Sunday, September 18, 2016

So far, 2016 has proven itself so far, a year I could finally make much needed repairs to some of my personal things, that needed repair or fixing in one manor or another. Many of which I've waited for nearly a decade to have the chance to do so. Namely because I didn't have the space to either work on them or more importantly, have a dedicated place needed to in which to ship parts to.

That changed this year in part. I finally had a place I could get parts ship to, and a tiny area to work on them. This allowed me to work on new projects, as well as old, to complete some things I started years back or refused to toss out because I knew I could easily fix them once I had the chance.

And there is something to be said about the sense of accomplishment when you do finally make that repair, or replace that part and what was once was a broken item sitting on the shelf, is now a functional item or tool or what ever.

Personally, I don't want to have to fix things all the time. I'd much rather be able to use them with out issue. But when I do, and they work, I get a sense of enjoyment out of it really. And the opportunity to finally be able to work on them, enjoyable as well. Relaxing for the most part.

Some of the things I was able to fix are:

My Kenmore Blue Magic Vacuum which I happen to like as a vacuum. I got it free. There's a place in town that about every 6 months with out fail they would  toss out a vacuum, buy another and 6 months later, toss out that one, buy another... and so on. As well as a dozen or so other places and people that wouldn't fix the vacuum, they'd toss it out and leave it on the curb. Which I thought was ridiculous, especially once an associated made me an offer for one of the vacuums I fixed, which I thought was too much and he pointed out the price of new ones. Seriously vacuums cost that much?!?Why?... at any rate... I found it silly to toss out a vacuum that could be easily fixed and given to someone that could use one for dirt cheap. (pun intended)

So I picked them up, and fixed them. Most were so simple to repair. I'd clean them and sell them for next to nothing.  Heck, I didn't want them, I had no use for a vacuum. But I did get to try them all out.

While most sounded like a shop vac or worse. The Kenmore was quiet, small. It's a little canister vacuum. I liked it, so I kept it for myself. But it was missing a part. It's been over ten years... and all it needed was the small plastic handle part to hold the bag in place. And a spring. I finally got one a month ago and made that repair.  I went through everything on it. Cleaned it up and now I have a great little vacuum. I still don't have a use for it right now, but hey, when I do. I have one that I like and... it works great!

Remember when every one was jumping into digital and selling off all their Pro Photography gear on the cheap. Being a poor boy I took advantage of that, and picked up several film cameras. From Medium format to 4x5 of various kinds. Some Pro, others novice, while others still I just liked how they looked. I redid the seals in many, including the RB67.

Love to shoot film and digital. They both have their merits. I even picked up a small developer station. After a while I wanted a scanner, namely the Epson v4990 since it has a full size transparency area. Couldn't find one used or afford a new one. Those that had one, weren't turning loose of them at the time.

CompUSA had a display model of a Epson v500 for sale for what I felt was a pretty good price. I couldn't scan my 4x5's, but could scan my 35mm and MF. However, the display model was missing everything, The main scanner was all there was. No AC adapter or film holders or manual or software. Just the scanner by itself. And it was unknown if it even worked. I thought... well I can fix that!

That was over ten years ago... it's been sitting waiting, as I was, for the chance to get the parts for it. In fairness to myself, did order an AC adapter once, but it never got delivered thanx to some idiots. Which that whole escapade ended up being what could be a blog post story/event in itself... but I'll spare the idiots involved the embarrassment of disclosure for now.

Fast forward to a last week... I have all the parts now! Plugged it in, connected it to my laptop and it works! It really works! And I have two of each type film holders to go with it.

So I can now finally scan in my film and slides in, as well as a couple old Lantern Slides I bought just because i'd never seen one before. But the point is, is, it's fixed! Finally.

Granted newer better scanners are out there, even ones that will do as I originally wanted. But for now... I'm happy and can't wait to use it.

This also means I'll probably start shooting again now that I have a means to scan it in directly. I love shooting with my RB 67, I really do. The photographs are phenomenal when they come out right. That is, if I can even remember how. There is a learning curve to shooting manual, let alone film or slide. We'll see...

I also managed to get all my outdoor gear re-waterproofed with some high great waterproofing agent. That may not seem like much to you the reader, but that's a chore in unto itself. But it's done.

You may already have read about my Scout X4 project which was something new this year.

That was something that took some doing since I didn't know anything about quads really, let alone one this advanced. That was a hair puller from time to time I will admit. But, I got the GCS finally working this month, and replaced one of the gimbal arms last week. One more gimbal arm and she's like new again.

The Geeetech I3 Pro B 3D printer... completely taken apart and rebuilt works like a charm.

Though I love my printer, I'll just say for the record, Don't buy Geeetech. If you didn't buy direct they want nothing to do with you. They don't back up their products. Made worse the fact they'll try and lie their way out of fixing, replacing or even sending missing parts. Especially if you purchased from one of their retailers. Even their retailers/resellers don't want to deal with them any more. Just saying....

At any rate... I fixed it. And it does work nicely.

I finally got a chance to fix a 24inch HD monitor I bought a couple years back as well. It was missing the stand. I found another stand that could hold it and after drilling a couple holes in the stand... wha la! One 24 inch HD monitor with stand I can now use in combination with my other 24inch HD monitor for Dual Monitor action... Not 4k, but, I don't have a computer yet. lol

I finally put together to a Hot Foam Cutter for the power supply I made a couple years back for just that purpose. Another small project but a project just the same completed this year so far.

And there have been other fixes and repairs and mods to things as well I did this year. It's been a joy if nothing else to finally say they are working again or been made better than or even that an added part completes what's needed in using the item.

With all this fixing came the need for additional tools. And after getting several, I'm now I'm better prepared to fix even more stuff! Though I'll be honest... I'm not eager to add on a bunch of new projects. I'd like to take the time to enjoy what I've completed thus far. Many of which not only have a learning curve I need to go through. I don't want to just use them, I want to master them! With the exception of the vacuum of ! I think I've got how that works.

Many will remain to some degree a continual work in progress. As such is a hobby I suppose...

In looking around me at some of these projects now completed and boxes of forgotten contents. The need for more space now that things have been repaired is definitely an issue that needs addressing. I need to spread out a little in order to be able to use them let alone enjoy them. I'm quite literally doing all the work on my projects, including typing this blog post out in a 6 foot by 4 foot area. Which is home to a 4x2 foot table and a chair. The table, which is home to my 3D printer and some stackable drawers that have parts and tools in, leaving me little to no room to work on! With everything once completed, being carefully stacked around me. Yes..., I can certainly see the need for more room... lol

I certainly hope you enjoyed my babble this post... it's been a while since I just babbled about nothing.

-  If you yourself finally fixed something you've been working on, or repaired something that has been sitting on a shelf or in storage just begging to be repaired. And you finally were able to get around to fixing it this year and it works again. Post your accomplishment in the comments. A link to a picture or video of it if you like.

Most of all, feel good that you did good in doing so.
Great job!

Till next time...
Keep being creative and thinking outside the box,

- chase -

When you first get a 3D printer, you're unfamiliar with the printer, you're learning about it, the software, the filaments, the mechanics and art of 3D printing. You end up tweaking it, or making modifications to it, getting it dialed in. So you may as I, and many other do, start by printing out others designs. I printed out about 4-5 designs by others.

Such as Nautilus Gears.

And a filament sample fob  seen below.

Then you come to a point or at least I did and it may have been the purpose all along for getting a 3D printer as it was for me, that you want to create and print out your own designs. For me this point came rather quickly. As stated that's the real reason I wanted one in the first place.

My go to 3D software is mostly Maxon's Cinema 4D. I truly enjoy it for many reasons. No, actually, I love it for many reasons.  That said, I've used many other 3D apps. Everything from Autodesk 3DSMax (which I love it's shell feature) to Blender 3D to Rhino to Houdini, ZBrush, Maya and many others. Many if not all will export .STL files for 3D printing. Many can be used for mechanical designing. Unfortunately, none of the ones I am familiar with, including Cinema 4D or Blender 3D, will run on my laptop. I mean really run, not just open.

So the search was on for a 3D design app. And I wanted to go with a CAD software since most of what I want to print or design is mechanical.  A style of 3D creation, though similar, I'm unfamiliar with.

The problem I find with finding good software is it's written by programmers and dev teams who's primary focus is on coding. Not usability. 99.9% of the time, they are not educated in the field nor have the experience in the field to which they are designing said software for. So you get software that when you go to use it, you end up scratching your head, going, "What the fuck were these programmers thinking?!"

And it doesn't matter whether it is free or paid for apps. It's insane at times trying to find truly functional software, that is designed around a given field by experts in the field.

I complained/pointed this out one time to the Blender 3D dev team once. My question was, "Why does it take 32 steps to do a simple task that takes C4D 4 steps?" I'm exaggerating but that's pretty close summation of the question. The task was to simply animate a texture or shader on a selected mesh.

A major factor of design creation is ease and usability of design tools. I don't know about you but I don't want to spend all year trying to figure out how to use the pen to draw a freaking circle or create a primitive object let alone how to rotate the view port. Call me spoiled but I've come to expect certain things from software design tools in this day an age.

Believe it or not, it's taken me 4 weeks of trying out different CAD software on my laptop to find two or three I even liked enough to keep on my drive. One is a paid software one is semi-free for the basic software but worth it. And the last but not least is open source and yes, 100% free.

I know some of you are saying "What about Autodesk 123D or MeshMixer?"
- "You're joking right?" would be my kindest response.

"What about SketchUp?" others might chime in.
- In response I will say many use Sketch Up. Personally, I've yet to install Sketchup on any computer I've owned, including the most recent version on my new laptop and had it run worth a dang. It takes forever to load, bogs down when models are imported. It's proven it's self not for me time and time again.

So what software then?

Lets start with the paid PRO Grade CAD Design software first.

IronCAD Design Suite 2016 - Full installed with library and it runs like a dream on my laptop. You can get a 30 day trial and normally I don't suggest it, but I'm going to suggest it this time.
Download the 30 trial software first before trying any other CAD software including the free apps. The reason why, is so you'll know and have used and can compare what Professional CAD software is to all others.

Is there a learning curve? Of course there is, some of the language is different, use of assemblies and parts is different than you'll find in 3D apps like Blender or Cinema 4D, etc, etc, This is after all, CAD software, not software for making or animating cartoons and special effects. But the learning curve is small if you are familiar with 3D software in general.

IronCAD's library of primitives and other common models is unbelievable. It's made up of extremely useful models, not just a repository of every model made on the planet. Which means you can find ones to use in your design quickly and easily.

Drag drop, set parameters and your done. Seriously it's that quick to model up a design or prototype. You can import and edit other model formats including STEP files and a slew of others. Keep in mind when exporting a .slt file from IronCAD as with other software you must prepare it properly prior to export. In IronCAD this in the part preferences.

Granted there are other Pro Grade CAD softwares out there. But this one caught my eye, and quite honestly I'd never heard of it or many other CAD apps before. Their video showing ease of use, primitive library, had me say... "I've got to give this app a try!"

So for the next 30 days you'll see what at least one Professional Grade 3D CAD Software is like. And one that actually will run on your laptop with out needing 16 gigs of ram and an Octo core processor.

Now lets look at a semi free CAD design tool. Semi free as they do have add-ons that come at additional cost.

DesignSpark Mechanical - Again - runs like a dream on my Win10 laptop. Very similar to IronCAD in many respects. Don't be put off by it's features, DesignSpark Mechanical is targeted towards people that have never used a 3D or CAD software before according to their site.

The DesignSpark library seems to be geared more for electronics but also includes many other mechanical models. It's very similar to IronCAD in many regards. Creating a sketch in 2D and converting it to 3D is easy as pie.

DesignSpark Mechanical is somewhat limited in what file types can import however. It can import Sketchup files and OBJ files. STEP files are locked so you can import them, but you can't edit them. If you are going to be designing your own models, hopefully that won't be too much of an issue.
In order to be able to modify a STEP file in DesignSpark, there is a somewhat long work around which in you convert the STEP file to a STL file to a SKP file for import into DesignSpark Mechanical. A step by step on how to is found HERE if interested or needed.

Next lets look at a 100% free CAD design tool.

FreeCAD - another CAD design app that runs great on my laptop. It's an open source parametric 3D modeler.

FreeCAD is multiplatform, reads and it's advantage over DesignSpark Mechanical is it writes many open file formats such as STEP, IGES, STL, SVG, DXF, OBJ, IFC, DAE and many others according to the FreeCAD site.

Personally, I've only tried FreeCAD for a very short bit as I'm still using IronCAD. But just navigating around with in FreeCAD it does show serious promise though in saying that, it's proven itself a little buggy/quirky. FreeCAD does have a vast library consisting of many sources. And you won't have any issues importing files from McMaster Carr. Which is an added plus for FreeCAD.

So there are three CAD apps for you to use to create models to print out on your 3D printer.
There are others. Many others, But not all are created equal. Some don't even come close.

As mentioned earlier in this post, when exporting to .stl file format for 3D printing from these or other softwares be sure to prepare them for export first.

Here's a usefull list of how to do just that hosted by Stratasysdirect called "How to prepare STL files" which includes many of the common design softwares.

Okay that's all for this post, my fingers are tired of typing, actually that's a misnomer, I'm tired of typing, and I want to get back to creating. And more importantly, I've discovered by every creative fault I have, I want/need to get something to eat... lol I'm freakin' starving! I'm suddenly very hungry!!

Before I go, one tip, get yourself a 3 button mouse to use with which ever software you choose to go with. Personally I went with an optical mouse for higher accuracy. Come to think of it, I haven't tested my Bamboo tablet with any of the above CAD software. I'll have to give it try when I get back. I'll let you know how it turned out in my next post which very well may be on some upgrades and/or mods I did to my Geeetech I3 Pro B 3D printer thus far, 'til then...

Keep thinking outside the box and being creative,

- chase -
Okay so you know I like 3D Creation, you know I took a break to delve into the outdoors for a while, came back and got into RC Aerial fun and now I'm circling back around to my 3D again with a new 3D Printer. And the one I chose was the Geeetech Acrylic I3 Pro B. It's comes as a DIY Kit that you assemble yourself.
Some people like the pinch method when using their RC TX's, I like the thumb method, especially on the little Low Power TX's that come with the smaller RC RTF's. Since they don't come with thumb pads most times, I made my own as seen below on my Dromida MR100 LP TX. I thought I'd share it with you all as it's real easy to do.

Cost is around .70 cents a set. You can further mod them at will. But be warned, once you go down this path there is no turning back as you'll be gluing these thumb pads to the stock stick and once done that's it. So be sure it's something you think you'll like.

I'm sharing some of the hot wire foam cutting gear I made thus far. Not in a step by step fashion but more as inspirational fashion to give you all some additional food for thought on  how you might want to make your own tools.

The basic principles if you are not familiar with them is you take a power supply source, be it A/C or D/C, though generally most are D/C. Connect it to a Nichrome or other suitable wire. The wire heats up - you cut foam or plastic with it. Or make toast... as it is the same principle that happens in your toaster. Or oven for that matter.

The basic construction design of all hot wire foam cutting tools are pretty much all the same. Including the ones I've made thus far and there are scores of step by step instructions on the web on how to make them out of a variety of materials from PVC to wood, from handheld cutters like the one shown to bows, router tables, and shape sleds to using batteries or variacs or computer power supplies as the power source. They all do the same thing - heat up a wire to cut foam in one fashion or another.

You can choose to go supper cheap or super expensive, you can get by with scrape materials or new materials for your version(s) of hot wire cutter(s). Personally I wanted something that was of a good quality, durable and didn't cost a fortune. I wanted certain features like using a universal plug to connect all my tools to the power source. And be somewhat esthetically pleasing not just tossed it together. And I wanted to make it myself.

So in building your tools, make a list of the features you like of all the diy tools you see on the web. That would be my first suggestion to you. And leave room for more features you can add on as you build it or that you discovered you would like to have after building your first tool that you can add to your next tool. For instance the handheld cutter in the first image was my first tool, first build. I wish I had added in an on/off switch to the handle with an LED indicator light. This is something I may still do, but will definitely do to my next tool build of the same likeness.

Enough said on all that... lets take a look at my tools and there construction so you can get some ideas for yours.

First thing you'll need is a power supply...

I decided to go with a 12v DC system. I wanted it fairly small with more than one outlet as well as have the ability to power all my tools be it a small handheld or a bow or a medium size router table cutter. So it needed to be variable output. I wanted circuit and system protection. And this is what I came up with...

The box is a hobby box from Radio Shack, the switches, fuse holder, led indicators, banana plugs and dial knob all came from Radio Shack.

As you can see it is a 12v DC with up to a 5 amp max load.

6 foot AC cord on the back.
Main Power switch lower center with led indicator.
Push on/off dial variable dimming for the Slave power switch.
Power indicator led upper center glows brighter the more power output you apply.
Output plugs accept either banana plugs or plain wire.
Two additional low profile banana plug receptacles on the side.

Inside here is the wiring...

You like the little transformer I used? The dimmer switch in the upper left is almost twice as big as the transformer.

Here's a better angle on the transformer...

The metal you see around it, is simply a clip that it slides into that holds it in place. So if I ever needed to replace it, I just slide it out unhook it and put the new one in. Actually it would be a little more involved than that as the wires are soldered.

And that is my power supply.

Next you need the cables to connect your tools to the power supply.

You can choose what ever type connectors you want. As stated above, to the power supply I went with banana plugs or bare wire. The decision as to what kind of wire to use was made pretty much by what 2 strand wire I had on hand that was also color coded and was at least 14 gauge stranded wire. Lamp or speaker wire is what I had, and is perfect for the type foam cutting I'll be doing and heavy enough for all my planed tool builds.

At the tool end I went with something a little smaller all in one connector and commonly found on ac/dc adapters. With a reason behind it. I wanted to be able to power at  least some of the tools, like a handheld cutter, not only by my power supply but by a few of my ac/dc adapters if I choose to do so. A little planning ahead and now more than one tool can be operated at the same time and by a variety of power sources including my home build one. As far as the connecter itself, I do believe I went with an "N" series connector and  used the standard positive pole center.


This is the business end of the hot or foam cutting hobby. And there are may type tools to be made depending on what type of material and cutting you need or plan on doing.

And probably you'll start as I did with the handheld cutter. It's the most basic of the cutting tools and easiest to make to get you started.

Again here is my first build...

Its features are:

It's very durable and stout.
As you can see, it can hang when in use or not in use.
It has a slide tensioner for the wire to keep the wire taunt.
It has a cutting width of almost 6 inches and a depth of 2.5 inches.
It can be powered by a common 12 AC adapter. (power output dependent of course)
The wire is easy to change and it accepts more than one type wire.
It's wired with 18 gauge wire. Over kill some may say but, that's the way I wanted it.
The wire won't slip off if accidentally pulled through the material too quickly.
It's not too heavy and fits comfortably in hand.
It didn't cost a fortune to make or take too long to do so.
It looks good to boot.

So how was it made?
It's made from two 4 inch paint rollers.

The process goes something like this:

  1. Cut the top part of the shaft off right below the bend. (The part that actually holds the paint roller. Or bend it straight if you want a deeper depth to your cutter.)
  2. Pull the handles off the shafts.
  3. File a small groove way and drill a small hole in the top tip of the metal shaft for the hot wire. (5/4 hole)
  4. File a tab and drill a small hole in the tab to solder the wires to on the other bottom end of the shafts. (5/64 hole)
  5. Solder the negative and positive wires to the metal shafts. (you'll need to use a propane torch for this)
  6. Sand the handles on one side equally. ( I used a 7" belt sander belt cut to make one 14" strip placed on the floor - 50 grit then 80 grit)
  7. Glue the handles together. ( My handles were polypropylene - Heat treated first then I used Loctite Plastic glue a 2 step glue)
  8. Drill holes in the handles for binding post. (1.5 inch binding post - 1/2 forstner or spade bit for the head)
  9. Drill a hole inside the mated handles to feed one of the wires through to the other side of the handle. (Drill above where the hole plugs end. Only if using a combined connector type otherwise the hole is not needed.)
  10. Feed the wires through each side of the new handle and put the shafts back on. (press to start - hammer and wood block to finish. Don't go too far - keep them equal)
  11. Put the binding posts in. (I used Loctite on the threads)
  12. Dry fit two 3/4 inch hole plugs and sand where they meet so they meet flush.
  13. Drill and install the connector to one of the hole plugs. (Use Loctite on the threads)
  14. Solder the wires to the connector.
  15. Install and glue the hole plugs/connector in place.
  16. Install the hot wire.
  17. Cut and/or file a groove in the spreader bar and install. (3/8 in diameter nylon spacer for 1/4 in shafts worked nicely for mine)
  18. Connect it all together with your power supply and do a final test.
  19. Go cut some foam into something useful.
  20. Pat yourself on the back - you did good!
  21. Post on the web what you built... (optional)

Here are some pics of the process or end results of the work.

4 inch Paint Rollers
Check handles to make sure they will mate properly!

First shaft head cut off
Notice the use of tape for cut lines!

Handles removed
Mark each so you know which shaft goes to which handle!
Shaft tab filed- drilled and positive lead wire soldered on.
Mini Butane torch soldering gun nor a soldering iron will work for this.
Small Propane torch made short work of the soldering!

Handles hand sanded and ready for the next step.
Dry fitting the binding posts

Handles Glued
Wires run - Shafts in - Connector Soldered on

Ends installed and testing continuity

Spreader Bar installed

Nichrome wire installed
Ready for testing.

Here are all the above components working in tandem taking a slice from a nice chunk of Styrofoam.

That's it for now, I hope I gave you some ideas you can use to make your foam cutting tools.

Here's is a little inspiration to get you to want to make them if you're into RC aircraft at all.

Not new, but still pretty dang cool and on my build list...
The JA 37 Viggen a build by Dave over at Flite Test. In this video as well as the link I provided, which is to the build log, you'll see yet another simple foam cutting tool you can build if you like as well as get plans to the JA 37 Viggen.

Till next time,
Keep creating, Keep those props turning and of course
Keep rendering!

- chase -

Saturday, April 02, 2016
My creative interests are spread as you can see by my blog. And one of my interests has been aerial videography. Till now I really haven't had the tools I wanted to do what I wanted, let alone the time  to spend acquiring a skill set in this area of expertise. RC isn't exactly an inexpensive hobby, let alone adding videography into the mix.

It didn't start out in a good way. I was burned pretty bad on my first purchase a few years back. Creative visions and amazement at seeing a 550 class Heli which I'd never seen before. Combined with a complete lack of knowledge of the field and gullible to sales talk, clouded a sound buying decision. And though I did try to rebuild her, and still have her, it proved too much a venture for what I wanted to put into her in the end.

My second purchase, though a better deal for the most part and much smaller heli. I still didn't have the knowledge, the repair made worse with a pre-emptive crash of my own after much hard work putting it back together. Without the first hand experience, I didn't know all that was wrong with the Heli in the first place. Hence I missed fixing something that was broke or bent out of shear lack of knowledge of what or how it should have been to begin with.

Fast forward to today after walking away from my aspirations and now two broken heli's with parts galore, I decided to give it a go once again. And again, bought used birds and even a new one. And again set out to put together a starting point to learn and acquire a skill set and the proper tools in this area. And the good news is, I think I've put together a pretty descent line up to not only learn the skills of flying such birds, but a tool set to actually take some decent video and stills.

I can tell you if you have the same interest, RC is like many other things. Once bitten by the bug, you  are somewhat hooked. And as a newbie to the hobby, you can be overwhelmed by the choices and the really cool stuff out there. A few years back Multi-Rotors where becoming all the rage and still are. And I did look at them with desire. Good news is - it's much more affordable and the gear that much better in many regards.

At any rate I thought I'd share my line up of tools. And understand, they did not come "cheap", and a few came with a lot of work that had to be put into putting them back together and as well as learning about them. They can be somewhat complicated, especially starting out. I was up to the challenge I felt and I think... am pretty confident I finally have them all put back together in full flying order once again.

So with out further a due here is my line up of tools.

First up is a the Blade Nano QX FPV BNF which I picked up second hand.

Blade Nano QX FPV in flight
photo curtesy of Horizon Hobby

The Blade Nano QX FPV is a what is termed a Micro Quad. And hurray! I didn't have to fix anything on this one, though I did purchase a little low power TX for it before I could use it. Which by the way, the Hobby Store sales people lied and told me I'd get a 1/2 mile range out of the little LP TX - (assholes) -  which if they try to claim that to you - it doesn't. LP TX's will get around 150' pretty much at best.  This one maybe  40 - 100'. I also did have to get the receiver for the FPV, which I also purchased second hand, from the same seller as the Nano QX. And a big thank you to the seller who passed on some of his good fortune my way. He didn't bullshit me and was more than fair on pricing. I Thank you!

Though a micro quad. I really think this is a great starter for just about anyone interested in aerial videography or fpv in general. The 5.8ghz receiver for the FPV I have now is pretty cool too in the sense  that I can hook it up to a monitor and or laptop and record the video transmission of not just this fpv system but pretty much any I install on any bird that uses the same band width.

And I'll tell you, I instantly fell in love with FPV. It is so much easier to fly these birds via FPV than by line of sight, at least for me it is. It's like a video game. Now granted the FPV camera on the Nano QX doesn't have great resolution (320 lines) but it's so much fun! What can I say, I love it! It's a blast and very accurate and responsive which is a big plus when learning. You can tell the difference once you've flown the Nano and how it reacts to the controls and it's hover to other birds. The Nano QX FPV is one really nice little micro bird. I fly this one almost daily its that much fun. The batteries only get you about 5-6 minutes each and a full range TX would be a great addition and further it's range but for now, I'm really enjoying it as it is. Watching and directing where it fly's on my monitor is just plain fun!. Okay enough said about the Nano.. next bird.

The Domida Vista FPV RTF - This one I bought new.

Dromida Vista FPV RTF Modded
You may have read about some of the mods I made to my Vista in previous posts. I like this little quad, it looks great and it's proven itself through many owners posts on the web to be virtually indestructible. Prop shafts will bend, sure, but for the most part, it takes a beating and keeps on ticking as they say.

And here is where you learn about responsiveness to controls and accuracy. This is not the Blade Nano when it comes to these things. Nor is it good for FPV as it comes since it uses Wi-Fi via mobile device to view the FPV transmission and control the camera. The lag is too great for FPV. Any lag is bad when trying to fly FPV. But that said, you can start to learn about aerial videography with this one as it will record in 720 and you can turn video and photo capture on and off while in flight. It has a decent range for the little LP TX and as a starter quad.

You can get a better full range TX and bind to it and increase it's range and accuracy of response and many have gone that route. There are also those that have added a 5.8ghz FPV camera to it for a true FPV experience. And it's a lot of fun to fly and mod I might add. Great for limited indoor use and a lot of fun outdoors! Just watch your distance and pretest your range so you don't loose it!

Next up is my Exceed BlueRay 450 PE - bought second hand crashed. And I crashed it again, on the ground no less, trying to fix it. lol

Exceed BlueRay 450 PE Modded and finally
ready for flight again!
As stated I bought the BlueRay second hand awhile back in which the previous owner had crashed it and in fixing it and testing it, I crashed it again. Not a quarter inch off the ground. Actually not even that. It slide across the patio as I was trying to make adjustments to it and figure out what was wrong with it right into an outdoor table. With all the work and yes money I put into her, I never even flew her before crashing it! Due greatly to knowledge my friends, or a lack of knowledge I should say.

I've learned much since then. And having been bitten by the proverbial RC bug when I first got the BlueRay, had unwittingly but smartly bought every dang part and upgrade I could afford and then some for her back then.

All said and done she is finally - finally ready once again for flight. Minus some tweaking I'm doing but part wise she's back together and - she's ready. And I must say, the above snapshot does her no justice, if she fly's as good as she looks, and she does sparkle and gleams brightly; the BlueRay is going to be a lot of fun not only to fly but to use as a base for a Mobius Action Cam I plan to mount to her. I'll be able to use the Mobius C2 Action Cam not only for FPV but for taking HD video once mounted and a few small extra things added.

I'm working on a DIY test flight stand so I can learn her controls and test fly her with out crashing her straight out of the gate.

As much as I like MultiRotors - I still feel there is a great place for Heli's in the Aerial Videography world. As a Heli, she can do all that a Multi-Rotor can do and then some. The BlueRay 450 is a 3D flyer, has great reviews by those pilots much more experienced than I.

Heli's have a very stable hover from what I've seen of other birds. I have gone through the BlueRay 450 and made sure every single thing was balanced and set just so to give her as stable a flight characteristic as I can. Hopefully this time, I did everything right! Between that and the test stand... I can't wait to finally test her out and get some use out of her.

Last but not least is my Walkera Scout X4 RTF, again bought used and crashed. Repaired and gone through meticulously by yours truly.

I was given a deal I shouldn't refuse by a very experienced flyer. And again, I thank him for the opportunity and the start.

That didn't mean she didn't need work. And a bit of it. Her gimbal was twisted and smashed up, legs broken. All needed firmware updates and various repairs. But she came with spare parts to fix her legs. And after some metal work and tweaking, her gimbal is balanced and runs smooth and as she should.

The complication comes in in that she is a fully featured Quad. There are a lot more buttons and switches and settings to go through and check and test. Made more difficult if you've never had a bird of this caliber before. Or TX.  But not one I couldn't and wasn't willing to take on. She had to have her final compass calibration at the time of this writing... but, I'll edit in here the result of her maiden flight which I've scheduled for tomorrow briefly.. And she still needs her landing gear servos replaced which - I literally just received a call from the local RC shop while typing this post, and hopefully they should be here next week and all will be good again with this Scout.

I added a home made Lens Shade to the iLook+ video/FPV camera she came outfitted with seen in the works below:

Home made iLook+ Lens Shade
First test fitting after painting the interior with flat black.

Home made iLook+ Lens Shade finished.

And yes, that is a coin on taped to the side of the gimbal to balance the gimbal. A dime well spent! Though it may take a nickel.

So she's for the most part ready for her maiden flight since repairs have been made. I've only spun her up with her props on once, and that one time, I can tell you she's powerful and comes off as a work horse of a quad. Fully featured with Follow Me, Circle Me, Mission Planner, Return to Home and a slew of other features I'll have to go through as time goes on. She's also GoPro ready if I so choose  and I'm sure other cameras could be added as alternatives as well. I'm really excited about this quad and seeing what she sees from a birds eye view in a variety of places.

So now I have my tools and a lot to learn still. The reason I'm sharing this is not to say I've given up on CG or Music Creation, by no means do I want to give that impression. I simply wanted to share that while I may not be able to do some things at the moment due to lack of other tools like a new Desktop computer, and lets face it - the new software. I'm expanding my tool set and creative means in other areas as well that I can do. And hopefully, I can at least edit some interesting aerial video on my laptop to share with viewers. As well as gain some video or stills to use in addition to 3D works and animations or what have you, when I do have the tools to continue on with my CG, Music and other digital creations.

It's all really just a way to have some functional fun in a creative way. And this particular interest gets me out of the house and away from the screen... which, if your at all like me or into 3D, CG or Digital Creation of any kind, you know what it's like. I'm sure we share the love of sitting in front of the screen working on creating something new. Once focused it can be pretty hard to pull us away from in front of the screen. And that's not necessarily a bad thing, just a different thing. Aerial Videography and flying RC just another creative outlet in stating the obvious...

What I guess it boils down to is if you can't do one thing, try another creative outlet. And when the time comes that you can do the other again, you may be able to combine them both. Either way you're building skill sets. Be diverse is part of creativity that shouldn't be overlooked. Even if it takes you a couple years to build the tool set, if you start now, eventually you'll have the tools you need or want. It took me a couple years and a willingness to work on and fix things to get this far. I suppose there are easier more expensive ways but - I don't have that luxury at this time. So you do what you can, when you can and it'll come. Just keep at it my friends. And eventually it will materialize for you I'm sure.

Till next time,
Keep rendering and being creative.

- chase -


The Walkera Scout X4 about to be taken on her maiden flight after repairs.
Pompano Beach, FL.

The following day of this post as stated I took the Scout X4 out for her Compass Calibration. All went smoothly. And she flew like a dream! It's recommended for the first 5 batteries to fly her in manual mode - not using the features - so she can "learn" and tighten up her compass and GPS from what I understand. In 18-20 mph winds with nice gusts bursting through she flew like a champ! Both with and without the iLook + Camera on her. Sorry no pics of her flying since it was both our maiden flight together and I'll be honest, I didn't know what to expect.  So I was and was focusing on the bird and controls and didn't want to let go of the TX to grab a camera and snap a shot of her in flight. But once her "learning" period is over, I'll set her up in a hold position and do just that.  I'm very pleased at the outcome of my work on her. And with this bird. Smooth and Graceful are the words that come to mind when I think about her maiden flight. Very nice indeed and easy to fly.

But I do have a VLC snapshot taken from her first video in flight using the iLook+ with the lens shade in place I might add. This was around 40-50 feet in the air. Not too bad...

Untouched VLC snap shot from the Scout X4 maiden flight
iLook+ camera with Lens Shade.
You can click on the above image for the full size version if you care to.

- chase -

Sunday, March 13, 2016

The Dromida Vista comes as a stand alone quad or the FPV version such as I have. It's a lot of fun to fly. But as a true FPV quad using Wi-Fi, the lag from camera to screen really prevents you from using it in true FPV fashion. This doesn't mean you can't have a lot of fun with it. And use it to take some video of your time in the air. Or have fun modifying it. Here are some such modifications I did to my Dromida Vista FPV. And yes, that is a Dromida Vista in the above image.

Battery Compartment Mod: If you own a Dromida Vista and searched the web for more info on them you probably already know of this modification. If not do a search and you'll find several video's on how this is done. It's a simple mod that allows you to not only adjust the CG by moving the battery fore and aft but allows you to use bigger batteries such as seen below:

Left to right:
The stock 850mAh 20c battery that comes with the Vista
Lectron Pro 1000mAh 30c
Heli-Max  1200mAh 30c

The mod consists of removing the tab towards the front of the craft on the battery compartment to allow the battery to slide through. Hence you can use larger batteries and as mentioned adjust the CG.

Here's a photo after the battery compartment mod with a larger battery as seen from the front of the Vista:

Battery Compartment Mod allows the CG to be adjusted
and larger batteries to be used.

A tip for you if you are going to do this mod is to leave just a hair of the tap still sticking up to "grab" the battery. Some are slimmer than others. Leaving just a tiny bit helps.

Camera Platform/Mount Mod: I don't know anyone that has done this one yet, and if they have I  haven't seen it or they didn't post about it. It's a simple mod that allows a better angle for the stock Drone View Camera. If I can't use it for FPV, then use it to practice taking some aerial video or stills. For that I wanted a better angle.

Again simple to do. I simply replaced the forward most lantern dampener with a larger one which was also stiffer. It's from the Vortex 250 Pro Camera Mount kit.  Which by the way, the combination of the two stiffness's of the dampeners seems to be helping to remove even more vibration on the Vista.

Some pics of the camera mount mod:

On the left is the stock Vista Battery and Camera Mount
On the Right the Modified Battery and Camera Mount

Adding the Mobius C2 Camera: After modifying the camera mount I had to try it. Wouldn't you?

Mobius C2 Action Cam on the Dromida Vista
Now before we go further - notice how I have the Vista's landing gear up on cushions in the photo above. Even with those cushions the Mobius lens front is sitting on the table due to the camera mount modification. The stock Drone View camera does the same but you have the option to tilt the camera lens up a bit.

Did I try and fly it with the Mobius Action Cam on it..? Sure did!
I couldn't wait to try it! Even if the conditions were not especially ideal with all the weight I had added to her. And this is how that very short attempt went that night...

The Mobius along with the larger battery was really too much weight for this little guy, especially in those windy conditions. But that brings me to my next modification. I didn't want the camera, either the Drone View or Mobius, dragging  on the ground.

Landing Gear modification: Again I haven't seen this one posted about online yet but for what I wanted it was like it was made for it.

The landing mod parts are actually meant for RPM's LaTrax Alias as an upgrade to it's landing gear. Once I saw them I knew I could make them work somehow. And they work and fit like a glove.
I gained about .5 inches in height. Perfect additional clearance for either camera.

In the first photo in this post as well as the below images you can see how it looks as well as the additional clearance I added. That and it adds some suspention to the craft which is nice when landing with either camera.

Plenty of clearance even with the Drone View Lens pointed down

I haven't tried it with the Mobius C2 Action Cam attached again now that I added the landing gear mod, but it's not going to be an issue. No question about it.

To do this mod it's easy just not as easy as the other mods. But the steps are as follows:

First carefully removed the motor/landing gear from the Vista, there's instructions on how to do this in the manual for replacing the motors. Carefully pull the landing gear motor covers off. There is a connector inside. Just loosen it up and push the motor down as you pull the landing gear off. Use a tiny screw driver between the slots and on the bottom of the motor.

Inside the Vista landing gear there is a plastic screw which holds the rubber feet on. Un-screw it and remove the rubber feet. Save these parts in a small plastic bag for the future.

To install the Alias Landing gear upgrade you will need a 1.27 millimeter allen key. If you don't already have a set of allen wrenches now is a great time to buy one. Harbor Freight was the only place that had a kit of metric allen wrenches that included a 1.27mm wrench. About $7 for one of the sets.

The Alias Landing Gear upgrade kit includes all you need. The screw and washers are the perfect size. The washer fits perfectly inside... it's just a matter of getting the screw through the hole in the washer once it's inside. Once you do, then just scew the landing gear on. And your done.

Tip: First screw the provided screws into the landing gear about half way to making sure they thread in straight. Then unscrew them and attach them to the Vista. It makes it easier the second time threading them in.

Snug them up once you have them going and then make sure they are where you want. Then tighten them up. Don't over tighten them. Tight not too tight!
Mods done and ready to take out for a run!

Once your done - add the camera back on and take her out for a spin!

What's next for my Vista? Hmmmm...?

I've since made some more mods. Not to the Vista itself.

First Mod was to the supplied Dromida MR100 SLT TX that comes with the Vista.

I didn't like the sticks as they were, I wanted thumb pads but they don't make any for it so I made some myself. The below image show the original and my custom thumb pad.

Original sticks were small and crowned.
Custom thumb pads feel real nice.
What I used to make them was a plastic screw cap cover. They come in a variety of sizes, I chose the 1/4 inch. To drill them out you have to take it real slow, and use a tool like below.

The tool I used to drill out the screw caps.

When they just fit over the shaft they fit real tight. I mean real tight till they get to the top. Then glue in place, put the lid on the screw cap and wah la! You'll have custom thumb pads for your Vista TX.

Custom thumb pads on the Dromida Vista MR 100 TX

Since I added the new feet to my Vista it no longer fit in the box it came with. It needed a case. Harbor Freight sells an Aluminum case with pinch out foam inside that is not too expensive and works great as a carry all case for a small quadcopter including my modified Vista FPV.

Harbor Freight locking Tool Case with pinch out foam

It also gave me a chance to try out my home made foam cutting tool to fit everything in a little better.
Here's a link to the post on DIY Hot Wire Cutting Tools if you want to read how to make your own.

The nice thing about the case is it not only protects the Vista but it's plenty big enough to carry extra batteries for the Vista and the TX, two chargers, tools and extra parts like props and main shafts.

Dromida Vista FPV with extra's all loaded and ready to take with.

I put the owners manual in the lid behind the foam. There's even a shoulder strap that comes with the case if you like.

That's all the mods for now...

Till next time,
Keep those props turning and renders burning...
(man that sounds lame...!)

Have fun guys and gals.
- chase -