Gary McCray's Posts (30)

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The new Sony looks way more Pro than GoPro


The New Sony RX0 looks like a really Superior camera for our use.

Probably too much to ask to make it work in our old Solos, but maybe with a Cube - who knows.

1" image sensor and high speed HD and shutter and zero to infinity focus and  pretty much distortionless.

Also has uncompressed 4K output.

My guess is this will totally take over from the GoPro in the Pro and Semi Pro applications.

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Nvidia TX1 SE kit a steal at $200.00

Hi all, long time no post, but this is too good.
3689719623?profile=originalThose of you doing development want this.
At $200.00 it is 3 times cheaper than the TX1 normal development kit/board and the only difference is no camera module, but any USB camera can be used.

Not quite the poop of the TX2, but for object avoidance or even navigation, by far the best / cheapest deal anywhere.

You will need to sign up as a Nvidia developer, but easy peasy.

If you really want to do neat stuff, this is what you need.

Best regards,


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Sony FDR X3000 4K Action Cam

Hi All, Sony has actually given us something to think about.


The Sony FDR X3000 Action Cam has 4K resolution, but for our use, the BOSS active optical stabilization is the important part.

The Electronic stabilization available on the new GoPro and previous Sony Action Cams has definitely not been up to the needs for being used gimballess on our multicopters.

Especially roll causes problems because of the difficulty in correctly compensating for it in on camera firmware.

Sony is the first company to offer a Action Cam with true optical stabilization and their BOSS stabilization provides possibly the best results of any of the consumer and prosumer video cameras and that is what they say that they have incorporated in this camera.

It sells for $350.00 and if their claims are true (and videos circulating on the internet suggest they are) then this should be very usable in multicopters without a gimbal (or maybe with a simple servo driven pitch only one to provide in flight adjustable up and down angle.)

As to controlling it in flight or extracting an FPV usable image, those are unknowns, but my thought is that it would certainly be worth seeing what this camera can do un-gimbaled on a quadcopter.

I have tried Sony's earlier version with electronic stabilization on my Hoverthings FPV Pro and it definitely does NOT provide sufficient stabilization, but the BOSS optical stabilization in the new one is a whole new ball game.

I know it's a weird form factor and it's interface capabilities are not so straight forward, but the picture is very high quality and it has very good color saturation and contrast and no fish eye and if the stabilizatuion works well enough this could be a great camera for us.

Just thought it was worth bringing this to the attention of my fellow DIYers and to ask if anybody gives one of these a try, please share your results.

Best Regards,


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I just saw this on our local news and was surprised nobody else had posted it here yet.


Easily the truly stupidest idea I have ever seen - Dutch Police train Eagle to take down drone.

Better than the UnAmerican Eagle in the Our Man Flint Movies (that dates me a bit I'm afraid.)

Might be Ok with a $30.00 toy, but even a phantom would/could seriously damage an Eagle and a heavy quad or X* could cut it to ribbons.

This is right up there with introducing rabbits or cane toads to Australia (and that worked out so well).

Managed to offend three groups at once with this one, Animal rights People, Us and sane people everywhere and the news media is eating it up.

I used to think it was because anything sensational attracted them, now I think it's because they are just plain stupid.

I happily invite all comments, pro or negative to this post, you can see my stand, but I can't help but feel that most of you will be pretty disgusted by this as well. :)

Best Regards to you all,

Gary McCray - DronesAreFun

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Hi All,

We have a very short window of opportunity to comment on the FAA's proposed registration process.

I have sent in the following comment which you are welcome to copy, edit, do whatever you want with, but I think it realistically presents a decent case for moderation and common sense on the part of the FAA.

(Yeah I know good luck with that!)

In any case, here is my comment:

I understand the need for increased accountability when dealing with UAS of all types and some sort of registration process if appropriately limited can provide the access needed to better assure safety for everybody.
But there are some very important issues that should not be ignored.
There is a very large hobby market already in existence including RC Planes and toy quadcopters with many tens of thousands of people already owning and flying.
And so far these have been flying for decades with a very good safety record.
There are several classes of remotely controlled flying things that represent little or no real hazard to anyone, based on light weight, low mass and short range.
Individual UAS registration seems excessive, I personally have over 20 RC planes and quadcopters and registering each of them would be an unnecessary burden and serve no practical purpose.
So I propose that you consider the following.
1. Register "pilots" not UAS and make it free or very cheap in order to encourage compliance. Provide a pilot registration number that is required to be affixed to each of the "pilot's" qualifying UAS.
You could even provide some legal obligations information in the course of the pilots registration process.
This is much less ponderous than trying to deal with huge numbers of each individual UAS.
2. Set some reasonable limits on what is to be defined as a UAS.
At a minimum their should be a weight limit below which registration is not required.
For Multicopters I would suggest 1 Kilogram as this is a common cutoff in Europe and the UK but I realize that 1 kilo could still be dangerous and even 1 pound could be OK and would represent very little hazard.
You could also consider exempting specific examples of both quadcopters and fixed wing UAS based on specific construction benefits such as foam construction, short range and low mass.
It is my feeling that if you do not exempt toys and small UAS you will create an unenforceable and ponderous mess and damage the existing hobby and toy markets severely for no reason other than that you can.
I sincerely hope that you choose to take a conservative and reasonable approach to this that truly serves all of the American Public.

You can send your commentst in via the link here:!documentDetail;D=FAA-2015-4378-0022

3DRs link on this weeks download doesn't work and is already closed for some reason, but this one is still open (as I write this anyway).

Only have a few days to comment (probably don't want a repeat of all those comments they got last time).

Best Regards,


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Just had to tell all of you about this $59.95 three axis gimbal deal on EBay:


This seemed like a great deal and looks to be identical to DYS Gimbal on Hobbyking which is $200.00.

I got one and quality appears excellent though I haven't tried to use it yet (I will probably get another.) 

I'm planning on converting to a Storm 32 for a laser rangefinder scanner.

Apparently DSLRPros has moved on and is wholesaling them out.

I get nothing from anybody for this, but if you want a real 3 axis gimbal, this is the best deal you'll ever see.

Heres a link to the manual for the DYS:

Heres a link to the Basecam (Alexmos) Home page:

And a link to download the appropriate 8bit Alexmos Gui:

And a link to download the Alexmos manual PDF file:

(This does include the Alexmos 3rd axis expansion board.

Best regards to you all,


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My thoughts on the state of affairs.


Recently a local radio station asked me to comment on an interview relating to the current status of "drones".

I am enclosing the letter I sent to them declining phone interview for the reasons specified, but putting my "opinions" in writing instead for them to use as the wish.

I appreciate your interest, unfortunately, my hearing is quite compromised from racing boats and open exhaust race cars, so phone interviews don't really work to well for me.
However, I am happy to share some of my insights regarding this by Email if you don't mind.
I've been involved with Multicopters and autonomous and semi-autonomous flying for the past 4 years and was involved with RC flying since the 1950's on and off.
I'm a retired electronics engineer and was the primary contributor and lead editor of the DIYDrones instruction wiki on Multicopters, Fixed Wing and "Rovers" until recently.
I have strong opinions on the topics you mention, but I am not one sided about them.
In my opinion there are some genuine issues and several that are misrepresented and misunderstood by the general public.
The potential actual problems are: Safety of both people and property, intentional misuse, annoyance and invasion of privacy.
Safety is the most significant real issue and as these things are becoming commonplace and are being used by less and less well informed and well trained people there are going to be increasingly more "accidents".
Even the small and very popular, DJI Phantom quadcopter is definitely something you do not want falling on your head or being flown into you by some neophyte who thinks it's automatic capabilities should keep him out of trouble.
In the RC flying community accidents are taken with a grain of salt because generally all the people involved are already in the RC community itself.
However, increasingly the small multicopters are being used more and more by people with no training and no involvement in the RC community and are particularly being used to photograph or video people in public settings. (What can possibly go wrong?).
These are actually great little photo and video platforms, but to use them without an extensive piloting capability and not mindful of the potential problems and dangers is a serious liability.
That said, to this point there have been incredibly few noticeable and a tiny number of serious accidents with them world wide to this point in time.
Intentional misuse is another as yet virtually unrealized, but inevitable problem with "drones".
We already know what you can do with drones as demonstrated by our own military and various subsets of that can be easily adapted to the hobbyist market as well.
Current examples have been limited to abortive attempts to delivering contraband goods into prisons and moving drugs across the Mexico border, from all accounts entirely unsuccessfully, but undoubtedly that will change.
And criminals who already have free access to firearms and with an existing willingness to shoot anyone who gets in their way, obviously drones can be used for nefarious purposes.
Of course terrorists will eventually try to use these as well; for the most part we should be thankful they are generally as anti-technology as they are. (Which is why our US Military drones are sitting 5 miles away blasting away at their strongholds with Hellfire missiles and not vicea-versa.)
On a lesser note, annoyance and invasion of privacy are real public perception problems.
These can definitely introduce a discordant note buzzing overhead in a public park and given the general public heightened negative perception of "drones" this doesn't help.
As for invasion of privacy, this is much hyped but little in evidence at this time, sure there is potential to use these for some kinds of surveillance, but since the advent of cameras in cell phones and the proliferation of public surveillance cameras, there is really no longer any reasonable expectation for not being recorded.
Clearly the capability to invade property boundaries and take pictures through your window is possible, but it is difficult to implement and is subject to exactly the same laws that any trespasser would face right now.
I think that covers the bulk of problems.
However, the reality is that the potential uses of Drones / "UAV" - Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) have so much benefit that in the long run the problems simply have to be dealt with in a reasonable and balanced way.
Hobbyist stuff (including the new breed (non RC enthusiast) aerial photographer) needs to be regulated in a simple and clear fashion to prohibit flying unsafely and to include clear consequences for doing so.
And commercial stuff needs to be regulated more thoroughly with greater accountability of pilots, equipment and flight procedures.
Ostensibly this is what the FAA is supposed to be doing right now.
Unfortunately, in my opinion, they couldn't be doing a worse job of it if they tried.
Drone, "UAV" use is exploding World Wide right now both in hobby and in commercial use and virtually every other non-autocratic country is ahead of ours, almost entirely because of the FAA dragging it's feet and worse coming up with grossly unrealistic requirements and restrictions.
In fairness to the FAA, Drones are a can of worms with no upside for them, if they allow anything and something goes wrong they get all fingers pointing at them.
And that is completely unrealistic, even in manned airplanes, things go wrong, there are accidents and people die.
Drones are no different $%#@ Happens!
So of course the FAA is between a rock and a hard place, damned if they do and damned if they don't.
Sadly what this has meant is that first, they did nothing at all, then  they stalled and then finally they implemented such onerous and difficult requirements that only existing military contractors and major movie studios could afford to meet them. 
And actual commercial activity was effectively limited to less than 1% of what would actually be importantly useful.
As an example, for any commercial use an actual private pilots license is required and this may be upped to a commercial pilots license.
The fact is that while the ground school training could be of some use the requirement for the horribly expensive flight time and training (over $50,000 for private and many times that for commercial) is virtually useless for this application and in fact has been shown to even be counter productive because of the differences in flying a remote vehicle versus from the cockpit.
This is simply the FAA using an existing and inappropriate training regimen rather than developing an appropriate one.
And frankly a Real Estate Agent flying a phantom around a potential house for sale can learn everything he/she needs to know to safely get their photos/videos) in an afternoon with an experienced multicopter pilot.
I haven't really covered the potential uses of civilian drones, but they are huge in their potential impact.
Agriculture is the single biggest one, inexpensive fixed wing (airplane) and multicopter drones can deliver continuous timely updates on crop condition, adequacy of water and fertilization, pest infestation on a minute scale so remedies can be applied just where they are needed.
In many cases, production could be hugely increased, even doubled and expenses slashed.
This is about trillions of dollars and greatly increased crop production world wide.
Drones are also massively useful in finding and monitoring all other resource oriented operations as well, mining, oil, water, quarrying.
They are already being used on anti poaching and wildlife management operations in Africa.
They are also being put into use for Shark Watch and search and rescue operations in Australia.
Several organizations have tried to put them to use for fire spotting, disaster relief and search and rescue in the US, but have been effectively thwarted by government and bureaucratic agencies. 
News agencies are also finding them more and more desirable for gathering significant footage of unfolding events, but not surprisingly, government agencies and police and fire officials have sought to block access to drone over flight (because they don't really want to be scrutinized themselves with irrefutable video evidence). 
Ferguson recently being an example where exactly that was put into place with specific mention of no flight zones relating exactly to the areas of rioting and where police statements to the FAA were direct that they didn't want pictures being taken by the media of what they were doing.
The bottom line is drones are coming, specifically, quadcopters are coming, toy, hobbyist and photo / video (non-commercial) quadcopters are already multiplying like rabbits and are already beyond the reach of any simple ban or Draconian control. 
You can buy them on Amazon and EBay and at Walmart and Toys R Us.
We need to learn how to live with them.
They can be made safer by making them smaller and building them out of foam and other absorbent components as well as by making it very clear that they have to be flown responsibly or suffer the consequences.
The original foam bodied French Parrot and the new Parrot BeBop are excellent examples of intrinsically safe yet useful small quadcopters.
And the possibility to go smaller and safer still is going to be the main trend for non-commercial quadcopters (and other drones as well) from now on.
I am hoping the FAA eventually figures this out and establishes a specific size and weight below which there will be simple rules even for limited commercial use.
So far they have given no indication that this is something they are even vaguely interested in doing.
I've said way too much here, but this is a complicated issue, for me the pros far outweigh the cons, but for the public at large it is not clear cut.
I will stop now, if you have any additional questions, please ask, I am passionate about this topic and will be happy to respond.
If you haven't already done so you might also want to take a look at my web sites accessed from the main web site at:
Best Regards,
Gary McCray
I am sure many of you will disagree with some of the things I have said, but the fact of the matter is that we really need to take a realistic look at the issues shaping our hobby / passion and I thought this might stimulate some discussion.
So, please take it with a grain of salt and feel free to put in your own thoughts.
One thing I am certain of is that this is going to be a very interesting year for "drones" with a lot of good stuff and a lot of bad stuff.
Best Regards,

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GoPro 4 is Here - Sort of!

GoPro is finally announcing the new 4 Silver and Black:


It , of course has the new 30fps 4K and - not surprisingly costs $100.00 more than the last one so now $499.00.

Probably using the new Ambarella 9 chip, but no mention made of built in electronic image stabilization which is a feature of the Ambarella 9 chip.

The new Silver is also $100.00 more and has the nifty built in color touch screen.


Nice, but not earth shaking and a bit disappointing.

Why no stabilization (My Sony AS100V does remarkably well even on a quad with no gimbal) and why didn't they include the touch screen on the Black, you'd have thought they could have afforded it.

Sadly seems more notable for what they didn't do than what they did.

Still 4K at 30fps is more important than ever and that will certainly drive "pro" sales.

Here is the GoPro site:

The reason I said "sort of" is that the announcement says coming soon.

Our local hobby shop has been told they can start selling on October 5th.

Best Regards,


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One of the Problems with the PX4 / Pixhawk is that it uses a PPM-Sum receiver which when so configured may not work at all for the normal receiver based method of one at a time ESC programming.

And especially so for 4 in 1 ESCs.


The one at a time method I have developed uses the Wikis normal all at a time method that goes through the Pixhawk to the ESC rather than the receiver straight to the ESC.

It is essentially the same as the normal all at a time method for calibrating ESCs as described in the wiki (repeated 4 times)


Remove all ESC signal outputs except one from the PWM output side of the PX4 / Pixhawk.

If your ESC outputs only have one grounded connector as is the case for the 4 in 1 ESC leave that one connected and we will calibrate it first.

Follow the procedure in the wiki for calibrating all of the ESCs at one time (except only one ESC / motor will be getting calibrated and run when you put the throttle stick back up at the end of the procedure.

(Note, after the calibration procedure, it actually takes a bit of time after putting the stick back up before the motor will turn, on mine I actually need to move it up and down a few times to get this to work, but I believe it is a necessary part of the tuning procedure.

Then disconnect the battery again.

Put the throttle stick back up and we will do the next one, order is not important and it doesn't make any difference which PWM out line you use so long as it is one of the ones used for your number of motors.

After you have done this first ESC, if that ESC connector was the only 1 with a ground wire on it you must do the following: Turn the connector upside down upside down and slip the ground pin only on the far left ground pin only of your PX4 / Pixhawk. (OR) On a Pixhawk or PX4 with a case on it you will need to remove the ground socket pin from the ESC connector housing and put it on the ground pin of the PX4 / Pixhawk).

If you have grounds on all ESC signal connectors as is normal for individual ESCs you can ignore the procedure above.

In any case connect the next (any) ESC signal lead to one of the active PWM connectors (right 4 for a Quadcopter on a PX4) such that the signal ESC lead is connected to a PX4 / Pixhawk PWM signal out pin.

Perform the above procedures 3 more times for a quadcopter as described in the wiki substituting a different motor / ESC pin each time, making sure each motor does spin up properly at the end of each calibration procedure.

After the last one is completed, leave the battery connected and the throttle down and reconnect all ESC signal leads to the PX4/Pixhawk PWM outputs as they should be and try throttling up - (all four motors should behave roughly the same, starting and stopping at the same time as you move the throttle up and down.)

You should now be good to go. 

Before connecting your props make sure your motor spin directions are correct and your transmitter stick calibration is OK. You should then be able to hook up the battery, press the safety button, arm and throttle up watching all 4 motors start and speed up at the same time.

And if you hold the copter and tilt it with a little bit of throttle you should be able to observe the motors on the down hill side speed up and the uphill slow down while they try to re-level the copter.

Put the props back on and go fly. (or at least finish setup and maybe do an auto tune.)

The above system works fine and is a lot easier solution for one at a time ESC calibration than the traditional receiver based method, especially for PX4s and Pixhawks.

I think this might be a very good procedure to add to the DIYDrones wiki, in any case I will detail it on my website on the Four In One ESC page:

Best Regards,


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Hi everybody,

Gary McCray here, past wiki editor for DIYDrones, announcing my own Informational Web Site:


I am very much strong advocate of our APM and Pixhawk flight controllers, but I wanted to produce a resource that was also able to address interests of DIYDrones community that extended to all areas of personal and civil drone use.

The existing DIYDrones Wiki proved inappropriate for my goal, due to a desire to keep it strongly focused on implementation and use of the APM/Pixhawk.

This site will extend further into other topics than those in charge of the DIYDrones wiki/manual want it to embrace.

I think this is actually an understandable situation as the APM and Pixhawk flight controllers are complex and require a considerable effort to be explained appropriately and thoroughly.

I also thought that this extended information required a permanent and non-temporary resource with proper subject indexing and linking unlike the Blogs and Forums which were the only other DIYDrones available resources.

In no way is this site in competition with or disrespectful of DIYDrones, 3DR or any of it's members and in fact is only seeking to provide a useful supplement to the DIYDrones community. is written entirely in HTML and CSS with a tiny bit of Javascript.

If Javascript is turned off, the floating Pull Down Menu at the top of the page won't work, nor will the cart, but since I am not selling anything, that is of no consequence.

Every page link in the top drop down menu is also accessible from every page from the Table Of Contents tab.

Every page is also accessible from the home Drones Are Fun page as a link below the associated illustration.

Below is the Page Linking Table of contents, one of the Drop Down Menu Selections can also be seen.


This is just my first pass at this site and I plan on adding a great deal more to it.

I would very much appreciate it if any of you who feel so inclined might look it over and let me know what you think, what you might like to see added and any errors you might notice.

I am also hoping to add a more conventional companion wiki with full public interaction.

I know the format of my site is very different from what you are used to seeing, but it is as completely uncluttered as I could make it so that it makes the information available as clearly as possible.

There is no advertising or other irrelevant clutter and it is best viewed at a fixed width.

Page to page navigation and indexing is as simple as I could make it.

The Page Index at the top of the page even allows you to jump to specific topics within each page. 

It has been tested and works well in Chrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer (Top menu bar doesn't float in Explorer).

And it even works quite well in Chrome on an IPAD and on Android Tablets, but is not really ideal for the phone format.


I hope this is of benefit to the DIYDrones community as well as to new people interested in exploring this fascinating endeavor.

Best Regards To You All,

Gary McCray

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BeagleBone Black available - if you're quick.

Hi all, Beagle Bone Blacks are available at Adafruit this morning.


I wouldn't ordinarily put an Advertisement for a product as a Blog but as you may or may not know, Beagle Bone Blacks are seriously hard to come by.

Everybody is out of stock all the time, except a fewy unscrupulous dealers who jack up the price - a lot.

Adafruit has a notify service and today they got both Beagle Bone Blacks and the BBB Starter kit (which is a really super deal).

I already had a BBB from them but also wanted a starter kit so signed up for notify again.

My Starter kit is now on order (didn't think I'd tell you about it till I ensured mine did you?)

In any case if you want a BBB, now's the time - if you are really quick.

Best Regards,


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We have a great new Wiki / Manual which is actually being I think very helpful for all of us.

But there is a Huge - Seemingly Intractable Problem. At least in my estimation of things:


No the Iris isn't the problem, It's a really great 3DR copter, probably the best one available for the price - period.

Mostly its just here to get your attention and point to the actual problem.

The problem is the wiki is viewed as the exclusive property of 3DR: essentially for the dissemination of information about 3DR products and the firmware that runs on them.

This is not true for the DIYDrones website, only the Wiki and it has produced such significant conflict that I resigned as director of the wiki because of the conflict my more liberal approaches were causing.

Don't get me wrong, 3DR is underwriting this whole venture including the DIYDrones web site, but the Wiki is the persistant and coherent reference that allows us to put information important to us in a place for all to see.

Neither DIYDrones Blogs or Discussions have the sort of persistence and coherence necessary for a body of reference and instructional material.

I am especially distressed because I was truly central in importing almost all of the files from the previous wiki to this one and in updating most of them considerably.

I think it is fair to say that at this point at least 75% percent of the wiki pages contain major editing and additions by me and the only reason it is that small is that lately their have been more contributors - especially Randy.

Indeed, I also think the wiki should primarily support our open source firmware and hardware and such hardware as works with it and favoring 3DR is certainly understandable.

But I also feel very strongly that DIYDrones now serves as a central information hub for people who know nothing about Multicopters and drones and that we are missing both an opportunity and an obligation by not also thoroughly addressing those needs as well.

In particular I have written the following pages that are currently living in the APMCopter Wiki section that are at the moment a considerable cause of discord:

And Particularly

Which I consider one of my best.

Several of the pages are directly built off of members Blogs, answers to repeated forum or Blog questions and they all seek to provide guidance in areas of obviously common interest to many members.

Lately I was told that these were not considered appropriate for the Wiki because they didn't stick close enough to the mandate of providing information for APM firmware and hardware installation, set up and tuning.

And I was directed that a DIYDrones Blog or discussion would be more appropriate.

My consideration of this is that they are completely inadequate for this and simply fade into non-existence in a few weeks.

And they do not provide anything like a rich enough format for this sort of important information.

I went to a hell of a lot of trouble to learn about the Wiki and how to edit optimally in it and to make full use of it's features in the belief at the time that it was a democratized wiki for all to contribute to.

And now I am told to say what I think is important in a format without persistence or form.

Of course I am not happy about this, but it is, in fact, entirely beside the point.

What is the point is how can we get this information to be available for our DIYDrones users without either conflicting with 3DR or with the Wiki / Manuals primary reason for existence of providing information for our Open firmware and Open hardware.

I would think either a separate Wiki section within each major wiki section or a separate wiki section entirely.

But in either case it is necessary to convince 3DR of the necessity for this because as it stands they view their ownership position as not having room for this - in so far as I have been led to believe and understand.

If yoiu do not care or think that this descision is 3DR's tomake and should stand as it is fine - repond and let me and 3DR know you are in complete agreement with them.

If you think that there needs to be a centralized, persistent and non specific to APM/Pixhawk hardware and APM firmware resource on the DIYDrones site speak up or forever hold your peace.

And suggestions of form and method are also appreciated (though I think the WP wiki which I have spent over a year learning the ins and outs of are pretty excellent).

Best Regards,


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New Wiki Advanced Multicopter Design Page

Hi Everybody, I have added a new "Advanced Multicopter Design page to the Wiki.


It covers a lot of concepts in Multicopter design both for selecting components and frames and in designing your own if that's what you might really want to do.

It doesn't by any means cover everything, it is primarily not oriented to "engineers" and it is a work in progress.

Please contribute any feedback, suggestions for additional material to include and criticisms (polite preferred) and I will update the Page to include worthwhile suggestions as best I can.

I am hoping this page can become a repository for serious undertaking of multicopter design and at least include descriptive links to any worthy individual projects.

Hope this meets with your approval.

Best Regards,


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Some MultiCopter Design Thoughts.


Hi All, Just pulled this image in from SUAS News (Thank you Gary) to illustrate a few really good concepts that it incorporates and talk about better Multicopter design a bit.

This copter has a lot of things right and is really a study in design excellence.

1. Most obvious is a sliding ball full enclosure camera Gimbal, very pro and really something we should be striving for.

2. The motors are on the bottom under the arms: More aerodynamically efficient with no prop wash interference and very little intake interference. Noticeably increased flight times and greater lift capability and much quieter.

3. Large slow high efficiency props and pancake motors: These are way more efficient than faster motors with smaller diameter more conventional props.

4. Carbon fiber aerodynamic frame arms: Again more aerodynamically efficient, light and strong.

5. Fully enclosed framework and a simple spring loaded landing gear that provides as little interference with the prop wash as possible.

Basically this quad incorporates the best design features I have seen so far and definitely provides food for thought.

I thought it might be worth soliciting comments and other thoughts about optimal multicopter design techniques.

Best Regards,


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Ive been wanting to build a Hanging Pendulum robot for the last 30 years

Technology (and inexpensive consumer parts) finally conspired to let me try and realize my dream.

Inexpensive 500 watt 48 volt 26" Chinese brushless bicycle wheels form the basis of my bot.

And the chassis is constructed from T6 aluminum plate and extrusions with stainless steel side forks and hardware.

The 2 intermediate plates are 3/16" black ABS.


The Bottom shelf is for 4 12 volt wheel chair batteries that total 92 lbs in weight and wil be series wired for 48 volts.

The intermediate bay will hold 2 Kelley reversible 48 volt 500 watt bicycle wheel controllers, a DC to DC 5 volt and 12 volt converter, an APM (later Pixhawk), a receiver, Telemetry and some assorted interface electronics for the Bicycle wheels hall devices and throttle.

The top shelf will support my HP Envy Laptop for Kinect and Laser Scanner interpretation.


A brushless gimbal stabilizing (and scannable) platform will be on top with a Kinect, laser scanner and FPV camera.


As it is, the chassis has worked out very well so far, I didn't manage to build myself into any corners I couldn't get out of and its is as robust as it looks.

Fabrication took more work than I had initially envisaged and most of the layout was simple manual markup.

As it is now, the wheels and bare chassis weighs 63.0 pounds and the battery pack will weigh 92 lb.

There should be about an additional 20 pounds of stuff in the first pass (Vision system but no stabilizers or arms), so it will weigh about 175 pounds. 

This is not a light robot and you definitely would not want to get hit by it.

The 1000 watts worth of motors are definitely overkill, but I wanted the extra torque for operating at low speeds and the wheels I have chosen are very efficient when operating in the 20 to 50 percent power range.

Please feel free to comment and as I continue to make this operational I will post more about this either here or on subsequent Blogs.

Best Regards,


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Meet Flip a REALLY Tough little Quadcopter


Hi All,

Some of you may remember a while back I put in some posts on F3330 and F450 DJI FlameWheel QuadCopters detailing construction and operation.

I really love those little FlameWheels for delivering many hours of fun and resisting my every effort to destroy them.

I thought I'd try and kick it up a notch this time.

Something even more indestructible and maybe even more fun.

The Flip frame kit is $89.00 from Hoverthings and it is billed as being nearly indestructible, and short of direct Nuclear blast effects, they are probably right.

In addition to the standard kit I added an extended tab pair of center frame pieces and some 7/8" extenders.

My intention is to mount the battery on the bottom a four in one 25 amp ESC in the middle and a PX4FMU/PX4IO controller, a receiver and FPV transmitter between the 2 no tab top frame center plates and a UBlox GPS on top.

I have the 4 in 1 ESC and 4 DJI Flamewheel motors on order.

The arms on these Flips are billed as being incredibly stiff and incredibly strong.

They appear to be made of CNC milled very high density 1/4" thick fiberglass and are stiffer than anything that is not carbon fiber and likely a lot better able to withstand punishment without failing.


The frame centers are also very strong and stiff fiberglass and it is likely all of it is G10.

This is a 380 size frame and will accommodate 10" propellers (Right between the Flamewheel F330 and F450.)

I will be using Gemfan 10" carbon filled propellers that are DJI motor hub compatible. I have had very good luck with these propellers, they are very tough, quite efficient and not as sharp as more expensive carbon fiber propellers.


I will add details of my build as the parts come in and as I can get it put together, the motors and 4 in 1 ESC are coming from China, so it may take a while, but I have been very happy with my Flamewheels and I expect this to be - Better.

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Traxxas Stampede Brushless PX4 APMrover

My work in progress: Traxxas Stampede Brushless PX4 APMrover


Now you see it!


Now you don't!


PX4 Safety Button / LED indicator Access and Buzzer port.

Sort of a stealth APMrover, although plans for dual SONAR may be a bit more obvious.

(Maybe I can disguise them as off road lights).

And, of course, no SONAR till one of the highly esteemed developers puts APMrover SONAR capability on the PX4.

Going to try to do this with an 8 channel PPM encoder and a stock Traxxas 4 channel rock crawler type transmitter (not the 2 channel one that came with it).

The 1/8" T6 polished aluminum diamond plate base plate is a bit of overkill and I need heavier springs.

But I am planning on mounting some interesting stuff on it and it provides excellent EMF shielding for the PX4 and the magnetometer in particular.

The latest APMrover code is installed in the PX4 and is functional, but still need to get an encoder for it.

I will post updates here as this project progresses.

Should be fun!

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New (APMcopter) Wiki up and operating!

The new APMcopter Wiki is up and running!


As you probably know, some of us have been hard at work trying to bring up a new Wiki for the copters, planes and rovers.

I have recently completed installing the vast majority of the pages from the Old ArduCopter Wiki into the new APMcopter Wiki/Manual.

And I have produced a Drop Down Menu as well as a Hyperlinked Table Of Contents (that is accessible from the top of each Wiki page).

Please look over the new APMcopter wiki here:

And provide feedback.

There is still some work to do repairing broken hyperlinks (they do not import correctly from WordPress and the images all need to be moved to the WordPress repository), but I am slogging through all 109 Wiki pages fixing them and performing minor reformatting.

There is an issue that I would really like you all to look at carefully.

Right now, I have constructed a Drop Down menu and Table of Contents that completely mirror each other and I think they work effectively together.

However, it is 3DR's intention to minimize or eliminate the Wikis Drop Down Menu at the very least removing the vast majority of links so that it will work better with tablets and to support their own vision of what is in the best interests of themselves and the community.

They envision a very short set of quick starts designed to get uninitiated users up and running as quickly as possible.

And while I think that is a very worthwhile pursuit, I do not think that it is appropriate to do it by applying the scarce drop down menu resource to that endeavor and removing it from the full Wiki.

I think that the current full Drop Down Menu and Table Of Contents work very well together and are an asset to our community.

Please look this over with special regard to the Drop Down Menu and the Table of Contents and Weigh in here, it may be your best chance to influence the final form of our Wiki/Manuals.

Of course, I invite 3DR to respond here as well.

This is an open community that has benefited greatly and grown considerably in no small part due to massive support from Chris and 3DR.

I'm not trying to cause a problem here, but this is a time where our feedback is really important.

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New ArduCopter, ArduPlane and ArduRover Wikis are Operational (provisionally)


The old existing Wiki(s) are no longer getting updated on a continuous basis so you need to start using the new Wiki(s).

During this transition you will need to use both of them (although for the PX4, the new one is the only way to go.

The picture above is of my new F330 Flamewheel with PX4FMU and PX4IO flight controller.

I have put PX4 Hardware and Firmware installation pages on all 3 of the New Wikis ArduCopter, ArduPlane and ArduRover.
All 3 have slightly customized versions of the Firmware install page.
And ArduCopter and ArduPlane hare very similar hardware installation pages but ArduRover, for the moment has PX4 and APM hardware install and setup on the same page.
I have updated ArduRover a lot but it will still be undergoing a serious further overhaul, at least it is pretty well up to date now.
The ArduPlane Wiki needs to be properly indexed (only a tiny fraction of the pages on the site are even in the current index).
ArduCopters index is entirely missing at the moment and you need to use the Table of Contents (at the bottom of the Quick Start Page) to get around in it at all.
And ArduRover needs to be relaid out from scratch.
However, that said, right now we are concentrating on getting the new Wiki pages installed and getting them up to date and properly illustrated.
One of the problems that is being addressed (by Joshua Ott) is coming up with a menu or TOC structure that will work with tablets.
In any case, The new Wiki contains the most up to date information especially re PX4 and also for the newest releases of firmware, so I would suggest looking them over and giving me some feedback re errors, omissions and any suggestions you might have.
I have been dynamically updating the Wiki based on the developers real time improvements for some time now and my goal is to make the information available to users in such a way that you don't need to ask the same questions over and over.
Given the intricacy of the PX4 procedures and techniques and the relatively smooth transition into people actually getting it to work this approach seems to be working pretty well.
On another note, on my little PX4 F330 Flamewheel was highly successful.
Its PX4 stack is mounted on an intermediate fiberglass plate which is itself on mounted on 3/4" Kyosho Zeal Gel pads on each corner with a small piece of light foam holding it down on top.
This resulted in very low vibration and a rock solid alt hold with no vertical movement at all except for long term real baro drift. (I live on the coast).
Rate PID P = .08, I = .05 is about perfect for this little hot rod with stock DJI motors and ESCs and 8" props.
Please save the above New Wiki links and start using the New Wiki as well as the old one.
The New Wiki will have the most recent information in it and I don't have the necessary hours in a day to update the old one as well.
Please give me some feedback, suggestions, corrections, omissions and desires, keeping in mind that the new Wiki is very much a work in progress.
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