First Tricopter FPV experience

Spring has finally arrived here in Sweden and the snow is almost gone from the ground. The sun was shining and the sky was blue, so the wife and I decided to go outside and fly. I had just finished adding a FPV setup to the Tricopter and was itching to try it out for the first time. We drove out to a field near the lake Vättern and it was quite windy.

Tricopter camera mount done

Magnets holds the camera in place

I asked my wife to help me out by looking in the video goggles, while I flew the Tricopter visually. The Tricopter handled the wind very well considering it’s small size and low weight. I had to give it quite a lot of stick input to not have it carried away by the wind. The FPV link was solid and the wife seemed to enjoy the ride. However I was weary to do my first Tricopter FPV flight in such strong winds so I took out the Multiplex MiniMag. I was curios to see how this little high wing trainer plane would handle the wind and I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised. The MiniMag is a great flying little plane. The wife was kind enough to take a couple in flight pics;

After the flight we decided to go to another field further inland where the winds (hopefully) wouldn’t be as strong. To my surprise we saw my friend Christian flying his Easystar on the way, so we decided to stop and fly there instead. When we got out of the car I noticed another car a bit further down the field with three people doing something on the ground. Nonplussed I went to talk to Christian. But just before I got there I heard a very familiar sound. The whine of an electric motor. It turned out that the people down the field was also RC fliers.

Deciding to talk to them after my flight. I rigged everything up. I was quite nervous since this was my first FPV flight with something that hovers. After the preflight check including a quick visual hover, I strapped on the goggles. After slowly spinning up the props I gave it a punch to get it of the ground quickly and out of the ground effect. My first impression was, wow! What a feeling! It felt so right. Being able to hover in FPV is wonderful. It was easier than I thought as well. I hovered around myself, then followed the dog around while she was fetching a frisbee. Then Christian came out with a large foamy Spitfire. I followed him and watched him launching it. Unfortunately it crashed right after launch. So I flew over to the crash site. At this point I was around 150 meters out and all of a sudden the tricopter just flipped upside down without any apparent reason and smacked straight down into the ground. I had no idea what had happened but I walked over to inspect the damage both on my friend’s and my own model. His damage wasn’t to bad and neither was mine! The camera had popped off its magnetic mount yet nothing was broken! Not even a propeller. When we were standing at the crash site the people further down the field crashed as well. A sympathy crash or just a sign not to fly any more? They came over and we had a nice chat. It was a rare treat to meet other RC pilots here in Hjo.

We walked back to the launch site where I had my FPV ground station and after checking that everything was ok, I made another flight. 2 minutes into the flight something horrible happened. The words ”Memory full” flashed on the screen. I had my 16GB SD card in and I was sure that it wasn’t more than half full before I made the first flight. I flew back, landed and picked up the tricopter in my hand upside down to be able to see the card bay on the camera. It was empty! Oh oh… Panic time! It had to have been thrown out during the crash. But neither me, Christian nor my wife could remember exactly where the crash had been, only the general area. Oh well, nothing else to do but to start looking more or less at random. It felt kind of hopeless. It’s a grass field and the SD card is small and black. The sun disappeared behind a thick cloud and the wind picked up. It went from comfortable warm to raw and cold. After 15 minutes of staring at grass and walking slowly my mind started to drift. It felt hopeless. I had a lot of pictures and videos on that SD card that I had yet to transfer to my computer. Build pictures and… What! A bell began to ring in my mind. My eyes had seen something. A small black rectangular object on the ground. It was the memory card! I couldn’t believe it! What a relief! I still can’t believe that I found it. But I did.

I decided to have just one more flight before packing up. That was a bad decision. I flew around looking at different things, flying through some trees and then I decided to fly a bit further away and then back again. When I got about 150 meters away the Tricopter flipped over again. This time I understood what had done it. I used a white Assan 6 channel receiver and it simply lost signal at that point. Maybe the camera or the FPV setup interfered with it. With my Futaba FASST gear I get 3km without a problem, and I have flown the tricopter with a black Assan receiver (without the FPV setup though) further away than 150m before. Oh well. I walked the walk of shame and found that this crash was quite a bit worse. One gyro case was shattered, one motor mount was destroyed and the servo arm was broken. At least now I know not to use the white Assan receivers on any of my FPV planes.

The memory card had ejected it self again during the crash. This means that the video was corrupted. The same goes for the other flight when the memory card had ejected. Unfortunately this means no video, sorry.

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