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Quanum Nova from HK First Impressions

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After building over six 3DR APM 2.5 based quadcopters I thought I would try the Quanum Nova from Hobbyking. It is my first APM based quadcopter built by someone else. Here are some first impressions of the quadcopter/drone.  

Firstly I would like to point out that I have not adjusted any of the PID's (Parameters).  Right out of the box the quadcopter seems to be well built.  Three of the propellers went on fine but the last one must of had a molding issue because it would not go on easy.  Had to use the propeller nut to tighten it down.  It is hard to take the prop off now but it does not effect the flight.  I did not to a preflight propeller balance.

After calibration of the compass the first flight was perfect.  The quadcopter held a steady position in GPS hold (position hold) only moving about a meter while sitting in the air.  Changing modes was easy but I noticed with the throttle at half the quadcopter would drop when changing modes.  Be sure to have a height buffer to be able to correct the altitude drop when switching modes. 

I calibrated the compass after the first flight using mission planner for my second flight.  I also added some propeller guards and later found that they are a must have. This time when in GPS hold the quadcopter moved a little more and after about 30 seconds started to toilet bowl.  I tried correcting the toilet bowl effect while still in GPS hold which made it worse.  By the time I had a chance to put it into stabilize it was too late and it hit a tree falling out of the sky, hit the ground and cut the grass below before motors disarmed. Luckily the propeller guards prevented any major damage to the quadcopter and propellers.  

After the crash I downloaded the logs from the flash for analysis.  By the looks it was bad compass health.  I did a re-calibration and took it out for another few flights.  It flew well even when hitting a tree.  I hit the tree and was able to recover it.  After a couple excellent flights I decided to try the range a bit and lost the quadcopter into the trees.  It got about 25 meters away at a height of 20 meters and would not respond to my controller.  I tried RTL with no response.  I figure the wind about the trees was too strong for the stock settings of the quadcopter and or the battery did not have enough juice to fight the wind.  Either way it hit the ground hard and caused the case to split along the top and bottom half seem.  No biggy because with a little pressure it snapped back into place.

The controller is simple with not too many knobs and switches.  Flight modes are controller by two toggles at the top of the controller.  There is also two knobs for accessory control (Gimbal).  The Throttle/yaw and tilt/roll controls worked well but are very sluggish with the default PIDS.  The quadcopter needs to be made a little more aggressive to be able to fight strong winds. 

For the price the Quanum nova is a good practice drone/quadcopter but it is too risky to use for professional use.  I am going to add a telemetry radio and a gimbal to see how it performs with computer/tablet control.  I think I will also change the receiver to a FRSky for more reliable range.  

TC Outlines Knowledge Requirements for UAV, RPAS, SUAS and Drone Systems in Canada

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Transport Canada has recently outlined the new requirements for flying remotely piloted aircraft commercially.  These aircraft are known in the media as drones, but by professionals as RPAS, UAV and SUAS.  If you plan to use this growing technology for business you will need to study the outlined material on the Transport Canada website.

"TP 15263 – Knowledge Requirements for Pilots of Unmanned Air Vehicle Systems (UAV) 25 kg or Less, Operating within Visual Line of Sight"  http://www.tc.gc.ca/eng/civilaviation/publications/page-6557.html

 

Initial Thoughts on the Hobby King HD Wing Camera 1280x720p 30fps

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I purchased this camera as a light weight alternative to my goPro for smaller models and as a different perspective on my drones.  It is very inexpensive, has decent video recording and multiple camera modes.  It can take a hard crash with no damage.  While learning to fly RC aircraft's it is great having this camera on board to record the flights.  Everyone loves a crash and if you learn like me through trial and error you will have some great crash footage. 

Here are the camera specs;

  • Size - 74 x 28 x 15mm
  • Weight - 30g
  • JPG Photo Resolution 2560 x 1920
  • Video Resolution 1280 x 720p 30fps
  • 850 mAh LiPo Battery
  • 120 degree wide-angle lens
  • loop recording
  • 4 record modes - Manual Video, Manual Photo, Motion detect video, motion detect photo
  • Video out for setup and playback
  • supports up to 32GB microSD card

Included with the package

  • Camera
  • USB cable for data transfer
  • AV cable for TV out

You get what you pay for and a little more with this camera.  The auto white balancing is not great and no labels on the camera make using it confusing at first.  It always defaults to Video mode when you cycle the power which is good if you forgot what mode you are in and don't remember the LED combinations. 

It has a motor in it that vibrates on different menu changes and when you perform other functions.  I do not think it is needed because the camera has multiple colored LEDs that let you know what mode you are in and if you are recording.

A quick Pro and Con list

Pros - affordable, small, light, multiple modes, decent picture quality, 32GB card support

Cons - does not output video while recording, packing is basic, no button labels, white balancing

Even though it has some cons it is a great camera to have around for flights with smaller crafts.  I would not hesitate to pick another one up if this one gets lost or dies. 

hobbyking.com PID  A-CAM

Flying an unmanned aircraft in Canada

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Transport Canada has put out a friendly safety post for hobbyists and commercial users of  UAS, SUAS, RPAS and model aircraft.  The bottom line is be safe and take into account your surroundings.  For more information follow the link below.

http://www.tc.gc.ca/eng/civilaviation/standards/general-recavi-uav-2265.htm#faq

 From the government website;

"

Don’t fly:

  • Any closer than 8 km) from any airport, heliport or aerodrome.
  • Higher than 300 feet (90 metres) above the ground.
  • Within restricted airspace (such as military bases, prisons, forest fire areas).
  • Closer than 100 feet (30 metres) from vehicles, boats, buildings, structures or people.
  • In populated areas or near large groups of people (such as at sporting events, concerts, festivals, firework shows).
  • Where or when you could interfere with any first responders (fire department, police, etc) as they conduct their duties. 
  • Near moving vehicles. Avoid highways, bridges, busy streets or anywhere you could endanger or distract drivers.

Do

  • Only fly your aircraft during daylight and in good weather (not in clouds or fog).
  • Always be able to see your aircraft with your own eyes – not only through an on-board camera, monitor or smartphone.
  • Make sure your aircraft is safe for flight before take-off. Ask yourself, for example, are the batteries fully charged? Is it too cold to fly?
  • Know when to apply for a Special Flight Operations Certificate
  • Respect the privacy of others – for example, avoid flying your aircraft over private property or using it to take photos or videos without permission.

"

GoPro Hero 3 Over Heating

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I was one of the lucky people to get one of the first GoPro Hero 3 Black editions in Canada.  At the time I worked for a reseller of the product so I got a decent deal on it.  Good thing or I would be a lot more upset with the purchase.  I like the camera but have had nothing but problems since I got it.  The same problems most people in the world were experiencing.

I had the camera always shutting down at different intervals due to a overheat error.  I finally got rid of the error! The most recent update may of helped but I think the simple mod I did was the solution.  I found a video online that pointed me in the right direction.  What was the solution?

Remove the sticker in the battery compartment that is next to the electrical contacts.  It has a metal back and will slip out of place when the camera heats up during normal operation.  The metal back contacts the battery terminals and causes the overheat error.  You don't need to remove the sticker completely.  You can cut around the area in question.  I have not had a overheat error since the mod and firmware update in June 2013.

That being said when I do use the camera it is great.  It has many awesome features that will allow every one to shoot video like a pro.  I plan on using it for FPV now that it is no longer shutting down on me.  Just in case I will be running two cameras and a video switch.