Gareth Rens's Posts (21)

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Dji F550 Heavy Lift Conversion (F650)


Converted my huge ass octo (1m) into a more manageable hexa (650mm) It now fits in the car nicely!

Flies really well considering the smaller size.

Used bigger Turnigy G10 810kv motors, 60A turnigy Dlux ESCs and had motor mount extensions cut out of 3mm hollow core carbon fibre.

Running 2x 4S 6000mah. Flight time of around 12mins.

Gonna put my SLR on tomorrow :)


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APM2 conversion to Naza

Morning everyone!

So i decided to try the whole Dji thing. It took all of about 20mins to swop the APM2 with the Naza.

The setup is as simple as it gets. That took no more than 10 mins.

After installing the hardware and software I took it outside and attempted the first flight.

All I have to say is wow! A truly awesome piece of engineering! Dont get me wrong, I love my ardupilot!

But the Naza is just amazing! Im not a very experienced pilot so im still a little wobbly flying the APM2.

The real reason behind buying the Naza, is for videography. I cant fly the APM2 stable enough for videography, obviously its perfectly suited for that, Im just not experience enough to fly it well enough. Duran DeV flies all his copters on APM and his videos are mind blowing. So its not the FC, its the pilot!

For a not so fresh noob, the Naza makes the whole experience a dream. I did a direct swop out of the FC on the standard jDrones Arducopter and it worked like a charm, no tuning or anything.

I only flew it in atti mode. Which I think is awesome for videography, the alt hold is accurate to within a few centimeters.

And when I put my gopro on it, which threw out the COG, the flight dynamics remained exactly the same!

I hope the Ardu boys dont get upset with me for posting this, but one has to have an open mind to all new tech :)


P.S. I bought a ST Discovery high wing foamy trainer for my APM2 for photogrammetry, so Ill post some vids and or crashes of that soon!

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Sorry for the video quality, but the slr was tied up :)


Finally finished the universal IR camera shutter release device.

The requirements were:

1. Remotely trigger the camera to take 3 photos in a row using a switch on the transmitter.

2. A solution that doesnt involve a physical connection to the camera, as my shutter release port on my Nikon is taken up with a GPS geotagger cable.

3. A universal trigger that will work with most cameras that have IR shutter releases.

3689442809?profile=originalWhat I put together:

An Arduino Uno based MCU that has specific libraries by Sebastian Setz for IR communication for cameras.

A super simple code. Involving nothing more than a shutterNow(); to trigger the shutter and delays for inbetween shots.

One of the best things is that this system is almost universal, it works with the following:






Now getting the arduino to take pictures via an IR connection to the camera is easy.

The next part was triggering the arduino using the RC Transmitter. No easy feat unless you get a RelaySwitch from DIYDrones. It converts the signal from the RX to a simple on off relay.

Details are here:

If you own an APM1 you could set up channel 7 to switch the relay then just substitute the relayswitch for that.

The reason I havent used my APM1 is cause I plan on using an APM2 and they no longer have a relay on-board.

Below is my code:

Each time I flick a switch or push a button on the tx the camera takes 3 photos. Job done. AF is integral.

#include <multiCameraIrControl.h>
const int buttonPin = 2;
int buttonState = 0;

Nikon D5000(9);
void setup(){
  pinMode(13, OUTPUT);
  pinMode(buttonPin, INPUT);
void loop(){
  buttonState = digitalRead(buttonPin);
  if (buttonState == HIGH) {     
    // turn LED on:    
  digitalWrite(13, HIGH);
  digitalWrite(13, LOW);
  else {
    // turn LED off:
    digitalWrite(13, LOW);

Below is the library you need:

Arduino multiCameraControl Library

If you want to use this on an aircraft or multirotor, just use the arduino pro mini instead of the uno.

The Mini is 35mm x 18mm, small enough to swallow... Also you can power the board via the RX, so no extra wires.

Just a small box plugged into your RX and facing your camera.

Hopefully this helps someone like it helped me.



Theres no need for the relay switch! Thanks to Greg for the idea and code!

Just plug the signal cable from the RX directly into pin 2 of the arduino.

#include <multiCameraIrControl.h>
const int buttonPin = 2;
unsigned long buttonState;

Nikon D5000(9);
void setup(){
  pinMode(13, OUTPUT);
  pinMode(buttonPin, INPUT);
void loop(){
  buttonState = pulseIn(buttonPin, HIGH);
if(buttonState < 1500){
    // turn LED on and take 3 photos:    
  digitalWrite(13, HIGH);
  digitalWrite(13, LOW);
  else {
    // turn LED off:
    digitalWrite(13, LOW);

Project completed using Arduino Pro Mini


A little bit of heat shrink around the board and we're in business :)

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A Date with Ms. Purple (APM2)

Some interesting videos of my morning flights with the latest firmware and APM2.

Dont forget to watch the last video ;)

1st loiter

Arducopter, now with REAL chicken sound effects...
Loiter worked quite well considering the drift issue...
It only started to drift after a while.
Seems like the more stick input you give, the worse the drift gets.]

2nd loiter It went better, I tried to stay away from using too much stick.

1st alt hold. Went beautifully, as good as the sonar! Still the drift issue in stabilize.

low level alt hold
Pool noodles rock!

Karlas first attempt
I suppose I should fix the drift issue before I let my GF fly it...
Fortunately I was controlling the throttle and trying to film.
Funny as hell! It landed on the roof...

Loiter and Alt Hold work fine. But the drift issue makes it un-flyable!
The only thing that fixes the drift issue is resetting the board.
Then it works for 20-30s and then cant fly it anymore.
Running the level command and in-flight leveling doesnt do sh*t.


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1st Octo Flight


I finally worked up the balls to fly the thing!
Im quite impressed that it actually flew and didnt just explode on the spot after arming the motors ;)

A little wobbly, but thats more me and the shaking than anything else.
Slight drifting, however I havent done the whole in flight leveling thing.

Firmware 2.2b2 Octa. Default PIDS.
So need to tune them! Any Octo guys have some pid suggestions? (What should I change?)
Im definitely looking for sluggish movement for taking photos/videos. I dont need any aerobatics.

As far as power goes, the whole time, i wasnt using more than a 1/4 throttle, even for lift off.
It did bob up and down a bit, thats also coz my TX throttle is a little stiff...

Yaw was perfect :)

All in all, it was a successful test flight! Especially since the last thing i built and flew was the
arducopter. Going from something that weighs 1.5kg with +-3kg of thrust.
To a MONSTER that weighs 4.7kgs with +-20kgs of thrust, is quite intimidating to say the least!

This is definitely a testiment to my engenuity, and most of all an absolutely SUPERB autopilot!

Next job, PID tuning!

Till then!


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CubeStormer II solves the Rubik's Cube puzzle faster than the human world record.

This ARM Powered robot was designed, built and programmed by Mike Dobson and David Gilday, creators respectively of CubeStormer

and Android Speedcuber

The mechanics are constructed entirely from LEGO, including four MINDSTORMS NXT kits, with the addition of a Samsung Galaxy S II smartphone running a custom Android app as the robot's brain. Both the MINDSTORMS NXT kits and the Samsung Galaxy SII use a variety of ARM --based processors.

The app uses the phone's camera to capture images of each face of the Rubik's Cube which it processes to determine the scrambled colours. The solution is found using an advanced two-phase algorithm, originally developed for Speedcuber, enhanced to be multi-threaded to make effective use of the smartphone's dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 1.2GHz processor. The software finds an efficient solution to the puzzle which is optimised specifically for the capabilities of the four-grip mechanism. The app communicates via Bluetooth with software running on the ARM microprocessors in the LEGO NXT Intelligent Bricks which controls the motors driving the robot. During the physical solve, the app uses OpenGL ES on the phone's ARM Mali-400 MP GPU to display a graphical version of the cube being solved in real time.

Human speedcubers' solve times only include the physical manipulation of the cube and don't include some time which is allowed to "inspect" the cube beforehand. Times recorded by CubeStormer II are for the total solve including: image capture, software solution calculation and physical solve.

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Birth of Octocopter :)


Almost there!
After countless hours of fitting and soldering, the thing is starting to look like something that will
actually fly! I had to make custom 3 degree mounts for the motors as they are too big for the frame.

Amazingly enough, the whole build was without any serious issues. Just niggly little gremlins that
were thwarted quickly.

Setup the APM1 board and all the esc & RC connections.
Loaded the latest firmware using MP.
At first it wouldnt arm, so I re-did the radio calibration and all worked flawlessly.
Im quite surprised as I had ENDLESS trouble with my arducopter but then again those were the
fresh n00b days. Im definitely on the road to not-so-fresh n00b :)

Thanks everyone who helped!

One thing I did notice is with the copter powered up, when I connect the USB to the PC. The
one motors spun up for like 100ms. Shouldnt be a problem. Havent connected via the xbee yet.

Today I plan to loctite all the motor screws and CAREFULLY give it a little test flight this
afternoon, as long as the wind dies down.

Hoping im not going to have too much stability issues.

One last point on vibration. The motors vibrate a little, and in turn vibrate the frame.
The electronics bed (clear polycarbonate) is mounted on 4 anti-vibration mounts.
They work alright, halving the vibration. The APM is mounted with 3 layers of foam double
sided tape. Im happy to report theres virtually NO vibration on it! W00t!

Will post some videos later!


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Turnigy G10 Outrunner - Hair Dryer & Thrust test

Motor: Turnigy G10 810kv

ESC: Turnigy dlux 55A SBEC

Battery: Turnigy Nano-tech 5000mah 4S1P

Prop: EPP1245 CF SF

I was expecting around 1.6kg of thrust per motor. My platform weighs about 5-6kg.
1.6 x 8 = 12.8kg for a 6kg platform is fine. With a 12x45 prop, im getting 2.4kg per motor.
I think I might have to add some weaponry or perhaps build a small cockpit for my cat!

Thanks to Karla for allowing me to test the "blow your hair back" factor.


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Backup system for BEC

So after much reading and research into the whole "backup" BEC saga. I think I've found a solution!

My first idea was just to run a 5.5v backup lipo in parallel with the 5v UBEC output.
This idea has been vitoed by most. Too many unknowns apparently.
The other was to parallel all the BECs up, but this would cause harmonics due to all the square wave interaction.

So I figured we cant mix power supplies. Other than using a microproccessor controlled mosfet to switch
power supplies when and if the bec dies.

We use a relay :) Bear with me.

The main power supply powers the relay. With the relay closed (NO) power is routed via the bec to the apm.
If the bec fails, the power to the relay fails and is switched to the auxillary power supply (battery or another bec)

This completely seperates the two power sources.

Will the relay be able to switch fast enough to the auxillary power source without the APM losing power?
If not, im sure a power capacitor will keep the APM alive long enough for the bi-pass surgery to take effect?

Above is a recording of the ciruit just in case my explaining skills are dodgy :)

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Gyro stabilized mount works quite well. The roll servo does seem to be a bit jerky, but from the forums it seems its one of the downsides to digital servos. What about a small air shock absorber? A trade off of reaction time for fluidity of movement. Although, the platform is for photos not video...

Comments any1? :)


P.s. When am I going to be able to use the APM v2.0 for the above??? :)

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MK Frame + Photoshipone Camera mount assembly

I decided to put the camera mount and frame together to get some sizes on the boards that hold the APM and flight electronics. Obviously being a MK frame, its suited for the MK boards, with regard especially to the MK escs.

Im going to have to make a small plate for the PDB, then two plates above for all the other electronics. Also I had to add silicone to the ball mounts to make them stiffer for an 800g camera.

Here are the pics:


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MikroKopter Okto XL frame arrived!


The frame set and some other goodies arrived today!

1x MK okto XL frame.

1x Altigator dome

2x bubble levels

10 x glass fibre 12x4.5 prop sets

1x 5A BEC

and a few other thingys.

Im very impressed with Altigators service! 

They even included some altigator stickers, a battery strap and a Chrismas hat! lol

The altigator hood is a little bit flimsy to say the least... But other than that, alls good.

Also the MK riggers are only 1cm square, so considerably smaller than the AC.

They are however slightly thicker walled.

As soon as my PDB and camera mount/LG arrives from photoship one, I will start the initial build.

Also waiting for motors and ESCs from Hobby King...


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Spektrum DX8

Just got my DX8 + a second receiver for free!


Iv read more TX/RX reviews than I can stand and finally settle for this combo.

I have to admit its alot better than my turnigy 9x. Thank God for rechargeable batteries and no #%$#$ beeping!!!

The features are great and the telemetry for me was the biggest deciding factor.

Dont get me wrong, I trust the voltage monitor on the Ardupilot, I just wanted something stand alone that could tell me the voltage level and temp of my batteries. All things considered im going to be up in the air for 20+ mins per flight.

Also it has a nice throttle cut feature, where if the throttle drops below a specified level, you can set it to automatically switch to a pre defined mode, eg RTL! Hence, if I loose TX signal or the copter flies out of range of the TX. It should automatically RTL. This can also be setup on the APM firmware. Always a good idea to have double backup!

I like to be safe. Be prepared for everything, or as much as possible!

Theres no kill like over kill. ;)

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Solmeta GPS Tagger


Pretty amazing, a package sent from China via DHL on Monday.

Arrived this morning.

After unpacking and reading the not too good english manual, but much better than most.

I attached it to my Nikon. Simple, straight forward.

Iv attached a couple of geo-tagged images with the addition of compass bearing!

On the way to my field theres a san-pedro cactus outside our front gate. With an unusual amount of flowers on it.

That is the 1st pic, the 2nd is the field and the 3rd was the same cactus on my way back. Half an hour and half a million bees later. I couldnt get closer without getting stung...




The only slight problem I might have is I have to use the electronic shutter control on the nikon for triggering with that ppm relay board from DIYD. Problem is that the GPS cable and shutter cable are the same damn cable.

 So I either need to get a Y splitter or I have to carefully splice in a 3 wire cable for the shutter control...


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