Category: News

French Railroad Company SNCF tests Quadcopters for inspection work

French Railroad Company SNCF tests Quadcopters for inspection work

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

In a completely unexpected turn of events, SNCF joins the many businesses discovering mini UAVs for inspection work. In this case, SNCF commissioned the french inspection company Diades to use a custom built quadcopter for inspecting TGV railway bridges – without interrupting the train schedule.

More interestingly, the quadcopter in use is a custom construction using a geared brushless motor system and a heavy 4kg rigid frame, offering 20 minutes of flight time and a maximum range of just 200 meters, apparently. It does have a decidedly french look to it, at least.

Cost: 500 Euros. Just kidding, that’s the “running cost per hour”. Allegedly this thing costs over EUR 100.000.-

Considering that you can get a GPS-ready drone with similar flight times and complete autonomous functionality for a bit over USD 200 .- the SNCF drone is unlikely to take the world by storm.

Video and photos after the break.

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Hubsan H109 with FPV and GPS

Hubsan H109 with FPV and GPS

November 13, 2013 13:34 | By | Add a Comment

Hubsan is out to give the popular DJI Phantom a run for its money. Or less money, actually. The new 200-size H109 quadcopter features four 2000KV brushless motors, an optional FPV camera system, and GPS hold/return home functionality for a targeted price point of EUR 150.- , a set including the transmitter will cost EUR 200.-

A 2200mAh 2S LiPo is said to deliver a flight time of up to 25 minutes.

After a mediocre start with the original SpyHawk, Hubsan did deliver an interesting low-price entry level mini FPV package with the H107D, which costs about 200 bucks with transmitter right now.  Nice little detail solutions like the transmitter being able to control the copter even if the batteries were too low to drive the color LCD screen make us hope that the H109 starts up a new class of mid-sized quadcopters with nifty and useful features. One thing is certain though: Walkera has some work ahead of them, for the H109 is a very interesting entry due to the smaller 200 size as well as the low price point. The Walkera QR x350 costs more than twice as much, though it can carry a GoPro. It will be interesting to see what kind of video quality the optional camera system will offer.

Official specs and images after the break.

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Two cheap turnkey Multicopters with camera-gimbal

Two cheap turnkey Multicopters with camera-gimbal

October 13, 2013 11:17 | By | 1 Comment

Goodluckbuy has a lot of cool stuff, and a lot of crappy stuff. This is definitely in the cool category:

An ARTF package for a F550 based Hexacopter, or a F450 based Quadcopter, both including aluminium brushless gimbal for a GoPro, complete with motors, ESCs and flight controller. The real kicker is the price: Just $210 for the quadcopter, or $270 for the hexacopter. GPS is a $24 addon. As far as one can see there’s only two downsides here: The frame comes with the MultiWii-based flight controller… because it’s integrated. So if you break the frame’s PCB you will have to get a new flight controller. The second downside is that it’s unclear whether the more capable MegaPirate or other firmwares will run on this flight controller. Our guess is, it won’t.

But other than that… frankly this is an amazing deal even if you just ditch the integrated flight controller, buy some F550/F450 baseplates without the integrated flight controller and stick a Crius AIO onto it. This is as cheap as it gets. Compare this with the less-capable DJI Phantom where the base model costs more than twice as much and doesn’t even include a gimbal, much less a high quality one as this.  In fact, depending on where you buy, the DJI gimbal costs more than this entire set.

 

GoPro Hero 3+: better lens, more battery, same price

GoPro Hero 3+: better lens, more battery, same price

October 1, 2013 13:15 | By | Add a Comment

GoPro recently announced the GoPro 3+ line, including the GoPro 3+ Black and Silver edition. There’s a nice list of improvements which are by itself not earth-shattering, but combined they do elevate the 3+ well above the competition in some respects:

  • New 2.8 lens for better image quality
  • 30% more battery life
  • 20% smaller case with tighter fit
  • faster WiFi chip
  • improved audio processing
  • new auto Low Light mode
  • new 1080p SuperView mode records in full resultion 4:3 and then sizes down to 16:9 for better quality at the cost of slight image squashing
  • Silver Edition now supports [email protected] and [email protected]

Prices are now $399 for the Black edition, $299 for the Silver edition, and the previous non-plus GoPro 3 can now be bought for a discounted $329, respectively $249 for the old Silver edition.

gopro3plus

Walkera Goggle Glasses suspiciously look like Hubsan

Walkera Goggle Glasses suspiciously look like Hubsan

June 24, 2013 21:29 | By | 1 Comment

Remember the Hubsan H510 FPV Goggles? The ones sold for around 100 bucks? Well now you can buy the same goggles, just Walkera-branded, for… $140 at ehirobo.com

Unless they seriously improved the resolution (which they haven’t) or improved the design (nope), not exactly a great deal. If you must absolutely have them, buy the cheaper Hubsan original.. Or better yet, save up for better FPV goggles.

$120 Quadcopter doing flips

$120 Quadcopter doing flips

June 16, 2013 21:49 | By | Add a Comment

Have you been following our $120 Quadcopter Series? We recently posted Part 2 of that series. And if you are curious how this quadcopter flies, here’s a little video of the finished copter doing flips:

 

GoPro silences critical review with DMCA

GoPro silences critical review with DMCA

April 23, 2013 23:02 | By | Add a Comment

Initially happening a month ago, it wasn’t clear whether this was just a misunderstanding, but now it’s pretty clear what really happened:

On March 20th, the review site DigitalRev received a DMCA complaint from GoPro. The complaint letter specifically pointed to a review comparing the GoPro Hero 3 with the Sony AS15 action camera.

We have a good faith belief that the Internet site found at digitalrev.com infringes the rights of the Company by using the following trademarks of the Company:
“GOPRO” Registered: 3/3/2009 US Registration# 3032989
“HERO” Registered: 12/20/2005 US Registration# 3308141

Accordingly, we hereby demand that Softlayer.com immediately remove or disable access to the Infringing Material at:

http://www.digitalrev.com/article/gopro-hero-3-vs-sony/Njk3MDQ3MDg_A

GoPro later sent an update, claiming this was a miscommunication:

The letter that was posted next to the review on DigitalRev was not sent in response to the review. Obviously, we welcome editorial reviews of our products. This letter was sent because DigitalRev is not an authorized reseller of GoPro products and they were using images and had incorrect branding and representation of our product in their online commerce store. As part of our program – we ask merchants who are selling our product to use authorized images. That is why DigitalRev was contacted. But – our letter did not clearly communicate this and that is something we will correct.

Now this would be fine, were it not for several serious issues. One, sending a DMCA takedown notice about an alleged trademark dispute is adventurous, as trademark and copyright are two different animals. A fact that an alleged lawyer should be aware of. Two, you don’t just send a DMCA and then later find out you made a few mistakes and weren’t really clear about what you wanted taken down. Filing a DMCA complaint is a serious matter which requires you to certify that you verified this claim to the best of your abilities BEFORE sending it, and it is astounding to see such a level of negligence on GoPro’s part.

But more importantly, GoPro’s explanatory statement is factually wrong and invalidates their DMCA even further, for the alleged use of “unauthorized product images” of GoPro cameras being sold in the DigitalRev online shop happens at a different URL: http://www.digitalrev.com/product/gopro-hero3-black-edition/MTAwMjE4Nw_A_A

Enough time has passed for GoPro to retract their DMCA and/or issue a corrected one. They have not done so. So not only is the DMCA being misused for an alleged trademark infringement, but also the DMCA notice wrongly targets a sensitive review that compares their product with a serious competitor. The allegedly infringing online shop URL is still accessible as well and no DMCA notice has been sent regarding it. However, due to the fact that a DMCA is a shoot-first-ask-questions-later weapon, DigitalRev would have to spend quite a lot of money for legal defense if they were to file a counternotice, which is probably the reason why they don’t appear to have done so.

This is not the first time GoPro clearly overstepped the range of their own trademark. Diving related sites have also received takedown notices over the term “Go Pro”, a term that’s perfectly alright to use as long as it doesn’t happen in the fields covered by the GoPro camera trademark application.

Unfortunately, although this is a clear case of DMCA abuse (wrong URL, using trademark infringement as reason for invoking copyright law) and although such an action is actually punishable by law, cemented by GoPro’s legal affirmation (“I represent that the information in this notification is true and correct”), hardly any DMCA abuse case is ever prosecuted.

In the end, the DigitalRev’s GoPro Hero 3 vs. Sony AS15 review remains offline. And a month after the “unclearly communicated” DMCA takedown notice, GoPro appears to be content with that review staying down.

Did we say GoPro? We meant a different product, the GoPru. Honest!

iCharger 4010DUO charger delivers 2kW power, 2x40Amps, 10s

iCharger 4010DUO charger delivers 2kW power, 2x40Amps, 10s

April 17, 2013 14:28 | By | Add a Comment

 

This massive 2000W charger features 2 independent channels that can deliver up to 40A charge current. Both channels can be chained together for a max. current of a whopping 70A. The best part is that this charger features a balancing current of up to 1.2A, which is something a lot of competitors skimp on, often supporting a measly 200mA.

4010DUO_Elevation

Price is fluctiating between USD 320 on ProgressiveRC and USD 450 on GoodLuckBuy. European customers can preorder this massive beast at Junsi Germany for EUR 310 or this Austrian retailer for EUR 300. This may sound like a lot of money, but one should keep in mind that this amount of power and specs easily beats the Pulsar 3, which costs almost twice as much! And while it doesn’t have a fancy touchscreen, the operation and menu structure looks rather simple and intuitive.

Complete technical specs and manufacturer link after the break.

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Eric Schmidt calls for state to take “mini drones” out of civilian hands

Eric Schmidt calls for state to take “mini drones” out of civilian hands

April 15, 2013 9:28 | By | Add a Comment

Google’s head honcho, Eric Schmidt, recently gave an interview for the Guardian, in which he urged lawmakers to regulate what he called “mini-drones”.

“How would you feel if your neighbour went over and bought a commercial observation drone that they can launch from their backyard. It just flies over your house all day. How would you feel about it?”

He also mentioned the alleged risk of terrorist attacks using homemade drones, saying “it’s got to be regulated”.

What we are seeing is a typical call for a ban of the tool. Invasion of privacy and attacking other people is already well covered in most country’s law. The problem is that such calls for regulation contain two grave errors in reasoning: One, the assumption that powerful tools should only be in the hand of the state instead of the individual is a flawed one, since states aren’t immune to misuse of power, and have in fact always been biggest mis-user of weapons, for example. Two, regulation of “mini-drones” will kill RC model flight, while potential terrorists and other lawbreakers will… break these laws.

To hear such simple-minded arguments and calls for bans from Eric Schmidt of all people is pretty alarming.

Source: Slashgear

(Photography: Guillaume Paumier / Wikimedia Commons, CC-BY-3.0)

Micro Mini Quadcopter rocks MultiWii, MPU6050 for 55 bucks

Micro Mini Quadcopter rocks MultiWii, MPU6050 for 55 bucks

April 3, 2013 20:04 | By | Add a Comment

This is really rather cool: The “Micro Mini Quadcopter” out now for $55 on GLB rocks a puny Atmega328p, but also the excellent MPU6050 gyro/accelerometer. The board comes pre-programmed with an unknown version of multiwii (probably 2.1-ish) but there’s FTDI connectors for easy flashing. A 1S 350mAh LiPo supplies power, the even connector works fine for the default Walkera plug. You bring your own receiver, and probably solder on the individual channels too.

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GPS, although not supported officially, is probably possible. However, with a total weight of 17 grams sans battery you’ll have to find a damn small GPS module, fiddle with the board layout/processor pins, and use the latest SVN head of MultiWii 2.2 to cram all that into the little Atmega328p. What you definitely can do is slap a Bluetooth module on this, and heck, even enable Bluetooth remote control.

The little quadcopter that could was already on sale some time ago, however this time it comes with a better sensor, nice machined landing skids and a new price.

So yeah, this is a toy. You can do worse than spending $55 on this upgradeable little quadcopter though.

Rabbit 2: Rabbit tries it again

Rabbit 2: Rabbit tries it again

April 2, 2013 13:41 | By | Add a Comment

Remember the Rabbit flight controller? The one that violated the open source license of MultiWii while claiming they did it all by themselves? They’re back for more – more of your money, that is. Check out what $120 (on Goodluckbuy) will get you from them after the break.

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FPVCentral.net in new, mobile-friendly design

FPVCentral.net in new, mobile-friendly design

March 22, 2013 15:28 | By | Add a Comment

FPV Central now comes in a sleek new design that is responsive and scales smoothly to whatever device you are using to access it. We’ve also changed our article format a bit and made the individual news and article postings more pleasant to look at and read. Let us know what you think in the comments!

MultiWii 2.2 Released

MultiWii 2.2 Released

March 16, 2013 14:52 | By | Add a Comment

MultiWii 2.2 is now available for download from the project’s Google Code site. This is a major update that boasts greatly improved GPS support (incl. native ublox GPS support, no more manually setting baud rate and GPS update speed!) , new flight modes, improved stability, as well as a redesigned ground station software. Want to do waypoint-navigation via google maps on your mobile phone? This is the way to get there without breaking the bank.

Full changelog after the break.

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HD FPV is possible today, for a price

HD FPV is possible today, for a price

March 13, 2013 12:27 | By | Add a Comment

Yearning for that HD FPV experience but don’t know how to transmit the video back from the plane? Boxx TV offers a HD video transmission system, the Zenith, for a pretty penny. For over $5000 this is probably not going to be within reach of the FPV hobbyist, luckily there are alternatives. Around $3000 will get you the MicroraptorHD, a 1W transmitter capable of transmitting between 1GHz and 6GHz.

Still too expensive? In that case, the Wireless HD Dev Kit can be yours for just $925.

Bottom line: HD FPV is definitely possible, but it hasn’t quite reached the hobbyist price point yet.

RCExplorer sends FPV Funjet into Space

RCExplorer sends FPV Funjet into Space

March 12, 2013 16:15 | By | Add a Comment

David from RCExplorer.se is always a good address for interesting projects that push boundaries. This time they sent a modified Multiplex FunJet into space via weather ballon, and then piloted it back to the ground via a 1.2GHz FPV link.

Not all went well however, as David explains they lost almost all the build pictures, their ground recording equipment stopped a few minutes into the ascent, and a cable on their receiver broke just while the balloon was nearing the burst point, which is why they were unable to sever the cable to the balloon before it popped.

Regardless of the difficulties, there’s still plenty of awesome imagery and detail in his writeup and the annotated video. For example, one might not know to remove the grease from your servos to avoid the grease freezing – unless you watched his video!