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DIY Phantom "tail light"

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by GearLoose, Jun 1, 2013.

  1. GearLoose

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    As I've posted elsewhere I'm struggling to master simple ATTI flight maneuvers. I have an excellent place to practice -- ten unobstructed acres of knee-high pasture grass. One of my greatest challenges has been determining the Phantom's orientation. As a visual aid I've added a pink foam "noodle" to the left landing strut and a green one on the right -- but once the quad is much more than 100 away from me, I find it very difficult to clearly determine its orientation.

    As a result, I've developed a new Phantom accessory for the orientation challenged noobie: the POS (Phantom Orientation Solution).

    I know this will be popular because when I demonstrated it to a friend and he said, "That is definitely a P.O.S.!"

    Here it is:


    The weight of the POS is 25 grams. Does it help? Like a charm, especially when flying at higher altitudes.
     

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  2. MRSpyder2U

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    Location:
    Rome, Georgia y'all
    Sure, but what is that POS?
     
  3. GearLoose

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    The orange reflector is the lid from a quart of Greek yogurt. It is doubleback taped to a half inch wide half-circle of plastic cut from the rim of a flower pot. (use tin snips or heavy scissors)

    I insert the two ends of the plastic half-circle into the noodles. A rubber band between the noodles tensions it nicely. I've done some fast descents and so far it has held quite well.

    It is particularly helpful when I'm trying to maintain visual orientation with the Phantom backlighted against the sky.

    The POS can be mounted or unmounted in seconds... unlike the DJI prop guards. ;)
     
  4. martcerv

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    Wouldn't that also be creating lots of drag? Its not a very aerodynamic shape I think it would effect forward motion quite a bit and with any wind around it will exaggerate its effect having more surface area to impact.
     
  5. GearLoose

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    I'm not concerned about drag and I'm still too chicken in fly in strong wind.

    The tail light is simply a training aid as I learn to fly using the "trial & terror" method. I've used the tail light for a couple of days now. It has already saved me several times from confusion about the Phantom's orientation. Also, because I am now more confident that I can visually track the quad, I'm able to relax and concentrate more on learning the finer points of flying.

    Once I am able to weave in and out of trees I'll probably take the tail light off. Watch for it on Ebay..... :roll:
     
  6. martcerv

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    Good luck on the auction, maybe you can sell it for enough to buy the gimbal ;)

    I am thinking of getting the prop guards and only using 2, painting them a bright colour and have them just on the rear. This will help with orientation I think as side on will be very easy to see which way its heading. It shouldn't have any real negative impact on flight either and balance out the camera a little too. Still not sure how visible they will be at distance but they are pretty cheap so worth a go.

    Getting orientation at distance is always going to be tricky and I find it very hard to judge distances when I am away from it more then 50m, so dodging and weaving through trees at speed without FPV I dont think is a skill I will ever master properly. Its very hard to tell if you have passed a tree or not and once behind them you have no idea where its heading. If the phantom is more then 100m away from me I find it so hard to tell how far I am from distant trees always erroring on the safe side and either going high or turning very early. Looking back at videos what looks like I got close could be 50m short and I really dont see how you could see this better unless flying FPV.

    I did practice some slow flying in a thick rainforest in dead calm winds but I am staying close enough to it so I dont muck up and hit any trees, and I wouldnt dare use GPS in such a spot as the signal would be quite erratic.

    I think its great to learn to fly line of sight but in the end I will go for FPV which I am sure is much easier and you can fly more aggressively around objects that way. 3 out of my 4 crashes so far have been due to winds and trees getting in my way :eek: the other was not having it setup properly after a firmware update and nothing I could have done there.
     
  7. GearLoose

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    I'll be very surprised if painting the prop guards offers much improvement in visibility beyond 50 yards. Your eyesight may be a lot better than mine but beyond 50 yards I can't always distinguish which of those bright colored noodles (see image above) is facing me. And, worst of all, if the Phantom is facing away from me and near a tree line, there's a good chance I'll be confused and send it straight into the forest. At any distance, I also have trouble detecting if the quad is moving toward me or away.

    I'm telling you, for an introductory price of just 39.99 plus shipping, my POS "Tail Light" is worth every penny! (On the advice of my doctor this kit doesn't include the Greek yogurt lid, as I am already eating too much of the stuff.)
     
  8. jumanoc

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    Better if you use 1 or 2 bicycle LED lights self powered in front skids. They are very ligh and provides great power. Stay, blink and strobe modes. I have tested mine 200 mts daylight.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  9. howardmaryon

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  10. jumanoc

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    Those in my post are "rubbered" and just US$15.oo 1 pair ! 20 hours with 2 coin batteries.
     
  11. martcerv

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    I figure the prop guards being white would be hard to see but just having a different look front to back would make it easy to tell orientation when side on. The main issues with quads is they look the same from every angle and if you can somehow make the front and rear look different then its all going to help.

    When its a real long distance away, I have gone to around 600m LOS plus altitude which may be another 50-100m. The easiest way to find orientation is to go forward and slow yaw, then I can see if its heading left or right and tell where the nose is ;) This method is best when your above all terrain and other stuff you can crash into. When the light isnt too bright I can just get a hint of the tail light too at distance but in strong winds this is best done in GPS mode as you dont also have to fight the wind in atti mode. You could use the home lock here too but I prefer to fly back to me nose first so the camera is filming fairly level just nose down rather then any random direction.

    Those Bicycle LED lights look like a great idea and maybe just stick one to the battery door as a headlight. I think I would take that over the POS setup sorry. I will go look for some front LED bike light and will probably try the rear prop guards too, even if they only help at close range inside 100m its better then nothing. Getting orientation wrong when close to an object is not a good thing, rear prop guards could be handy for FPV too as you are more likely to bump into something behind you where the camera cant see if doing slow flying in breeze.
     
  12. Roadkilt

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    A simpler solution, which I installed on my phantom is a brilliant led disc, the size of a dime, mounted on the battery door. It runs off the cell balancing plug, the small white one, on the battery so it needs no additional wiring and basically uses no power. It is brilliant, even during daylight. On ebay for about $15, super easy to install.

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/DJI-Phantom-Qua ... 1e784985d6
     
  13. GearLoose

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    Jumanoc, you've not only hijacked my thread but you've just put the entire workforce at P.O.S. Industries on the dole!! What am I going to do now with all of these Greek yogurt lids?

    One other thing... please, where did you get the LED lights? :p
     
  14. jumanoc

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    Oooppss sorry, I could retract if you send some demo caps to me :mrgreen:

    I got 3 different LED styles at bicycle store. Not specific brand. I tried some stuff before. Watch this:

    [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=carGBJG-unE[/youtube]
     
  15. Roadkilt

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    Well, it seemed a good idea at the time. Makes a great moving target for skeet practice now! And think how healthy you are after eating all that yogurt:)