Monday, 8 September 2008

Helicopter highs...

The idea was simple. Learn to fly a model helicopter, attach a mini video unit to it and get some cool footage. In reality it didn't turn out so simple.
I began with a cheap 3 channel electric model. No good. After practicing enough to elude myself that it was me controlling it, and not visa versa, I came to the conclusion that it wasn't up to the job. The slightest puff of wind sent it drifting to the far end of the garden.
A better helicopter was purchased. Coaxial rotors (2 main rotors mounted one above the other operating in opposite directions) for stability, 4 channel control employing a proper swash plate for pinpoint positioning. Now I was able to go up, down, forwards, backwards, plus yaw left and right, or any combination of all six together.
Learning to fly this was like patting your head while rubbing your tummy while riding a bicycle!! Two weeks later I could fly with reasonable accuracy.

I started off using a little wireless camera. Fairly light at only 20 grams the helicopter lifted it easily, unfortunately it required a heavy battery to run it. The weight was too much and flight became laboured and clumsy. I purchased a specialist flight camera. It only weighed 37 grams, and would take stills as well as 25 frames a second video, storing them on an SD card...perfect.

After weeks of windy, wet, dull, unsuitable weather, there came a still, brightish day. Everything was set... except the camera battery wasn't fully charged, damn. It switched off after 30 secs of video, which was VERY annoying. Luckily it had enough juice to carry on taking stills, one every 4 seconds. The first attempt seemed to be going well. Achieved a good height, span it around to look back at the house. Then, as I descended, the wind funnelling around the house gripped the little chap and urged him down to the main road. After amusing the rush hour traffic with a couple of jaunty pirouettes, it headed for the sanctuary of the front garden. The Bumble bees buzzed in annoyance as it landed on the flower heads next to them in the Buddleia bush. A battery change and a quick pruning to remove the majority of the collected foliage and it was time for another attempt. Brimming with enthusiasm I flew ever higher... The little machine was a silhouetted speck against a wide sky. This may have been part of the problem as the wind tussled the rotors... The tail boom was missing after a previous incident when the ground came up unexpectedly and hit it. It wasn't now very clear which way the helicopter was pointing. I descended a little, gravity being the only control I was sure of. That was better. Now I could see which way it was facing. Look left, over the neighbours garden... Look behind, for a view of my garden... Spin 180 degrees for a look at.... CRAP!! Who put that roof there?! Rotor tips whined at 3000rpm against the roof tiles, desperate to gain escape velocity. It was no good, the camera and tired battery forced an unceremonious 'gutter' landing. It dangled perilously from the high roof, swinging calmly from the one skid hooked over the gutter edge.
Not to worry. I have a plan. If I buy an even bigger helicopter, and attach a hook underneath. Hover it over the stranded one......

9 comments:

Lavender said...

Nice work Agent Barkfoot - youve suceeded with the Heli, what Ive failed at with a Budgie! LOL

Elisa. said...

Great to see you post, good pictures before it's gutter meeting incident!

Madwag said...

wow... great post! glad to see you back in the land of blogging... thanks for the comments on my blog... you should have bought the narrowboat, maybe someday? we want to buy one in a few years time... how fun!

Lesley said...

Not enough spy camera in the UK, eh?

Just kidding. You are awesome! I may think about trying that some day.

barkfoot said...

Lesley - I'm going to use it to take down the Police camera drones that we have here LOL...

Outhouse Capital of Canada said...

Good to see you back after three months, I have been checking on you.
When I was in California last January, I saw a model helicopter with camera and I took pics of it, I will dig them out and post them.

Outhouse Capital of Canada said...

I just posted some model helicopter with camera pics, go have a look

photowannabe said...

Hey Barkfoot, welcome back. I have missed your posts. This was quite an adventure. Loved it.

Sagent and Bess said...

cute Brit,
you never cease to amaze me.
the tiny camera thing is impressive.
work on your flying a bit before you get a bigger one ok???