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FAA proposes new rules for small UAS

FAA proposes new rules for small UAS

February 15, 2015 18:34 | By | Add a Comment

The FAA has posted a proposed set of rules for allowing small UAS operation within the US.

Among those rules:

  • Unmanned aircraft must weigh less than 55 lbs. (25 kg).
  • First-person view camera cannot satisfy “see-and-avoid” requirement but can be used as long as requirement is satisfied in other ways.
  • Maximum airspeed of 100 mph (87 knots).
  • Maximum altitude of 500 feet above ground level.
  • Minimum weather visibility of 3 miles from control station.
Under the proposed rules, small UAS will require registrations and markings, just like regular airplanes. Operators will also have to…
  • Obtain an unmanned aircraft operator certificate with a small UAS rating (like existing pilot airman certificates, never expires).
  • Pass a recurrent aeronautical knowledge test every 24 months.
  • Be at least 17 years old.
  • Make available to the FAA, upon request, the small UAS for inspection or testing, and any a ssociated documents/records required to be kept under the proposed rule.
  • Report an accident to the F AA within 10 days of any operation that results in injury or property damage.
  • Conduct a preflight inspection, to include specific aircraft and control station systems checks, to ensure the small UAS is safe for operation
These rules do not apply to RC models. However, the FAA is adamant to state that any RC model not flown purely for recreation is to be considered a small UAS.
Full PDF proposal can be found here.

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DJI retracts Phantom 2 Firmware v3.10, urges users to roll back to 3.08

DJI retracts Phantom 2 Firmware v3.10, urges users to roll back to 3.08

February 6, 2015 23:20 | By | Add a Comment

DJI is urging users who already installed v3.10 of the recently released Phantom 2 firmware update to roll back to v3.08.

According to DJI, “there have been a small number of reported issues”. No word about what these issues are and how serious they were, but a warning is better than nothing.

P.S. Did you fix your compass sensor as we posted in the past yet? If not, you should do so, regardless of your firmware version.

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Alibaba is a year late, also tests drone delivery

Alibaba is a year late, also tests drone delivery

February 4, 2015 10:44 | By | Add a Comment

Alibaba, the chinese online merchant / trade portal, had a fantastic launch on the stock market last year, with over 500 million customers and a net worth of over 200 billion USD, more than Coca Cola or Disney. Now they’re testing drone delivery, much like Amazon and DHL before them. A total of 450 customers were able to register for the special air-drop delivery, though the drone only flies from the outskirts of Peking to the China World Trade Center, where it is then picked up and delivered by a regular courier.

But hey, at least they produced a snazzy and mildly entertaining ad video. Notice the synchronously-waving guys at 00:45 🙂

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DJI to update no-fly zones to prevent more White House incidents

DJI to update no-fly zones to prevent more White House incidents

January 29, 2015 12:35 | By | 1 Comment

In reaction to recent news that DJI multicopters were used to smuggle drugs and fly within Washington D.C., the company announced a firmware update that adds not only over 10.000 national airports, but also country borders and the FRZ around Washington D.C. to it’s no-fly zone list.

This will prevent owners of Phantom* and Naza flight controllers from repeating some of the the stunts seen recently.

At least, if they apply the firmware update, and even then only until they realize that open source flight controllers have no such restrictions.

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Phantom flies onto White House lawn

Phantom flies onto White House lawn

January 27, 2015 13:24 | By | Add a Comment

A quadcopter enthusiast apparently lost control over his DJI Phantom, which proceeded to fly over to the white house and crashed onto the lawn, where it was found and recovered by Secret Service agents.

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Folks, there’s two lessons here:

1) Flying any RC craft, regardless of whether you do it for recreation or not, within D.C. is illegal. There’s a 10nm FRZ (Flight Restricted Zone) which prohibits, among other things: balloon operation, model rocketry, model aircraft operations, UAS, test flights, private aircraft operating from a ship or private/corporate yacht, etc.

2) If you own a Phantom or Phantom 2, and you haven’t replaced the compass mounting on your landing struts yet, you risk your quadcopter flying away uncontrollably. This means your quadcopter may start flying into a random direction once you enable position hold or return home modes, with it not obeying any no-fly-zones programmed into the firmware. It will also not obey any user-defined geofencing or range limits.

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If your screws or the metal mounting mechanism is magnetizable, you run the risk of compass decalibration, even during flight. If you fail to do this, you run the risk of damaging other people’s property or lives.

In all the Phantoms we examined, the screws were magnetizable and the reason why compass calibration was lost. We recommend you replace them with non-magnetizable screws, for example, brass screws as used by Horizon on their 350QX.

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Some new Hubsan and Syma photos from CES

Some new Hubsan and Syma photos from CES

January 15, 2015 14:58 | By | Add a Comment

Gearbest.com went to CES and came back with some nice closeups of the Hubsan X4 Pro and the fancy-looking new FPV remote, as well as several other products.

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The remote is reportedly powered by Android, with a separate OLED screen on the top providing telemetry and the remote working independently from the Android tablet so as to not cause loss of control in the event of an application or Android OS crash.
 

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More photos available on their thread on RCGroups.

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Hubsan releases “plus” versions of their popular smaller quadcopters

Hubsan releases “plus” versions of their popular smaller quadcopters

January 15, 2015 14:47 | By | Add a Comment

The Hubsan H107D we reviewed some time ago turned out to be quite popular, and got many people into the FPV flying hobby. Now Hubsan is planning a “plus” version of this and two other toy-grade quadcopters.

SKU20006101The H107D+ above gets a 720P camera and a new stylish case. Apparently the stabilization has been improved as well, though that remains to be seen. Also, the remote receives and records in standard definition only, unless Hubsan abandons that and moves to an in-copter recording solution for the H107D+. Banggood lists a tentative price of USD $199.0

The H107C+ upgrades a few more things, adding a 720p camera and an all-new altitude hold mode. Not a bad deal for the alleged $99 price point thought of course it’s only recording video, not transmitting for FPV flight.

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Finally the H107L, which has no camera, also gets a new look and an alleged stabilization upgrade for 50 bucks.

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DJI Inspire 1 user claims bug in auto-takeoff function crashed his copter

DJI Inspire 1 user claims bug in auto-takeoff function crashed his copter

January 15, 2015 12:33 | By | Add a Comment

There’s a lot of hate in the youtube comments to this video. “Learn to fly” is probably one of the nicer ones. But comments aside, Mark Taylor had a bad day recently when he let his Inspire 1 take off in auto-takeoff mode.

According to him, no pilot input was given, the compass was calibrated and the issue was even observed before: His Inspire 1 just kept drifting off at auto takeoff.

While lots of youtube commenters are quick to blame Mark, we are not so sure. After all, DJI is still selling the Phantom 1 and 2 with a compass sensor mounted with magnetizable screws, which we found to be the root cause for most flyaway issues.

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We discovered that simply removing the metal case completely and using double sided tape to stick the magnetometer PCB to the landing gear made position hold much more precise and completely eliminated the need to recalibrate the compass after this has been done once. A miscalibrated compass can cause a flyaway if you switch your Phantom into position hold or return home mode. To this date DJI has neither acknowledged this simple design flaw, nor have they changed the mount on new Phantom 2 copters.

For this reason, we are a bit cautious about blaming the pilot just yet. The Inspire 1 is a brand new product and contrary to what some commenters may believe, DJI is not perfect.

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X-UAV One glider uses new build materials

X-UAV One glider uses new build materials

January 15, 2015 10:34 | By | 1 Comment

X-UAV has a new glider model called ONE intended for UAV/FPV use, which features a new kind of fiber-based material that’s several times stronger and yet lighter than EPO.

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This model features a unique propulsion setup with a geared system driving a prop spinning around the tail boom.

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It comes standard with a gimbal-ready camera nosecone setup as well as clear side windows for additional visual sensor or camera payloads.

If you’re interested, there’s preorders available for USD $440.- on Banggood as well as USD $392.- on fpvstyle.com

More pictures after the break.

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Navio+ Raspberry Pi-powered flight controller now runs APM too

Navio+ Raspberry Pi-powered flight controller now runs APM too

January 12, 2015 15:41 | By | Add a Comment

The folks at emlid.com notified us that their promised port of the Arducopter APM code is now complete, turning the Navio+ board into a ready-to-use flight controller for your UAV needs.

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The Navio+ is an add-on board for your Raspberry Pi with all the sensors and equipment you need for your unmanned missions: MPU9250 IMU, MS5611 barometer, uBlox M8N GPS, serial UART, I2C, PPM inputs, a ton of PWM outputs, and even triple-redundant power source, switching from servo rail to Raspi USB power to a separate power module on the fly in case of problems.

The real interesting part is that the Raspberry Pi gives you a very open and accessible linux environment aboard your vehicle, with all the usual capabilities in addition to what the Navio gives you. Want to run  a special python script or some linux program you wrote during your mission? Now you can, and it’s a heck of a lot easier to pull of than trying to write custom code for the Pixhawk. Want to add wifi to your quadcopter? Just plug in a wifi dongle.

The Navio+ is available for preorder for USD $168.- at their website, with the first units expected to ship early February.

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Follow me to the New Drones of CES

Follow me to the New Drones of CES

January 10, 2015 16:33 | By | Add a Comment

It was obvious, especially after the Christmas rush of new UAS sales. This is the next “in” technology. But is it technology or a toy? We look at the new offerings at CES after the break.

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Walkera H6 actually named “Voyager 3”, only a prototype

Walkera H6 actually named “Voyager 3”, only a prototype

January 7, 2015 14:30 | By | 1 Comment

German IT magazine heise.de reports from CES Las Vegas that the previously teased Walkera H6 was nowhere to be seen at Walkera’s booth – and was shown to them only on their request (German, Google translate).

Photo by heise.de / nij

Photo by heise.de / nij, used with permission

According to Walkera, a communication problem with their american distributor led to the premature announcement, which was planned for end of January this year at the Toy Fare Nuernberg in Germany. Sadly, pricing and features are still secret until then, even though production is slated to begin “soon”.

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Qualcomm Snapdragon Cargo drone unveiled at CES

Qualcomm Snapdragon Cargo drone unveiled at CES

January 6, 2015 11:24 | By | 1 Comment

Qualcomm is yet another member of the Dronecode alliance showing off their new Cargo drone at CES. Apparently their engineers have ported APM to Snapdragon-based hardware and are augmenting its capabilities with 3d vision based obstacle avoidance.

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Walkera H6 debut at CES, runs APM/Dronecode

Walkera H6 debut at CES, runs APM/Dronecode

January 5, 2015 12:43 | By | Add a Comment

Need more proof that APM and the Linux Foundation-backed Dronecode alliance is really taking off? Walkera is about to debut the H6, a fancy-looking high-end quadcopter with retractable landing gear. The design is reminiscent of the new DJI Inspire, though the construction uses a simpler landing gear mechanism instead.

No info on price or availability yet, though we expect this to be announced within the next day.

Stick around for more pictures after the break.

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Hubsan X4 Pro features parachute rescue system, tablet-style remote

Hubsan X4 Pro features parachute rescue system, tablet-style remote

January 5, 2015 0:47 | By | 2 Comments

The Hubsan H109 is a bit of an endless story. Originally slated for release early 2014, so far it failed to materialize. Fast forward to 2015 and still no H109 – but Hubsan did announce the X4 Pro which appears to be an upgraded H109 with several quite unique features. Besides being a GPS-enabled quadcopter, it comes with a three-axis gimbal, a gopro-sized HD camera, 2.4GHz remote control and 5.8GHz video link, as well as a built-in rescue parachute. This quadcopter is scheduled to debut at CES Las Vegas – which is tomorrow.

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The star of the show is the flat, sleek remote with built-in touch control for placing waypoints on the map, as well as a separate OLED display for telemetry data.

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Banggood lists a tentative price of USD $499.-, which we’re very certain is not going to be the actual, final price – but according to Hubsan the final price will be below USD $1000.-

Video, Specs and more pictures after the break.

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