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|
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!
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.
- chase -