Crashing – I’m getting quite good at it …

So, now that I’m happy(ish) with my F550 setup, and I have the FPV monitor settings adjusted so I can actually see what is going on, I’ve been getting braver with my flying. A little too brave, on occasion …

Flying in an open field, on your own, at 50 – 100 feet up is pretty easy and frankly pretty damned boring too, so I’ve been practicing with the more technical and close proximity stuff, and it’s getting expensive!

This one was going well, right up until I stabbed the hex into the grass after a misjudged high speed turn …



… so I spent an afternoon and a morning rebuilding and testing her, then went out again. And this happened …



The trick is judging altitude in a fast moving environment. And it’s a trick I clearly haven’t got the hang of yet! Flying FPV looks dead easy when you watch YouTube videos made by the guys that have been doing it for a while. Trust me, it’s not …


… but I’m getting there. More spare parts have arrived today to allow me to get the 550 back up in the air – the bump with the crossbar cost me a GPS mount, the terrain collision cost me a prop and an 8-pin Zenmuse control cable  - so maybe I’ll be a little more careful next time. Or maybe not :-)

F550 prop mounting …

So, this is probably obvious to some, but it might not be to others, so here goes.

Which way do the props mount on an F550?

They mount with the “DJI” logo and the prop number facing upwards. Most important! I know, because I mounted mine the other way up – all you’ll get is lots of noise and no lift!

And where do they mount? The 1038 props go onto the counter-clockwise motors – that is motors 1, 3 and 5 – and the 1038R props mount onto the clockwise motors – 2, 4 and 6.



Video Switcher for the F550


My video switcher arrived in the post this morning … I can’t believe how small it is!



Now I need to work out how to wire the thing up :-/

I’ve ordered a little assortment of cables that I think will do the job, but as I’m well out of my knowledge zone here, it’s anyone’s guess if I bought the right stuff or not.

I’ll keep you posted :-D

My F550 – The ‘Beast of Burntwood’ – is complete. For now …

I’ve finally completed the build of my F550. It’s taken weeks, and a considerable amount of head scratching, learning and money!




She is basically a stock F550 – the motors and ECS’s are the one’s that come in the kit from DJI – but with the following modifications/additions:

  • Black arms to replace the red/white stock items
  • AeroXcraft landing gear
  • Zenmuse H2-3D gimbal and controller circuits
  • A GoPro Hero 3+ Black edition
  • A JST plug in the power feed for the gimbal to allow for flying without the GoPro (the gimbal needs supporting in this mode to prevent damage)
  • An ImmersionRC 600mw video transmitter with a FatShark antenna
  • The radio receiver is a Futaba R2008SB to work alongside my T8J controller
  • The gimbal tilt control works from the VR knob on the T8J (on CH5)
  • The props are 10″ – 1038 – DJI ones to suit a large 3s battery
  • The antennas for the R2008 rx are fitted into nylon antenna tubes then hot-glued to the top plate
  • I sprayed the top plate black because I’m not big on gold :-)
  • With the exception of the vtx, all the electronics are mounted inside the frame to keep it tidy. The rx is mounted to the underside of the top plate to save space on the base, which makes it bloody awkward to plug in/out!

I’ve got a couple of modifications planned, but for now I just want to get out and test it, once the wind drops :-(


NEVER fly downwind with a quad …

I just broke a cardinal rule of flying – I let my Phantom get a long way downwind. And too high. I spotted the issue just as my FPV feed started to break up, and my spotter was announcing that I had limited time left and “where the hell is it?”!!

At full throttle, facing home, the screen occasionally came back, but the quad appeared to be hanging motionless. Gulp!

It was mildly breezy at ground level, but clearly not so benign further up. And all this happened over an all but impenetrable patch of trees.

She crawled back to the field, eventually, red light blinking furiously. Phew!

A lesson learned!


What got me started with quads?

I work in the maritime world, making films for the merchant maritime sector. I stumbled on this guys work …

… and thought “I could do that”. If only I had a ship. And a quad.

Then I saw this at the back end of 2013 …

… and my mind was made up! Now I’m embroiled in an expensive, difficult to learn but good fun hobby! Or I will be, just as soon as the weather improves.