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Invertix CanopyLike a kid in a candy store, I quickly got to work building the Invertix 400 from Encore RC and Bobby Watts. It took a couple of hours (I’m very careful with all my builds, so actual time may vary), but she came out looking great!

Check out more galleries after the jump!

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200QX Flight CheckHere at BigSquidRC we love to run our RCs hard and with that we are always prepared to buy parts when you can’t help but say, ‘Did I do that?’ Multirotors are no exception, and with this ‘Cubby’ style rant I will tell a tale of how I have already needed to mothball one of my aircraft for the rest of the season.

After watching me fly, my buddy picked up one of the newer multirotors from a big company, and was having a blast. A few days ago, he cracked the body on it after a failed flip attempt. Like a good friend (and customer), I got a quick text and I immediately went to order his part. Turns out that the big company is already out of parts for their new product: no props, no body, no screws, no motors. The worst part? The parts will be unavailable until around September 20th! I hate to sound cruel, but you’ve GOT to be kidding me. Especially with a new product, you would hope distributors and manufacturers would be prepared for providing parts, or at least ordering more when the reserves start to get low. Either way, looking at, I’m hosed.

Now, this could be an anomaly and I am just upset because one of my favorite aircraft just got put in the hangar for the rest of the season, but this is not the first time this has happened to me. In 2012, the same company stopped carrying motors for a certain aircraft all winter, Christmas-time this past year I could not get parts for a different company’s aircraft, and in 2014 I could not get wheels and tires for an RC car for over 8 months, besides this last backorder debacle! I understand that predicting demand is difficult, but in some of these cases there weren’t any parts available even at release.

If there’s a lesson to be learned: Prepare, or Never Release a Product Without Parts Support.

The Invertix 400 is coming along nicely, and can’t wait to share more with you guys. Until next time, Stay Shiny and Keep Flyin’!

Invertix400 Box Front

A while back I posted the first details of the EncoreRC Invertix400 full-3D capable quadcopter developed by Bobby Watts. The following weeks my email blew up from readers looking for more, or hoping we’d get to fly one and show off video. After talking with Mr. Watts for a few weeks, he got us our own Invertix to build and test! The review is coming soon, but check out all of the unboxing pictures after the jump…

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Blade 200QX Quadcopter by Horizon Hobby – Review

200QX Up Close

In a RC World where quadcopters are becoming THE thing to pilot, Blade Helicopters took the popular 350QX platform and shrank it. Luckily, there was no movie starring Rick Moranis, but I did get the opportunity to give the 200QX Quadcopter a good test and you can see my thoughts on the aircraft after the jump…
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quad_band

Everyone know’s I’m a sucker for automated drone stuff, and there is something about this video. It ‘looks legit’ yet part of me thinks, wow it would be tough to pull that off. That all being said, I’m pretty sure I’d pay to see this in real life as a small concert, or be able to buy the ‘drone band in a box’ kit for my house to enjoy.

Check out the video below of a handful of drones playing a few different tunes.

FlyTrex Live

Hot off the presses via their blog, the guys over at FlyTrex have updated their GPS MultiRotor telemetry system to also provide live data feed straight to their website, making it the first ‘Black Box’ for quadcopters. FlyTrex Live uses a GSM (cell phone data) connection to transmit Speed, Location, Altitude, and Battery Voltage live directly to their website.

What makes this such a big deal? Thanks to that GSM connection, one can provide real time tracking data to help search and rescue operations for fly-aways, crashes, etc.

Other features/statistics as shown on their page:

  • GSM Powered - Flytrex Live uses standalone GSM data connection that transmits your flight telemetry automatically to your personal Flytrex Profile whenever you takeoff and for the duration of your flight.
  • Auto Flight Logger - Similar to the Core, Flytrex Live brings powerful flight logging capabilities. All of your flight details are logged and stored in your personal Flytrex Profile. With Flytrex Live, logging is done automatically and you no longer need to copy mission files after flying. All of your flight missions are automatically transmitted to your Flytrex Profile and will show almost instantly after landing.In addition to GPS location, speed, altitude and temperature, Flytrex Live adds voltage logging that helps you analyze battery performance during your flights.
  • Live Tracker, Last Seen - Unlike other trackers that rely on challenge-response operation, Flytrex Live maintains a live data connection that guarantees you’ll always know where your multirotor was last seen, making sure you’ll never lose your multirotor again. Should your aircraft go MIA, visit the new Last Seen tool in your Flytrex Profile to see where your multirotor was last spotted.
  • Live Flight Channel - Share your flight in real time with your personal Live Flight Channel. Your Live Flight Channel let’s you broadcast your flight telemetry, stats, and Google Maps flight path as-you-fly. Link to your channel, share your Flight Channel with other Flytrex pilots, or allow Flytrex to automatically post to your Facebook timeline as soon as you takeoff!
  • Lightweight & Robust - Flytrex Live was designed to be the smallest, most lightweight and robust black box solution for multirotors. Flytrex Live weighs only 34 grams and measures 4.5 x 4.8 cm.

On top of that, there will be an iOS app for the FlyTrex system that will have some fun features, but no specifics given.

The FlyTrex Live sells for $190 and also requires a $9 cable for the GPS quad of your choice (Supports DJI NAZA-M, Phantom, Blade 350QX, and Ardupilot 2.5/2.6). You can order now and see more details regarding the Flytrex Live on the Flytrex webpage Right Here.

Click Here for more Flytrex News on BigSquidRC.

AMAFAABSRCLogo

Last week I posted the newest suggested policies the FAA has drafted regarding model aircraft (airplanes, helis, multirotors) and how they can be used for ‘recreation’ as compared to ‘commercial.’ Personally, the rules are not HORRIBLE, but they do go against most of the rules and policies of the AMA, the governing body of model aviation.

Being a member of the AMA, I have been sent correspondence from the group discussing the primary concerns of the AMA regarding the FAA’s rules. The details are located here, but here are the key points:

 

  • Throughout the rule the FAA takes great latitude in determining Congress’ intentions and in placing tightly worded restrictions through its “plain-language” interpretation of the text.
  • The FAA uses the plain language doctrine to create a regulatory prohibition of the use of a specific type of technology.
  • FAA’s overreaching interpretation of the language in the Public Law is evident in the rule’s interpretation of the requirement that model aircraft be “flown strictly for hobby or recreational use.”
  • Although the FAA acknowledges that manned aviation flights that are incidental to a business are not considered commercial under the regulations, the rule states that model aircraft flights flown incidental to a business are not hobby or recreation related.
  • The rule overlooks the law’s clear intention to encompass the supporting aeromodeling industry under the provision of the Special Rule, “aircraft being developed as a model aircraft.” The rule’s strict interpretation of hobby versus business puts in question the activities of the principals and employees of the billion dollar industry that supplies and supports the hobby.
  • The Public Law states that when model aircraft are, “flown within 5 miles of an airport, the operator of the aircraft (must) provide(s) the airport operator and the airport air traffic control tower (when an air traffic facility is located at the airport) with prior notice of the operation. However the rule indicates that approval of the airport operator is required. Although it is understood that making notification to the airport and/or ATC will open a dialog as to whether the planned activity is safe to proceed, there is no intent in the law that this be a request for permission on the part of the model aircraft pilot.
  • The Interpretive Rule establishes new restrictions and prohibitions to which model aircraft have never been subject. This is counter to the Public Law which reads, “The Federal Aviation Administration may not promulgate any rule or regulation regarding a model aircraft or an aircraft being developed as a model aircraft,…” if established criteria are met.
  • The Interpretive Rule attempts to negate the entire Public Law by stating, “Other rules in part 91, or other parts of the regulations, may apply to model aircraft operations, depending on the particular circumstances of the operation. This in and of itself makes model aircraft enthusiasts accountable to the entire litany of regulations found in Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations, something that was never intended by Congress and until now never required by the FAA.

Understandably, the AMA has worked hard to create a set of rules for RC pilots to fly by, and some of the FAA’s rulings/opinions directly negate some of those guidelines.

Want to make you opinion heard? Want to help the AMA or support the points of the FAA? Don’t comment here!

Instead, you can contact the government directly regarding these FAA rules and the AMA response by sending your comments directly to the FAA.

You can:

There are four methods to submit a comment. Emailing your comment is the fastest and most convenient method. All comments must include the docket number FAA-2014-0396. Tips for submitting your comments.

Email: Go to http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the online instructions for sending your comments electronically.

Mail: Send Comments to Docket Operations, M-30; US Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE., West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, West Building Ground Floor, Washington, DC 20590-0001.

Hand Delivery: Take comments to Docket Operations in Room W12-140 of the West Building Ground Floor at 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE., Washington, DC, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.

Fax: (202) 493-2251.

Now, for these comments to count towards the final decision of the FAA, you must submit your two cents by July 25th.

Until next time, Stay Shiny and Keep Flyin’!

Multirotor WreckGranted, having a little extra dilithium in the warp drive is never a bad thing, but knowing how much power is left in your LiPo is more important for pilots (and most for multirotor pilots) just because RC Cars don’t fall from the sky when the batteries die!

Above this you see quite the quadcopter wreck. My LHS/Employer has an intern with the gift of programming multirotor aircraft. He got so excited when he finished perfecting this one that he ran outside to fly it. A few minutes later, the lack battery power in his 3S LiPo cut the motors out and down it fell.

Only YOU can prevent accidents like this one and others that have unfortunately graced the attention of the media. Here are a few things you can do/purchase to keep your aircraft in the sky.

  • Lipo Checker: Always check the status of your flight batteries by having a LiPo checker on hand. Available at your local hobby shops for around $20, this is a must have for your tool box!
  • Time your flights: In order to best determine when it is time to land, do some flying and regularly check your voltage levels with a LiPo checker. After a few flights, you can set a timer on your radio to help you out.
  • Low Voltage Monitor: This isn’t the most effective, especially for long distance flight, but this devices plugs into your LiPo balance plug and starts to emit tones when the voltage gets close to the cut off. It is a lot easier than landing every minute or so to use a LiPo checker though.

If you have any other great ideas in preventing ‘SkyFall’ (Cue Adele music), feel free to add them in the Comments!

Until next time, Stay Shiny and Keep Flyin’!

New FAA Rules

As of June 25th, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has released their interpretation of special aircraft and first person view (FPV) flight. Above you can see a few of their guidelines, and you can see more on what is or isn’t considered hobby/recreational flight by Reading More… READ MORE

Flytrex_image

After my previous article talking about Flytrex Core V2 Multirotor Flight Recorder, my email BLEW UP asking for more! I quickly got my hands on the latest shipment and was able to unbox (or unbag, really), install, and test out this neat chip on my Blade 350QX.  Check out the unboxing pics and my experience with it by Reading More…

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drones_on_leashOk, I’ll take a page out of Peter Griffin’s book: You know what really grinds my gears? The word ‘drone’.

By definition, a drone is a aerial vehicle that does not have a physical pilot on board. When most people think of the word drone (previous to quadcopters), we thought of missile launching gliders flying over the Middle East during ‘Operation: Iraqi Freedom’.  The lamestream media has quickly adopted this term to sum up all multirotor aircraft, deeming them a new technology that while a new and upcoming trend, can be an invasion of privacy or a danger to the public due to bad piloting, mechanical failure, etc.

First of all, the term drone is ever growing in the science and technology field as a fully-automated device. So yes, some multirotors are becoming drones thanks to technology like Ardupilot (mentioned in this article). Now all RC Aircraft (including RC Planes and non-multirotor helicopters) are more qualified as a UAV, or Unmanned Aerial Vehicle.

Second, as much as the term drone is changing, the original definition does instill a little fear. Whether an invasion of privacy or the launching of missiles from the sky, the word ‘drone’  isn’t all unicorns and rainbows.

Overall, I’m not angry, I just want multirotor aircraft, UAVs, and RC anything to get their fair chance to be a fun and enjoyable hobby for all. I would like the news media to show the positive and fun side of the hobby, like when I got to show off for WGN Morning News here a month ago.

The 200QX review is moving along (See my unboxing post?). I will finally get the last of the great quadcopter build series done, too. Until the next installment of fun, Stay Shiny and Keep Flyin’!

 

vlcsnap-2014-06-17-11h33m57s248Selfies are out, people! Trending hotter than the sun, thanks to a Drone-taken picture of Captain Picard himselfDronies are all the new photography rage on the web.

Making a Dronie in 10 Easy Steps:

1.) Grab your quadcopter. May I suggest a Ares QX130, Blade 180QX HD, or LaTrax Alias for those without 350QX or DJI Phantoms

You can take your own Dronie like mine above by Reading More…
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200QX Box FrontAfter a few weeks of delays, I finally got my hands on the next quadcopter from Blade: the 200QX brushless quadcopter. Built with a frame like the 350QX, this quad is brushless and equipped with the new SAFE system for a powerful, but stable flight performance. Our review will be up in the future but check out the unboxing pictures below!

Make sure to click READ MORE to see the rest.
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