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VOL 2, FALL 2014

USE YOUR BRAIN! Mind-Controlled Quad!

1000 mm
12 How to Catch a Train
by Petr Hejl
32 View From Above
Greenskies Solar Energy Company
by Joe Papa
40 Shooting the Red Bull
Frozen Rushby Petr Hejl
48 Inside UAV Direct and
the Zero Tech Product Line
by Joe Papa
16 Sky-Hero Spyder 6/12
The 1000mm, 12 motor heavy-lift
workhorseby Erick Royer
28 DJI Innovations Phantom 2 Vision+
The ultimate aerial camera!
by Joe Cannavo
36 Lumenier QAV250 Mini
FPV Quadcopter
250mm of pure FPV fun!
by Erick Royer
44 DJI Innovations F550 Hexacopter
DJI gives you an eye in the sky!
by Petr Hejl
64 Gaui 550H Hexacopter
A solid aerial video platform
by Mat Maziarz
76 HobbyKing Alien 560
A foldable FPV frame
by Jon R. Barnes
82 Lynxmotion/Robotshop
Crazy2Fly Quadcopter
Aggressive looks with performance
to match!
by Matt Maziarz
58 JR XG14E
Computer Tray Radio
Perfect for Multirotors!
by Erick Royer
80 ReadyMadeRC Quick Start
FPV Package 5.8GHz with CCD
Everything you need for your
FPV multirotor
by Joe Cannavo
22 Zeiss Cinemizer OLED
Virtual reality video glasses
by Erick Royer
52 DYS Smart 3-axis
GoPro Gimbal
First Impressions
by Petr Hejl
60 DJI Innovations
by Joe Papa
68 RC Technik Stick
Switch for Futaba 14SG
by Erick Royer
70 HobbyKing
Apache OSD System
All the data you can
possibly need for FPV
by Joe Cannavo
8 Editorial
10 From the .com
26 Multirotor Tech
A Mind-Controlled
A UConn student brings
Sci-Fi to reality
by Erick Royer
56 Visual Tech
GoPro Frame Rates &
by John Kopec
86 Multirotor
Taking better images with
your camera & your copter
by Joe Papa
90 Return to Home
BirdsEye View Aerobotics
FireFLY6by Jon R. Barnes
A view from above
It is no surprise that
the most common
use for multirotors is
for aerial photography
and videography. There are
so many machines on the
market and more coming
every day that are designed
to specically ll this need.
The ight controllers have so
many advanced features that
even a novice pilot can be up
and ying successfully in very
short time. Hopefully the FAA
will have its nal guidelines in place so pilots know where they stand legally. Once
this hurdle has been overcome, we will see the multirotor industry explode. I think
about all of the amazing videos and photos that I have seen so far and I can only
image what is in store. Our very
own editors, Joe Papa and Petr
Hejl, are both professional pilots
and aerial videoographers. Petrs
articles on the Red Bull Frozen
Rush and To Catch A Train
feature some amazing photography
with a view that you can only get
from a multirotor. Joe recently
shot promotional photography
for GreenSkies Solar Energy Company and was able to stitch together an amazing
shot from one of their solar farms in Connecticut. These are a few examples of
some amazing things that we can see from above. If you have some epic photos
or video that you shot from your multirotor, we would love to see it. Please email
me at erickr@maplegatemedia.com and hopefully I can feature them on our website,
Facebook page or in an upcoming issue of the magazine.
I had a very good feeling that the industry would accept a magazine about multirotors
with open arms, but I had no idea to what extent. Since the launch of the rst issue,
we have received emails, Facebook and website comments, and even phone calls
from all over the world, excited about the magazine, wanting information on how to
subscribe and offering suggestions and comments for future issues. I cant express
enough how touched and humbled we are to hear from you, our readers. As we
assembled this issue, we pushed even harder to give you more content including real-
life multirotor applications, reviews of the latest products, like the DJI Lightbridge and
lots of tips, tricks and advice; so much so that we expanded the magazine by eight
pages and still had tons of material left over that we published on our website (see the
FROM THE .COM article in this issue).
On behalf of our entire team at MultiRotor Pilot magazine, we thank you for all your
support and we look forward to serving you in the future.
Erick Royer, Executive Editor
Editor-In-Chief GREG VOGEL
Executive Editor ERICK ROYER
Associate Editor MATT MAZIARZ
Associate Editor TONY PHALEN
Technical Editor & Test Pilot JOE PAPA
Creative Editor & Test Pilot PETR HEJL
Editorial Coordinator CINDI VANDEMARK
A R T / D E S I G N
Design Director ALAN PALERMO
Corporate Photographer WALTER SIDAS
Staff Illustrator DAVID BAKER
Web Developer and Design TONY PHALEN
Web Content Manager JEFFREY WARNER
Consumer Marketing Director NED BIXLER
Marketing Manager SIRI WHEELER
Hobby Shop Manager WHIT CAMPBELL
Advertising Sales Manager RICHARD HAUPTNER
Account Executives LISA BLUMENSCHINE,
Advertising Coordinator CINDI VANDERMARK
Production Manager BOBBI-JO BALDWICK
Associate Publisher NED BIXLER
Editor-in-Chief GREG VOGEL
Executive Assistant to Publisher SIRI WHEELER
President & Chief Financial Officer ELLEN BALL
Corporate Editorial Content Director GREG VOGEL
Multirotor Pilot (ISSN 2334-0827)
Copyright 2014, all rights reserved
by Maplegate Media Group
42 Old Ridgebury Road
Danbury, CT 06810, USA.
V O L U M E T W O 2 0 1 4
ith so many multirotor kits, accessories and news
popping up on a daily basis, we have more than enough
content to ll the magazine but we only have so many
pages to ll, so we lled our website with additional reviews, tips
and tricks and bonus content. Please visit our website and LIKE
our Facebook page at facebook.com/multirotorpilot.
Follow our blog about the Sky-Hero line of
multirotors, including the Spyder 6/12 which is our
cover machine and reviewed in detail in this issue.
We take an in depth look at X-Aircrafts new ight
control system, the SuperX. Its simple design
and ease of use coupled with the almost limitless
capabilities are sure to make it highly sought after.
The new Quantum Q-2D 2-axis brushless
gimbal for the GoPro camera caught our
attention as came to market with a very
attractive $99 price point.
Matt Maziarz reviews HobbyKings new
Rotorbits quad and hex frames for the
multirotor pilots on a budget. Less money
doesnt always mean a smaller machine!
Resident software and electronics
extraordinaire, Joe Papa, gives the
do-it-yourselfer a lesson in tuning the
AlexMos gimbal boards to obtain the
best results when constructing a custom
gimbal for your aerial photo/video copter.
Johnny Beavers sheds a little light on
the safety concerns regarding multirotors
and looks to dispel some of the myths
concerning their use.
Mike Wright shows you how you
can extend the ight time of your DJI
Phantom with a few simple upgrades.
Words and Photos by Petr Hejl
If youve ever taken a ride on a his-
toric or scenic railroad, you may
have noticed the train enthusiasts
snapping pictures of the train pass-
ing along the rail line. The introduction of
multirotor copters has changed the hobby
of trainspoing forever by giving the pho-
tographers freedom to cover never before
seen angles from viewpoints impossible to
access otherwise.
I love shooting trains, lming the steam
engine with multirotors and seeing these
two technologies from the opposite ends of
the industrial revolution era together leaves
one impressed about how much the technol-
ogy has advanced over the last 200 years.
When I started venturing out and ying
in dierent places to shoot videos, I had an
opportunity to lm trains in two wonder-
ful places: The Valley Railroad Company in
Essex, CT, and the New England Railroad
Museum in Thomaston, CT. Both places
maintain a few miles of railroad tracks
and oer historic train rides aboard nicely
restored Pullman coaches pulled by historic
steam and diesel trains. The Valley Railroad
Company also combines the experience with
a historic riverboat ride. Here are a few tips
for your next train adventure.
Find your local railroad museum website and
check out their schedules and months of oper-
ation. Dont forget to check their calendar of
events; many of them run themed trips (holi-
day decorated trains) or occasionally bring out
engines not usually operated on their tracks
(Thomas the Train at Valley Railroad). Those
occasions can add a lile bonus to your trip.
I strongly recommend reaching out to the
management of the railroad youre trying to
lm, introducing yourself and some of your
work (a short video reel and some experi-
ence make this much easier). You may be
risking being turned down (some folks still
tend to be a bit wary about the drones), but
they can be a great help with nding the right
locations to shoot. Oering them your pic-
tures and footage may help them warm up
to the idea and having a UAV operator liabil-
ity insurance is a big plus. They can also put
you in touch with one of their photographers
(usually an enthusiast on their sta) who can
help you understand the light conditions in
dierent locations and times and time the
train as its coming down the track. Knowing
how many minutes it takes the train to reach
each location is important with our limited
baery life. There may also be some o-limits
areas and rules. My experience with the rail-
road folks was great. They were really nice
and accommodating, set me up with their
photographers and even called me when the
train left the station so that I was ready. I also
recommend checking in if youre operating in
any managed parks. In one case I shot a train
going on a face of a ood-control dam man-
aged by the Army Corps of Engineers and
was really happy I asked for permission. If
you take the time to explain people who you
are and what you do, you build a relationship
and a good rapport and youll be welcomed
back with open arms.
Get familiar with the dierent locations and
their accessibility and if possible, nd a fast
way between them. Keep yourself mobile to
move quickly between the locations. These
train rides happen at fairly large intervals,
and you dont want to spend a few hours
waiting for the next shot. The trains move
rather slowly and with a lile bit of planning
you can beat the train to the next location
in your car, geing multiple ights and loca-
tions out of a single train pass. It is a good
idea to get some shots of the station (there
are usually more trains on display there). The
best time to do so is early morning or late
evening (depending on the light conditions),
when there are no or very few people around.
Flying a location without the actual train
helps you get familiar with the environment
and gure out the right angles without hav-
ing to worry about missing the train. Try
following the tracks at dierent angles and
altitudes. The intelligent orientation control
modes can be a big help when trying to fol-
low a straight section, as they allow you to
correct the pan without aecting the head-
ing of your copter.
Keep your copter on the ground until you
see the train coming. The train whistle car-
ries over a long distance, and Ive experienced
up to a ve minute interval between hearing
and seeing the train. If you have a plan as to
what to shoot, there is no need to waste your
baery life by just hovering in the air and wait-
ing. You can also ask an engineer to give you
a distinctive signal (say three short whistles)
as he passes a predetermined location. The
trains look beer slightly from the side, look-
ing directly down at the roofs of the coaches is
not terribly appealing. My rst day of shooting
trains has left me wishing I stayed a bit lower
and to the side. I would not recommend get-
ting directly in the trains way or hover low
right over the track as it passes.
I was able to get some nice shots of the
oncoming train by catching it at the station
and then just ying my copter down the track
towards the front of the engine, raising the cop-
ter up and tilting the camera down right in
front of it. Even though the train is stationary,
this gives a nice motion feel to the shot.
Share your pictures and videos with oth-
ers. Find suitable music for your vid on an
online freelance marketplace (audiojun-
gle.net), nd your best shots and keep your
video length to 2-3 minutes. Dont forget to
share your work with the railroad company.
They usually have a fan network online
(Facebook, Twier, their website) and will
be happy to share it with their supporters
and visitors. Keep in touch with the hap-
penings at your favorite railroad by simply
liking their Facebook page; their posts will
alert you to any special events in the future.
Filming historic trains with multirotors is
fun and with a lile bit of preparation, you can
get some prey amazing footage. Please, y
responsibly and build a rapport at the locations
you y at by introducing yourself, your work
and involving them in the planning process. =
Please visit notadrone.com for more
information on Petr Hejl and his work.
I rst saw the Sky-Hero line of multirotors at the Weak
Signals Show in Toledo, Ohio, this past April. Up until
that point I had only seen photos of them online. I was
really drawn to the Spyder 6/12 that they had on display.
It is a 1000mm hexacopter that can be set up with 6 or 12 motors. I
was hard-pressed to nd the electronics and wiring, as they were
contained between the upper and lower frame halves with plastic
side frames that keep everything out of view and give the machine a
very clean look. I spoke with Allen, the owner of KDS Models USA,
at great length about this machine as well as the rest of the line. He
showed me some videos
of the Spyder ying and
I was very impressed
with its design as it was
very easy to maintain
orientation in the air. He
said that the machine
could be set up with a
lot of dierent motor
and prop combinations
to make it a practical
solution for useful
payloads of 25 pounds or
more; the perfect machine
to lif a cinema-grade camera like the Red
Epic with a gimbal. Add to this the fact
that it can be easily folded without any
tools, making it easy to transport.
The Sky-Hero multirotors are extremely
well constructed, using high-quality 2mm
carbon ber main frame plates and 30mm carbon
ber booms. The landing gear is made from
20mm carbon ber booms. The injection-molded
plastic parts for the motor mounts, frame
spacers, landing gear mounts and landing gear
bracket are very solid and durable. Until you
hold them in your hands it is hard to describe
how robust they really are. It would take an
extremely hard impact to damage these
components. The Spyder 6/12 is nished
o with a beautiful, high-quality
berglass canopy painted in olive
drab, which you can paint any color
you like.
The plan for the Spyder 6/12 was to y a DJI Zenmuse gimbal
with the Canon 5D Mark III camera. The weight of the camera with
the lens is just short of three pounds. Then you need to add weight
of the gimbal and the minimum of two batery
The 1000mm, 12 Motor
Heavy-Lift Workhorse

TYPE: 1000mm Co-Axial Hexcopter
FOR: Intermediate to advanced pilots
PRICE: $799.00 (airframe only), Sky-Hero
Upgrade Combo 6 - $1250.00 (6 motors,
6 ESCs, 6 propellers, wire harness and a DJI
Wookong with GPS), Sky-Hero Upgrade
Combo 4 - $550.00 (6 motors, 6 ESCs,
6 propellers and wire harness)
By Erick Royer
Spyder 6/12
packs to get the required ight time and
you have about 10-14 pounds of payload.
With close to $9,000 in camera/gimbal
equipment in the air, a machine was
needed that would be reliable, durable
and powerful. The Spyder 6 with 12
motors gave us exactly what we needed.
There is a lot of talk online about the advantages and disadvantages of coaxial multirotors. Many
argue that just because you have two motors on each arm, it does not mean that you have twice the
lifing capacity. This is very true. The design is not very e cient and on average, you can gain about
25-35 percent more lifing capacity and still require the power to spin 12 props. So why use a 12 motor
setup? The main reason is redundancy. Should you lose a motor in ight you still have the other
Traditionally, large hex and octocopters
are used for professional camera work
because they have a high lifting capacity
and large frames that can easily outt all
of the required electronics to get the job
done. The Sky-Hero Spyder 6/12 is going
to make a big impact on the professional
aerial video market. It is strong, well-
built and the 12 motor conguration
gives it excellent ight characteristics
in the wind with the capacity to lift
heavy loads. The design of the frame
also makes it very easy to maintain
orientation. The Spyder 6/12 also
presents a very clean and professional
looking layout that will surely impress
your clients.
WEIGHT: 13.5 lbs. (ready to y, minus
camera and gimbal with one 6S 5000mAh
battery pack)
DIAMETER: 1000mm
RADIO SYSTEM: Flown with a Futaba 14SG
and Futaba R7008SB receiver
MOTORS: (12) Sky-Hero 470Kv 6S
brushless outrunner (included in Combo 4
and 6 kits)
ESCS: (12) Sky-Hero 40amp 6S (included in
Combo 4 and 6 kits)
PROPELLERS: (12) Sky-Hero 13x6.5 Carbon
(included in Combo 4 and 6 kits)
GPS (included in Combo 4 and 6 kits)
BATTERY: (2) Agile Competition Grade 6S
5000mAh 50C LiPo
FLIGHT TIME: 9-12 minutes (average)
Robust frame with 2mm carbon ber
main plates and 30mm carbon booms.
Very durable, injection-molded plastic
motor mounts and landing gear mounts.
Flight controller mounting options include
mounting between the main frames, thus
protecting it from crashes.
28mm to 36mm brushless motor
mounting options; includes pancake
motor mounts for high-capacity, lower Kv
12 motor co-axial layout is perfect for
stable ight on windy days and for heavy
Easily-removable dampened
camera/battery mounting plate that can
accommodate a wide variety of gimbals
and camera systems.
Battery tray extends through the frame
so one battery can be installed on top of
the frame and one below (shorter canopy
option required for top mount).
Tool-less folding capability.
Solid construction with high quality
Versatile design that can be adapted to
your specic needs
Flies great in the wind with the 12 motor
Very cool looking design that is easy to
maintain orientation in ight
Instructions are difcult to understand
(PDF only)
Included power wire harnesses in the
combo kits have too much wire. I suggest
cutting and modifying them or adding a
power distribution board
I setup the DJI Wookong ight controller as instructed
for the Y6 conguration, which is fairly simple thanks
to the intuitive Wookong Assistant software. I was not
sure about the gain settings, so I started with the DJI
recommendations and using a BTU Bluetooth unit, I
was able to rene the settings in ight to get optimal
performance. I also assigned the remote gains to one
of the knobs on the front of my 14SG so I could adjust it
while in ight based on the wind conditions and payload.
When you rst spool up this copter, it is quite
impressive. The sound is amazing. I always take off in
attitude mode, which I nd lets the machine lift up much
smoother. I started with a single 6S battery and no camera/
gimbal to see how it was going to respond. Honestly, it
ew as well as I expected. It is very stable and predictable.
It was breezy, but as I said earlier, the coaxial design
really slices through the wind making it a non-issue. The
machine is very powerful and is very much overkill for a
sport ying multirotor, but since we were building this to
carry a high-end camera system, it was time to land and
attach the gimbal and 5D Mark III. We used a quick release
system to attach the gimbal, which makes it easy for us
to move it from one copter to another. With the gimbal
on and an additional battery pack installed in the back, I
spooled it up again. The added weight made it even less
affected by the wind. I did make a minor adjustment to
the gains, but as far as power and performance, it was
rock solid. There was plenty of power in reserve. We did
some test video shooting and were very happy with the
results. Currently, Joe Papa ies this camera/gimbal with
his octocopter so we were comparing the two machines
side by side. They are both 1000mm. The Spyder was
much less affected by the wind. The vertical performance
was very good, but the octos was slightly greater, mainly
because of eight motors all generating lift and running
16-inch props rather than the 13-inch ones on the Spyder.
The only thing missing to make this the perfect high-end camera ship
was retracts. The xed landing gear that we customized to get the
clearance for the gimbal worked well, but it prevented us from panning
360 degrees, which is the main advantage of the Zenmuse with a two
operator setup. I am told Sky-Hero is working on a solution for this. In
the meantime, we are looking for aftermarket retracts that will work.
motor on that arm to y the machine safely back to the ground. The
way we congured the machine also atributes to this redundancy;
more on that shortly. The other reason to use a 12 motor setup is that
the coaxial design makes the copter y much beter in higher winds.
Just like a coaxial RC helicopter is perfect for beginners because of the
inherent stability of the counter rotating blades, the same holds true
for the multirotor with this setup. When you look at the prop surface
area of a large 1000mm octocopter with 16 inch or larger props, there is
a lot of disk area that can be aected by the wind. With the
12 motor Spyder 6/12 we are using six sets of 13-inch props, giving us
a much smaller
disk area and the
props slice though
the wind much
more eectively.
The downside of
this conguration
is that you need to
have enough batery to supply 12 motors; however, the lower motor
gets a lot of help from the prop wash of the upper prop thus causing it
to draw less current. The top motors do tend to run hoter in this setup
because they are doing the majority of the work. The optimal setup
would be to run larger props on the botom, which I will eventually
do and report on. Visit the blog at multirotorpilotmag.com/skyhero for
more information on the setup and future enhancements and upgrades
that I will incorporate into this machine.
For the initial review of the Spyder 6/12, I wanted to use the stock Sky-
Hero motors, ESCs and propellers since they sell combo kits which
come with everything you need including the power wiring harness. To
congure this machine we used the Sky-Hero Combo 4 and Combo 6
kits. The Combo 6 kit comes with six 470Kv brushless outrunner motors,
six 40amp ESCs, six carbon props, a power wire harness that is pre-
terminated with bullet connectors and a DJI Wookong ight controller.
To get the additional six motors the Combo 4 kit comes with everything
as the Combo 6 minus the ight controller.
The Spyder 6/12 folds
easily without any tools
using the machined
thumb screws.
The motor mounts can accept a wide variety of motors
including popular pancake styles.
FUTABA futaba-rc.com
KDS MODELS USA kdsmodelsusa.com
SKY-HERO sky-hero.com
For more information, please see our
source guide on page 89
Now that I had everything I needed to get this copter in the air, I
needed to gure out how to wire it up. Thankfully Gryphon Dynamics
has a very handy 12-motor setup guide that we will link to on our
website at multirotorpilotmag.com/skyhero. The basic conguration is
to set up your ight controller as HEXA Rotor Y in the DJI Wookong
Assistant sofware. Each pair of arms will be connected together, so
essentially the Wookong will think it is ying an Y6 conguration. The
diagram below illustrates how I have the system set up.
The one problem with this setup is that there are a lot of wires. Between the
12 sets of power wires, 12 ESC wires and six Y harnesses, it is a lot of work
to keep everything neat. I decided not to use the entire supplied power
harnesses and I opted to cut them and shorten them and solder all the
power wires together and then to a pair of EC5 batery connectors and an
additional power lead for the PMU and gimbal. This saved a lot of weight
and about three feet of wire. I mounted the IMU on the top of the frame
so it was away from the wiring so if I ever needed to get to it, I would
not have to remove the 30+ screws that hold the top frame on. The lower
batery plate has an extended platform that passes through the main frame
and is completely dampened by rubber mounts. This is designed so you
can put a batery on the top of the plate and a second one on the botom.
Doing this will require that you purchase an optional short canopy. Since
I was running a lot of weight with the Zenmuse and 5D Mark III on the
front of the copter, I ran the batery packs strapped under the rear of the
machine to obtain proper balance.
I love how the botom batery/camera plate is easily removable from the
machine without any tools. Just remove the knurled thumbscrews and it
comes apart. It is also completely dampened via rubber isolators from the
main copter frame, arms and motors which greatly aids in geting the best
possible video quality.
If you spoke to me about assembly as I was puting it together for
the rst time, I would not have been too positive about it because the
instructions, only available in PDF form, are not that great. It does
have color photos, but the mentions of
hardware and the order of assembly
lef me scratching my head for a while.
I turned to Google Images and found
some assembled photos that other
owners posted and they helped me
determine which holes to use and gave
me a beter idea of
which screws to use
and where. While I am
not going to rewrite
the manual in this
review, I will have
some photos and notes
that will help you
when you assemble
the model available
on our Multirotor Pilot
magazine website at
com/skyhero. Afer
guring out which
screws went where
and the proper holes
in the frames to use, I
am condent that I can
get this machine from
box to ight-ready in a
couple of hours. To be clear, it is not hard to assemble as the t of all the
components is awless, but the instructions make it a bit confusing.
When you assemble the motors on the mounts, be sure to use the
outermost holes of the motors and use a washer and thread lock on each
screw. Since the ESCs install inside the tubes, the Y6 requires that you have
two ESCs stacked on top of each other, but slightly oset. This is probably
the most di cult part of the assembly. Thankfully Allen at KDS Models
USA shot a very helpful video that explains the best way to get these ESCs
installed in the boom. You can view that video at on our website too. If you
follow his tips, the motor mounts and ESCs will slide right into position.
There are a lot of screws that hold the top frame plate to the copter and
if you choose to install your electronics inside the frame, please be sure
to test everything prior to puting that top frame on. This includes testing
the motors to ensure that everything is in the correct position. Be sure to
mount the LED in a place where you can easily see it from the rear of the
model and where you can easily get to the USB jack so you can setup and
tune the ight controller with your computer.
The stock landing gear gives you about six inches of clearance under the
copter. Because we were installing the 5D Mark III and Zenmuse, we needed
a lot more clearance, so we modied the existing gear and added some
20mm carbon tubes to give us longer legs. While they are not retractable,
they worked great to test its ability to y the camera/gimbal. We are trying
to source retracts for this machine now and Sky-Hero is also working on a
If you are in the market for a high-end camera multirotor platform that
is not only well constructed, but looks very professional when you
bring it on set, the Sky-Hero Spyder 6/12 is a winner. A setup with 12
motors gives you redundancy and exceptional ight characteristics
when ying in the wind. With the Sky-Hero motors and props
included in the Combo kits, you have enough capacity to lif payloads
up to 18 pounds. The beauty of the Sky-Hero Spyder is that you have
a lot of options for motors and plenty of room for larger props which
gives you the ability to lif much heavier payloads. While this may be
overkill as a GoPro ship, if you want to y the 5D Mark III or high end
movie cameras like the
Red Epic, the Spyder
6/12 has you covered. It
is a workhorse that will
impress. =
RECEIVER: Futaba R7008SB
5000mAh 50C LiPo
The Spyder 6/12 has a very clean installation with all of the
wiring hidden between the top and bottom frame plates.
Notice the secondary battery mount just forward the GPS
antenna where it says Sky-Hero.
Motor and wiring layout conguration. Illustration courtesy of Gryphon Dynamics
Virtual reality video glasses
by Erick Royer
In the world of FPV (First Person
View) ying, image quality is
everything. There is nothing worse
than straining your eyes to make
out objects and landscapes in your eld of
view. Poor quality video goggles can mean
the dierence between a fun ight and get-
ting hung up in the trees. There are a lot of
good quality goggles on the market, but I
recently had the opportunity to get some
FPV ying in with the Zeiss Cinemizer
OLED video glasses and I was really blown
away by how much of a dierent experi-
ence it was compared to other goggles. First
o, they are OLED which gives you super
detailed and very bright video, even when
using a small 480p standard denition
video camera. The aspect ratio of the screen
is 16x9, which replicates more of a movie
theater experience. It took a lile geing
used to, as most goggles are 4:3 or some-
thing close to that, but after a few ights I
really liked the wider screen and the clarity
is out of this world.
The Cinemizer glasses are designed and
sold more for personal video entertainment
use than for FPV. They can be connected to
an iPhone/iPad, smartphone with HDMI or
analog A/V interface, gaming consoles, PCs
and more. However it was discovered that
they provide an FPV experience like no other.
They come with a built-in rechargea-
ble baery that gives up to six hours of use
between charges; long enough to watch a
couple of movies on a coast-to-coast ight
and more than enough to enjoy a full day
of FPV ying. The Cinemizers have an inte-
grated diopter adjustment so eyeglass
wearers can adjust them to their prescrip-
tion, from -5 to +2 diopters in each eye via a
seing wheel. I found them to be very com-
fortable to wear for long durations. They
have a soft silicon nose pad and adjustable
ear clips so they can be adapted easily
to your head. The optional Eye shield allows
the glasses to t tight against your face,
keeping out the light, which is a must for
FPV ight. A tethered cable aaches to the
control unit externally, which contains the
audio/video controls and baery. This is a
nice feature because it makes the glasses
as light as possible. A pair of earbud head-
phones is incorporated into each side of
the glasses and there is a handy integrated
holder to store them when you are not using
audio. This is a nice feature if you plan to
use the Cinemizers for personal video, but
they are not required for FPV.
I rst saw the Cinemizer glasses at the
Weak Signals Toledo Show in Ohio this past
April and one of the demos had the glasses
connected to a 3D video camera, showing
o their capability to support 3D video. This
is something that I predict we will see more
of in the world of FPV over the next year.
There are a lot of companies working on 3D
camera and video transmission solutions
and eventually it will become a much more
aordable option.
The Zeiss Cinemizers are not the least
expensive video goggle system on the mar-
Cinemizer Glasses
Nose pads, including two
adjustable elements
Two 2.5mm headphones
HDMI adapter
HDMI to mini-HDMI adapter cable
USB cable
AV video cable (3.5mm)
Travel case
User manual
Head Tracker (motion sensor)
Eye shield
Adapter kit for the iPod and iPhone
DISPLAY: Two high-resolution OLED displays
(Organic Light Emitting Diode) each with
870500 pixels and a ll factor of 100 percent
SIMULATED IMAGE SIZE: 40 inch (= 1 m)
at a distance of 2 meters
FOV (Field of View): 30
DIOPTER RANGE: -5 to +2 on each side
and 60mm
the integrated battery and a 3.5 mm audio port
for external stereo headphones
lithium-ion battery (Charge via USB)
BATTERY LIFE: Up to six hours for iPod/iPhone
and AV-In and up to 2.5 hours for HDMI
CHARGING TIME: Approx. 2.5 hours
WEIGHT AND SIZE: Battery unit: 60g,
HDMI adapter: 30g
WEIGHT ON NOSE: Approx. 75g
HDMI: 640x480p 60Hz, 720x576p 50Hz,
720x480p 60Hz, 1280x720p 50/60Hz,
1920x1080i 50/60Hz, 1920x1080p 50/60Hz,
1920x1080p 24Hz, HDMI 1.4 3D 1080p 24 Hz,
HDMI 1.4 3D 720p 60Hz
iPod/iPhone: iPod and iPhone models with
video capability via optional accessories
AV-In: 3.5 mm/4-pin connector for audio and
video (PAL/NTSC)
My test machine consisted of a Hextreme hexcopter outtted with a GoPro Hero 3+ Black Edi-
tion that is mounted on a 2-axis gimbal. I am feeding the GoPro video signal to an Immersion RC
600mW video transmitter. I have an Immersion RC receiver with a Spironet antenna that feeds
into the Cinemizer. The video quality was nothing short of amazing; very clear and bright. The one
thing that I had to get used to was that the video screen seemed a little farther away than I am
accustomed to. The best way to describe it is that if you are used to watching a movie at a theater
from the rst row, the Cinemizers give you the feeling that you are 10 rows back. This is quickly
overcome once you immerse yourself into the FPV experience, especially with how clear and
bright the video is. The optional Eye shield is a must for FPV use as it keeps the light out, allowing
your eyes to adjust fully to the video screen. I always suggest sitting down when ying FPV and
if you feel yourself getting motion sickness, place your chin to your chest as this helps to stabilize
yourself; at least it does for me. I have a place that I y FPV a lot and it consists of ying down a
wooded path which can be tight in several places. I quickly noticed that I did not have any depth of
eld issues with these glasses. The experience was as if I was onboard the copter. Some systems
that I have used in the past had very poor depth of eld, making it difcult to tell how close you
are to objects and to the ground. The experience with the Cinemizers is very life-like and I had no
issues with determining distances.
Another great use for the
Cinemizer glasses is for the cam-
era operator on a two-person
aerial video/photo ship. Many
times the camera operator uses
an external monitor which works
well, but in bright conditions or
when getting the shot is ultra-
critical, the Cinemizers really
allow the operator to immerse
him/herself into exactly what is
being shot.
ket, but when you consider that the quality
is unlike any other system currently out
there and combine that with the fact that
they can easily double as a personal video
system, they now become an excellent value.
Carl Zeiss is known for having the best opti-
cal lenses in the world and after several
weeks of using with the Cinemizer glasses,
I can see that the same quality has been put
into these as well. =
ZEISS zeiss.com/cinemizer-oled/en_de/
For more information, please see our source
guide on page 89.
by Erick Royer
I recently atended the National
Invention Convention at the
University of Connecticut campus in Storrs,
CT, to support my son who had an invention
that was entered. While walking around
looking at some of exhibits staed by
students at the university, I noticed a Parrot
AR Drone siting on the oor and a female
student with a very sci--looking gadget
atached to her head. The rst thing I thought
was, Could she be ying this with her
mind? So I introduced myself to her and her
professor and both Ashley Dumaine and her
professor, Je Meunier, were very gracious
with their time to answer my questions and
give me a demo. As everyone cleared the
way to give her some space and without the
aid of any controller in her hands, she began
to y the AR Drone. I was certain that there
was a controller of some sort in her pockets
or perhaps they hired David Coppereld
for the day to make this illusion happen; but
she was, in fact, ying using this device on
her head. It was very impressive and a litle
bewildering. Afer that demo it started to get
very busy and I was not really prepared to do
an interview, so I asked if I could email some
questions to learn more about her invention
and how it works.
you tell our readers a litle bit about
yourself including your major, grade
and personal interests that relate to
this project?
ASHLEY DUMAINE: Im a rising junior
and honors student in UConns
Computer Science and Engineering
program. Initially I entered UConn
as a mechanical engineering major,
but switched into CSE by February of
my second semester. Ive only been
programming for 15 months and I
had no experience prior to college.
My interests include programming
and working on tough projects, especially those that involve hardware such as circuits and
microcontrollers. In this project, I used a Parrot AR Drone 2.0, which was my very rst RC
quadcopter. I did practice ying a 4-channel RC helicopter when this project was still in its
infancy to get a feel for the controls. Ironically, I found ying the AR Drone with the EEG
(electroencephalogram) easier than using a controller to y the four-channel helicopter.
MRP: What inspired you to do this project?
AD: Most of this I can atribute to my advisor/independent study professor, Je Meunier.
When we were discussing independent study ideas, he sent me a link to an Emotiv EPOC
EEG headset. I really liked the idea of developing a program to control devices with my
mind. It sounded like something from science ction and a good challenge for me to
get working on my own. Initially we were going to use the EEG to control a motorized
wheelchair, but I preferred to control something aerial since there are more axes of
movement. I began my search for the perfect RC helicopter with stability and good batery
life. Je sent me a link to the AR Drone and I decided to spend the money on it. Given the
end result, Im very glad I did.
MRP: What do you call this project?
AD: The project has no o cial name, but the title we chose for the independent study class
is Functional Programming and Microcontrollers. However, the major nal project for
this independent study was a mind-controlled UAV that utilizes a Java program in order
for intercommunication between the EEG headset and UAV. We usually just refer to this
as the EEG-Drone project, but in public we try to call it a quadcopter or UAV instead of a
drone. People tend not to like drones.
MRP: Please explain in detail how it works.
AD: First, I bought an Emotiv EEG and a Parrot AR Drone 2.0. The EEG has the ability to
read electrical signals to sense your mood, facial expression and even conscious intent
such as push, pull, lef, right and even disappear, to name a few. It sends data to a USB
dongle connected to a computer over Bluetooth. The AR Drone is a quadcopter that emits
its own Wi-Fi that a user can connect to and control over the smartphone app called AR
Free Flight rather than by using a remote control.
A Mind-Controlled
A UConn student
brings Sci-Fi to Reality
I spent a couple months trying to gure
out the best way to get the EEG headset
to control the drone. I purchased the
EEG and its sofware development kit
in Linux, planning to have the whole
project take place in Linux. However, the
rst issue was sending the brainwave
data from the headset to a program that
would be used to control the quadcopter.
Afer some searching, I found a program
called Mind Your OSCs, which can send
the information from the headset in
data packets to another program called
Processing 2.0 that is meant for data
processing. However, this would occur
in Windows since Mind Your OSCs was
not made to run in Linux and would not
work successfully in Wine, a Windows
emulator for Linux. Nevertheless, I
atempted to use VirtualBox to run the
programs in the guest OS Windows on
the host OS Linux. However, this posed
the new issue of sending the processed
information back to Linux, which
sockets could not easily accomplish.
Instead, I tossed that idea aside and tried
to nd a new way. It struck me that since
the sofware development kit of the EEG
has a keystroke emulator called EmoKey,
I could instead use these emulated
keystrokes to control the drone over a
KeyListener inside a Java program. Afer
much more searching, I saw someone
had found a way to use AT commands
to control the AR Drone with keystrokes.
This is done by connecting the computer
to the drones Wi-Fi, running the Java
program, and entering certain mapped
keystrokes into the pop-up window.
Afer altering the code to remap the keys
and remove the use of the shif buton,
I then set up an EmoKey le to send the
specic mapped keys based on certain
cognitive and expressive triggers. Much
to my surprise, this worked on the rst
try. By the beginning of April I had created a
mind-controlled UAV.
MRP: How can it be scaled or used in other
AD: We havent spent too much time thinking
about where to take the project next, but we
do have a few ideas. Je has a plan to use
an electric wheelchair as an autonomous or
wirelessly controlled robot base. We thought
we could use the wheelchair as a mobile
takeo and landing platform for the UAV,
which can also act as a charging base. As a
senior honors student, I will need to develop
a larger thesis, so Im thinking about using
the UAVs built-in camera with MatLabs
image processing libraries in order to do
some obstacle avoidance, or maybe with
Java to do some path planning. Another
possibility could be to give it a bit of articial
intelligence: keeping the UAV in contact with
a base station would allow the base station to
do some heavy processing, allowing the UAV
to have a bit more intelligence than if it were
completely autonomous.
I want to personally thank Ashley and
Je for speaking with me and doing this
interview. Up until I saw her demo at
UConn, I never would have imagined that
ying a quadcopter with nothing more
than your mind was possible. Then again,
ve years ago, I would not have imagined
that we would be able to have GPS-enabled
machines. This is very exciting as it oers a
glimpse into the future of the exciting and
rapidly expanding world of multirotor ying
machines. We wish Ashley the best of luck
in her future career and we will be anxiously
waiting to see her on the cover of Popular
Science some day soon. =
EMOTIV emotiv.com
PARROT ardrone2.parrot.com
UCONN uconn.edu
For more information, please see our source
guide on page 89.
BATTERY: 5200mAh LiPo
HOVER ACCURACY: Vertical: 0.8m; Horizontal: 2.5m
MAX TILT ANGLE: 35 degrees
CAMERA RESOLUTION: 14 megapixels
FOV: 110/85 degrees
RESOLUTION: 4238 x 3288
CONTROL RANGE: Pitch: -90 deg to 0 deg
BATTERIES: 4 AA (included)
color corrections. What really makes the
camera amazing is that the integrated
3-axis gimbal provides precision
stabilization of the roll, pan and tilt
axes, giving you extremely stable, high-
quality video footage. Two-axis gimbals
have been common for a while now, but
the addition of the third pan axis adds
a whole new level of improved video
quality. As you yaw the copter, the third
axis smoothes out your movements,
allowing you to create much more
dramatic sweeping video. However, it
is important to note that this is not a full
360-degree pan. It is limited to about
30 degrees in each direction.
One of my favorite features of the
Phantom 2 Vision+ is the integrated FPV
(rst person view). When you power up
your Phantom and turn on the Range
Extender, your smartphone will see
the Phantom as a Wi-Fi hotspot that
you connect to. As you y the copter, it
wirelessly streams a live video feed via
2.4GHz to your phone using the free DJI
app. The Phantom also includes an OSD
(On Screen Display), which displays
ight data on the app, allowing you to
monitor batery life, your altitude, your
airspeed and a new feature called Radar
Positioning. The Radar Positioning
feature displays a radar image on the
screen much like what an air tra c control o cer would use. It
displays the location of the copter in relation to the pilot, which
is located in the center. Should you ever lose
your bearings while ying you can simply use
the radar and y the copter back to the center
(home) position. You can also adjust the cameras
parameters from the app (white balance, ISO,
resolution, etc.). You can start and stop the video
and even activate the shuter to take still photos.
You can then wirelessly transfer the photos and
video from the copter to your phone for viewing
or online use. If all that was not impressive
enough, one of my favorite features that I grew
to really like is the ability to control the tilt of
the camera using the accelerometer on your
smartphone simply by tilting your phone. You
can also tilt it by moving a slider on the apps
screen with your nger. I was not a fan of that
because I dont like taking my ngers o the
controls. Typically, the tilt function would be
assigned to a knob or slider on your transmiter
which you need to manipulate, but the Phantom
2 Vision+ allows you to keep your hands on the
controls and simply tilt the transmiter with the
phone atached to achieve the desired camera aim.
The heart of the Vision+ is the Naza-M V2 ight controller with
Prior to ying the Vision+, you need to be aware
of your surroundings. Pay close attention to things
like trees, power lines and other people that might
be in the area. When you power on the Phantom,
you need to wait until the LED indicates that it has
found GPS. Do not y until this happens or you run
the risk of the Return to Home feature not working
properly. The switches on the front of the controller
previously controlled the ight modes and intelligent
orientation control on earlier Phantoms, but on the
Vision+ they are used to enter the calibration mode
and to tell the copter where the home position
is. You can connect it to the Naza-M application
software and enable those features if you like. On
the subject of calibration, it is very important that
you calibrate the compass on your rst ight and I
also suggest that you do it every time you y in a
new location. The instructions tell you how to do this
step commonly known as the Naza Dance.
While you do y the Phantom 2 Vision+ in the
air, I choose to refer to it as moving it around the
sky since when you remove your hands from the controls, the copter
will stay exactly where you left it and the Naza controller will work to
maintain that position in space until you give it another command. So
essentially, you are moving it around the sky as you shoot video. The
throttle stick is spring-loaded so it remains in the center when you let
go of it. This is different from most controllers where the throttle is
linear from low to high. You use this stick to change the altitude of the
Phantom and when you release it, it will remain at that altitude without
The integrated HD video camera provides stunning video
quality at 1080p.
The 3-axis gimbal gives you amazingly smooth video by
stabilizing the image for pan, tilt and roll.
The Phantom 2 Vision+ smartphone app allows you to con-
trol all of the camera settings.
GPS. The Naza-M is one
of the most popular ight
controllers on the market
and it gives you amazing
stability and performance
with the added benet of
position hold and return
to home capabilities. If
you ever lose orientation
you can simply power the
transmiter o and the
Phantom will return to
home and land within a
few feet of where it took o. It will also return home if you y out
of range or if the batery on the transmiter fails. It is important
to note that you do not need to be a seasoned RC pilot to have
successful aerial photography ights with the Vision+ as the
Naza-M takes all of the hard work away from the pilot. All you
need is a basic understanding of what the controls do, a bit of
patience and to be aware of your surroundings to enjoy safe and
successful ights.
The Phantom 2 Vision+ uses DJIs Smart Batery system. The
batery that comes with this Phantom is a 5200mAh lithium
polymer batery (LiPo) that gives the Phantom up to 25 minutes
of ight time. The batery is called smart because it has built-
in charge protection and maintenance reminders. The batery is
self-locking so you can simply push the batery into the Phantom
and when it clicks, its ready to go. Taking it out is just as easy. To
power up the Phantom, you press a buton on the outside, then
press again to start and the same to turn o. The new batery saves
you time and hassle. About the only downside to this new batery
is that fact that they are expensive, costing $159 each.
Another new feature on the Phantom 2 Vision+ is the No Fly
Zones. In an eort to increase ight safety and prevent accidental
ights in restricted areas like airports, the No Fly Zones feature
will not allow the Phantom to take o if within these zones. Even
though we are limited to a 400 foot ceiling when we y RC models,
if you are in a runway approach zone, ying can be disastrous so
this feature is not only innovative, but necessary; especially for
new pilots.
The Phantom 2 Vision+ is an incredible machine that makes it
easy for you to successfully y even if you are a novice pilot. The
onboard camera and new 3-axis gimbal give you professional qual-
ity results. The Phantom is loaded with features including FPV and
OSD functionality. When you factor the cost to buy everything that
is included in the turnkey Phantom 2 Vision+, it is not only a great
machine, but a very good value as well. =
UAVDIRECT uavdirect.com
For more information, please see our source guide on page 89.
any further input from the pilot. So you can think of the throttle as the altitude control. Since the Phantom
is so stable in ight, it allows you to get used to ying with a camera, especially the tilt control. You can use
the left control stick to pan the copter and subsequently tilt the phone (or controller if the phone is attached)
and you have full ability to keep your subject centered in the frame. It takes some getting used to, but once
you do, you have a very powerful aerial video platform.
I did test the return to home feature early on as it offers a level of condence once you experience it
working correctly. I ew the machine about 200 feet away and then turned off the transmitter. After about
10 seconds, the Phantom ew to about 60 feet altitude and began to y back towards me. Once overhead,
it proceeded to descend until it sat gently on the ground within a couple feet from where it took off. This is
why it is so important to wait for the machine to nd the satellites and its home position before you take off.
While I love the FPV functionality and all the data and settings that the app offers, I do nd it very hard to
y and frame shots on my iPhone 5. The
screen is great for a smartphone but, in
my opinion, it is too small for FPV ight.
I did try to use my iPad with the app
and while the image was bigger, it was
simply too heavy and large to connect to
the transmitter. Apple offers a Lightening
digital AV adapter that you plug into the
phone and it allows you to view your
entire screen on an external monitor.
This gives you the ability to view the
video on a much larger screen, making
the experience a good deal better and
more useful.
Above left: The self-tightening props deliver a ton of lift and are very quiet in the air. Above right: DJIs new 5200mAh smart battery gives ight
times of up to 25 minutes.
Greenskies Solar Energy Company
I do have the best job in the world.
Rarely do people say that these
days. Multirotors have given me a
lot of pleasure and relaxation. Join
me for a day at the o ce as we travel to Water-
ford, CT, on a real location shoot. Greenskies
is solar energy company thats making a huge
impact on our environment and our future.
Their solar panels generate megawas of elec-
tricity silently and e ciently. With customers
like Target and Wal-Mart using their products,
its nice to know that solar energy is doing its
part to save our beautiful planet. While their
products often go completely unnoticed, my
camera operator, John Kopec, and I traveled
across the tri-state area over the span of two
New England seasons to help Greenskies get
the word out.
On our nal trip we headed to the holy
grail of solar farms in Waterford, CT. Span-
ning what seems like a third of a mile, this
solar farm feeds the grid and supplies the
town with ve megawas of electrical power.
Union Productions and Go-Media con-
tacted us to bring the big boy out for some
fun. Arriving with our 1000mm Carbon Core
octocopter, we chose the Canon 5D Mark III
and Z15 Zenmuse to capture some high reso-
lution still images and 1080p video footage.
With perfect weather conditions, bright
cobalt blue skies and 75 degree temps, we
arrived with our gear. Steve and Jason from
Greenskies met us at the location and we
by Joe Papa Photos by Joe Papa
talked about the types of shots that they were
looking for. After geing the feel for what
we needed to accomplish, we chose a loca-
tion on-site that would be out of the cameras
eld of view and began to set up. Included
in our truck was a bedslidea tray the size of
the bed that unlocks and moves outward to
allow access to everything we need. Tucked
in the back was the ultra-quiet yet power-
ful Honda E6500 inverter generator. Capable
of providing us with nearly unlimited power
during our excursions, it does so without dis-
turbing or being a distraction to others. When
we arrived, all our ight packs were charged.
This allowed us to unpack and get in the air
in less than 20 minutes.
Our shots began with a fast diagonal for-
ward pass just 10 feet above the solar panels.
To keep the speed consistent, I always y in
aitude mode. Since the eld of solar pan-
els was so expansive, I stood on the roof of
the pickup trucks cab. This allowed me to
maintain line of sight visual contact with the
octo at all times. While I piloted the copter,
John was at the controls of the Zenmuse. Our
octocopter has retractable S800-style land-
ing skids that, when retracted, allowed him
to pan the Canon 5D Mark III in any direc-
tion while maintaining a view free from all
obstructions. After reaching a point in the
distance, we repeated the shot in reverse,
changing angles and altitudes over a series
of shots to provide the client with diverse
options they may not have thought of. As the
sun began to work its way toward the hori-
zon, the quality of light became buery and
absolutely exquisite. Known as the magic
hour, its the opportunity to get the money
shot, and we certainly werent going to let it
go to waste. It was during this time we did
some tracking shots of a company truck driv-
ing along the road. We came up with about
15 dierent sequences and combined tracking
shots with crossing movements and altitude
changes. While we were up there, we did a
quick series of high resolution images. If you
look very closely on the far left you can see
the white speck of the Dodge Ram pickup.
At about 7pm we said our goodbyes and
headed home to get some sunset photos of
the Sky Hero coaxial hex for the next issue
of MultiRotor Pilot magazine.
Now thats what I call a day at the o ce.
Life is good! =
GREENSKIES greenskies.com
For more information, please see our source
guide on page 89.
Mini FPV Quadcopter
250mm of pure FPV fun!
by Erick Royer
I am a huge fan of FPV ying and
the virtual experience that it gives
me. Seeing that I am a private pilot
who does not y full scale anymore,
it is the closest thing I have to geing in
the cockpit. I have a few machines that I y
FPV with but they are larger 450mm and
up which is great when you are in a large
open eld, but they are not the best when
ying in tighter spaces. When we received
the Lumenier QAV250 FPV quad, I jumped
at the chance to y it. I have been reading a
lot about these mini quads for FPV and have
seen a lot of videos online; everyone raves
at how much fun they are and now I have a
chance to see for myself.
The Lumenier QAV250 is made from very
durable G10 material. The lower frame is
all one piece and aluminum stand-os sup-
port the G10 upper deck. They include a
power distribution board, which installs
on the boom of the main frame to supply
power to the ESCs and FPV electronics. Two
integrated LED strips (white and red) illu-
minate the front and back of the copter to
aid in line-of-sight orientation. The rear of
the frame holds the LiPo baery which is
held in place with a Velcro strap, making it
easy to change between ights. The front of
the frame has plenty of room for a variety of
FPV cameras. There are bumpers designed
into the ends of the frame to protect the
motors in the event of a crash. A carbon ber
version of the QAV250 will be available as
well by the time you read this review.
To power the quad, I installed four
Lumenier FXC1806 2300Kv brushless outrun-
ner motors with four Lumenier 12 amp ESCs
with SimonK rmware. Using Gemfan 5x3
props, you will be more than impressed with
how much power this machine has. I pow-
ered the motors with a Lumenier 1300mAh
3S LiPo which gave me ight times about
between 6-8 minutes. The brain of the cop-
ter is the OpenPilot CC3D Flight Controller.
There are stand-os in the middle of the
frame specically placed for this board. To
control the Quad, I used a FrSky Taranis
X9D transmier and a FrSky X8R receiver. I
LENGTH: 8.75 in.
WIDTH: 8.2 in.
HEIGHT: 2.75 in.
BATTERY: Lumenier 1300mAh
3S 11.1V LiPo
RADIO: FrSky Taranis X9D transmitter
and a FrSky X8R receiver
MOTORS: (4) Lumenier FXC1806 2300Kv
brushless outrunners
ESCS: (4) Lumenier 12 amp ESC
with SimonK rmware
PROPS: (4) Gemfan 5x3
NEED TO COMPLETE: Four 2206 2000-
2300Kv motors, four ESCs, four 5x3
props, 1300mAh LiPo and ight controller
Thick and durable G10 main frame board.
Bumpers on the end of the arms protect
the motors during a crash.
Integrated power distribution board for
ESCs and FPV electronics.
Two integrated LED strips (white and red)
to aid in orientation.
Easy LiPo access.
Support for a variety of cameras.
Integrated landing gear.
When I got to the eld I was not sure what to expect from this little quad. It was a breezy day
and I assumed that it would be a bit of a handful in the air. My rst ight was line-of-sight,
and with a freshly charged battery and quite a bit of expo programmed in the transmitter, I
was ready to go. As I gave it throttle, this little monster bolted into the air. I totally was not
expecting it to have that much powera pleasant surprise. Once I got a feel for the throt-
tle sensitivity, I brought it back within eight feet of the ground to get a feel for its stability in
a hover. Mind you, we had a steady 10 mph breeze with gusts up to 18 mph. This OpenPilot
ight controller is not GPS enabled, but when I put the QAV250 in a hover, it felt very locked
in and was surprisingly unaffected by the wind. Minor corrections were needed to keep it in
one place, but it was nowhere near as much as I expected. Satised with its stability and hov-
ering ability, I ew some circuits around the eld for a while. It tracks very well and at times I
almost forgot it was a quad and not an airplane. My buddies were egging me on to open it up
to see how fast it would go, and I am not one to back away from peer pressure, so I boosted
the throttle and the QAV250 turned into a little rocket. It was amazing how fast this thing ies.
After about nine minutes, the throttle seemed a little mushy, indicating that the battery was
getting low, so I came back for a new battery.
The next ight was full-on FPV with the FatShark Attitudes strapped to my head. The Fat-
Shark camera is one of my favorite FPV cams to date. It is very clear with a good color
spectrum and I have no issues determining the depth of eld when ying. Some cameras
that I have used make you feel like you are much further from objects than you actually are.
Since my plan was to y this copter in some of the tighter places that I cannot y my larger
machines in, being comfortable with the camera was imperative.
Sitting in a chair, I took off into a hover at about 15 feet to get acclimated. From that point on
I became a huge fan of the Lumenier QAV250; so much so that it is my main FPV machine now.
Many times, you read reviews with the author gushing over a product and you wonder how
much of that is uff. Well I am gushing over this and I can tell you that this little machine is a
blast to y and I have several buddies that will back me up on this after they had a spin. In fact,
I felt like I was going to need to hire a security guard to keep my QAV from disappearing behind
my back. Everyone wanted one. The owner of our local hobby shop, RC Hobbies and More
in Winsted, CT, came out and everyone demanded that he carry these quads. I called Sean at
GetFPV.com and handed him the phone and by the time you read this, they will be the proud
dealer of the Lumenier FPV quads.
Back to the FPV experiencesince the copter is so small and the eld of view on the camera
is so good, I felt very comfortable ying in, around and through objects. The frame produces
no Jell-O in the video, which left me with a very pleasurable experience. The controls were
spot-on and in FPV mode, I was able to perform slow movements in tight quarters as well as
high speed runs that were all effortless. I was very impressed with the OpenPilot ight control-
ler. It did a great job at maintaining stability. On subsequent ights, I lowered the expo to make
the controls a little hotter. After about six ights, the sun was going down and I had to call it
quits, at least for FPV, as the camera does not work as well in low light conditions. So I switched
back to line-of-sight and got a couple more ights in. The integrated LEDs made it very easy to
maintain orientation as the sun went down.
also have a professional travel case designed
by GoProfessional Cases that is specically
water jet-cut for the QAV250 and sold by
Assembly of the QAV250 is very straight-
forward and the manual that they provide
online is outstanding. The entire copter can
be built and ready for ight in less than two
hours, and that takes into consideration that I
have never used the OpenPilot board before
so I had to learn how to set it up as well.
For FPV, I installed a FatShark Aitude SD
V2 FPV goggle system, which came with a
250mW video transmier and 600TVL tuned
CMOS camera and the goggles have an inte-
grated 5.8GHz receiver. To ensure that I had
the best possible video quality, I installed Fat-
Shark SpiroNet circular polarized antennas
on the goggles and transmier.
If you love FPV as much as I do and have
not experienced ying FPV with a mini
quad, I strongly suggest that you check out
the Lumenier QAV250. It is very well-built
and with the recommended combination
of power system and ight controller, it
has amazing performance and is easy to
y. Combine your 250 with an FPV sys-
tem like the FatShark Aitude SD V2 or for
an even more breathtaking experience, try
using the Zeiss Cinemizer glasses reviewed
in this issue. Even if you dont want to y
FPV, the QAV250 is a great ying mini
quad that will handle well with wind. It ts
easily in your car so you can y whenever
you get the urge. GetFPV.com is the sup-
plier of the Lumenier product line in the
U.S. and after working closely with them
over the past month, I can tell you that they
are very knowledgeable and their website
has just about anything that you can imag-
ine for multirotors and FPV ying. Be sure
to check them out if you are in the market
for any FPV equipment. =
GETFPV.COM getfpv.com
For more information, please see our source
guide on page 89.
Shooting the Red Bull
Words and Photos by Petr Hejl
In the hobby of aerial videogra-
phy, we spend countless hours
learning, tuning, experimenting,
building, rebuilding and upgrading. The
reward for all our eorts is the joy of geing
our machines up in the air for those few pre-
cious minutes and the great feeling when
we know we got the money shot. Being
able to y in so many dierent places, get-
ting to see them from perspectives not seen
by many before and meeting all the great
people I wouldnt have met otherwise are
my favorite parts of this hobby. My entrance
into the RC hobby was through 1/10-scale
short course truck racing and while most of
my RC time is now spent up in the air, I still
have a great aection for o-road RC rac-
ing. When I got the opportunity to y at the
Red Bull Frozen Rush race, it was like dying
and going to RC heaven. The Red Bull Fro-
zen Rush was an event held at Sunday River
Ski Resort in Newry, Maine. A ski slope was
turned into a race track (gure 8 with jump
crossing-over) and eight 900 horsepower
Pro-4 4X4 trucks were equipped with stud-
ded tires (700 studs in each tire) to move up
the ski slope at unbelievable speeds. This
was the rst time these trucks were being
raced on the snow and it was promising to
be a prey epic event. I sent my video reel to
the production company along with an oer
they could not refuse, oering to trade them
the footage for an opportunity to y. I was
not a commercial UAV operator anyway and
really wanted to see and y at a place like
this. It was a pleasant surprise to get the call
asking me if I was available to do this even
though it was only three days before the
event. After spending a couple of late nights
geing my 550s and the rest of my gear
ready (at the time, I had two DJI F550s with
2-axis gimbals), I set out for a short ve hour
drive up north.
It may be di cult to explain to my friends
who are lucky enough to only tell its win-
ter by looking at their calendar, but winter
ying can be just as great of an experience
as any other time of the year as long as the
machine, pilot and the baeries are properly
winterized. I was lucky to catch season-
ably warm temperatures around
15F (-10C) and just a slight breeze, so my
controller mi, gel warmer packs, and bat-
tery pouches came really handy.
After a morning call, I was assigned a loca-
tion and area to y, got my pass, radio, a
fashionable reective vest and my personal
chaueur - on a snowmobile. Here came a
valuable lesson and the ride of my life. I did
not have my equipment in Pelican cases yet
(never really needed them before), so get-
ting two copters, a ground station, baeries
and the generator halfway up the ski slope
was quite an adventure. We loaded all my
stu into the sled and I was holding the cop-
ters by the arms with my hands stretched to
my side as we went up the slope. With noth-
ing more than a quick prayer to hold onto, I
kept myself entertained by the looks on the
faces of the spectators as we went by. I set up
on location about half way up the track and
spent a couple of hours geing some b-roll
shots of the mountains and ski slopes while
waiting for the race. I was only allowed to y
over the top half of the track, far away from
the spectator area along the boom part of
the slope and was asked not to hover directly
over the path of the trucks and to stay above
tree tops. The race itself was an elimination-
style two-lap timed run. The trucks were not
starting at the same time (this would be sim-
ply too dangerous in this environment); there
was about 20 second gap between them. When
the race started, I learned another valuable
lesson: always bring a back-up (two of eve-
rything). After I turned my copter on for the
rst run and even though it worked with no
problems the entire morning, I had no video
downlink (I later discovered my video trans-
mier must have gured this was the best time
to quit working). Nothing was more liberating
than grabbing my second machine and get-
ting it up in the air just in time. I was having a
bit of a hard time keeping my hands steady on
the controls as these 900 horsepower monsters
ew right by me with a deafening roar. The
biggest challenge was geing the right angle
as my perspective was quite a bit skewed by
being on a steep slope. Looking up the slope
meant the trucks went through the frame too
quickly, looking down the slope made them
seem too small. I think the best shots I was able
to get were when I parked it to the side of
the slope, looking at about 45 degrees to the
right or left and by following the trucks up and
down the slope (while still over the tree tops).
The fun I had ying and watching the shots
on my screen well- outweighed the wish that
I had a bit more of a free hand. After the race I
had an opportunity to visit the pits, check the
trucks out up-close and meet some of the rac-
ers. The excitement from this great day helped
me stay awake on my brisk ve hour drive
back home. Ive own countless hours in many
dierent places, but this lifetime experience
still holds the number one spot on my list. =
Please visit notadrone.com for information on Petr
Hejl and his work.
DJI Innovations is one of the pioneers of the multirotor industry
and their high-end ight control equipment and camera gimbals
are considered to have set the industry standard. To give hobbyists
a somewhat aordable kit that is fairly easy to set up and modify
for desired purposes,
they introduced their
Flamewheel series
and Naza-M ight
controllers in 2012.
While the smaller F330
and F450 quadcopters
are fun iers and can
be used to carry a small
camera, the DJI F550
Hexacopter deserves
consideration by anyone
looking for a multirotor capable of carrying a GoPro in a gimbal. The
F550 is a very popular platform amongst multirotor videography
enthusiasts for a few good reasons: it is fairly aordable (not cheap,
but a good value for your money), its rather easy to assemble, made
by an established manufacturer with a U.S. dealer network and great
spare parts availability, it has many available upgrades and accessories
as well as a ton of useful online resources (guides, forums, groups)
that can support you when learning how to y or troubleshooting
problems. To name one, our DJI F550 Owners page on Facebook has
now grown to 2,300+ members worldwide and has became the go-to
place for advice and sharing experiences with others.
Our kit was supplied to us by RC Madness located in Eneld, CT. They
are a full-line hobby shop that specializes in the Flamewheel line from
DJI. They have expert sta that can customize these machines to work
DJI gives you an eye in the sky!

TYPE: Hexacopter
FOR: Intermediate to advanced pilots
PRICE: $549.99 (Kit with ESCs, motors and
Naza-M V2 control system)
by Petr Hejl
Authors Opinion
The DJI F550 is a great machine for
amateur and even professional aerial video
enthusiasts. It is very durable and easy to
assemble. The combo kit comes with the
Naza-M V2 ight controller with GPS. This is
one of the most widely supported multirotors
online and there are tons of communities
(Facebook, forums, YouTube and blogs) that
are dedicated to supporting the F550. There
are also a ton of aftermarket accessories that
really allow you to expand the capabilities
of what you can do with your F550. It is an
excellent, versatile hexacopter for just about
any light-duty application.
Multirotor RC aircraf are denitely a booming segment of the RC hobby market and
it is amazing to see how many dierent aircraf and accessory manufacturers have
joined the multirotor revolution. The models available vary in size and purpose
from small nano-sized quadcopters to huge, heavy-lif octocopters used to carry
video or other equipment. This article is about the DJI F550 hexacopter from DJI Innovations
Flamewheel series and its strength as a multi-purpose platform, from simple sport ying to FPV
to aerial photography and videography.
The 2912/92Kv motors coupled with the E300 15 amp ESCs provided by DJI in the combo kit offer a great balance of
power, agility and long ight times.
FRAME WEIGHT: 16.9 oz.
FLYING WEIGHT: 2.6 5.3 lbs. (depending on options and batteries)
PROPELLERS: Three 9x4 CW, three 9x4 CCW (self-tightening, include with combo kit)
RADIO: Futaba 14SG with Futaba R7008SB receiver
POWER SYSTEM: (6) DJI 2212/920Kv brushless motors, (6) DJI E300 15 amp Opto ESCs
(included in combo kit)
FLIGHT CONTROLLER: DJI Naza-M V2 with GPS (included with combo kit)
BATTERY: MaxAmps 5450mAh 14.8v 120C 4S LiPo
NEEDED TO COMPLETE: Minimum six-channel radio system, 4S LiPo battery
Frame arms use PA66+30GF ultra-strength material design providing optimal
Integrated compound PCB frame board makes wiring the ESC, battery and accessories
safe and easy
The optimized frame design provides lots of assembly space for the ight controller and
related accessories
The included Naza-M V2 ight controller provides lots of functionality including full GPS
ight assistance and return-to-home failsafe
The stock landing gear is short, which requires that you buy an aftermarket one if you
intend to use a GoPro with a gimbal
There are a few laws in place that regulate the use of UAVs. They must
be own under 400 feet, away from the airports and heavily populated
areas and kept in visual range. It is easy to follow these rules and still get
great footage and have fun ying your F550. Lots of common sense and
self-discipline need to be exercised to keep everyone safe. There are some
state and local laws regulating the recreational use of these too, so please
check what they are for your location. When you bring your copter places,
youll meet many curious and even concerned folks with many questions.
Be a good ambassador to our hobby and take some time to explain them
what is it youre using these for. Peoples concerns are mostly coming from
the fear of the unknown and a bad rap the drones get in media, so
every opportunity to show and explain that not all of them are merciless
killing and spying machines is good.
The F550 in its stock conguration is relatively light (around two
pounds) which is good and bad. The good is that you can see ight times
exceeding 15 minutes (depending on the battery you use), but because
of its light weight, it is more susceptible to being tossed around on windy
days. However, The Naza-M in GPS mode does an amazing job of keeping
the copter in place without any input from you.
The stock motor and props make the stock F550 fairly aggressive in the
sky with plenty of power to climb and produce quick forward speeds. By
adding a small camera and video goggles, like one of the Fatshark or Zeiss
systems, the F550 can be an excellent FPV machine although many prefer
tri or quadcopters for FPV use.
Where the F550 really shines is when you add a gimbal and a GoPro
(or similar) camera system, as well as a video transmitter with a monitor
and receiver in a ground station. The F550 is small enough to maneuver
into tight spaces to get those seemingly impossible shots from the air.
Larger hex and octocopters can be too large for many applications. I own
a pair of F550s that I used specically for my aerial videography business,
NotaDrone.com. To read about my system, including what gimbals I use,
my video equipment, ground station and my landing gear, please visit
mulitrotorpilotmag.com/notadrone, as there is simply too much to cover
in this article.
The arms of the F550 key into the main frame plates to ease in
the assembly process as well as to provide un-matched dura-
bility during hard landings or unforeseen crashes.
for your specic application. I mention this because it is important to
nd a shop that can oer this support. The F550 is not a hard machine
to put together, but seting things up improperly can lead to frustration
and it is always nice to be able to rely on a local source to help you
when you need it.
While the ARF kit gives you the frame (top plate, botom plate
with integrated power distribution board and six arms), six DJI
2212/920Kv brushless motors, six E300 15A OPTO ESCs and a set of
self-tightening nine-inch props, it is prety far from ARF and you
still need a few more things before you can take to the sky. There is
also a crash kit available which includes just the frame and arms for
those unforeseen incidents. The botom center plate serves as a power
distribution board with soldering pads by each arm for the ESCs and a
set for the batery power leads.
The manual is available from DJIs website. Some of the directions
are still very crudely translated, but with a litle patience, its very
helpful. DJI also has some nice build videos to help you along. Their
DJI Wiki website is a great knowledge-base full of good articles and
The DJI 2212/920Kv brushless motors are powerful enough to
carry the weight of the F550 with the gimbal, GoPro and all other
accessories. While they are not the fastest motors out there, they do not
leave me wishing for more speed either (slow and smooth motion is
desired for taking videos with a gimbal anyway). They work ne on
3S and 4S bateries; watch the temps with 4S in hot weather or afer
spirited ights. The motors can be upgraded to faster/heavier-load
motors if your particular needs require them. If you decide to upgrade
your motors, spend some time researching prop selection based on
your motor choice and batery. If your setup requires 12 inch and
larger props, you will need longer arms or arm extensions which are
readily available online.

DJI E300 15A OPTO ESCs are rated up to 4S and work well out of
the box without any required initial setup. The standard location for
the ESCs is under the arms. I strongly recommend puting some hot
glue over the solder joints once you solder the ESCs and batery/PMU
leads to the pads on the botom plate. This helps protect the joints from
vibration and solder pads from being pulled o in crashes. Use zip-ties
to hold ESC and motor wires in place. Be cautious not to over-tighten
the zip-ties as you dont want them to cut into the wires.
The most recent kits come with self-tightening nine-inch props
which are smooth and exible and are my props of choice with the
stock motors. I also use Gemfan 1045 carbon-reinforced props which
are much sturdier and feel more aggressive with less ex than the
stock props.
The props should be balanced to reduce vibration that shows
as Jell-O in the GoPro images
(unbalanced props are a number
one reason for Jell-O eect in the
video caused by vibration). Due to
its symmetric shape, it is a good idea
to add LED lights along some arms
to dene the orientation of the hex
a litle beter. Silicone-covered LED
strips last longer than strips with
LEDs exposed.
The Naza-M V2 sits about in the
middle of the ight controller price
scale and it is a robust and reliable
controller to complement the F550
hexacopter. It features three ight
modes - manual, ATTI (altitude
The GPS module or puck for the
Naza-M ight controller, outtted
with different colored strips of tape to
depict magnetic north and true north
directions, allowing for a straight and
true ight path.
A shot of the F550 fully outtted for
video duties. Notice the LEDs on the
arms to both aid in gaining orientation
as well as allowing for night ight ca-
pabilities. The forward location of the
GoPro camera mounted on the Tarot
T2-D gimbal is offset by placing the
ight battery in a more aft position.
The Aero-X-Craft landing gear provide
the needed clearance for the camera
and gimbal.
hold), and GPS (position hold). Its failsafe mode lands or returns the
copter to the launch point if transmiter signal is lost. It also features
two orientation control modes (home lock, course lock), low voltage
protection (warning/auto-land), geo-fencing (altitude/distance limits)
and gimbal control. While the Naza-M V2 is available without it,
the GPS/compass module is a must to enjoy all of the Naza-Ms
functionality. The Naza-M should be installed as close to the center
of gravity as possible; the best location is in the center of the botom
plate to stay protected. There is a small arrow on the unit that must
be pointed directly at the nose of the aircraf otherwise it will not y
Naza-M assistant sofware is required for setup and can be
downloaded from DJIs website. It is available for both Windows and
Mac platforms. It is helpful to download and open the assistant before
building the F550, as it provides a lot of useful information about
mounting locations and wiring. You can simply hover over dierent
sections under tabs with your mouse to reveal explanation and
directions in the window to the lef. iPhone users (no Android at the
time) can enjoy the convenience of a mobile assistant app by using the
optional Bluetooth module (BTU). The app is very handy when tuning
the F550 in the eld, even up in the air, making any adjustments a
breeze without having to plug the unit into the computer. Please note
that if youre planning to use a Zenmuse gimbal, the communication
hub (Can-Bus Hub) is also required to be able to plug both the
Zenmuse and BTU in at the same time. Alternatively, you can unplug
the Zenmuse for the times you need to use the BTU module and
save yourself some money. Tarot T2-D gimbal works independently
from main controller, leaving the Can-hub plug free for the Bluetooth
The GPS/compass unit comes with a small mast and couple of
3M VHB dual-sided tape pads. Its usual mounting location is on the
top plate and the distance of the GPS unit from the center of gravity
(the main controller location) needs to be accurately entered in the
Mounting section of the assistant app. The arrow on the GPS should
be pointed at the nose of the aircraf, but its exact direction needs to
be adjusted for magnetic declination (the angle between magnetic
north and true north) in your particular area. The declination slightly
changes with area and time and the compass adjustment is necessary
for the aircraf to y straight. Please see our article explaining magnetic
declination and online tools and apps to help you in our areas by
visiting multirotorpilotmag.com/declination. Turn the GPS (clockwise
for positive, counterclockwise for negative) so that the arrow on the
GPS points in the same direction as the magnetic north in the picture
on your phone/computer. There are four tiny adhesive strips in the
box that can be used to mark the true and magnetic north directions
on the unit. Readjust for declination if you travel far away from
your usual ying area. The GPS and gyro can be calibrated using
the assistant sofware and its a good practice to occasionally check
if the calibration is needed (the assistant app will tell you that). The
compass is calibrated by a procedure referred to as a Naza dance
and the instructions for this procedure can be found in the manual or
the Naza-M iPhone app. For best performance, I strongly recommend
doing the compass calibration procedure every time you move to a
dierent location.
The main controller comes with separate power management unit
(PMU), which provides power to the controller and also serves as a
communication hub (the GPS and other accessories plug into it). The
PMU is rated up to 6S, but the 15A DJI E300 ESCs are only rated up to
4S (which is plenty). The PMU power leads get soldered to the same
pads as the batery power leads; I strongly recommend soldering
another set of 14GA wires to the batery lead pads for your accessories
(gimbal, video transmiter, LEDs, etc.). Install the PMU in between
the center plates as far away from the controller as the two cables in
between them will allow. Plug the GPS and accessories into the PMU
before taping it in place to make sure the plugs are still accessible in
the location you chose. I taped my PMU to the underside of the top
plate, close to the edge, so I can easily get to the plugs if needed.
There are a few ight parameters that need to be setup in Naza-M V2.
The gains are perhaps the most important to set up and the hardest to
get right. The gains control the atitude of the aircrafhow quickly it
reacts to the stick input (atitude gains) or how quickly it returns to level/
GPS position with no input to the sticks (basic gains). The gains seting
depends on the batery/props/ motors used, wind conditions, weight of
the aircraf and pilots preference. The basic gains can be
set separately for pitch/roll/yaw/vertical direction, while the atitude gains
have pitch and roll seting. A good starting point for a fully loaded (gear,
gimbal, GoPro) F550 is 135 percent for pitch and roll,
120 percent for yaw, 145 percent for vertical basic gains and
120 percent for both pitch and roll atitude gains. If the basic gains are set
too low, the aircraf will oscillate a few feet in corresponding direction and
will have a hard time locking in the GPS location. Basic gains too high
will cause it to oscillate quickly (shake) in corresponding direction. If the
atitude gains are too high, the copter will react very aggressively to the
stick input (not great for smooth videos). Atitude gains set too low will
make it lazy, and less responsive. A good way to set the basic gains is
to bring each of them to the point that the copter quickly oscillates, turn
it down until the oscillation completely stops and then down another 10
percent. The atitude gains can be set up by observing the copters reaction
to the pitch/roll stick input and adjusting the gains up or down to make it
more/less responsive. The gains can be tuned using the Naza-M assistant
app (it requires you to land and plug the Naza-M into the computer for
every gain adjustment. Seting up the gains this way takes a painfully
long time). They can also be tuned using the DJI BTU Bluetooth module
and Naza-M iPhone app (with a litle practice this can be done mid-air
to instantly see the result of changes, speeding up the whole process). If
you have an available knob or slider on your RC controller, it can be set
up so that the gains can be adjusted by turning the knob (remote gain
adjustment). The gains should rst be set using the app to get them in the
right proportion. Once youre happy with the aircrafs atitude, enable
the remote gain adjustment with your setings being at the mid-point
of the knob. Turning the knob up or down instantly adjusts the gains.
This works great for ne adjustments (to compensate for wind and other
conditions). While the gain values are set separately for each axis, they do
aect each other, and it takes a litle patience to get them right. The reward
for this patience is a nicely behaving and condence-inspiring copter, with
no unnecessary wobbles in the images or video captured.
The DJI F550 is a great machine for shooting amateur aerial video
and lends itself to being possibly the coolest GoPro mount ever. With
practice and a properly set up machine, you can shoot some really
jaw-dropping videos and have tons of fun taking them too. The F550
is a very versatile machine and many people call it the Swiss Army
Knife of multirotors. If you are graduating from a smaller multirotor
and want to dabble in aerial video/photography but want the ability
to customize your machine, then the DJI Flamewheel F550 is denitely
worth the investment. =
GOPRO gopro.com
MAXAMPS maxamps.com
NOTADRONE notadrone.com
RC MADNESS rcmadness.com
For more information, please see our source guide on page 89.
Nothing in radio control history has
changed business more than mul-
tirotors. While all the uses have yet
to be fully realized, the benets are
nothing short of staggering. DJI has led the
paradigm shift with their technological prow-
ess, but Zero Tech has developed their own
ight controller and incorporates features that
may leave even DJI scrambling to catch up. To
nd out more about Zero Tech and the Gemini
series of ight controllers, I traveled to UAV
Direct in Liberty Hill, Texas.
When I arrived, I spent some time get-
ting to know the UAV Direct Sta, got a tour
of the facility and had the pleasure of meet-
ing Eric and Brooks, two of the industrys most
knowledgeable and passionate UAV special-
ists. During the two days I was there, Eric and
Brooks took countless tech support calls, han-
dled walk-in customers, did repairs and talked
with me about their custom builds. So often,
retailers in this industry have forgoen what
service is and resort to voicemail or email for
the majority of their correspondence and com-
munication. UAV Direct customers get VIP
treatment both on the phone and in person.
The Zero Tech Gemini M has a few fea-
tures that are not available from DJI. Aimed
directly at the professional or serious enthu-
siast that wants the ultimate in peace of
mind and reliability, the Gemini has the abil-
ity to automatically switch to a backup IMU,
GPS or main controller in the event of a fail-
ure in ight. Included with the E1100 is a
integrated safety parachute recovery system
Steve Klindworth,
CEO of UAV Direct.
by Joe Papa
Brooks performing a test ight with FLIR Infrared Camera
designed for search and rescue. Paul from Minute Man
Search and Rescue (shown on the center of the screen)
used this to obtain footage of widespread re damage that
tragically destroyed a small neighborhood. The footage
obtained with the Phantom was featured on local news.
and the
Zero Tech
product line
that is automatically deployed if the aitude
of the copter exceeds 70 degrees of angle
while simultaneously shuing down the
motors. A channel on the radio can be used
to arm and disarm the system as well as
override it if the pilot desires. The parachute
lid is controlled by a servo and deployed
by a spring. Tethers to the airframe are tied
to three of the copters arms. These features
will likely be very aractive to both pilots
and regulatory legislation.
Another amazing feature included in the
E1100 is a ground station Data Link, but
while the DJI version requires a receiver on
the ground, the Gemini uses a Wi-Fi trans-
mier to send the data directly to your
smartphone or tablet. The transmier creates
its own Gemini network and instantly con-
nected without exception each time I tried.
All aspects of the conguration are made
wirelessly via the tablet.
Another feature DJI users have begged for
is a way to monitor excessive vibration. Long
considered the cause of unexplained crashes,
the Gemini provides a vibration rating on
a scale of 0-10. While hovering, the number
never exceeded one, which indicated the air-
frame was not experiencing any type of issues,
and I didnt balance the props at all.
The E1100 arrived mostly assembled and
completely wired. Its carbon ber arms fold
down in a similar fashion to the S1000. The
frame utilized is more rigid and robust than I
expected it to be, despite having arms that are
smaller in diameter.
The Gemini controller was factory
installed and the connections are very sim-
ilar to DJI controllers. One cable connects
the two controllers together for autopilot
redundancy and every wire was labeled
for simple identication.
Eric installing an interference board.
UAV Directs Drone 101 training class.
While the software interface isnt as rened
as others Ive used, it isnt terribly di cult
to decipher if you spend some time geing
accustomed to it. The most di cult aspect
was determining the type of copter motor
conguration to select. For example, there
are two Octocopter motor setups. One is a
cross Octo, and the other is an X Octo. They
both sound the same and nding documen-
tation to clarify which is a at traditional
Octo and which was the coaxial quad Octo
was more di cult than I care to admit. In
the end, the X Octo was the at one, which
was counterintuitive to my DJI DNA. Com-
pass calibration is also a bit more precise.
Using the Android tablet software, you start
the calibration with a buon and do the typ-
ical dance like you would expect. However,
the copter must remain nearly perfectly level
while rotating it. If you tilt it more than ve
degrees, an LED indicator will let you know
you are messing it up. You have to dance
with it for at least two turns for each step.
Once the rst step is complete, you touch
the calibrate vertical buon and tilt the
nose down for two more precision turns. I
dont know about you, but I got dizzy just
typing this. Because of the precision needed,
it took Brooks and me about three aempts.
When done correctly, the app will display
two circles. If they overlap and are about the
same size, you are good to go.
Whenever I pilot a new controller for the
rst time, I always weigh down the land-
ing gear with sandbags. I spool up the props
with light throle, and test the forward, back,
right and left movements to ensure they
all go in the direction intended. I give just
enough stick movement to look for a hint
of frame movement. With no issues appar-
ent, I removed the sandbags and took o. It
only took a moment to realize that this ight
controller has a very unique feel. Its just so
smooth and easy to control. The system exib-
its amazing stability and inspires the pilot
with unrivaled condence. It was an experi-
ence that left Brooks and me smiling from ear
to ear. In comparison to the S1000, the E1100
was absolutely more enjoyable to y. It was
actually very relaxing to pilot this machine.
Before I caught my ight home, I was
fortunate enough to spend the followng
morning with the UAV Direct sta, as they
taught their weekly Drone 101 introductory
training class. The class starts o in a large
conference room where Eric used a white
board and a DJI Phantom to cover the basics
before moving outside for a demo. Both
the S1000 and Phantom were demonstrated
that morning. Overall, I couldnt have had a
more enjoyable experience during my stay.
The UAV Direct sta is very knowledgeable
and devoted to a level of customer service
that raises the bar to a new high. They believe
that education and training are the keys to
keeping this safe for everyone now and in the
future. I dont know if this is a Texas thing,
or if its the Yerba Mate tea they all drink, but
UAV Direct is a prey special place. Check
them out. Youll be glad you did. =
UAV DIRECT uavdirect.com
For more information, please see our source
guide on page 89.
The Zero Tech Gemini M ight control system with
redundant controllers.
The FLIR camera is installed on a
gimbal on the DJI Phantom.
Three-axis stabilization seems to be the flavor of this season.
As Im writing this, the online groups are lighting up with
test videos of the newly arrived Zenmuse H3-3D and many
are calling it a game changer. The H3-3D sure is a nice piece of
equipment with great stabilization and straightforward installation (Im
hesitant to use the term Plug & Play when it comes to anything
multirotor) which makes it a nice option for anyone looking for some
silky smooth footage without much effort put into tuning. I often
compare DJI to Apple. Their products are nicely designed and fairly easy
to operate and install, however they usually come with limitations that
leave one looking at some other, more customizable options.
For Zenmuse, these limitations are the inability to control third axis
(third axis is currently follow-only) and not-so-precise tilt control
(absence of stick rate mode). While I was patiently waiting for my H3-3D
to arrive, I came
across the DYS
Smart 3-axis gimbal and decided to give it a try. This gimbal is not plug
& play and requires quite a bit of tuning and tinkering to take
advantage of all it has to offer. I would definitely not recommend it to
anyone just getting into the hobby or anyone without a good amount of
patience, passion for building and the ability to invest a considerable
amount of time into learning and tuning it. The DYS utilizes a BaseCam
8-bit 3-axis board which is programmed via USB cable with Basecams
assistant app. This app allows many setting and adjustment possibilities
and this process may seem quite daunting for novices.
The ports on the control board allow a connection to the receiver and
three channels can be used to control any of the axis or switch between
operating profiles and various functions. I assigned my tilt and pan
by Petr Hejl
Smart 3-axis
GoPro Gimbal
control to the side levers on my Futaba 8FG
and used one three-position switch to select
operating profiles. I set one profile with
motors off (great if I need to reset the gimbal
or push buttons on the GoPro), one profile
with third-axis follow-only and tilt controlled
in stick rate mode and one with pan and tilt
controlled in stick position mode. A buzzer
can be connected to the board for the gimbal
to give audible signals (low battery, profiles)
and a small push-button can be added to
switch between profiles and other user
selectable options. It is possible to easily
switch between single and two-operator
setups. Encoder joysticks can be plugged in to
give tilt/pan/roll control if the gimbal is used
as a handheld. After close to 15 hours of
tuning, wiring and six-point calibrations, I
had the gimbal tuned to the point where I
was reasonably happy with it.
The gimbal is fairly well built, but they do
seem to come from a few different sources
and user experiences vary (beware that there
are also some low-grade counterfeits on the
market). The gimbal uses compression
vibration dampeners between two nicely cut
carbon fiber plates and features nice fit and finish on the arms. The
wiring is pulled through the hollow shaft of the third axis motor, but the
absence of the slip ring and the fact the GoPro video/power cable is not
pulled through this ring means that the third axis is not quite a
360-degree free-spin. With a bit of a stretch, it may do one 360, but it
wont do two full rotations. A separate low-profile GoPro cable is needed
to power the camera and transmit the video.
I installed the gimbal on my DJI F550 with Aero-x-craft landing gear. I
brought the gimbal forward and hung it as low as I could to get the gear
and props out of the view. Flying with the third axis in follow mode is
great as it smoothes out the side-to-side wobbles, but takes some
getting used to when framing the shots because of the delay it causes to
the pan motion. I am still learning how to account for this delay in
different situations, as it actually makes it a bit more difficult to hold the
shot when I need to follow a moving object while panning the copter
around it. I discovered that the dampening blocks were a bit too soft,
allowing gimbal to float a little too much, causing the image to shake. I
used a set of dampeners from my old Tarot gimbal and that seems to
have corrected this issue. So far, I have about five hours of flight time
with this gimbal and am very pleased with the results. The footage is
very smooth and Im able to do long, sweeping shots without annoying
side-to side wobbles. My next project is fitting this gimbal on a Tarot
T680 with retracts, so I can take even more advantage of its 3-axis control
The DYS Smart 3-axis gimbal is a well-priced option for advanced
(and very patient) hobbyists or professionals who are looking for the
ability to tune the gimbal to their liking or a two-operator control. If set
up correctly, it will reward you with silky smooth footage that will make
you forget about that stabilization check box in your editing software.
I would like to thank my friend Mike Kraus for his guidance through
the set-up process. =
HOBBYKING hobbyking.com
NOTADRONE notadrone.com
For more information, please see our source guide on page 89.
PHONE: 813-932-6001
by John Kopec
Now that you are the proud
owner of a new GoPro
Hero3+ Black edition camera with fully-
charged bateries and you just installed a
lightning-fast microSD card, you can just
point and shoot, right? Then you feel your
condence waning as you boot up the
camera and a big question marked looms
in your mindhuh? 1080p or 2.7k? NTSC
or PAL? 48fps or 24fps? What do all these
numbers mean? Afer all, you just want
to shoot some video, right? Well, lets take
a brief look over all the setings, break it
down, and learn which setings are beter
for your environment.
As mentioned earlier, you are going to
want to make sure you are using your
GoPro Hero3+ with a fast microSD card.
If you dont have a fast enough card, a
GoPro camera starts to reduce the bit
rate (read: quality) to compensate for
the lack of write speed and in some cases
the camera wont even record. GoPro rec-
ommends you use at least a Class 10 microSD card up
to 64GB with their cameras. You should note that not all
Class 10 cards have the same write speed and the Black
edition needs a minimum write speed, so please refer to
GoPros recommendation list on their website if you have that specic camera.
Next to set up is your cameras video broadcast standard: NTSC or PAL. While we dont
need to know all the nuts and bolts between the two standards, just know that NTSC is
30fps and PAL is 25fps. Here in the U.S. and in most of North America, we use the NTSC
standard and almost everywhere else uses PAL. For a complete list of countries and which
standards they use, a
quick Google search can
tell you more.
Now to set our correct
frame rate. As I just men-
tioned, here in the U.S. we
use 30fps, or frames per
second, as a standard for
Frame Rates &
our television broadcasting. But, to confuse
you, there is actually another standard that
the lm/cinema industry uses: 24fps. Quick
history lessonit is commonly thought that
24 frames per second became the standard
because it was least amount of frames to use,
but still have the lm look real and smooth,
not choppy and uncomfortable to watch. As
you might expect, shooting on lm was (and
still is) an expensive way to capture motion.
When you think that some movies can take
several hundreds of thousands of feet of
lm during production, even one frame per
second can save a production lots of money.
Thus, thats how lm standard of 24 frames
per second, or 24p, as it is commonly called,
was born.
So what should you choose? It really is
personal preference. Many untrained eyes
cant discern the dierence, so its not a
crucial decision either way. If you are on the
fence, Ill leave you with this. Besides adding
a cinematic feel to your footage, shooting
at 24 frames per second will result in smaller
le sizes, leaving you with more room on
your card. Because you are capturing six
frames per second less then 30p, you are
freed up by 20 percent, which leaves more
room on the card for lming your next sky-
diving outing.
Youll also notice other frame rate options,
such as 60p or 120p. These higher frame
rates are great for recording an event that
you know youll want to see in slow motion
during playback. Essentially, the camera will
record extra frames per second knowing that
when you bring it back to your computer,
you are going to stretch the video out back
to 24p or 30p, whichever frame rate youd
like for your project. This way of shooting
is commonly called overcranking. (By the
way, this is a great word to throw around
when talking frame rates to make you sound
like you really know what you are doing.) If
you dont overcrank and you stretch regular
24p footage by double, you are going to get
a choppy feel when you play it back. This
is because each frame is told to play itself
twice before going on to the next frame. You
will get slower footage, but nothing that is
pleasing to the eye or is comfortable to watch.
If we overcrank to 60p, we now have the
ability to smoothly slow down the footage
2.5 times (60/24=2.5), and if we overcrank
even more to 120p, we can smoothly slow it
even further to ve times the original speed.
Once you have chosen the right frame rate,
youll want to make a choice on your reso-
lution. Currently, the GoPro Hero3+ Black
edition can shoot over 10 types of resolution,
from 4k down to WVGA. But John, I just
want to shoot HD footage, is there a mode
for that? Well, lets dive right in to beter
understand the dierent options and see
what each of them can do. Lets start at the
lowest resolution, WVGA. WVGA, which
stands for Wide Video Graphics Array, has
a resolution of 848 pixels wide by 480 pixels
high with a ratio of 16x9, which is the most
common aspect ratio today. Now if this were
1992, this would be fantastic, but unfortu-
nately, it is 2014 and is no longer impressive.
So why, might you ask, would this option
be included in the camera? Well, because the
cameras computer doesnt have to worry
about recording all the other pixels on the
sensor, it can take the resolution of 848x480
and overcrank the frame rates to 240p, or
10 times slower than 24p. While most of your
projects wont need this type of frame rate,
it will come in handy if you want to capture,
say, a hummingbird chilling out in your
Next up you have 720p, which has a pixel
size of 1280x720, giving it an aspect ratio of
16x9. While technically considered HD, 720p
in 2014 is thought to be not that impressive
when capturing video. However, the same
applies to 720p just as it does to WVGA; you
can get higher frames rates, up to 120p.
The most common resolution to lm in
currently would be in full HD, or 1080p.
This is this resolution of Blu-ray discs and
streaming video services such as Netix.
With a ratio of 16x9, you are geting a pixel
size of 1920x1080. GoPro oers a variation of
the 1080p resolution with an aspect ration of
4:3 and pixel size of 1440. While this square
aspect ratio was the standard for TV up
through the 90s, it has fallen out of vogue
now that widescreen,
or 16x9 is able to be shot
on cameras. Why would
you want to shoot with
this format? One reason
would be if you wanted
the ability to pick which
portion of the frame you
wanted to use, either the
botom, middle, or top,
and crop the rest out to
a 16x9 aspect ratio. For
those that y multirotors this might come in
handy to crop out the sections of the video
where you see your props poke in on the top
of the frame.
Going up in resolution, we next have 2.7K,
which gives us a pixel size of 2704x1574 and
aspect ratio of 16x9. When the GoPro Hero3
came out, it was considered a breakthrough
that a camera of this size could shoot over
1080p, which for a while seemed like a glass
ceiling for consumer and prosumer cameras.
By shooting at a higher resolution, not only
can we make out more detail in the image,
but when downscaled, that is to say shooting
in higher resolution but resizing for a smaller
resolution, we have the added side eect of
a sharper image. Downscaling, even at the
professional end, is popular. We can see it
in Sonys F65 camera, which has a very large
8k sensor, but downscales when recording to
its memory cards to 4k. Just as with 1080p,
GoPro oers a variance to its 2.7k aspect ratio
from 16x9 to 17x9. This is actually going the
other way by recording a wider image than
a taller one at the 4x3 aspect ratio. While
not a broadcast friendly aspect ratio, 17x9
could be shot with the intention of cropping
in post, or if you just wanted to have a wider
video; its up you.
The nal option with the GoPro camera
is to shoot at 4k, which seems too good to
be true. And this is because it is. The one
caveat of shooting in this mode is that you
are limited to 15 frames a second, which as
we discussed earlier, is less than ideal as it
creates a choppy video and is unpleasant to
the human eye. Because the processor has
to record the whole 4k sensor, it just isnt
fast enough to do it at 24 times a second.
So, while I never recommend shooting in
this mode, at the very least it tells me that
the camera is downsampling from 4k when
shooting in the Ultra Wide mode, which
has a positive eect on the sharpness of the
So, now that you know the dierences
on frame rates and resolution, go out and
start shooting! But dont forget to check back
next month, when Ill go over some other
important setings in the camera, such as the
dierent white balance modes, eld of views,
and what the heck Protune is and why you
would want to use it. Happy shooting! =
GOPRO gopro.com
For more information, please see our source
guide on page 89.
When I y multirotors, especially
when shooting aerial video, I always
have my radio either on a tray or
at the very least, a neck strap. I dont
like the weight of the radio on my hands
because I like to have total motion on the
sticks. I also y multirotors with the pinch
method, using my thumbs and index n-
gers. I nd this di cult with the shorter stock
sticks on most radio systems. Even with them
extended, it is often not enough. I recently
acquired a JR XG14E computer radio system,
which is popular in overseas and is not really
sold here in the U.S. It is a tray style which
is intended to be used with a neck strap. JR
makes a few accessories that make this even
transmier even beer; the tray arms, palm
rests and extended sticks with integrated
switches. You can visit our bonus page online
to see the installation process of these acces-
sories at multirotorpilotmag.com/jrxg14e.
The XG14E is a very light radio which is
comfortable to wear. The extended sticks
and palm rests make this radio a great solu-
tion for multirotor pilots who y with
their thumbs and index ngers. I love the
extended sticks because you have more
mechanical range of motion, which translates
into much smoother control inputs, which
translates to smoother video.When you cou-
ple the extended sticks with the aluminum to
allow precision ball bearing-supported gim-
bals, you have one of the smoothest stick
actions of any radio on the market.
The transmier itself oers a full 14 linear
channels with a variety of switches and slid-
ers that you can congure to meet your needs.
The menu system is easy to use and can be
set up to meet the needs of any multirotor. JR
uses a DMSS 2.4GHz FH-SS frequency-hop-
ping spread spectrum band with a very high
sampling rate providing you with unparal-
leled control feel. JRs X.Bus system is not
compatible with S.Bus, which is commonly
used with popular ight controllers like the
DJI line-up, so you need to wire it in the
traditional method, using a wire for each
channel from the receiver to the ight con-
troller. This in no way aects the ight
performance; it is just another step that you
would have to use with any non-S.Bus radio.
JR also includes a custom carrying case for
easy and safe transport.
In the next issue of Multirotor Pilot mag-
azine we will have a full review on the
XG14E, along with setup and conguration
seings for various multirotor applications.
For more information on the JR XG14E radio
system please visit JRAmericas.com. =
JR jramericas.com
For more information, please see our source
guide on page 89.
Perfect for Multirotors!
by Erick Royer
by Joe Papa
The DJI Lightbridge is perhaps
the most highly anticipated and
sought after product to be released
in 2014. Analog video transmiers
and receivers provide reliable video links
to our models, but the standard denition
video quality can make it di cult to
clearly judge focus, determine distances,
or even recognize familiar objects. While
the technology to transmit video in HD has
been available for some time, the range has
been extremely limited, and well beyond
the reach of most enthusiasts because of
their cost. While the Lightbridge promises
to shaer these barriers, its capabilities go
well beyond HD video transmission. The
most advanced on-screen display is also
incorporated, so ight information and
orientation are just a glance away. Lastly,
the Lightbridge also takes the place of your
traditional receiver that came with your
radio. Sixteen channels are supported at this
time, and both single and dual operators can
share the channels equally. This allows a
second person to control a gimbal.
The small box consists of dense molded
foam to protect the ground unit and air unit
devices. Both main components are made
from billet aluminum, and are absolutely
beautiful and extremely high quality. Also
included are all the required cables, an
aluminum mount to fasten the Lightbridge
transceiver to your stick radio handle, and a
jaw-style clip to hold a smartphone.
Since the Lightbridge air transceiver is
three devices in one, it really makes for a
clean installation. You will no longer need
your regular receiver, video transmier
or receiver, on-screen display, and all the
associated cables. This makes it possible
The Futaba receiver gives you a good idea of the size of the Lightbridge module.
and unobstructed): 1 mile
EIRP: 100mW
DIMENSIONS (no antennas): Air System:
68x48x21mm; Ground System: 125x90x20mm
WEIGHT (no antennas): Air System: 71g;
Ground System: 295g
system), SMA Male (ground system)
700mA 20mA(@12V)
600mA 10mA(@12V)
HDMI: 720p50, 720p60, 1080i50, 1080i60,
1080p25, 1080p30, 1080p50, 1080p60
Samsung Galaxy Note3 QCOM, N9005, N9006
Samsung Galaxy Note3 Exynos, N900
Samsung Galaxy S4
Samsung Galaxy Mega
Optimus G Pro
LG Electronics G2
Sony Xperia Z (L36h)
Sony Xperia Z Ultra (XL36h)
Android system (version 4.1.2 or above)
Konka 32-inch LED32M1200AF
Konka 42-inch LED42M3820AF
Konka 42-inch LED42X9600UF
Skyworth 55E680E
TCL L40F3309B
TCL 4K*2K Smart 3D Cloud TV L5E5690A-3D
Konka LED46F5580F
LG 27EA33 Monitor
12-inch ORTECA Portable Monitor
7-inch FEELWORLD Portable Monitor
27-inch Samsung S27D360H Monitor
to have all the benets of the Lightbridge
on copters with very limited space. I really
appreciate neat installs, and with the
Lightbridge, wiring is painless. Wiring
for the new HD Zenmuse is the simplest
of all. One connection goes to the gimbal
and one to the ight controller X2 port.
Standard denition gimbals and more
ordinary installs only require a couple more
connections, and up to two cameras can be
connected simultaneously.
The ground system has a lithium ion
4000mAh baery inside and is charged with
the included power adapter. The LED lights
on the unit indicate charge level and up to
4.5 hours of continuous use are possible
before recharging. If you are seing this up
as a single operator, a short cable connects
your transmier to the ground system, and
a micro USB cable goes to your Android
device for video. A mini HDMI can be used
for simultaneous video monitoring on a
compatible device.
While all installations are similar, there
are a couple of issues I came across that are
a bit of a disappointment. Zenmuse Z15
owners, including the Canon 5D Mark III,
will nd that the only connection from the
GCU (gimbal control unit) are standard
denition sources. The way around this
is to run an HDMI cable directly from the
Lightbridge air system to the camera. The
limitation with this is that you no longer
can pan the third axis continuously without
strangling your expensive gimbal. The only
HD-capable Zenmuse is the new Black Magic
Pocket camera model. It passes HD video
through the slip ring in the third axis, and
on to the GCU. As a single operator, the
Lightbridge supports 16 channels, and if you
are ying the A2, you can map your channels
for camera control directly through the A2
assistant software. Channels D1-D4 are
assignable to control the gimbal functions.
If you are planning on giving gimbal control
to a second remote, a splier is included to
allow you and your buddy to both connect
to the ground system together. While some
may nd this to be limiting, the reality is
that in most cases you will be standing
next to your camera operator anyway,
as communication between the camera
operator and pilot are critical to successfully
coordinated movements. Its important to
note that in a dual operator conguration, the
16 channels are divided equally between the
two transmiers. If you are ying the A2, you
may be utilizing more than eight channels
for various functions. If you do not want to
give up that functionality, the solution is to
put a traditional receiver back on the gimbal.
This will also eliminate the splier cable that
formerly joined the two remotes. Creative
enthusiasts have also implemented an
alternate method to unlock more channels by
using a Futaba S.Bus decoder. Youll need to
do a lile homework on that, but the forums
do talk about this work-around.
The Lightbridge will be a very easy
transition for Phantom 2 Vision owners. The
OSD is very similar to what youve already
been using. I liked the OSD so much that
I would say its worth half the investment
alone. Vastly superior to DJIs IOSD Mini
and IOSD Mark II, the new interface is
clean, clear and uncluered. While the
previous generation of OSDs can sometimes
cause you to think about what you are
reading, the Lightbridge is much more user-
friendly and easy to understand. Seconds
count when ying, and anything that helps
prevent a crash is money well invested. My
favorite feature is the radar blip in the lower
left. Losing your orientation is a common
cause for crashes and close calls, but with a
quick glance, your orientation and location
can be instantly determined. This feature is
a perfect example of simplicity and brilliant
engineering at its best. Across the top is
Flight mode, intelligent orientation on/o,
baery voltage telemetry, signal strength
and satellites. Across the boom is altitude,
distance and speed, as well as system
preferences. While ying, if you decide
you want to hide the on-screen display,
a tap of the screen will make it disappear
or reappear. The on-screen display is only
available on the USB device. It did not
appear on the HDMI output.
Since I pilot a huge array of airframes and
cameras, the Lightbridge has to perform
reliably every time I use it, and it needs to
do it beer than the older components it
replaced. Professionals will expect perfection,
and any delay will especially be a problem for
mission-critical scenarios. Cinematographers
love to control focus, and a delay in the video
transmission could cause them to adjust focus
at the wrong time. For the rest of the world, a
lile latency is no problem at all, and most of
us wouldnt even notice it.
To give you a reference, the Futaba 14SG
has less than 11 milliseconds of delay. This
leads to a very connected feeling with your
model. The Lightbridge claims to have a
maximum of 170 milliseconds of latency.
While that may sound like an eternity in
comparison to the 14SG, it takes about
300 milliseconds to blink your eye. Latency
of 500 milliseconds or longer will be very
noticeable and could border on dangerous
if moving fast or close to objects. The last
thing you want is to crash and then watch it
happen on the display like an NFL instant
replay. We need latency to be minimal in
all situations for the Lightbridge to be truly
useful. To complicate maers further, the
camera and display add their own latency
to the mix. The total latency is a sum of all
the devices in line, and not just from the
Lightbridge alone.
For this review I tried two USB Android
devices and two HDMI monitors including
a professional SmallHD DP6 display. The
camera I used is a GoPro Hero3 Black
edition. While I had other cameras I wanted
to test, no other camera in my arsenal had a
micro HDMI output.
To use a USB smartphone as a display
you will need to download the DJI
Lightbridge app before proceeding. DJI
claims the Lightbridge will work with Apple
iOS devices, but no iOS devices are listed in
the supported device list.
The rst device I connected was a
Samsung Galaxy S3. While not on the list
of supported devices, it did work. With the
GoPro set to 720P at 60fps, the recommended
conguration, I experienced signicant lag
due to the phones own limitations. To get
a more precise measurement of latency, I
placed a stopwatch in the cameras eld of
view. By taking a photograph of both the
stopwatch and the display, I could compare
the time in each, subtract the dierence, and
calculate the delay. With the GoPro set to
the recommended 1080p at 30fps, the latency
with the Samsung Note 3 was about
310 milliseconds. The SmallHD DP6
monitor 30 percent faster and clocked in
at 210ms. This was a noticeable dierence
and explains why DJI recommends using
the best equipment possible to get the best
experience. When moving my hand slowly
in front of the camera, the movement was
very close to being in sync, and certainly is
more than adequate for any of our needs.
Cameras like the new Black Magic are touted
as having very lile latency, and could reduce
latency even more. Since most multirotor
movements are smooth and slow, the quarter-
second delay is insignicant. Once I proved
this to myself, I sat back and admired the HD
resolution. You will be impressed, but your
clients will be astonished and amazed. The
Lightbridge could easily earn you business
that would completely oset its cost.
Initially I was very apprehensive about
leing the Lightbridge control the copter. I
originally installed it in my DJI FlameWheel
550, but quickly moved it into my Carbon
Core Octocopter. To test the water, I even
tried the Lightbridge as a video-only
transmier. I placed it right near my Futaba
7008SB 2.4GHz receiver, and had no issues
whatsoever. In fact, the Zenmuse for the
5D Mark III was also being controlled by
another 2.4GHz Futaba 8J, and even with
both 2.4 radios transmiing alongside
the Lightbridge, we had no problems,
interference or video issues. The signal
quality and range of the Lightbridge easily
outpaced the analog 5.8 gear we relied on
since the beginning. While I was unable to
get the OSD portion to work while connected
this way, I was able to use the GoPro as my
pilot cam, and loved the new sense of clarity.
The Lightbridge is not completely smooth
sailing. Sometimes it takes the right
combination of powering up devices to get the
video to display. Selecting the wrong camera
resolution will also leave you pulling your hair
out. SD video sources cannot be connected
until after the Lightbridge is powered up, and
a few times I had to disconnect the GoPro and
reconnect to get the video to show up. The
Note 3 must have debugging enabled, and
certain video seings are not compatible with
dual monitor setups. Lastly, the Note wasnt
the easiest display to see in the bright sunlight,
and rigging up a shade with Scotch tape
wasnt on my list of things to impress your
friends and clients.
While I havent even covered all the features built
into the Lightbridge, I do hope to have given you
a lot of the nuts and bolts you may need to know.
I read hundreds of posts in the forums, and set
out to cover as much info as I could. While it
may not be perfect for everyone, its benets
far outweigh the temporary limitations. I
am very condent in its performance, and
commend DJI for the innovations that have
truly changed what is possible. =
DJI INNOVATIONS empirerc.com
EMPIRE RC empirerc.com
For more information, please see our source
guide on page 89.
The Lightbridge camera captures an actual stop-
watch. The difference in time between the two is
the latency or lag. The lowest latency was meas-
ured when the HDMI output was connected to the
high performance SmallHD monitor.
Power LED Indicators
Connections to the Futaba re-
ceiver, HDMI and USB video out.
A solid
aerial video
by Matt Maziarz
Gaui is back in the multirotor game
after a hiatus of a few years. If you
remember back to the days of the
Gaui 330x, youll realize that the
manufacturer had actually been one of the
few companies to produce such platforms
in the early days. Well, theyre back in it
with a new breed of machine and we got
our hands on their new 540H hexcopter. I
was pleasantly surprised by the inclusion of
an actual printed manual that clearly docu-
ments each individual step all the way
throughout the assembly process. A lost art
in this day and age!

TYPE: Hexacopter
FOR: Intermediate to advanced pilots
PRICE: $679.00
six-channel transmitter and receiver,
11.1v 3S LiPo with charger. Camera
and gimbal are optional.
FLYING WEIGHT: 1150g without battery,
camera or gimbal
MAIN BLADES: 10 in. (3 CW and 3 CCW)
RADIO: Spektrum DX9
RECEIVER: Spektrum AR7010
POWER SYSTEM: Six 960Kv brushless motors,
six 18 amp ESCs
BATTERY: 11.1V 5000mAh 70C LiPo
ESCs t into the booms and the
sandwich plate design makes for
a nice, clean layout
Alloy construction not only looks
great, but limits the overall cost
of the machine
DJI Naza-M V2 included with the
Super Combo we received for testing
Optional retractable landing gear for
un-obstructed photo opportunities
If the stock dome canopy is used, the
GPS compass must be placed on it,
rather than the mast
Authors Opinion
Gaui is reinventing their name in the multirotor
world with a brand-new machine to appease their
masses of loyal fans. The 540H ts nicely into the
500-class of hexacopters, but it offers up a robust
frame and overall design with awesome elec-
tronics. Our test unit was a Super Combo kit that
included the DJI Naza-M V2 ight control system.
Such a potent combo in such a well-built machine
is sure to perform well, but well reserve judg-
ment until the nal ight is in.
While there is a definite amount of uncertainty involved with every maiden flight, there is
absolutely something comfortable about using a Naza system on a new craft. Once every-
thing is programmed and checks out okay, you know youre good to go. After doing the
Naza Dance to calibrate the GPS compass and arming the motors, skywards she went.
Easing back on the throttle at around thirty feet, the machine settled into a steady hover
as the GPS lock took over for me. With little other than the camera mounted on the belly
to gain orientation, I was hesitant to allow the machine to get too far from me, but I had
programmed the IOC (intelligent orientation control) into the radio so it really wasnt a
worry. For future flights, I am planning on installing some LED strips on the underside of
the booms, which will also give the machine
night-flight capabilities.
The 540H, while dead stable in the default
gain settings, seemed a bit sluggish concerning
control inputs. A quick twist of the knob on top
of my DX9 served up higher rates, giving the
machine a much more responsive feel. The verti-
cal climb out is not as impressive as some other
machines, but I had no doubts that the 540H
would easily carry much more weight than what
we already had packed into it. The 10 inch props
offered a gently floating platform that would
serve any aerial photography buffs needs well.
The real test of my mettle came when I
wanted to try to employ all of the features of the
Naza-M V2 control unit. I put the 540 at around
two hundred yards out with one hundred feet of
altitude and flipped the toggle into failsafe mode.
Without so much as a stutter, the machine flew
slowly back to where I had originated the flight
from and lowered itself into a perfect landing.
Toggling back into attitude flight mode, I was
able to punch it back into the sky, all while the
control system kept the machine perfectly level.
The weight of the big battery coupled with the
camera and gimbal below it showed no ill effects
in the handling of the hexcopter.
Carrying such a heavy payload, one might
expect this size of machine to suffer from a bit of
inertia when changing course, but again, the
Naza system held everything perfectly level and
only bowed to a couple stiff gusts of wind when
at higher altitude. For low altitude video recording or FPV flight, the 540H outshines most
other platforms out there and does it all for less money. The robust, yet simplistic design of
the frames and arms are sure to stand up to a good deal of abuse should a crash occur. If all
else fails, Gaui offers replacement parts that are priced just as low as the machine itself.
While the Gaui 540H might not be as responsive, agile or flat out fast as some other
machines out there, remember that aerial photography and videography are friend to none
of those attributes. This hex is the perfect machine to get into aerial filming and is half the
price of comparably-equipped rigs. Besides that, all of our test flights were conducted using
an 11.1v 3S LiPo.
The manual instructs the builder to place the
top plate into the grommets once the electronics
are installed onto it. DO NOT do this. Wait
until all the wiring is installed, confirming that
everything is plugged into the correct port and
the system is ready to be programmed.
Installing and removing of the top plate to
adjust wiring will result in the need to fish the
grommets out from in between the frames.
Mounting the LED module for the Naza sys-
tem on the underside of the machine and
outfitting it with a larger lens is strongly recom-
mended. Itll be much easier to see during
daylight flights when the sun is out.
Calibrate the GPS compass if you change
your flying location. Performing the Naza
Dance, as illustrated in the DJI web manual,
will ensure that the GPS parameters of the sys-
tem are functioning properly.
All dressed up and ready
to go, featuring a freshly-
painted dome, retractable
landing gear, a new Sony
AS30V camera and a
custom 3D printed gimbal
to top it all off.
The entire assembly process was easily
completed in three to four hours, as the man-
ual is very well laid out. The fit and finish of
the parts are also on par with the usual high
quality of the Gaui products. Whereas most
quad and hexrotor designs have oodles of
extra wires and connectors that need to be
bundled and/or hidden, the design construc-
tion of the main frame on the 540H lends itself
well to a nice and tidy build. If that wasnt
enough, they also include a flexible, white ABS
dome canopy to conceal any dirty little secrets
you might have hiding under the hood.
The frame itself doesnt offer much in the
way of space to mount a gimbal, but both the
stock landing gear and optional retracts allow
plenty of room vertically to mount an adapter
plate below the battery. The LiPo is fastened to
the bottom using hook-and-loop material.
Planning to use a gimbal on this machine, we
simply removed the stock bottom plate and
traced it onto a piece of fiberglass which we
then cut into a duplicate. Add a few stand-offs
and some countersunk hardware and voil
instant gimbal mounting plate. The folks at
Sony were happy to send us one of their new
Exmor R action cameras. To devise a gimbal
for the Sony cam, we turned to Erick Royer,
the corporate 3D printing guru. He quickly
came up with a custom gimbal for the Sony
camera that uses a Martinez board along with
two brushless gimbal motors.
After getting everything mounted per the
online DJI manual, it was on to the program-
ming aspect of the build. The one biggest
fear newcomers might have regarding the
use of multirotors lies within the electronics
programming. Some manufacturers offer lit-
tle to no help, or even manuals, for their
flight control boards. But fear not novices,
DJI has done an awesome job of making
their new online resources even easier than
before to understand, as well as adding new
features to their Naza Assistant program-
ming tool. The software basically guides the
user through each step of the procedure and
offers helpful hints when needed, as well as
a glossary of terms that might be unfamiliar
to first-time users.
The 500-class multirotors seem to be popping
up in more and more places these days and
while some are more popular than others, I
am sure that the Gaui 540H Hexcopter is sure
to develop a strong following. Nowhere else
can one find such a quality machine with
such quality components at such a rock bot-
tom price. The assembly manual is awesome,
the Naza-M V2 flight control system is awe-
some and the machine itself is awesome. The
build is painless and is done in a very short
amount of time. The flight characteristics are
perfect for aerial photos, as well as for pilots
who are looking to transition into larger
machines after mastering smaller RTF multi-
rotors. The gentle flight characteristics, as
well as the capabilities of the Naza system,
are sure to make this machine very popular
in the multirotor area. =
DJI-INNOVATIONS empirerc.com
EMPIRE HOBBY empirerc.com
GAUI empirerc.com
THUNDER POWER thunderpowerrc.com
SPEKTRUM spektrumrc.com
SONY empirerc.com
For more information, please see our source
guide on page 89.
Spektrum DX9
Spektrum AR7010
Thunder Power 11.1v
5000mAh 3S LiPo
Sony Exmor R Action Cam
We Used
The main frame of the 540H features an upper deck that is damper-mounted and is large enough to t the control board,
receiver and PMU comfortably, while still looking fairly tidy.
A Martinez board and a
couple of inexpensive
brushless gimbal motors
from HobbyKing, cou-
pled with a 3D-printed,
custom mount offer the
Sony Action Cam a safe
place to capture some
great shots and video.
Notice the sections of
fuel line in between the
battery mount and gim-
bal, strictly for vibration
by Erick Royer
When I was at the Weak Signals show
in Toledo, Ohio, this past April, I
was visiting the Open Hobby booth,
admiring a Graupner MC-20 transmit-
ter that had taller gimbal sticks with a switch on
one and a potentiometer on the other. I thought
that they were a standard feature of the radio
but after talking to them, I discovered that they
were an aftermarket product by a German com-
pany called RC Technik.
Flying multirotors, especially with a
gimbal-controlled camera, you have two
functions that are frequently used: ight
modes and gimbal tilt control. Often, you
assign a 3-position switch to the ight modes
and use a slider or a dial to control the cam-
era tilt. The problem is that you must remove
a nger or two from the control sticks while
ying to use these features. The RC Technik
Stick Switches allow you to activate a
3-position switch on one (I use it on the left
stick), and using the potentiometer on the
right stick allows me to tilt the camera with
the same two ngers that I use to y my
machine. Additionally, the sticks are much
taller than the stock sticks, which makes con-
trolling the multirotor much smoother for me.
I noticed that they also had a stick set for
the Futaba 14SG, which happens to be a radio
that I use a lot for multirotor ying, so I got a
set of sticks and installed them. I will say that
this is NOT a simple task. You need to disas-
semble the radio and cut and solder wires, and
this will void your factory warranty. If you do
not have electronic soldering and metering
skills then I suggest you summon a friend or
even contact a repair center that might be will-
ing to take on the task. The instructions that
come with the sticks are more general in scope
and are not specic to the 14SG. Because of
that you will need to use a meter to determine
the correct wires to connect inside the radio.
Explaining this would take more room than I
have available in this article, so I created a web
page that documents this to the best of my
ability. You can visit multirotorpilotmag.com/
rctechnik for instructions on how I did it.
The only downside to puing these sticks
on my 14SG is that the radio will not work for
me for RC helicopter ying anymore, as I use
my thumbs when I y helis. I use the pinch
method with my index nger and thumb for
ying planes and multis.
While this is not an easy mod, if you are a
diehard multirotor and aerial photography
pilot, I am positive you will nd these sticks
invaluable, as they greatly increased the
smoothness of my ying and made things
much more comfortable, especially when a
higher level of ying precision is required.
FUTABA futaba-rc.com
RC TECHNIK rctechnik.de
For more information, please see our source
guide on page 89.
STICK SWITCH for Futaba 14SG
Being a full-scale pilot, your gauges
are an extension of your body. They
tell you everything about your
aircraf and if you y in instrument-
only conditions (IFR), you need to rely on them
100 percent. Flying FPV, whether a multirotor
or an airplane, is a lot of fun without an OSD,
but adding an OSD to your system opens up
a whole new FPV experience. When ying
with just a camera and goggles (or a monitor),
you have visual references and some relative
idea of your altitude and speed and if you pay
close atention you might be able to remember
landmarks to help you determine where you
are in the sky. Add an OSD to your model and
now it is the equivalent of ying in a full-scale
aircraf. You no longer need to guess. You
will always know your altitude, air speed,
atitude and batery status; information that is
priceless. Even a basic OSD will give you this
information. But, if you are like me, you are
looking for more live data on your display and
features like distance to home, batery current
consumed and home direction are ofen times
features that you wonder how you ever lived
without. I got my hands on the Apache OSD
from HobbyKing afer doing some research
looking for an OSD that gave me more data
than some of the other more mainstream units
on the market. I used my DJI Naza-M V2-
equipped Hextreme multirotor from Hobby
Express as the test platform and here is what I
When you open the container that the OSD
comes in, you might be overwhelmed with all
the wires, sensors and modules that it contains,
but the system is actually very simple to set
up. The main components are the main board,
power module, GPS sensor, IR sensor, USB
interface and a temperature sensor. The power
module comes with pre-installed Deans-style
connectors, which was good because that was
what I used on my hex. I installed it close to
the batery power connector with double-sided
tape and a zip-tie. I placed the main board on
the top frame plate where I would have easy
access to route all the wires. The GPS sensor
was placed on one of the rear arms, as far away
from the power module as I could get it. The
system comes with both a USB interface so you
can congure it via a Windows-based computer
and an IR interface and remote. When using
the IR remote, a menu comes up on the video
screen in place of the OSD data and you can
easily manipulate the setings. I placed the IR
sensor on one of the legs with no obstructions
in its way. The OSD can also monitor
temperature, which is a great feature with
airplanes to measure ESC and motor temps, but
with a multirotor this is not as important. So I
mounted the sensor on the copter and it feeds
back ambient air temperature. If you dont
require temperature measurement then you
can simply not connect it to the main module,
so that data and label will not show up on the
screen. An auxiliary voltage monitor cable is
also included so you can keep track of any
other batery you might have on your aircraf,
such as one to power the video system.
Perhaps the most important cable to connect
is for the video. This is also the one part where
I had some trouble. The main board outputs
5V DC, which can be used to power your
camera and video transmiter, so I connected
everything the way the manual described. The
yellow video wire connects in parallel to the
video wire from the camera to the transmiter.
When I rst powered on the system, I had a
working OSD, but there were terrible scan
lines in the video. I thought that perhaps I had
the system set for PAL rather than NTSC, but
I checked and everything was set properly.
The scan lines rendered the OSD useless
because you could not make out what the
camera was looking at. Afer an hour of trying
various things and major troubleshooting, I
discovered that if I powered the camera and
video transmiter directly from the main batery
rather than through the OSD, that the scan
lines disappeared and I was lef with crystal
Apache OSD
by Joe Cannavo

TYPE: Modular On-Screen Display System
FOR: Any multirotor/aircraft with FPV video
and a separate video transmitter
PRICE: $121.10 (International warehouse)
Main board: 17g
Power module: 23g
USB module: 10g
GPS module: 14g
Main board: 60x18x34mm
Power module: 57x13x31mm
USB module: 45x9x16mm
GPS module: 30x9x17mm
CAMERA USED: GoPro Hero3 Black with
Tarot video-out cable
RC 600mW on 5.8GHz
Power Battery Voltage
Power Battery Current
Power Battery Gauge
Power Battery Consumed Energy
GPS Status
Position Coordinates
Main Sea Level Altitude
Direction Heading
Home Direction
Relative Altitude
Altitude Scale
Climb Rate
Maximum Altitude Reached
Distance To Home
Speed Scale
Speed Reading
Auxiliary Voltage Status
Horizon Datum
Flight Recorder Status
All the data
you can possibly need for FPV
clear video and
OSD reception.
So apparently,
the power is not
perfectly clean
as it comes out
of the main
controller. In my
nal installation, I
omited the power
and audio wires
from the video
harness and just
connected the
yellow video signal
wire and ground.
Once everything
was connected
and tested, it was
time to access
the controllers
menu. I rst connected to a laptop and then
used the IR remote as I wanted to be sure
the information and setings were the same
for each, which they were.
The manual for this OSD is very well-
writen and illustrated so I will not go over
every section, however there are a few
items that you must set correctly. First, you
need to make sure the basic information is
correct. If you are in the US then you want
to make sure the video seting is set to NTSC
and you can also set the unit measurements
to either metric or imperial. You also need
to set the time zone, especially if you plan
to use the integrated ight data recorder.
You can set up the system to show a horizon
datum, center home indicator or simply
display nothing in the center of the video
screen. I like the center home location
for multirotors and horizon datum for
The most important setings that you
need to make are the max and min voltage
setings so the warnings are indicated at
the correct time. You also need to connect a
voltage meter to your batery to determine
the voltage oset. To make sure you are
properly measuring the current consumed,
you need to connect an amperage meter
in line with the batery and set the current
oset to match the meters reading. Beyond
that you are ready to y.
When you rst power up the system, it takes
anywhere from one to three minutes for the
GPS to initialize and locate
enough satellites. Once that is
set and your ight controller
is ready, then you can take
ight. I used a GoPro Hero3
Black for video and transmiting the video
back to my ground station via a 5.8GHz
Immersion RC 600mW transmiter. The
video quality was very good and I found
that the data was very easy to read.
I am not going to lie, the OSD does put a
lot of information on the screen and it can
be overwhelming at rst. I suggest that if
you are using a GoPro, that you turn o
the cameras OSD as it will be much too
confusing with overlaying data on your
monitor. It took me a couple ights to get
used to where everything was and begin
to actually y according to the data that
was being shown. As predicted, I really
found the home position, current consumed
and distance from home measurements
invaluable, especially when I ew using
video goggles. It was nice to know that I was
ying towards or away from myself and it
allowed me to calculate how much time it
would take me to get back in the event my
batery got low. Many people I know use the
voltage indicator to determine how much
ight time they have lef. This is ne, but if
you y many dierent cell count bateries,
you might not instantly remember your low
cut-o voltages on the y, especially while
concentrating on ying. This is why I like
the current consumed measurement. If I
have a 5000mAh batery pack, I know that
once I reach about 3500mAh consumed that
I should head back home.
The system has a ight data recorder
which, as of this writing, I have not had
any need to use. The main controller and
instructions indicate other optional data
modules that can be added in the future to
further expand the capabilities of the OSD.
For around $120, the Apache OSD from
HobbyKing delivers a lot of value, features
and functionality. If you love data like I do
then you will appreciate everything that
it monitors and displays for you. Other
than the problem with the scan lines, the
installation was easy and the manual made
the whole process a breeze. If you are
currently ying FPV without an OSD, then
you are missing out on a whole new ying
experience. So if you are ready to add an
OSD to your aircraf, give the Apache OSD
a look. =
GOPRO gopro.com
HOBBY EXPRESS hobbyexpress.com
HOBBYKING hobbyking.com
IMMERSION RC immersionrc.com
For more information, please see our source
guide on page 89.
The Power Module has integrated Deans connec-
tors to easily connect in series with the battery.
The GPS sensor is attached to one of the
arms with double-sided tape and a zip tie.
Above Left: The control unit is installed on the top of the Hextreme frame. Above: There
is a large amount of ight data overlayed on the video screen.
HobbyKing has an impressive and ever-expanding selection
of aordably-priced multirotor components and I enjoy
regularly poking around their website to see what is new
and notable. I was barely
able to resist their new
Predator 650 folding
quad frame when it appeared, telling myself it was probably a litle
larger than what I should go for as my next build. I talked myself out
of their Hercules 500 frame when it debuted, mainly because it was
only incrementally larger than my current 450 sport quad. The sudden
appearance of the Alien 560 folding frame kit totally caught me o
guard and before I knew it, I had one on the way from the HobbyKing
International warehouse.
The Alien is a rectangular, stacked frame design
that is constructed out of lightweight 3k carbon
ber and CNC-machined aluminum parts. The
at plate carbon sections are 1.25mm thick. The
four motor arms are made out of 16mm diameter
carbon tube and collapse in such a way that the
entire frame becomes quite compact. Several
smaller carbon plates atach to the top and botom
of the main frame and oer up plenty of options
for mounting ones electronics and gear. A small
A foldable FPV frame

TYPE: Quadcopter
FOR: Intermediate multirotor pilots
Appropriate outdoor area
PRICE: $73.04 (frame only)
Words and Photos by Jon R. Barnes
elevated platform located at the af end of the main deck serves as a GPS mount and also promises to enhance
in-ight orientation. HobbyKing includes an adjustable twin tube hook/rail (10mm carbon tubes spaced
60mm apart on center) that can be mounted to the front of the Alien using the included rubber dampeners.
This standard width mount can be used for ataching gimbal equipped cameras and other FPV gear.
HobbyKing provides very basic suggestions on what power system components can or should be used
when outting the Alien, but to many multirotor pilots, half the fun is conguring their machine and with
the tons of power system and prop choices out there, it is kind of an art. The assembly instructions writen
for this frame are a bit lacking. They fail to outline where the small upper and lower plates get mounted, but
a few minutes spent studying the included photographs will sort it out for most. I was a litle concerned that
it would be confusing knowing which fasteners to use for each step, but all screws are packaged in small
plastic bags and segregated with the particular components that they are intended to be used on. I do wish
that HobbyKing would include a couple spares of each type of fastener in the kit. I did have one round metal
landing gear spacer strip out. Sourcing this particular component locally can be a litle di cult. I nally
remedied it by using a litle epoxy to lock it rmly (and permanently) in place.
By my own admission, I am borderline OCD when it comes to wiring my electronics. I spent several
The Alien 560 is an affordably-priced,
alternatively-styled foldable carbon
frame that can be used as a solid
and stable aerial media and/or FPV
platform. Everybody likes longer ight
durations and this multirotor can be
set up to achieve 15+ minute ights.
Being able to fold the four motor arms
inward keeps this quad compact when
not in ight. This makes the Alien easy
to transport and store and also helps
keep hangar rash to a minimum. The
kit even includes an isolated, twin rail
mount system that can readily accept
a gimbal and action camera.
SPAN: 560mm
FLYING WEIGHT: 4 lbs. 7 oz.
MOTORS: Turnigy Multistar 2814-700
brushless outrunner (4)
ESCS: Turnigy Plush 30A (4)
PROPS: 12x4.5
RADIO: Futaba 14SG 2.4GHz, Futaba
R7008SB S.Bus2 receiver, Futaba
SBS-01G GPS telemetry sensor
BATTERY: FlightPower EONX 4S 14.8V
5000mAh 30C LiPo
DURATION: 10-12 min
INCLUDED: Frame kit requires radio
system, ight controller, four 2820-3110
brushless outrunner motors, four 30 amp
speed controllers, 4S 3000-4000mAh
LiPo battery, 11 to 12-inch props, and a
power distribution system
The larger 560mm span and ability to
use 11 to 12-inch-diameter props
make the Alien a notably stable aerial
There is plenty of clearance for
suspending gimbals and/or other
camera gear beneath the Alien.
Flight durations of 12 to 16 minutes
using the power systems components
listed in this article.
The unique styling and overall
appearance of the Alien frame offers
helpful in-ight orientation cues.
The included hook style, twin rail
mounting system makes attaching a
camera gimbal quick and easy.
The foldable arms help keep the Alien
compact when not in ight
The kit includes a twin rail hook
system for mounting gimbal equipped
A rear mounted, elevated platform
for mounting a ight controller GPS is
The quality and quantity of the
included fasteners could be improved
The assembly instructions fail to cover
certain parts of the build
No spare frame parts are listed as
being available
My ultimate goal when purchasing the Alien was to use it as a rst person
view (FPV) aerial media platform. I nd it especially valuable though to
employ the KISS principle (keep it simple, stupid) when it comes to the
rst ights of a newly-built multirotor aircraft. Taking a new multirotor
build and stufng it to the gills with a full load of FPV camera gear,
OSD and GoPro/gimbal assembly is almost always a recipe for being
totally overwhelmed on the maiden ights. Add in the audible alarming
capabilities inherent to the Futaba telemetry system and you can cause
yourself to be confused beyond belief as you are confronted with a
cacophony of beeps and alarms!
I thus like to start with just the basic ight controller-equipped model
and add additional components and audible alarms as I get the quad
progressively dialed in. For my rst ights I used a 4S 3000mAh LiPo.
I ipped the mode switch to GPS, armed the motors and took a deep
breath. As I eased the throttle above 50 percent, I was impressed with the
Alien as it slowly rose into the air. The 12 inch props and 560mm span
make this the largest quadcopter that I have own to date; the stability
as compared to smaller copters is instantly obvious and noteworthy.
For the rst ight, I kept the Alien in close and ew some easy circuits.
I logged several more ights using this exact conguration and when
I was completely comfortable with everything, I started adding a few
programmed Futaba telemetry alarms. I set one alarm to alert me
whenever the ight battery dropped below a safe voltage threshold. I also
set up an alert to notify me any time I dropped below 25 feet of altitude.
I then congured the 14SG to announce my altitude in spoken format
every 20 seconds. I would, again, caution that it is probably best to start
slowly when it comes to adding alarms, vibratory alerts and spoken
annunciations, lest one become overwhelmed by the sheer abundance
of alerts and alarms being presented. All of the telemetry data being
received by the 14SG can also be viewed on the transmitters large
LCD display.
Like many multirotor pilots, I wanted to explore longer ight durations
and so I shifted up to a 4S 3750mAh battery. The Alien really did not
seem much affected by the slight increase in net weight. Vertical climb
out, though not as spritely as a sport quad, was still good. With several
dozen ights now logged, I went up to the largest pack that I intended
to try in the Alien, a FlightPower 30C 4S 5000mAh LiPo. I was impressed
to nd that it only weighed about a half an ounce more than the 4S
3750 battery I was using. I also went ahead and added my FPV gear, an
EZOSD and a GoPro Hero2 camera xed directly to the twin rail mounts.
To take full advantage of the Aliens twin rail mounting system, I do plan
to eventually switch to my Tarot gimbal-mounted GoPro Hero3 Black.
The ready-to-y weight of my Alien had now worked its way up to four
pounds, seven ounces. I set my countdown timer to 12 minutes and
sent the Alien up in its heaviest iteration yet. I included several good
ascents and ew the Alien out to the limits of my visual acuity. Keeping
a close eye on the reported voltage of my ight pack, I landed the Alien
at the 12-minute mark. The charge cycle saw 3200mAh put back into
the battery, which works out to around 266mAh used per minute. These
calculations reveal that it should be easy to hit the 15 minute mark,
provided that I stick to my somewhat reserved, aerial media collecting
style of ying.
hours laying out my speed controllers and power
distribution wiring in order to try and keep the
overall aesthetics neat and tidy. I opted to mount
my ESCs on the main deck of the frame rather
than on the landing gear plates, positioning
them near the pivot points of the folding arms.
It was necessary to solder motor extension wires
and I used a large piece of heat shrink to protect
the motor wiring where it enters the outer ends
of the carbon arms. The mounting holes of the
Multistar motors matched up to the Aliens motor
mounting holes perfectly. It is important to make sure
that the four motors are oriented perfectly vertical
when clamping the motor assemblies to the ends of
the four arms. When mounting the Naza-M ight
controller components, it is necessary to locate the
main controller as outlined in the DJI instructions. It is
important to mount the status LED so that it is visible
in ight and the USB programming port so that it can
be accessed afer the frame is completely assembled in
order to make any required programming changes. In
hindsight, I would recommend mounting the gimbal
rail supports and all small at carbon
pieces to the two main frame pieces
before assembling the top and botom
main frames together. It is possible to
remove the top main frame piece in
order to gain access to the innards of the
Alien but doing so requires removing
dozens of fasteners.
Naza- M ight controllers possess the
ability to communicate with PPM and
S.Bus serial protocols (except for the
NAZA Lite). Thanks to its implementation of the
S.Bus/S.Bus2 protocols, the Futaba 14SG transmiter
is a high-end, full-featured, telemetry-capable
transmiter that allows you to tap into some of the
more advanced capabilities of the Naza-M ight
controllers. In addition to its ability to receive real-
time data from a suite of S.Bus2 telemetry sensors,
the 14SG can log ight data received from these
sensors to an SD card for post ight analysis and
trending. I could not get the DJI Naza-M Assistant
sofware to recognize my transmiter until I
upgraded the Assistant sofware to version 2.20.
I then let the Assistant install
the latest rmware in my ight
controller. With that small
hurdle cleared, the balance of
the remaining programming
continued with minimal
I set up the Futaba 14SG to
use a three-way toggle switch
to select between GPS, atitude,
and manual modes. The switch
immediately to the right of the
mode switch was congured to
activate the Failsafe function (return to home) feature of the Naza ight
controller. I am not a huge fan of the various Intelligent Orientation
Control (IOC) related options of this ight controller and thus lef IOC
disabled. Another nice feature of the Naza-M controller is that the gains
can be congured to be remotely adjustable, even while in ight. I
assigned this feature to a rotary knob on the 14SG.
One of the benets of using an S.Bus connection from the receiver
to the ight controller is reduced wiring. I had one standard servo lead
connection between my Naza-M ight controller and Futaba R7008SB
receiver (connection is from the Naza X2 port to the S.Bus port on the
R7008SB receiver). Another valuable benet that the 14SG brings to the
table is that it is capable of receiving ight data from a host of dierent
Futaba telemetry sensors. Though the GPS sensor is the costliest sensor
of all, it oers an amazing variety of useful in-ight information when
used on a multirotor aircraf. This includes speed, altitude, variometer
function, the distance that the aircraf is from the pilot and the GPS
coordinates of the aircraf. The GPS sensor (and almost all of the Futaba
telemetry sensors) plug into the S.Bus2 port. In addition to the GPS
sensor, I used a special Futaba cable to connect the ight batery to the
receiver. The Futaba R7008SB receiver is capable of monitoring and
transmiting a voltage of up to 70 VDC back to the 14SG transmiter
right out of the box. With the combination of these two sensors installed
on my Alien, I have about 90 percent of the functionality of a full on-
screen display (OSD) system. The missing ten percent of the formula is
that I do not have any indication of the amount of current being used
by the Alien in ight, something that
many OSDs do provide.
The Futaba 14SG transmiter allows
the user to congure an amazing
diversity of alarms based on the received
telemetry data. These alarms can be set
to enunciate audibly or using vibratory
alerts. The latest rmware for the 14SG
even oers spoken word enunciation. An
internal speaker is not provided in this
transmiter; an earphone must be used
to hear many of the alerts and alarms.
I sourced a small amplied speaker
and mounted it to my radio tray in order to avoid
having to use an earphone.
The HobbyKing Alien 560mm quadcopter frame
is not designed as a heavy lif quad per se but,
equipped with the Multistar 2814-700 brushless
outrunners and 12 inch props, it is most capable of
hauling a gimbal-mounted action camera and FPV
setup alof with power to spare. The FlightPower
EONX 4S 14.8V 30C 5000mAh LiPo batery makes
ight durations of 15+ minutes a safe and atainable
proposition. The overall layout and design of
this foldable carbon ber frame is aesthetically
refreshing and dierent; its
unique in-ight prole oers the
added benet of enhanced and
distinct orientation visuals. The
Naza-M ight controller does
a superb job of keeping this rig
stable and smooth while in the
air, making it a very nice aerial
media platform indeed.
As a technology nerd, I nd that using the Futaba S.Bus/S.Bus2
systems and protocols as an interface to the NAZA M ight controller
and as a means of receiving real-time in-ight telemetry data is
downright slick. Though it cannot completely replace a standalone
OSD system due to its lack of current sensing capabilities, it does
present and log an amazing abundance of useful, critical ight data.
The Futaba GPS telemetry sensor is quite small and utilizes but one
simple connection, making it easy enough to share it between multiple
multirotor aircraf should one need a litle help in justifying its expense.
The versatility available in the programmable alerts, alarms and
audibles make the Futaba telemetry system eminently congurable for
the needs of most pilots and their multirotor aircraf.
HobbyKing has yet to list any spare parts for this frame online.
Any crash damage to my Alien frame will consequently require the
purchase of another entire frame set as the only current means to
source replacement parts. The assembly instructions are painfully basic,
although intermediate and advanced
builders can probably build this frame
without much more than a quick glance
at them. However, do not let these
minor issues scare you away from this
frame. With a unique design, long ight
durations, foldable arms and an atractive
price point well south of one hundred
bucks, there are plenty of reasons to
embrace this Alien! =
DJI dji.com
FUTABA futaba-rc.com
HOBBYKING hobbyking.
For more information,
please see our source
guide on page 89.
When it comes to FPV, there are so many options and
configurations between camera, monitors, video trans-
mitters and frequencies that it can make your head
spin. Thankfully, the folks at ReadyMadeRC have taken
the guesswork out of FPV with the introduction of their Quick
Start FPV Packages. Each affordable package is preconfigured
based on items that they recommend to get you up and flying
FPV fast; all you need to do is provide the airplane or multirotor.
The Quick Start package includes:
RMRC-420N NTSC CCD Camera with a built-in micro
ImmersionRC 5.8GHz 600mW video transmitter
ImmersionRC 5.8GHz Uno receiver
Spironet Omni Circular Polarized Antenna set
RMRC 7-inch monitor
Lightweight tripod with carrying bag
Hook and loop tape for attaching the receiver and battery
to the monitor
1100mAh 3S LiPo battery and a charger
Deans battery tap to power the transmitter and camera
Mini camera cable
When you receive your Quick Start FPV Package, all of the
wires are terminated, so you simply need to setup the tripod,
attach the monitor
and then using the
hook and loop tape,
fasten your battery
and receiver to the
back of the monitor.
Then you just need to
install the camera
and video transmitter
into your airplane or
multirotor and you
are in business. The
RMRC monitor
comes with a sun-
shade to make it
easier to see in the
sunlight. I am a huge
fan of this monitor.
Compared to some
other monitors I have
used, the clarity and
brightness of this
unit is outstanding.
If you are looking to fly FPV for fun from the cockpit of
your model and prefer a monitor over video goggles or
you are a remote camera operator looking for a nice setup
to frame your shots, the ReadyMadeRC Quick Start FPV
Package is the perfect choice. We will be using this system
in several upcoming articles in future issues of Multirotor
Pilot magazine so you will see much more about this
RMRC system in the future.
PRICE: $359.99
For more information please visit readymaderc.com. =
by Joe Cannavo
5.8GHz with CCD
Everything you need for
your FPV multirotor
Early 2012 was actually the time when the Crazy2Fly was
dreamt up and subsequently released. It was produced
to be durable, easy to assemble, agile on the sticks and
extremely light to aid in its performance. Though it is capable
of carrying a small camera (DialFonZo is currently developing camera
plates specically for this machine), the sole purpose of this diminutive
quadcopter is to thrill the pilot with acrobatic skill akin to those found
in 3D heli and airplane
ying. It will not hover
inverted and it will not
carry hefy payloads,
but again, those are not
its intended venues.
Robotshop.com enlisted
the expertise of Eric
Nantel (screen-name,
DialFonZo) to add
UAVs to their product
line and while we
reviewed the Hunter
V-Tail in the premier
issue of this magazine, the Crazy2Fly was Erics rst multirotor under
the Lynxmotion name. Until his arrival, the company had focused
exclusively on land-based robotic machines including, but not limited to,
rovers and multi-legged walkers.
While many other manufacturers had already released multirotor
platforms at this point, none of them were in kit form that were highly
customizable, allowing the user to cater the machine to their own
preferences and ying styles. Nantel came up with the original design
of the Crazy2Fly in March of 2012 and then tweaked it repeatedly to
save weight while
retaining the rigidity
that his designs are
renowned for. The end
result was a futuristic,
almost alien-looking
quadcopter with lofy
abilities and he did it all
for less than 400 bucks
on the consumer end.
Like the V-Tail,
the Crazy2Fly utilizes

MANUFACTURER: Lynxmotion/RobotShop
TYPE: Quadcopter
FOR: Intermediate to advanced pilots
ying area
PRICE: $320.00 (Base combo kit including
everything except ight controller, battery,
charger and radio system)
Words by Matt Maziarz
While most multirotor manufacturers are
busy focusing their design efforts into
creating the latest camera rig for aerial
videography or photography, Lynxmotion
is still focused on the fun aspect of ying
the machine. This sporty little quad is
light and powerful as well as quite nimble
and, given its use of the Flip 1.5 Multiwii
based board, is tons of fun to y. Axial and
vertical rolls are only a part of this quads
repertoire, as it is also capable of high
speeds and vertical punch outs. Thankfully
the builds are fairly quick with the
Lynxmotion machines, because I couldnt
wait to y this little beast!
Aggressive looks with
performance to match!
a G-10 berglass frame that is assembled in a sandwich plate design.
Aluminum alloy spacers are used to separate everything except for
the arms of the quad so the weight savings is huge, but the structural
integrity of the frame itself was not compromised. The result was a
rock solid acrobatic multirotor that
exhibited litle to no ex; allowing
for an inexpensive machine that had
perpetually predictable performance
in the hands of a well-trained pilot.
Because of the berglass frame and
arm construction, the packaging
for the Crazy2Fly quad is quite less
than those of comparable pod-and-
boom type machines. The main
components go together easily
and quickly when using the online
manuals found at Lynxmotion.
com. The web-based instructions
feature a step-by-step build
process that even the greenest of builders should have no problems
with. There are sections of each frame piece removed for the explicit
intentions of producing a lighter multirotor and to allow the builder
to route the necessary wiring through certain areas, creating a nice and
tidy build once it is nished.
There is ample room within
the arms to retain the ESCs
and all of their respective
wiring. The inner portion of
the arms also feature a large
cutout on top and botom so
if you choose to mount the
ESCs inside of the structure
as I did, there should be no
worries about cooling air
not geting to these integral
Perhaps the most di cult
aspect of the assembly process
lies in mounting the motors.
There is very litle room at the
FLYING WEIGHT: 24 oz. (680g) AUW
LENGTH: 340mm
HEIGHT: 110mm
WIDTH: 340mm
PROPS: Gemfan 8x4.5 (2 CW, 2 CCW)
MOTORS: (4) Maytech 1000Kv
brushless outrunners
ESCS: (4) Lynxmotion 12amp ESCs
RADIO: Spektrum DX9 transmitter and
Spektrum AR600 receiver
Flip 1.5
BATTERY: Thunder Power
11.1V 2250mAh 45C LiPo
DURATION: 5-6 minutes.
Minimum ve-channel
transmitter, receiver, battery,
charger and ight controller
(using the base combo kit). Lynxmotion
also offers the Crazy2Fly as an airframe
only or with all the electronics minus a
battery and radio system.
Simple build with intuitive online
Double-deck frame and arms provide
unmatched durability
Lightweight and small for aerobatic
maneuvers and easy transport
Airframe will accommodate a
multitude of electronics and motors
With no real landing gear, gimbal
mounted cameras arent an option
end of the arms and you have to get the mounting holes on the motors
lined up just right to get them in synch with each respective x-mount
which can be tricky, as the neither the mounts nor the motors feature
symmetrical holes for mounting. Size them up
rst, measure twice and cut onceso to speak.
Once you get the rst screw into each motor, the
whole the rest of the install glides right along.
Bundling the wires for each motor also took a
litle bit of time and eort as the leads on each
are very long as these are the same power-plants
used on the larger V-tail airframes. Like I said
before, there is plenty of room within the arms
to conceal and house the wires, but caution must
be taken to not crimp any of the wires. I also
each bundle
of motor
wires with
a zip-tie
around the
lower plate
of each arm
to keep the
wires from
coming into
contact with the can of the motors during acrobatic ight
Perhaps the most complex of tasks when building and
seting up a Lynxmotion machine is in the programming
of the Multiwii-based Flip 1.5 control board. I can atest
to the problems that a nave, non-PC friendly person
might have when programming this board, but when
I had my rst ride on the Multiwii train, there was no
type of online manual. Again, Nantel has come through
with ying colors, having writen and published a fully
intuitive electronics setup guide on the Lynxmotion
website. This board might take a litle longer to set up
than others, but it is far more customizable, is quite a bit
more capable in the air and it does it all for less than 30
bucks! Take your time with the programming and read
through the guide thoroughly before starting and you
should have no problems.
Do not fully tighten any screws until each sub-assembly
has all the necessary hardware in place.
Use thread locker on all metal-to-metal contacts using a
toothpick to coat the female threads.
Remove the entire lower portion of the frame when
installing the ESC parallel harness as there is very litle room
between the frame spacers.
Take notice of the USB port on the board when installing
your radio gear, you want to make sure to leave it accessible.
As I mentioned before, I was freting a litle on my rst
go-around with the Flip 1.5 control board, but this time,
I had no issues and required no assistance. The build for
the Crazy2Fly is both quick and easy, the electronics are
mated well to produce an astonishingly fast and nimble
aircraf and the litle quad is just outright fun to y. These
days, its commonplace to see a bunch of larger multirotors
suspended in the air simultaneously; stationary thanks to
their GPS enable ight controllers. If standing still and going slow isnt
really your thing, get yourself a Crazy2Fly. Its fairly economical by
comparison, goes together
in one nights time,
uses smaller bateries
than most other quads,
is tons of fun to y
and is as tough as
nails. Kudos to you
Mr. Nantel! This pilot
cannot wait until you
develop and release
your next line of
machines. =
Ill admit, I was slightly more than a little nervous when I ew my rst Lynxmotion
machine a few months ago, but it was almost entirely due to the fact that I
had never used a MultiWii-based board or the GUI (graphic user interface) that
they enlist for the setup. This time around, I was more familiar with the setup
procedures and had thoroughly checked and re-checked all of my setup on the
GUI so I strolled out to the eld for a maiden ight that I was greatly anticipating
with excitement.
After powering up the Crazy2Fly and allowing it to initialize, I armed the
motors and punched the throttle. To no surprise, the little quad shot skyward
with authority and leveled off at my thumbs discretion. It was quite windy on our
test day, but the power of the Maytech 1000Kv motors, coupled with the Gemfan
props, produced a rock-solid machine that held its location and attitude with
nary the assistance of a GPS module. While I had no doubts as to its acrobatic
capabilities, I was downright impressed with how solid this quad felt in the air.
Dont let the 340mm diameter scare you; the Crazy2Fly feels much larger in the
air. The accelerometer and magnetometer kept things perfectly in check while
cruising simple circuits around the eld, even when I tossed in some high speed
The second battery pack had to wait for the next day as a light rain began
to fall on us during the maiden ight. With a few battery packs at hand and
a substantial amount of gain increase dialed into the control board, I readied
myself for some upside-down action. The Crazy2Fly did not disappoint. I was
already used to the sort of maneuvers it would accomplish as I y the V-tail
fairly regularly, but the smaller diameter of this machine brings those stunts to
a whole other level. Blasting across the eld at a high rate of speed in forward
ight, followed by burying the elevator to its full up position, had the little quad
performing backward ips while traveling forward. I drained an entire pack just
doing this maneuver and I didnt stop smiling the whole time! Loops and rolls in
xed wing fashion were also quite thrilling with the Crazy2Fly. By time the last of
my batteries dumped, I had attracted quite a crowd at the ying eld, as most of
the pilots on the scene were only accustomed to the slow, lumbering behavior of
the camera-rigged machines they saw so often.
GEMFAN gemfanhobby.com
LYNXMOTION lynxmotion.com
ROBOTSHOP robotshop.com
SPEKTRUM spektrumrc.com
THUNDER POWER thunderpowerrc.
For more information, please see our
source guide on page 89.
www.uavdirect.com or call us at 512-778-6363

DJI and Zero Tech UAV dealers

Full service including training and repairs

35 acre flying field attached to our office

We Speak Your Language!
We will match
or beat any
legitimate authorized
dealer price
by Joe Papa
Ive been a professional photographer for over
15 years. Starting as a child in the fh grade with
a 110 lm camera, my life changed forever and
photography was going to be at the center of it. When I
was in the eighth grade, my dad gave me his Canon AE-1, along
with a ash and 10 rolls of 400 ISO lm, to shoot photos at his
wedding. That was the rst wedding I ever photographed and
there was nothing automatic on this camera; everything was
manual, including focus. While I loved shooting photos, paying
to have the lm developed was a real drag when youre 11 years
old. When digital cameras came out, I got hooked prety hard
and I believe that with passion and determination, anyone can
learn the skills needed to be great behind the lens.
Over the years, I have seen cameras get beter and more
aordable, but the quality of photography has actually gone down. In
the world of social media, people shoot more photos with cell phones
than any other type of camera. While the technology is nothing short of
incredible, it certainly doesnt replace the quality and control that comes
from a professional camera in the hands of a skilled artist. Many people
assume that a beter camera will get them beter photos, but the truth is
that it may not. Ofen I nd that most people who buy DSLR cameras
have absolutely no idea what makes a picture great, or why the camera
doesnt capture it the way you
see it. A camera is a box that lets
light through a hole, for a set
amount of time.
That P mode on your camera
dial stands for Program
Mode and its meant to take
plain, average photos in most
situations. For amazing,
spectacular and magnicent images, its time to turn that dial to A
(Aperture), S or T (Shuter/Time) or M (Manual). Without bogging you
down with all the technical information, here is a brief summary of
what each does, why you would use it and what seting may get you
the desired result.
The aperture of your lens is like the pupil of your eye. When its dark
your pupil opens to let in more light. By opening the aperture of your
camera, you can make a photo brighter. The bigger the opening, the
less you need ash and the more your subject will seem to pop out of
the image. Apertures are also known as F stops and the lower the
number, the bigger the opening will be. Bigger is beter and lenses
with 1.4, 2.0 or 2.8 apertures will let you take amazing images of
people. This is the magic trick that lets you blur out the background
behind your subject. Apertures like 8, 11 and 16 are like pin holes, and
let in very litle light. This is what your phone uses most of the time
and creates snapshots. Avoid large apertures like f/2.8 when doing
aerial, as you generally want everything sharp and in focus. Choose
the higher numbers like f/11 and f/16.
Shuter speed controls motion by holding the aperture open for a
period of time. The faster the shuter speed, the less time there will be
that light can be recorded and the less motion will be caught. Think
of the props on your multirotor. If you take a photo of it with a slow
shuter speed like 1/250 of a second, the props will spin many times
during that fraction of a second. This will record in the camera as
spinning propellers. If you choose a very fast shuter speed like 1/2000,
the props wont have enough time to move much at all, and the photo
will show propellers frozen in time. This makes the copter look like it
would if you just hung in in your living room with strings. You need
to control the shuter speed to show the motion. Look at the cover of
the magazine, and you will see props which appear to be spinning,
because the shuter speed was 1/250 of a second. The exact same
applies to waterfalls.
So here is your mission: put your camera in manual and you will
notice that somewhere on the display is a bar graph. In the middle is
a zero, and a + (plus) on one side and a (minus) on the other. Figure
out what dial controls aperture and set it to the lowest number. The
graph should move to the + direction. Now adjust your shuter speed
until the graph gets to the zero line in the middle. Take a picture. If the
photo is dark, turn the shuter speed to a longer time to make the next
photo brighter. Too bright? Turn it up a few clicks to make it faster.
This lets in less light and makes it darker. Remember, moving to the
minus direction makes it darker, plus direction makes it brighter.
You are now in control and the best part of manual is that all the
photos you take will be exactly the same brightness. As long as the
light doesnt change, you can get even, consistent images. Now when
you take your copter up to shoot some images, all the exposures will
be exactly like you want them! =
Taking better images with
your camera & your copter
12 issues only $19.95
Call: (800)898-4599
Multirotor Source Guide
Please check with your local hobby store to nd products reviewed in Multirotor Pilot Magazine. Additional sources are listed below.
BirdsEye View Aerobotics
Phone: (603) 927-4236
Email: support@
Phone: (818) 235-0789
Email: us.sales@dji.com
Empire RC
950 E Baseline Ave, Unit 210
Apache Junction, AZ 85119
Phone: (480) 982-0909
Email: info@empirerc.com
Flight Power
Distributed by Great Planes
Model Distributors
P.O. Box 9021
Champaign, IL 61826
Phone: (217) 398-3630
Available at your local
hobby store, or online at
Distributed exclusively
by Hobbico
P.O. Box 9021
Champaign, IL 61826
Phone: (217) 398-3630
Available at your local
hobby store, or online at
Distributed by Empire RC
950 E Baseline Ave, Unit 210
Apache Junction, AZ 85119
Phone: (480) 982-0909
Email: info@empirerc.com
Email: sales1@
1127 Goodrich Ave
Sarasota, FL 34236
Phone: (941) 444-0021
Go Pro
Phone: (888) 600-4659
10 Main St., Suite E
Middletown, CT 06457
Phone: (860) 398-5408
Fax: (860) 398-5423
Email: info@greenskies.com
Hobby Express
Phone: (866) 512-1444
Email: customersupport@
Iftron Technologies, Inc.
Phone: (303) 378-8726
Email: sales@iftrontech.com
Immersion RC
Email: info@immersionrc.
JR Americas
P.O. Box 8757
Champaign IL 61826-8757
KDS Models USA
1730 Preston Ave., Suite E
Pasadena, TX 77503
Phone: (713) 475-5855
Lynxmotion, Inc.
Phone: (866) 627-3178
Fax: (450) 420-1447
Email: support@
1015 W Garland Ave
Spokane, WA 99205
Toll Free: (888) 654-4450
Email: max-info@
Phone: (860) 480-1982
Email: petrhejl1@me.com
Phone: (877) 972-7768
R/C Madness
101 North St
Eneld CT. 06082
Phone: (860) 741-6501
RC Technik
Email: info@rctechnik.de
7719 Graphics Way Ste F
Lewis Center, OH 43035
Phone: (866) 627-3178
Fax: (450) 420-1447
Sales Email: patrick@
Phone: (212) 833-6849
Distributed by Horizon Hobby
4105 Fieldstone Rd.
Champaign, IL 61822
Toll Free: (800) 338-4639
Thunder Power RC
4720 W. University Ave.
Las Vegas, NV 89103
Phone: (702) 228-8883
Fax: (702) 228-8885
Email: info@thunder
Total 3D Solutions
2685 Lapeer Rd., Suite 210
Auburn Hills, MI 48326
Phone: (248) 494-4460
Fax: (248) 494-4431
Email: service@
UAV Direct
14365 W State Hwy 29
Liberty Hill, TX 78642
Phone: (855) 778-6363
Email: ops@uavdirect.com
Phone: (860) 486-2000
A Main Hobbies .................................24-25
Academy of Model Aeronautics ........34-35
AGAPower ...............................................54
Altitude Hobbies .....................................88
Atlanta Hobby..........................................55
Blade ......................................................4-5
BP Hobbies LLC ......................................88
Castle Creations, Inc. ..............................39
Designatronics, Inc. ................................89
Dronebanners.com .................................81
Du-Bro Products ......................................85
Empire Hobby ...........................................9
Futaba ................................................... CV2
GETFPV ...................................................11
Go Professional Cases ............................74
Heli-Max ..............................................3, 69
Hitec RCD USA, Inc. ................................21
Hobby Express ........................................15
HobbyKing ...................................... CV3, 59
Innov8tive Designs ..................................53
KDS Models USA ....................................63
Landing Products ....................................88
Max Amps .................................................7
Motor City Drone Company ....................87
ProtoX ......................................................73
Ram Radio Controlled Models ................81
RC Logger ...............................................51
RobotShop Inc.........................................71
Total3DSolutions .....................................75
UAV Direct ...............................................85
Unmanned Experts .................................87
Windsor Propeller ....................................81
XAircraft America ....................................19
by Jon R. Barnes
The number of full scale
aircraft with the ability to
perform both Vertical
Takeoff and Landing (VTOL) opera-
tions and truly useful forward flight
capabilities is extremely limited.
Only two, the Bell Boeing V-22
Osprey Tiltrotor and AV-8B Harrier
II Jump Jet, have managed to suc-
cessfully achieve meaningful produc-
tion numbers. In the world of RC
models, there have been even fewer
aircraft that possess VTOL and for-
ward flight capabilities and that have
also managed to achieve mainstream
success. A small start-up called
BirdsEyeView Aerobotics, located in
the state of New Hampshire, has
recently rolled open their hangar
doors to reveal an amazing model
aircraft that is aiming to do just that.
The BirdsEyeView Aerobotics
FireFLY6 is a 60-inch wingspan fly-
ing wing that also features a total of
six brushless power systems
arranged in a Y6 configuration. This
unique aircraft is capable of taking
off and landing vertically, hovering
and transitioning into and out of for-
ward flight at the pilots whim and fancy!
Founding partners and designers Adam Sloan and John
Hampton have capitalized on the extreme advances in multirotor
and stabilization technologies by merging the best of both fixed
wing and rotary winged models into an amazingly versatile hybrid
aircraft with almost unlimited first person view (FPV) and aerial
imaging (AI) potential. Multirotor pilots are ever on the prowl for
ways to extend the overall flight durations of their FPV and AI
platforms, but the laws of physics preclude the solution being as
simple as just adding bigger batteries. The FireFLY6 takes a fresh
and ultimately successful approach to achieving longer in-flight
durations. Its ability to transition into forward flight comes with
the tangible benefit of drastically reduced power system current
draw. Multirotor aircraft must at all times generate enough thrust
to overcome their own weight. However, once the FireFLY6
transitions into forward flight, the lift generated by its large wing
area helps reduce the net power required to perform that task. With
two of the six motors shut down, and the remaining four motors
providing only the thrust needed to achieve forward flight, total
current demand is substantially diminished. The end result is
potential flight durations of up to 30
minutes or more (load dependent),
but the FireFLY6 retains the same
convenient ability to operate out of
small and limited space airfields as
multirotor aircraft, thanks to its
ability to transition into and out of a
hover. A proprietary electronics
module developed by BirdsEyeView
Aerobotics and known simply as the
Bridge handles and coordinates
the transition between hover and
forward flight by interfacing to both
the hover flight controller and radio
receiver. The long, spring-loaded
retractable landing gear offers plenty
of under wing clearance for camera
gear and other payloads.
Manufactured out of EPO foam,
this ARF flying wing features a wood
and composite internal skeleton.
Electric servoless tricycle retracts are
included, as are servos and all of the
mechanical components required to
drive the pivoting axle. At least
one flight controller (Naza-M V1,
Naza-M Lite) is required and serves
as the hover controller. An optional
second flight controller can be added
as a forward flight controller and can be used for autonomous
flight operations to achieve autonomous operations. Two sets of
camera mounts, compatible with the GoPro 3 and 3+, are also
included. An optional propulsion system called the PowerPACK
was optimally designed for the FireFLY6 and includes six tried and
tested brushless motors, speed controllers and propellers.
Detachable and magnetically retained wings, tails and hatches
allow the airframe to be easily disassembled for transport.
Adam and John comment in one of their promotional videos that
an aerobot is, by definition, a flying robot for everyday people.
They also give ample proof via amazing in-flight footage that this
unique aircraft is truly capable of both VTOL operations and forward
flight. We will be watching closely to see what impact this
revolutionary model has in the world of RC and if it indeed succeeds
as a mainstream VTOL and forward flight capable RC aircraft. =
For more information, please see our source guide on page 89.
Aerobotics FireFLY6