3DRobotics have fully autonomous follow-me drone Iris+

A couple of days ago the Californian multirotor specialist 3DRobotics announced an innovation which effectively puts them into a First-to-market position in this dynamic business. The 3PV technology (3rd Person View) names a feature which enables their Iris+ multirotor system to smoothly follow a person fully antonomously. Have a look at their product announcement video:

The technology their fully autonomous follow-me drone uses is something the whole multirotor community was curious about for some time. For sports video shots or even agriculture the technology bears some groundbreaking potential. We at fpv-geeks.com are very excited to learn more about the capabilities of the system in person. As soon as we have some hardware to test you will find comments, videos and insights on our blog.



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Builtlog of Hobbyking Predator 650 Foldable Quadcopter

The fpv-geeks decided to build a new small and foldable quadcopter – the Hobbyking Predator 650, for future sports footage filming and picture taking. We ordered two frame kits from Hobbyking.com (Product ID: 9323000072-0) shortly after the announcement of the new frame. This is a small builtlog plus timelapse video of the 650 sized frame with the promising name Predator.
HobbyKing Predator 650 Folding Quad
First of all, the package is pretty small compared to the size of the final unfolded frame. So don’t be disappointed when you receive the package. The frame’s material is approximately 85% carbon fibre, 10% aluminum and 5% plastics (not considered the screw and bolts). The carbon fibre parts are cut very precisely and the holes and drillings are placed with surprisingly low tolerances. So generally, all parts fit together very well and no rework has to be done to adjust positions of join the parts. Compared to some other Chinese kits this is a bliss. But still, I can not conclude without mentioning some shortcomings of the design. Whereas for most of the screw joints (and there are MANY of them, approx. 150) the process is straightforward, some screws and even parts or sub-components could only be fitted if you unscrew or disassemble parts of your previous built. And this is a bit annoying. In some cases a more detailed built description could have solved the problem, in some cases minor design flaws are the reason for that. All in all it took me about 3.5 hours of casual building, from which 30-40 minutes came from the described lack of built description or design quality. If you are super-fast, you could maybe do it in 2 hours.

Finally, the final quadcopter is somewhat robust and stiff. The folding mechanism seems smart and well designed. A stiffer quad at this size and weight level is hard to be found on the current market. Our orders for ESCs, motors, camera gimbals and controllers are still underway. As soon as we have the rest of the equipment we will post further details on the built process as well as the flight performance of the frame.

For all of you who want to follow the whole process within just 1.5 minutes, please enjoy the timelapsed video of my built.

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Skiing and Copter Action in Lech / Zuers

Last week, early in the morning when other people were sleeping and dreaming of adventures, we packed our fpv copter, our skies and settled the truck. Long before 5 o’clock we went off for another skiing and copter action trip in the beautiful alps of Austria. Caused by the bad weather situation in the southern alps we decided quickly to visit the alpine skiing place at the “Arlberg” – Lech and Zuers.

While the world woke up and got ready for busy work, we arrived at the small alpine village and hit the slopes. After checking out the sunny area by carving our tracks into the maiden snow, it was the time for our copter to hit the thin alpine air.

But the first flight was a struggle between the motors and the 3S 2600 mAh lipo pack. Caused by the cold and harsh conditions, the battery pack wasn’t able to power the rotors enough for an agile flight.

So, what to do ? – The skiing and copter action trip couldn’t be over just by low powered lipos. Minutes of helplessness and disappointment passed by – like the storm cloud above our heads …

Fortunately we found another two 4S 3000 mAh lipo packs in our lipo bunker and could set the stage for the next cycle. So in less than two minutes the copter and our full proved fpv case was installed and only waiting for commands.
This time the quad obeyed the input signals correctly and an fpv flight in more than 2200 m above sea level was possible. Even the strong gusts became manageable through the bigger lipo package. Only the low contrast and direct sunlight made the fpv flight even a bit more difficult.

Check out the results in our Video on Vimeo:

So long, stay tuned



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Mastor Gimbals – Scam company or serious business?


A personal experience. FPV-Geeks bought the Mastor G gimbal earlier this year from the vendor “BEVRC” (www.bevrc.com), a China based online seller for RC electronics with a focus on FPV equipment (see our first hands-on article). Since then we did some testing and shots with the gimbal to find out that it works fine on the workbench but fails to work properly whilst mounted to some multirotor systems (e. g. our hexacopter). The problems are commonly discussed in web forums under the term “bouncing problem”. I do not go into details on this but you can find heaps of information e. g. within the rcgroups.com thread regarding the Mastor G gimbal and its technical problems searching for technical solutions we found out that the two vendors which sell the Mastor G Gimbal (BEVRC and Foxtech) tried to offer support. Several weeks of promises by the two vendors (new firmware, new adjustment software) finally ended up in giving up the support for the product. Fair enough,

  • Foxtech tried really hard to satisfy their customers by staying in close contact with them via rcgroups.com (again, here is the whole thread of this odyssey, also with many replys from Foxtech). Finally the admitted that the product is faulty (in specific: the control software) and consequently quit to sell it. Above that they offered a refund for all of their customers.
  • BEVRC continued to praise and sell the product (even refurbished versions which were actually returned gimbals from unsatisfied customers). They refused to stay in contact with their customer base via rcgroups.com and did not grant any refund or warranty return of the faulty gimbals. Since more than 2 months FPV-Geeks.com have an ongoing dispute with BEVRCs service department on the warranty return of our Mastor G gimbal. Service requests won’t be answered for weeks by BEVRC.

Back to the company Mastortech. Not that much could have been found about the company online until fall. Lately the company has started its web presence at www.mastortech.com. In November a sales person from Mastortech gave and product introduction interview at a Media Products Fair in Tokyo. You can find the full interview video here: http://vimeo.com/79363696. In this video he the sales person claims that Mastortech has some 4-5 years of experience with aerial gimbals. Earlier this year the company exhibited on another fair where an somewhat cheesy looking European sales person explained the prototype product range. The video was shared earlier on RC groups: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-TZuxFoJo5A. On RC Groups some views regarding Mastortech came up that the company has stolen the camera gimbal firmware from AlexMos (Aleksey Moskalenko, a mastermind and early developer for brushless gimbals who has started his own company, http://www.basecamelectronics.com). That should have been the reason for Mastortech not releasing any updated firmware for the Mastor G gimbal.

As we found out recently about Mastortech’s webpresence we decided to write directly to them regarding our faulty Mastor G Gimbal and request service from them. We will keep you updated regarding their response. This is what we have sent to them:

“Dear Mastortech Service Team,

several months ago I was one of the first customers who bought the first Mastor G Gimbal for GoPro3 cameras. Its purpose was to mount it to a Hexacopter for aerial filming.
I have ordered the gimbal at BEV RC in China.
After several tests with the gimbal I found out that the gimbal was not working. I wanted to get a refund from BEV RC but the service team at BEV RC refused to send me an reply or take the gimbal back. Several service issues at BEV RC were already mentioned in web forums.
I was very disappointed because I was an “early customer” for Mastor products who did actually “beta-testing” and found out that the gimbal was not mature for market. In several RC related forums e.g. the problems with the Mastor G gimbal were discussed and I found out that most other customers had problems with the gimbal.
As I have realized that your company is just about to start I expect professional customer service as well. Therefore I ask you to replace the faulty Mastor G gimbal with a working one or one of your new GoPro3 gimbals. Please send me and proposal how to proceed with that issue.
I will write about our correspondence and service handling in my internet blog www.fpv-geeks.com
Best whishes from Germany and Happy New Year,

That’s for now,
Thomas from FPV-Geeks


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Historic Airplanes Meet Multirotor FPV-Platform – An Airborn Toys Trailer

Begin of June this year Matt and I spent a weekend with friends at the Kempten Airfield in Southern Germany. The airfield was the fly-in destination for a historic airplane meeting which one of our friends had organized privately. We took the chance to do some shots from our hexacopter FPV platform to capture the scene. Besides that we had the chance to join the crews of some of the real airplanes and take some pictures from high above over the Allgäu. Enjoy…

…and stay tuned.
(In some countries this video may not be available on mobile devices due to soundtrack copyright reasons. Sorry for that.)

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New Mastor G Gimbal for GoPro Hero – First flight

A couple of days ago I received the all new Mastor G Gimbal from China. I pre-ordered it at BEVRC.com and had to wait for about two months before it was shipped. It turned out that the vibration dampers (red rubber balls, see photo in last article) are too soft to dampen the little vibrations and shakes effectively.
This issue was discussed earlier in several forums across the web. BEVRC reacted by fitting the new gimbals with stiffer dampers (they call them 300g dampers, instead of the red 100g dampers I have). They claim that with the new damping setup all vibrations should be gone.
I ordered a couple of the 300g variants to test this. Unfortunately the parcel is still on its way to Europe… I will report later on this.




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Mastor G Gimbal: First Impressions on the All New Brushless Gimbal for GoPro Hero Sized Cameras

After several weeks of waiting I have received a parcel from BEVRC . It was the highly anticipated Mastor G Brushless Gimbal for GoPro sized cameras. Those of you who follow the scene more closely have probably heard about the new buzz in the FVP topic: Brushless gimbals. We have reported briefly from the Nuremberg Toy Fair about the DJI Zemuse prototype for GoPro cameras. Several other companies (mostly in China) jumped onto that subject and announced several products to hit the market somewhere this year. Chinese brand Mastor was one of the first to launch a industry grade brushless gimbal to the mass market. And here it is.


The Master G Brushless Gimbal

Some first impressions on the gimbal. It ships with an cable for power and pitch control connection (with proprietary plugs). The weight is specified as 232g without camera. I am no material expert but form its looks and feel (although the surface of parts looks like carbon fibre) I guess the material is glass fibre with fake carbon fibre prints on it. As it was not mentioned anywhere that the material actually is carbon fibre there is nothing to blame about that. The rear arm houses the controller board with the main CPU to put the two purpose made brushless motors to action. Everything seems nicely built and machined.


The Master G Gimbal mounted at the Hexacopter

Before I mounted the gimbal to my Hexacopter I did a quick ground test and the gimbal calibrated automatically. The balance algorithms work really fast and you will be blown away by the accuracy if you have not seen a brushless gimbal in action before. Unfortunately I did not read the manual before the first test flights. So here is a remark to everybody who also tends to leave out manuals: The gimbal will only work for 3 minutes if you do not register it via the downloadable software (BEVRC.com and Foxtech.com provide the download). This is a security issue to prevent the controller software from being pirated by other (most probably Chinese) companies. It is a matter of 3-4 minutes to do this.

I have not cut the first onboard shots from the hexacopter. So please stay tuned for an update on the Mastor G experience and some video footage of it.

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First snapshot with the new Gimbal



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Skiing-Fun and Quadcopter-Shots – Sölden 2013

This January we spent a few days in Sölden (Austria) to go skiing. As posted earlier we took a quad up to the glacier and did some video shots there.

We are still working on the shaking stability of the quad (which is equipped with an APM 2.5). Nevertheless, the overall footage should be okay. The shots were taken with a Gopro 2 and a Gopro 3 Black Edition. Although the Gopro 2 image quality is still very good the Gopro 3 further improves that. Especially the 120 FPS capability is nice for slow motion and will be an perfect basis for further processing in tools like Twixtor or other slow motion interpolation tools.

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FPV flight to space and back: David Windestal’s latest project truely fascinates!

To boldly go where no FPV-pilot has gone before! David Windestal, a Scandinavian FPV-pioneer, came up with an truely impressive journey. He sends his customized Multiplex Funjet with a weather baloon to the edge of Earth’s stratosphere and controlls the plane back to earth.

He tells the story in his calm and modest manner so that I can’t help myself but to enjoy every minute of this mission. Not everything went as planned. Even after the carefull selection of all of the FPV- and RC gear, the rules of physics and some bad luck changed the mission plan and gave it some unexpected twists. See for yourself.

Thumbs up for first class videos like this. (Also check out his website for more info on that project: http://rcexplorer.se/blog/2013/03/fpv-to-space-and-back-2/


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Update: dji GoPro Zenmuse

Just like we reported three weeks ago from the Nuremberg toy fair, dji innovations confirmed, that they are going to sell the dji GoPro Zenmuse gimbal. With a smaller and lighter version of the Zenmuse Z-15, dji wants to offer an out-of-the-box soultion, working with their fight control system WooKong. Supporting the GoPro HD Hero 2 and Hero 3 camera this gimbal may become very interesting to most camera flyers.

Today, the fast growing company from Shenzhen accomplished that video on Youtube

The video shows how accurate and fast the system works. Even some shakes and little bounces are no problem for the small GoPro Zenmuse system. The camera line is still very smooth and it really looks like a grounded cam on a roll-bar.

The official statement form dji innovations names the features:

  • All aluminum alloy manufactured
  • Brushless motor direct drive
  • Based on the technology of Zenmuse
  • Camera Types: support GOPRO hero2 and GOPRO hero3
  • Support GOPRO hero2 remote photos shooting and video shooting control

Matt & Thomas



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