I’m home again

After spending a total of 60 hours in a car, driving 4426 km and consuming 266,7 liters of fuel, I’m finally home after my trip to France. It’s good to be home but I will definitely miss staying at Domaine du Planet. I had such a great time. Now I need to unpack and start editing the 200+ minutes of FPV video I captured. I will also be writing a review of my stay at Domaine du Planet and also write a report on the 24 hour competition we participated in. So stay tuned!


GoPro Hero HD Live output trick

Note: This trick was only nessesery on the very first firmware of the first HeroHD. There is no longer any need to do this on any GoPro camera

The GoPro Hero HD is a great camera. The quality it produces is stunningly good. It is also light weight, compact and comes with a protective housing. But for us FPV fliers it has a serious flaw. There isn’t any live video output. Or is there? Actually you can “trick” the camera into live output mode! And it’s quite easy as well.

Update: GoPro has released a new firmware in which they have fixed a live output setting! No more need to “trick” the camera!

Before we start there is one thing you will need, and that is a USB cable that only outputs 5V. You cannot use a USB cable that is hooked up to a computer. It needs to be only 5V and no data or the GoPro will go into USB mode instead of live output mode.

I added a USB cable to a 5V UBEC, which works great. All you need to do is solder the black and red cables from the USB cable to the output of the UBEC.

Ok let’s get on with tricking the camera.

1. Power up the camera without any cables hooked up to it.

2. Record a short video (2 seconds is enough).

3. Power down the camera and plug in the TV-out cable (also connected to your video-transmitter, goggles or screen).

4. Power up the camera. It will now go in to the normal TV out mode.

The display on the front will say “tEL” and the camera will automatically start outputting the last recording you’ve made (the 2 second one). This is how the video output will look like:

5. When the video has played to the end, it will stop and show a freeze frame of the last image of the video. Wait until this happens and then plug in the 5V USB cable. Do not remove the TV-out cable.

The display on the front will switch from “tEL” to the “normal” display. This image will be displayed for a couple of seconds on the video output:

When it’s done it will show a live feed from the camera sensor.

6. The camera is now in Live output mode. Wait a couple of seconds before you unplug the USB cable (You can leave it plugged in during the flight if you like as well). To record a video, simply press the button on the top, just like you would normally do.

You can change from video recording to still photo and so on by pressing the button on the front, just as usual.

The camera will remain in live output mode until you power it down (by holding down the button on front).

Next time you power up the camera you can start from step 4. If you have more recent videos on the memory card than the short one, you can jump to the short video by pressing the buttons on the camera. That way you don’t have to wait until your 30 minute recording has played to the end before you plug in the USB cable.

Some cameras power down when you unplug the USB cable if the battery isn’t fully charged, others don’t. I have no idea why. Be sure to have a fully charged battery before you try to get the camera into live output mode. (You should always have a fully charged battery before every FPV flight anyway.)

France is awesome!

I’m having a great time here in France at Domaine du Planet. The weather wasn’t great to start with, but it has improved in the last few days. I had some technical troubles as well. The brand new GoPro camera gave up and stopped working all together before I even could get one single flight with it down here. But we ordered a new one with speed delivery from a French distributor and finally I could get some good video. The FPV course got cancelled as there were too few participants, so I got reassigned to make FPV videos of the site and activities here instead. So far I’ve got a dozen FPV flights done. I’ve crashed my TwinStar by the way. It’s in a thousand pieces and I won’t bother to try and repair it here. I’ve practiced a bit for the 24 hour endurance flight competition and we’ve prepared the plane (a PolyClub) for the night time flying.

At the moment the greatest challenge has been to combine my FPV assignment with me teaching the wife to fly. We’ll see if she will be able to participate as a pilot on Saturday or not. I really hope she will, as she looks badass with a transmitter.

A lot more has happened of course, but you’ll hear about it another day. Time for bed. Bonne nuit from France!

Sneak peak revealed

Great job on guessing what the sneak peak was guys! It is a new Tricopter flight controller. The design and software are made by a genius called “kapteinkuk”. By using the gyro sensors from three HK401 gyros, an Atmega processor and some capacitors and resistors, he made an incredibly versatile flight controller that can control a tri, quad, hex or hexY -copter. And it costs no more than 60 dollars to make!
Another great feature is that it takes care of all the mixing. You only need 4 channels to control your copter. It’s quite simple to build as well. You can read more about it on RCGroups.

But the best part is how it performs in the air. The tricopter feels like it’s on rails. The flight controller uses an update rate of 180Hz, compared to 50Hz of a standard gyro. Another great thing is that I no longer need to do the “boot up trick” to get the HK401 to arm the ESC’s. Simply plug in the power and fly.

The new tricopter will get a lot of air time in France and hopefully capture some of the magic of the country from the air. When I get back I promise to make a build log of the new improved tricopter.

IGG on Ålleberg

This past weekend I went to a big scale glider meeting on Ålleberg mountain in Falköping. IGG stands for “Intresse Gemainschaft für Grossegler” which is german for “common interest in big scale gliders”

I’ve never seen such large model airplanes in real life before. They are huge! The largest one I saw was a scale 1:2 glider which had a wingspan of 8 meters! A 200CC tow plane was needed to get that beast into the air. All the time I was there were at least 3 planes was in the air. Two tow planes constantly towed new planes up.

Only a handful of the gliders were equipped with motors

The finish on these glass fibre monsters was impeccable. It was a pure joy to admire these models on the ground as well as in the air. What an effort it must have been to build these incredible gliders.

I had a great time and met a bunch of nice people. To simply spectate and chill out for once made a nice change. Thanks to all of you from Ålleberg that took the time to talk to me.

I’m going to France!

I’m going to France to host an FPV course on the RC hotel Domaine du Planet. It will be a five-day course, starting on Monday, teaching all there is to know (or all I know) about FPV. Equipment, models, technical aspects, limitations, safety, etc… Saturday-Sunday after the course has finished there is an RC-endurance contest at the RC hotel. Teams of two (or three, if at least one is a woman) try to keep a plane up for as much of 24 hours as possible. I will probably enter it with my friend Daniel, who lives down there, and we are trying to persuade my wife to join our team (although she will have to learn how to fly first). If you know French, you can read more about it here.

Domaine du Planet. The hotel has everything for the RC-fantast, even a private runway and a small lake!

So on Thursday morning me and the wife are leaving for France. We’re going to drive there, as I want to bring some of my planes and equipment. Not sure what airport security would think if I tried to check all of it in… It’s to bulky and fragile anyway. We thought about going by train, but that would have been more expensive than driving, and it would have taken a lot longer, with a number of train changes. Therefore, the wife and I decided to take our car. Over 20 hours drive each way…

If any of you feel like a vacation for the family and an FPV course for yourself in France in eight days, it’s not to late to sign up. Just contact Domaine du planet! Otherwise, you will at least know why there won’t be that many updates for the next two weeks, I’m quite busy! But, I promise, you’ll get a full account of the trip as soon as I get back home.

Ok, I’ll make a couple of updates before I leave. I can’t leave you hanging with the sneak peak, and I’d like to tell you what I did this weekend too. Coming soon!

Visiting Norrköping

This past weekend I visited Norrköping’s flying club “Gamen” to show and explain how FPV works.

Showing off Flytrons super tiny camera and video transmitter mounted on a very small helicopter

The club members were very nice people and easy to talk to. I explained and showed what gear is needed to fly FPV, how to fly FPV and the safety aspects, all mixed in with a couple of my FPV videos. They seemed to enjoy the event and I got a lot of good feedback on my performance.

I had a great time in Norrköping. My friend Per let me pilot his competition DLG (Discus Launch Glider). I desperately need to get myself one! It’s unreal how long you can stay up in the air on one throw.

A2 Competition DLG

Per launching his DLG