Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A new British made FPV RC Wing called the Venturi FPV. A contender for the Ritewing Zephyr II?

Back in August 2012 over the Bank Holiday Weekend, I attended the annual BMFA Nationals event at Barkston Heath in Lincolnshire UK. Having been a relatively frequent user of FPVHub.com forum (previously FPVUK.org) over the past twelve months, I posted a message on the forum to see whether any other like-minded FPV enthusiasts would be attending the event, with the view of meeting up for a beer and a chat in the Hanger on the Saturday evening.  I received a couple of responses and made arrangements to meet.

The event came and on the Saturday evening I duly got a call from John to meet up with his companion Rob. It transpires Rob and his colleague John were actually from FlyingWings.co.uk and they were eager to discuss and show off their new prototype flying wing. At this stage they had the ‘Sports’ version and had actually been flying it in the evening flying session at Barkston.  What they were excited about however was the FPV version with a specially adapted centre section along with their special GoPro and FPV Camera box for the front of the centre section.  Conversation around this new wing naturally progressed and my flying buddy Steve and I volunteered to do an FPV build and test this new bird out.

Two or three weeks later and as promised, a largish box containing the Venturi FPV arrived in the post containing all the bits in the kit:

As can be seen from the above pictures, the kit contains two EPP wings, centre section, GoPro/FPV camera FPV box, motor mount, elevons, spar (glass fibre), wing tips, fittings and instructions showing the Centre of Gravity CoG.

A closer look at the impressive Garalite G10 based GoPro/FPV Camera box:

Motor mount and fittings:

Given I’d previously built a Ritewing Zephyr II; I wanted to base this build of the Venturi FPV around a similar configuration using two 4S Lipo batteries, albeit 2200mAh’s as opposed to 3300mAh’s I had used on the ZII.  The next decision was whether to use the centre bay for the batteries, or whether to go with the two batteries either side of the centre bay in the wings. Given I was going to use the Eagle Tree FPV gear, OSD, elogger, GPS and Guardian Stabiliser, I knew space would be tight, so elected for the battery bays to go into the wings. These were cut out using a hot wire bent specifically to the shape and size of the GenAce 4S 2200mAh 25C batteries which I elected to base the build on.  Before the bays were cut however, the wings and centre bay were glued together using Scotch Weld P90 glue. A minor change from the standard kit was to reinforce the front of the centre bay running into both wings with a ply plate as can be seen below.  All equipment was first loosely located to attain the correct CoG against the included plan.


In terms of other electronic equipment, I opted for the following:

The motor mount plate and ply skid section protecting the bottom of the centre bay were again glued with the P90 Scotch weld as shown below: The leading and trailing edges were reinforced with clear weave packing tape secured with super glue to help it stick better the EPP.

The elevons were covered using red solar film. Given I was going to base my covering on carbon effect vinyl; I wanted a striking contrast and opted for the red elevons.

 To tidy up the two battery bays and make these more secure; 2mm Correx was used to form a lid which would be secured with a servo arm to keep the battery lids down.  The servo slots were also cut out and GoPro/FPV camera box secured with super glue and epoxy. The centre bay hatch also secured with a servo arm screwed into a small ply plate.

Each wing side was then covered bottom then top with the Carbon vinyl covering:

The centre bay was finally covered using red vinyl before being covered in clear weave packing tape to help make sticking the vinyl easier. The covered elevons were secured in place with clear packing tape and the servos were secured in place with plastic covers glued with hot glue. The ImmersionRC Video transmitter was also cut into the rear section of the centre bay as shown and secured down with some velcro:

The final touch of the build was to apply the wing tips. From experience of ripping off my ZII wing tips on several occasions, thus rendering the end of the flying session on that day; I elected to apply a thin piece of ply to each wing edge with the view of using Velcro to secure the wing tips. Ultimately if they come off on a heavy landing, then they can easily be reapplied without the need for glue!

This is the finished Venturi FPV Wing from flyingwings.co.uk


As can hopefully be seen from the above build log; the Venturi FPV build is straight forward to put together. Yes we probably could have put it together a lot quicker without using some of the touches I have outlined above and some of the electronics I have chosen maybe a little over the top. That said, I didn’t want to skimp on the build and ultimately if everything worked out once completed and tested, then I’d have a very good wing to add to my RC FPV hanger.  The quality of the included materials is good, I would argue that maybe the motor plate and mount could be a bit thicker, but other than that, everything was as I’d anticipated and went together easily.   The first question a builder needs to ask themselves is what power setup you’re going to base the wing on.  I opted for a 4S configuration with batteries in the wings, but with a bit of careful planning, the centre bay could be used for battery/batteries as well a radio and FPV gear.

At approx £79.95 for the Venturi FPV version (including GoPro/FPV Camera box) and £69.95 for the Venturi Sport version, it’s a lot cheaper than a UK purchased Ritewing Zephyr II at £129.99. Yes you could probably get a ZII cheaper from the USA, but once you have paid shipping and potential import duty, you’re not going to see this cost reduced significantly.   If you want the ZII option to take their GoPro mount (which incidentally is just a Correx box) you’re looking at an additional £30!!!  Comparing the ZII Correx box with the FlyingWings GoPro/FPV box is like comparing a Robin Reliant (ZII Correx) to a Bugatti Veyron (FlyingWings GoPro/FPV box) at a third of the price!!

So how does it fly?

Well don’t take my word for it, have a look at the following YouTube flight video which shows some GoPro and OSD video footage from my third flight (second FPV flight) with the Venturi. 

The above Venturi FPV flight was flown in approximately 10-15mph winds on the day.  Having owned a Zephyr II, I was a big fan of how they fly (not including the launch!). Having flown three flights with the Venturi (1 Line of site and 2 FPV); I’m honestly pushed to say which one is better than the other. They’re both very precise and don’t tend to pitch up significantly when you increase the throttle in flight.  Where the Venturi wins hands down and as I have alluded to above, is in the launch!  My Zephyr II was a nightmare to get away compared to the Venturi FPV. This maybe in part down to the power setup I have gone with on the Venturi, but I have seen other ZII owners struggle with the launch and some have had to go to the measure of using bungees to launch the ZII.


It’s obviously early days for my Venturi FPV; but is the Ritewing Zephyr II a better wing at £60 more (nearly double the cost of the Venturi FPV)?  Hand on heart, a unanimous NO!  There is nothing to separate them in terms of flying once in the air. The Venturi wins hands down on ease of launch.  Given the Venturi is a couple of inches smaller, it’s more manageable and means I don’t have to take out one of the back seats of my car to get it in!

I would also argue that the EPP employed on the Venturi is going to be more durable than the none EPP material of the ZII, laminating may help out here, but this is not cheap.  The GoPro/FPV camera box supplied as part of the £79.95 Venturi FPV kit is streets ahead of the Ritewing Correx box and the Team Black Sheep offering and can be used with the FPV Manuals layer lens kit which will provide a bit more protection to the GoPro lens. I feel I’m qualified to state this, given I purchased the above two options for my ZII, but in the end went for a homemade alternative!  These two GoPro Box options alone cost me the same as what I could have purchased a new Venturi FPV kit for!

Yes I was supplied with the Venturi FPV kit free of charge (albeit I purchased all electronics and power system), but I have no vested interest in FlyingWings.co.uk.  Prior to the death of my ZII and excluding the fact it was a pain to launch, I loved my Zephyr II. Three flights in however on the Venturi, I feel the guys at FlyingWings have a worthy and dare I say better value for money alternative to the Ritewing Zephyr II. Furthermore, it’s British and will be readily available very soon. Subscribe to my YouTube channel and I will try to keep you updated with future flights of the Venturi.
A big thanks for Steve my FPV flying buddy for his assistance on the build and the guys at FlyingWings (Rob & John) for providing the prototype Venturi FPV which I hope to get many hours of enjoyment flying.  On the first flight, I managed a top speed of 108mph as recorded on my OSD. As you can see from the video link above, I notched up a top speed is 89mph here (I wasn't pushing it either given I was flying at my local club among other RC flyers), so this bird doesn't hang around! Duration wise, I can get 14 minutes flight easily and could maybe extend this if I ease off on the power a bit more and reduce the prop down from the 9*6 APC which I have flown the first few flights on.

If you’re in the market for a Wing or even and FPV wing, you should seriously consider this wing from FlyingWings.co.uk. The Venturi FPV will be listed for sale very soon.

Thanks for reading! Drop me a personal message or reply to this thread if you need further advice on the above.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Scotland RC/FPV Road Trip June 2012 - Part 1

Having Holidayed in the South West of Scotland over the past ten years; in recent years as I’d ventured up there with my wife and two children, I’d often thought to myself what a stunning place it would be to capture some aerial videos. Having got into FPV flying in the past twelve months, it just seemed like something I would have to turn into reality!  

Having been wife endorsed, I suggested a date in June to my RC/FPV buddy Steve and we duly booked another of my friends holiday owned cottage in a place called New Galloway where I have previously stayed many times.  Prior to the trip, I knew of many locations where we could fly from and we set off for a few days armed with various flying contraptions from multi-rotors, flying wings and gliders. 

The result was five days of truly spectacular flying (yes we had crashes), lots of insect bites and some amazing footage which I will share with you as I get through the 68 gigabytes of video footage captured from twelve plus flying locations!  

I hope you enjoy the videos as much as we enjoyed flying, capturing and trying to bring the videos alive.  ;D

Here are the first seven videos and more will follow:  :)

Big Water of Fleet Viaduct – Dumfries & Galloway...

Situated near the small town of Gatehouse of Fleet in Dumfries & Galloway. This 20 arch viaduct (as featured in the 1935 film 39 Steps) provided the awesome engineering backdrop to a first session of flying on our RC/FPV trip.

The video below shows Steve’s cracking little DJI450 Quad using a CopterControl board in action. Although you probably won’t pick it up from the video, it was fairly breezy which didn’t make flying easy.  Especially landing our gliders on the narrow grass verge just past the viaduct. I’m waiting for the “did you fly through the arches questions” . The answer is yes, although only with the multi-rotors as we didn’t want to run the risk of busting the aircraft up on the first day out! From 1861 until 1965, the Portpatrick and Wigtonshire railway - worked its way across south western Scotland, from Dumfries to the ports of Stranraer and Portpatrick. The railway was closed in 1965 as part of the Beeching act. This viaduct which was part of a pair, the other nearby known as the Little Viaduct was blown up by the army in a training exercise. Luckily the Big Viaduct survived this process and I can share the viaduct as it is today with you.

Flying with Red Kites at Woodhall Loch close to Mossdale – Dumfries & Galloway.

The next two videos show us FPVing around the very picturesque Woodhall Loch close to Mossdale. What really made things interesting was when we were joined by the stunning Red Kites.  We felt lucky to see one in the first video and get some good still shots, but on our second visit there we were stunned by the presence of two Red Kites who were very inquisitive as to what had invaded their territory/airspace! We were also treated to some awesome Red Kite formation flying!  Flying FPV with my excellent Graupner Elektro Rookie, I managed to get a few glimpses through the goggles of the birds of prey, but the lowering sun made it difficult to pick out that level of detail, so with that I handed over my radio to Steve who flew line of sight to get a bit closer and tighter to the birds As you’ll see in the 2nd video, there looked to be a close miss. How close it was is hard to tell! It didn't scare the Red Kites off, so it probably looked closer than it actually was from the angle filming from.

Zephyr II Wing FPV Flying around Sandy Hills beach.

For a bit more of an adrenaline ride; I gave my ZII a blast around the horse-shoe shaped beach. Again it was fairly breezy, but the ZII handled it very well. What a blast!

Clatteringshaw Reservoir Dam

Clatteringshaws Loch reservoir was created 1929-1935 over the Black Water of Dee to feed Glenlee Power Station via a 3.5mi/5.63km tunnel, 370ft/113m below. Clatteringshaws Dam is the largest on the Galloway Hydro Electric Scheme, a gravity structure 1562ft/476m long.
For the close up shots which we wanted to get; Steve’s trusty Quad was selected for this Dam Busting video operation! All the video was taken away from the water side of the dam as again we didn’t want to risk losing this versatile little machine.  

 Kippford Port

Here's another two videos, this time around the beautiful Kippford Port on the Coveland Coast of Dumfries & Galloway. I already knew the tune I was going to use for this one, I just needed to turn up, hope for a nice morning and put it all together. Enjoy!

First video was flown with the Graupner Elektro Rookie:

The second video see's Steve's versatile little quadcopter back in action!

Murry's Monument
Finally back in the air with the ZII for a bit more adrenaline pumping action. This time flying around a spectacular amphitheater overlooked by Murry's Monument. Time for some RC hill surfing!

 Back to a bit more video editing now!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Ritewing Zephyr II Build - Part 5 - Nearly there!

Well a combination of crappy weather in the UK over the last couple of weeks coupled with my wife being away on a weekend training course has its advantages when trying to complete a Ritewing Zephyr II build! I'm happy to report that she's about done bar a few final touches.
All the gear has now been installed and the only thing left to complete is a couple of latches need adding to the hinged battery lids and the two centre hatches just need securing with a couple of screws. The only final touch then, is just to add a bit of decoration in the form of some ZII sticker logos. 

 The FPV camera was secured in place in its' enclosure. I drilled a small hole through into the front most bay to route the cable from the camera onto the Hornet OSD unit.
On the GoPro camera, I'm using the layer lens kit from fpvmanuals which protects the whole front of the GoPro camera. You just need to purchase the separate GoPro lens replacement kit with this. These can be purchased from Amazon.
The winglets were secured with some hot glue. Before I glued in place however, I just sunk two bits of 4mm carbon rod of about 15mm in length into the wing which would then help align onto two small holes in the winglet. This took the guesswork out of trying to line the winglet up so that there was equal amounts above and below the wing.
The Hacker motor and speed controller combination are all wired up and I just have to complete a power test now to check I'm not pulling too many amps with the 9*6 APC-e prop I've initially chosen. I may try a folding prop too although I'll need to buy one of these. 

Hmmmmm pretty well ready to maiden then!  Watch this space ;)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Ritewing Zephyr II Build - Part 4 - Nose job and more!

As can be seen from the following pictures, further progress has been made with the camera box now installed, battery bay re-enforced, the installation of some of the equipment and working elevons.

I pondered long and hard whether to go with the Team Black Sheep TBS camera box, but in the end plumbed for a stronger design which my friend Steve came up with and used on his ZII. Essentially it’s been built out of stronger ply and has compartments for both the GoPro and FPV camera. The GoPro is secured by a velcro  strap which comes up through a hole in the floor of the mount. I will however be using the GoPro layer lens from FPVmanuals to protect the GoPro. The FPV camera has a smaller compartment and is protected by a shaped piece of plastic. As shown in a later picture, the camera box has then been covered using the same carbon vinyl.  The two skids either side of the camera box will not be positioned and glued in place.

As can be seen from the following pictures, the equipment has been separated into three bays with the speed controller ESC being left external right at the back. Moving from back to front, the first bay houses the current sensor, BEC and although not shown, the FPV video transmitter.  The centre bay holds the receiver, separate 850 3S battery for the 12v video gear and battery deans connectors. Finally in the front, we have the FY31AP gear (GPS unit, Stabilisation Unit and Hornet OSD).

The Elevons have been sited and are now operational.  I used 3mm carbon rods with some M3 metal clevis. I just need to cover and position the servo covers now.

The GoPro camera sited in the camera box. As can be seen the camera box has been covered in the same carbon vinyl as used on the wings to finish it off nicely. The skids will now be sited either side and glued in place.

Oh and finally, here is a flight video of my friends ZII on it's second outing. His has the FY31AP installed, but it hasn't been setup on the following video.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Ritewing Zephyr II Build - Part 3 - Covering

This must be a record, two posts in as many days! I have the bug now and I'm eager to get this bird in the air. The poor weather in the UK is helping too with most of April and early May proving to be a wash out.

Anyway, as explained yesterday, as opposed to laminating the ZII, I've taken the decision to cover it in a Carbon effect vinyl for the top side and red vinyl for the underside. With the red elevons it really sets it off and gives a striking contrast.

It helps if you have two people to cover (thanks Steve) and the tip is to try and take your time and not rush it. A hot covering iron helps just stick those tricky bits down too.

The underside covered in red. The only slight downside is that you can see my receiver ariel underneath, but this should be obscured slightly when I add a few carbon line strips to help with LOS orientation.

The battery sitting nice and snug in one of the two bays with the cable routed into the main bay.

To finish off and hide these once installed, I've made some ply patches which I will cover in the same carbon vinyl and just hinge down.

Next steps, install the electronic gear and TBS GoPro mount in the nose.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Ritewing Zephyr II Build - Part 2

 A bit more progress has been made on the ZII build. The two 4S battery bays have been cut out using a hot soldering iron shaped to the correct width and depth. Two small channels have been cut out to route the lipo battery wires into the main hatch. These have been strengthened with two small U shape bits of plastic which have been heated to get the correct shape.

As can be seen if you enlarge the pictures, I've also cut out a small recess all the way around the batteries such that I can then cover these in flight with two bits of thin ply wood. These will be hinged with the carbon vinyl covering material to tidy the whole thing up at the end.

You will also notice, I've added a servo cover just to house the servos off. These will be covered too and just finish the thing off.

The following pictures shows the flying wing taking shape now and getting ready to be covered. The speed controller is going to be mounted on a black perspex sheet cut to the correct size directly above the motor mount. I've opted for the Team Black Sheep TBS GoPro mount and will fit this into nose of the wing. See the following link for a video put together by DesireRC of how this goes together. The reason I opted for the TBS mount was to protect my GoPro lens in the event of an accident! The TBS comes with a perspex layered lens which should do the trick!

Here is a picture of the hatch which has been covered in chrome vinyl, I've added a plastic spoon for an air scoop intake and added a bit of gauze to allow the air to get out. I may look to do the same for the front hatch too to help cool the OSD and other electrical equipment.

Finally, this is the covering below which I've opted for. It's a carbon effect vinyl covering and can be obtained from http://justcarbon.co.uk/. The top side of the wing is going to be covered in this material with a red vinyl underside. The ailerons will also be covered in red too which should give a very striking contrast coupled with the chrome effect hatch doors. I've opted not to use the Lamination film.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Ritewing Zephyr II Build - Part 1

Having ordered the Ritewing Zephyr II from Desire RC who are now stocking these in the UK, I've started my build which can be seen from the pictures below.

The build will be based around the Hacker A30 10XL motor on a 4S configuration.

The two wing halves were joined together using 3M 90 and as opposed to using Gorilla glue for fixing the main carbon wing spars, I opted for using 25 minute epoxy which was a lot easier to manage. A bit of light weight filler was then applied and this has been sanded down to leave a nice smooth finish ready for covering. I've just run some clear tape over the spars and along the leading and trailing edges prior to covering.

The motor mount has been sited and again glued in place using 25 minute epoxy.

I've gone with the recommended Hitec 65MG servos and again these have been centered and fixed in place. I'm going to finish these off with some plastic servo covers which can be easily obtained.

The two 4S 3300 batteries will be cut into both sides of the wings leaving the centre bays free for the electronics.

The colour scheme I'm going for is a carbon vinyl finish on the top side of the wing, red underneath with a silver chrome finish for the hatch bays.  The GoPro box will be cut into the nose shortly.

So far so good, look out for more progress very soon. :)