Broken main board, video TX antenna and GPS controller after a crash.

Nomen est omen: Crashpilot

Well, well, we all knew it had to happen. One of my copters crashed. It fell out of the sky, more then 30m onto asphalt. It looked really horrible. The Disco scattered into peaces, it had a totally broken frame with many damaged parts lying around. I could salvage a few pieces from the debris, but I will need to rebuild a new copter from scratch.

Some recovered parts after a crash. The copter fell apart, lost one arm and scattered into peaces.

Some recovered parts after a crash. The copter fell apart, lost one arm and scattered into peaces.

Luckily nobody got insured and nothing got damaged on the ground. So the worst thing is, that I don’t fully know why it happened. It could have been the almost empty battery, but I could also have been the camera controller board flying into the propellor. I guess I need to do more tests once I have rebuilt  my Discovery  I just hoped I would not have to build a second Discovery Pro so soon again :(

Rinjani2

Trekking Mount Rinjani, Indonesia

Trekking on Mount Rinjani is a very popular activity on Lombok. With 3726 m (12’224 ft) above sea level, Rinjani is the second highest peak in Indonesia. The most popular access is from either Senaru or Sembalun. Trekking times vary depending on the route and destination. Wikitravel has a good article about it. I’ve chosen the 3 day / 2 night trip witch takes you to two locations on the crater rim, to the hot springs at the crater lake as well as to the summit. It is the most popular option, however there are also shorter tours which only take you to the crater rim.

We were especially unlucky with the weather. It was raining almost every day, which is very uncommon for the dry season. However, the wet season was just around the corner, starting in December, when trekking is not feasible anymore. With ponchos and backpack rain covers we tried to keep everything dry along the route.

Mount Rinjani, Indonesia in the clouds. Looking down from the crater rim over the camp site near Senaru.

Mount Rinjani, Indonesia in the clouds. Looking down from the crater rim over the camp site near Senaru.

The route is not technically difficult but it requires endurance. 8h+ of hiking every day and the total altitude difference of almost 3000m is not easy. I enjoyed the little challenge. With a normal level of fitness and a bit of preparation, everybody can do it. Most difficult was the final accent to the summit. The volcanic gravel stones make you slip backwards on every step and the thin air slows you down on top of it. But I made it and luckily there was even a bit of sunshine on the top. This was very rewarding after all the cold and wet hours to get there. But watch the video yourself I recorded with the Phantom in top of the Rinjani. I guess this is a world premiere. :-D

Mount Rinjani crater lake on Lombok, Indonesia.

Mount Rinjani crater lake on Lombok, Indonesia.

 

Gallery: TBS Discovery Pro build.

Import from Camera...

How To: Slowmo GoPro videos in iMovie 11

Today I would like to describe a workflow for natively handling high-frame rate videos with iMovie 11. I use this workflow to create super smooth slow motion scenes from 60fps or 120fps footage recorded with the GoPro. The following method uses iMovie 11 only with original videos straight from the camera. No additional software, plugins or other video pre-processing is needed. The trick is:

Import the videos straight from the camera or sd-card into iMovie 11 through the “Import from Camera…” dialogue.

In the next dialogue I then select Optimize video in Full – Original Size. The import takes quite some time, as the videos are transcoded while being imported. Once finished, the videos can be added to projects (such as 30fps NTSC). Without any additional transcoding the “Slow Motion” settings of the clip use the higher frame rate to make super smooth videos. Example slowdowns are 50% with a 60fps clip or even 25% on a 120fps clip.

iMovies' Import from Camera dialogue preserves high frame rate (60 / 120fps) from the GoPro without additional transcoding.

iMovies’ Import from Camera dialogue preserves the high frame rate (60 / 120fps) from the GoPro without additional transcoding.

Important: Any other import method will not work properly. The higher frame-rate will be lost if you add the exact same file through the general “Import” function or through the iPhoto library. This must be a bug or accidental feature of iMovie, depending on how you look at it. Have fun!

Fully assembled gimbal from the front.

Build Log TBS Discovery Pro, Part 1

Let’s start! After Unboxing I gathered all the necessary resources such as:

  • The build Instructions (pdf) with the accompanying  build video from TBS
  • Soldering iron, screwdrivers, zip ties, loctite 222 (the purple one)

I’ve started with the gimbal assembly, a big puzzle with motors, screws and aluminum parts. The small screws are for the metal parts and some of the short bigger ones (from a separate bag) are for the gimbal motors. The small electronic board was a little bit too big, but after grinding the board on two ends by fractions of a millimeter it fit snugly into the holder. Two tiny little grub screws are used to hold the tilt motor. One is not enough as I had to find out. The cables are attached with zip ties, which have to be attached exactly how the video shows. Otherwise the ends of the zip-ties collided with other parts, preventing the gimbal from turning freely. For the time being I chose the standard red and orange damper configuration. However, this might change as the dampers need to be fine tuned. There are reports of vibrations with the standard setup. All orange seems to be a good option too. I will have to test this out. [Update] The roll axis on my build is 180 degrees wrong and should be flipped around. While the GoPro cage is upright, the dampers are upside down. They should be forward on top and backward on the bottom for a push/pull configuration. [/Update]

Fully assembled gimbal from the front.

Fully assembled gimbal from the front.

Next, I put the gimbal to the side and started with the frame by soldering the ESCs and the battery connector.  I started out with a very fine soldering tip but this did not work and I had to mount a fatter soldering tip which could deliver enough heat. This was fairly easy. And I completed the work on the bottom plate with gluing the Naza flight controller with a 3M patch.

Disco Pro ground plate with Naza Light in the center and the dji power unit on the bottom

Disco Pro ground plate with Naza Light in the center and the dji power unit on the bottom

Last step of the today was assembling the Tiger 900kv motors. I removed all the screws on the prop holders and mounted them with loctite to the top of the motors. Then I found out that short silver screws and the cross piece in the package are not used. Instead the motors are directly bolted onto the arms with screws out of one of the bags. The quality of theses screws however gave me headaches. None of my standard screwdrivers had a tight fit. Finally, I used a hex key to tighten the screws on the arms. I did not use loctite for now, as the arms are plastic. But if they come loose I might have to reconsider this.

That’s all for the first part of my build log of the TBS Discovery Pro. So far I am positively surprised about how everything is designed (minus the screws). The official build video is sometimes a bit too fast and I needed to rewind it many many times. Stay tuned for the next part of the build!

Check out the image gallery of the whole build.

The TBS Discovery PRO, how it arrived in the box. Plus googles, arms, Naza, etc.

Unboxing the TBS discovery PRO

Today, my brand new discovery PRO quadcopter arrived. Hurray! It looks awesome. But have a look yourself!

The TBS Discovery PRO, how it arrived in the box. Plus googles, arms, Naza, etc.

The TBS Discovery PRO, how it arrived in the box. Plus googles, arms, Naza, etc.

Besides the actual frame kit in the big top left box, I also added goggles, the Naza Light flight controller, arms, props and a 5.8 GHz video link. I’m really blown away by all the beauty. Let’s start the build and get everything assembled and configured!

A sneak peek into the boxes with all the nice little parts. Now the puzzle begins...

A sneak peek into the boxes with all the nice little parts. Now the puzzle begins…