitted with top-quality cameras gives the ice navigator another useful aid when making important decisions while transiting heavy ice regimes, and, in turn, improved safe navigation”, Thomas Paterson, senior VP of Fednav, stated in a press release.

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UK drone hobbyist fined 4340 pounds for flying over submarine shipyard

UK drone hobbyist fined 4340 pounds for flying over submarine shipyard

April 3, 2014 8:11 | By | Add a Comment

Robert Knowles is the first UK citizen to be charged under the new CAA rules which forbid flying remote aircraft beyond 500 meters of range and 121 meters altitude. In addition, he apparently lost control over his delta-wing plane after which it splashed into the waters near a BAE assembly facility for nuclear submarines. Prosecutors also fined him for flying within 50 meters of a building, which in this case was Walney Bridge near Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, during that same flight.

The court ordered a fine of £800 for violating the Air Navigation Order, a £40 surcharge, as well as court costs to the tune of £3500. Knowles was convicted in absence and has stated to be considering an appeal, citing possible outside influence as being the cause for the loss of control, and the subsequent flight near the BAE plant.

BAE

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Hubsan X4 Pro caught on camera

Hubsan X4 Pro caught on camera

April 2, 2014 13:59 | By | Add a Comment

The Hubsan X4 is one of many upcoming competitors to the Phantom and the QX350, offering GPS position hold and return to launch, gopro gimbal, and supposedly also “extended flight times”. However, Hubsan have not shown much in terms of details or even a release date yet.

Thus this little video showing the X4 in action is all the more welcome, even if it is rather dark:

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NAVIO is a navigation shield for Raspberry Pi

NAVIO is a navigation shield for Raspberry Pi

March 31, 2014 16:13 | By | 1 Comment

It’s hard not to like the Raspberry Pi. It’s a massively useful and cheap computing platform that has transformed hardware hacking in a way that can only be compared to the Arduino before it.

And now, Navio aims to offer a complete sensor and interface board to allow your Raspberry to function as a controller for RC vehicles. They even plan to port APM to the Pi.

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Hardware highlights include the MPU9150 Acc/Gyro combination, MS5611 Barometer, UBlox Neo6T GPS, as well as Pixhawk-compatible serial and I2C connectors.  If this got you curious, you should check out their website.

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Ex-Ubisoft veterans plan to map the earth for a giant game – using drones of course

Ex-Ubisoft veterans plan to map the earth for a giant game – using drones of course

March 24, 2014 17:04 | By | Add a Comment

If you want to show the collapse of civilization in a game, having a realistic, detailed world is key. Several former Ubisoft have founded Pixyul to do just that. Their first project, ReRoll, is slated to arrive in several installments called “Bricks”. Brick 1 aims to recreate the city of Montreal, with more locations to follow. The core idea of Pixyul is to utilize autonomous drones to create high-resolution imagery and 3D scans of the world.

This ambitious project is going to face severe issues in the wake of restrictive legislation being passed in countries all over the world or, as is the case in the USA, commercial use of drones being heavily debated right now. Nevertheless, an ambitious project indeed. For now they are betting everything on the results of their crowdfunding campaign, which they conduct outside Kickstarter et al – for now, have a flashy animated teaser trailer after the break.

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