There isn’t many things you can enjoy from a Power Wheelchair, but this is both possible & fun!

You may want to save your money up, and just get one of these! Unlike model helicopters or planes, these things are practically crash proof. No skill required!
They are controlled via some clever electronics on board that do all the technical stuff.

You simply tell it “where” to go.

If you do not, it will just hover on the spot. Controlled automatically via its GPS, a inbuilt Pressure Sensor, Magnetic Compass, Accelerometers, Gyros, (and some damned clever software).

As such a child can fly it. Seriously. So can someone with NO experience at all. Even my Ex GF can fly it.

It will even return to the point it took off from, if the radio control signal is lost or you switch off the transmitter…

 

There’s two less obvious things.

a) You can fly a long way away. You see what IT sees, via some fancy video goggles or visor. Just as the pilot in a real aircraft sees what’s ahead. This is the same. Makes you look like a retard but who cares!

b) The GoPro Hero 3 camera that it carries on board, can make super high quality HD video, or still photos, as you fly to watch later on! Better than Broadcast quality. With high frame rate. Film crews use these now as an alternative to full sized helicopters for action scenes and ariel shots..

So its much more fun than you initially realise. Although to me its a tool. However there’s still a lot to know if you are building one of these or similar automated multi rotor aircraft. Remember that its not really a toy but a tool. I use mine for help when building this site for e.g. I use it to video wheelchair or mobility shows from the air so I can see what is the best use of my time and where everything is. And to add video to this site.

I used it on my DIY “how to” SOLAR PANELS page here for example.

Or a very large high quality 1080P HD of my street here

And a related page: My RC transmitter. Is 2.4ghz BOOSTED and has 20x the power & 4x the range Here!!!

 

This tool is an equaliser. Requires skill to setup and understand, but very little “pilot skills” and is easily doable from a wheelchair. This makes it an ideal hobby or tool for the technically capable wheelchair user.

DETAILS
Now, I fly model aircraft, Helicopters etc so this stuff is all obvious to me, but it may not be to you. So I will break down what you need, what I used and why, as we go through these photos. This may also help new FPV or Quad copter users that are NOT disabled…

You don’t need to spend this much. This is a bit fancy! Because I use this thing to drive powerchairs about, as well as helicopters, camera platforms such as the one here, and so on. So its worth spending the extra in my case. This is a modern 2.4ghz and US spec with 200ma radio output. The UK spec legal 2.4ghz ones, used to be 10ma, and were later increased to 100ma. The thing about FPV (First Person View) flying, is that you can fly a LONG way away! So maximum range really matters here. 200mw US spec transmitters are not actually “legal” in the UK which makes do (now) with 100mw. This used to be just 10mw. This may be just a 3db difference, but every bit helps! Don’t let this small difference worry you too much though. Any 6 channel radio control transmitter is fine.

And also I have the TBS Discovery “frame”. (Chassis – From Team Black Sheep) There are many quad (and hex or octo) copters available but this one is great for the Go Pro cameras. Its design keeps the propellers out of the picture. As if you are sat on the nose of a plane. So its worth the extra cost over some cheaper X designs and these are available in most countries from various vendors or direct from Black Sheep in the USA.

The UNDERCARRIAGE is not normally fitted. It is from a LOGO 600 model helicopter. It is attached only by double sided tape, and very solid. Most people don’t have this. But I cannot reach it on the ground unless it has this! I am a wheelchair user. Its not heavy. So has marginal affect on the 10 to 12 minute flight times. It also allows the Antenna for the video goggle to be sited on the bottom (that umbrella thingy!) giving better performance.

The CONTROLLER is a Naza M unit. Also available from countless places. This is an autopilot, GPS module (the white thing on the mast on top at the rear) connected. It effectively flies the aircraft and makes it super stable, fixes it in space, and flies it home if there’s any need to the point it took off from.

Technology has got out of control! It can also do 30 or 40 MPH and hover for about 18 minutes per battery, max, if you run it until there’s nothing left.

 

COMPONENTS

I use the following…

TBS chassis (for the reasons given already)

TBS 900kV Motors. Because the slower motors have no power to spare even on 4 cell battery, with the 9 inch props required. And because while double the price they are super smooth and factory balanced.

9 x 5 GRAUPNER or 9X5 RC TIMER Carbon fibre props. Because 10 inch props are VISIBLE in the images, and also cause resonance issues and give the so called “jello” effect to the Go Pro cameras movies. So 8 or 9 inch props only. 8 inch sounds like a swarm of wasps! And hasn’t got any reserve power. So 9 x 5 works best.

LOGO 600 Undercarriage so I can reach it from a powerchair, and importantly so that the 5.8ghz transmitter antenna can hang DOWN below the chassis. This works hugely better than having it on top! Especially when its above you. Leaves can block this 5.8ghz signal, so the chassis does a great job if its in the signal path!

4x 30 Amp DJI speed controllers. If I bought these again I might use the TBS ones, but these work great.

NAZA M with NAZA GPS module. Just do it. Not cheap but it just works! Mount the white GPS module as far from the Go Pro camera as possible. It interferes with satellite acquisition.

SPEKTRUM 9010 receiver. This has TWO receivers built in. And 2 more external satellite receivers. Not cheap, but this thing needs as much range, and signal path diversity as possible. And a true settable fail safe. There are cheaper receivers but this is FOUR receivers in one…

Go Pro HERO 3 Black Vid Camera. I had a Hero2. It was OK at 60 frames per second on “low res” 720HD. But if you want HI RES 1080 video, then you will NEED 60 frames per second. Or the picture looks jerky as the aircraft moves about. Only the HERO 3 Black can do this. I sold my Hero2 because of this. BIG difference here.

SONY video FPV Miniature Cam FPV-25CE 1/3 Inch Exview HAD II CCD Camera 650 Line Sony Effio-E. This was not cheap. Its worth spending here. Or you get a crappy picture in your video goggles. Not just “lines” but there’s a lot of processing going on. This feeds the transmitter below, and is powered by it:

ImmersionRC 5.8GHz Long Range 600mW Transmitter. When I bought the headset, it came with a free 250mw transmitter. Throw it away. This takes less power, (measures) gets less hot, gives massively better range, and will work straight from the 4 cell flight pack. (the free Fat Shark one does not, it needs a regulator etc)

ImmersionRC 5.8GHz Antenna Set (2 antennas) SpiroNET. Essential. The “stick” antennas that come free work only on very close in flights! The SpiroNET ones are an absolutely HUGE improvement. They are circular polarised. Yes, not cheap, but these, with the above transmitter, mean you can fly over a mile away and see what’s going on!

4 Ah (4000mAh) 4 cell battery. I have tested LOTS of batteries over the years. Trust me, buy a Turnigy Nanotech 4000mAh 4 cell and it will be rock solid! http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/store/__17242__Turnigy_nano_tech_4000mah_4S_35_70C_Lipo_Pack.html

Fat Shark Attitude Goggles, any 800 to 1000mAh 2 cell LiPo battery