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Old December 8th, 2010, 11:29 AM   #1
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R/C Helicopter + GoPro or POV camera

I was wondering if anyone out there has any experience with flying an R/C Helicopter with a small POV camera attached. It can be GoPro, Contour, or even a Flip. I am just looking for specific advice on models of helicopters, or support equipment.

I have seen many videos of people doing this, but the details on their equipment is always sketchy and hard to acquire.

Also, I am not talking a big expensive rig like the ones that fly 5D/7D cameras with a gyro stabilizer head.

Any ideas?
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Old December 8th, 2010, 03:01 PM   #2
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People here don't have experience because it's illegal. If you're thinking of acquiring footage for compensation using RC helicopters, you can't. Most of the posters here are professionals.
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Old December 8th, 2010, 10:01 PM   #3
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I have used an rc heli with a gopro..worked great...for more info check out helifreak.com
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Old December 9th, 2010, 12:22 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Warren Kawamoto View Post
People here don't have experience because it's illegal. If you're thinking of acquiring footage for compensation using RC helicopters, you can't. Most of the posters here are professionals.
That's not really true. It is grey area at best.

OP: Here is my setup, in this case lifting a HD170 but also can lift 7D etc..

YouTube - Heavy Lifting Custom Quadrotor

Mine is built around UAVX uavp-mods - Project Hosting on Google Code

But you can use an off the shelf quad and pretty easily lift a GoPro. Quads are a bit easier to fly than traditional CP helis. You will still crash alot though at first, and it is hard to get good results on small platforms. You might cut your fingers off or put out an eye too.
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Old December 9th, 2010, 01:26 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Warren Kawamoto View Post
People here don't have experience because it's illegal. If you're thinking of acquiring footage for compensation using RC helicopters, you can't. Most of the posters here are professionals.
I don't understand, what exactly is it about using an RC Helicopter for footage that makes it illegal?



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Old December 9th, 2010, 01:31 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Warren Kawamoto View Post
People here don't have experience because it's illegal. If you're thinking of acquiring footage for compensation using RC helicopters, you can't. Most of the posters here are professionals.
Maybe in your neck of the woods but here in the CONUS it's not illegal at all. Just have to have permits and permissions worked out. There's about half a dozen companies I know of here and in NY that offer R/C heli video services. They have almost as much red tape to go through as a full size heli or plane used as a camera platform.

I have been out of it for a few years and I know the technology has changed but we used to use X-Cell gas (not glowfuel) helis. They could fly for 30 minutes with ease and were big enough to carry any DSLR or small camcorder like a HMC40 with a pan/tilt rig and video transmitter. Very smooth and reliable.

The last guy I saw which was about a year ago used a 90-sized electric. I think it was a Mikado. He was carrying an HVX200 on a pan/tilt rig and said he was getting about 7 min flights.
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Old December 9th, 2010, 01:37 PM   #7
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problem with most heli is vibration because CMOS cameras suffer a lot (rolling shutter). CCD camera are a lot better bust more difficult to find.
The electric models are better on that point, but they fly less time and lift less weight.
the number of wings make also a difference , more wings , less vibration, but usually all small heli are two wings on the propeller.
you also beeter have to get a good insurance (and) or a good pilot because crashed heli (on car, people or even on grass) cost the hell to fix.
for the weight of a gopro, you got cheaper/better solution like the draganfly that is more safe to pilot and cost less.
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Old December 9th, 2010, 01:54 PM   #8
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I expect some of the argument about what is legal/illegal is the frequencies the RC equipment is operating on. For example as a HAM I would be allowed to use HAM frequencies for my RC gear but could not use them for commercial endeavors. With that in mind you must make sure your RC gear is on a frequency coordinated for its purpose AND its location. This is not just a regulatory issue but a safety one as well. You do NOT want another signal causing operation issues with a potentially lethal remotely controlled instrument near soft people-like targets.

Using the helicopter itself shouldn't be a problem as long as there are no statutes against it and the appropriate permits and safety protocols are in place.
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Old December 9th, 2010, 02:00 PM   #9
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There was a major shift in the rc world a few years ago to 2.4ghz so there isn't nearly as big of an issue of frequency contamination as there used to be.
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Old December 9th, 2010, 02:06 PM   #10
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Good to know. I've not done anything RC since the days when the equipment was below 100mhz.
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Old December 9th, 2010, 02:14 PM   #11
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And I thought I'd been flying for a long time! Ha ha!
Part of the reason I got out was the switch over. I was already on the fence since my wife and I started down the baby path. I had a lot of helis and planes. Would have cost a fortune to switch them over so I figured it was as good a time as any!

Here an interesting link for learning more...
http://www.rchelisite.com/using_rc_h...ideography.php


If I was to get back into helis for video, this would be a good choice...
http://www.amainhobbies.com/product_...rvos-CF-Blades

But, with radio and batteries, probably looking at another $1500 and then you have to buy the camera mount side of the game. I'd imagine $5k would be a reasonable chunk to spend for a properly setup heli.
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Old December 10th, 2010, 07:01 AM   #12
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Thanks to everyone for their responses! I have learned alot and have much more research to do. But at least now I am on the right track.
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Old December 10th, 2010, 09:48 AM   #13
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Vibration is not THAT big of a deal.

Here is HD170 (CMOS) HARD mounted to my quadrotor. No gimbal, no vibration isolation rubber or anything. It is literally velcro'd to the lipo battery. It would be receiving every single vibration the frame is transmitting. Taking your time in setup and prop balancing and your fine (on a multirotor)

YouTube - Heavy Lifter HD170 testing - Low Power "Landing"

I was testing total power, so I let it run out of power at the end.

2.4GHZ yes for the radio, but you can still run into issues with downlink frequencies. For instance video down on 900mhz, telemetry on? 900 or 1.2ghz.
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Old December 10th, 2010, 10:13 AM   #14
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As for the vibration, the 4 rotors shouldn't be an issue due to the smaller rotating mass. The vibration is at a much higher frequency that would be picked up by the cameras. Looks like the breeze pushed it around a bit though.

With a traditional heli, bigger is better but the key is to success with any sized heli is to have it properly built and balanced. Even my 60-sized glow fuel helis had little to no vibration as they were built for competitions.

With the smaller helis, i dont think the quality of the kits is at the level to make them vibration free. Most use plastic parts in the driveline and the tolerances just aren't tight enough. Plus they do get knocked around by the wind and in my opinion aren't good platforms for cameras because of these issues. Even with a small camera like a Gopro or contour, I'd go for the biggest platform you can afford if you want to make professional-looking videos.
If thats not the goal, get whatever and have a blast! I do it the inexpensive way too! It's a lot of fun!
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Old December 11th, 2010, 08:13 PM   #15
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I like the idea of the four rotor system. It looks fairly stable.
As far as making it look professional, I will do the best I can with my budget, which is small. But it is an area I would like to try out, maybe with a small electric rig, and a GoPro at first, and see how big and bad I want to go.
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