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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Quanum QFX flight controller is actually an IFly-V4M

Quanum QFX flight controller is actually an IFly-V4M

December 20, 2013 13:46 | By | 7 Comments

Hobbyking is selling the Quanum QFX, a new multirotor flight controller  with GPS for a mere $120. Among the usual fare are GPS position hold and return-to-home, 2-axis gimbal output and PPM/SBUS support. It looks a lot like a Naza but it’s actually a rebranded IdeaFly V4M flight controller as can be confirmed by comparing the PC software and the manuals.

iflyv4m

As such it shares the limited angular sensing rate of 200 degrees/s as well as the limited PC setup program – then again, it does let you tweak a bit more than the DJI Naza software. According to our information this is the same FC as installed in the IdeaFly Apollo.

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Have a DJI Phantom? Install a proper radio system

Have a DJI Phantom? Install a proper radio system

December 20, 2013 13:12 | By | Add a Comment

If you’re a lucky Phantom or Phantom 2 owner (or perhaps you’ll get one this Christmas, hint hint), please do yourself and the FPV/multirotor community a favor and install a proper RC radio system. This helps preventing you from making the news because your phantom flew away on it’s own. These are not isolated incidents either. As a poll on RCG shows, there is a considerable number of people who experienced a total loss of control coupled with the Phantom taking off and just zooming away. DJI recently acknowledged that they are working to fix this via firmware upgrades, but the fact of the matter is: Their radio system is not the best, and no firmware update will change that.

So please, pick a solid frequency-hopping system (Spektrum DSMX, Futaba FASST, Multiplex, Jeti, HOTT, FrSky, just to name a few), stay away from systems that lack frequency agility or antenna diversity (DSM1, DSM2, ISM, XPS, Walkera) and make sure to check that your failsafe is not set to give full throttle. If your multirotor is equipped with GPS, set failsafe so that return-to-land is activated in case of signal loss.

If you own a Phantom, get a better RC radio and fly safe.

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FieldView 12 inch FPV Monitor

FieldView 12 inch FPV Monitor

December 19, 2013 18:20 | By | Add a Comment

An interesting daily over at Hobbyking.com: The FieldView 1212 FPV monitor is a positively giant FPV monitor. According to Hobbyking, the 1212 has been “optimized for FPV use with features such as a non-blue screen if the input signal gets weak, a wide range of input voltages, an integrated 2 axis tripod mount and of course a removable sun shield for those sunny days.

And indeed, input voltage ranges from 6V to 24V. Resolution is 800×600 which is more than enough for FPV, but the brightness is a mere 330cd which is not really fit for bright summer days. However if you want a large screen that includes the sunshade and doesn’t bluescreen on a bad signal, you could do worse than spending $160 over at Hobbyking.com

Note that what you’re getting is essentially the same as the M1200 from FoxtechFPV, except they sell theirs for 10 bucks more.

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AfroFlight Naze32 Flight Controller Review

AfroFlight Naze32 Flight Controller Review

December 19, 2013 15:59 | By | 6 Comments

8/16bit flight controllers are outmoded, at least that’s what the folks at AbuseMark are telling us. But are 32 bits really making a difference? Let’s find out in our Naze32 review.

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Spektrum DX9 adds multicopter/camera related voice output

Spektrum DX9 adds multicopter/camera related voice output

December 18, 2013 2:17 | By | Add a Comment

The latest v1.02 firmware for Spektrum’s DX9 adds several bugfixes as well as something a lot of owners will appreciate: Extra voice events for multicopter flight as well as camera operation. Specifically, words like “self leveling”, “hover mode”, “stabilize mode”, “return to launch”, “circle mode”, “head tracker on/off”, “gimbal control on/off/locked” as well as “video start” and “video stop” should prove extremely useful to multicopter and FPV pilots. Also contained are the words “Waypoint 1” all the way up to 9 – a hint at a possible waypoint upgrade for the Blade QX350?

 

All in all, a nice christmas present from Spektrum, which you can download for free from their website after you register your transmitter serial number.

Full changelog after the break.

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DYI DJI FPV remote kit comes in 2 sizes

DYI DJI FPV remote kit comes in 2 sizes

December 17, 2013 16:07 | By | Add a Comment

Remember that Phantom Ground Station that puts your Phantom transmitter guts into a new case and adds an LCD screen?

Goodluckbuy is now offering two versions of a similar product: Coming in 5 inch as well as 7 inch variants, these are kits that require some assembly and soldering – as well as disassembly of your phantom controller. Price is $330.- for the 5 inch model, or $370 for the larger 7 inch one. The case is made of carbon fiber, and the screens are reported to be IPS with a high brightness and contrast.

These kits are a bit more pricy than the ground station, but they’re also larger and look rather nice. Still, we can’t help but wonder if your money isn’t better spent on a proper RC transmitter, with the screen mounted on the handle.

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The right answer to Amazon Prime Air

The right answer to Amazon Prime Air

December 15, 2013 15:25 | By | Add a Comment

…is that it’s all just that: Hot air. And at last, someone made a proper parody video about it.

erc1

The folks at ERC recently released this spoof announcement, which one has to say, is just about as legit and serious as the recent advertisement coup landed by Amazon. Except they will probably not get free ad space in every major newspaper.

Check out the video after the break.

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Acoustic source location from micro UAVs

Acoustic source location from micro UAVs

December 12, 2013 16:46 | By | Add a Comment

A team of swiss researchers from EPFL has outfitted micro UAVs with a microphone array, which enables the craft to triangulate the position of narrow-band sound sources such as emergency whistles. The fact that they are able to use microphones for source direction detection while in flight is extremely impressive, though of course the nature of the signal (a whistle at a known frequency) certainly helps. They envision this as a mobile tool for rescue workers trying to locate people in distress in difficult terrain, deployed simply by throwing into the air and controlled via a waypoint interface on a mobile phone or handheld.

epfluav

In search and rescue missions, Micro Air Vehicles (MAV’s) can assist rescuers to faster locate victims inside a large search area and to coordinate their efforts. Acoustic signals play an important role in outdoor rescue operations. Emergency whistles, as found on most aircraft life vests, are commonly carried by people engaging in outdoor activities, and are also used by rescue teams, as they allow to signal reliably over long distances and far beyond visibility. For a MAV involved in such missions, the ability to locate the source of a distress sound signal, such as an emergency whistle blown by a person in need of help, is therefore significantly important and would allow the localization of victims and rescuers during night time, through foliage and in adverse conditions such as dust, fog and smoke. In this work we present a sound source localization system for a MAV to locate narrow-band sound sources on the ground, such as the sound of a whistle or personal alarm.

Check out the stunning video presentation of their results after the break.

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Trappy’s lawyer responds to FAA allegations

Trappy’s lawyer responds to FAA allegations

December 12, 2013 12:08 | By | Add a Comment

The lawyer of Team Blacksheep founder “Trappy” has filed a “memorandum of law supporting his motion to dismiss” in response to the complaint by the FAA. In case you have not been following this legal fight, the FAA wants to fine Trappy for flying a RC foam wing on a university campus for money. They can’t seem to make up their minds whether it was the “reckless flying” or the fact that Trappy was financially compensated by the land owner – operating an RC model aircraft for any kind of financial gain is a hot topic in the US right now.

As a substitute for the unenforceable policy statement, the FAA retreats to last-resort arguments granting itself the extraordinary power to regulate and penalize the operation of any device found in the air, at any location, and without prior notice to the public. This overextension is based on two seemingly simple but completely flawed premises: first, that the definition of “aircraft” in 14 C.F.R. § 1.1 is so broad that it has always included model aircraft, and, second, that the FAA’s jurisdiction extends to activity conducted even an inch above the ground and inside tunnels — locations outside the navigable airspace.

Both of these propositions fail as a matter of law. The definition of “aircraft” is expressly stated in section 1.1 to rely upon context, and that context is unquestionably manned operations.

The full text of the reply can be read here

One of the core arguments right now is whether or not the FAA is responsible for airspace below 700 feet, a question that was raised on Gigaom.com a few days ago.

Whether or not this will end up saving Trappy the $10.000 fine the FAA demands him to pay remains to be seen.

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MARS parachute system saves multirotor craft, headaches

MARS parachute system saves multirotor craft, headaches

December 11, 2013 14:31 | By | Add a Comment

Have an expensive multirotor craft? MARS has an insurance for you. Their lineup of parachute deployment systems can accomodate a range of sizes and weights, with the biggest model MARS 120 being able to save a 11kg craft from the harsh consequences of continuous unimpeded exposure to gravity. That one is $1500, but the Mars Mini, which is suitable for 450-size frames such as the Phantom, is only $150.

marsbig3

Right in the middle is the Mars 58 which can save up to 4.5kg of expensive multirotor weight.

The MARS products are spring-loaded parachute storage and deployment units that can be simply attached to your rotorcraft and then triggered with a servo signal. While the bigger model is extremely impressive it does add a whole 1kg to your craft. The Mars Mini on the other hand weighs only 120g.

These systems are definitely interesting for the more professional FPV/UAV pilot where expensive camera payload needs to be saved in case of  loss of control or lift.

Stick around for the demo video after the break.

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Amazon Prime Air in practice

Amazon Prime Air in practice

December 10, 2013 9:44 | By | Add a Comment

Via thedronenews.com

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Back-Bone Ribcage adds classy lens compatibility to your GoPro 3

Back-Bone Ribcage adds classy lens compatibility to your GoPro 3

December 9, 2013 21:13 | By | Add a Comment

Canadian company Back-Bone plans to launch a lineup of accessoirs for the GoPro enabling it to accept a wide range of Micro-M12, CS and C-Mount lenses. This means you can also attach a lens adapter for a wide variety of other lenses (Nikon, Pentax, etc.)

backbone1

Right now you can preorder a kit for $199 (sold out) which require some (dis-)assembly or one of 60 converted GoPro cameras for $799.

Is this required stuff for your multirotor? Probably not, but then again there’s plenty of creative stuff you can do with a different lens that’s just not possible with the built-in one.

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Petition the US Government to allow commercial UAS use

Petition the US Government to allow commercial UAS use

December 9, 2013 8:56 | By | Add a Comment

There’s a petition on change.gov regarding the commercial use of unmanned platforms outside populated areas.

The FAA is hampering economic growth, job creation and scientific development by not allowing commercial entities to operate small unmanned aircraft systems. Current FAA plans will not allow commercial SUAS use until September of 2015.

We propose:

– Immediate action by the FAA to lift the blanket ban on commercial UAS systems under 10 lbs. outside of populated areas, under 400 feet and two miles away from airports.

– The creation and support of a self-regulating organization that will train and oversee SUAS operations, similar to the American Radio Relay League. This will allow the industry to quickly adapt while maintaining safety, security and privacy.

If you live in the US and want to sign, click here.

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Swiftbot wants your money for kickstarting a waterproof drone

Swiftbot wants your money for kickstarting a waterproof drone

December 6, 2013 15:27 | By | Add a Comment

The Swiftbot is a waterproof multirotor drone. Or rather, it will be, if they manage to secure enough funds. Your funds, to be more exact, and via their Kickstarter campaign. The idea is for the quadcopter to be able to land on water and submerge cameras, hydrophones etc. under the water surface to take pictures, record audio, and so forth.

swiftbotThey use the excellent ArduCopter which means this will be completely MavLink-compatible, so you can use your existing apps on iOS, Android, Linux, Mac and Windows to control it. Pledging 99 dollars gets you… a 3d-printed flyable micro model of the Swiftbot. The only bigger pledge is $199 for early access to the 3D-printed parts library. There’s no way to pledge for a complete system, or even printed parts, which may explain why this kickstarter is at just over $300.- with only 16 days to go…

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US Navy launches drone from submerged submarine

US Navy launches drone from submerged submarine

December 6, 2013 12:49 | By | Add a Comment

Remember the famous “Skunk Works” labs, which produced groundbreaking technology like the F117A? Well the Navy has their own department called “Swamp Works” which does the same, only with more water. And recently, they launched a UAV from a diving submarine, which is an interesting tactical option for future submarine commanders.

XFC Unmanned Aerial System

Operating under support of the Los Angeles class USS Providence (SSN 719) and the Naval Undersea Warfare Center-Newport Division (NUWC-NPT), the NRL developed XFC UAS—eXperimental Fuel Cell Unmanned Aerial System—was fired from the submarine’s torpedo tube using a ‘Sea Robin’ launch vehicle system. The Sea Robin launch system was designed to fit within an empty Tomahawk launch canister (TLC) used for launching Tomahawk cruise missiles already familiar to submarine sailors.

Once deployed from the TLC, the Sea Robin launch vehicle with integrated XFC rose to the ocean surface where it appeared as a spar buoy. Upon command of Providence Commanding Officer, the XFC then vertically launched from Sea Robin and flew a successful several hour mission demonstrating live video capabilities streamed back to Providence, surface support vessels and Norfolk before landing at the Naval Sea Systems Command Atlantic Undersea Test and Evaluation Center (AUTEC), Andros, Bahamas.

Interestingly the airborne surveillance vehicled called “XFC” doesn’t run off normal LiXX batteries but fuel cells. Launches can be performed from stationary pickup tricks or other small vehicles, not just submarines.