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MultiRotor Pilot Mag

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day Everyone!

Not exactly sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing, but I do know this. It’s funny for sure! Perhaps an F550 for a 6-pack? Everyone be safe today and this weekend with regards to your drones and your celebrations.

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Chi Lau Flying the New Sky Hero Club Racer Versus Dubai Champ Luke Bannister

FPV racing is quickly taking off (literally) as a global super-sport of the future, both for the participants and viewers alike. One of the hottest machines out there is the Sky Hero Club Racer and one of the hottest racers out there is BanniUK. This awesome vid provided by Tornado XBlades Racing features both of them and it’s incredible.

LINKS

TORNADO XBLADES 

SKY HERO

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QAV ZMR 250: Big On Performance, Small On Price!

From Multirotor Pilot Issue: 10

Though the drone industry is still relatively new, the two biggest genres to emerge in the hobby thus far have been aerial media rigs and race machines. Though the former might be cool when it comes to pictures and videos, not much in RC compares to the adrenaline rush of FPV racing. AeroSky and Xheli took notice and produced a sweet machine that is ready to fly (RTF) and competition ready right out of the box for less than $250! You still have to provide your own FPV gear, but in a world of open source programming and a mind boggling array of accessories available to outfit a machine, this quad is a refreshing change.

The ZMR 250 is one of the hottest race frames on the market today and it’s no wonder with all that is served up for not much money at all. The included transmitter doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of an aftermarket radio, but it does the job and is pre-tuned to the model from the factory. In a hobby where folks regularly spend two or three times as much on a race platform, we thought it’d only be prudent to stick to a budget on this project to see just how sweet of a machine would could get for the least amount of loot.

Sourcing an FPV system for our ZMR opened up a world of possibilities, but we had one setup on our mind from the get-go. The Quanum Complete FPV bundle from HobbyKing rings in at $99.99 and includes everything we’ll need to get our ZMR ready to race. Not bad at all for a complete, race ready machine for just a shade under $350 when you combine the quad with the FPV system. Let’s see how it stacks up against the competition.

Author’s Opinion
I’ve always been a go-fast type of guy. Whether it’s racing my 2WD buggies, tearing the sky up with my Extra 300S or ripping through some gates with an FPV quad, the adrenaline rush of the high speeds and competition cannot be beat. While I already have a few race quads, none of them offer all the goods that the new AeroSky ZMR 250 serves up at such an astonishingly low price. If you haven’t tested the waters of FPV racing yet, this is the machine you need to buy … NOW!

QAV ZMR 250-7

For just under $250, you get everything you see here, completely ready to fly right out of the box!

NEED TO KNOW

MANUFACTURER: AeroSky
DISTRIBUTOR: Xheli
TYPE: RTF FPV Race Quad
FOR: Intermediate to advanced
PRICE: $247.47
WE USED:
FPV SYSTEM: Quanum Complete FPV Bundle, 9171000553-0

SPECS

WEIGHT: 14.46 oz. (410g)
DIAMETER: 260mm
MOTORS: (2 CW) AeroSky 1900Kv, (2CCW) AeroSky 1900Kv
ESCS: (4) HobbyWing X Rotor 10 amp
PROPELLERS: 5 x 3 (2 sets included)
FLIGHT CONTROLLER: CC3D
FLIGHT TIME: 4 minutes
RADIO: Aerosky 6-Channel
RECEIVER: Aerosky 6-Channel

BATTERY: 3S 1300mAh LiPo

FEATURES

  • The full carbon fiber construction and triple deck design makes for a robust, yet light airframe. All three center plates are 2mm thick while the arms are a beefy 3.5mm thick to stand up to some gate contact.
  • The CC3D flight controller is practically an industry standard in FPV racing and AeroSky/Xheli made a wise choice when they chose it to control this ZMR 250. Using the OpenPilot GCS, we can finetune the handling to our preferences with no problems or tons of programming.
  • The pre-programmed 6-channel AeroSky transmitter is ready to go with two different flight modes. Attitude Mode is better for beginners as it will automatically level the ZMR when the stick is returned to center, aiding in stability. In Rate Mode, the ZMR will stay in whatever direction you put it until a corrective command is given to level it. This is for experienced pilots who want to experience the ZMR for all that it’s worth.
  • The open space on the center plates of the ZMR offer plenty of area to mount the FPV gear of your choice. Though the Quanum transmitter is tiny in size, we could have used a much larger unit. We actually have intentions of relocating the receiver right behind the camera so that the FPV transmitter can go on the bottom deck for better protection and a cleaner look.

PROS

  • Carbon fiber triple-deck frame
  • Pre-programmed from the factory
  • CC3D board allows for fine tuning
  • Complete RTF package
  • Faster than expected

CONS

  • Instructions are pretty bare bones
  • The Elevator and Aileron channels were reversed on our transmitter

QAV ZMR 250-8

IN THE AIR
We headed up to RC Hobbies and More in Winsted, Connecticut as it is the only FPV race course in the area. It’s also a chapter of MultiGP so not only is it a proper race course, but the location is excellent for flying all sorts of aircraft. With a freshly charged pack, we popped the ZMR into the air and proceeded to fly a few small circuits close in at VLOS, just to get a feel for the controls. While the CC3D board was holding the ZMR dead steady in a hover, it felt a little sluggish on the cyclic response. For lazy folks like us, this is where a computer radio with EPAs and Expo would come in handy, but we could always fire up the OpenPilot GCS after the first few packs for some fine tuning on the gains.

Once we got a little more comfortable with the controls, we headed out to the race course to tackle some gates. Running a few test laps gave us a good feel for the layout so we opened it up a bit. The initial impressions of the controls feeling sluggish were quickly diminished once the throttle was pegged. While control inputs weren’t quite as crisp as we would have liked, they felt much better with the props screaming. Getting through the course without missing a gate was a bit more challenging, but easily achieved. The major issue we began to have at this point was that the tilt on the camera mount wasn’t steep enough to compensate for the angle of the ZMR while in fast forward flight. A simple print from one of the files should rectify this. The mount we installed had a 20 degree kick up angle. It would be better to have one at 30 degrees or so … for our flying style anyway.

QAV ZMR 250-9

After burning a few packs, the crowd began to grow at the race field. There were 8-10 pilots with various 250 class machines and a group of on-lookers. Without a timing system, we all agreed to have a heads up, double elimination race. Pushing the ZMR under race conditions had us straining to see the top of the gates, but we managed to make the semifinals against some pretty fast pilots. The fates were not in our favor though as we clipped a gate and broke a prop in our heat race, sending us down to the consolation race to battle for third place. AeroSky includes two full sets of props with each ZMR so we were back up and running in no time. We settled for a more cautious approach for the next race which resulted in a win with a time slightly faster than the second place finisher in the main event. Not bad at all for a machine that costs only a fraction of most of the other models out there on that day. More than a few pilots walked away with intentions of grabbing up a ZMR from Xheli. For the price, some of them might even buy two!

The Quanum FPV system performed flawlessly throughout our testing and made for quite a potent combo on the race course. I’m sure we got a few cock-eyed looks because of the size of the goggles, but hey … the ZMR 250 is fast no matter what you’re wearing. I’ll take a spot on the podium over looking cool any day. When all was said and done after our race testing, we had enough in our wallet after our ZMR package purchase to buy all the racers pizza and beverages!

QAV ZMR 250-10

The wide open layout of the ZMR 250 offers plenty of space to mount your onboard FPV gear, no matter what system you choose to use.

ASSEMBLY
As stated before, the ZMR 250 is completely RTF out of the box, so the only real assembly is concerning installing the FPV system. The triple-deck design of the quad offers plenty of room to mount up the transmitter and camera, but how to secure the camera had us scratching our heads. A quick jaunt over to thingiverse.com resulted in an assortment of ready-to-3D-print mounts for our Quanum camera. Within an hour or so, we had a nice case that slid on the frame posts to be sandwiched between the two main plates. A few carefully placed pieces of double sided tape secured our camera to the case and the transmitter to the frame. Voila. A race quad is born within mere minutes.

It is important to mention that the Quanum system is a 32-channel 5.8GHz unit so channel conflicts shouldn’t be a problem. Additionally, it transmits at 200mw so you’re assured of good reception on even the largest race courses. Likewise, the CC3D flight controller can be fine tuned using the OpenPilot programmer available on their website. For our test purposes, however, we left all the settings of the board as they were programmed from the factory. Upon initially opening the box, we thought it’d be best to move the ESCs from their factory location on the bottom of the arms, up to the top to allow the airflow from the props to keep them cool. However, we decided to leave everything as is from AeroSky as we only fly our race quads for three or four minutes at a time so we shouldn’t have to worry about temps. Also, the ESCs are much more protected on the bottom of the arms than on top in the event of a crash.

QAV ZMR 250-11

THE FINAL WORD
A ready to fly race quad for a meager 250 dollars? You bet, and it flies really well. I’m sure we’ll eventually put one of our higher end computer radios in this ZMR 250 for further tuning options, but for someone looking to get into FPV racing without breaking the bank, I can think of no better machine. It looks fantastic with the red alloy and all that carbon fiber, it flies predictably and is tunable and best of all, it’s a great competitor on the course in the hands of a good pilot. Be sure to grab a few sets of extra props when you make your order as they are the most commonly, if not the only, parts ever broken or bent. Lastly, grab a few extra batteries because you won’t want to leave the field once you strap those goggles on and start tearing it up with the QAV ZMR 250.

CONTACTS

XHELI xheli.com, (800) 731-8546
HOBBYKING hobbyking.com
OPENPILOT openpilot.org
THINGIVERSE thingiverse.com

 

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Eliminate “Jell-o” effect in your multirotor footage with Du-bro’s Prop Balancer

Eliminate Jell-o effect in your multirotor footage with Du-bro's Prop Balancer-3
Du-Bro’s Tru-Spin Prop Balancer and Prop Balancing Shaft.

From Multirotor Pilot Issue: 8
by Peter Hejl

It has probably happened to all of us; coming home excited after a great flight, just to discover that the footage we brought back is nice, but full of vibration-induced “Jell-o” effect. The Jell-o effect is caused by the rolling shutter used in the CMOS camera sensors, where the photodiodes (pixels) do not collect light at the same time. All pixels in one row of the image sensor collect the light at the same time, but the collection time for each following row is slightly delayed. If the vibrations move the camera slightly between the times the light is collected for different rows, it will show up as a distortion (or Jell-o) in the video. Unlike the rolling shutter sensors, the global shutter sensors (CCD) start and end the light collection for all the pixels at the same time. On those cameras, the vibrations may not present themselves as a Jell-o, but rather “shakes”, or a slight movement of the whole image, mostly noticeable around the edges or on objects in distance (horizon).

Ruined footage is not the only concern with propeller induced vibrations. More importantly, it can compromise the IMU (inertia measurement unit) sensors to the point where the flight controller can lose its level reference and abruptly tilt, flip, or fly away. Some early DJI S-800 users may remember the “flip of death” issue, when the copter abruptly fl ipped upside down and obliterated itself. The manufacturer has traced this to the vibration affecting the Wookong IMU, and rectified this by stiffening the frame and introducing more robust IMU. Vibration can also loosen the frame screws, causing the frame to lose integrity. All these are really good reasons to try and eliminate as much of the propeller induced vibrations as possible.

Virtually every (even the high end manufacturers’) propeller comes with slight imperfections in its balance. Considering we can have four 12-inch fast spinning props on a multirotor frame, that is a lot of vibration for the copter to deal with. While the Jell-o effect in the footage can be helped by using the right dampening mount and an ND filter (the neutral density filter tricks the camera into lowering the exposure, which causes the GoPro and similar action cams with fixed aperture to lower their shutter speed), the best way of dealing with vibrations is to make sure that our propellers are well balanced.

As an RC pilot, I have been through a few different balancers before I sett led on one that I think does the best job getting the props perfectly balanced. Illinois-based Du-Bro company’s Tru-Spin prop balancer has been a part of my toolkit for a while now, and it has helped me tremendously with any vibration issues on my multirotors. It sports virtually friction-free aluminum wheels that hold a precision hardened balancing shaft . The prop is held on the shaft by two aluminum cones, one of which is pushed onto the prop center with a spring. Offering a few different configuration options, this balancer can accommodate any classic props used on the multirotors.

With the recent addition of special balancing shaft s with 5, 6, and 8mm thread, it is now possible to use it to balance the threaded (screw-on) props used on DJI Phantom, early Inspire, Yuneec Q500, etc. Du-Bro is currently working on a shaft that would accommodate the latest DJI Inspire “push&lock” props.

Eliminate Jell-o effect in your multirotor footage with Du-bro's Prop Balancer-4
The shaft rides on two rollers for frictionless balancing.

HOW TO USE

The balancer assembles easily in underive minutes (instructions are included), and it’s simple to use.

Choose a balancing shaft depending on your prop type and attach the prop to it either by using the included aluminum cones, or one of the threaded rods for threaded props (be sure to choose the correct side – one side has clockwise thread, the other is counter-clockwise). Place the shaft in between the balancer’s wheels and make sure that the shaft is level.
Then move the prop around and try stopping it in different positions. A well balanced prop will stay in any position that you leave it in. Unbalanced props will tend to turn and eventually stop with their heaviest part facing down. Keep in mind that you’re looking to balance both the blades and the hub, and in some situations the prop stops only at horizontal, but tries to come back to that from any other position. This means that the part of the hub facing down is heavier, and the hub will also need to be balanced. Once you determine the heavier part of the prop, there are a few ways to adjust the prop balance, depending on personal preference. You can either use sand paper to sand down some material from the bottom of the heavier blade or the heavier side of the hub. Sand only in small increments and re-check the balance oft en. As an alternative, you can add small squares of tape to the lighter blade, or add a little epoxy or hot glue to the lighter side of the prop hub. I prefer using the sandpaper, as the tape may come off without me noticing it and reverse any of my balancing efforts. Be careful when sanding carbon fiber props as inhaling the fine CF dust is not the healthiest thing to do. Take your time and make sure that every prop stops in any position on the balancer before moving to the next one. Once all the props are balanced, mount them back and you’re done.

Eliminate Jell-o effect in your multirotor footage with Du-bro's Prop Balancer-5
The threaded shaft for DJI props is shown in use above.

BALANCING THE MOTORS

Balancing the props usually does a sufficient job in helping mitigate the vibrations, but if you’d like to take it one step further, there is also a way to balance the motors.

Balancing the motors is a little bit more complex process and is not always necessary, but it does help.

 

Eliminate Jell-o effect in your multirotor footage with Du-bro's Prop Balancer-6
All the parts in the Balancer’s kit are shown.

 

You will need a smartphone app that allows you to sense and record vibration (i.e. the free DroneVibes app in iTunes app store), attach your phone to the arm either using a Drone Vibes mount or by simply taping it to the arm. Make sure all the other props have been removed or the motors disconnected and spool up the motor without the prop attached. To make describing the process easier, please, look down at the motor, and visualize it as a clock dial. Take a reading of the vibration, then stick a small square of tape to the side of the motor (this will be your 12 o’clock position on the motor, looking from above), and spool it up again. If the vibration is higher, move the piece of tape to another position (3 o’clock position on the motor, looking from above) and try again. If the vibration is still not lower than without the tape, move to 6 and 9 o’clock positions until you find one that gives you the lowest amount of vibrations. Once you do, experiment with the amount of tape in the same position to find the one that again gives you the least vibrations. When this is done, add a small piece of tape 45 degrees away from the first piece of tape – if the first piece is at 12 or 6 o’clock, then add another piece at 3 or 9 o’clock, and spin it again to see if the vibrations have changed. If they’re higher, place the tape to the opposite position. If lower, experiment with the amount of tape in that position until you find a point with least vibration.

THE FINAL WORD

Properly balanced propellers help greatly to mitigate vibration related issues in the multi-rotor frames that may lead to electronic and mechanical failures, or render your footage useless by vibration induced Jell-o effect. A small investment in a proper balancer and taking a little time to balance your props may save you a lot of money and disappointment later

CONTACTS

DUBRO dubro.com
DRONE VIBES App  aerialdroneworx.com

The post Eliminate “Jell-o” effect in your multirotor footage with Du-bro’s Prop Balancer appeared first on The Drones Mag.

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Ttrobotix Super Hornet X650 Kit: Ttrobotix Air Supremacy!

From Multirotor Pilot Issue: 10
By Peter Hejl

Thunder Tiger is an RC electronics manufacturer that was established over 30 years ago and has become a global RC brand. Just like most of the other RC manufacturers, they decided to jump on the multi-rotor bandwagon under the TTRobotix brand and introduced a few models to cater to both sides of the rapidly growing “drone” market. While their Ghost and Cobra quadcopters are ready-to-fly, “everything included” machines aimed at the customers who may not posess the will or skill to build their own multi-rotor, the TTRobotix Super Hornet is a kit for people who prefer to build their own machines and do some serious work with them.

 

NEED TO KNOW

MANUFACTURER: TTRobotix, Thunder Tiger Group
DISTRIBUTOR: HRP
PART#: 4000-K11
FOR: Intermediate to advanced
PRICE: $999

SPECS

DIMENSIONS AND WEIGHT
FRAME WEIGHT: 2.47Kg
TAKEOFF WEIGHT: 3.3Kg
PAYLOAD CAPACITY: 730g
DIAGONAL DISTANCE: 650mm

PROS

  • Foldable arms for transport
  • Great fit and finish
  • Integrated power distribution plate with plenty of solder pads
  • Mounting holes for standard GPS mast
  • Sleek looking canopy
  • Sturdy retractable landing gear
  • Great intuitive packaging of part Groups

CONS

  • Need to remove the canopy to access the thumb screws to fold the arms
  • LED wires not long enough to reach solder points on distribution board
  • Absence of self-tightening design on the prop adapters

WHAT’S IN THE BOX?

  • Foldable Quadcopter frame
  • Retractable landing gear
  • TT 340Kv motors
  • TT 30A ESCs
  • 1447 propellers
  • LED light pads
  • Canopy
  • Battery plate and straps

NEEDED TO COMPLETE:

  • Flight controller (DJI NAZA or similar)
  • Battery (recommended 6S 6000mAh)
  • RC transmitter and receiver
  • video equipment (optional)

TOOLS NEEDED:

  • 2mm, 2.5mm, and 3mm hex wrenches
  • Soldering iron
  • Needle nose pliers
  • Small fl at screwdriver
  • Heavy duty dual sided tape
  • Hobby knife

UNBOXING

The kit arrived in a nice box with all the parts packaged in logical groups. It includes all you need to build the frame and power it (motors and ESCs). I chose a DJI Naza-V2 flight controller, Futaba 14SG transmitter with Futaba R617FS 7 channel FASST receiver. DJI Naza will work with both traditional and Futaba S.bus receivers. A spare channel on the receiver is needed to control the retractable landing gear.

All the CF and plastic parts were defect free and good quality. The included manual is fairly well executed. The drawings are easy to understand and the manufacturer included a separate sheet depicting the power and signal distribution board layout. Included in the package is also XT60 battery connector that solders right into the board. If you’re using another battery connector, add one to the list of needed parts.

Ttrobotix Super Hornet-37THE BUILD
Building the Super Hornet is not terribly complicated and any intermediate RC builder should have no problem with it. The build begins by mounting the motors to the top half and included LEDs to the bott om half of the motor mounts. I then connected the ESCs to the motors.

The ESC wires are color coded. If the color coding is followed when plugging the motor leads in, the motors spin counterclockwise, so my recommendation is to swap two of the leads for the motors that will be spinning clockwise. This will save a partial disassembly later since the ESCs are hidden inside the tubes. I braided the ESC wires to lose some length and then fed the ESC and LED leads through the arm carbon fiber tubes. The 340Kv motors are nicely machined with large bearings and come with prop adapters.

The top and bottom halves of the motor mounts can then be put together at the end of the arm and secured with seven screws and lock nuts. The mount halves have knobs on the inside that align with pre-drilled holes in the arms, which helps to ensure that the motor mount is level and can not twist out of alignment mid-flight. As as this solution is, I’ve found it missing on many other kits and always had to come up with a solution to secure these in place on my own.

The side of the arms between the center plates gets a plastic wedge inside of it with two holes that line up with the pre-drilled holes in the arm’s CF tube. The bolts retaining the arms in-between the plates will eventually go through these holes and the wedge helps stabilize the arm, protects it from being crushed and also protects the ESC and LED wires from being rubbed through by the arm retaining bolts.

With the arms completed, I soldered the servo connector headers in place for the motor and gear connections to the main board. Depending on the flight controller you will use, you have to choose whether to solder the ESC signal wire headers to the front of or behind the flight controller. Since I’m using a Naza V2, I soldered them forward from the flight controller location to keep the connecting wires short. I secured the header in place by taping it on the connector side, soldering the pins to the appropriate pads and testing for any bad connections with my multi-meter. I also soldered the main power lead pigtail to the power pads and used the extra available pads on the board to solder on three more pigtails with connectors for my flight controller and peripherals (gimbal, video transmitter).

Ttrobotix Super Hornet-40

I then mounted the spacers (that will eventually hold the top and bottom plates together) to the bottom plate, flipped the plate over and mounted the battery/gimbal plate. The battery plate is spaced out by rubber stand-off s to create a clean unit that helps prevent the transfer of any motor induced vibrations to the gimbal and camera. Next, I moved on to the retractable landing gear. The gear servos seem pretty solid and have very little slack in them. The CF tubes get mounted together by a machined aluminum T-connector and the kit also includes rubber stops for the ends of the skids. The gear is mounted to the bottom plate using a wedge-shaped plastic insert that takes care of the gear off set (the servos are 90 degrees and this wedge is used to angle the gear outward by about 10 degrees).

With the gear and battery plate in place, I attached the arms to the bottom plate using the supplied bolts and secured them loosely in place with the thumb nuts. I then soldered the ESC leads and LED wires to the appropriate pads, making sure I left enough slack in the wires so they’re not being pulled on in either folded or unfolded arm positions. I plugged the ESC signal wires and landing gear leads into appropriate headers on the board and moved on to installing my flight controller. There is a predetermined position for the flight controller outlined on the bottom plate. I cleaned the surfaces with an alcohol wipe and used some 3M heavy duty dual sided tape to attach the flight controller firmly to the plate. The Naza PMU (power management unit) sits neatly next to the flight controller and plugs into a power lead I prepared for it earlier.

I chose a 7-channel FASST Futaba receiver (R617FS) and followed the diagram in NAZA manual when connecting the receiver to the fl ight controller. To take advantage of the retractable landing gear, one channel needs to be connected to the landing gear header(s). There are two headers for the landing gear connection – one for the signal wire/ground and one for power. This is done to leave the builder an option to use a 5V BEC to power the landing gear. Since the receiver is perfectly capable of supplying 5V to the gear servos, I simply used a hobby knife to pull the signal wire out of the connector and slipped it in it’s own connector, de-facto splitting the receiver wire into two parts (power and signal) to accommodate the two separate headers. If using a 7-channel S.bus receiver, you can take advantage of the Naza S.bus compatibility and still plug your retracts into one of the available channels (the “traditional” connections on the receiver still work and they mirror the S.bus channels, so make sure you choose a channel that is not already used by your flight controller). I then connected the Naza LED module and mounted it to the underside of the copter. There is a designated place on the top plate to accommodate a standard GPS mast and secure it with screws in the predrilled holes.

After making sure that everything worked correctly, I attached the top center plate to the frame. This gets done by screwing it onto the center plate spacers and securing the arm bolts in place.

Ttrobotix Super Hornet-42
Each arm gets two bolts, one that the foldable arm pivots around and one that is secured by a thumb screw and travels in center plate channels when folding and unfolding the copter. To secure the arms in place in fully folded or unfolded positions, the thumb nuts are tightened and sink into larger holes on either side of the channels the bolts travel in. These holes are only in the top plate channel, which left me wishing that the designers would consider leaving them in the bottom plates instead. Placing the thumb nuts on the bottom of the copter would make them easier to access without having to remove the canopy every time I need to fold/unfold the arms.

Ttrobotix Super Hornet-41There is also an option to attach the GPS/ compass module to a round indent in the canopy; however, I am not the biggest fan of this solution since this leaves the GPS/compass too close to the other electronics and also makes it difficult to remove the canopy when accessing the thumb nuts securing the foldable arms. Using a rotary tool, I cut an opening in the canopy to clear the GPS module and mast and used a black permanent maker to mask the white edges of this opening. I turned the GPS/compass module counter-clockwise by 14 degrees to account for the magnetic compass declination to make sure that the aircraft flies straight and does not display a “toilet bowl” effect. Once everything checked out, I used the included prop adapters to attach the 1447 plastic props. The props have a standard round hub with plastic spacers. My only wish was for the prop nuts to have a serrated flange to lock-in the props a little better.

Ttrobotix Super Hornet-38IN THE AIR
As a precaution, I do not install any video equipment or peripherals until after the maiden flight in order to minimize any possible damage if something goes wrong during the maiden. The maiden flight went as expected, the copter was very responsive and thanks to its size, easy to control and resilient in windy conditions. I flew the Super Hornet for three battery packs and then moved onto installing the gimbal, OSD (on-screen display) and video transmitter. Since I chose the DJI Naza V2 flight controller, I chose to complement it with Zenmuse H3-3D 3-axis brushless gimbal with GoPro Hero3 Black camera. I mounted the gimbal to the front of the battery plate using 1 inch spacers to lower it a bit below the plate. I had to drill a couple of holes in the plate to allow for the gimbal installation. I added DJI’s mini-OSD to get a real time read on the vital flight information on my video monitor. I also installed Immersion’s 600mW 5.8Ghz video transmitter. I plugged the video transmitter and the gimbal to the connectors I previously soldered onto the power distribution board and used dual sided tape to install the OSD unit, video transmitter and the gimbal control unit (GCU) in the space between the bottom and battery plates. I used a 90-degree SMA adapter to attach the antenna to the video transmitter to have the antenna facing down. After verifying that everything works, I tucked in the wires, and went to test fl y the unit again.

I used a 5500mAh 6S LiPo battery and got 15 minute flight time with the above mentioned video gear. The copter performed very well, without and vibration induced “jello effect” in the video thanks to the dampeners used to hold the clean plate. The shorter front arm design and retractable landing gear have helped to keep the props and the gear out of camera’s view even during more spirited flying. Speaking of which, the Super Hornet can actually get up and go at a pretty brisk pace. I prefer to fl y in manual mode unless I’m working a job around structures and people and this machine flies like a dream. The big 340Kv motors have decent vertical performance and always ran nice and cool, even on warmer days.

The retractable landing gear worked fl awlessly throughout our testing and it was nice to be able to capture some great aerial footage without the worry of the gear popping into frame. Not only that, but the Super Hornet looks much more aggressive with the gear up. The large airframe seems to be very stable, even in windy conditions so when it’s set up properly, it could make quite the camera rig for hobbyists or even professionals. The larger size gives it greater payload capacity so there are loads of different camera/ gimbal combinations that could be used. Also, the lower deck of the main frame is plentiful with space to mount any peripheral electronics of your choice. I’ve already got a couple dozen flights on this copter and I like it more and more every time I fly it. Using the Naza V2 seems to be the winning ticket and while I’m sure there are other viable options out there for flight controllers, you really can’t go wrong with this combo.

THE LAST WORD
The TTRobotix Super Hornet is a great copter for anyone who prefers to build their own drones. The kit is well designed, uses good quality materials, comes with easy to understand instructions and provides the builder with a lot of flexibility to install different camera equipment and other accessories. This 650mm sized copter is fun to fly, large enough to be resilient in the wind and folds neatly for easy transport. Attach whatever camera gear you like and you’ve got a stellar combo for aerial photography and videography. If you’re in the market for a larger machine, give the Super Hornet a good hard look. It’s a sweet machine.

CONTACTS

TTROBOTIX ttrobotics.com
DJI dji.com, (818) 235-0789
OPENPILOT openpilot.org
FUTABA futaba-rc.com, (217) 398-8970

 

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