FPV for Beginners – a quick DIY quadcopter project

Voltages available for 3S Lipo Battery

FPV (First Person View) is the term used to describe a ground level view of what the camera on your quadcopter is seeing. Current systems use various monitors to accomplish this, including:

1. Small LCD screens – sometimes built into the TX, other times mounted above it.
(see pic)
2. Goggles – popular models include the Fatshark and the new Epson Moverio – in the near future, the Occulus Rift will likely be an important addition to this category.
3. Smart Phone or tablet screen – existing products such as the Phantom 2 Vision+ and the Parrot AR Drone use IOS or Android devices to display the camera output from the flying drone.

In this article we will put together a simple FPV system which could be installed on any quadcopter with enough payload to carry the weight.

The very Basics

Most modern quadcopters are controlled with an R/C radio that uses the 2.4GHZ frequency band. Therefore, this frequency cannot be used for a companion FPV system since it may interfere with your R/C radio control. FPV systems are typically sold in the 5.8GHZ frequency band, although you can also get other frequencies.

In this intermediate level exercise, we’ll put together a very basic 5.8GHZ system. This system took less than one hour to assemble and test, making it an easy project for those who want to start working with some DIY aspects of the hobby.
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I want to buy a Drone – advice to buy a drone

Lots of people want to Buy a Drone these days!

So – you and LOTS of other people are interested in entering the hobby, business or pursuit of drones (quadcopters, UAV’s, multirotors, etc.)….

In fact, google now will autofill the query “I want to buy a ….” with the most desire products – as in the screen shot below! It turns out people desire houses, stocks, cars and drones….in that order!

Lots of people want to Buy a Drone these days!

Lots of people want to Buy a Drone these days!

Another indicator of the interest in Buying a Drone is the chart on Google Trends – the following shows the general trending of the term “drone” in searches, news stories and other indicators.

Google Trends Drone Interest

Google Trends Drone Interest

Surf online for information about Buying a Drone and you will literally find millions of words and thousands of opinions on the subject. Most of them are useless or will steer you wrong. This article will attempt to steer you in the right direction as simply and economically as possible. To that end, it contains an Express Version and then a longer version with more detail and links. The Express Version of How to Buy a Drone should do for 80% or more of potential buyers.

Note – this is written for those who have never flown a drone, quadcopter or R/C plane or helicopter…

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DJI Phantom Quadcopters – Prices reduced dramatically!

New DJI Prices - Sept. 2014

Breaking news – important enough for a blog post.

Prices of all DJI Phantom 2 models have been reduced – some by 100′s of dollars. An image of the new prices is posted below.

As one example, the top of the line Phantom 2 Vision + has been reduced from $1350 (appox) with one battery – to $1229. with two batteries. Valuing the extra battery at $100 (they cost more), that’s a savings of $220.
Here is a link to that particular model.

The bare Phantom 2 as well as the unit with a gimbal are also reduced. You can see all the models and prices by going to the Amazon Drone Store at this link.

Note – your favorite retailers online and around the world should also show a reduction in price – as this is official from DJI.

New DJI Prices - Sept. 2014

New DJI Prices – Sept. 2014

Blade 350 QX and QX2 Quadcopter – Review, Rating and more…

The Blade 350QX  in the Air

First introduced in September of 2013 (one year after the DJI Phantom), the Blade 350 QX had some initial quality control problems. Some of those, as well as a mini-review of the early model, can be found at our forum thread here:
http://www.droneflyers.com/talk/threads/blade-350-qx-review.241/

We recently got our hands on a newer (2.0 firmware, manufactured 6/2014) model and are pleased to report that this quadcopter has been largely perfected and is more than ready for prime time. This review – along with the existing thread referenced above – will document our experience with this machine.

Update – Amazon and others are now selling this 2.0 model for $299.00 – click this link to see if the deal is still on!

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New DJI Phantom eBook – free over Labor Day (expired)

Expired – sorry!
You can still purchase a copy of check out a free sample at the link below.

Starting tomorrow (Sat, Aug 30, 2014), the Amazon eBook will be available FREE for download at the following link:
http://amzn.to/1rW4HZ9

This book is for those considering the purchase of a DJI Phantom, although many others will find they can learn something from it.

New Ebook

Subjects Covered:
This book will likely save you time, trouble and money – and make sure you complete successful missions with your new Phantom. Among the subjects covered are:

Who should consider a DJI Phantom Quadcopter?
A Short History of Quadcopters and DJI
Guide to 2014 DJI Phantom Models
Anatomy of the DJI Phantom
About Radio Frequencies
Features Common to All Phantom Models
Buying your DJI Phantom
Preparing to Fly 20
Beginning Pilot Hints
Advanced Flight Modes and Features
Payload Capacities
Glossary
Opportunities in Aerial Robotics
and much more…

Droneflyers.com Drone Photography and Video hints and tips #1

Taken with $200 setup - v262 and Mobius

Photography and video from aloft is driving many to enter this hobby. In fact, many are taking drone photography past the hobby stage and starting to use the amazing abilities of quadcopters for light commercial and inspection duties (note: the legal status of such use has not been settled)

Being as we are a beginners site, let’s focus on how to get a lot of value for the money spent – without mortgaging the house to buy a heavy lift multirotor and a fancy DLSR. There are three major factors to consider in the creation of your photo and video projects:
1. Your Eye – Creativity, Storyline, Art, etc.
2. Your Hardware – drone, camera, gimbal
3. Your software – editing software and photo post-processing
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Parrot Rolling Spider Mini drone quadcopter- first look, review and rating

flyingstill

Parrot was the first company to market a consumer drone – the AR Drone 1.0 – which was followed up by the more reliable and advanced AR Drone 2.0.
They are currently in the process of releasing 3 new products:
The BeBop – this is a HD camera equipped advanced quadcopter…the successor to the AR series.
The Rolling Spider Minidrone – a fun drone designed for just about anyone to use…inside or out. It uses bluetooth (limited range), but has many safety and advanced features.
The Jumping Sumo – a rolling Drone that spins, jumps and has a camera on board.

Of the three, only the Rolling Spider has been released at the time of this review (late August, 2014). Droneflyers.com immediately purchased one and has the following to report…
NOTE: This product not currently recommended due to bugs. Read on for more!

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Blade 200 QX Quadcopter – First look, review and rating

200 QX in it's element

Introduction

Blade is the brand name given to R/C Helicopter and Multirotors (Quadcopters, etc.) by Horizon Hobby, an American company which has been in business since the mid-1980′s. They have offices and manufacturing around the globe and, in this sense, differ greatly from many of the current “toy grade” vendors.

Horizon Hobby products are sold through various outlets – including many local hobby shops. You can also buy products directly from their web site or from Amazon and other online vendors.

200 QX in it's element

200 QX in it’s element

In this review, I’ll look at their 200 QX quadcopter, a small quadcopter with powerful brushless motors. Horizon Hobby describes this as a “compact quad loaded with tech”.Droneflyers.com focuses on beginner and intermediate pilots – so this unit was purchased with a “starter” TX – the Spektrum DX5e. This is also made by Horizon and can be used for many of their other models as well as some other brands which use the DSM R/C technology (this is a wireless protocol type).

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New ebook – Buying and Flying the DJI Phantom Quadcopters – Learn Before you Buy

New Ebook

We are pleased to note the immediately availability of our new ebook:
Buying and Flying the DJI Phantom Quadcopters: Covers all Current Models – Learn Before you Buy!

This book is designed as an educational resource and as a guide to help beginning flyers make an intelligent purchasing decision. Those just entering the pursuit will learn all the basics – and more. However, if you are already experienced with R/C flying or quadcopters, you are probably familiar enough with the DJI products to research them online and make an informed choice.
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DJI PHANTOM 2 VISION PLUS + First Look and Review & Rating – Part 1

Sample Still Shot (downsized) - click to enlarge

Note – if you are looking for an article on the differences between the DJI Phantom models, click this link.

DJI is well known as a leader in the RTF Quadcopter market. The first Phantom, released at the end of 2012, provided a new standard and value in a mid-sized GPS quadcopter. In the time since, DJI has grown quickly (now over 1,000 employees) and invested heavily in R&D and production.

The PHANTOM 2 VISION + represents many of their innovations all rolled up into one customer-grade quadcopter. But is it for everyone? Or, more importantly, is it the right machine for your needs?

Unlike many other reviewers, we will not try to reinvent the wheel by providing you with duplicates of every specifications on this model – the specs and features are clearly stated on the DJI site and elsewhere:
http://www.dji.com/product/phantom-2-vision-plus

Rather we will try to help with more subjective views on this aerial robot – how does it “feel” to fly? Can you get parts and repairs for it? Who is the target customer? How does it compare to competitive models? This, and much more, will be covered below.
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