Lighter Aircraft, Longer Flight Time? Telemetry Helps Find Out

Thomas LauzonCraft and Theory, LLC | Engineering consulting1 Comment

We reached out to John R. from Duluth, GA who has uploaded a video on YouTube featuring our FrSky telemetry cable and user interface. His video shows an experiment in which he tries to improve the flight time of his aircraft. John R. was kind to respond to our questions.

John told us he has been flying drones for 7 months as a hobbyist. He uses his copter for hobby video and as a project craft, always tweaking and removing adding/components depending on what he wants to test and learn. In the case of his YouTube video, he was struggling with getting a flight time he was happy with.

In the video we see him using the telemetry data to measure the impact of weight reduction on power consumption. He reduced the weight of his copter by shortening the length of his ESC’s power wires and removing the bullet connectors. This modification made his aircraft go from an all up weight of 2188g to 2105g, thus achieving a weight savings of 83g, which is a fairly nice amount. With the telemetry link he was able to measure the current consumption in flight.
Watch his video to see the result…

Thoughts about the FrSky telemetry cable and user interface

“I was expecting easy plug-and-play integration, and by-and large that’s exactly what was delivered.”John R.
John told us that although he had to update one parameter in Mission Planner and apply the scripts on the Taranis, the instructions were clearly documented in the included PDF as well as the Craft and Theory YouTube Videos.

Before using the FrSky telemetry cable and user interface, he needed to have an Android phone mount attached to his transmitter in order to get the relevant flight data. “Now it’s all integrated into the transmitter which keeps the transmitter free of clutter, less weight, and limits the number of items I need to bring to the field.”

Other than that, John says he has been using the FrSky telemetry cable and user interface to obtain overall flight data and status updates. “It’s vital to get confirmation of any flight mode changes that are sent to the FC, and that the telemetry provides this beautifully.” The power meter and audio flight mode and battery failsafe messages are the most useful features, according to him.

John told us his build was done on the cheap with no clear rhyme or reason. He really just wanted a hexacopter and wanted to build it himself. Frame/ESC/motor combination were from Ebay, as well as the Chinese Pixhawk clone. Gimbal is a $75 GoodLuckBuy gimbal.
He says he probably has about $400-$450 of total parts on the copter when it takes off (excluding camera). However he has spent a total of about $700 as he tried to figure out exactly what worked and what doesn’t. If he had a better plan or a true goal at the onset, he says he could have saved some money, but tweaking and tinkering is part of the fun!

Weight reduction results

With the weight reduction, John was hoping to achieve an extra 1-2 minutes of flight time. Also, he has had vibration issues on the FC and in video due to several factors, and he was hoping to help that by reducing the RPM of the motors required to hover. Reducing 100g did make a noticeable difference, but also getting the right, high quality props has made the most difference in the performance. He doesn’t think his modification actually achieved 2 minutes of additional flight time, but the stability and vibration has been greatly reduced.

John’s tips and recommendations to reduce weight and increase flight time:

Along with the reducing weight, the right props make all the difference. Switching from cheap ($3/pair) 1045 props to Graupner E-props made a HUGE difference. I was having the issues even with props and motors fully balanced, but the higher quality material and stiffness of the Graupner props resulted in amazingly stable performance.

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