Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Getting my feet wet for the world of RC areal videography

I want to get into the world of RC areal videography, because I desire to make better vacation videos of the cool places we see.

Since I plan on spending some serious money in the future, I thought it would be best to buy some cheap toy, and a small mountable camera to learn how to fly quadcopters, and to learn the ins and outs of video taken from this platform.

So, I purchased the 32 dollar(as of this writing) Syma X1 quadcopter, and a forty dollar 808, 16 keychain camera to mount onto it.

I specifically bought the UFO version because I intended to mount the camera right on top of it. However, the angles were too steep, and I had to cut out the center part of the dome to mount the 808 keychain camera.

See the Syma X1 here, by clicking this link

The HD keychain camera that I bought for it is here, click me

Once I received the toy, I was immediately pleased. 

That is of course until after I wrecked it a few times, and one of the motors became weak...

Then I had to find replacement parts, and had to start thinking about if my soldering iron had a small enough tip to do the soldering on the surface mount, wave soldered control board to replace the broken motor...

After I damaged the motor, I was able to max the trim out on the radio control, and with that, and some major dynamic stick input, I was able to fly the RC without the camera.

With the camera, it is a whole different story though.  I have to wait until I get my new motor from until I start major flights with the camera.

So, while I was waiting, I started the process of learning how to bond the camera to the Syma for flight, and the following is that process, with an additional mod that helps me tell what direction the model is flying in.


Although I ultimately wanted a bottom mount camera, I decided to first mount it on the top so when I
crash, it won't destroy the camera.

The camera is stuck on top there with the provided velcro


The toy flew better(more balanced) with this setup, but it still wasn't completely
what I wanted.  I will include a link below to this flight after I upload it.

Onto REV 3

The canopy is reversed so it is on the bottom.  I put some small pieces of Velcro to help hold the camera

I believe this is the final rev for this setup.  The camera Is stuck on with Velcro, and the rubber band.
You can also see the lifting suspension I came up with to elevate the model, and maybe soften

With this setup, you can reverse the setup for top, or bottom mounted cameras.

Other modifications

This of course is made up of plastic tie wraps.  I used a hair dryer to heat up the tie wraps until they
were shiny, bent them into the form I wanted, and let them cool in that configuration. I am not sure if this softens
the landings, or just shifts the phase of the impact.  For example, instead of getting a sharp spike in acceleration, It
turns the landing into more of an oscillation.

When the model flew away from me, I couldn't tell which direction it was facing in the distance, so I added a red LED in the back of the craft.

I cut holes in the body with a push pin spaced at the same distance as the LED leads.

The LED I got from Radio Shack.  It is a 25mA, 3 volt.  I soldered a 1/8th watt, 100 ohm resistor in series with it
which should source 12mA of current at full battery charge(4.2 volts)
I soldered the led supply wires to the power pads on top of the board

You know, it is harder than you might think to find a level surface to let the quad calibrate "level" on before you fly it...

So I came up with this case, and screwed levels in the X and Y axis so that I can tell when it is level.

Not only is a good launching platform, it is also a great carrying case!



Action shot

New Camera Mount

This is cut out of a Talene Custard container.  It allows not
only a flat surface, but also enables me to replace
the battery WITH the camera already mounted.

NOTE: I had to trim the battery mount a little with some diagonal pliers to get the mount to fit flush.

I glued on the plastic platform with hot melt glue.  I also filled in
the sides, so when I put on the rubber bands, the platform has
a solid piece to be wedged against.

This is what it looks like with the two rubber bands holding it in place.
I could have centered that platform a little better...



Sunday, January 12, 2014

The deadly addictive drug of Facebook and how I kicked the habit

Like any recreational drug, facebook at first entices you with some euphoric highs, and then before you even have time to realize it, you are hooked.  You have a hopeless addiction, that like any other addiction is destructive to your well being.

In the Beginning,

Facebook was there in the corner of the web for years without me ever trying the drug.  People would sometimes point to it, and try to entice me to take a hit.  "Oh I am on Facebook, maybe you should get an account so we can keep in touch".

A little fun never killed anyone,

At first, I was just a recreational Facebook user.  I could take it or leave it anytime I wanted to.  Very infrequently I would drop in to check on it, and then I wouldn't look at it for weeks.

At first the intense high,

Very slowly over time, I started to check my facebook pages more and more often.  As people joined my network, and laughed at my "witty" remarks, the satisfaction became greater and greater.  The validation was intense.  "I am funny", "I am smart", "people like me"

I became a more regular user without really even giving it a second thought.

Then the quest to maintain the high,

Later, after people stopped commenting on my witty remarks, probably because I posted so often, people were tired of feeding my ego with the polite "lol" and thumbs up, I decided I needed to have a purpose on Facebook.  I needed to change the world and enlighten people with my "wisdom"

I started pages like "The coalition against foreign control"(blushes), which was a webpage I started to bring to light the alarming fact that we were giving away our countries power and strength, by giving China all of our manufacturing tasks, and borrowing money from them...

Onto the next stage in any addiction,

Which is the daily habitual use, without the pay off of the extreme high, but necessary all the same, just to maintain your sense of normalcy.

Actually for me, I had to use the drug in the morning, and several times at night.  Like smokers with their cigarettes it was the first thing I did when I got up.  Then when I came home.  Then before dinner, then in the evening, then I would check it right before I went to bed.

I didn't enjoy it, it is just something I had to do...

A look in the mirror,

At some point, I decided how ridiculous it was to come home and tell Facebook how my day went...

Instead of talking to my loving wife, I would log onto facebook first thing when I came home to post what "funny" thought I had that day, or what quirky circumstances came up at work...

Making the decision to make a change,

I would say this is the final stage, but like any addict, I think it is a constant battle to  never rebound back into drug use. Why do I say that?

First when I went to delete the account, I caved and just "deactivated it"  I thought I was safe, but then I realized that I had somehow been posting to an account that I tried to deactivate by logging into a completely different site that I had linked to Facebook...  I got a message that the review I just wrote was "posted to my wall"

I thought, "how the hell did that just post to my wall?" I deactivated that account... WRONG!  If you deactivate you account, and post to a site that at some point you linked to it, it reopens your account without warning.

Then, I was determined.  I "deleted" the account.  Oh, but it doesn't delete right away, it schedules a deletion two weeks from the time you decided to delete it...

So then I open the account just to confirm it will delete by what date it originally stated, and it had moved the date back five days.

My wife suggested it was because I logged on just to see if in fact, it was still scheduled for deletion.

If you log on to confirm deletion, it resets the waiting period!

All of your "friends" disappear,

Just like your buddies you used to drink with, or perhaps the ones you used to smoke pot with, once you decide to quit the habit you will find your facebook buddies aren't really your friends after all...

They are just fellow enablers...

They won't come looking for you, to ask, "what's going on buddy, I haven't read your posts in a while?"  No one really cares.  Facebook friends don't care if you are, or are not there.

They, like you, only care that people read their witty remarks like, "I am so addicted to coffee, I may need to go to rehab!  Seriously, I need it"...  LOL, that is a good one!

Will I be successful in maintaining sobriety this time?

Only time will tell.. As of right now, it is scheduled to be deleted in the future.  Please wish me good luck, and send your positive thoughts, and hope that I can maintain strength.

You know, I didn't realize how the drug had taken away joy.  Colors now seem brighter to me.  I see the world again like I did before I got hooked on the drug.

I think I have my "artistic eye" back for my photography.  It is like the world popped back on, and I hadn't even realized what had happened to me.

Drug addiction is like that I have heard, it happens slowly over time until you hit rock bottom, and decide to make a change.

I solute those who can take it or leave it and use it occasionally, but I am not one of those people, so for me, it is cold turkey!

Mark :)