A Hexacopter with FPV


[Robert's] been hard at work becoming a hexacopter expert over the past two years, and he’s offered up a retrospective of his multi rotor build experience since he first clicked the “buy” button on Hobbyking. He’s come a long way from his first build, which used inexpensive carbon rods and 3D-printed parts for a frame, supported by scrap wood and hot glue. It met its end in his car; exposed to direct sunlight, the 3D-printed components melted.

The latest iteration—seen above on the right—is a complete redesign, with a laser-cut frame that dramatically reduced the overall weight and new “Donkey” motors off Hobbyking. It’s strong enough to lift a 1.6kg (3.5lbs) stuffed animal suspended from a rope! Most recently [Robert] has worked out streaming first-person video after fitting a camera to the hexacopter via a 3D-printed attachment and pairing the experience with Zeiss Cinemizer 3D glasses. He still has some bugs to work out, namely screws loosening from vibrations and adding a HUD to the display so he’ll know when the battery levels are low. You can see the poor teddy bear getting hanged along with some other videos, including the first-person video flight, after the break.

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Remote Control FPV cockpit


FPV flying, for how awesome it actually is, still consists of fiddling around with a remote control transmitter and either wearing video goggles or squinting into a screen. Awesome, yes, but not as cool as [Brett Hays]‘s enclosed cockpit ground station. It’s a trailerable flight sim that allows you to have the same experience of flying an aircraft over your local terrain without actually leaving the ground.

The centerpiece for this build is a 42 inch flat screen TV that was picked up for $160. This was placed at the front of a large plywood and 2×2 box along with a computer joystick, throttle, and rudder controls.

The pots inside the controls needed to be switched out to match the resistance of the ones inside an old Futaba transmitter. From there, completing the the cockpit was just a matter of fabricating a few panels for a video switcher, gear retract lever, flaps. and RC radio settings.

It’s a truly amazing build and when placed on a trailer towed by [Brett]‘s jeep, has the potential to be the closest thing to flying a manned aircraft you can get without a pilot’s license.

Videos of the cockpit in action below.

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FPV drones with an Oculus Rift


It was only a matter of time, and now someone’s finally done it. The Oculus Rift is now being used for first person view aerial photography. It’s the closest you’ll get to being in a pilot’s seat while still standing on the ground.

[Torkel] is the CEO of Intuitive Aerial, makers of the huge Black Armor Drone, a hexacopter designed for aerial photography. With the Rift FPV rig, the drone carries a huge payload into the air consisting of two cameras, a laptop and a whole host of batteries. The video from the pair of cameras is encoded on the laptop, sent to the base station via WiFi, and displayed on the Oculus Rift.

Latency times are on the order of about 120 ms, fairly long, but still very usable for FPV flight. [Torkel] and his team are working on a new iteration of the hardware, where they hope to reduce the payload mass, increase the range of transmission, and upgrade the cameras and lenses.

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GoPro hack delivers live video feed for piloting your Quadcopter


The GoPro line of HD cameras seem like they were specifically designed for use with quadcopters. We say that because the small, light-weight video devices present a payload which can be lifted without too much strain, but still have enough horse power to capture video of superb quality. Here’s a hack that uses the camera to provide a remote First Person View so that you may pilot the aircraft when it is out of your line of sight.

The camera in question is a GoPro Hero 3. It differs from its predecessors in that the composite video out port has been moved to a mini USB connector. But it’s still there and just a bit of cable splicing will yield a very clear signal. The image above shows the camera in the middle, connecting via the spliced cable to an FPV transmitter on the right. This will all be strapped to the quadcopter, with the signal picked up by the receiver on the left and piped to a goggle display worn by the pilot. You can see the cable being construction process in the clip after the break.

If you’re looking for other cool stuff to do with your GoPro camera check out the bullet-time work [Caleb] did with ours.

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Launching a glider from space


We get a ton of tips about weather balloon launches taking hobby electronics into space. But every once in a while one of them stands out from the rest. This project does send an electronic payload into space, but it also lets [David] fly his hardware back from near-space using an RC airplane.

The return vehicle is unpowered, but that shouldn’t be a problem as launching from a weather balloon will provide plenty of altitude for the flight. Because the temperature experienced in that part of the atmosphere is so cold [David] had to take several things into account. Obviously you want your batteries and control electronics to be insulated from the cold. But something that doesn’t usually pop into mind are issues with the servo motors which run the glider’s flaps. They usually have some white grease on the gears. At temps as low as -50C that grease will harden and make the servo stop working so he made sure to clean the gears thoroughly before the flight.

Unfortunately [David] had several problems capturing images and recorded video from the ground station. But his write up is still a fun read and the clip after the break gives a general overview of the entire project from the nose camera of the glider.

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Remote control does everything

After a year of development, the OSRC is ready to hit a manufacturing plant. This transmitter (and receiver) for remote control cars, airplanes, quadcopters, and semi-autonomous drones features modular everything and allows you to transmit video from the cockpit and display it on a screen in the palm of your hands.

This isn’t the first time we’ve posted something on the OSRC, but since then [Demetris], the team lead has released a ton of information on the capabilities of the OSRC main unit, the clip-on FPV display, and the receiver and transmitter modules made to operate with the OSRC.

Unfortunately, [Demetris] spent a good deal of money developing the OSRC and is now doing a pseudo-kickstarter, ostensibly to gauge interest and allay a bank’s fears when applying for a small business loan. If all goes as planned, the OSRC base unit should cost somewhere around €300, a significant sum, but really not that bad considering the OSRC simply does more than other high-end RC transmitters.

We’re hoping enough people will step up and promise to buy the OSRC after it goes into manufacturing, otherwise we’ll be waiting a few more years before the big names in the RC transmitter game manage to come out with a similar product.