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cyber-flyer

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I have a question: is there a forum that discusses FPV ideas but is closed to a general public?

Something that will let in only those individuals who were proven not to associate themselves with FAA?

If not, do you think such a forum needs to be organized?

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I haven't heard of a FPV specific forum with a private membership, but I suspect it exists. I suppose you would "have to know someone" to get in since by its vary nature the average Joe would not have access or knowledge of it.

But the big question is, have you returned to the hobby?

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Good question Thomas! nice to see a name I recognise ;)

Its true to say that I stopped posting videos and info a long time back due to the rule changes and the increased interest from the authorities. Im not currently active in the hobby anyway but I still think about things FPV and AP so at some point I may play again.

The big problem is how do you have only trusted members and not let the word get out to all the riff raff????

( probably not a question you could answer here anyway )

Terry

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Hi Thomas,

I am making my way back into the hobby. 15 yrs down the road I still haven't figured out how to make the hobby happily co-exist with my other half :(

Nowdays, when I am out flying, people around have no idea what's going on - all they see is a bunch of antennas... I'd like to keep it that way. Which brings me back to the closed forum question. I thought about trusted members as well. If the new "closed" forum started, the only people that can join it will be those introduced and vouched for by the current members. It doesn't completely eliminate a chance for an unwanted outsider to get inside but at least it will reduce unnecessary trolling of the discussions. I am sure other people have thought about this problem, that is why I am asking.

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First, it is fantastic to hear that you are creeping back into the hobby. Things have changed a lot. EVERYTHING is easier now, which is one of the reasons for the insane things being done by the endless number of casual "drone" owners.

What kinds of discussions do you have in mind? Do you mean you want to talk about the technical issues involved in long distance or high altitude FPV, without the heckling from the peanut gallery trolls? Or is it much more than that?

If it were limited to technical discussions then I could create a private FPV forum with "introduction required" admission. But since I don't want the rc-cam site to harbor unsafe (or criminal) activity, there would still be limits to what is allowed in the discussions. The criteria for membership would need to be well defined too (with some way to confirm a new member's background). Otherwise members could introduce all their buddies, regardless of their qualifications. That sort of thing would erode any advantage of a private membership.

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I am curious, what would you consider to be the most exciting product/innovation over the last few years with regard to FPV flight? I find brushless gimbals to be amazingly cool - I can't wait till China start making them small enough to pair with board cameras.

With regard to the closed forum: I suggest to limit it to technical discussions.

Of course a moderator can decide if inappropriate activity is discussed and close the thread.

I am not sure how to define qualifications for new members either. May be first you send out invitations to few members that you know and trust, and then we can come up with a set of qualifications.

Edited by cyber-flyer

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what would you consider to be the most exciting product/innovation over the last few years with regard to FPV flight?

Innovation-wise, I'm most impressed with the development of circular polarized antennas that are optimized for FPV. The spark to that effort was likely due to your early Turnstile experiments. Second on the wow list is multirotor aircraft. But unfortunately China dumbed them down to the point that casual non-hobbyists can operate them without any effort. YouTube is filled with examples of "pilots" that don't care about the future of our hobby.

I am not sure how to define qualifications for new members either. May be first you send out invitations to few members that you know and trust, and then we can come up with a set of qualifications.

Sadly, all but a couple of qualified members that I know and trust have moved on to other interests. The DiY innovations we used to discuss and share have gone dormant, making the rc-cam forum a ghost town. Now the FPV hobbyists' focus is to buy cheap goods from China that are plug and play, or nearly so. There's zero excitement in that for me and it would be fantastic to see some real DiY innovation again. But doing this behind closed doors in a private forum seems like it would hinder the effort. Especially since our public discussions years ago helped steer the hobby to where it is today. But if there is one more vote for a private area from a long time forum contributor, then I'll make it happen.

Regardless, it's good to see an old friend come back. Especially since you and Raj are the guys behind the hobby's coined name. I'm looking forward to hearing about your new FPV adventures. :)

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Well, thank you for remembering my turnstile effort! Also to make the matters straight Raja didn't coin FPV term. He is my good flying buddy and he often was piloting my FPV planes during those days. But he didn't care what name we are going to call it, I did.

As far as China making all those cheap toys, I have mixed feelings about it as well. But it is reality, the best way is to move on and use what we have at hands. Let's not reinvent cheap premade drones, but take them and make the next step.

The question is what could be the next exciting thing in this hobby?

To me the question is - would one like to see drones more atonomous (e.g. using optical motion flow for obstacle avoidance) or giving more immersive experience to the pilot (e.g. HD downlinks)?

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For me its safety systems the quads are missing. Redundancy, parachutes and reliable error detecting. RTH is a start but its very limited as there is so much more that can go wrong.

Terry

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The question is what could be the next exciting thing in this hobby?

DiY HD Downlinks! Ideal criteria: Affordable Tx & Rx hardware, open source SW, flexibility on the HD camera choice, low latency, usable weak signal behavior, relatively small airborne size/weight. You know, the same kind of near impossible stuff that we used to do and/or wish for. :)

For example, this recently released HD FPV system is based on the RaspberryPi: http://www.wirelessdv.com/en/index

So there may be something to learn from it. Also, I've heard that there are existing projects to roll-your-own digital HD link based on the RPi hardware. I have no idea if any would be suitable for our needs, even with some custom tweaks. Someone with the time/skills needs to get that ball rolling and find out.

For me its safety systems the quads are missing. Redundancy, parachutes and reliable error detecting.

It would be cool to see you proceed with something in that area (and share the details as you develop it). A low cost / reliable DiY parachute system for big multirotors could have some appeal. Especially if it used a lot of off-the-shelf parts (including the parachute). If you are interested in it then you are the guy to do it!

- - - - -

Still waiting for another vote on the private membership idea. Terry, what are your feelings? If you still have any contact with guys like Nigel (Devonian) then holler at 'em.

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I was racing RC cars with his brother only last weekend, after the race he flew his new Phantom....He says his brother has not done much with FPV like the rest of us as late but yes I could contact him. Im not sure Im ready to get back in just yet but I would join and see if something re-lights my fire ;)

Terry

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Thomas,

Why do you think this forum has became "ghost town"? If you rewind time back to 2000, what would you've done differently with the regard to this forum?

Val.

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That's an interesting subject. From my perspective the members that were attracted to the rc-cam forum were old school technophiles like me. Our expectations were different back then and the requirements to join the hobby were high. So it was only natural that a small group of like-minded R/C'ers (that had dreams of wireless video) found each other here.

In contrast, I'm finding that a large number of the FPV pilots today are in the hobby because of a "drone" GoPro video they saw on Youtube and they simply pulled out a credit card to get into the game. Most have never flown R/C and are not comfortable with a soldering iron or voltmeter. But in their favor, the market has changed and they no longer need to have those skills to succeed. Their needs from an online forum are completely different than the intended purpose of this site.

BTW, there's lively FPV discussions at rcgroups, but I find it's the same questions asked over and over again. I used to heavily participate there but the trolls and egos have turned me off and I rarely join in a discussion nowadays. Many helpful heavy hitters over there seem to have been turned off too and moved on to fpvlabs. Despite the fpvlab discussions being more technical than rcgroups, the subjects tend to be specific to purchased products so I don't participate there (I prefer DiY discussions).

If I could time travel I wouldn't go back and change a thing about the rc-cam forum. I'd still refuse the many opportunities to make it more generic to increase the traffic and turn it into a advertising revenue machine. It would remain as is, a place to share technical knowledge about our cool projects. We should all be proud of the things we discussed here and what was accomplished. What I observed was a group of enthusiastic experimenters that worked together, without any of the drama seen today at other sites, to achieve something fantastic.

@Val: That's my take on why the site is now a ghost town. What's yours?

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I think the original RC-CAM forum was a place where three kinds of members met: those who liked the process of tinkering with equipment, those who were using the new equipment and those who tried to meet the two sides by commercializing the field.

For me the main driver was always the end application - the next exciting thing you can do with the new OSD or autopilot, etc... It was fun to think of something, build it and then see it fly.

I agree with Terry: something needs to re-light the fire.

If you ask me, it should come from the flying field. If you can think of something that China has not build yet, but it can be fun to fly, lets go for it.

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Ok, I'm all for it. My DiY interests have been a bit obscure, so I'll have to rely on you guys to get that ball rolling.

BTW, I've been flying multirotor models for the last couple years. So projects involving them would excite me, but I'll provide support and/or cheerleading on anything cool. :)

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How about this?

Get a core group of people on this forum.

Let them express their wish list.

Everybody votes on everybody ideas, then some sort of ranking is done and a couple of overall best ideas is selected.

They go to crowdfunding site with the whole RC-CAM forum as a principal name behind the projects.

If these ideas get funded, they are distributed to members who expresses desire to work on them.

It sounds a bit complicated and more logistics may need to be worked out, but what do you think?

Edited by cyber-flyer

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I did a shout out to Kilrah. If you know of any candidates for a "core group" then please ask them to stop by and post their comments.

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Hi all, nice to see you back here :)

If not, do you think such a forum needs to be organized?


Why not. Some kind of "peer review" board where elaborate things could be discussed before public involvement... But IMO for general discussion away from the "noise" the public board here is already quiet enough.

I am curious, what would you consider to be the most exciting product/innovation over the last few years with regard to FPV flight? I find brushless gimbals to be amazingly cool


For FPV flying as its own goal, the 250-size mini quads and associated signature flying style that have developed tremendously in the past 1-2 years. It's what I currently find the closest to the pure flying freedom. As a rotorcraft they have all the related advantages, but also the capability of fast forward flight and great maneuverability, and if you want to fly them like an airplane you can too so they cover nearly every facet of flying. And the robustness makes anything forgiveable, so you can actually dare doing "the fun stuff". IMO it will in no time become a whole category of RC flying in itself, and is the first thing that will bring FPV flying (i.e. not as a purpose to look a the screen to frame a shot à la drone operator) to a larger group of people in a good light, and will push the fun aspect of FPV beyond a few isolated guys flying alone here and there.
People are already starting organising "leagues" with different activities like star wars pod-style racing. Can be done in a controlled secured area, small enough to avoid the common RC and video range problems, is incredibly fun and can easily be done as a show for spectators.

Brushless gimbals are awesome for the AP/AV side of things, incredible tool to create images which simply revolutionized the whole field but certainly not what you want to feel like flying when every movement is perfectly erased :)

But doing this behind closed doors in a private forum seems like it would hinder the effort. Especially since our public discussions years ago helped steer the hobby to where it is today.


Depends... I seem to recall that in the old years pretty much everybody liked sharing ideas and getting some amount of feedback from the relatively small but technically inclined community on here, but then we'd still compile that together and build something to one's taste, not necessarily trying to make everybody happy. I still think this is a good way of doing it, when you have too many people it becomes RCGroups and just drowns in the middle of the noise.
But as said there isn't much noise on here, so unless there's a larger project with clear business intentions that has to be protected or "sensitive" items to discuss then we can likely talk in the open forum.

The question is what could be the next exciting thing in this hobby?
To me the question is - would one like to see drones more atonomous (e.g. using optical motion flow for obstacle avoidance) or giving more immersive experience to the pilot (e.g. HD downlinks)?


My company I'm not so much involved with anymore uses multicopters professionally, and current offerings just do all the job we need. Safety systems are there already if you want them, parachutes are available, independent release systems that will trigger deployment automatically in cases like angular rate or accelerations exceeding preset limits (i.e. flip) too.

So HD downlinks, or digital SD ones with high reliability and penetration. I have a Lightbridge and a set of Sony 720p goggles, and I can tell you an FPV flight on a calm stable platform just looks awesome. For stuff like mini quads things go so fast that HD is probably useless though, so there something smaller, cheaper but that works better than the age-old analog would be welcome.

DiY HD Downlinks! Ideal criteria: Affordable Tx & Rx hardware, open source SW, flexibility on the HD camera choice, low latency, usable weak signal behavior, relatively small airborne size/weight. You know, the same kind of near impossible stuff that we used to do and/or wish for. :)

For example, this recently released HD FPV system is based on the RaspberryPi: http://www.wirelessdv.com/en/index
So there may be something to learn from it. Also, I've heard that there are existing projects to roll-your-own digital HD link based on the RPi hardware. I have no idea if any would be suitable for our needs, even with some custom tweaks. Someone with the time/skills needs to get that ball rolling and find out.


Yep, that. I have 2 of those that I ordered some months ago in one more of these "let's get to it" moments that vanished after a week of tinkering when real life caught up and made it evident I'd never manage to secure enough time to dedicate to it. It blows the RPi in pieces in terms of performance, has a hardware video encoder, composite video input, "camera" video input that would accept an HDMI decoder, powerful CPU, countless interfaces etc. The chip is easily available alone for a dozen of $ in qtys of one should an optimized, miniaturized system be targeted, Etc. But the amount of work is huge and specialized and getting to anything decent would likely need a "real" skilled development team.

From my perspective the members that were attracted to the rc-cam forum were old school technophiles like me. Our expectations were different back then and the requirements to join the hobby were high. So it was only natural that a small group of like-minded R/C'ers (that had dreams of wireless video) found each other here.


We were a rather small bunch of people aiming to do something similar, at times where DIY was simply the only solution. It was all supposed to be fun, and the sharing was part of it.
Nowadays as most of the stuff is readily available as you can see on RCG the discussions are not anymore about "what could we build to make it better", but "which of the 35 similar existing products should I buy". As a result I haven't visited the FPV section of RCG since 2008, and I've been doing a lot less DIY as the number of occurrences where I needed or wanted something that didn't exist AND building it was within my capabilities has quickly fallen down to about 0.

Also incentives for developing something have dropped as the huge wave of new buyers don't recognise or know about quality, what to expect and what can be done. An example is the simple servo stretcher I made looong ago with a nice 1us resolution... Pretty much all of the Chinese stretchers you'll find in every FPV shop nowadays have a crappy resolution, but nobody complains. A couple of times a year I'd receive an email by someone asking if I still had some to sell as they had tried everything on the market but nothing was nice and smooth... but it's not by selling 10pc a year to those few people who recognise the difference that you'll make a living ;)

Haven't completely dropped the "DIY" thing though as I've been quite active on the OpenTX open source radio firmware project since I've dscovered it in 2012, with associated mods around the Turnigy 9X radio it was initially running on, and further developments that led to the FrSky Taranis radio shipping with it since last year. R/C radios were something I had always been frustrated with and revisiting that was one of the items on the list of things that were too much for me, so finding an already well shaped related project I could take part in, initially on the software side but then also a bit on the hardware side thanks to the great collaboration with FrSky was a perfect opportunity to bring something to that field.

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For FPV flying as its own goal, the 250-size mini quads and associated signature flying style that have developed tremendously in the past 1-2 years.

For sure. The 250 racing quads are beginning to own the R/C FPV hobby. I recognize there's a much bigger market right now with the plastic-fantastic "drones" like the Phantom (1,000's are sold each week), but those kind of RTF models serve a different purpose that is attractive to non-R/C hobbyists. The 250 quads on the other hand involve building something, plus require flying practice, and these things are fundamentals of the R/C hobby. So the 250's are a class of model that has me excited.

We may very well witness the death of long distance FPV, at least in the context of its popularity a few years ago. So I think that developing something cool (and DiY) for the 250 crowd is a practical idea. But there so much stuff available for them now (all cheap, all imported), I wonder what that would be.

Also incentives for developing something have dropped as the huge wave of new buyers don't recognise or know about quality, what to expect and what can be done.

Isn't that the truth. This issue has let most of the air out of the desire for the midnight innovators to develop anything that is better when nearly everyone in the FPV hobby is focused on lowest cost. It has to do with perceived value, and low prices bias the notion of value much more than highest quality and performance. The China manufacturing business model is brilliant and they have mastered this. So I think this is a good lesson that perfection will lose to "cheap but adequate." There are exceptions to this in some markets, but not hobby FPV.

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I've been following all the RCG discussions about the Lightbridge since when they started in January, and it was impressive to see the number of people who found the price outrageous. Several things to point:

  1. "Drone people" have no clue about the technology leap involved, how long we'd been hoping for such a thing etc, and often don't even understand the benefits involved
  2. They're seemingly incapable of simply looking up data and understanding that the closest existing alternative would cost 4x more. And it's already kind of a moot point as like said above they probably don't even know why they'd want that capability.
  3. Anything they feel they can't own because the price is too steep for them is crud and useless - out of frustration of course.

Then once it started hitting people's workshops, it became obvious how much these "drone people" rely on precise directions and step by step instructions, can't grasp simple things like what the inputs and outputs of a system are and how you can interconnect those to other systems around it. They don't know how anything works nor what's available in the field, and as a result many buy the thing without understanding much then find no way to do what they want in the manual, and are lost even if all it takes to solve their situation is a simple standard off the shelf part. It's not part of the package and not offered by the supplier, so they're in a dead end.

But things are far from being dark all around. The above shows that a significant number of people with no clue and hobby goals have bought a $1500 video transmission system to put on their Phantom.

And then the LB seems to sell very well to professionals, those are the vast majority of customers, who have no problem using it, take it out of the box, wire it in and go fly, they don't spend their life saying how cool it is. On the forums you'll never hear of them, you only get the whiners...

Same in every field. The market for good things is there, the only problem is that you can't see it, and what you do see is (wrongly) discouraging you from even starting.

Just need to find a way to get over it.

Can't wait to see how FrSky's next radio, targeted more to high end customers will do.

Edited by Kilrah

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Hi Kilrah, good to hear form you!

Let me comment on some of the things you and Thomas has mentioned.

First of all I agree that the flood of cheap FPV technology from China has changed our hobby, most likely made this forum a ghost town and made it possible for people don't care about DIY aspect of the hobby.

But IMHO DJI's Phantom is a great product and we shouldn't dismiss or degrade it just because it is affordable and plug and play.

I would like to draw an analogy to car assembly line innovation. Affordable cars resulted in huge number of deaths and other stupid and careless things. But with time people figured out how to make the best use of affordable cars and it transformed our society. I suggest that drones can be on the same path. I give both thumbs up for DJI and Phantom in particular. And I am in no way associated with DJI.

All I am saying, let people stumble and do stupid things with Phantoms, they only do it because it is fun (for them). Also, I am against discussions on how we should protect 'our hobby'. I just think those things are beyond our control - there are always be fools, let's not spend our time on them.

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it became obvious how much these "drone people" rely on precise directions and step by step instructions, can't grasp simple things like what the inputs and outputs of a system are and how you can interconnect those to other systems around it. ...<snip>... It's not part of the package and not offered by the supplier, so they're in a dead end.

We're getting a little off track, but you have summarized a significant challenge that has taken over my job. I can't begin to describe the amount of time I spend helping plastic drone owners troubleshoot their video link, usually involving a 5.8GHz camera system they bought from another supplier. God bless them, but it is unimaginably difficult to help get these non-techies on their feet. It's rewarding to solve their problems, but it is frustrating to invest so much time fixing another supplier's problems or something that would have been easily solved if they had read the instruction manuals.

Can't wait to see how FrSky's next radio, targeted more to high end customers will do.

Hmm, perhaps there's going to be opportunities to create third party accessories for it; Might be something for us to do here. :)

Edited by Mr.RC-Cam
typos

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For stuff like mini quads things go so fast that HD is probably useless though, so there something smaller, cheaper but that works better than the age-old analog would be welcome.

I agree that the fast moving image doesn't require HD. But fast pitching and tilting video is not fun. While it helps figure out drone orientation it takes away from flying experience. When birds fly their heads are moved in such way as to make image stable, while their bodies can pitch and bank like crazy. That's why I like new gimbals for FPV - they can stabilize the image to make HD viable. We obviously need a way to let pilot know the tilt and bank angle of the plane, but not through the video!

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God bless them, but it is unimaginably difficult to help get these non-techies on their feet. It's rewarding to solve their problems, but it is frustrating to invest so much time fixing another supplier's problems

That is another reason why closed forum may be a good idea - we can concentrate on fun things, not "customer support"

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I agree that the fast moving image doesn't require HD. But fast pitching and tilting video is not fun.

It's interesting just how different each of us are. I'm not a serious racer, but I like to vary what I do when I FPV. I'd love to have useful HD video on a fast mini quad (but I recognize the technical challenge with fast moving digital video). The pitching and tilting adds some excitement to the ride and I need to see this action to help coordinate my thumbs on the sticks.

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