First time flying an F450 drone

We finished our team built DJI Flame Wheel last Wed, so today we got to fly it. We were flying indoors in manual mode because we couldn’t get a good GPS signal. I was kind of nervous but I shouldn’t have been. Turns out that flying a quadcopter is a lot easier than flying an RC airplane. Amazing what advanced electronics can do for you. I can’t wait to finish mine and get it in the air.

Our team built Flame Wheel uses the DJI Naza flight control system with a Futaba radio. I’m using a Holybro Pixhawk control system and FrSky Turnigy radio. Setup for the class build was easy. I don’t know how hard mine will be to get going since I can’t find much documentation. From what I’ve read, the Pixhawk is a lot more complicated to set up than the Naza but is a lot more versatile.

Sometimes I just can’t control myself…

I should really cut up my credit cards. I haven’t even finished my F450 and I’m already buying parts for my next projects. The first is a DJI F550 Hexacopter. Instead of buying the ARF kit I just got the frame. I also ordered custom motors (T Motor 3110 series) and I’ll be running T Motor carbon fiber props. My reason for going with a hexacopter instead of a bigger quad is camera safety. If you lose a motor on a quadcopter it’s going to crash. The idea of crashing a $400 GoPro Hero 5 doesn’t appeal to me very much, so I decided on the extra safety of the hexacopter.

My second project is a pair of CrashTestHobby Pelican RC airplanes. I got both the polyhedral and aileron versions of the kit. The poly wing is for learning to fly RC (I’ve done it in the past, but it was a lonnnggg time ago). The aileron version will hopefully become a mini fixed wing drone with full avionics. I also want to get a Finwing Pelican since that’s what the class is using for fixed wing, but my wife is starting to question how much I’m spending. That one might have to wait…

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…