Toby Mills's Blog (15)

3dr Solo Review from a Long Time DIYer

I've been a long time DIY Droner right back to the APM 1, mainly on fixed wing platforms but more recently quad-copters.

There is surprisingly little info and discussion on DIY Drones about the 3dr Solo, despite the fact that it is ripe for hacking and modding.

The Solo…


Added by Toby Mills on October 12, 2015 at 5:26pm — 19 Comments


Last week I was privileged enough to be invited to fly over Stonehenge Aotearoa, a modern day full scale adaptation of the original…


Added by Toby Mills on September 7, 2014 at 8:15pm — No Comments

Sense and Avoid Explained

With the recent addition of ADSB support in Mission Planner and the discussion about feeding data from a drone into a 'national feed' there has been much excitement about the possibilities in the future.

This video is a great explanation about the challenges we face with sense and avoid using existing technology and then also goes into…


Added by Toby Mills on August 10, 2014 at 2:00pm — 10 Comments

Cutting the Red Tape

There has been a lot of discussion recently over the FAA's approach to airspace integration.

A lot of people see the FAA as the enemy rather than as a partner.

I thought I would take the opportunity to share how the same problem that the USA is facing is being dealt with in New Zealand with far less angst, far more co-operation between parties and a better…


Added by Toby Mills on August 7, 2014 at 4:07pm — 3 Comments

3DR X8 RTF Unboxing / Test

A lot of people have bought the RTF 3DR Iris as there is a plethora of info out there on both performance and modifications.

The X8 is the heavy lifting RTF option and is a little less common.

I've been an Arduplane fan for about 3 years now, starting with the APM 1 in a Skyfun and working my way up to an APM 2.6 in a Skywalker X8 complete with Cellular…


Added by Toby Mills on April 25, 2014 at 3:00pm — 12 Comments

Low cost 3D Models

I like devices that have multiple purposes. My theory is that if I am going to load up my UAS with electronics that it may as well be electronics capable of performing multiple tasks.

For those that have seen my posts on Telemetry over 3G, you…


Added by Toby Mills on April 25, 2013 at 9:01pm — 4 Comments

Releasing the Shackles Part 3 - 3g Telemetry in the Air

Way back in December last year, I put up this post which showed me ground testing 3g Telemetry.

Since then I've been very busy with other projects and only got back around to looking at 3g Telemetry last month.

I bought the new…


Added by Toby Mills on August 6, 2012 at 9:48pm — 12 Comments

9 Reasons why you should start with a cheap foamie....

Its now been a whole year since I got addicted to the crazy hobby of Autopilots.

What a wild ride!!!

There has been some fantastic moments and some of total frustration, but it has been an exciting and rewarding journey.

There are a lot of people who ask about getting into the hobby and have somewhat ambitious ideas about building a drone to do X…


Added by Toby Mills on January 12, 2012 at 1:34pm — 16 Comments

Time for a new contest....

I think its time for a new DIY Drones contest which I would like to propose.

The T3 is fun, but it doesn't have any real point other than the winner gets some bragging rights.

At the end of the day, speed is not the goal for most of us so a competition that measuers speed yields no useful information that helps us move forward as a group.

The contest I would like to proprose…


Added by Toby Mills on January 5, 2012 at 1:45pm — 29 Comments

Releasing the Shackles Part 2 - Ground Testing

You may have seen my earlier post "Releasing the Shackles - How far do you want to go"about doing long range APM telemetry over cellular links. For the last 4 weeks I have been testing and have finally cracked the nut. Read on for details..

Amplified Engineering in Australia produce…


Added by Toby Mills on December 20, 2011 at 6:16pm — 32 Comments

Releasing the shackles - how far do you want to go?

Since I got into building my own drones I have been fascinated with the prospect of extremely long range drones that are not restricted by the limits of point to point wireless technology.

The public cell network seems like the perfect solution for long range drones as it covers most countries and now supports extremely high bandwith.

I've done some experimenting with the dronecell and various…


Added by Toby Mills on December 1, 2011 at 1:31pm — 20 Comments

Ground Station gets an upgrade

I like to spend my time in the field actually flying and not spending hours plugging things in.

Here is the latest upgrade to my Ground Station which provides a single wire from my antenna to my laptop.

All I need to take to fly is the antenna, laptop, plane and an XBox controller.

A single USB cable goes from the laptop into the case on the back of my…


Added by Toby Mills on October 18, 2011 at 1:00pm — 20 Comments

What is the maximum range of an Xbee? - Lets find out...

I have recently been pushing the limits of the XBee Pro to see how far it can go.

Unfortunately my current plane (SkyFun) only has a 38 minute duration and a maximum travel distance of 20km, this means the furtherst I have been able to go is 10Km (a 20Km return trip).

I have a 14dB patch antenna which has still shown signal of 85%+ out at this…


Added by Toby Mills on October 7, 2011 at 9:00pm — 56 Comments

Long Range Skyfun Upgrades

The stock skyfun platform is pretty good, but as a lot of people have pointed out, the power system is barely enough for our needs by the time you add a few goodies on.

There is lots of info on the web about motor upgrades for the Skyfun but most of the motor upgrades published on the net are all about speed. I wanted my Skyfun to have enough power to lift all the extra weight, but then to be able to settle down to a slow and efficient cruise speed to maximise the…


Added by Toby Mills on July 31, 2011 at 6:30pm — 10 Comments

Endurance, Range and Speed

I've been spending a lot of time over the last few weeks trying to figure out the optimum battery, motor and prop configurations in my skyfun to provide the maximum range and endurance options. Operating on a limited budget, I've been trying to avoid trial and error and make the right choices based on specs.

This is not easy but I've settled on a lower kv motor than many have chosen,…


Added by Toby Mills on July 10, 2011 at 5:00am — 18 Comments

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