Wesley Versfeld's Posts (6)

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Went out to test a NCR18650b (4S4P) battery pack we quickly slapped together in our floppy Skywalker (taken a lot of hard landings). Our hope was to get around 90 mins flight time. The wind was constantly hovering around 20kph, so we never really went for distance.

After some time in the air we got to 60km distance, then 70km, etc. At 90km we decided to fly the battery until the motor cut out, luckily it didn't - went to to 13.2V under load. 

Plane: Skywalker 2014 1800

AUW: around 2kg, not sure

Motor: Sunnysky 600kv X4108S

Prop: APC 12x6

Batteries: 4S4P NCR18650b 13600Mah

Battery weight: 812g

AutoPilot: APM2.6

Total Distance flown: 102km

Weather: Wind 20kph, sunny, 30°C. Altitude: 1634m ASL

Time flown: 129


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Night Safari with Flir equipped Hexacopter


We headed out into the African bush to demonstrate the UAV + night vision technology on a Game Farm in the north of South Africa. We were interested to see the animals response to the UAV at night. All the animals barely paid attention to the UAV, until a Zebra got spooked which in turn spooked the Impala close by.

For some reason I can't embed YouTube - so here is the link. I'm very impressed on how stable the video feed is in Loiter mode, it almost seems as if the camera is mounted to a pole! More info can be found here.

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We did a recent flight minutes after an attempted break in to scan the area for criminals possibly hiding behind walls etc. We took off from a nearby field and allways stay directly over the flield (just in case).

The APM on AC 3.0.1 has been doing a great job in keeping the Tarot T810 hexa in the air (this frame is epic!) and I'm very happy with a flight time of 20mins (considering the load it's carrying). The Flir is mounted to a Martinez stabilized brush-less gimbal.

 Youtube wouldn't embed - so here's a link - http://youtu.be/7HMvRpBJy1E


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Tarot T810 build log


I have been searching high and low for a good affordable large hexa system, with the main objective to lift 500gr (camera, FPV transmitter, etc) for as long as possible, and have the video stabilized. 

The S800 looked ok, but due to some issues around the boom flexibility and cost, I ditched that idea. The Carbon Core, Steadidrone H6X also looked very nice, but once again cost played a big role.

So, I stumbled across the Tarot T810, for $330 I got the frame. I needed to add some extras for folding landing gear (not retract) and the camera rail mount which was not included.

I'm doing a build log to not only "hopefully" help someone out there, but also have a place to get some input from the community in getting the max flight time. The Hexa will be used for local security missions and possibly also help in the Rhino Poaching crises we're facing in South Africa.

My system:

  • Tarot T810 Frame
  • Sunnysky 4112S 400kv
  • 40 Turnigy Plush
  • 15X4.7" props
  • APM (of course!) - Looking forward to a maiden flight on AC3rc6
  • Martinez gimbal controller
  • Brushless Gimbal
  • Gens Ace 6S 5500Mah X 2
  • Estimated AUW including gimbal and camera - 5.3kg

The frame went together nicely, only issue I had was the hole in one of the landing gear braces was skew, I just drilled it straight with a bigger drill bit.

Here is a view of the frame in it's folded position. It folds nice and small - about 900mm in length


Here are the motors I'm planning to use, hopefully I get my flight time. Powerrrr! Notice the ESC mounting plates under the motor mount.


I like the prop attachment.


I also like the way the booms lock in place with a dovetail clamp, very secure.


Here is a shot of the little power distribution "lugs" - I just soldered all the power wires in place with huge amounts of solder.


I'm planning to install the ESC's under the motors, I have read about some scare stories on RCGroups about this idea, but I have never personally had problems with this.

I am however a little concerned about the wire gauge for power - using 16AWG to the motors and 12AWG to the battery. I'll do a full power test to see if they heat up, and by how much. 

I'm wating for my ESC's to arrive, and will continue the log once they're here!

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Flir FPV with Hexacopter


We were trying to find ways to secure (or at least patrol) a crime infested green belt in our area when one of the guys mentioned that it would be great to have a thermal camera on a helicopter to be able to spot these guys and perform some sort of aerial support for the guys on the ground.

Now, being involved in helis for the last 10 years, and also tinkering with APM (planes) for the last 2 years I thought it would be very easy to get something like this off the ground, right? Wrong, it has been a long road of trials and tribulation that started with my first Quad - barely able to lift a GoPro, it had about 5 mins flight time and not long enough to offer any meaningful level of aerial support. Finally I arrived (after 3 costly iterations) at the current Hexa that manages about 15 mins in the air (10000 MAH 3S Setup).

It was also challenging to find a thermal camera. I hit a bit of luck here, as someone in the community had a auto scrap shop - and just happened to have a totaled BMW 750 IL, and this BMW just happened to have a FLIR PathfindIR in it's front bumper. It was only the 8hz version, but I still taped it to my hexa with some duct tape, connected it to my FPV stuff lying around and the video below is the result! The last bit is the best, some guys jump out of a bush and start walking away just as the ground support vehicle moves in (just before the switch to RTL).

Next steps will include a bigger Hexa, I'm aiming for 30 min flight time on 15" props and a 370kv 6S setup. Oh, and did I mention a brushless gimbal, the video can do with some stabilization.

I would like to thank you all on this forum for helping me through this journey - the APM rocks, and I'll stick with this platform forever!!!

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