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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KK 2.1.5 released – wait what?

KK 2.1.5 released – wait what?

March 14, 2014 11:44 | By | 2 Comments

The KK 2.1.5 flight controller board has been released!

kk215Ok so this is basically the same animal as the KK 2.1, meaning MPU6050 and Atmel 644PA. According to HK, the new thing is “added polarity protection to the voltage sense header and a fuse protected buzzer outputs, in case something is accidentally plugged in incorrectly. The voltage sense line has been updated for better accuracy. The board is clearly labeled and the voltage sense line color has been changed to red for easy identification, making installation and connections a snap.”

Was that really worth a hardware upgrade? Are we going to get asymptotic hardware updates now? Is the KK 2.1.5.25 upon us next? In any case, the good news is that the price is still the same, USD $29.99 and it’s otherwise identical to the KK 2.1 flight controller we reviewed recently.

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HKPilot Mega Mini

HKPilot Mega Mini

March 10, 2014 14:08 | By | 2 Comments

Hobbyking is selling a miniature version of the Ardupilot APM 2.5 flight controller. This board features a HMC5883L compass, MPU-6000 gyro/acc, MS5611-01BA03 barometer sensor as well as a ATMEGA2560 8-bit microcontroller.

apmminiThe only problem is, things have moved on with the introduction of the PixHawk flight controller. And at a price of USD $83.- without GPS or telemetry the MegaMini is not exactly a bargain offer either. The fact is that the 8-bit APM platform will not see much new development over the next few years, so you better be content with the current state of affairs for there won’t be much in terms of revolutionary new updates for this platform.

Regardless, if you yearn for a more portable (even if slightly outdated) APM, the MegaMini is up for order on the HK website now. And who knows, maybe the price will drop down a bit, making this a good alternative to the T1000FC to throw in to your everyday model as an automated return-home and recovery system.

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WLToys V303 Seeker GPS Quadcopter announced

WLToys V303 Seeker GPS Quadcopter announced

March 6, 2014 23:01 | By | 1 Comment

Begun the clone war has. Or rather we’re right in the middle of it. WLToys just put up a new product on banggood.com, the V303 Seeker Quadcopter.

seeker1aIt’s another RTF quadcopter with basic GPS functionality, position hold and return home to be exact. It comes with a 2700mAh 3S battery for flight times of 12-14 minutes. Included in the package is a horrible WLToys transmitter.

Price at the time of writing is $387.- at BangGood.com

To be honest, at that price WLToys is not going to get many customers. Not with DJI dropping prices considerably recently, as well as even cheaper competition coming up. Take for example the Cheerson CX20, which has similar specs but can be yours for just $255.

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Facebook wants to buy into that drone craze

Facebook wants to buy into that drone craze

March 4, 2014 10:08 | By | Add a Comment

Facebook is in talks to aquire Titan Aerospace, best known for their solar powered unmanned airplanes that are designed to stay aloft for up to 5 years without landing. Apparently the plan is for Facebook to be able to provide internet coverage for otherwise unconnected regions. This goes directly up against a similar effort by Google called Project Loon. If something actually comes of it remains to be seen – especially with UAV regulations in the US being what they are now.

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T1000FC GPS Auto Pilot Review

T1000FC GPS Auto Pilot Review

February 28, 2014 15:00 | By | 6 Comments

The T1000FC is a cheap autopilot for fixed wing aircraft and promises a simple way to have your aircraft automagically return to you at the flick of a switch. But does it live up to that promise? Find out in our detailed review!

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KK 2.1 Flight Controller Review

KK 2.1 Flight Controller Review

February 23, 2014 14:42 | By | 11 Comments

The KK 2.1 is here! This incremental hardware update features new sensors and a beefier microcontroller, but does this improve performance? Read all about it in our review after the break!

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A bunch of new Quadcopters from Hobbyking

A bunch of new Quadcopters from Hobbyking

February 21, 2014 17:10 | By | Add a Comment

HK has updated their growing catalogue with several interesting new multirotor offerings:

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The Micro-X is a tiny MultiWii Quadcopter with a lightweight frame that has the flight controller integrated into it. You may be wondering why this is new given that they already have several versions of this available – well  this model comes with two batteries, and the DSM2-Receiver is integrated on the PCB. It’s about USD $50.- which is a pretty good price.

47075(4)The FPV250 frame is a one-piece frame for mini-sized FPV quadcopters. You can fit any 50×50 standard flight controller like the Crius AIO or the KK 2.0/2.1 boards, and it has tabs and mounts for small fpv cameras and video transmitters. Being a one-piece frame means that while it’s very rigid and certainly repairable with epoxy, severe crashes mean you’ll have to buy a whole new frame. However, it’s $10 a piece so we can’t complain!

47013-1(2)The SK450 is a ready-to-fly quadcopter featuring a KK 2.0 flight controller, 20A ESCs, four 2213 motors and a full set of 8×4.5 as well as a set of 10×4.5 props. This is an interesting package because not only is the KK flight controller absolutely excellent (even more so with RC911’s amazing “++” firmware), but you get props for both heavier payload (battery, camera) as well as for aerobatic flying. Also included is a Turnigy 5x radio system, so this is really a complete RTF package. The KK 2.0 looks a bit strange, given that they’ve phased out this model in favor of the KK 2.1 recently, but from our tests you should not let that deter you as the 2.0 board flies just as well.
Sadly though the Turnigy 5x, although functional, is pretty much a throwaway radio and brings the package price to USD $190.0,-
If you already have a radio and/or you want a better radio, you should consider building our $120 Quadcopter instead. You can get a really nice computer radio for the $70 you save. That said, the idea is a good one and maybe HK will release a version without TX, or with a Turnigy 9x lateron.

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Austria passes restrictive UAV laws

Austria passes restrictive UAV laws

February 13, 2014 11:47 | By | 4 Comments

The worst case scenario in UAV legislation, aside from an outright ban, are regulations that make operating UAVs prohibitively expensive for small businesses. Unfortunately this exactly what’s happening in Austria. Any commercial use of RC models falls under a complex set of rules that determine which permits, and how much money, a drone operator has to have to legally fly. The important thing here is that this pertains all flights taken for reasons other than the flight itself. In other words, as soon as the goal of the flight is to take pictures, it’s not an RC model anymore. Strictly speaking, show flights are also not made for the purpose of the flight itself, but to run a show. Needless to say, there’s a lot of room for interpretation, and the line from RC model to UAV is a thin one, and easily crossed.

What Austrocontrol has done is separate the use of drones into four classes, depending on weight and where the flight is to take place. Depending on the category, different rules and regulations come into play.

uavrules1

All classes come with the requirement of both a license to operate UAVs, as well as individual flight permissions. According to Austrocontrol, the administrative overhead will cost the UAV operator “just a few hundred euros”. Class C and D come with a heavy set of additional requirements:

uavrules0

 

Needless to say, these regulations exceed those of private ultralight aircraft which often weigh more than such UAVs. And again, you have to keep in mind that any RC flight that is not just “for fun” falls under these regulations. So if you get a small meal for doing some show flying, you have to get a Class A or B license.

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UAE plans to introduce drones for official document delivery, public surveillance

UAE plans to introduce drones for official document delivery, public surveillance

February 12, 2014 10:44 | By | Add a Comment

Dubai is a place of extremes, and their policy on drones reflects that. They recently announced plans to start using drones for various uses, including “delivery of official documents” while also able to check the receiver identity via fingerprint reading, as well as “infrastructure monitoring” (aka surveillance) via high resolution cameras.

The former is not very realistic for the same reasons that Amazon’s PR stunt was little more than just that, but the latter is of course where the meat is – after all, drone surveillance is Orwell’s wet dream come true.

Full press release after the break.

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Renault Kwid concept car features integrated quadcopter drone

Renault Kwid concept car features integrated quadcopter drone

February 7, 2014 19:29 | By | Add a Comment

Have you ever thought about using your quadcopter during a traffic jam to scout ahead and see just how long you’ll have to wait? Or scout difficult terrain where reversing would be difficult? The folks at Renault apparently did, and although their new Kwid concept car is probably never going to be at your local dealership, the idea is cool nonetheless.

renaultkwid1

An integrated autonomous drone launches from a dedicated pad on the car, allowing the driver to survey the surrounding area and look for detours, assess the length of traffic jams… who are we kidding, this is basically a James Bond toy come true. Or rather, in concept phase.

renaultkwid2

No doubt the FAA will have a few words to say about this. Or more likely just one word: “No.”

But if you’re like us and enjoy relishing the dream, there’s a neat making of video after the break.

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Rockets and Lasers oh my

Rockets and Lasers oh my

February 4, 2014 11:06 | By | 1 Comment

As soon as the first quadcopter is in the air, the next question is always what else it could carry. Aside from beer, there’s always fireworks and lasers. And here are a few videos showing “weaponized” quadcopters for your enjoyment. Not that this hasn’t been done before, but it’s always fun to watch.

 

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Amazon Drone delivery for you…

Amazon Drone delivery for you…

January 30, 2014 22:11 | By | Add a Comment

amazondrone

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Blade 350 QX AP adds 2-axis gimbal and HD camera

Blade 350 QX AP adds 2-axis gimbal and HD camera

January 30, 2014 17:20 | By | 2 Comments

Horizon just announced the Blade 350 QX AP, obviously meant to compete with the DJI Phantom Vision, but featuring an actual brushless gimbal with an included full HD camera. This RTF package even features an integrated 5.8GHz video downlink.

e13-blade-350qx-header

Features:

• 2-axis brushless gimbal with optional pitch control
• 1080/30 camera with 720/30 video downlink to mobile devices
• 3S 3000 mAh flight battery for extended shoots
• New DX4 Transmitter

The 350 QX AP Combo also takes on a host of upgrades to the existing system including:
• New RF chipset with external antenna
• Improved GPS performance and accuracy
• Visual compass error detection to alert the user for calibration
• Simplified radio solution for ease of use
• Included AC/DC charging solution
• White battery hatch for improved orientation

Availability is planned for late May 2014, at a retail price of $1,149.99 – which is quite a lot of money for the convenience of an RTF.  If you don’t mind fiddling with the inner workings a bit, a similar-performing system can be had for a lot less.

Check out the product video after the break.

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Riverwatch is an autonomous Catamaran with piggyback Hexacopter

Riverwatch is an autonomous Catamaran with piggyback Hexacopter

January 30, 2014 17:01 | By | Add a Comment

Riverwatch is a “Marsupial Surface-Aerial Robotic Team for Riverine Environmental Monitoring”. What sounds like the robot version of Captain Planet is actually a very fancy set of very different vehicles: One is a completely autonomous catamaran with GPS/IMU navigation, LIDAR and SONAR, the other is an autonomous hexacopter capable of takeoff and landing right on the aforementioned catamaran.

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This combined system is tasked with collecting environmental data of rivers. The tilting LIDAR sensor is used for surface obstacle avoidance while the sonar prevents the vehicle from running aground, but they also use a camera with image recognition software to determine the transition between water and land. The hexacopter is used to augment the field of view and provide enhanced visual navigation capabilities to the catamaran. This is of course a scientific prototype of the university of Lisbon, funded by ECHORD.

Quite impressive demonstration video after the break.

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Ex-DJI CEO wins injunction against DJI, prevents (some) US companies from importing DJI products

Ex-DJI CEO wins injunction against DJI, prevents (some) US companies from importing DJI products

January 26, 2014 20:46 | By | 3 Comments

Well this is bad news for DJI: Apparently, Ex-CEO Colin Guinn filed and won an injunction against DJI, preventing it from doing business with 31 US businesses from importing DJI products. They are still able to sell stock but they cannot restock or import new products.

The official letter from DJI can be found here, and there’s a very detailed video about this situation below.

There’s not enough information to gauge the situation with certainty but it does appear to be an attempt to grab a high settlement payment at any cost. It’s doubtful that this will hurt DJI over the long term however. If anything, competitors may have a bit of an upsurge in the US as a result. But time will tell.

Clarification: This only pertains the companies named in the injunction. There are other US companies importing and reselling DJI equipment not affected by this.

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