Recent Articles

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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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 | 5 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.

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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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