Friday, May 30, 2014

Fanwood Prom

Playing photographer for Jackie's school prom... this is the set up for the formals as it's raining outside.

QX 130 FPV at Rye Rec.

Took the little drone over to Rye Rec. to fly around this morning- much easier to fly with some space to play around with!

But I have learned a few things:
1. it's VERY easy to get disoriented!
2. I need to either trim the canopy at the front or get a wider angle lens- or both :)
3. I need to fabricate some sort of light hood for the screen
4. the Turnigy 600mAh batteries I'm now using are awesome, slightly longer but fit OK and give more grunt
5. This is great fun ;)

More Cabin in the Woods

...and this is the side facing the stream.

More Cabin in the Woods

... fake rocks!...

More Cabin in the Woods

More shrubs going in...

Thursday, May 29, 2014

My FPV set-up works :)

All the parts for my FPV set-up on my little quadcopter arrived yesterday and I spent a fun couple of hours working out where to put everything and soldering it all together. This evening I took it out to see if it would work... and it does :)

I need to take it over to the Rec or somewhere like that where I can find some wide open space to get used to flying it this way- around the church I'm just too nervous of crashing it on a roof or somewhere I won't be able to reach it. But boy is it fun to fly it this way!

This is the copter and it's controller with the little monitor mounted on it. It has a built in 5.8 Ghz receiver and also records the video on a microSD card, I upgraded the antenna for a skew planar one.

This shows the little drone with it's antenna sticking out below it on it's right side.

Here it is with the canopy removed, you can see the little camera velcro'd onto the front.

And here's a closer view of the antenna on the side. The transmitter is wired to the camera connector for the original camera for power and is then velcro'd on top of the main control board. The antenna is bent down through the frame (with a tiny zip-tie around where it connects to the transmitter board so it can't come loose- bad things happen to transmitters if they're powered up without an antenna attached) and then the whole thing is wrapped and tied with a couple of bands of teflon plumbers tape (light and flexible).

It all works surprisingly well :) You will see from the video that the resolution of the camera is a little bit lower than the original camera (see earlier posts from video from that), and there's some static and interference, but for a tiny 25mw transmitter I think it does pretty well. I guess I could wire in the original camera as well and record on that while flying on this one, but the difference is probably not enough to warrant carrying the extra weight and power drain.

I'm very happy with the way it turned out, and I can't wait to find some open fields to play with it some more and hone my skills :)

Leaf collection?

All along the lower trail, just beyond the cabin they are building, are all these piles of black bags that seem to be full of leaves and twigs- I assume something to do with the filming, bit well have to wait and see...

Cabin in the woods

Much activity today, the walls and roof are up and they're adding shrubs and foliage around it.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

I get to play with the best toys :)

We have to take the clock faces down from the steeple to repair them tomorrow, so I've just had this baby delivered.

Cabin in the woods

They are hard at work on it today and the walls are going up.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Flying around the parking lot on a Sunday afternoon

I'm still having a blast with my little drone- but although I can film from it while it's flying (as above shot this afternoon in the parking lot) I can't see what it's camera is seeing while it's flying. I can turn on and off the video recording, but I can't see what has been recorded until I get the drone back on the ground and pull the microSD card out of the camera and plug it into my computer.

I have to fly it what is called "LOS" or "line of sight" which means I am watching it from the ground and controlling it based on what I am seeing. This is fine when it is facing in the same direction you are, but not so easy when it's facing towards you or to either side- all the controls change- if it's facing towards you you must move the controls right to go left etc.

So... I have ordered the stuff I need to be able to fly it "FPV" or "first person view". This means I will replace the current camera with one that is connected to a transmitter that will send the video signal to a small video screen that I will mount on the controller so that I can see what the camera is seeing in real time, this way I will be able to fly it as if I am the pilot sitting in it :)

This is all quite new technology and so I've had to do a ton of research online to find out what I need and what this little drone can carry. There are ready made kits for larger drones (and drones with this already built in), but this little drone is quite small (ready to fly with it's battery pack it only weighs 96 grams) and no-one makes a "ready made" kit for it, so I've had to track down parts from all over to find stuff small (and cheap) enough to do it.

I have nick-named the drone "Timex" (coz it takes a licking and keeps on ticking) and so I want to see if I can do this with it without having to go to a new, larger drone. And part of the fun and the challenge will be to see if I can rig up something small and light enough that will work.

I have parts in the mail to me from all over the States, a transmitter from one place, a camera from another, and antennas and wiring from other places- and the screen that will mount on the controller is currently in the DHL system on it's way to me from China! Hopefully it will all work together when it arrives ;)

Until then I'm still having fun practicing my LOS flying, and occasionally crashing into trees (don't ask- it took a LONG pole to bring it down!).

Oh, and Holly thinks it's great fun to chase- as you will see in the other short video below. I left some of the raw audio on it so that you can hear her barking :)

Friday, May 23, 2014

More filming in the woods

This is just down the stream from the bridge I photograph every day, it's going to be a "cabin in the woods" set for the same show they were filming on the bridge a few days ago, HBO's "The Leftovers".

It seems that they like the woods as a location and it's nice and close to their main stage in Mount Vernon (I had a nice chat with one of the carpenters who's building the set). It'll be fun to see the cabin go up, they won't be filming for a week or so.

The show starts to be shown in a couple of weeks and the trailers look interesting, but I shall have watch it now to look out for the woods :)

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Another drone flight at CCRye

Having fun with the drone again, mostly to entertain Colin's kids (who especially liked it when I made it flip)

And here's a few still pictures (taken after the Chapmans went home but CJ had showed up) for good measure :)

High altitude selfie

Checking the steeple is still up

Family portrait by drone :)

Saturday, May 17, 2014

More Quadcopter fun :)

I took the little drone outside for the first time today for a little fun buzzing around the steeple- as you can see I'm starting to get a little more confident, even though my landings could still use a little work ;)

Friday, May 16, 2014

This thing is a blast!

I love this little drone!

It's not easy to fly, but in the 20 minutes or so I've been flying it I can already see the improvement in my skill... there is a lot of future fun to be had here :)

I did get the little camera for it, It doesn't take amazing stills-

but for a $30 camera that comes with a 2GB microSD card it takes surprisingly good video-


And finally here's a little video of it flying (it's really hard to try and pilot it and video it with my phone at the same time!)-


As you can tell from the videos I've been crashing it a lot, but it seems to be a tough little beast. Hopefully as my skill grows I can soon post some much better videos from it, but so far two very enthusiastic thumbs up :)

New Toy :)

I've been wanting a quad-copter (or drone) for a while now, but have been a little intimidated by the prices of the pro-type ones while not wanting to waste money on a cheap one.

So today I did a little research and found that there's a hobby shop in Stamford (HobbyTown USA) that sells all sorts of them from super cheap to really expensive. I had a quick chat with them over the phone and then decided to drive up there (about 25 minutes away) to see what they had "in the flesh". They were incredibly helpful and recommended this little puppy- it's an Ares Etos QX 130 that comes with everything you need in the box for $99 (and has some cool accessories you can get too). They said it's a great one to learn on that I won't outgrow too quickly, but if I do want to move on to something better later this will give me a really good grounding- so I grabbed it and  a couple of extra batteries ($8.50 a piece) and I'm good to go :)

I'm gonna charge the batteries while I walk the dog and then try it out in the parish hall later- a full review with pics and video hopefully to follow :)

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The new sign...

...has arrived!

Filming in the woods

Went to walk the dog today only to find there is a film crew filming right on the bridge I take my daily picture for the other blog. They had gear piled on the rock where I usually sit to take my picture and I had to be ushered through the middle of them during a break in filming so I couldn't stop to take one from my usual angle (they were very nice about it though), this is looking back at the bridge from the other side after I was past them. Apparently it's for an HBO show that premieres soon called The Leftovers.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014


A good game :)

New Chucks

Crisp and I decided our old Converse sneakers have lasted so well that we'd replace them with new ones, but this time in red, grey and black :)

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Morning Prayer...

...led by the Confirmation Class.

I think I'm more nervous than they are, but so far they are doing a great job :)

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Thursday, May 08, 2014

New shoes...

...for the van.

Not an expense we wanted, but it's been a tough winter on the roads and therefore on our tires, so you gotta do what you gotta do.

Monday, May 05, 2014

Wife and son

This is my new favourite picture of Jake and CJ, taken on Sunday at Jody's when we were over there to wish Eddie a happy 50th.

This one isn't bad either :)

You can see the full album of pictures from the evening over on FaceBook by clicking here- and you don't have to be a FB member to see them :)