Category: News

DJI releases Zenmuse Z15-5D Gimbal for the Canon 5D Mk II and III

DJI releases Zenmuse Z15-5D Gimbal for the Canon 5D Mk II and III

November 24, 2013 12:52 | By | Add a Comment

DJI just released their high-end Z15-5D gimbal, specifically designed for the Canon 5D Mark 2 and Mark 3. This is a 3-axis gimbal, complete with infrared control for your Canon camera, as well as three operating modes that either keep the camera stabilized straight and level, stabilize it at a certain angle, or a “FPV mode” that locks the gimbal in place without stabilization, for easier FPV flying. It supports pan/tilt angles of up to 130 degrees, as well as a roll angle of up to 30 degrees.

Note that only the EF 24mm 2.8 lens is supported (due to the camera CG), and you need at least a DJI A2 with firmware v2.0, a WKM v5.26 or an Ace One / Ace Waypoint with firmware v4.02.

There’s no word on pricing yet, although GLB has a preorder offer for about USD $3000.-

More pictures after the break.

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3D FPV camera now available for $319

3D FPV camera now available for $319

November 22, 2013 13:48 | By | Add a Comment

EMR Labs has announced the availability of the first hobby-grade 3D camera designed specifically for FPV flying. The camera can be set to either 2D or 3D mode and has adjustable convergence and white balance. It comes with a remote cable that can be connected to a receiver to control the camera convergence or exposure while the aircraft is in the air.  The exposure feature is excellent for keeping the ground properly visible under adverse conditions such as sunrise or sunset conditions. The camera lenses are positioned at the human inter-ocular distance to generate a true to life 3D experience.  Special calibration modes are provided to enable the user to realign the cameras if needed.

This is part of their Transporter 3D system which was successfully funded via IndieGoGo, promising to become the first commercially available and affordable integrated system for FPV flight using the Oculus Rift for total immersion.

We have an Oculus devkit in the lab here and we can tell you from personal experience that it’s awesome, so this is absolutely exciting news.

You can purchase the camera now from ReadyMadeRC or NGHobbies (Update: NGHobbies link is now defunkt) for USD $319.-

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Two interesting and cheap 450-size quadcopters

Two interesting and cheap 450-size quadcopters

November 22, 2013 12:04 | By | Add a Comment

Two interesting offers just went up on GLB: First we have a complete F450 Quadcopter with Crius AIO Pro V1.1 flight controller, 20 Amp ESCs and Motors which comes pre-assembled for USD $140. Just attach the motors and connect your receiver and you’re ready to fly. Add a $25 GPS module, upload the MegaPirate firmware and you have a stable, GPS capable drone that does an unlimited number of waypoints.

The second offer is also a 450-sized quadcopter, but includes landing skids and an aluminum camera gimbal for your GoPro, complete with gimbal controller, 20A ESCs, Crius AIO V1.1 flight controller, motors and props. Price for this one is USD $231.-

These multicopters come without manuals, which means you will have to read up or watch a video on flashing MegaPirate, but the upside is that get a ton of features, especially unlimited waypoint planning and other nifty stuff that the closed-source competition charges a lot of money for.

Cow eats FPV plane

Cow eats FPV plane

November 22, 2013 0:10 | By | Add a Comment

A Bixler FPV plane lands in a paddock, after which the cows make short work of it. Obviously bovines don’t appreciate the finer details of FPV flight. Either that, or they don’t like the Bixler plane 😉

Source: Liveleak

Parrot AR.Drone app coming to Windows 8 app store in December, makes Ballmer happy

Parrot AR.Drone app coming to Windows 8 app store in December, makes Ballmer happy

November 21, 2013 14:05 | By | Add a Comment

Steve Ballmer doesn’t have much reason to smile lately. But quadcopters can even make CEOs grin with glee, as evidenced in the snapshot below. The Parrot AR.FreeFlight app is going to be available on Windows 8 devices (including tablets and PC) this December, offering the same functionality we know from the iOS and Android app. The Windows Phone 8 app is still a ways off however, tentatively scheduled for “sometime in 2014”.

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The truth is this app comes way too late for Windows 8, and the AR.Drone is outclassed and outpriced by leaps and bounds today. It’s not just that fly-aways are still a common problem with them (which the manufacturer continues to claim is “not a common or known problem“), but for that price you can get much more capable hardware today.

Update: Just in case you think we’re trolling, check out the Flyaway Club. And if you are chuckling because you own a DJI Phantom, don’t laugh too soon.

10g 5.8GHz 220mW FPV Transmitter

10g 5.8GHz 220mW FPV Transmitter

November 21, 2013 10:58 | By | Add a Comment

GLB has a set of neat little FPV video transmitters on sale. It’s a 220mW 5.8GHz TX with integrated cloverleaf antenna, weighing only 10 grams. You can choose between a version with servo connector or one that fits right into your GoPro. Both cost around USD $58.- which is not a bad deal. Keep in mind that you will need a compatible left-hand circular polarized antenna on the receiver side as well.

Supported frequencies are 5.705, 5.685, 5.665, 5.645, 5.885, 5.905, 5.925 and 5.945 GHz, which means this won’t work with your ImmersionRC/FatShark receiver. But then again, there are better (higher selectivity, diversity etc.) receiver modules available that do work with these frequencies.

Drones fill in the blanks for OpenStreetMap

Drones fill in the blanks for OpenStreetMap

November 21, 2013 9:38 | By | Add a Comment

US company Mapbox recently used RC technology to automatically create aerial photos and vector data for the OpenStreetMap project, filling in the white spot of a wine field. In 40 minutes, the drone took over 200 pictures with its 16 Megapixel camera, which were then stitched together and analyzed with Mapbox’ own map tile processing tools.

The drone, an e-bee, is basically just a foam wing with a brushless pusher motor. Its ground control software is proprietary but looks a lot like APM. The e-bee is a turnkey UAV product that weighs 700 grams and can stay airborne for 45 minutes. And if you are interested in price, you probably can’t afford it: USD $12.000.-

Looking at that pricetag, getting an Ardupilot for a hundred bucks sounds like the steal it is.

Video and map after the break.

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X-47B completes autonomous carrier tests

X-47B completes autonomous carrier tests

November 21, 2013 1:47 | By | Add a Comment

The X-47B is the Navy’s Unmanned Combat Air Systems Demonstrator, and it recently completed a series of tests of automated catapult starts, touch and go’s, landings and other flight procedures on the USS Theodore Roosevelt. Aside from the GPS autoland function and other systems enabling autonomous flight, the main focus of the tests was to see how such self-piloting drones integrate with normal carrier operations and how they fit in the military airspace.

This is all part of the ongoing effort to move from piloted jet fighters towards unmanned drones that are capable of carrier operations and actual air combat. And judging from the successful carrier operations tests, the times of human pilots having to manually remote-control drones may soon be a thing of the past. Whether that’s a good thing or not is another matter.

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FPV Combat System

FPV Combat System

November 20, 2013 11:41 | By | Add a Comment

NGHobbies is selling an interesting FPV Combat System which allows you to engage in actual dogfights. Each plane needs to be fitted with such a system, which includes an infrared “cannon”, an infrared hit sensor, and a light module that displays hits and firing effects. Price is USD $100.-

An advanced set for USD $125.- adds an effect module which wobbles a servo channel when hit, allowing for more dramatic “weapon impacts”. And finally, the USD $161.- deluxe set adds a stationary target module which can be mounted on a pole or similar, to have planes try and hit it.

Check out the demo video below for some  dogfighting action. The hit indicator lights are surprisingly visible, and the whole system sounds like a lot of fun.

 

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Ardupilot successfully guides plane from 30.780m

Ardupilot successfully guides plane from 30.780m

November 20, 2013 11:24 | By | Add a Comment

Making an autopilot for an RC plane is hard, which is why ArduPilot has taken a long time to become what it is now. Larry Grater now demonstrated the successful use of ArduPilot to automatically guide an RC plane dropped from 30.780 meters, or 101.000 feet. Larry didn’t just upload a flight plan via APM, there were quite a few obtacles to tackle for ArduPilot to be able to pilot the plane at such altitudes.

According to Larry, “two major and several minor issues with software have been run to ground. Roll autopilot capture was delayed due to a coordinate system issue with pitch and roll rate feedbacks. Navigation bearing hunts around the waypoint bearing due to lack of pressure-altitude correction in wind estimate and bearing correction code.”

Um.. alright. One thing to note: Most GPS modules don’t work above 18km altitude, due to the military being afraid that you might build your own ICBM or something. We don’t know if Larry circumvented this issue by having the plane take a steep dive down to 16km altitude or if he had a GPS module that is not altitude-restricted, but in any case, the plane successfully reached each of the programmed waypoints before loitering down to the ground.

Former Multirotor company now called Service-Drone, caters to the wealthy professional

Former Multirotor company now called Service-Drone, caters to the wealthy professional

November 19, 2013 10:22 | By | Add a Comment

Service-Drone which aquired the Multirotor-brand back in early 2013, is now offering the fourth generation of Octocopter craft for heavy camera loads. Featuring two 32-bit processors they claim unparalleled flight performance and stability.

Although they vehemently state that none of the original Microcopter-electronics remains, their setup still looks a lot like the old boards. But looks can be deceiving of course.

Their cheapest kit can be yours for the low low price of EUR 8.900.-, while a complete set can run up to EUR 24.000.- and higher.

Breathe new life into your Walkera Transmitter with DeviationTX

Breathe new life into your Walkera Transmitter with DeviationTX

November 18, 2013 17:41 | By | Add a Comment

Do you have a Walkera Devention 6/7e/8/10 or 12 TX? Still using the original Walkera firmware? In that case you should head over to www.deviationtx.com and get the latest community-made firmware, which adds support for DSM2, DSMX, NineEagles (J6Pro), WLToys (FlySky), Hubsan and in the future, FrSky.

While some of the new protocols require the installation of extra hardware inside the transmitter, some work without any modifications – transforming the Devention transmitters into multi-functional beasts with a clean, powerful user interface. You can even switch the transmitter into “Mass storage mode”, which allows you to update bitmaps, labels, fonts and even copy model settings via windows explorer, just like on a USB stick.

Best of all: The complete firmware is Open Source!

Check out some screenshots of an upgraded Devo6 after the break.

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Programmable high-power LED flash system for $12

Programmable high-power LED flash system for $12

November 17, 2013 14:20 | By | Add a Comment

If you like super-bright high power LEDs and are looking for an easy way to add scale-looking anti-collision strobes to your model, we have a nice DYI solution that costs about $12 and consists of very few parts. Powered by a nano-sized Arduino (included in the $12!) you can program any strobe sequence you like!

Syrian rebels claim to have downed Syrian Army Drone

Syrian rebels claim to have downed Syrian Army Drone

November 15, 2013 14:57 | By | Add a Comment

The “Free Syrian Army” has apparently downed a drone operated by the Syrian Army. And while you might scoff at this drone being just a DJI Phantom, at the very least it’s indisputably a much more cost effective system than what some other governments spend fortunes on.

Allegedly, the drone was brought down by signal interference. Considering the sometimes spotty RF link performance of the DJI Phantom, that’s not too hard to believe. Still, it makes a lot of sense to use such COTS RTF Drones instead, especially when on a budget.

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More pictures after the break, showing the massive amount of damage to the city of Homs. And regardless of what side one considers themselves on, this is a very interesting, and horrifying birds-eye look at what war looks like these days.

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OpenROV does FPV diving on the cheap

OpenROV does FPV diving on the cheap

November 15, 2013 14:41 | By | Add a Comment

Remember the OpenROV Kickstarter? If you didn’t, it’s an open source underwater rover, or mini submarine with a camera built in. They’re using off the shelf components like a beaglebone, arduino and a PC webcam to get you what researchers and the military have to pay millions of dollars for.

It may not dive hundreds of feet down, but it’s still a nifty way to get into the whole underwater RC thing. They have an online store where you can get your hands on one of these for USD 850.-

There are actually few alternatives in this price segment, but for completeness sake: RC Sub Workshop offers kits on ebay for about 300 bucks, which even include gas diving systems instead of just static diving. However, these kits are more geared towards the modeling aspect, and less about FPV and exploring.

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