Besides other stuff, I'm experimenting and developing with UAV technology from 3D Robotics. Here's some interesting stuff and tips & tricks.

Drone manufacturer DJI has annouced a firmware update, preventing operating their vehicles close to "major airports". A look in the list reveals how and why this is completely idiotic at best and a danger to freedom at worst.

On my multicopter, I have a Boscam HD19 camera. This camera was explicitely developed for use on UAVs and has some interesting functions, like live video out, full HD recording and taking photos. The recording functions can also be controlled via the UAV's remote control, which makes it especially useful. The stock lens is very wide-angeled and - in my opinion - not of excessively good quality. Fortunately, the HD19 uses a standard 12x0,5mm thread for lenses and good but cheap lenses in various angles are available from the internet.

First, I used combinations of switches to select the mode of my APM. But IMHO, there is hardly anything more counter-intuitive and if things hit the fan, you can be sure to switch to the wrong mode out of pure hectic.

Next, I replaced a pot of my transmitter with a 6-position switch and variable resistors. That is already better, but to get to one mode, you likely have to switch through other modes. Also, without any markings, again, not very intuitive and it's impossible to see at one glance which mode you are in.

During my LED-googling, I also ran across the Neopixel light strips. Those are strips made of WS2812 LEDs - RGB LEDs with integrated 2811 controller. Thanks to Adafruit there also is a control library, which makes it reasonably easy to control those things with an Arduino.

I was looking for a way to make the ARM and GPS LED signals more visible for quite a while. Ideally, I thought, I could drive high-power LEDs somehow from that outputs. A short question in the comments of my blog post with the LED poles at DIY-Drones didn't yield any results except the reflex-like pointing to the jDrones JDIO board.

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