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Pumpkin drop event

Learning to fly: Nano QX and DX8

#1
Backstory

Like many people I know, my first taste of the flying r/c world was a few years back when everyone and their brother was buying mini helicopters to fly around the office during lunch breaks and Friday afternoons. My first was a Syma S107, and it was a blast. A few friends and I took the fad a little more seriously and upgraded to Syma 032's. Made a couple cool videos, and it didn't take long before we outgrew their somewhat limited capabilities.

...fast forward a couple of years...

I met some of the Flite Test crew at World Maker Faire in NYC a few weeks ago after watching the Game of Drones guys do their thing in an outdoor quadrotor cagematch - er, netmatch? When I learned the guys flying the quadrotors also constructed them, I knew it was time to get back into flying - this time for real!

I've built a few simple robots in the past, and like messing around with Arduino, so I think my ultimate goal will be to build a quadrotor from scratch. Then FPV? But before that happens...


Setup

Developing some quadrotor flying skills will be a good first step. So, after some good ol'fashioned internet research, here's the setup I purchased:

Blade Nano QX (sans transmitter, on amazon for $69.99) - seems like the Flite Test guys really liked it, several very positive reviews from hobbyists regarding flight characteristics and durability

Spektrum DX8 (on amazon for $299) - overkill for the nano QX, maybe. but the programming features seemed like they will be very useful for more advanced choppers / building my own in the future


Flying

So. Cool. I love how this thing moves around and sounds like a small swarm of angry bees! Manageable indoors in "Safe Mode", which works well with the trim adjustments you can make on the DX8.

Have switched over to "Agility Mode" a few times, only to realize I'm going to need a lot more practice before my wife will let me do that again in the house around her. While she's reading. -_-


Side note

The Nano QX user manual has instructions on how to set up the DX8's Trainer button to toggle between Safe and Agility modes. However, it seems a common issue to lose Cyclical controls (right stick) when toggling this way. It happened to me.
Several forum threads exist for discussing solutions - anything from using a different switch, to strange button-press methods...

(please forgive the lack of proper terminology)

I think I figured out another good solution (which may warrant a separate thread), which has allowed me to keep toggling between modes to a single button-press:
- The nano qx receiver looks for a 100 followed by a 0 on the Aux1 channel to toggle between modes.
- The Trainer button's default outputs are 100 (at startup and when let-go) and -100 (when pressed).

I thought using the Servo Setup to change the Aux1 Travel to 0/100 (instead of -100/100) would do the trick, but it didn't. The mode would change (indicated by red/blue LED on the nano), but I would not have Cyclical controls. It was sending the 0 as i pressed the button, but then sending an extra 100 when i let-go.

So I Reversed the default states (keeping Aux1 Travel to 0 and 100) - now the Trainer button sends a 100 when pressed, then a 0 when let-go. Problem solved.


Flying Practice Tips?
I would love to hear your tips for flying practice, along with any other suggestions or questions you might have.


That was a doozy of a first post ^_^
Thanks for reading!
 

FinalGlideAus

terrorizing squirrels
#2
Welcome mate :)

Like you I also learned on the Nano QX and loved it. If you can, switch over to agility mode as soon as practical and your flying will benefit in the long run. If you train your brain to get accustomed to flying in a stabilized mode for long enough it becomes VERY hard to re-learn and re-train your brain. Dedicating yourself to perfecting the boring aspects of flying first will help you progress further faster. In agility mode firstly just work on the tail in hover and keeping it where you want it to be and not where it wants to go :). Once that's in the bag then try forwards and backwards (still tail in) flying. Then try 45 deg off tail in and then side in. I practiced about 6 batteries per night doig this to get the basic skills down pat. Then you can start trying figure 8's and maybe try flying around obstacles in the house :). The final step is the nose in hover in agility mode which is the hardest.

You can try some expo (maybe 20%) on elevator and aileron on the Dx8 which should calm things down for you. I ended up increasing the dual rates to 125% and had about 30% expo and the Nano QX was a blast to fly and could do some fun flips. It's nothing compared to what I fly now but have plenty of found memories of it..
 
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BridgeInspector

Flite Test Groupie
#3
Welcome to the FT Forum!

Agility mode is your best bet for pushing your skills to advance as FinalGlideAus pointed out. I have my expos set to about 50% as I am starting to learn and will adjust the expo lower as my skills develop (and time allows).

Your tx may be overkill, but will definitely help you expand and control the QX better. I found the new DX6 I use allowed me to try the agility mode, while the tx that came with the RTF Nano QX, agility was not possible.

You have set yourself up well with a good start into the multirotor world. Good luck and burn up some batteries!
 

Greg2B

Senior Member
#4
I don't have to much to add other then to agree you have gotten the right quad since it has both mode of flight. I started with the hubsan's which are fun the the nano flies just like a bigger one. I'm currently re-training my self to fly on stability mode with my bigger (250 size) quads. But it is taking a bit to get me to be full comfortable in agility mode other then to do flips and fly some fpv in a openish area.

http://flitetest.com/articles/how-to-fly-a-multirotor

If you need a video on what FinalGlideAus has said check out the flight test video which I what started me to retrain my flying ways. I may take some notes from Final and practice with my Nano in the house even though I've banged it up a bit and the bigger quads are more fun but when the weather won't cooperate its a nice way to still fly.
 

Greg2B

Senior Member
#5
Also I see you in jersey city that actually some what close to me (and where I lived a bit as a kid). Maybe we can meet up one day and fly or you can check out the meetup group in the area(nyc) and hang out. I was at the maker faire too.
 
#6
In agility mode firstly just work on the tail in hover and keeping it where you want it to be and not where it wants to go :). Once that's in the bag then try forwards and backwards (still tail in) flying. Then try 45 deg off tail in and then side in. I practiced about 6 batteries per night doig this to get the basic skills down pat. Then you can start trying figure 8's and maybe try flying around obstacles in the house :). The final step is the nose in hover in agility mode which is the hardest.
Thanks for the suggestions - baby steps. Looks like I need a few more batteries :p

You can try some expo (maybe 20%) on elevator and aileron on the Dx8 which should calm things down for you. I ended up increasing the dual rates to 125% and had about 30% expo and the Nano QX was a blast to fly and could do some fun flips.
Just bumped the D/R to 125% and added three levels of expo (0%, 25% and 50%) to the F Mode switch - starting to get a feel for how expo and D/R effect flight control. Cool.

Welcome to the FT Forum!
Thanks! And thanks also for the D/R and expo tips. Like I said, I'm gonna need some new batteries!

check out the flight test video which I what started me to retrain my flying ways. I may take some notes from Final and practice with my Nano in the house even though I've banged it up a bit and the bigger quads are more fun but when the weather won't [/SIZE]cooperate its a nice way to still fly.
Thanks for the link. Pretty cool you're using the Nano as an indoor flight tester for your bigger quads.

Maybe we can meet up one day and fly or you can check out the meetup group in the area(nyc) and hang out. I was at the maker faire too.
Sounds like a plan, the meetup would be great. Think I need to get in some practice, and then find a free weekend!
 

taeho98

Junior Member
#7
Hello everybody,

I found the new DX6 I use allowed me to try the agility mode, while the tx that came with the RTF Nano QX, agility was not possible.
So I've been having some trouble flying my quad in manual mode. I do use the tx that comes with the quad. should I buy a dx5/6i or is it just something to learn? I've been flying my quad for some time and in safe mode, I can just pull of the most crazy things that it's lets you do, but when I switch to manual, I can't even get it into a stable hover. sometimes i get the feeling it's not accurate enough so I have to make some larger movements and from that point on it goes down hill.

any tips and tricks?
 

Craftydan

Hostage Taker of Quads
Staff member
Moderator
Mentor
#8
A little of both . . .

A better radio does make a big difference, but in manual mode you *must* pilot the nanoQx. Going into the stable modes will hide a lot of the slop you feel in the controller, but it will hold your hand too much when it comes to learning to control the craft on your own.

In Manual will help you by going faithfully to the attitude and general thrust you set on the controls, but it won't think for you beyond that. If you lean it left, it will rocket off to the left until you lean it back to the right to slow it down, then lean it back to the center as it comes to a stop. If it's descending and you simply bump up the throttle it will slow to a stop then start ascending. Novice pilots tend to chase the airframe around the sky this way. it's natural, but you need to keep practicing to beat it.

The biggest thing you're learning right now is how to think ahead of the airframe. The nanoQX doesn't have a lot of mass and a good amount of power, so it responds fairly tight, but with bigger airframes it's more noticeable . . . the reaction lags behind your control input because it takes time to bleed off and build up momentum.

A better controller will make it easier to translate your commands to the airframe, but either way, nothing beats practice for learning to stay ahead of it. you'll start to feel when you've got a good grasp of it when you spend less time chasing it around trying to get it back where you want it and more time thinking about where you want to go next.

Keep at it. You'll get there :)
 

BridgeInspector

Flite Test Groupie
#9
Hello everybody,



So I've been having some trouble flying my quad in manual mode. I do use the tx that comes with the quad. should I buy a dx5/6i or is it just something to learn? I've been flying my quad for some time and in safe mode, I can just pull of the most crazy things that it's lets you do, but when I switch to manual, I can't even get it into a stable hover. sometimes i get the feeling it's not accurate enough so I have to make some larger movements and from that point on it goes down hill.

any tips and tricks?

You can also try switching the rates on the RTF tx. I dont remember exactly how, something with depressing the gimbal stick in like you do when swithing flight mode but it is in the manual. It adds some expo to the sticks and helps somewhat.
 

taeho98

Junior Member
#10
So...

I just burned bunred 3 batteries, and was actually capable of hovering it a bit! I did switch it to low rates and i only had one real hard crach.
I'm pretty happy with this progres that is occuring right now. I'm very far away from actually flying it but I'm getting feel for it now. I get how sensitive the controls are, even in low rates. But it's something and it's giving a real mental boost to me and I'm now even more eager to learn how to fly these little bastards! :p

I'm do have a small problem flying it since it's wobbling, I've already cut of the prop guards because those were destroyed. my props are not in bad condition too... any suggestions?
 

Craftydan

Hostage Taker of Quads
Staff member
Moderator
Mentor
#11
Is it only wobbling in descent or always?

If it's in descent, that's just something you've got to be aware of -- you're descending through the turbulance of your own propwash. Easiest way to get around that is to add some lateral movement to your descent (so you descend through the clean air beside you instead of the turbulant air beneath you) or descend very slowly.

if it's always . . . well you've probably done it to yourself. cuttign off those prop guards has changed the mass distribution of your craft (which you can't fix without replacement parts) and possibly your balance (which you can). The first will throw off the tuning a little, the second will throw off how well your gyros see the world, and can play havock with your flight charicteristics.

Also, take a closer look at those props . . . see how tiny they are? Any slight nick or warp that would be ignored in a 8" prop is magnified in a zippy 2" prop. Of all the things the nanoQX can shrug off, damage to the props is not one of them. If they're not pristene, consider replacements (this will also prep you for bigger quads where you'll *CONSTANTLY* have to replace props as you're learning new things).
 

taeho98

Junior Member
#12
I've cut them all to the exact same length, so that can't be a problem. I am going to replace my props, because one of them has been damaged by a bend prop guard. so that might be it.

but it doesn't wobble all the time. sometimes while flying it, it's doing just fine, but after a small crash, then it's starting to act weird. when I switch it off, it's flying normal again... the same applies when flying in manual mode... so I don't know what can be the problem...

NOTE: there are no vibrations coming from the engines/ props
 

BridgeInspector

Flite Test Groupie
#13
If an arm gets bent it may alter the controller level and need to be powered off and on to find the new level due to slightly bent arm.

Mine has a few dings and I have to twist the arms straight so all the motors/props are level and reinitialize. Took me awhile to figure out the arms are flexiable until many bad crashes and have a alight bend that I cant get straightened out with an opposite applied twist. If your arms are looking straight you can use trim to get rid of a constant drift.

I also have girls and often have hair wrapped around motor shafts that can hide from me and cause one prop to not spin fast enough and causes odd handling issues at times.
 

taeho98

Junior Member
#14
Maybe I should just get a new one, I took of the props, and some engines sounded really painfull. If I want to replace my engines, it would cost me a little under 40,- + props 5,- + an extra battry 8,50 (because mine is getting weak)
If I can buy a new bnf one for 69,- I think it would be stupid to try and replace parts on this one, and I still have something to just mess around with...
And with the bnf I will get an extra set of props, an extra battery and charger.

Or should I just try to repair this one?
 

BridgeInspector

Flite Test Groupie
#15
It depends if you like to repair or not and how fast you want back in the air. Sounds like you can justify the cost of a new one and use the old one for parts. If your budget allows to buy another I always say buy another. :)
 

Craftydan

Hostage Taker of Quads
Staff member
Moderator
Mentor
#16
Nah, you're already pushing it for the repair costs. If it was only any one of those, I'd say fix, but that close get the BNF model and save what's left of this one for spare parts.

Now that you've had a little practice, you'll probably be kinder to the next one.
 
#17
Is it only wobbling in descent or always?

If it's in descent, that's just something you've got to be aware of -- you're descending through the turbulance of your own propwash. Easiest way to get around that is to add some lateral movement to your descent (so you descend through the clean air beside you instead of the turbulant air beneath you) or descend very slowly.
Nice tip. I've also been learnin' myself some quadrotor flying and have noticed a little wobble on the decent - never thought about the propwash.

@taeho98 Sounds like you and I are in the same boat. I've been burning about 4-6 batteries a night practicing in "agility mode" with my nanoQX, and each night it seems I can do a few more maneuvers without crashing. It seems like controlling the throttle is getting easy first, making it easier to practice controlled turns through hallways, into and out of whichever room my wife is hiding in, etc. Even did a few passes through one of our ikea shelves!

Springing for the better radio (DX8 in my case) is proving to be useful - messing around with expo has made flying in agility mode more forgiving.
 

x0054

Senior Member
#18
Hi guys. I have been looking to find a small toy quad to fly in manual/rates/angle (what ever it's called) mode at home. So, from what I understand, the nanoQX can be setup to fly in full manual? But I have to get the bind and fly model, right? I have a 9X controller with FrSky transmitter. From what I understand, I would also need to get a JR compatible DSM2 transmitter. Would this work:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/NEW-OrangeR...dule-for-JR-Spektrum-Compatible-/331264098505

Also, are there any other small toy quads with manual mode?

Thanks! I got to have some more manual mode practice, because I am still shaky in it, and emergency flip into stabilized mode a little more often then I would like to on my full size quads.

- Bogdan
 

Balu

Moderator
Staff member
Admin
Moderator
#19
I have the RTF NanoQx and I can switch the modes by pressing down the sticks. Left stick swites between self-level and acro and right stick changes between rates.

That small beast is really difficult to fly in acro mode though.
 

Craftydan

Hostage Taker of Quads
Staff member
Moderator
Mentor
#20
Bogdan,

Yes, that should bind to a nanoQX in DSMX mode.

As far as I know that's the only sub-200mm pre-made quad with an acro mode. Every other one on the market I've seen has some type of selflevel always enabled.