Articles for April 2015

New 3D FPV Camera – in the DEVELOPMENT process

Hello everyone! In 2014 we released the 3D FPV camera The BlackBird and then I published my first post here… BlackBird isa good camera, but it had several disadvantages, such as BlackBird gave video in interlaced 3D format, and because of thisvery little video glasses can work with it.

In the middle of 2014 we began work on a new model 3D FPV camera. We have set ourselves the task to make the camerabetter, we wanted to fix all the shortcomings of previous models and to make it as easy to use…

We also thought about the size of the camera, they had to be minimal, but comfortable to use. In this task helped us GoProand plain paper. We decided to make the camera in width, same as GoPro

Here are a few ideas we have laid down in the development of the new camera:

Video – we want to make the camera versatile and for this, we have provided support for various video formats:

  • Support 3D video format SIDE BY SIDE for video glasses Fat Shark Dominator HD, Carl Zeiss Cinimizer, Sony HMZ, 3D TVs and 3d monitors. For this format You use 1 standard video transmitter
  • Support 3D video format SIDE BY SIDE CROP for the helmet Oculus Rift type. For this format You use 1 standard video transmitter
  • Format support interlaced 3D video glasses headPlay, Prober EVG 920. For this format You use 1 standard video transmitter
  • Two synchronized video output for video points SkyZone 3D. For this format You are using 2 standard video transmitter

Here’s a video layout for the camera, the video shows several camera modes:

And so looked the layout of the camera 🙂, it is with him we recorded video

Modularity – we have provided a special connector on the front of the camera, to connect various modules, such as module video transmitter or infrared illumination

OSD – our idea is, we want that the application was as simple OSD, i.e., the OSD must be already inside the camera itselfWhy use any third-party device?

Voltage – we have provided the ability to connect the camera to various power supplies from 5V to 16V, i.e. You can connectthe camera to the Li Po 2S-4S

Now the camera is at the stage of completion and we will soon announce the pre-order on it.

Follow our news on FaceBook

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Geolocation Simulation

I put together a little geolocation simulation. This one is really simple but its simple to illustrate basic concepts and the biggest sources of error (other than GPS error) in geolocation. This simulation is setup to model an aircraft flying toward a specific target and continually tracking that target, building up an estimate of the target’s position. Here is the simulation result for radial error vs slant range to target. Each line represents a different amount of elevation angle error. The blue line was generated from an estimated distribution that depends on angle, with a mean of 3.4 milliradians, which seemed like a reasonable number based on some of the IMUs available. Keep in mind that for this simulation, position error (error from GPS) was not included but could easily be added later. If you’re interested in further information on this model check out this site

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Solo is not so Solo (alone) as digital integrated drone in apm world :) Virtualrobotix Alter Ego project is alive …

In last months virtualrobotix lab work hard on a “secret alter ego project” our target was add low cost companion computer and add advanced functionality to our Flight Conrol .

During last fair in Milan spoke with Michele about the problem of analogic trasmission during the FPV Racing because the indoor situation create a lot of rf iusse . During our development work a lot on low latency and redundace system. So that was a good application where understand if our work was good or not for control the drone in fpv mode and with digital control channel.

Actually we are not already update vr pad station with last update but we are work in progress so decide to do a test with PC connected to the drone. 

In this demo we use

a VR uBrain :

a VR GPS :

as companion computer i use a :

Raspberry PI 2 with a prototype of custom HDMI digital input , a standard RPI camera or usb h264 cam.

A Wifi AC dongle.

The micro brain is connected to companion computer by usb port and we developed a custom application that transport mavlink protocol and support a custom API functionality , but is possible to use mavproxy or drone kit ,too. I prefer c/c++ or java app not python.

By our api is possible to activate by ground station video and remote control on mavlink for control the drone with very low latency so is possible to control the drone in stable mode. 

During the test we are incredible surprised we don’t have any artifact and don’t lost the video link … we did some test on outdoor until 400 m without big problem. 🙂

This is only the begin of the project for update your “old” vrbrain technology with new advanced digital functionality to your drone 🙂

In our api is already implemented the API for control sony camera and GO Pro 3/4 cam with preview trasmission to ground station 🙂

If you need more info about our tecnology contact me at [email protected] we have a secret group in fb of developer that are join at early version of our development 🙂


Roberto Navoni

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Enrollment climbing in college drone training programs

From Ars Technica:

On the night of May 4, 2007, a tornado classified as a 5 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale reached the town of Greensburg, Kansas. Within 20 minutes, the storm ravaged 95 percent of the city’s infrastructure, leaving 11 residents dead and nearly 800,000 cubic yards of debris in its wake.

Tasked with expediting the town’s recovery and preventing future devastation, the state of Kansas allotted funding to various emergency response initiatives: debris removal, reconstruction of roads and buildings, and—less traditionally—the study of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) operations. In other words, Kansas spent money to study drones. (The term “drones” is generally avoided by commercial aviators and academics given its connections to the military and surveillance services.)

Though born of a specific regional need, the state’s academic investment reflects a nationwide trend: the rise of Bachelor of Science degrees in operating UAS. The beneficiary of the Kansas disaster money, Kansas State University (K-State) Salina, is one of the first three US universities to offer an undergraduate degree in UAS operations. The University of North Dakota introduced a major in Unmanned Aircraft Systems Operations in 2009, while Florida aeronautical university Embry-Riddle’s B.S. in Unmanned Aircraft Systems Science debuted in 2011.

The scope of commercial applications for UAS has broadened dramatically in recent years. Enhanced techniques in filmmaking, environmental monitoring, and photography, as well as high-profile ideas such as Amazon’s 30-minute delivery service, have increased the need for skilled UAS operators.

“Unmanned aircraft systems is like the Wild West of aviation,” said John Robbins, assistant professor in the Aeronautical Science Department at Embry-Riddle. “It’s a brand-new area, and we know that these aircraft are going to be a component of the future of aviation.”

Most programs begin with courses in flight background and instruction: FAA regulations, the systems and circuit design of unmanned aircraft, remote sensors, aerodynamics, ground tools, robotics. These are combined with applied projects, such as building aircraft from plans or kits, flying unmanned aircraft in simulated environments, and field-operations courses complete with an air vehicle operator, an external pilot, and a visual observer.

Graduates of the UND and K-State programs receive Commercial and/or Private Pilot Certificates; Embry-Riddle students have the option to specialize in Professional Pilot Studies (in which case they become licensed) or in UAS Operations.

The states of North Dakota, Kansas, and Florida present a foil to the traditionally coastal tech industry, which has become closely identified with cities like San Francisco and New York. This is likely due to the comparatively open environments of the Midwest and South, whose lower population densities and flatter land provide hospitable climates for flying aircraft.

“We have a relatively low population density, so it’s not like we’re going to be trying to fly untested unmanned aircraft over New York City and Washington, DC,” said Ben Trapnell, Associate Professor of Aeronautics (UAS Operations) at UND. “It’s the people, it’s the place, and it’s the time.”

Weather also plays an important role. While extreme conditions have necessitated the use of UAS for emergency-response purposes, they are also useful for conducting flight training. In the Midwest, Trapnell said, dramatic changes in temperature and precipitation from season to season provide nearly all imaginable environments for flying, from the clear skies of a 70-degree day to the heavy snowfall of a dreary winter.

The universities’ proximity to flat, open land also renders them prime candidates for hosting UAS studies within the framework of two of the industries posing the greatest demand for operational skills: precision agriculture and pipeline patrol.

Describing a recent undergraduate capstone project, K-State Salina UAS Academic Program Lead Michael Most said, “One [of my students] wanted to do a payload integration so that he has a camera onboard an aircraft and [can] overfly his family farm, stitch together the images, and then overlay it on a three-dimensional model. He can compare that to historical aerial photographs and see what kind of changes have occurred over time.”

Investment in UAS programs appears to be paying off. Enrollment numbers, which began at a few dozen, now hover around triple digits. (K-State Salina anticipates having just under 100 students by fall of 2015, for example, while Embry-Riddle’s student count reached 196 in fall of 2014.) The majority of UAS-operations graduates have been hired as sensor operators and project managers, with some securing flight slots in the Air Force. Additional Midwestern schools, such as Purdue and Illinois’ Lewis University, have recently introduced their own versions of the degree.

“We’re showing significant positive growth. And that can be seen by the growth of the aircraft in markets,” said Robbins. “We look at what this evolving array of things [UAS] are capable of. We’ve seen heavy use of civilian applications such as increasing efficiency for firefighters or emergency management systems. These things are all capable of a different number of things that are going to significantly impact society in a beneficial way.”

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sUSB Expo 2015, just about to start

As ever we will be live streaming on our YouTube channel if the web allows it. Things should kick off at 0900 Pacific (ish)(you know what we are like))

If you use the #sUSBEXPO2015 I will try and get questions asked.

Todays speakers, Chris Anderson speaks tomorrow.

9:00 – 9:10 Welcome and Opening Statements – Patrick Egan, sUAS News

9:10 – 9:30 – Patrick Egan, sUAS News

9:30 – 9:50 – Chris France, Alta Devices

9:50 – 10:10 – Paola Santana, Matternet

10:10 – 10:40 – Baptist Tripard, SenseFly

10:40 -11:00 BREAK

11:00 – 12:00 – Jim Williams, FAA

12:00 – 12:30 – Terry Miller, Transport Risk Management

12:30 – 1:30 LUNCH

1:30 – 1:50 – Stuart Rudolph, Smart C2 Inc.

1:50 – 2:10 – Marco Peljhan, C-Astral

2:10 – 2:30 – Murray Craig, Tigerstrike Technology

2:30 – 2:50 – Jono Millin, DroneDeploy

2:50 – 3:10 – Michael Drobac, Small UAV Coalition

3:10 – 3:30 BREAK

3:30 – 3:50 – Bill English, NTSB

4:10 – 5:00 – PANEL: Moderated by Robert Scoble with Sean Varah, Motion DSP,

3:50 – 4:10 – Andra Keay, Robot Launch, SVR

Eric Cheng, DJI and Nick Pilkington, DroneDeploy

Closing Statements – Patrick Egan

(*Times and speakers are subject to change)

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Water resistance Zubax GNSS (GPS Glonas receiver)

We here at NicaDrone are testing out a new vacuum polyurethane conformal coating application method that should provide excellent water resistance for the GNSS and the Electro permanent magnet.

Here is the test video for the GNSS, the EPM test will happen over the next few days.

All Zubax GNSS are shipping with the enhanced conformal coating as of today.

TLDR: Zubax Gnss runs almost an hour completely submerged under water without losing GPS lock. Uart communication fails because of corrosion on the connectors. GNSS including barometer passes detailed testing procedure after being submerged. 



Purchase (from Europa)

Purchase (from Americas)

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An autopilot in the sky – Project SensePod

I’ve been experimenting with a small analysis package I originally called the SIXPack (Scientific X-Pander Pack). The idea is to have a module you can slap on to (almost) any drone. The module contains a microcontroller and storage device, and can house one or several sensors ie: gas, light, air sensors or cameras.


The module gets it’s power from the drone and is also able to receive telemetry data and merge the data with the sensor data, providing a full set of telemetry and sensory data which is stored to a sdcard (or sent back to planet earth through radio).

Early version

Yesterday – I flew a kind of mock up version, let’s call it the Ugly Betty version (on the following pictures you’ll see why).

The electronics is contained in a standard mains junction box, which is kind of nice because of it’s IP56 water resistant seals but a nightmare aerodynamic wise. The particular box contained the mentioned microcontroller and storage device together with a Methane gas sensor. Power and telemetry was supplied from the plane.

A short testflight revealed that everything worked nicely, and that some interesting readings were made and merged with the IMU telemetry (GPS, altitude, etc….). Below graph is just a plot of the flight – more flights are needed to evaluate how good the measurements really are.

It also felt like flying with the handbrakes on.


Is it a bird? A plane? No it’s a plane (or bird) with SensePod!

Luckily I’m so fortunate to not only have access to a 3D printer, but also a guy who really knows how to get the best out of a 3D printer. So I started up my good old Shade 3D software and started to design a nice aerodynamic enclosure for the SIXPack.

The SensePod (as I call it) is assembled from two almost equal halves. The bottom part can be replaced with different versions for different sensor configurations, and it also features a plug connector for external power and telemetry.

The pod will have ample of space to piggyback a microcontroller, storage device along with some sensors etc…

I also considered adding wings to it to compensate a bit for the extra weight it induces, but I’m not an expert in aerodynamics so I thought it best to leave that idea for now. The thought however, that you would also be able to drop off the pod in mid air and let it glide back to earth is enticing 🙂

Next up is printing the Pod in a miniature size to make sure everything is modelled correctly, then the real thing is printed! I’ll post an update and first flight postmortem.

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Fully integrated ground control station

I’ve mentioned on a couple of posts over the last few months that we’ve been hard at work developing a fully integrated ground control station and gave it the first public airing at Skytech in London last week. It is built around the patented Wing control device to enable both manual piloting and mission planner editing with one hand. The other hand is free to operate aircraft systems 

and camera gimbal through the keyboard and secondary joystick.

  • Fully-featured outdoor workstation
  • 24” Outdoo
    r viewable screen
  • Laptop and storage compartment
  • In-built telemetry
  • Integrated foldable legs
  • Total weight 16.5 kg

It’s been  lot of work getting this far and I’d really appreciate any feedback.



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