Category Archives: Gopro 3

FPV flying in beautiful Batanes, the Philippines

Batanes has three major islands: Batanes (the main island), Sabtang and Itbayat.  A couple of airlines have daily flights to the capital Basco.   Unlike the rest of the Philippines, the Batanes islands, because of its location, has 4 seasons similar to other northern climes ie Winter, Spring, Summer and Autumn. The only thing it doesnt have is snow!  This means that for most of the year, its a little colder and, on average, windier than the rest of the country.  For FPV flyers it just means more patience (and luck!) is needed for most of the months.  The locals say the winds are calmer from mid-March until May.

Ok here’s the lowdown:

1)  Safety –  Batanes only has 17,000 people spread across several islands. Even in the capital of Basco, rush-hour means seeing a couple of vans going around (mainly shuttling tourists).   The areas I’ve flown in are largely uninhabited and I was told the airport does not accept air traffic from 3pm onwards.  The runway also has a “one-way in, one-way out” — the words of our pilot — policy landing from the west-end and taking off in a west-ward direction regardless of wind direction.  Good info to know if one is flying several hundred meters (or km!) up.

2) Wind – hills and small valleys, can make for an exciting landing.. I soon learned that landing on small roads on ridges on a windy day is a big no-no.   Thats because after hitting the side of a hill, wind speed accelerates as it escapes on top.  It gets worse in the intersection of two hills which forms a funnel-like valley.   The best option is to land on the side of the hill with no wind. Which means, higher throttle on the approach — as you will lose the head wind  since the hill where you will be landing will now acts as a barrier — and then pitch up at the last minute, so you’re basically landing uphill.

Here’s what I took away from this visit:  Hills = Gusts.  Sea Headwind < Land Headwind.

3) Interference –  Virtually none.

4) FPV Locations – the best bet location (for safety, wind and scenery) for long range FPV is the “Songsong Iraya” coastal road.  It’s located in the north-west part of Basco and its the road leading to the garbage disposal facility.  No villages, just some cows and lots of open space to crash in =)

For a little bit of challenge (wind!, some tourists but the best scenery) go to the “Marlboro Country”, this is on the east side of the island (yes facing the Pacific) and the scenery is breathtaking.. you’ll be able to take videos of the farm lands, a defunct (but well kept) light house, the ocean and the surf!  Hill-side landing is the key to an intact plane here.

I saw at least 7 spots thats excellent for FPV in Batanes and Sabtang Islands.. but only flew in 4 of them.  I’ll post the vids of them soon.  In the meantime, here’s the vid of the 2.5km flight from “Songsong” road:



Flying and more grass eating in UP Diliman

Did a couple of flight checks at UP Diliman over the weekend.  The RC field is at the corner of University Ave and CP Garcia.  Perfect for park flyers and 3D planes, quads and ‘copters..Good field to fly in on a lazy afternoon.

However, it can get quite muddy after a heavy downpour which is a big inconvenience OR saving grace.. during the Skyscouts maiden flight a few weeks ago, I managed to nosedive and crash it. As an experienced dirt-eating RC pilot, I thought that was it. However, from a distance the plane was strangely perpendicular to the ground.. it turns out the nosedive was perfect with the nose stuck a good 5 inches in the mud!  The front section was just slightly bent (and still is today, even after the  hotwater/hair blower treatment). Without the mud, I doubt if I’d still be flying the skyscout today.  Moral lesson is, even mud has a purpose.



Hitec Skyscout 1st Flight with Gopro3 black

The first step to my FPV dreams is to get a good mini camera onboard my Skyscout.  Looks like the Gopro is the best way to go on this one..At $399- this took a huge bite off of my ‘hobby budget’.  There being no price difference from distributors and retailers I decided to buy the thing directly from Gopro.

Mounting it on the plane, I had to decide whether to include the Gopro’s waterproof case.. the problem with the casing is it weighs  more than the camera itself.. I spent a good amount of time trying to figure out how to balance the added weight relative to the CG.  The only way I can do this is if a) I place all the electronics behind the CG — not a good idea since the servo cables are pretty much set and I dont want to make unnecessary access holes in the fuselage —  or b) move the battery to the CG  or  b) put a counter-weight on the tail.

In the end, I decided to just go with minimal weight changes and did the following:

1)  Took out the ESC from within the fuselage and placed it on top (also took out the motor power cable extensions to lessen the weight)
2)  Made a camera platform from some good ‘ol appliance hard styro.
3)  Transferred the battery placement nearer the CG (it used to be flushed in the nose of the plane), a bit aft of the orange Orange RX in the pic.
4)  Used a black garter with sewed-on velcro for a custom made adjustable camera clasp.  This is what’s keeping it on top of the styro platform.. that and a strip of double sided tape at the bottom.

Here’s how it looks like:

Skyscout with gopro 3
With minimal weight changes and just a tad nose heavy.. the first flight went well: