First day of drone class…

Today was the first day of my drone class. We’re building the DJI F450 quadcopter first, then a fixed wing. We’re working in teams of 3, and each team also has a mentor. I’m pretty sure I’m not going to get along with our team mentor. I won’t get into that though. It also turns out I didn’t need to buy my own kit because the school has kits for us to build.

Don’t tell my wife!!!

We don’t get to keep the school’s kit, so maybe I really did need to buy my own. The school’s F450 is a little different than mine. My kit came with 4 identical motors with normal threads on the prop shaft, with a nut to hold the prop. The school’s kits have 2 motors labelled CW (for clockwise) and 2 labelled CCW (no, not concealed carry CCW, counter-clockwise). The only difference is the CW have left hand threads on the prop shafts, and the props are threaded (no separate nut). School version is more idiot-proof, but mine is more flexible – especially if I decide to use the parts in other projects.

Radio – and more radio…

The school has Futaba 8 channel radios for us to use. I’m a big fan of Futaba, but for my radio I chose the Taranis X9D. I also ordered an L9R receiver for my fixed wing drone. Then I got to thinking about really long range and decided to get an EzUHF Tx module and matching Rx. Now I wish I could afford a second Taranis Tx to make a dedicated 433 MHz system. School avionics is all DJI but I chose the PixHawk for mine.

One thing at a time? No Way!!!

Now that I’ve barely started work on the F450 I’m already thinking fixed wing. At first I wanted a Great Planes J3 Cub, but after a lot of – ahem – research I’ve decided to go with a CrashTestHobby Storm Chaser. It’s big, flies easy, and the epp foam is bomb crash proof. It’s ugly, but easy to fly is more important right now. I can always build a better looking fuselage later. Those are easy, it’s wings that are hard. Of course I’ll need to get a second PixHawk for it…

Back to reality…

There is so much cool stuff for drones/RC planes that it’s easy to get carried away. Since I can’t really afford another Tx and PixHawk, I’ll really just be moving the radio and avionics to the Storm Chaser when the time comes. But I do have a second radio…

While I was cleaning out the garage this weekend, I managed to find all the pieces of my old JR 631 system. It’s FM, which means potential interference and a long string Rx antenna, but heck, it’s a working radio system. I won’t put it in anything expensive, but I have an almost finished Airtronics Q-Tee and a huge box of balsa. Now if I could just get my son interested in this stuff…

It’s been awhile…

My last post was in 2009, so it’s been 8 years since I’ve done anything with model airplanes. When I last posted (old site is archived here), I’d just gotten 2 Sterling 1/2A control line kits – the Beginner Series Cherokee and Thunder Jet. Then “life happened,” I got busy with other things (like trying to build a business), my dad passed away, I got heavily involved in shooting sports, etc, so I didn’t have any time or money for playing with toy airplanes.

Every time I’d go out to the garage I’d see all my old airplane stuff and remember how much fun I used to have… so this year I decided to take the plunge – I signed up for a drone class at the local Community College. OK, I know that’s RC, not control line. In fairness to me, RC was my original interest, C/L came along much later. Besides I’m not giving up on Control Line, just branching out so to speak.

My first drone is the DJI F450 drone kit, mainly because that’s what the class uses for the multi rotor build. We’re also doing a fixed wing, but I don’t like either of the class options so the instructor said I can build whatever I want as long as it has all the drone controls in it, and I can finish it in time. I’ll probably build a Great Planes J3 Cub kit.

Picking a flight controller was easy – the PixHawk is open source hardware AND software, so I went with that. For the radio, I spent a couple weeks trying to decide what Futaba radio to get, then decided to get the Taranis X9D Plus. It’s a long story that I hope to write about soon. In the mean time, it’s good to be back into aeromodeling. One thing I really need to do is migrate to WordPress to make this thing easier to keep up…