Hexacopter aerial filming platform project

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Hexacopter aerial filming platform project

Postby Cerberus » Thu Apr 27, 2017 9:43 am

So as you might have spotted.... I do have a sorta thing for radio controlled modelage and stuff. The wife (still enjoying that) bought me a little quadcopter doodad for the christmasawerds

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It's a Kaiser-Baas. Has a little vid cam hung underneath it. Loads of fun. But not too powerful, needs a really still day to fly outside.

But it got me hooked.... Thus began three months of hitting the Google and doing a learn.

Quadcopters.. Hexacopters... Octocopters! Ready to fly, frame kits, flight controllers, transmitters

Lots to learn! Which is a big part of the fun of any new project for me. :thumb:

I'd quite like to do some FPV flying with a small racing quad. Like of of these fellas

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FPV is 'First Person View'. Which means the little camera on the front sends back the video live to a pair of goggles

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and you stand there looking like a frikkin Darlek but it looks to your eyeballs like you are sitting in craft zipping about and the like. Very cool.

So one of those is on the cards. But first I want something a bit more pedestrian. An aerial filming platform. Something big and powerful. Not for thrashing about like a sports car. For sitting there in the sky, nice and stable, with a camera slung beneath it on a gimbal.

Something like this

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Thats a Tarot 680pro frame. Carrying a Go-Pro camera. It's a big old beastie but.... It folds away!

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Sold!

Except... so spensive :( buying something ready to go is out of the question. But what I can do is save up for bit's here and there and spread the parts, cost, and build over a few months.

It's like my own personal De Agostini build! :lol:

Where to start..... I decided the best thing to have first is the transmitter. So I asked the birthday faeries to all get together and get me a Taranis X9D+.

The Taranis can be bound to all of your different models. Giving you the option to set up transmitter profiles for each one. The really nice thing is that it runs an open source firmware.

So a bit of hacking about and....

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Warranty.......?

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VOID!

:lol:

The board comes with the ability to add a six position switch. There is an unpopulated spot on the pcb for it

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Add one 2.0mm JST pcb header

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Some fine soldering work

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and you're ready to plug in the 6 position switch!

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Which you can buy cheapy cheep cheep from a nice man in China

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Meaning I can now easily select 'Flight Modes'. More about those in another installment of this build log.

Speaking of building. I was also lucky enough to be able to acquire the 680Pro frame. I've begun the screwing it together

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Still loads of parts to buy and lots of learning to do and lots of bolting it all together.

Stay tuned for the next exciting episode... Featuring brushless motors and thirteen inch carbon fibre props!!!
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Re: Hexacopter aerial filming platform project

Postby Vic » Sun Apr 30, 2017 6:07 pm

I will only start to worry when you ask for flight plans of planes entering and exiting Birm Int Airport ....... :poke:
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Re: Hexacopter aerial filming platform project

Postby Firebucket » Mon May 01, 2017 7:23 am

We started to use military developed versions of these things in the Fire Service about 15 years ago. Apart from the obvious great fun value 8), we used to put them up above large fires to get aerial views, determine spread and most advantageous interventions. They were, as you say, affected by turbulence and so a bit limited. One useful adaptation was to fly them into a chemical gas cloud to capture samples for analysis. One of the greatest drawbacks of the day was that if they lost radio contact they grounded and we did have to pay for a couple of greenhouses I recall. :lol: There was quite a lot of success with them in disaster zones for search and rescue purposes though. :thumb:
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Re: Hexacopter aerial filming platform project

Postby Curlyteeth » Mon May 01, 2017 9:24 am

I was looking these also...

I was thinking about buying a pair of decent binoculars for when you park up the 5 in the Welsh hills and take in the view. but I was then thinking - why look at the thing that you can't quite make out two fields away through some the binoculars when you can go take a look with your quad-copter.....

The functionality of the DJI Mavic Pro 4K is absolutely amazing for less than 1K. It can track and follow you whilst driving whilst avoiding obstacles, rerun to home for low battery or lost signal, follow any object (people or cars) just by clicking on it on the screen of your tablet or phone, stabilises itself in very windy condition, has amazing ranges for control and image transmission etc. etc.

Can you build one for less than a grand and If you do will it have the levels functionality? Accepted there the fun of the challenge!

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Re: Hexacopter aerial filming platform project

Postby Cerberus » Tue May 02, 2017 10:12 am

Firebucket wrote:We started to use military developed versions of these things in the Fire Service about 15 years ago. Apart from the obvious great fun value 8), we used to put them up above large fires to get aerial views, determine spread and most advantageous interventions. They were, as you say, affected by turbulence and so a bit limited. One useful adaptation was to fly them into a chemical gas cloud to capture samples for analysis. One of the greatest drawbacks of the day was that if they lost radio contact they grounded and we did have to pay for a couple of greenhouses I recall. :lol: There was quite a lot of success with them in disaster zones for search and rescue purposes though. :thumb:


Chuckling at the mental image of you on some old ladies doorstep "Scuse me Missus.... Can we have our drone back please..."

Didn't know they were being used in S&R. Thats pretty cool. I've seen a video from some guy flying one around Chernobyl. Excellent footage. I did wonder if he had to de-contaminate it after the flight.
Curlyteeth wrote:I was looking these also...

I was thinking about buying a pair of decent binoculars for when you park up the 5 in the Welsh hills and take in the view. but I was then thinking - why look at the thing that you can't quite make out two fields away through some the binoculars when you can go take a look with your quad-copter.....

The functionality of the DJI Mavic Pro 4K is absolutely amazing for less than 1K. It can track and follow you whilst driving whilst avoiding obstacles, rerun to home for low battery or lost signal, follow any object (people or cars) just by clicking on it on the screen of your tablet or phone, stabilises itself in very windy condition, has amazing ranges for control and image transmission etc. etc.

Can you build one for less than a grand and If you do will it have the levels functionality? Accepted there the fun of the challenge!

Curlyteeth


The DJI stuff is really amazing! It only seems expensive until you see it in action. Fully awesome tech.

I did look at the DJI flight controllers but for hobby builds they have a bit of a bad reputation. Their 'Return To Home' function has be dubbed 'Return To Hong Kong' because it can cause 'flyaways'. Quite scary.

I'm using a Pixhawk flight controller so I will have quite a lot of the same functionality. It will do follow me, but without the collision avoidance (unless I add sonar), return to home, autonomous flight, waypoint flying from a laptop or tablet. :D

Plus control of the retractable landing gear :mrgreen:

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Re: Hexacopter aerial filming platform project

Postby Cerberus » Tue May 02, 2017 10:26 am

End of the month = payday! SO we have another installment of parts :mrgreen:

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Speed controllers

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They... um... control the speed....?

Quite reasonable. They are only £15 a pop. then you realise.... you need six of them! :banghead: Then during testing I wired one up with the +ve and -ve reversed and thus marched the magic pixies through the device in the wrong direction. Causing mucho damage and the exiting of the magic smoke. That will be a bill for seven speed controllers then......

But the big money item this month.... the Pixhawk!

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Not a real one though. A cheap chinese version. The joys of open source design!

Got all the ESC's mounted under the motors. Ran all the power feeds down the arms and soldered the to the power distribution board.

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then strapped the Pixhawk in place temporarily with some zipties, mounted the RC reciever.

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That's actually enough parts to power the thing on (using the battery out of my RC MX5 which doesn't have enough juice for a flight) and actually get the motors spinning!

Next month I should have enough parts to get the basic airframe complete and start thinking about a maiden flight!
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Re: Hexacopter aerial filming platform project

Postby Curlyteeth » Tue May 02, 2017 11:34 am

Once complete - it would be great to see it fly at one of the meets.

I don't think the Kings Arms is too near the airport and the field is far enough away from any buildings :thumb:

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Re: Hexacopter aerial filming platform project

Postby stuartb » Tue May 02, 2017 6:25 pm

Curlyteeth wrote:I don't think the Kings Arms is too near the airport and the field is far enough away from any buildings


Just don't ditch it into the canal.
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Re: Hexacopter aerial filming platform project

Postby Cerberus » Wed May 03, 2017 3:01 pm

Curlyteeth wrote:Once complete - it would be great to see it fly at one of the meets.

I don't think the Kings Arms is too near the airport and the field is far enough away from any buildings :thumb:

Curlyteeth


I think some aerial filming of a meet will have to be done.....

But.....

I checked in the flight planner software...

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Red circle on the left is Birmingham Airport "controlled airspace". You can't set mission waypoints in that zone. Red circle on the right is Cov airport "controlled airspace".

Ok....

Fair enough....

Now to zoom in on the meet venue and see how far out of the "controlled airspace" we are.......

Image


Oooooof! how close is that!!!!!
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Re: Hexacopter aerial filming platform project

Postby Mozza » Thu May 04, 2017 6:36 am

Google maps says 50mtrs.........very close.
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Re: Hexacopter aerial filming platform project

Postby Firebucket » Fri May 05, 2017 6:28 am

Cerberus wrote: I've seen a video from some guy flying one around Chernobyl. Excellent footage. I did wonder if he had to de-contaminate it after the flight.


I don't think so as I believe the helicopter pilots who were contaminated during the incident (and subsequently died) did so during their mission to dump tons of concrete to cap the exposed source thus containing any Alpha/Beta particles, therefore any emmissions now would be gamma rays, which pass through soft tissue but can't contaminate you. I am sure some radiologist will have a better explaination but that is my (lay) understanding.
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Re: Hexacopter aerial filming platform project

Postby Curlyteeth » Fri May 05, 2017 8:03 am

Firebucket wrote:
Cerberus wrote: I've seen a video from some guy flying one around Chernobyl. Excellent footage. I did wonder if he had to de-contaminate it after the flight.


I don't think so as I believe the helicopter pilots who were contaminated during the incident (and subsequently died) did so during their mission to dump tons of concrete to cap the exposed source thus containing any Alpha/Beta particles, therefore any emmissions now would be gamma rays, which pass through soft tissue but can't contaminate you. I am sure some radiologist will have a better explaination but that is my (lay) understanding.



Do we have any radiologists in the P5's :shock:
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Re: Hexacopter aerial filming platform project

Postby Curlyteeth » Fri May 05, 2017 8:05 am

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Re: Hexacopter aerial filming platform project

Postby Cerberus » Fri May 05, 2017 10:02 am



That is seriously cheap! Great bit of kit the Mavic. Really nice.
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Re: Hexacopter aerial filming platform project

Postby Cerberus » Sat May 06, 2017 9:09 pm

With the autopilot attached the main core of the thing was finished. It was just a case of waiting for a few bits and n=bobs from china. Some JST crimp connectors, the telemetry radio, the GPS puck, and some wires. Super cheap from China, just took a long time to arrive.

The JST crimps allowed me to lop off the pre fitted ones, trim the wiring to the correct lengths, and then crimp on fresh new JST plugs. Then I added the telemetry radio and the GPS puck. The puck sits atop a pole so that it's elevated away from EM interference from the autopilot.

A bit of heatshrink, 3M doublesided foam tape, and a couple of zip ties later.......

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Just need to pop some props on and I can fly it!

(Gimbal and cameras will come in the next phase)
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Re: Hexacopter aerial filming platform project

Postby Cerberus » Tue May 16, 2017 3:03 pm

Were were we up to....?

Props... config... flight test...

(If you follow the social medias you know the result......)

I needed to connect the flight controller to the laptop and config it.

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So... Mr Bond, you expect this to fly?


With that complete, Jiji went over the settings for me.

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Add the props.... Stand back and feel very slightly scared!

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This thing is frikken HUGE!

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(Dirty MX-5 for scale)

Off to the field...! Some pre-flight checks first.

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Then the first flight. Which did go wrong......

:bang:

But not badly wrong! I had the aileron control reversed. So forward was back and back was forward. Which lead to an exhilarating 8 second hover and a quite heavy landing. But it landed upright 8)

The settings are simple to reverse in software so with that done it was time to stock up on brave pills and let her stretch her legs for a first proper flight..........



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tZjyvD2pgyk

I did get a little disoriented towards the end of the flight. Since I knew I had taken off with a solid GPS fix I decided to take the risk of hitting the 'oh shit' button instead of risking trying to figure out the vehicles orientation and possibly drifting even further off course. The 'oh shit' button throws the flight controller into 'return to launch'. It takes over autonomous control. Ascends to an altitude of 10m, returns in a direct line to the original launch site GPS co-ordinates. Then self lands.

If you watch to the end you will see I'm not making any control inputs at all. The vehicle returns to the launch site and lands completely autonomously. Missing the launch pad by just a couple of feet. I was pretty stoked with that!

More to come... Stay tuned for the next installment of parts and upgrades ;)
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Re: Hexacopter aerial filming platform project

Postby Curlyteeth » Wed May 17, 2017 10:38 am

That is very cool 8) :thumb:

What's the flight time on a single battery and the transmitter rage?

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Re: Hexacopter aerial filming platform project

Postby Cerberus » Wed May 17, 2017 10:59 am

Curlyteeth wrote:That is very cool 8) :thumb:

What's the flight time on a single battery and the transmitter rage?

Curlyteeth


Not sure on the flight time I didn't have the telemetry set up properly so didn't push the batteries.

It's got a 10000Mah 4S Lipo. Fully charged at 4.2v per cell thats 16.8v and hopefully enough Mah to get me about 15 minutes with a GoPro & Gimbal as payload.

You can only safely deplete the cells to 3.6v. After about 5 mins of flying with no payload on the maiden. I was down to 4.0v per cell. Looks about on the money.

Range....... not sure yet... more brave pills required :oops:
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Re: Hexacopter aerial filming platform project

Postby Cerberus » Wed May 17, 2017 11:14 am

The WMP used their drone to get some awesome footage of the WWII bomb that was just destroyed in a controlled explosion! Very cool

http://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/midlands-news/drone-aston-expressway-bomb-police-13045375

But it turns out not everyone is happy with the drone.....

http://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/midlands-news/west-midands-polices-19k-drones-10445507

NINETEEN GRAND!!!! For a drone.....??? Are they mental???
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Re: Hexacopter aerial filming platform project

Postby Cerberus » Thu May 18, 2017 11:33 am

Soooooooooooo

I'd quite like to add the Tarot 'canopy'. It looks quite cool and professional.

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A mere twenty of your earth pounds from the China. Or thirty of your earth pounds from a UK seller. Will have to wait a while though because this months 'Drone Pocket Money' is all the gone.

Unless...........

Came across a canopy on the bay of e. £9.99 starting price. One last minute big and..... huzzah! I have a canopy for £9.99

Got to talking to the seller, who has quite a few bits on the bay for the same hexacopter. Asked him why he was breaking it. Turns out they built a 680Pro to do some filming work for his TV production company. They used it one one TV show for one clip and then split the hexa apart to sell off the bits and get a bit of cash back.

So of course.... the question has to be.... On which TV show were my new drone parts part of a filming drone......?

It was used...... on the filming of.......

"The Art Of The Joy Of Sex"

:shock: :lol:

Apparently there is only one aerial shot in the whole program so it's not hard to spot. Only I could buy drone parts from the production of "The Art Of The Joy Of Sex"!!

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It's arrived and thankfully it's only dusty... not sticky :mrgreen:
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