July 5, 2017

ZMR250 Mods

As I mentioned before I got a ZMR250 together with the new googles I bought.

Since the build has a few flaws I have spent some time addressing them and adding a few upgrades just for fun as well.

First off I went though the solderings and resoldered the worst once. I also upgraded the flight controlled (early version of SP racing F3). I have also added a battery voltage sensing cable to the FC as well as a buzzer that is triggered from a radio channel. Later it turned out the buzzer I use is of inferior quality and it has given up on beeping. What is really lacking in terms of electronics now is an OSD.

The most fun stuff I've been doing is however is designing a few parts the I 3D printed for the frame.

First off is the camera holder. There was already a great design on thingiverse for the ZMR250 but for some reason my camera did not fit well so I made a derivative with a few small changes.

Foxeer camera holder

I did crash a few times, mainly grass cutting, during the first flight and I got a lot of grass and dirt in the frame. So I made some side covers to mitigate this.
Side covers.

New this season is a long awaited upgrade in terms of action camera and I have gotten a mobius mini to replace my old mobius that I have used for years. I designed a super-simple mount for it, prints well and works well. Looks well? Maybe not so much.

Mobius mini mount on the ZMR250.

I also made a holder the the video antenna. The hole arrangement with the transmitter (which is a bulky old Immersion) is not fantastic and I was unable to use the existing hole in the frame. The antenna mount protudes and holds both the antenna and power leads in place.

I have also made my own motor guards. I spent a lot of time and not so fantastic printing time on those but finally got a working design in the end.

ZMR250 with all the 3D-printed mods.

June 21, 2017

Micro-build? Custom color switch nuts

It's good to have a backlog of micro activities for those days when you have an urge to get something done but don't have time to start up anything complicated.

Today was one of those days. So I took the time to pimp my transmitters with colored nuts on the switches. Gives them a discrete personal touch. Purple is my sons favourite color and the choice was easy.

Custom colored nuts on the T14SG.

June 16, 2017

X210 First FPV flight

I finally took the time to take the X210 for a spin. I still haven't gotten the camera to work well in low light as in the evening. But now the evenings are bright enough that I can fly after putting the children to bed.

I felt a bit rusty at first but then the feeling started coming back to me.

May 30, 2017

JJPRO P130 Battler, first flight

I ordered the P130 a few months back when a few coupon deals came together and gave me a nice price on this piece. I just couldn't resist. I've built a small brushless quad a year back before the Chineese started pumping them out and I wanted to see where they were at.

After a long wait, as usual, and a few days on the shelf yesterday was the day I put the thing together. I had to figure a few things out with the connector that needed some reconfiguration to get SBUS going and I also made an antenna holder as I could find any suitable way to attach them and keep them away from the propellers.

I won't waste much time on the details here and skip directly to the test flight.

My first in a long time, family life cuts into the hobby budget from many dimensions. But I still got it. But this quad does not. It flies like crap. The power setup should be powerful enough but it is probably the propellers that limits it. If I push it even the slightest the rear left motor/prop hits the limit and the quad tilts or even flips.

So. Don't buy this, there should be better options out there!

May 24, 2017

Turnigy Fabrikator V2; first impressions

I ordered the Fabrikator v2 fairly quickly after its release. I have a v1 and I really like it but it has its flaws and I've been expecting a v2 which adresses some of those. To quickly summarize the promised features of the v2.

  • Heated print bed
  • SD card and Wifi
  • 100x100 build surface (slightly bigger than v1)

In essence, my first impression is disappointment.
  • It is noisy. Much more than the v1. And makes strange noises at that.
  • Wifi access seems limited to Windows users, I'll get back on that if I figure something out.
  • SD card is unusable without wifi setup, the printer has no screen or nobs.
  • Z-axis seems slower.
  • My specimen has an issue with the z-axis. But I can make it work by pressing the Z-axis down.

First print
It took me a while to figure out what was wrong with the Z-Axis to the printer to start printing anything but a ball of plastic. When it finally started printing I used the recommended "slow" settings. Just like with the v1 the recommended settings is way too fast. By dividing everything by 4 things started working more smoothly.

The first print actually failed miserably after about 5 minutes when the model detached from the print bed.

I have to give some points for the solid build quality of the encasing. It looks good and feels good and this is definitely a printer you can put in your backpack and show off at work or school.

May 22, 2017

Camera holder make for the ZMR250

So I got a ZMR250 "bundled" with the Fatsharks I bought second hand. The nice thing about this frame is that it has been around for some time and there are so many tutorials and printable parts out there to customize the frame as much or as little as you like.

This fine specimen had camera holder made up of essentially a few zip-ties. And it didn't really do the job.

So I printed the simplest camera mount I found on thingiverse. It turned out however that the fit wasn't so fantastic. I got the impression that the form factor of my camera wasn't the same as the maker of the camera holder.

So I made my own mod of it to better suit my needs.

I love how 3D-printing makes things like this really simple!

May 20, 2017

How other people build

I got myself a new pair of goggles. Fatshark attitude v3. A bit of a desperate move, they are pricy even second hand and I would rather buy the Aomway commanders but they never seem to come in stock. And then a month of shipping when they finally arrive. I can't wait that long.

With the goggles I got (at a price as well, but I had to buy it) a ZMR 250 racer. It's well speced and should come handy. When I received it I quickly realized a lot about how people build their quads.

I'm not that meticulous when it comes to building. I never get it perfect, I take a few short cuts and I try to improve every build I do. Good enough for me. But the build you see while at the club are usually impressive. Every detail is often perfect and to no surprise those builders like to show their work.

But you won't see the builds that aren't just as perfect. Here's one of those. I'll just give you a picture of the electronics. You get the point.

May 2, 2017

Inside the Fatshark Aviators

My FPV goggles has started giving up on me, or they more or less have already. There seems to be a malfunction in the power supply causing the goggles to restart every now and then. And that's not a good thing.

I decided to take them apart to see if I could locate the issue. So, I couldn't fix them (I'm not an electronics engineer).

What surprised me most was the very poor quality I found inside. Plastic wiring, dirty circuit boards and broken off plastic parts to make the parts fit inside the shell. And to get the receiver board to fit inside they have actually milled off a part of the RF shield.

Fatshark RF shield, fixed from factory?

Seriously! Where can I find the magic inside those plastic shells that motivated the price of this product?

April 26, 2017

5 minute fix for the wallmounted screen

As I blogged earlier I made a simple flush wall mount for the computer screen in my hobby room. However, the mount is a bit tight to the wall since the power connector is sticking out. Today, I made a simple fix for this, something I should have thought of earlier.

I simple drew and printed four standoffs for the screen mount. This way I can simply give it another cm and a half of space. I intended to make them longer, but I didn't have any screws long enough.


This might be the first real practical application for my 3D printer.

April 25, 2017

Build page for the X210

I finally took the time to document the build of the X210. Read more one build page. I will post more info as soon as I get flying.


April 2, 2017

REVO, Flip32 and raceflight?

This weeks biggest waste of time turns out to be Raceflight. I can't tell if it is the fault of raceflight or my own fault by trying to run it on an unlabeled flight controller.

Anyway. I got an unlabeled Chineese flight controller in the package for my X210 build. Banggood calls it a CC3D REVO F4. There is no such thing, but we already knew that already didn't we?

The board comes preflashed with the Raceflight firmware and identifies itself as, in fact, a Revolution board. It's still close to a Revolution, but it doesn't have all the chips on board (like mag and vario I think). The problems began when I realized I couldn't change all the settings in the Raceflight configurator. All options are not there anymore. The port configuration seems broken with missing options like MSP. Something fairly important in my case since I will run the OSD from the FC.

I don't know if it is a problem with Raceflight or the flight controller. I wasted two evenings trying to configure the FC using mainly the CLI (since the configurator is half-broken) and did not succeed. I even broke the firmware once and had to reflash the whole thing and had to start over. Additionally, the firmware takes a minute to boot, which makes the process rather painful.

But I finally figured it out and here's the recipe:

  • This board goes under three names;
    • CC3D REVO F4 (The Chineese favourite)
    • Flip32 F4
    • Airbot F4
  • Raceflight does not work on this board, at least not the latest community binary.
  • Betaflight works with this board. Flash it using the AirbotF4 target. All features are there and you can configure them without the CLI.

Smaller sensor for the X210

I did what I had to do to get a smaller sensor for X210. Even with this one it won't fit fantastically in the frame. But I can make it work this time.

I ripped it from the belly of the F-35. This is a plane that I would very much love to fly once more, but it is to far down on the priority list and thus unlikely. It is now also less one telemetry sensor, not that it matters in the air anyway.

This is the difference between the PRO and the non-PRO version. The size. The PRO is massive. In terms of specifications, it is the same.

March 23, 2017

X210 Build; telemetry sensor

This is part one on the telemetry sensor. I got this sensor second hand and had no idea it was the "PRO" version of the e-fuelgauge which is much bigger than the "normal" one. Obviously, with a size larger than the flight controller, this is a no go on this build.

E-Fuel gauge pro with Realacc X210

I will probably strip the sensor from another model to get a small one to use with this one. I can probably use this larger sensor for a larger model in the future.

March 11, 2017

Realacc X210, first impressions

I went through the contents of the X210 package I got the other day and cleaned up and sanded the edges of the frame pieces. My first impression is that the frame pieces are of fairly good quality for the price. I've seen much worse. I only noticed a few obvious quality imperfections, except for the fact that it was dirty and the edges were sharp.

X210 Camera mount

Above is a detail of the camera holder pieces. They stick down through the top plate and fixates to the bottom plate and contains a swivel point for both the flight camera and polaroid cube style action cam. On the lower plate the insets that fixes the plate to the top plate of the frame is not completely milled. Easy fix, but this is the details that imply the lack of quality control and overuse of worn out tools in cheap Chinese productions/clones. Nothing unexpected really.

Another thing i noticed is the lack of information about the flight controller. The kit I got comes with a flight controller which is completely unlabeled. The product page claims it to be a CC3D REVO F4. Such a product does not exists and the product title itself is not much more that pure clickbait. Banggood themselves actually carry a product by this very name. Checking it out it can potentially be the one I got. The board configuration seems to match up well with a Flip32 F4. The only reason I started digging into this was because I quickly realized I had no idea whatsoever how to hook up this unlabeled board. And in terms of manual or product information, there's not much to go on.

March 10, 2017

Realacc X210 on the build table

After a massive 55 days of transport and no less than 28 days in the air between China and Sweden the next race quad frame finally arrived. Or at least, the tracking information claims it's been flying for 28 days. But now it's here and I can start to plan the build.

Realacc X210

This is the stuff I'm planning to use. I've bought most of the stuff from banggood. I got the Realacc X210 package which comes with a set of racerstar BR2205 motors and 30A racerstar ESCs. It also includes a noname F4 flight controller.

In addition to this I also got a second hand R7003SB receiver and a e-fuelgauge at an online forum. Unfortunately the e-fuelgauge is the PRO version which is very big and it's going to be a challenge to get it to fit in the frame.

I terms of FPV I got a new transmitter, even thou I have a few in the drawer already. I wanted one with a display that displays the selected channel. I've grown tired of fiddling with the dip switches which you never understand how to get them right. I got a FT48X. I've never heard of it so we'll so how well it works out. To go with that I got a Foxeer HS1177. I've flow larger Super HAD boardcams since forever but they won't fit in the frames anymore. This camera is essentially the same in a smaller package. To go with it I got a backpack style OSD chip. I also got a Mobius Mini which seems really nice, both in performance and in form factor.

Building is right around the corner, but first off the frame need some cleaning and sanding as the Chinese copies usually comes dirty and with sharp edges.

February 10, 2017

One day build, computer screen wall mount

I did a one-day-build the other day. If Adam Savage can do it so can I! But in contrast with Adam, I usually get 20 minutes of effective work done during a day. Because of this those 20 minutes has to be effective.

I had this planned for a while. I wanted to have a wall mounted computer screen in the Hobby room, mainly to save space by not having it stand on the desktop. I did this before with the old screen that I mounted in the corner for the document reading computer, but this time I wanted to take it one step further by letting it hang on the already installed rails on the walls.

And the day came when I was doing some carpentry in another room so I had all the tools in place and was gonna get the room dirty anyway. And during the hours of carpentry it is easy to squeeze in some side tasks to get most out of those 20 minutes I mentioned.

The design is simple. I had ordered a new screen, with two requirements; cheap and with VESA mounts. I found a Samsung for about 100€ which is perfect for the task.

I then cut a piece of plywood. Old crappy plywood but does the job. 20 minutes does not suffice if I  need to visit the local hardware store, so I used what I had.

Then, just bring out the saw and start cutting it to fit the width of the rails. I also cut out lots in the sides of the bord to prevent it from taking up unnescessary space in the rails. A slot was also needed for the connectors and the mounting for the unused foot.

First round of cutting the plywood board.

The screen had a part of the foot which is fixed to the screen, and cannot be removed. Unless you pry it open and unscrew it that is. So I had to do that, but it wasn't much of a problem.

1 cm thin screen with 3-4cm ugly foot sticking out the back.

Screws to the foot accessible from the inside when the back plane is slightly lifted.

The foot problem has been fixed.

Screen mounted as intended, without the cables...

A bigger problem turned out to be the connectors. That wise-ass at Samsung that designed this 1 cm "thin" screen did not think of putting connectors on the back that does not protrude. So, with the screen comes a power cord and a HDMI cable which will stick out some 4 cm behind the screen. I will solve the issues with the HDMI cable with a angle adapter, but the power cord it a bigger issue. Currently the screen hangs slightly tilted due to the power cord. I'm considering adding standoffs where the screen is screwed to the board to move it about 1cm further from the wall.

January 24, 2017

Document reading computer in the hobbyroom

I've seen this a couple of times, especially in my friends garage and workshops. They have an old computer and screen mounted on the wall of the shop for one single purpose; easy reading of documentation while working in the shop.

This was an idea I had from the beginning with my new hobby room. The room is small and workspace is limited. Placing a laptop or tablet on the workspace would take up space and the tablet is impractical when not standing up. So, maybe a wall-stand for a tablet? Might work but has the drawback that you must touch it to navigate. And, compared to the reuse, would come and a cost.

Instead I have an old screen stowed that I wanted to use for this. To go with this screen I have used a computer I bought as a potential replacement for my boxee. The computer is an Z83 that I purchased a while back. It is a cherry-trail (Atom) based small form factor computer which comes at a reasonable price for the performance. It came with Windows 10 preinstalled but I installed debian on it as I have gotten used to the features Linux gives me. It did however not pass the WAT (Wife Acceptance Test) and was quickly shelved.

The screen I used is an old 1024x768 screen with a VESA mount on the back. I screwed a piece of plywood to the mount to be able to attach the screen to the wall. The setup takes up limited space on the workspace and I can use a cordless mouse to navigate the documentation while working.

Below is a picture with the documentation computer in action. Here with a 14SG manual on display. Yes I know, it is still chaotic on the desktop, but the hobby room is still a work in progress.

Hobby corner with the documentation computer.