Hex Crash II (Feet or Meters?)

So fresh off my last crash flight, I rebuilt the HEX, made up some ghetto landing gear from the other broken landing gear and had flown it successfully (manually) a few times.

Time to try another autonomous flight.

So the plan was pretty simple, a nice routine flight around our perimeter.


Batteries charged, I headed out to basically waypoint (1), or home.   Where I launched it manually, hovered it, the flipped it into Auto-mode to execute the flight plan.

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Blade 350QX Transplant, It Lives, and Flies!

Blade 350QX

So a little while back I picked up a Blade 350QX, which is a ‘retail’, shade above ‘toy grade’ drone, or multi-rotor.   Out of the box this thing is pretty sweet for what it is.  Basically, it’s an out of the box, get you in the air and flying quad rotor, VTOL (Vertical Take Off and Landing) device (or Drone).   Though drone is such a nasty word at the moment.

I’m not going to review it here, there are plenty of reviews on the net.  If you’re interested just search.

Basically, out of the box the blade 350qz has 3 modes.

GREEN Mode, or ‘Simple’, which means it’s really easy to fly, maximum flight controller assistance, in fact you don’t even have to worry about orientation. (aka Beginner mode)

BLUE Mode, or ‘Stabilized’, which keeps it level if you let off the sticks but you still have to ‘fly it’ (aka medium mode).   If you pitch it 45 degrees, and left off the flight controller will bring it back level.

RED mode, or  ‘Acro’ short for acrobatic mode, which means you really have to fly it, keep it level, etc.  This is advanced or  pro mode, in this mode you can do flips, you can get this thing upside-down, which if you’re not ready for that, well it’s gonna crash.   In this mode if you pitch it 45 degrees and left off the stick it will still be at 45 degrees and likely falling out of the sky unless you counteract that pitch.

It has 3-axis stabilization in stabilized mode, gps assist in simple mode, no assistance in Expert mode.

If I’m not reviewing it why am I telling you all of this?  Here’s why.

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Multirotors and Trees Oh My.

Having already smashed my Blade QX350 you’d a thought I’d be a little more careful.  But no.  On Matthew’s 6th birthday I thought I’d take the Hex out for a spin and document the White Death that had come down upon us the previous day.   If it’s going to be cold, might as well have snow.

So I strapped the legacy Contour HD camera to the Hex and took it out for a spin.

photo 1

Changes since the most recent flight included, the landing gear, and the weight of the camera.   Should have probably re-tuned it but I didn’t.

The plan was simple.   Start it up in the driveway, and execute an Auto-Flight that would circle the property filming the spectacular views.   Best laid plans.

Continue reading “Multirotors and Trees Oh My.”

Multi-Rotors, a new hobby.

Long story short.   I’ve have wanted to get into RC helicopters for a long time, but they are hard, real hard to fly.  At least the cool collective pitch types that have the most maneuverability and seem like the most fun.   A buddy of mine tried, and gave up.  Then he found multi-rotors, and the Ardupilot platform and started building.

I initially acquired a Blade Nano QX for use in the office to learn to fly, and because it’s cheap and easy fun.  Almost indestructible.

Then I picked up a Blade QX350, which is awesome, but not programmable, or missionable.  But it has ‘safe’ modes, is GPS aware and will return to launch with the flip of a switch.

On Thursday, I built a Ardupilot based DJI F550 Hex with Jason.


We assembled it in one day and test hovered it by 3:30pm in the afternoon.   This was only doable because Jason has built a couple of these and spent countless hours figuring out the nuances.   I am forever grateful for that.  I’m sure he saved me much frustration.

So we built it on Thursday and flew it a little bit.   And by a little bit, I mean hovered a little, tested a few modes, but didn’t get out of his back yard and not more than 30 feet off the ground or more than 30 feet away from me.

This morning that changed.

I was able to get it out and fly a bit in the front yard.   Living on 16 acres has it’s advantages.   I was able to exercise a couple modes.  Standard stability, Stability with simple, the new Drift mode as well as test return to launch.

This Google Earth plot shows everywhere we went, using the actual mission planner GPS data.


I don’t have a camera mounted to it yet, but Molly took a little video of it with my phone.

DJI F550 Hexcopter first real flight.

Some video footage (raw) from a QX350 flight last weekend is here:

Blade QX350 with Contour HD camera mounted.

We were flying the Blade QX last weekend on the edge of that nasty storm.  It was surprisingly stable in up-to 30mph gusts.    It was blowing like crazy but stability mode really kept it controllable.  Pretty amazing actually.

I would never have tried that with the new F550 but the blade is rock solid in conditions like this.

Until next time.