Category Archives: Projects

Installing CHDK to a Canon Powershot SX230 SH

I got a used Canon Powershot SX230 SH for only about $70 (brand new this is about $250).. its beat up pretty good but everything works except for the lens cover which doesnt close even if its turned off.. I dont think this is a big issue at all.

A used Canon Powershot SX 230 SH
A used Canon Powershot SX 230 SH (eyes wide open!)

This will be used as the mapping component of my Skywalker rig and which needs to be updated with CHDK for added features relevant for my use.  Here’s the steps on how to do it:

1) Check out

2) Download the Automatic Camera Identifier and Downloader (ACID) to check for the camera’s installed firmware  (mine was 100c) and download the correct CHDK version (

3) UNLOCK the SD card and format it using the camera’s format function

4) remove the SD card and insert into your PC/laptop.

5) copy all the files downloaded in step 2 to the root directory of the SD card.

chdk directory
chdk directory to copy to your formatted SD card

6) Remove the SD card, LOCK it, then insert into the camera.  Don’t worry CHDK will just ignore the LOCKED state of the SC card and will still allow the camera to write to the SD card (if this is UNLOCKED, CHDK will not start on bootup after step 10).

7) Press the “PLAY” button (not the on/off).

8) Press the MENU Key and under the ‘play’ tab, look for “Firmware Update…” and press the “FUNC SET” button.  After the update, you should see a black/empty screen with “No Image” in the middle (which makes sense since we deleted everything).

Canon sx230 firmware update menu
Canon sx230 firmware update menu

9) Press the ‘PLAY’ key briefly, which is the default <ALT> key to bring up the CHDK menu and you should see the CHDK alternate menu.

chdk main menu after pressing 'play'
chdk main menu after pressing ‘play’

10) Set the SD card to autoboot to CHDK, by pressing MENU (after step 9), navigating to ‘Miscellaneous Stuff’->’SD Card’->’Make Card Bootable’ and pressing ‘FUNC SET’.  The camera will now run CHDK even after turning the camera off.

Making chdk run at startup
Making chdk run at startup


CHDK successfully set as bootable in the SDcard
CHDK successfully set as bootable in the SDcard

11)  That’s it!   If you want to see the different features of chdk check out   Suggested script to load is the KAP_UAV script available from:  Good Luck!

Note: the 230SH will ad 217.3 grams to your rig.

The HobbyKing HKPilot32 Stripdown

I decided to bite the bullet and go with the HobbyKing HKPilot32 instead of the Pixhawk for the reincarnation of my Skywalker FPV rig.  By most accounts the HKPilot32 works as advertised and why shouldnt it? it has the same design and uses the same chips as the open source Pixhawk.  Thank you open source and market forces!

Here’s the content of the packet (L to R: USB cord, Servo wire, Power Module, the HKPilo32, cables for the gps, buzzer, arming button, stickers and vibration pads, free memory card/usb adapter and extension board) and a 4MB sd card pre-installed in the device. The only major downside is it does not come with the 6-pin cable needed to connect the HKPilot to the  Quanum Lea-6H GPS.

HobbyKing HKPilot32
HobbyKing HKPilot32

What surprised me is the size of the HKPilot. it has the same dimensions as the APM 2.6 which is great.

HobbyKing HKPilot32
HobbyKing HKPilot32

I’ve heard about the poor quality of the soldering and board layout of the HKPilot.. personally, for the price, I couldnt care less  as long as it works reliably.  Anyway, out of curiosity I checked the board.

HobbyKing HKPilot32 board
HobbyKing HKPilot32 board (back)

and front:

HobbyKing HKPilot32 board
HobbyKing HKPilot32 board (memory card on the left)

In my opinion, the board design and layout is not bad, a bit dirty to be honest but not bad. The soldering while not topnotch seems to look solid  enough at any rate.. of course I’m comparing this to the usual hardware I see (computing and networking appliance’s boards).  You can judge for yourself above.

So does it work?  so far yes, I was able to load the latest ArduPlane firmware and didn’t really have an issue connecting MissionPlanner (except I had to set the connection speed to 38400)

HKPilot32 with MissionPlanner
HKPilot32 with MissionPlanner

Looking forward to setting this up for flight!



icarusFPV Quad update 3 (disaster!)

The test flight ended in disaster.. it started well enough.. had positive control for about 5 minutes, one thing I noticed with a low kv motor is the slow control response which I think I can get used too anyway. Disaster struck when one of the props shattered mid flight.. I suspect I over screwed the plastic prop and it probably had a crack. The quad fell like a rock from approx 20ft. and landed on its back.  3 of 4 of the motormounts broke off..the motors adapters were damaged though the gps, apm and escs seems to be ok.

Important lesson here is: use CF props on the get go AND if possible use the appropriate prop adapter! yes even prop adapters have CW and CCW shaft threads!

Heres the scene of the disaster..landed where it can do the most damage…on the cement runway =(



and the video:


icarusFPV Quad build update 1

The Hobbyking H4 Copter Multi-Rotor Quadcopter Frame 470mm is well crafted. Carbon fiber motor and body plates with aluminum arms and frame. My only gripe is the motor plates where you screw the motors on.. it would have been perfect if it can readily accommodate the Turnigy Multistar 3508-640Kv 14Pole Multi-Rotor Outrunner.

Heres the build pixs so far:


Main body complete:


with arms:


Finally with motor and escs:


tonight.. power up!

New Addition to icarusFPV: A Quad for mobile FPV’ing

After doing FPV flying with the 1900 Skywalker in Batanes, I realized how great it would be if I had a quad or hexcopter to film low and close shots of stuff that interests me.. any platform obviously has its pros and cons and the thing going for a multicopter is its ability to be flown in and from a small area.   So with the hobby budget recently re-instated, I sought out to assemble a multicopter at a budget of $600.00.

I ended up deciding to set up a quad (hex will have to wait), for budgetary reasons.. I chose to get good motors which i can easily repurpose for hex if I do decide to upgrade the frame.

My objective is to have a platform that will give me the best flying time and decent lifting capacity (not to mention keep costs down). Here’s the setup that I will be assembling in the following week (items are inbound):

1)  Frame  – H4 Quadcopter frame from Hobbyking, weight: 453g, Motor Width: 470mm, $29.99.
2)  AP/StabilizationAPM 2.6 + 3DR GPS Ublox from ReadymadeRC.  I’m a firm believer of open source both for business and hobby.. the APM tech has been nothing but great for me so far.  I dont see any reason to try other options.  This arrived just today and seems to be complete. Took a big chunk from the budget at $239.99.
3)  Video TransmitterBoscam 5.8Ghz 400mw from Banggood. This should be more than enough since I dont see the quad flying beyond 2km anyway.  This costs $46.99.
4) FPV CameraFatshark 600TVL CMOS with pan-tilt servos from ReadymadeRC.  The pan-tilt system is to future proof the setup.. I ordered this along with the APM but this item was not included in the packet although its in the invoice.. $@#&@R!#.. this set me back $67.99.
5)  MotorsTurnigy Multistar 3508-640kv 14pole from Hobbyking. This is the star of the show particularly for copters.  I chose to get a low kv motor for bigger props and higher efficiency.  This costs $113.68 for 4 units.
6)  Power Management – None.. I just got a breakout cable from HK.. lets “KISS” for now.  Costs $3.15.
7)  Receiver – An OrangeRx R620 from Hobbyking with option to get a satellite. This should have good range, probably even extend to 1-1.5km if there’s not much interference.  This costs $12.95.
8) ESCAfro ESC 30A (SimonK Firmware) from HK.  This is a well recommended ESC and specifically designed and tuned(HW and SW) for multicopters.. or so they say =)  this costs $55.88 for 4 units.
9) Props – I’ll be putting in 12×5 props on this thing.
10)  Batteries – one of the things I dont want to do is to have different batteries for the Skywalker.. so in the meantime, I’ll be using the Turnigy nano-tech 4S 5000mah.  Will probably have to get 2-3 more of these.

That’s about $570+ so far without the props and batteries. I guess I’ll know if I missed anything soon enough..and I hope I wont regret buying from ReadymadeRC with that missing fatshark camera!

Update 2014.03.11:  ReadymadeRC is sending over the Fatshark FPV camera that they didnt include in the packet. That’s a -1 for not sending it complete in the first place, +1 on the quick response (could have been +2 if they had not used the postal service and sent it instead via UPS which I paid for in the original purchase ).

Project SBSW (Update 12) Flight tests

Here’s a video* of the Scratch-built skywalker in a couple of flight tests in Brittany R/C field over the weekend.   I had to make a couple of changes in the motor thrust angle as the plane had a tendency to pitch down when the throttle is applied.  It was a tad too windy for a flight test, but I was able to fly the plane in previous tests in a similar condition…  I wont certainly fly in this condition if it were a maiden flight.

I recently bought the real thing, a 1.9m 2014 Skywalker.  I’ll post some build images and the maiden soon.

 * courtesy of the wife =)

Project SBSW (update 11) Take off!

The new wings I’ve been working on for the last couple of weeks was well worth it.


Here it is last night, with the skin on:


And finally, this morning ater a successful flight:




The 1.4kv turnigy aerodrive motor, 10×6 prop and 5000mah battery gives ample thrust.. the plane can fly really fast.

Stall speed is low.. even lower (it seems) than my 1.4m hitec skyscout. No doubt the airfoil (as close to NACA 4412 in case you’re interested) made a huge difference.

However throttling up causes the plane to pitch down negating the lift.. nothing which some up elevator cant fix though. It looks like I need to put in some more down angle to the motor now that the CG is known.

The elevator also needs to be secured more firmly to prevent it from rolling (wagging really) which affects the flight characteristics somewhat specially when banking.

Will post a video soon!