After the possible traction control problem I had with my MP4-12C, it ended up making more sense to swap cars, so I ordered about the same car from the 650S line. It's mostly the same platform with many improvements. I missed out on most of the track season this year, so looking forward to catching up :)
Alessandro took beautiful pictures, here are a few:
On my night out wednesday night, I was looking at Sound Camps at 2 o'clock at burning man, and go by a big elaborate sound camp that played something that sounded like Trance. I stayed for a bit, and though, "eh, this is something Oakey would play".
I get closer, zoom on the DJ booth, and what do you know, it was Oakey playing. I stayed for his set, and get rewarded by Above and Beyond who came next and also played a great set. It was awesome, I was super tired and had planned to go to bed by 03:00, but I totally scratched that plan, and stayed for the whole set :)
Thank you to all the people involved in making this happen, it was an awesome night. Here's a summary video with the best tunes I heard:
The runway and taxiways were quite good, along with a makeshift tower. After landing, we taped up all openings on the plane very carefully, which is no small feat on a retract plane:
very nice visible chevron showing the runway
albeit mostly dry, the playa was still collapsing under weight
it was courageous to fly in a Cirrus at that time
Big change for the airport were the number of commercial flights, and air terminal, which unfortunately meant a much longer line to get in, and lots of people without paper tickets, severely delaying the rest of us with tickets:
We took a while to secure the plane, it took over 30mn to tape up everything carefully to make it playa-proof.
Eventually, we got to the gate, but that was as disaster with a 2H+ line due to a single person slowly checking every person, including people with will call tickets :(
after way too long, we finally got through the gate
and we were super lucky to get an art car ride into the playa, saving a long walk
exodus pulsing (traffic is held in block of 1h to save on gas and frustration)
Pictures of the flight back, also uneventful:
We did a good cleanup of the plane after landing, and it was good as new :)
With a bit of work shaving the inside, and adding support to make the pixhawk flat, got to fit the speed controller, the OSD, Frsky receiver (later replaced with L9R):
I later moved the GPS/compass up, and the battery monitor down (to avoid interference from the motor)
it fits, but it's pretty full
Next, I added the 3DR radio (antenna), 2 mobius action cams (those are much better than gopro, smaller, lighter, and less cross section to the wind), with one attached to my FPV analog camera so that it can move around on the same servos:
I upgraded from an X8R to an L9R because I figured out I didn't need the telemetry from the X8R and would benefit from the extra range the L9R offers since I was getting telemetry back 2 ways already (via the OSD in the video, and via the apmplane 433Mhz radio channel), and I tried to set the antennas in a cross pattern for best range:
I then did multiple test flights at Rancho San Antonio to tweak the airframe with the new weight and CG, as well as test the equipment and tune it:
While I got some good video and range out of this (over 2km, around mountains even), the main issue was that my 3S lipos weren't delivering enough trust and made takeoffs iffy (the glider would go down before picking up airspeed and going back up). This meant I had to launch from the little hill in the picture above, which the rangers aren't happy about :-
Eventually I ended up with a launch that failed (I threw it too high up), and it instantly talled and crashed hard:
I lost the bearing for the motor, making field repairs impossible)
I actually fixed the first crash, but it weakened the control horn for the elevator, and while it passed preflight, it broke in the 2nd flight causing the plane to dive to the ground with no way for me to recover. Unfortunately that crash was a lot faster (full speed, no flare) adn the damage was much more serious. I'll have to replace the whole body this time:
But all isn't horrible, I still got some really good flights and videos out of it. My best one is on this page.
While my first Cularis had an unfortunate ending, it was a good starter FPV platform that could fly with a total weight of 2kg (carrying over 700g of gear, including 2 mobius HD cameras, the analog camera used by the transmitter, and the autopilot).
The flight below is best viewed full screen in 1080p to appreciate the OSD view (not that great, but what I was flying with) vs the 2HD pictures (front and rear) and the flight replay on a map showing where the plane was at that time, showing how I flew around a hill and overflew a quary I didn't have light of sight to, at all.
decked out, probably more than it was meant to :)
3 cameras, one for OSD, 2 high res
ready for flying
Here is the main video (again, recommended to see full screen):
The stats at the end show that:
at its farthest point, I was at 2.2km from takeoff point. Considering the hilly terrain and almost flying behind hills, that's not bad :). I'm told the L9R can do 5mn in perfect conditions.
total distance flown about 15km on a 2400mAh 3S pack. It wasn't stone dead on landing, but it as quite low in the "can be recovered" range.
total height was a bit over 300m above elevation point, but I never really fly that high above terrain, this was necessary to reach proper altitude when crossing the hills with power lines by the scenment plant (my AGL, above ground elevation) was never as high there.
2100mAh from a battery that's alledgely 2600mAh was close enough for that flight. Note that I glided the enter trip back, and that the OSD was showing what glide ratio I had. On landing I was way high, but thanks to some asymetric flaps mode I had made, they become huge spoilers and allow my glider that couldn't land, to land just fine :)
The video crapped out a bit due to the distance and the fact that I had to manually re-orient my patch antenna a few times (guesstimating while wearing the goggles and flying). I also almost flew behind a ridge and the video (600mW) and Frsky L9R mostly held kept the signal running.
The video commentaries are from my wife who was wearing a 2nd pair of goggles and had never seen an FPV flight :)
The 2 high res videos were taken with 2 mobius cameras and the virtual flight in the bottom right was created with the datalog from the arduflyer pixhawk that was controlling the plane when signal was lost. The videos were hand synchronized by me because the OSD video was 10 seconds short as a result of the video dropouts.
If you'd like the individual videos:
Jennifer and I happened to be in Chicago during the right weekend for their annual air and water show. We missed the morning activities, but apparently it's 5H of a lot of waiting and something once in a while in between, with most of the nice stuff in the last 45mn of so. Putting aside this weird (if not to say lam-ish) format for an airshow, what we got to see was fairly nice.
This was only my 2nd time seeing an F22 do an airshow, and while I had seen the thunderbirds before, it never hurts to see them again, they put on a great show.
since there was a whole lot of waiting, many folks used the opportunity to enjoy the 'beach'
Since we were flying to Chicago and were going to be on Pacific time when arriving, Jennifer made the good call of getting us a dinner reservation at Alinea the day we arrived, and we enjoyed a very nice dinner at Alinea. The dishes were quite inventive, but what was special was the presentation of each dish which really was a little spectacle of its own.
The pictures aren't great, because we were not allowed to use flash, but still got a few good ones:
food was hidden in there, you had to find it
fake corn with bacon and other yummy stuff in there
edible sugar balloon filled with helium, good times :)
and 15 courses later, we finished with the 2nd dessert
Jennifer was fairly disappointed with the regular wine pairing, and I found out they had a premium wine pairing but they only offered it a few days after we went, so we didn't get to enjoy that. Apart from that, the food was definitely tasty, super well presented, and fun. Definitely an experience you don't get elsewhere.