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Zoompod

Steve 'Zoomas' Zoumas' HD cam pod for Mixuko.

This baby was a Saturday night request from Steve 'Zoomas' Zoumas. More and more races are mandating HD cams, so while Orca, Mako, and the pod frames are nice and aero, it all gets thrown out the window when you strap a GoPro or Session on top. So why not abandon the pod and just fix the components in space as tightly and minimally as possible. Steve requested 50-70 degrees of FPV cam tilt (!) and 50 degrees of HD cam tilt. Steve had been asking for something similar for quite a while, but for some reason once he specified the specific angles a design finally materialized in my mind – a down and dirty setup with easy access to components, perfect for the stress of raceday repairs.

I wanted to get everything down as low as possible, so the FPV cam drops down and a little forward of the FC, into the gap between the front props. The HD cam lines up just above and behind the FPV cam, so they're out of each other's field of view. The assembly would slide down over standoffs, which means you can adjust your stack height by simply using different length standoffs. This turned out to be a surprisingly difficult model to draw up even though it lacked the organic lofting of the pods, but I was able to get this after another late night.

The part is meant to be printed upside down, which is why it has that weird chopped-off look on top. The FPV cam lens holder would have to be printed on supports, which isn't ideal but there really isn't any other way to do it. The other tricky part was figuring out how to snake a strap for the GoPro around the FPV cam and the VTX in back. I printed it up and delivered it to Steve the next day at the FPV Addiction club field.

I usually build the first prototype of my designs, but we left on vacation the next day so I had to watch from afar while Steve built up the first, flew it, and set it on fire. Despite the fire (not my fault!) he declared it a success.

In my haste I forgot about the VTX antennas. Steve also had a couple of requests: he wanted the FPV cam mount stiffened up, and less angle at the lower end so he could do some flying in tight spaces. I tried to enjoy myself in Iceland but I was mentally modeling the whole time. Here we are getting some of those famous Icelandic hot dogs.

I'm a pretty pretty Icelandic girl. Did you think I was a dude this whole time?

I'm a pretty pretty Icelandic girl. Did you think I was a dude this whole time?

When I got home I made the changes. I thickened the parts to the FPV cam mount, changed the FPV angles to 40-55-70, the HD angle to 45, slid the VTX mount back a bit to buy more vertical clearance, and added VTX antenna tubes. For you 3d modelers, the VTX tubes were particularly challenging as the circles for its extrusion lay on a plane that is set at 45 degrees to a plane which is set at 45 degrees to the top plane. Solving little puzzles like that makes modeling fun.

The boys then asked for more GoPro protection, so I added this.

I like this idea 'cause it's an optional add-on. You can practice with more protection and run light for races.

Naturally the boys then asked for a Session version (they are demanding!). This was tricky since the Session is slightly wider than the standoffs. Not only that, you can't strap a Session across its front, so I had to figure out a way to keep it fixed in a 45 degree cradle. After much screen staring I got to this point.

I'm running a strap through the base and two slots in the top in the hope that it'll keep the Session from ejecting forward. I'm sure it'll still come out in a hard enough crash, but for the most part it should do fine. 

The standoffs will have to stop just below the Session. The channels extend all the way to the top so you can drop a screw in.

No I can't be bothered to put on fresh props for photos.

No I can't be bothered to put on fresh props for photos.

One of your nuts don't match, man.

One of your nuts don't match, man.

Oh hey my antenna's busted.

Oh hey my antenna's busted.

I originally thought I'd need 35 or 40mm standoffs, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that I could make it work with 30's. The FPV cam won't pivot to 40 degrees here, but even a slowpoke like me rarely flies at 40 anyway. CG ended up slightly below the prop line with a 1300MaH battery, so in terms of balance the stack was a little too low, but you do get reduced rotational inertia. This would be cool with a DTFC.

The Corgi was an experiment in weight distribution and balance, where the weight was as tight as possible and CG was perfectly positioned on all three axes. It did fly better as a result, and ever since I've been trying to replicate that feel in a lighter, stronger, simpler package. Turns out the Zoompod, with an HD cam centered and opposite the underslung battery, comes pretty close (CG is just below the prop line), and the boys love how it flies. 

Little tweaks were added as the boys flew and bashed them, the most notable change being a ziptie slot in back to keep vtx's in lace.

3D Printing

Chris Griffin of Phoenix 3D Solutions has been my primary 3d printing vendor for a while now, and he's a real magician with TPU. I don't think I would've ever been able to print even one successful part in TPU without his help. I sent him this file and his prints are so much better than mine that I'm just going to hand this product over to him to fulfill. That way I won't have to pre order a bunch and try to guess what colors will be more popular – you can just buy direct from Chris, choose your color, and he'll print it to order. We're starting with the Session pod first while we work out some final kinks on the Hero pod with Steve.

That's Chris' print on the left, mine on the right. I have no idea how he does it.

That's Chris' print on the left, mine on the right. I have no idea how he does it.