The Prof. has been building a quadcopter and as is usual with this sort of thing this prompts me to do a lot of reading and research on the internet. I found a particular YouTube channel called FliteTest very interesting with lots of videos about the various formats of multi rotor planes. I thought I might buy a tricopter for a few reasons. Firstly they look much cooler than quads in my opinion and also I imagine they are easier to visually orientate in the air. There is some evidence that they are more efficient as they generally use larger props. The downside is that there is less documentation for them and the tail prop needs to pivot so is more prone to failure or damage.
I had a look around and chance would have it that a complete one came up on eBay. I was on holiday in Wales whilst the sale was going on and wasn't able to take part in the late bidding, but as luck would have it it remained unsold. I contacted the seller and made an offer and it was accepted. Colin the seller seemed friendly enough and as I was passing by his door on the way home dropped in to check it out. I was really pleased and Colin even gave me a demonstration of it flying and a run down of many of the features. This was useful as I am a real beginner with flying models (And my knowledge of other RC stuff is very old).
The tricopter seems just the ticket to introduce me to this sort of flying. It also has the same sort of transmitter that the Prof. has got so all the menus should be similar. The controller is also one with an LCD which will give me the opportinity of cribbing all the settings off if I build another. I am really pleased so far and I have ordered a few spare props and some more batteries so I can get things rolling (Or flying!) as soon as possible.
Here is a better view of the drone.
As you can see it is fitted with green props at the front so you can better see the orientation at distance. Colin has also fitted some prop savers. These are rubber 'O' rings which mount the props. These give a little bit of compliance when the blades hit the ground and reduce the number of blade breakages. I noticed these props were quite soft so should also prove more durable. They probably wont be the best performing, but thats not what I need right now whilst learning. I have had a look on the net and it seems that this HJ-Y3 is quite common so finding spares should be easy. On the way home I had a bit of a drive around. I am lucky to live in the countryside as there are lots of open spaces here in Bedfordshire. There is a particular area near me which is plain flat open fields nearly to the horizon, so I should be able to learn there.
FRidat evening and the Prof. was due a visit to my house in bedfordshire to help out with VW dismantling. This was an ideal opportunity to test out the tricopter and his quadcopter. I am fortunate to live in the countryside and this affords us ample room to fly them. Out the back of my house there are flat fields for literaly miles and many public footpaths and bridleways from which to fly.
Unfortunately we got about 15 minutes of flying before disaster struck. The Prof. dive bombed his quad from about 30 metres up into a field and it was badly damaged. I also had a few crashes, but the tricopter remained mainly intact. We also took the RC car with us and so we spent much time playing with that instead. I remember now why I abandoned flying vehicles all those years ago as you seem to spend all your time in the repair shop and very little time enjoying yourself. Cars are much more forgiving that way.
On Saturday I had a little go in my back garden and found the Tricopter almost uncontrollable. Something is not right and I think its the rear servo. During this time I managed to break both the undercarriage and one front arm. Again I was not too happy, but have ordered some spare servos and a new frame kit. It was now time for a rethink.
During Saturday evening I did some research on the internet and found that the best way to get into multirotors is to buy a small indoor model which is much more crash resistant. One of the best is the Hubsan X4. It is both cheap and robust. I have now ordered two of these, so both myself and the Prof can get in some practice before returning back to the larger models. As a bonus the LiPo 380mah 3.7v batteries they use are the ones I am using in my Magracing cars, so I have about 3 spare batteries and chargers. Hopefully the Hubasans should arrive in the week.