Playing with Ricoh Theta S

A friend of mine recently bought Ricoh Theta S and was nice enough to lend it to me for a day.
It is a really nice gadget that produces decent quality 360-degree photos (5376 x 2688 px) and OK video files, considering that the videos are 1920 x 960 px.

IMG_20160518_185047

I was very lucky the previous day to find a field full of poppies and I have shot some really nice photos. You could check the other images on the bottom of this page.

I have visited the same field the following day to test the Theta S and I have got some really unique perspective pictures.
It is really nice that Ricoh had worked out the embedding so well, whether you want to share the image on Facebook or Twitter and there is also an embed code that works really well.

Here is an example that I have took while laying in the middle of the field

Post from RICOH THETA. #theta360 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

And here is an example of photo taken in lower light in closed space  just to test the seams processing

Post from RICOH THETA. #theta360 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

At the end of the day, Theta S is really nice gadget and also it could be used for creating Google street view content, since it is one of the cameras suggested by Google

DJI A2 Flight controller

Downgrade A2 from 2.7 to 2.1 – GPS pro / GPS pro plus problem

Why would I need to downgrade A2?
It seems that DJI had forgotten that not all their customers that use DJI A2 FC have the latest GPS pro plus module

DJI A2 Flight controller

Recently I have encountered a problem after upgrading DJI A2 to the latest 2.7 firmware. The GPS pro module started acting and I wasn’t able to arm my multicopter.

After doing some research I have found that this is a well-known problem because the latest firmware requires you to have GPS pro plus module and it cannot work with the regular GPS module that came with the A2 when it was bought.

You should downgrade A2 in order to continue using the pro gps module

So you would say, that is easy, just downgrade and everything is back to normal.
That could be done if are keeping previous versions of the Assistant software so you could uninstall the latest and install the one that is compatible with the required firmware.
Unfortunately if you try to find previous firmware versions on the DJI website, there aren’t any. You could only download the latest one. So there is no way to downgrade A2 unless you have an older version of the Assistant software.
I have started searching for an older version of the Assistant software in order to do downgrade A2 and after an extensive search, I have found a link to download the 2.1 firmware – http://download.dji-innovations.com/downloads/a2/A2_1.2_Installer.zip

After the installation, all went back to normal, but I started wondering if I’m forced to use 1.2 version or the link could work for the other firmware version, just by changing one number in the filename. It turned out that all other versions are there,and you can downgrade A2 to any firmware you want, just replace the number 2 in the link with the required version http://download.dji-innovations.com/downloads/a2/A2_1.[enter your number here no brakets]_Installer.zip

Just in case DJI decides to remove the previous versions from their server, I have uploaded the file on 4Shared

 

Saving for P4

Saving for Phantom 4 Phantom 4 Pro

After watching every available youtube video review and some of the early video shots that were taken with Phantom 4, I have decided that it is time to ditch the ideas of DIY multicopter that could carry Sony Nex sized camera and start spending some money to buy myself a P4.

I own a 650 sized quadcopter that could carry a mirrorless camera, but so far I have been using it with GoPro and Zenmuse H3-3D gimbal. Although I get near 30 minutes of flight with it, I have found that it is too bulky to carry it on shoots and almost impossible to take it with me on a hike because of the weight and bulkiness. I could have made it more portable if I have used folding arms, but nothing justifies the weight of the LiPos (1350 grams per battery), so I was stuck somewhere in the middle of decision whether to invest and buy gimbal and mirrorless camera like Sony A6000 or A6300 or go with the Phantom 3 Advanced (P4 was not out yet), since the camera + gimbal equals or it will be higher for A6300 than the price of P3A.

Tarot 650 Sport could not even compare it to Phantom 4 internals

It was a hard decision because I really like the way this quadcopter flies, but in the end, I have concluded that the features, portability, and the camera photo and video quality outweigh the quality  of the pictures that I will get by using A6000 or A6300.
That’s why I have decided to sell this rig and some of the equipment that I wasn’t using so I can have enough hobby funds to buy Phantom 4 which at this moment isn’t available here in Macedonia, but it will be, by the time I collect enough money 🙂

Phantom4 internals

Image from http://drone.farm/consumer-drones-its-all-about-integration/

One thing that makes me a bit uncomfortable after 4 years of making DIY multicopters is the way DJI had integrated everything on one central board. If something fails, there are no spare electronic parts but the whole board must be replaced and that is not cheap. Also, the markings on most of the electronic parts are stripped so you have no clue about the part that needs to be replaced.

Saving for P4

1/4 of the funds collected so far. Sold my old GoPro Hero 3 black and already had some funds from an aerial job that I have done two weeks ago, so far so good 🙂

Printed Nest

3D Printed Nest

My younger daughter had an and idea that we should make a bird house and she was so persistent that I had to do something about that 🙂
Initially, while we were walking to the school and back we discussed and she had some ideas that we should make it from cardboard, but I told her that the cardboard wouldn’t stand a chance if it rains and that the first rain will ruin the house. I have told her that maybe it is better to have the construction done by combining some 3D printed joints and wooden sticks and we ended the conversation there.

After returning home I have decided to check thingiverse.com and see if somebody else had previously done some similar stuff and as usual, there were plenty of designs to choose from. One specific design that caught my eye was Printed Nest. I have really liked the idea that you could stick it on the window and actually see the birds while they feed. Another thing that I liked was the idea of having a community of people that have either printed their own nest or have bought one from the Printed Nest website and after showing her the look of this bird house, the decision was made, we were going to print it.

Antler

Since this is two part print the antler seemed to be harder to print, I have devided to start with it. It took over 4 hours on 0.3 mm kayer height to finish this part.

Printed Nest ready to be placed on the window

And 7 hours for the eggy part, so 11 hours altogether. Just in time when my daughter was home after school.

3D Printed Nest back

And finally the printed nest placed on the window. I really like the opening on the back of the nest that helps you to see the birds feeding

3D Printed Nest on our window

Everything came up really nice, not to mention that my daughter was delighted by the look of the bird house and the idea that we have the first one in Macedonia

 

 

 

Lisam 210 (QAV210 clone)

I have bought this frame for another build, but while I was waiting for the parts for the new build to arrive I have decided to migrate from ZMR250 to this one.

Work in progress

Fairly fast switch since I have had everything ready, only some wire shortening and some soldering.

Scale comparison

Here is a quick comparison that I have done while I was trying to decide how to set this build. I have ended with the Mobius version and 509 grams, since I have added a mobius 30 degree wedge

LS210

I have tried this build Mobius and it felt really punchy on 3S and since the motors are closer to the center of the frame it is much more responsive with same RC rates as on the ZMR250. There are no vibrations visible in the recorded video and that is an improvement over the previous frame.

 

Naze32 and X8R using SBUS and SmartPort telemetry (Rev5 and older)

Eagerly waiting to finish charging my last pack, I have had everything packed and ready to go out and fly. Unfortunately as soon as the pack was charged it started raining, so since I have already planned to have a rest break I have decided to switch from PPM to SBUS.
Ever since reading this great article on PPM vs SBUS,  I have been thinking of jumping on the SBUS wagon.
I have had a spare X8R to do the job and I have been a bit doubtful if the Naze32 X8R combination will work, especially that I haven’t had the SBUS signal inverter.

Naze32 X8R uninverted signal wire

So after doing some research, I have found here and here  that it is possible to get the uninverted signal from X8R and X4R SB by accessing the second pad from the left on X8R and “A” pad on X4R SB.

I have soldered the signal wire on the second pad and connected it to channel 4 on the Naze32, then I have followed the Oscar Liang’s instructions and everything worked great.

Next, Smart-Port

Naze32 SmartPort channel 5 and 6 soldered

I have soldered channel 5 and 6 on the Naze32 by putting a blob of solder and signal wire between them and connected the wire in the Smart Port signal port.

After updating the Naze32 settings and powering up the transmitter and my mini quad I was disappointed when I have heard the battery voltage reading zero volts 🙁 but I have continued reading and found that the voltage is now referred as Vfas, so I have changed that and still nothing. I have continued reading trough the comments and got lucky, there was a comment from a user named Scoobler that suggested disconnecting the USB, power cycle the transmitter and mini quad and that solved the issue.

Naze32 X8R telemetry screen on the Taranis.

Taranis telemetry screen. You could even read the accelerometer data (AccX and AccY)

Since X8R has those big plastic thingies on the end of the antennas, I had to find a way to secure them to the frame, so I searched for 3D printed holder on Thingiverse and found the appropriate 3D model

FrySky Taranis X8R Antenna Mount

And after 40 minutes with layer height of 0.1mm, the part was finished.

Now the only thing left to do is assemble and tidy up the miniquad and wait for some appropriate weather so I could test it.

ZMR250 and Taranis with Naze32 X8R

ZMR250 with D4R II

D4R II range problems, acting all of a sudden

Today, I have had some spare time and I have decided to go and fly few battery packs on my favorite spot.
Everything seemed OK while I was flying the first pack and when I started the second after a minute or so my Taranis started blabbering telemetry lost/recovered. I have landed and checked all connections, antennas the D4R II receiver and so on but everything seemed to be in order.

Well, that was odd, but I have decided to continue flying since I have wasted only one pack. I have continued flying and ignored the warnings up till a moment when I have lost signal completely and the Naze failsafe kicked in and my miniquad started falling as a rock.

Enjoying the sunset over Skopje, the moment when my D2R II receiver started acting.

Screenshot taken just before the failsafe on my Naze kicked in

Up side down. D4R II acting strange.

Aaaand one second after that. It would have looked more scary to me if this was the first time that my quad is up side down 🙂

Luckily enough I was flying relatively high at the moment and the link got restored, so I have had more than enough time to stand up and see my miniquad falling and then again look at my monitor (no goggles here), flip it over and continue flying.
I flew the rest of the packs in closer range noticing that something is definitely wrong, either with my transmitter or the receiver on my miniquad.

When I have got back home, I have tested the range just to see that the RSSI signal was dropping to zero when I entered another room with a concrete wall between the transmitter and receiver.

I needed to check if my Taranis is OK first, so I have turned on my bigger quad with X8R on it and walked with the transmitter between the rooms without any issues, the RSSI signal was between 60 and 90. So the Taranis was  functioning perfectly.

I have removed the D4R receiver from my miniquad and powered it with a spare ESC so I could test if maybe there is some interference that is causing the problem. Still the RSSI signal dropped to zero when moving in the other room.

Next thing that I have got on my mind was replacing the antennas on the D4R with new ones, that didn’t help either.

I had no other ideas so I have tried googling the problem. No luck there too.

Replace D4R II with X8R

X8R replacement receiver

At the end, I was ready to give up and replace the receiver with my spare X8R, so I have bound  it in place of the D4R and I have created new model for the D4R just in case I needed it sometime in future and once again, for the last time I have tested the range, just to discover that the range problem was gone and my D4R receiver displayed RSSI values similar to the ones of the X8R.

So it seems that there was some kind of linking problem between the Taranis and D4R II and when I relinked them in order to use it with the new model, the problem was gone.

After this, I have once again linked the D4R with the ZMR250 model in the Taranis and everything worked without any issues.

My two cents, if you experience similar problems, try rebinding the receiver with the transmitter, it may save you some time and possibly $$ for a new receiver.

Duplicator I3

Adding a Glass Build Plate to my Duplicator i3 3D Printer

I have had my Duplicator i3 for about two months and so far I have been printing with PLA. I have been thinking of adding glass build plate so I could try to print with ABS  filament. ABS requires higher nozzle and build plate temperatures and I was not sure if the sticker could handle that without melting.

Duplicator I3
So, after doing some research on google, I have found that I have to remove the sticker and I have ordered a plate of borosilicate glass from here.
If you own a Duplicator i3, check this  regarding the dimensions and the whole process. Please note that the article is for the older Duplicator version, and there is no sticker over the aluminium build plate.

The item arrived in more or less regular time of one month, well packed and protected with a “Fragile” sticker on it.

Borosilicate glass and paper clips

The glass and four paper clips to hold it in place. Some of the Di3 owners are sticking the glass to the build plate. I have decided to try with paper clips first. Please note that in some cases the clips may interfere with the nozzle or the y axis movement.

Duplicator I3 - removing the sticker

Removing the sticker. It came up relatively easy, but there was a lot of glue left on the build plate.

Duplicator I3 - glue left on the build plate

It took me almost an hour and a bottle of my wife’s acetone in order to clear the glue. I haven’t tried but it may help heating the build plate before removing the sticker.

Duplicator I3 with added glass build plate

Finished cleaning the glue and addint the glass build plate. The binding clips are placed temporarily. If placed like this, the ones on the left side are interfeering with the nozzle head movement.

I needed to lower the printing bed in order to account for the glass plate height. There was enough room to accommodate the glass plate and the springs weren’t contracted all the way. If the glass plate was thicker I may have had to raise the Z axis end stop.

Duplicator I3 - printing on the glass build plate

Printing sample on the glass build plate in order to precisely level the build plate. The left side needed to be raised and the right side needed some lowering.  Note the binder clips in the middle of the glass plate and the handles removed since they were touching the printer frame. If you plan to do this, buy different sizes bind clips so you could try which will fit the best.

Follow me

Photo safari in Ohrid

Our vacation in Ohrid was nearing its end so for the last day I have decided to go on a photo safari and try to take some beautiful photos that represent this pearl of the Balkans in its best light.
The weather was beautiful, and promising for the photo safari.

Famous Ohrid architecture

I have decided to go from the walkway by the Ohrid lake and continue trough the old town.

Ohrid old town

The Epiphany holiday was nearing and the visible signs were all over the city.

St. John Kaneo

When walking trough Ohrid, it is really hard to miss one of its churches.
According to Wikipedia, Ohrid once had 356 churches, one for each day of the year, and has been referred to as a “Jerusalem (of the Balkans)”.

The bridge of wishes

There is always a new angle, a new perspective to take photos at the same spot visited plenty of times. A great possibility to fill your lens with beautiful scenes of the old Ohrid architecture, the lake, the churches…

Photo safari by the Ohrid lake

I knew from the start that this will be a whole day photo safari, and I was counting on that so I can have my lunch in one of the beautiful restaurants on the shore of the Ohrid lake

Potpesh restaurant

Potpesh restaurant – really nice place to have a lunch or a coffee and rest a bit

ending the photo safari on sunset with magnificent landscape photos of the lake and the old town

Ending the day with a spectacular sunset  landscape of the lake and the old town.

Feel free to contact me if you intend to visit Ohrid and need additional info.
If you want to see some more photos that I have taken during my stay in Ohrid, visit my 500px profile or my Facebook page.

Revisit with my ZMR 250

I have kept my battery packs full, waiting for the right moment to go and fly at the same spot that we have visited few days ago. I have been using ZMR250 and mobius for aerial photography for quite a while. I love the portability of the ZMR250, everything fits in a really small backpack and that enables me to reach most remote places.

It was raining most of the day, but it suddenly stopped and the sun came up so I have grabbed my gear and rushed to just in time to see the sunset.

IMG_20160112_155109

I have decided to fly at two locations that were close enough to fly from one spot to the other but in order to save battery life I flew one pack at the first spot and then moved to the other one.

Ohrid lake aerial photography

Although most of the people doesn’t like the fish-eye distortion these small wide angle cameras produce, I have found that sometimes the effect could look really interesting when used for aerial photography.

Land and water division - aerial photography at Ohrid lake

It was windy, but nothing that my miniquad could handle. You could see how much I had to lean it to the wind in order to counteract its force.

 

Aeriall photography - old boat stranded on the shore of the Ohrid lake

The boat was still there, at the same place. This time, I have decided to take some photos from another angle since I liked the colors of the sky reflecting in the lake.

Lake panorama

The end of another beautifull day spent in Ohrid.

You could check the whole gallery here. Having set my Mobius to take pictures each second, it is really hard to pick the right ones among 907 photos.