Recent Articles

Upgrade your Naza-M lite to a Naza v2… for free

Upgrade your Naza-M lite to a Naza v2… for free

January 4, 2015 17:51 | By | 3 Comments

Thanks to the efforts of rcgroups user udnham (RCGroups removed his post and then closed the thread due to “legal issues”, surprise surprise…), you can upgrade your Naza-M flight controller to a Naza V2. Without paying hundreds of dollars for a box that contains the exact same hardware.

Yes you read that right. Not only does DJI use relatively low-performance accelerometer and gyro sensors (maxing out at 200 degree/s), they essentially sell the same hardware at a significant price markup with the software being the only difference. And since anything done in software can be undone in software, udnham has done just that and is now offering a free upgrade tool at http://naza-upgrade.com for  all Naza-M owners.

What does this upgrade give you? Well..

  • Better inflight algoritms – takeoff, landing, GPS position and altitude hold
  • Octacopters support
  • Ability to connect CAN-bus devices such as iOSD, zenmuse gimbal etc (using v2 pmu module)
  • Autonomous waypoint flight from groundstation with dji datalink modem
  • All other features that Naza-m v2 have

The tool works by circumventing the software locks DJI built in to prevent users from upgrading their flight controllers “too much”. It’s a non-official hack that basically turns your $160 flight controller into a $300 one. It’s unlikely that DJI will just continue to let this happen, so you may want to grab the tool before DJI yanks it, as the RCGroups post is already gone.

It will be interesting to see DJI claim any kind of legal issue here though. The firmware update is being distributed for free over the internet, the only thing the tool does is make the V2 firmware work on the V1 flight controller. Though we are not lawyers, this does seem to invoke the interoperability exception to copyright in most jurisdictions. Or in other words, if you buy a Lexus car, the manufacturer can’t really sue you for showing customers how to make cheaper Toyota brand parts fit in it. Then again, a new lawsuit may bring a new ruling…

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Hubsan H301S adds GPS auto return

Hubsan H301S adds GPS auto return

January 1, 2015 20:04 | By | 4 Comments

Spyhawk early adopters were a bit miffed to find that Hubsan had canceled the planned release of an add-on GPS module for existing Spyhawk owners, citing technical problems. Well apparently there’s no problem releasing a brand new version of the Spyhawk that has GPS auto return.

Hubsan did update the original design multiple times, for example adding an actual external antenna on the transmitter instead of the fake rubber ducky.

The new Hubsan now comes in two colors (classic white and a snazzy new black version), adds colored LEDs on the wings, and of course features GPS guidance for an auto-return function. No word on any additional GPS flight modes yet, or whether this version will have the ability to disable the built-in gyro stabilization remotely.

Hubsan H301S-4

Banggood.com has a tentative price of USD $360.- but Hubsan has not confirmed the price yet.

If you are looking to add GPS auto return to an existing model for little money, you might want to consider giving the T1000FC we reviewed some time ago a try.

Specs of the new H301S after the break.

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Team Blacksheep 2014 retrospective

Team Blacksheep 2014 retrospective

December 30, 2014 12:17 | By | Add a Comment

TBS posted a nice highlights reel of their adventures in 2014

 

 

 

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Blade 200QX Review

Blade 200QX Review

December 29, 2014 16:32 | By | 1 Comment

The Blade 200QX is Horizon Hobby’s answer to all the cheap chinese miniquads. Lacking GPS-driven flight modes, can it justify the price tag with its performance? Find out in our review after the break.

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X PlusOne kickstarter project – is it a Drone or a Plane?

X PlusOne kickstarter project – is it a Drone or a Plane?

December 28, 2014 12:31 | By | Add a Comment

Is it a drone? Is it a plane? No, it is the X PlusOne, a kickstarter project from team xcraft looking for backers to support the mass production of what seems to be a combination of multirotor agility together with a fixed wing speed and efficiency. Obviously drawing it’s inspiration of google’s project wing, this ariel machine (DronePlane? PlaneDrone?) can do VTOL, reach claimed speeds of 100 KPH and carry ariel photography cameras such as the GoPro and a gimbal. If proper funding goes right for the developers, they would add autonomous capabilities using the popular Pixhawk flight controller (offered by 3D-Robotics).

Want to support this project? Check out the kickstarter page here.  Also checkout the video after the break.

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FPVStyle Unicorn 1 combo features interesting video goggles

FPVStyle Unicorn 1 combo features interesting video goggles

December 25, 2014 20:15 | By | 5 Comments

Warning: The retailer mentioned in this article appears to not be fulfilling orders. See our news on this for more details.

So, www.fpvstyle.com is selling a kit for USD 499.- containing a mini FPV quadcopter and video goggles. The specs on the quad sound pretty alright, even though we don’t know the flight controller it does have GPS and uses SimonK firmware on the ESCs and a claimed flight time of 15 minutes on 2200mAh 3S batteries.

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So far so mildly interesting. Until you see that they’ve finally caught on to the day and age of the Oculus Rift, and done away with the now-obsolete FPV goggles we’re used to. It’s a giant pair of goggles with a wide field of view! Check out the closeups after the break!

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5.8GHz 200mW FPV Transmitter Review

5.8GHz 200mW FPV Transmitter Review

December 24, 2014 15:31 | By | Add a Comment

Looking for a small, lightweight FPV transmitter that plugs right into your GoPro and has an integrated cloverleaf antenna? This $60 video transmitter for the 5.8GHz band may fit the bill – but is it any good? Find out in our review after the break.

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FPV Central is looking for RC FPV enthusiasts

FPV Central is looking for RC FPV enthusiasts

December 22, 2014 14:56 | By | Add a Comment

Hello there, Josef here. I’m adressing you in person in a kind of editorial to ask for your help.

You may have noticed a distinct lack of articles and reviews in recent past. That’s mostly due to lack of time and other constraints. fpvcentral.net is a hobby endeavour, and I’ve always tried my best to provide objective reviews in a time when most RC publications are either determined by sponsors, or focus more on providing entertainment rather than actual information. As of now, if you pick up an RC magazine and look for reviews on, for example, RTF multicopter products, chances are good that any article you find will either be influenced by the magazine’s need for free review samples, or a lack of experience by the reviewer, or both. How often have we read reviews that mentioned that a plane flies “straight and true, with just one or two clicks of trim”. Or read multicopter reviews by a writer whose only prior experience was a DJI Phantom. Or reviews where the text reads more like an afterthought, written against a deadline without the model ever having actually flown.

Reviewing FPV gear is difficult. You need some experience, and preferably a solid background in the field of electronics and radio transmissions. Reviewing multicopters isn’t something anyone can do either – most RC journalists started only one or two years ago, and are basically following the mainstream. I’m a licensed radio amateur, I hold a degree in electronics and I’m building systems for flight, air traffic control and space for a living. I’m running this site because I enjoy the hobby – not to rake in money from sponsors or advertisers.

I won’t claim that this site is the best available resource, as there’s plenty of great sites that provide a lot of valuable information to hobbyists. However, I hope that fpvcentral.net adds to that – and judging from the popularity of articles such as our $120 high power quadcopter howto, or our KK 2.0 flight controller review, I like to think that this site is indeed a valuable resource to RC modelers around the world.

Over the past year, I’ve had less time available for FPVCentral than I’d wanted. In addition, there’s been a disturbing trend of commercially run and sponsored RC “review sites” taking crops of our review photos, and in a few cases, even copying complete reviews from fpvcentral.net. In one instance the review was copied verbatim, in another it was translated to french. In all of these cases, the content was presented as their original work, without attributing fpvcentral.net. And I have to admit, it is a bit demotivating to see certain sites grow using blatantly stolen content.

I’m running this site out of my own pocket, in my spare time, and all the review hardware was bought by myself. I’m certainly going to continue, and there’s a number of articles lined up that will go online over the holidays.

However, I’d love to get more people involved. I’m looking for enthusiasts who love to write reviews, post news, even editorials about any aspect of RC flight. For FPVCentral to grow, there needs to be more variety. If you are interested in joining up, please let me know via the contact form.

 

South Park covers drones…

South Park covers drones…

October 30, 2014 20:53 | By | Add a Comment

“Shock and outrage all over the states tonight after an armed police drone shot down an unarmed civilian drone. And worst of all: Yes, the civilian drone… was black.”

The episode is a bit technically optimistic, and it doesn’t really get into the actual problems of civilian UAV regulations in the US, but it is worth a few laughs. If you haven’t seen this episode yet, you can watch it right here on the official site.

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FTDI Windows driver bricks counterfeit chips, FTDI pulls update, shows little remorse

FTDI Windows driver bricks counterfeit chips, FTDI pulls update, shows little remorse

October 27, 2014 12:40 | By | Add a Comment

FTDI chips are used in a big number of multirotor flight controller boards, converting between USB and serial communication. And because of their relatively high price, many counterfeit versions of their chips are found on the market. The counterfeits often look exactly like the real thing, so you’d have to look at the chip die to identify them.

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In the past years, FTDI have responded by issuing driver updates that refuse to work with counterfeit chips. However the (mostly chinese) producers of these clones have learned to adapt.

In one of the recent windows updates, FTDI have pushed an update that sets the product ID of any counterfeit chip connected to a windows PC with that new driver to zero, effectively bricking the chip. This has had the electronics and maker communities up in arms, because you can’t really “choose” whether to buy a real or a counterfeit chip. Needless to say, bricking consumer devices is legally questionable at best. Now FTDI have retracted the driver from Windows Update, and issued an apology letter of sorts…

We’ll leave it up to Dave Jones from eevblog.com to sum it all up in a very juicy video after the break. If you own a multirotor flight controller with a USB interface, it’s recommended that you uninstall the latest FTDI driver, and install an older version. Keep in mind that connecting your board to the computer is enough to brick the chip if you have the latest (now-retracted) driver installed.

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Dronecode: a drone software project by the Linux Foundation

Dronecode: a drone software project by the Linux Foundation

October 13, 2014 11:46 | By | Add a Comment

The Linux Foundation has launched a new collaborative project called Dronecode, which aims to bring together open source projects and commercial vendors for the development of new open source flight control software for all kinds of civilian UAVs.

So far, so uninteresting. But reading the list of participants shows just how much potential this new initiative has: Among APM-developer 3DRobotics, Yuneec, Baidu and Intel there’s also DroneDeploy, JDrones, Qualcomm and Walkera on board.

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FPV Drone Racing is as awesome as it sounds

FPV Drone Racing is as awesome as it sounds

October 7, 2014 11:55 | By | Add a Comment

The video is so very very french. But when a group of FPV enthusiasts gather to fly a friendly racing competition in the middle of the woods, you can’t help but smile. The footage is breathtaking and this could very well become a very popular and interesting regular event.

PS: No stab at the french implied. We’re all Fou le fafa 🙂

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Fatshark Spyhawk Bundle by Hobbyking

Fatshark Spyhawk Bundle by Hobbyking

September 1, 2014 11:35 | By | Add a Comment

Let’s face it, the Hubsan Spyhawk is not the most amazing piece of RC gear that you could get. For pure beginners it does have its virtues however. The experience was hampered by an inflated price (early sets sold for as much as 400 dollars) and a stabilization system that could not be disabled. That the original transmitter had an extremely short battery life didn’t help either.

Hobbyking is now offering a package that includes the Hubsan Spyhawk v2, the Fatshark Teleporter v3 goggles, a 5.8GHz Fatshark-compatible video transmission system with cloverleaf antenna, and the console-controller sized Hubsan transmitter without integrated TFT screen. The whole package retails for USD 299.-

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All things considered, that price tag is decent. The goggles aren’t going to rock your world (and with Oculus-sized FOV goggles soon to become the norm, the current 40-ish degree FOV goggles are going to be obsolete by next year), the transmitter is basically a toy, and the Spyhawk itself isn’t the most amazing plane there is – but as whole, that’s not a bad package for beginners.

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Copycat Pixhawk with GPS is cheap

Copycat Pixhawk with GPS is cheap

August 9, 2014 20:35 | By | Add a Comment

Pining for a Pixhawk? The pricetag sure is hefty, at the time of writing 3DR wants $280.- for it if you also buy the GPS antenna/compass module. If that’s too rich for you, Goodluckbuy now has a knockoff Pixhawk, with GPS, for just shy of USD $150.-

Is it worth getting this instead of the original? You decide! However, note that even the safety switch shows that there’s definitely difference in build quality there:

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If you need a pixhawk on a budget and you don’t mind the risk, you can order one at GLB right here.

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TBS Gemini FPV Racer announced

TBS Gemini FPV Racer announced

August 7, 2014 13:47 | By | Add a Comment

Team Blacksheep are pushing more and more into custom designed multirotors. Their latest project is the Gemini, a miniature FPV hexacopter with forward-tilted motors – specifically designed for racing.

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Preorders will be fulfilled in two batches, with the first to arrive end of September. Price is around USD $600.- for the RTF version that includes everything except receiver and transmitter.

Check out the video and more details after the break.

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