Monthly Archives: June 2014


First Hexacopter Flight

Wow, an action packaged summer so far… no much bench-time unfortunately but work has let off and I’m working sub-50 hour weeks again thankfully.ย  I did get to spend some time this weekend on the bench but really not much. I worked on an article for and a little fixing for the wife. I did grab my F550 for its first flight (and mine on something larger than one of those micro-quads as well!). I had no intention of filming this… but my wife ended up taking a poor quality video off a cheapo-camera not meant for it. I’m glad she did.. ๐Ÿ™‚ I had a visitor.. some dog being walked couple decided to take an interest in the loud flying thing in the air.. it was a little nerve-racking because I didn’t want any accidents but luckily zero problems and no crashing! I can see the appeal of FPV .. it’s a little hard to determine pitch when they get out a bit. I think I’ll have to invest in something like that.

So here is the grainy video of some dog enjoying his day..

Natalie also took an interest in refreshing her soldering skills and was bragging to her uncle she had been soldering since she was four and was better at it than him… I had her soldering one of the waveform generators I made a PCB for without the proper silkscreen.. good times.


Multirotor Flying Platform

Project: The DJI F550 Hexacopter

My first week back from vacation. My lab needed some re-organizing, I brought back a ton of goodies… tools, etc. too much for the lab so I needed to organize a little better and utilize what space I have a little more efficiently. This is my excuse for being overly absent the last to weeks. I might shoot a revisit of my lab since plenty has changed. I worked on a little EICO Model 324 which I’ll go over once my parts show up.. and I haven’t touched my video. A busy week and next isn’t looking any less busy.

I’m suppose to be working on an RS-485 article but I decided I better go buy my quad with my “birthday money” from my wife. She didn’t know what to get so I got a clever little gift.. but it boiled down to cash for a quad. I stopped by my local hobby store.. no more F450s… but the guy on the other side of the counter talked me into the F550 hex. I bought a bags of goodies and went home for the build.

Below is what I bought: (do NOT use this as a shopping list, it turned out to be incomplete and that TX will not work).

Hexacopter Parts


What I bought:

DJI F550 kit



2 cell LiPo

HiTEC X1 multicharger


I put it all together and found I forgot (or the sales guy) forgot some way to plug the battery pack to the solder connectors on the F550.. another trip.. another $14. Connector plus adapter for the charger.

programmed it.. but I was having a problem. The NAZA M lite was flashing yellow / orange fast.. well let me save you two hours of trying to figure it out. In my case it turns out the DX5e will not work with the NAZA M Lite because I can not trim my end points on the three position switch. (Control Mode for fail-safe, manual,…) I figured this out by using the calibrator, switching the throttle and Channel 5 on the RX to MC. I could then get past fail-safe and get the motors started.

Oh well.. A trip back tomorrow for the return and a 150$ more forย the DX6i or whatever …ย ๐Ÿ™


Hexacopter on the bench


Analog Electronics Radio

Vacation Tidbits

I’ve returned from vacation and brought back a ton of tidbits to share over the next few weeks.

I left the beautiful Pacific Northwest to work on my ranch house in Meade County, South Dakota. I had a number of projects I hoped to complete while there and got through a fair portion of my list that was mostly filled with “wishful thinking” mini-projects. Not all of these are electronics based but bear with me, there are some items of interest.. no guarantee it’s you who is interested though ๐Ÿ™‚ I also hit up an AM site with one of my best friends and scored some goodies!

Water: My artesian well has low flow, this isn’t crippling but it can be a hassle. I’ve installed a water tank with a float that allows the well to fill a tank through a 3/4″ in-ground sprinkler solenoid. When pressure drops and the well booster pump kicks on it sucks every bit of water it can including any air it can find out of a contentiously flowing drain into a stock tank a couple hundred feet down the line. Now I’ll have a reservoir to provide extra water on the fly and filter some slight sand in the water supply.

Pump and Water Tank in the basement
Pump and Water Tank in the basement

Sewer: I had a collapsed sewer line… talk about the shits! ๐Ÿ˜€ I thought this was about all I would get done on my vacation as I was going to have to hand dig the line.. it was about 12 wide, 5 foot down. Luck day, I had a good friend stop by and helped me out a bit… that took off a few minutes of rockin’ the shovel.


With all that work out of the way I had some time to meet up with a friend at an AM broadcast site while he was performing some maintenance. I used to apprentice under him but ended up going a different career route. Not sure I made the right choice some days?

I grabbed my Rigol spectrum analyzer (you bring yours with you on vaca as well, right?) and threw a piece of wire into the input about a hundred feet away from the tower… the station is on 810KHz AM.



marker was obviously not on the peak on the reading above.


I took a ton of readings, compared mine to a much more expensive SA (very satisfied with the results) as well as taking some readings on a 948MHz STL transmitter.

I scored a nice directional sampling line and a bunch of SMA connectors with coax, a 20 watt digital OTA cable transmitter and a ton of other little goodies while I was at it. I great score. I got a VCXO, some filters, attenuators and just a ton of stuff I’ll check out here and there.


AM Antenna

AM Transmitter

Finally, I’ve got some video to edit and drop on the YouTube channel as well but I’ll get to that in the coming days.