Prop Balancing

Phantom 2 Prop Balancing Tool

To help quads, helicopters, etc. fly well, we want to eliminate vibration and to also have the motors run evenly and smoothly. One thing that helps with that goal is balancing the props (propellors). Props are mass-manufactured, and they’re not perfectly even on both sides. That means one side will be slightly heavier, so when they spin, they won’t spin perfectly evenly, which can cause vibration. Here’s info about how to balance the DJI Phantom 2 props.

Naza Mode and the Phantom 2

Out of the box, the Phantom (and Vision) ship in a very simple mode. Flight is heavily GPS-assisted, and if you let go of the controls, the quad will try to stay where it is (wind/battery-permitting). Inside the Phantom is a flight controller, the Naza-M, which enables this type of flying. (You can actually buy the Naza-M by itself and put it on another quad.) However, there are other flight modes on the Phantom (don’t worry–they’re not all scary manual!) and extra controls that you can enable by switching from the simple mode to Naza mode.

Getting Started with the DJI Phantom 2

A few years ago, I started thinking about using a quadcopter to carry a camera, as I was planning on going to the arctic, wanted aerial footage, and a “real” helicopter was $100k/week. That trip didn’t happen and technology’s changed a _ton_ since then! I’m heading to the arctic this summer, and I decided it was time to plunge into a camera-carrying quadcopter.

The DJI Phantom 2 with no mounts attached.

The DJI Phantom 2 with no mounts attached.

Starting to Build the Arcticopter I

Tinning the wires on a Turnigy Plush 12A ESC

Tinning the wires on a Turnigy Plush 12A ESC

The past couple of weeks have been pretty busy, between finishing up on Cars 2 and getting things together for a trip to Bolivia, and I haven’t been flying as much as I’d like to. However, Mark and I started building our first quadcopter, dubbed the Arcticopter I, yesterday, and it’s pretty neat!

First Flight

While I’ve been continuing to find time to practice with a flight sim, I decided that I wanted to try flying my Blade mCX2 for real. I have to say it was a lot of fun and easier than the TRex 500 I’ve been using in the sim, but there were still a few gotchas.

Aerial Photography with RC Helicopters

I’m looking at heading to some remote regions of the planet in the near future, and I want to do some aerial shooting. Unfortunately, in one location, getting a helicopter costs $100,000 for a week, and a hot air balloon costs $50,000. That’s more than I can afford. Instead, I’ve started to look into using RC helicopters to do some aerial shooting. With wireless video downlinks (so that you can see what the camera sees) and features like GPS hold (which will cause the heli to hold itself exactly where you put it in the air), it seems like the time’s right to use these guys for serious work. I’ll try to post what I learn here, as there’s a lot of info out there!