My Review of Andy Johnson-Laird's "A Rather Good Guide to the Cinestar 8"

Discussion in 'CineStar FAQ - Tips and Tricks' started by Morgan Friedland, Sep 6, 2012.

  1. Morgan Friedland

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    About a week into my first Cinestar 8 build, I was extremely fortunate to receive an early release of Andy Johnson-Laird's two-DVD set, "A Rather Goode Guide to Building the Cinestar 6 or 8." I say I was fortunate not because I received the DVDs at all (I was) but because it came after a week of trying to struggle my way of building my first MikroKopter-based drone. Starting the build with the DVD would have left me with no appreciation of how excellent this guide truly is.

    For a week I struggled reading Google translated German Wiki's and fragments from internet forums that slowed my progress and left me demoralized. I wondered whether I would ever finish the build let alone actually see it fly. When the DVDs arrived via FedEx I felt like Charlie Bucket finding the Golden Ticket in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Hope.

    The first Chapter sets the tone as Andy explains how he struggled to build his first Cinestar and lays out the reasoning for making the DVD. The sound and lighting are superb and you can immediately tell that this isn't another low budget (although, believe me, still very helpful) youtube or Vimeo contribution. Behind Andy on a brightly lit work bench sits a quiver of devices and technical tools that leave you reassured you are watching a professional. His British accent and dry demeanor make him the new David Attenborough of the technical DIY landscape. Everything is explained with exacting prose and concise details. Not once did I hear any stutter or mumbling; every word carefully chosen to provide the most information. There are many parts of the Video that contained so much information and close ups that I would have to play them over and over. Often times I would work on a particular laborious task while the DVD played on in the background and I could listen while I worked. At one point my 9 year old daughter came in and after watching for about 10 minutes explained that the movie made this "a pretty easy project," and she felt like she could do it! She particularly enjoyed the part with Mr. Johnson-Laird suggests that you purchase your own Nail Polish to mark up Pin1 on various locations instead of raiding one's significant other's supply. Such is the kind of detail you can expect when watching this guide.

    Disc 1 covered building the drone and once it is built, you will probably never watch it again. Disc 2 covers a lot of the electronics, setup and operations and full of great material. Still, due to the nature of electronics (firmware versions, radio models, etc) I can see how Disc 2 will eventually become out of date and may need Andy to update the content or provide some sort of addendum. Don't get me wrong, it still is packed with lots of nuggets such as Lipo care and charging, calibration, safety, basic flight handling, testing, etc.

    All-in-all this guide is an absolute must purchase and could just as well be called "The Missing Manual." It would be very foolish for any first time builder who spends thousands of dollars on a kit and does not buy this Rather Good Guide. It will save you countless hours of frustration and mistakes.
     
  2. Andy Johnson-Laird

    Andy Johnson-Laird Administrator
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    Thanks for the kind words, Morgan.
    You raise a couple of valid criticisms:

    The MK USB board that I got originally required surface mounted components to be soldered on, so I requested one from QC that, as described on their web page, only "through hole components must be soldered." And that's what I used for the DVD thinking this was the normal situation. I had presumed that it was just me that had erroneously received a kit that required all the surface mount components to be soldered.

    Also, there is a DVD describing the entire setup of the gimbals, the stabilization, and fine ground and flight tuning in the planning stages -- so you correctly inferred that the topic demands a separate guide.

    I'm glad you found the DVD set helpful.
    Andy
     
  3. Dwayne Griffiths

    Dwayne Griffiths New Member

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    i have to 2nd this, I just completed my Cinestar 8 yesterday. Thanks to the dvd set it was a painless ordeal. Many, many great tips in the dvd's related to the cinestar's and also model building in general.
     
  4. Bob Wojda

    Bob Wojda Member

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    Andy,

    We just began our build and already the video is a huge help! One thing that would help a lot though is a list of tools and extra stuff that we need to buy to get this build going. Do you have a list like that already that you could share? Items like reflective tape or Locktite really take some searching and time to find. Right now I'm watching your whole DVD to get familiar and taking notes on the items we need but it would be nice if we had a checklist to speed this up a bit. Really awesome job though on the video.

    Bob Wojda
     
  5. Andy Johnson-Laird

    Andy Johnson-Laird Administrator
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    That's a very good idea Bob.
    Just going through my Amazon account (did I really buy all that stuff?) ;) :

    1. Loctite 38653 222 Purple Low Strength Thread Locker Tube - 6 ml http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0002KKTT0/ref=oh_details_o06_s00_i00
    2. Torque Seal from Aircraft Spruce http://www.aircraftspruce.com/catalog/cspages/f900.php
    3. Donegan DA-3 OptiVisor Headband Magnifier, 1.75x Magnification, 14" Focal Length http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0015IS6IY/ref=oh_details_o00_s00_i01
    4. Quasar LED Lighting system for Optivisor http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0058ECQ46/ref=oh_details_o02_s00_i00
    5. Velcro Cable Tie Roll (hooks one side, loops on the other), 3/4" x 25 yards http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0069FJR2M/ref=oh_details_o03_s00_i00
    5. Velcro Brand Industrial Strength Tape Self-adhesive http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00006RSP1/ref=oh_details_o01_s00_i00
    6. Hyperion EOS Sentry Battery Checker http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003YI94KM/ref=oh_details_o02_s00_i00
    7. Bluecell Silver Medium Size Lipo Battery Guard Sleeve/Bag for Charge & Storage + Bluecell Cable Tie http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B006MNBAQC/ref=oh_details_o03_s01_i00
    8. Bondhus 11099 Set of 9 Balldriver Insert Bits, sizes 2-12mm (specifically for 2mm and 2.5mm -- the balldriver means you can undo things at an angle) http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000E7XGUU/ref=oh_details_o04_s00_i00
    9. Wiha 79495 31-Piece XLSelector Bit Set with Slotted Phillips TORX Hex Bits http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002S0O7W2/ref=oh_details_o04_s00_i01
    10. Sunex 810mdmg 1/4-Inch Drive 10-Mm Deep Magnetic Impact Socket (for propeller nuts) http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0076HKPQO/ref=oh_details_o05_s00_i00
    11. Hitachi DB3DL2 3.6-Volt 1/4-Inch Hex Drive Screwdriver (means you can remove a prop in about five seconds,m use torque setting 13 for tightening them) http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004Y74AU6/ref=oh_details_o06_s01_i00
    12. 3M Scotch Heavy Duty Mounting Tape, 1-Inch by 50-Inch (114/DC) (In hindsight I'd like to use the mounting tape that Tabb ships with the Radian sensors, but I don't know what it is). http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00004Z4A8/ref=oh_details_o02_s01_i01
    13. Cheap bright red nail polish -- from local supermarkets. Resist the temptation to explain what it's for. ;)
    14. JVCC REF-7 Engineering Grade Reflective Tape: 1 in. x 30 ft. (Blue and Red): http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000TRBRRY/ref=oh_details_o06_s00_i00

    [Edit 2012-11-05: I'm not recommending the above -- it works as reflective tape -- but that's really more intended for bouncing back light straight at the source, e.g. car headlights.
    Better to use Monokote neon red and neon blue: http://www.monokote.com/trim.html ]


    In hindsight, for the red I might use Polyken 510-Neon Premium Fluorescent Gaffers Tape: 2 in. x 75 ft. (Fluorescent Orange) http://www.amazon.com/Polyken-510-Neon-Premium-Fluorescent-Gaffers/dp/B000QE9OW0
    15. Top Flite Power Point (Magnetic) Prop Balancer (note this doesn't allow a 14" prop to spin a full 360 degrees) http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0015H1FAG/ref=oh_details_o02_s00_i00

    Hope that helps. I've omitted the camera gear (Sony HDR CX760, Canon 5D Mk III with 24mm prime[ Edit: Get the 24mm f2.8 non-L series with image stabilization!]), and the IR controllers: Strato Snapper and MK IR Trigger. Mrs. Google knows where to get those! :)

    [Second Edit, 2012-11-05: Recommended by Colin Snow:​
    This mini ratchet works well for those hard-to-reach bolts in tight places - like gimbals:​

    It doesn't come with H2.0 or H2.5 so I got this set:​



    If you think I'm an Amazon junky, wait until you see www.amazonsupply.com !

    Regards
    Andy
     
  6. Andy Johnson-Laird

    Andy Johnson-Laird Administrator
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    Oh, and Bob (or anyone who watches the DVD), please let me know if there's stuff that I've omitted and I'll update the list.

    I also ended up buying Bluebeam antennae (for both 1.2Ghz and 5.8 Ghz from www.dpcav.com, as well as a 3S Lipo Battery alarm (so I could avoid over-discharging the gimbal QC1200 LiPo.

    I also ended up buying a 5V/5A BEC and Recom/Arch 5v/1A from www.dpcav.com. Needed the BEC for the gimbal two Recoms, one for the gimbal to give clean +5v for the camera trigger isolated from the electrical noise coming from the servos, and one for the Cinestar frameset for the 12v for the FPV camera. {edited: just to clarify, that was two Recoms, one 5v/1A for the camera trigger on the gimbal and one 12v for the frameset to provide 12v for the FPV camera and Tx).

    I presume you're all set up for soldering irons, heat shrink (assorted sizes and colors) and a "third hand" http://www.amazon.com/SE-MZ101B-Helping-Hands-Magnifying/dp/B000RB38X8/ref=pd_cp_e_2

    I'm sure there's more stuff too - if I think of it I'll post again.

    Andy.
     
  7. Bob Wojda

    Bob Wojda Member

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    Andy,

    Thanks for the list above it's really helpful. One tool that is not common that should be highlighted is the JST crimping tool. I tried to use a regular crimper and had some bad results. I ordered the one from Quadrocopter this morning and I think I can hold off those connections while I work on other stuff. If it's ok I'll update this board periodically as I find these sorts of things. I want to say again how helpful this video is. Really excellent stuff; even when you know where you think you are going it's nice to see it in front of you like this. Thanks again.

    Bob
     
  8. Andy Johnson-Laird

    Andy Johnson-Laird Administrator
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    Bob:
    You're right -- I made the mistake of just listing the stuff I got from Amazon and dpcav.com -- I should have reviewed the actual QC orders. As you say, that crimping tool at http://www.quadrocopter.com/Crimping-Tool-01-10-mm178-Capacity-16-28-AWG_p_584.html is a must.

    I find now that the crimping tool works best if I first offer up the wire into the rear of the male/female pin/socket before I put the pin/socket into the crimping tool, and use a pair of needle nose pliers to just get the larger set of tabs closest to the length of wire (and furthest from the tip of the pin/socket) to grip onto the wire itself. That makes it easier to position the wire so that the the insulation just peeks through the first set of larger tabs. Then I can offer up the wire and pin to the crimping tool, position it carefully, making sure that enough of the pin sticks out of the right-hand side of the crimping tool so I don't inadvertently crimp down on any retaining barb/spring tab when I gently, but firmly, squeeze the crimping tool closed. I didn't show the step of using the needle nose pliers on the DVD because I hadn't figured it out!

    Please do update this thread with anything and everything that you feel folks will need to purchase ahead of time before starting the build (and then finding out on Saturday night at 9:00pm they need it!)

    Regards
    Andy.
     
  9. Bob Wojda

    Bob Wojda Member

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    Andy,

    The small printed circuit board that the buzzer mounts to doesn't seem to be in my kit. Is that something you added or am I missing it somewhere?

    Thanks,
    Bob
     
  10. Andy Johnson-Laird

    Andy Johnson-Laird Administrator
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    Bob:
    It was originally missing from my kit too, but QC were kind enough to supply one. http://www.quadrocopter.com/Buzzer-Adapter-PCB_p_468.html

    On the RTF C8 I have (in addition to the kit I built), QC had mounted the buzzer without the need for the buzzer mounting board and I think what they did is more or less functionally equivalent. If you look at the uploaded image you can see there's some double-sided tape (it's a bit hard to see, I must admit) under the buzzer, and a cable tie around the buzzer and a support beam of the upper hub plate. What I did was to add a JR connector for the buzzer, but I often work with the C8 on my bench without the Graupner MX-20 on and I can only take about 15 seconds of the morse code for the letter J being beeped at me. :) (Oh...disclaimer, QC using *black* cable ties. I use white...so you can see that I redid the cable tie during the addition of the JST connector.

    Obviously, having the buzzer mounting board means you can mounter the buzzer's emitter facing the sky or facing the ground more easily but I have found that the buzzer is primarily useful for things like compass calibration, gyro recalibration, GPS lock etc. -- all of which are "on the ground" activities, so having the buzzer emitter facing sideways doesn't make too much difference in terms of its audibility.

    Hope this helps.
    Andy
     

    Attached Files:

  11. Bob Wojda

    Bob Wojda Member

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    Andy,

    Thanks, that's what I thought. I'll just fabricate something there, no big deal. Just couldn't find the part after searching through everything. To that point I really haven't come across a complete pack list that I could double check what was shipped. Too late now anyway but that may be some good input for quadrocopter. I usually like to start a build like this by checking through the list to make sure absolutly everything was shipped, like numbers of screws etc..

    Thanks again, the build is going well; booms are together and hub is mostly there already.

    Bob
     
  12. Andy Johnson-Laird

    Andy Johnson-Laird Administrator
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    Bob:
    I agree with you -- a "kit contents list" would be a nice touch so you know that everything you should have received, you actually did receive. QC regularly monitors this forum and, in my experience, has always been very appreciative of constructive criticism.

    Glad to hear your build is going well. Don't forget to check the "resistance" at the main LiPo Deans connector before you put real power to it! (The correct response to this comment may well be, "Yes, dear...." ;) )

    Andy.
     
  13. Bob Wojda

    Bob Wojda Member

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    Andy,

    Couple of more things I've run across. It looks like the PCB extension is not with the kit and is a something else that needs to be ordered through quadro copter. (already placed an order). Also, when I am looking at wiring that up I'm not sure where those wires come from. You mention a servo extension but the only ones I see are in the radian kit and I don't think that is right. The other cable sets may be from the pack of three sealed cables that have black connectors and tan, red and black cables on them. Can you help me clarify this step?

    Thanks again,
    Bob
     
  14. Andy Johnson-Laird

    Andy Johnson-Laird Administrator
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    Hmm. I thought I received the Extension PCB as part of the kit, Bob.
    The wiring for the Extension PCB is shown in the uploaded file -- this is part of a draft diagram I worked out to figure out how all the boards connected together -- I needed an overview!

    Warning: I show the underside of the FC board facing up in this diagram only so I could see the connections. Normally the side with the connections will face downwards (so the reference to "Lower pins" will become "Upper pins."

    Going from memory (which is now fading a bit), I thought the wiring for the Extension PCB came with it -- at least the servo cable that connects to the FC board and some red/black silicon coated wire for the LEDs etc.

    Sorry my memory is not recalling more....

    Andy Connections to Extension PCB.png
     
  15. Bob Wojda

    Bob Wojda Member

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    Thanks

    I'll get to that when the new parts get in. Another question. You inserted a micro sd card into the nav board under the gps. I don't see one of these in the kit either. Is this a blank card or does it have code on it? If it's blank I'll pick one up; how big should it be? Seems like it should be small unless we want to watch in flight movies.

    Thanks,
    Bob
     
  16. Andy Johnson-Laird

    Andy Johnson-Laird Administrator
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    The SD card was not part of the kit. I just bought a 2GB one which is likely to hold several hundreds of flights it seems -- so much so that the real temptation is not to copy flight data off -- I think it might be worth resisting that temptation (it's like leaving on your images on your digital camera and either (a) something bad happens and trashes the SD/CF card or (b) you lose the camera).

    As you can infer, it's blank -- the NC board writes flight log files to it and you can use a program called MK_GPX to analyze the flight data. You can see an on-line document that describes the software at http://www.mkmanual.com/training/gpx-viewer . The current version of the MK_GPX is at http://www.mikrokopter.de/ucwiki/wemau#MK_GPX_Download

    MK_GPX is a little quirky -- don't try and change names of log files for example as it seems to upset MK_GPX and it refuses to find them for opening. In software terms the file names are pathologically coupled to the software.

    For me, the main strength of the flight data logs are when things go wrong, very wrong, or you've-got-to-be-joking wrong, and you want to understand why the Giant Hand pushed your Cinestar into the wrong place, like, oh, a tree. ;)

    The log files do represent a good history of the aircraft -- e.g. the motor speed control temperatures, so it's certainly worth preserving them so, if you do have a specific problem you can look back and double check. As a side note, it will be interesting to see whether the FAA/CAA will insist that copters must be flown with SD cards and the data systematically preserved in case of accidents or complaints. "I was only at 400 feet -- honest!" "I never flew over that sunbather's back yard." ;)

    I'd also recommend using either hot glue or plastic insulation tape (known to sailplane pilots as bodge tape) around the protruding edge of the SD card to ensure it stays put. I've heard tell of people going to remove the SD card after a day's flying only to discover that the Universe already removed it.

    Andy.
     
  17. Bob Wojda

    Bob Wojda Member

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    Andy,

    Andy,

    I know that the Gimbal is outside the scope of the DVD but maybe you can answer this one. I am setting up the Radian system and need to start assigning channels with the software but when I download the Radian software I only get a zip file with just one .fw file in it. I am guessing that's a firmware update. Where is the software for the GUI? I must be missing something.

    Thanks again,

    Bob
     
  18. Bob Wojda

    Bob Wojda Member

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    Nevermind on the software, turns out the page wasn't up at the time. All is good. Bob
     
  19. Andy Johnson-Laird

    Andy Johnson-Laird Administrator
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    Hi Bob:
    Sorry for the delay in responding, but it looks like you got everything sorted out.

    Andy.
     
  20. Bob Wojda

    Bob Wojda Member

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    Andy,

    I'm struggling with something that shouldn't be too hard. I have the Radian system installed and the Specktrum DX8 talking to it trough the Radian software on my PC. The Radian looks like it is stabilizing the way I would expect it to (very cool by the way) but I can't move any of the servos on the gimbal with my transmitter. The Slew indicator on the software is Red and it show 0% slew on the configuration menu. I can see the input channels on the menu and they respond when I move the sticks or buttons. It looks to me like the system is purposely not allowing mechanical input, which makes sense and useful, but how do I turn it on so that the gimbal actually moves for the camera? I'm sure this is a simple to turn it on and must be some button somewhere that I just can't find. Can you help?

    Thanks again!
    Bob
     

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