Tuesday, January 28, 2014

First Flight with GoPro Hero 3+ Black

The colors are quite drab and dreary in the mountains over the winter, and filming with the GoPro Hero 3 Silver just makes the colors even more washed out. So we swapped it out for the GoPro Hero 3+ Black, hoping to get some more vibrant, true-to-life color in our videos.

This was literally our first ever flight with this brand-new GoPro, so I was flying conservatively, not wanting to make a mistake that would result in lens scratches on the new camera, or worse. So sorry I didn't get in closer to that massive ridge of granite going up the mountainside. Maybe next time!

The winds were very high through this valley today, the GoPro was in Narrow FOV mode (1080p @ 60 FPS), and the gimbal only stabilizes pitch and roll, so those factors combined to create a whole lot of shakiness in the yaw axis. So although we were very impressed by the image quality in Narrow mode, it looks like for future flights we'll want to stick to Medium FOV. That is until we can get a 3-axis gimbal for our GoPro.

The colors certainly came out a lot better than with the old GoPro, but since there was so much haze and leafless or frostbitten vegetation, the video still came out looking fairly dreary and lacking in color. Good thing Spring is almost here!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

WIN a FREE HoverThings Flip FPV Frame with a $136.95 Retail Value

Starting Wednesday, January 22, 2014 and ending Saturday, February 1, 2014 (23:59 PST), MavBot is running a Facebook Page Promotion 'WIN a FREE HoverThings Flip FPV Frame with a $136.95 Retail Value' at http://bit.ly/1f7sRKz . This page contains this Promotion's Official Rules.

'WIN a FREE HoverThings Flip FPV Frame with a $136.95 Retail Value' Sweepstakes - OFFICIAL RULES


This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook. Participants are providing information to MavBot and not to Facebook. The information provided will only be used for administering and communicating with participants about MavBot and the MavBot promotion they are participating in.


Mavbot is giving away a FREE HoverThings Flip FPV Frame with a $136.95 Retail Value: a frame designed with TWO things in mind: strength and simplicity. The "FLIP FPV" is incredibly stiff and light, yet STRONG. The arms do not twist like cheap plastic arms, and they do not bend like expensive aluminum arms. It includes "snap-on" landing gear that can be installed and removed in seconds.


The Sweepstakes entry period begins at 19:00 p.m. PST on January 22, 2014 and ends at 11:59 p.m. PST on February 1, 2014 (the "Sweepstakes Period"). Winners will be randomly selected within 24 hours, from entries properly submitted and timely received during the Sweepstakes Period.


Prize: HoverThings Black/Orange Flip FPV Frame with a $136.95 Retail Value.

Prize will be delivered free of charge to the participant's street address as submitted at registration for the Sweepstakes. Prize will not be replaced if lost or stolen, is not transferable and is not redeemable for cash. All taxes and other charges are responsibility of the winner. No substitutions are allowed. Prize is valid for redemption up till three (3) months after prize is drawn. If prize is not initially redeemed during this period then the prize shall be voided. All expenses not specifically mentioned herein are not included as part of any Prize package, and are solely the winner's responsibility.


MavBot (Sponsor) Facebook Page Sweepstakes (the Sweepstakes) is open only to legal residents of the fifty (50) United States and the District of Columbia over the age of 18 with access to the Internet at all times during the Sweepstakes and subsequent prize-award period. All employees of MavBot, Lizara Freezone N.V. or its subsidiaries, all associated agencies and each of their respective affiliates, sales representatives, distributors, licensees or agents (all of the foregoing, together with Sponsor, collectively referred to as Sweepstakes Entities), and their immediate family members (spouse, parent, child, sibling and their respective spouses) and those living in the same household of each (whether related or not), are ineligible to participate in the Sweepstakes. All applicable federal, state and local laws and regulations apply. Void where prohibited or restricted by law. Entry in the Sweepstakes constitutes full and unconditional acceptance of these Official Rules. No purchase is necessary to participate in the Sweepstakes and a purchase will not improve the chances of winning.


During the Sweepstakes Period, participant may submit an entry form online using the sweepstakes entry form located on MavBot's Facebook Sweepstakes tab. Limit one (1) online entry per email address.


As a condition of entry into the Sweepstakes, except where prohibited by law, each entrant, and each winner by accepting a prize, grants to Sponsor and its affiliates, legal representatives, assigns and licensees, all right, title and interest in to publicize, broadcast, display and/or otherwise use the Sweepstakes entrants name, city, state, and biographical material (collectively, Licensed Rights) in any media now or hereafter known throughout the world in perpetuity for advertising and publicity purposes, without additional review, compensation, permission or approval of the winner. Where necessary, the winner will be required to execute and return an Affidavit of Eligibility/Liability and Publicity Release within five (5) business days of attempted notification or the winner may be disqualified and an alternate winner selected.


The potential Prize winners will be selected in a random drawing. Winners will be selected from entries received during the Sweepstakes Period who have not yet won a prize. Odds of winning will depend on the number of eligible entries received during the Sweepstakes Period prior to each drawing. The potential winner will be notified via email to the email address submitted with the potential winners entry within three (3) days after the drawing. The drawing will be conducted by Sponsor, the judge of the Sweepstakes, whose decisions on all matters relating to the Sweepstakes shall be final and binding. In the event that a potential winner is disqualified for any reason, Sponsor may, in its sole discretion, award the applicable prize to an alternate winner selected at random. Any return of prize notification or prize email as undeliverable will result in forfeiture of any prize and an alternate winner may, at Sponsor's discretion, be randomly selected.


By entering or participating in the Sweepstakes, participants agree to be bound by these Official Rules, and by the decisions of Sponsor, which are final and binding in all respects. Sweepstakes Entities are not responsible for: (1) any incorrect or inaccurate information or technical failures of any kind, (2) unauthorized human intervention in any part of the entry process or the Sweepstakes; or (3) any other computer, network, technical, human or other error, problem or malfunction that may occur in connection with the administration of the Sweepstakes, the processing of entries, or the selection or notification of winners. Further, if, for any reason, the Sweepstakes is not capable of running as planned for reasons outside the control of the Sponsor which, in the sole opinion of Sponsor, may corrupt or affect the administration, security, fairness, integrity or proper conduct of the Sweepstakes (or portion thereof), Sponsor reserves the right, at its sole discretion, to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend the Sweepstakes (or portion thereof). Sponsor also reserves the right at its sole discretion to disqualify the Entry of any individual found to be (a) tampering or attempting to tamper with the entry process or the operation of the Sweepstakes or any website operated by the Sweepstakes Entities; (b) using any robotic, macro, automatic, programmed or like entry methods, which will void all such entries; (c) violating these Official Rules or the terms of service, conditions of use, and/or general rules of any Sponsor property or service; or (d) acting in an unsportsmanlike or disruptive manner, or with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten, or harass any other person. Sweepstakes Entities are not responsible for claims, injuries, losses or damages of any kind resulting, in whole or in part, directly or indirectly, from the awarding, delivery, acceptance, use, misuse, possession, loss or misdirection of the prize; participation in this Sweepstakes or in any activity or travel related thereto or from any interaction with, or downloading of, computer Sweepstakes information.


Participants in the Sweepstakes agree to be bound by these Official Rules and the decisions of Sponsor. By accepting the prize, the winner agrees to release and hold MavBot, Lizara Freezone N.V. or its subsidiaries, all associated agencies and each of their respective affiliates, harmless from and against any and all losses, damages, rights, claims, actions and liabilities of any kind in connection with the Sweepstakes or receipt or redemption of the prize. The winner assumes all liability for any injury, death, or damage caused, or allegedly caused, by participating in the Sweepstakes or use or redemption of the prize.


To obtain a copy of these Official Rules or for a list of the winners, send a self-addressed stamped envelope to Sponsor. Requests for winners' lists must be received within three months after the end of the Sweepstakes Period.


MavBot / Lizara Freezone N.V., Frankrijkstraat 13, Oranjestad, Aruba.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

1.3 GHz FPV Testing

Although our 5.8 GHz FPV setup works fairly well, I would prefer a video system that doesn't get all scrambled just flying behind a few trees, and that has much better range than just 2 km.

I thought we could do better with 1.3 GHz, so we've been experimenting with that. The first major test was this flight a bit over 2 km up a mountain valley near Baiguo.

1.3 GHz FPV Equipment used:

2x Circular Wireless 1.3 GHz SPW12 Skew Planar Wheel antennas
ReadyMadeRC 800mW 1300MHz Transmitter (2-channel US-legal version)
ReadyMadeRC 900MHz-1.3Ghz Receiver SAW w/1258 Custom RMRC Version 3
ReadyMadeRC Low Pass Filter for 1.3GHz Antennas (on vtx to help prevent GPS dropout)

Unfortunately, my tests so far have shown that the range is about the same as we used to get with 5.8 GHz and the Circular Wireless 5.8 GHz helical antenna. Of course it is nice to no longer have to keep turning your head to track the aircraft, but I'd prefer a solution where I can fly behind a few trees without losing most of the video signal. And in terms of that, 1.3 GHz FPV seems to be performing even more poorly than 5.8 GHz.  At least with 5.8 GHz I could fly behind maybe 6 to 10 trees before losing the signal completely. But in recent 1.3 GHz tests I lose the signal through just a couple of the same trees, and get glitches in the video just flying behind a single tree only 50 meters away!

So what's going on here that 1.3 GHz seems to have such poor tree penetrating power compared to 5.8, when supposedly it should actually be better? Interestingly, I've noticed the 1.3 GHz does penetrate concrete walls and rocks quite well, in fact much better than 5.8 GHz! So it's only trees in particular that seem to not like 1.3 GHz and prefer 5.8 GHz instead!

So if I want to reach my goal of flying FPV through trees with good video, maybe I'll need to try a high-gain antenna and an antenna tracker with 1.3 GHz, or perhaps move to 900 MHz video.