RO7: What Type of UM Aircraft Do You Fly?

A few announcements: I’m happy to announce that this is my 50th post on umFlight, and the total number of page views crossed 10,000 earlier this month (just 3-6-ish days ago)! I’m planning forums and maybe a store soon… Now for Reader’s Opinion 7:   

Here’s how it will work: The second Sunday of every month, I will post a question. Then readers can write their opinion in the comments.

Today’s Reader’s Opinion:

What type(s) of UM RC aircraft do you fly?

I fly quadcopters and planes (I switched from RC helicopters because they where too hard to hover). However, I still like non-collective pitch RC helicopters, but I don’t currently have any. 

 

Now it’s you’re turn to vote in the poll; after voting, make sure to say why in the comments!


Thanks for reading, and my look for a new post next Sunday!

FPV Quadcopter Build Update

Well… My first quadcopter build that I’ve, for some reason, named the Gecko, isn’t coming along well. But it will come as soon as it actually works right. A list of problems:

1. It doesn’t fly for more than 3 minutes.


2. Something happened (a sudden increase in current draw from motors?) that caused it to lose power and crash. I replaced motors to slightly slower ones, but I haven’t pushed it as far as I did when it crashed yet. 


3. Even with short flight times, it uses a 700-800 mAH battery.

 

I am currently trying to fix these problems so I can post a build guid soon. Thanks for reading umFlight! 

Blade Nano QX 3D First Look



Two days late, but I *definitely* had a good reason. (Full disclosure: I kept pushing the posting of this post back.) 

As I opened the box of the new Blade Nano QX 3D, I wondered how it would compare to the original NQX. If flying upside down when the quadcopter always looked half way upside down would be any fun. Or if I would put it to the side and fly the original NQX around the room. 

I bound my DX6 to it and flew it. WOW! It almost feels like it has brushless motors compared to the original, and I had to constantly remind myself that they were brushed! In intermediate mode and beginner mode, I had lots of fun pushing the right stick on my DX6 all the way forward and zooming around the (thankfully) large living room. It is durable; after a high-speed crash after attempting a flip, I only broke the motor mount/blade guard. $9 and I was in the air again. (Note that it still flew after the crash. It just had a bad vibration.)

Look for a full review next Sunday or maybe the Sunday after. Thanks for reading! Enjoy, comment, subscribe, and share…

Nano QX DX6 Settings



When my new Nano QX came in a few weeks ago, there were no instructions for programming it with the DX6. If I just made a new model (airplane), the NQX worked, but there was no agility mode. Read on to find out how I set it up.

After browsing, I saw some DX9 settings on RCGroups (link: http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2035286). I decided to modify them slightly to my needs and they worked perfectly! Note that these setting also should work for the new DX7, DX9, DX18 v2, and DX18 Stealth Edition as well as the DX6. Here they are:

Servo Setup: AUX1: Reverse; Everything else: Normal

System Setup>channel assign> next>: change AUX 1 to C

(This selects the switch that you switch between Stability and Agility modes on. I wanted to use the C switch to change from Stability to Agility. Use any switch you want. For example, if you want to switch from Stability mode to Agility mode using the B switch, change it to AUX1: D instead of AUX1: C. Personal preference.)

However, as mentioned later in the thread, the DX18 settings in the manual work. I think that I did something wrong when I tried those ones first and they didn’t work… (Quick note: DX18, DX9, DX7, and DX6 programming is the same except for the loss of channels.)

Thanks for reading umFlight. If you liked this post, please share, subscribe over in the sidebar, and leave a comment. New post next Sunday!

RO 6: Do You Prefer Quadcopters or Planes for FPV?

Firstly, I’m going to be adding a brief description about Reader’s Opinion to the top of this RO and future Reader’s Opinions. The description is copied and pasted from my original introduction to Reader’s Opinion.

Here’s how it will work: The second Sunday of every month, I will post a question. Then readers can write their opinion in the comments.

Reader’s Opinion 6:

Do you prefer quadcopters of planes for FPV?

I still prefer quadcopters, but I will give planes an other try with a working camera soon.

Thanks for reading. If you liked this post, please subscribe to umFlight. What do you prefer for FPV? Vote in the poll or leave a comment!

FPV Planes vs Quadcopters: Which is the Better First FPV Aircraft? (Part 2)

Warning: you should be VERY proficient at flying RC planes normally before attempting to fly an RC plane via FPV. If you are going to fly FPV quadcopters, you should be proficient at flying quads normally before attempting to fly a quad copter via FPV.

Recommendations:

I’m going to go against what several others say and recommend that you start with a quadcopter. A quadcopter, in my opinion, is best for learning FPV because it can hover and fly slowly as you get used to the new perspective.

Hovering allows you to fly up to a area with no obstacles and just sit there and hover and look around, getting used to the new perspective. Also, you can stop and hover later in the learning curve if you start to lose control.

Flying slowly allows you to slowly start moving. Move forward a bit. Hover. Move forward a bit. This allows your brain (or at least mine!) to get used to the brand new perspective slowly. Then, when you’re ready, you can start moving the quadcopter faster and faster.

But Which Quadcopter?

IMG_4016

Well, since this is a blog about UM aircraft, I’m going to recommend a UM quadcopter to start on. I started on the FPV Nano QX. Yes, flight times are short (I got up to three minutes), but it’s durable and small enough to find a large room, go up 7-ish feet, hover, and slowly start moving it.

Conclusion:

Thanks for reading part 2, and I hope it helped you choose a first FPV aircraft. Reader’s Opinion will be out at 5 AM next Sunday, so stay tuned!

Ads and umFlight

In mid-January, I moved my blog from WordPress.com, a free service, to a host that costs me $60 a year. And the domain name (umflight.com) costs $10 a year.

Sadly, I am adding ads to umFlight to pay for hosting, the domain name and other costs related to running umFlight. This will put more money into my RC budget, allowing me to review more planes and possibly do some experiments (the planes may or not survive!). If I make extra, this will also allow me to get even more review and experimental aircraft along with parts for builds to share on umFlight. Of course, sharing my builds depends on if I ever get a successful build!

However, I hate websites that have lots of ads like many others do. So that’s why I’m only putting one banner ad on the top of the home page, right below the title. It should be approved by Google soon. umFlight will NOT become a place for thousands of ads! Because, like many of you, I hate too many ads that make the user experience bad, I am not planning on adding more than a couple of ads per page or the least amount necessary to make enough money to keep umFlight thriving.

Thanks for understanding and for reading umFlight!

My New Fleet

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You may be wondering why I never posted yesterday. And why part 2 of last week’s post hasn’t been published. I’ll give those answers.

Firstly, I remembered that I would have a few new aircraft come in today. This gave me the idea to, instead of a part 2, give some brief previews on these new products that will be reviewed. Be assured that part 2 will come out on or before next Sunday.

1. UMX Radian:

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I couldn’t resist. The remarkable wind handling of the last one, which I reviewed here, and long flight times made me finally cave in and buy a second one. At least I was able to hold out for four months.

2. Spektrum DX6:

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I really enjoyed my old DX6, but it had a problem with no signal coming out only a few months after purchase. I decided to not send it in, but to keep it as a simulator transmitter and get a higher-end transmitter for normal flying. That never really worked out. I ended up getting another DX6i, missing the DX6’s features a lot.

So, when the time came for me to really rebuild my fleet, I decided to upgrade to the DX7. However, it was too much money to get at the same time as a Radian, Nano QX, and the NQX’s big brother. So I got another DX6, and I’m really happy with it.

(Note: my old DX6 always failed to bind on the first try. I had to try again for it to work. This one binds perfectly.)

3. Blade Nano QX:

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I really enjoyed the first one that I had in 2013. It, as I said a previous post about how I got started in RC, broke in August-ish. Then, I got another. That was still going strong until a few months ago. Somehow, I managed to lose it. I guess I’ll find it once I fly the new one.

Anyway, the Nano QX is one of the best indoor quadcopters. I would have said it was the best, but then its big brother came along…

4. NEW Nano QX 3D:

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This thing is… AMAZING! I was flying so fast around me in the living room that I thought that my head might spin off from moving in circles to keep it in view. Everything else was blurry, and that was only in intermediate mode!

Even more impressive, the NQX 3D got five minutes forty seconds until LVC with the timer activating/deactivating when the throttle went above/below 25% with this flying! I have decided to try to make the timer start and stop at 10% throttle, leaving the timer at five minutes. Maybe I’ll change the timer to start/stop at 25% throttle and last for four minutes.

Conclusion:

Well, there’s the new fleet! I’m going to finally review what I haven’t reviewed soon.

This fleet actually has some type of structure so I don’t buy things left and right. The Radian is the plane that will be flown in high winds, the NQX is the standard house flyer, and the NQX 3D is the indoor pocket rocket! Oh, and the Champ that I’ve had since Christmas, well, I still think that everyone needs a Champ. Also, the Proto X that I’ve had for a while is my very, very, very small flyer.

Thanks for reading, and part 2 of last week’s post will be posted sometime on or before next Sunday the 1st. Then there’s Reader’s Opinion, and then more reviews.

FPV Planes vs Quadcopters: Which is a better First FPV Aircraft? (Part 1)

Warning: you should be VERY proficient at flying RC planes normally before attempting to fly an RC plane via FPV. If you are going to fly FPV quadcopters, you should be proficient at flying quads normally before attempting to fly a quad copter via FPV.

Now that the warning/disclaimer for new pilots is over, we can get started.

This is part 1 of a two-part series about whether you should choose a plane or quad copter for your first FPV aircraft. Note: The quadcopter that I’m going to make a build post is still being refined, so the post won’t be out for 2-3 weeks.

So, you’re a good UM RC plane or quadcopter pilot and want to get into FPV. But, should you go with a plane or quad for that first FPV flight? Read on to find out.

My Story:

I flew “FPV” for the first time last December. It was with an AR Drone, which has an FPV camera and displays the video on an iDevice, but I really spent most of the time looking at the drone, sometimes looking at the screen. Then, the Friday after Christmas 2013, I got the Walkera Ladybird FPV, which I barely spent two seconds looking at the screen at a time while hovering.

So, none of those were real FPV. I just looked at my screen every once in a while to either try to fly FPV, or look at where I was from an areal perspective. That all changed at 9:00 AM EST on Christmas Day, 2014…

I received the NEW Blade Nano QX FPV. After charging the battery that came with it (and trying to find my other batteries), I took off. For the first few flights, I sat on the couch in the family room and hovered above family members in the living room. After a few flights, I was racing around the house in less than a minute each time. Then the camera sensor CAME OFF. I was trying to twist the lens to focus, but it wasn’t on straight, so I twisted the whole sensor off…

So I ordered another camera to put on my Champ. It arrived on the 5th of January, and I managed to put it into the air on January 7th. My experience probably isn’t fair because the camera that I put on the plane had a problem: everything was dark. I had to dive to see where I was in relation to the ground.

However, there was a difference even when I ignored the camera issue. The plane moved all the time, and it seemed quite fast. It seemed faster when I was looking through the camera and taking off and about to run into a mailbox than from a third person view.

I also got a bird’s eye view from way up in the sky surveying the neighborhood and diving down to try to see things… It was relaxing once I got up to altitude… sort of. Remember, I still couldn’t see well do to camera problems and the range on the Champ, which doesn’t use a full range receiver, is something that I didn’t want to test as I flew higher than I’ve ever flown around the neighborhood. A combination of these two things kept me diving, going back up, turning, diving, going back up, you get the idea.

Conclusion:

Thanks for reading part 1. Stay tuned for part two next Sunday. Maybe I’ll even get it out at 5:00 AM! Just dreaming… (Really, I’m usually dreaming at 5 AM!)

Thanks for reading, enjoy, and please subscribe to umFlight if you liked this post!