My First FPV, Simpson Desert in Central Australia (GoPro processing settings added)

This is a couple of flights from my holiday that I made my first quad copter for. My wife and I (and two kids under 2) were planning a 2 week four wheel drive trip across the Simpson Desert in central Australia. For those not familiar with the Simpson Desert it is 550 km of desert, 1100 sand dunes to cross, and 3000 km round trip. The quad seemed like the perfect way to get a different perspective on the landscape.

I didn't have much time before the trip and only had experience with RC gliders before so I purchased a cheap frame from Hobby King. It didn't take long to realise that it wasn't going to but up to the task so I set about designing and building my own using 3mm ply. My first wasn't going to fit in a fully packed 4WD so I had to design and build a folding version.

In the end it took four full days (over 2 months ish) from start to finish before I left on the trip so I had very little time to learn to fly a quad and optimise the tuning.

I didn’t get to develop my flying skills much before I left and I only started to get comfortable flying FPV near my last flight of the trip. Unfortunately I missed one of my ESC connectors worked its way out and I crashed the quad after approximately 10 flights. I some good footage though. The crash is at the end of the video.

I would like to thank the DIY Drones community and everybody who contributed to the ARM 2 board!

Just for kicks I thought I would put a rendering of my SolidWorks design and what it looked like after it was built.


Post processing I did on the GoPro footage

As you can see from parts of the footage, my piloting was still pretty poor and I didn't get time to balance my propellers before the trip. I also found that the fish eye on the GoPro was pretty hard to watch when set to 720P (170 degree field of view). Before I went I tried to work out what I should be setting the camera to but people didn't post the settings or post processing details. So here is what I did for this trip:

GoPro settings:

720P (170 degree wide)

50 fps (this minimised the rolling shutter I found)

Post processing using Virtual Dub:

1. Resize 1900x1600

2. Deshaker v3.0

3. Barrel Distortion

4. Resize 1280x720

I did this as a mass batch process using DubMan. Here are my processing settings for Virtual dub. There are two because Deshaker takes two passes.



All this is free but then I added 20% saturation in CyberLink PowerDirector 10 Deluxe when I cut the video together.

Views: 2035

Comment by Michael Johnston on September 10, 2012 at 6:45pm

Nice job - shame about the conclusion. Sounds like you'll be out amongst again soon.

Flying amongst the Whistlers must have been fun - were they all nesting there ? or what were they up to?  Any close encounters?


Comment by John C. on September 10, 2012 at 6:56pm

Nice work!  Really like the simplistic design.  Was is a bullet connector or a ESC signal connector that came loose?

Comment by leonardthall on September 10, 2012 at 7:30pm

Hi Michael and John,

Yeh it is already up and running again. That is the advantage of the ply, all I had to do was print out another drawing of the plates, tack them to the ply then run around them with the router and drill holes, another set of $5 aluminium arms from HK and I was done.

The crash was caused by the the ESC signal connector coming out. Going across the Simpson isn't exactly a smooth trip so I should have been checking them every time. Live and learn.

Flying amongst the Whistlers was fun and a bit nerve racking at the same time. I would hate to hurt one. There were heaps of them at Mungerannie because the native rat population was in plague proportions. As soon as I took of they swarmed around me for a look. I had to be very careful changing altitude. At times they were less than a meter from me.

I also took video at Big Red and Birdsville, it was quiet spectacular because of all the water around. In the end I got about 10 flights in before it hit the dirt. The last flight was the first flight that was FPV from take off to landing. Since then I have improved the landings somewhat :)

Comment by Dean White on September 10, 2012 at 10:30pm

Pity about crash, I really enjoyed your Outback footage especially the aerial views of the desert prior to the crash

Lucky you had a casing on your GoPro otherwise that would have coped some damage.

Comment by leonardthall on September 11, 2012 at 1:16am

Yeh I was really happy with the way the sunset brings the sand dunes out in the desert!

I forgot to talk about what post processing I used. I have to work out if I can add a file.....

Comment by John Githens on September 11, 2012 at 8:37am

Start to finish, that was one of the most entertaining videos I have seen taken from a quadcopter. What a treat it must have been to fly in the wide open (except for some birds). Beautiful scenery. While watching I couldn't help but wonder... if it had crashed in that water, would you have tried to retrieve it?

As a newbie, the more I hear about connectors coming loose during flight, the more I am inclined to solder most connections, or find a way to minimize stress on every pair. Would be interesting to start a discussion about ranking of "potential failure points" on multirotor systems (and that includes on-ground gear and pilots...). See how different people see the rankings from high to low. On the other hand, that might cause some to find a less expensive hobby!

Comment by Rob_Lefebvre on September 11, 2012 at 6:45pm

Ah, doing some overlanding.  Very cool.  Is that a Land Cruiser you have?  Interesting stuff, because being able to do aerial footage on my own trips is one of the prime motivators for me to get into this stuff.

Most of my photos tend to be like this.  

Can't see the forest for the trees!  No sense of perspective.  No high ground to shoot from, etc. 

Comment by Harry on September 11, 2012 at 7:47pm

I'm confused about the whistlers/birds.  i searched australian whistlers and some little song birds popped up.  Those whistlers are threatened by rats.  Were these birds you call whistlers some kind of raptor that eats rats?

Comment by Michael Johnston on September 11, 2012 at 8:44pm

Apologies for the abbreviated name, Whistling Kite (Haliastur sphenurus), a common raptor throughout inland Australia.  They have a very diagnostic vocalisation, which is coincidentally used in the soundtrack of Australian-made movies (yes - both of them!) - so Leonard must have had quite an earful when he was flying amongst that large number of birds.

The kites were no doubt consuming native rodents at great rate, such as long-haired rat and/ or plains rats amongst many other irruptive rodent and small marsupial species which have benefited from recent above-average rains throughout inland and eastern Australia.

Too much information?   (I'm not a bird-nerd, but I sometimes roost with them!)


Comment by Harry on September 11, 2012 at 11:06pm

Thanks for the explanation.  Yeah, those birds in the video looked large and like little falcons.  For birds like that to be in large numbers like that, I'd imagine there'd need to be lots of prey available.  Anybody who plays with flying machines almost by definition has to have an appreciation for birds.  I know I do.


You need to be a member of DIY Drones to add comments!

Join DIY Drones


Season Two of the Trust Time Trial (T3) Contest 
A list of all T3 contests is here. The current round, the Vertical Horizontal one, is here

© 2019   Created by Chris Anderson.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service