I am a film producer and was just recently introduced to the idea of using a helicopter drone for film. The more I have researched the more fascinated I have become with the idea. That being said I am in desperate need of your help. I am so new to this that most everything in the forums just goes right over my head. I don't have the foggiest what most of it means.
I am looking to find a helicopter drone that is capable of carrying something as large as a dslr. I think it would need a gyro gimbal (I think that is what it is called) to help keep it level and smooth. Also, the ability to see the video from the helicopter so that you have an idea of what you are capturing. Thats about it. I don't need a million bells and whistles because I wouldn't know what to do with them.
Any suggestions? I don't even know where to begin. It appears you can build them yourself for much cheaper but then as I said I don't know anything about them and it seems complicated. Any recommendations for the cheapest helicopter out there that still has good enough quality and matches what I am looking for? I would love something in the thousand dollar range but I don't know if that is totally unrealistic?
Any help from all of you experienced pros would be greatly appreciated.
Any thoughts? This is all so new to me and I would like to know what simulator gives you the best training experience at the most competitive cost.
I really dont have an aswer to that, you might want to ask on a larger forum like rcgroups.com. I used ClearView for fixed wing flying because it was very inexpensive and ran well on my laptop, but the multicopter models are a little lacking. RealFlight is a popular one but I dont know much about it and its more expensive.
The two main RC simulators out there are:
Real Flight http://www.realflight.com/
FMS is the free flight sim usually included with the cheap USB controllers. There's also a lot of others, but they're all way behind the two leaders I mentioned, at least according to the internet impression I get. I've tried them both and they're both good. Each has some better aspects than the other, but both are very realistic compared to my fixed wing experience. I can't really speak for the quads or heli sim features because I don't fly them in real life.
I think you're better off with a real RC simulator if you're trying to learn how to fly. X-plane is a flight sim. Flying a real plane is a lot easier than flying RC. Not sure if x-plane has small models or good fixed point views, but I doubt it's as accurate, and certainly not as easy to use, as the RC sims.
Thanks, I was wondering that. How similar is flying one of the normal helicopters in the simulator to flying a quadcopter? Are they very different from one another or will they be fairly similar?
I can't say since I've never flown a quad or heli before. However, after I crashed my plane a few times my simulator controller finally arrived. I found the simulator to be exactly the same as real flight after I loaded a similar model to what I was flying. So I then proceeded to crash the simulator a few hundred times until I got the hang of it.
Looking at Real Flight G4.5 on my comp... It has several heli training modes and a handful of helis. AeroFly also has about 5 helis. I didn't see any quads in either, but you might be able to download models and there's a lot of models in RFG4 and I don't know the names so I might have missed one.
I'd try the trial versions if available, or look on their websites, or read some of the more thorough reviews out there. They both have good and accurate flight dynamics IMHO. I'd think that the helis would be pretty close to flying a quad. The helis are not easy to master in any case and learning them could only help. Just see how often you crash and remember that would probably happen in real life, then you'll be thankful for the sim.
I have Real Flight simulator and it has worked wonders on just flying a heli. I can't really speak for all but if you can fly the Heli the quad is easier in my opinion. I just fly helis on my simulator and it has helped wonders when I bout my first Heli and quad. Also if your wanting to fly FPV I use it in Real flight and its fun.
Jake, I'm not a film pro, but I am interested in aerial video via multicopter and am beginning to learn what is necessary to get it done safely and reliably. There is much to learn.
While there are turn-key systems for pro video available, they cost thousands of dollars. Without a good understanding of all the subsystems involved, it's only a matter of time before the rig fails in some way, leaving you with no idea of what went wrong or how to fix it. Without a good education in how these things work, from the ground up, so to speak, you'll just be throwing good money away with very little to show for it but a pile of busted parts. If you buy a complete system at this stage - you don't know how to fly *anything* yet - it won't be a complete system for long!
Multi-rotor aircraft is a very complex hobby. it combines electronics, radio control, computer programing and model building. Do you have experience in any of these? Can you solder? If you can, and are able to build models carefully, you can probably buy kits or parts and build your own multicopter far less expensively. That's the best way, too, because you get a thorough understanding of every part and system on the aircraft.
For me, the best way to go was to buy a flight simulator, and order a quadcopter kit to build while learning to fly in the simulator. I chose the PhoenixRC simulator. For $175.00, less than the price of the competing software alone (RealFlight or AeroFly), you not only get a very good simulator that includes a quadcopter sim (I don't think the others have one in their basic package), the controller that comes with PhoenixRC is an actual Spektrum 5 Channel 2.4 Ghz Transmitter that can be used to fly your first quad. Or any other model you chose to fly in the future. PhoenixRC is by far the best value in flight sims for those interested in multi-rotor flight and do not have a real transmitter yet. It also includes dozens of regular heli and fixed wing aircraft sims. (I'm not affiliated with PhoenixRC. I just did my homework and this is what I think after buying it.)
The quad kit I chose to build while learning to fly is the X-525. if you can do basic wiring and soldering, this is an excellent value on an entry-level quad kit that'll teach you all you really need to know about the basics of how these things work. After you build it, tune it and crash it a bunch, and then learn how to get it back in the air, you'll be in an excellent place to begin planning your Hexacopter for stable, reliable aerial video and photography. Have fun!
Thanks for the long response. I find it very helpful. I have some experience building models and absolutely none in computer programming. I am the type of person that can pick things up fairly quickly but there are some aspects of this that do seem very overwhelming. Do you or anyone else reading this thread no of online tutorials for this type of thing. Specifically video tutorials taking you through the step by step process on some of this stuff? If not, maybe there is an idea for some of you pros out there :) I already purchased the real flight simulator software just yesterday ( I found a great deal on Amazon for much cheaper) and am looking forward to learning how to fly the helicopters.
So to all you experienced fliers out there: How did you learn? Did you have someone personally teaching you, books, internet? Everyone has to start from the beginning at some point. I would love to hear recommendations on how to begin learning some of the stuff mentioned above (electronics, radio control, computer programming, and model building). I appreciate all the help. I am definitely going to need it.
You chose RealFlight Basic? I'd suggest you return it unopened if it's not too late. Amazon makes that very easy to do. It may look like a bargain at $99, but it is not upgradeable. From the RealFlight Support website:
"Due to the differences in the controller hardware that is included with RealFlight Basic and RealFlight G5, an upgrade is not feasible. G5 requires the full feature, USB InterLink controller."
Also, their Expansion Packs ($30 bucks each, which is where you get their quad sim) are not compatible and will not install in RealFlight Basic. Again, from their website:
"The RealFlight Expansion Packs are not compatible with RealFlight Basic. Expansion Packs 1 through 4 are compatible with RealFlight G3 and above. Expansion Packs 5 and 6 are compatible with RealFlight G4 and above."
This hobby, maybe more than most others, requires careful thought about future needs before buying anything. If you buy only just what you need for today, you'll soon wind up with a big box full of obsolete stuff that does not serve your needs going forward. And you will wind up paying much more in the end.
RealFlight Basic seems like a bargain, but when you factor in the cost of the transmitter that it does *not* come with, you're actually spending a lot more by the time you get to the flying field, which is what this is all about. (The controller that RealFlight Basic comes with not only can't be used as a transmitter, it can't even be used with any other RealFlight simulator!)
The full-fledged transmitter that PhoenixRC comes with - a Spektrum 5eDX - retails for $99. Throw in $75 bucks for a top-of-the-line simulator that is fully upgradeable, and *includes* a quad sim with no "expansion packs" to buy to boot, and you are *way* ahead of the game when you get to the flying field. You've spent significantly less and gotten more for it.
As far as on-line tutorials, they're all over the 'net! Some better than others, but just about anything you might have a question about, some guy has a video or a blog or both detailing how to do it. You might find half a dozen guys with half a dozen ways of doing it! Between those and the RCGroups.com forum and this forum here at DIYDrones, I doubt there is a problem you can't solve or a skill you can't learn.
It's working so far for me! Here is the Build Log of my very first quad - the X525. I couldn't have done it without the help of other online builders... Good Luck!
Your advice is very helpful! I did purchase the real flight G5 off amazon for $150 however now I am still debating returning it and getting the phoenix RC just for the transmitter. I will have to look more into that. I think you are right. I could buy a ready to fly helicopter for $600 but I don't know the first thing about it. It would be great to start from the ground up and really begin to figure out how it works so that I can someday upgrade to a much better helicopter for filming. I think your build log is super useful. Thanks for taking the time to post it. I will probably end up going your route, but as you say this is all stuff that needs careful consideration and planning.