MJX Bugs 3 – Part 2

One of the things I found with learning to fly the MJX, following on fromĀ  Part 1, is that I mastered the basics fairly rapidly and was able to control the drone far quicker than I had anticipated. Muscle memory started to take over the management of the controls joysticks and I was more gentle with the movements and so could control the MJX far more precisely. However, that didn’t help when something went a bit awry, such as the MJX heading towards a tree, where I would then do something silly rather than measured. That’s what happened around the end of my first week when I was about to land the MJX. I was at Mossvale Park and one of our hounds made a bee line for the MJX as it was descending, causing me to take it up far too fast, which took it towards a large gum tree across a nearby river.

Mossvale Park - Drone Capturing River Gum

Mossvale Park – Drone Capturing River Gum

Instead of just pushing the throttle and getting the MJX to rise above the treeline, I tried to manoeuvre it away. Wrong move. The MJX had turned around and I couldn’t see that it had, so the controls responded in reverse and I just ploughed the MJX into the tree. It was a longish walk to get to the tree on the other side of the river and when I got there, the MJX was no where to be seen. The bushes and trees weren’t overly dense, but they were fairly tall and there was a decent canopy of smaller trees next to the gum. I couldn’t see the MJX anywhere and inspecting the river (which wasn’t deep or flowing at this time of year), I couldn’t see it there either. In the end, all I could think was that the MJX had fallen in a crook of the large gum tree where a big pile of bark and branches had accumulated. It was in a spot that was completely out of reach. That’s one lost drone I surmised.

Mossvale Park - Drone Capturing River Gum

Mossvale Park – Drone Capturing River Gum

Mossvale Park - Drone Capturing River Gum

Mossvale Park – Drone Capturing River Gum

The next day I returned and decided to have a look from the opposite bank of the river and, to my surprise, there lay the MJX just to the left of the base of the big gum tree. I don’t know what had happened, maybe a possum had played with the MJX and then dropped it (my two hounds certainly found it sniff worthy – it was fully Lab tested), or it had been in the higher canopy and I simply couldn’t see it the day before (black can be really difficult to see) and the wind or whatever had untangled it and allowed it to fall. I was absolutely gobsmacked, not expecting to see the MJX again. Mind you, the camera was no where to be seen. The MJX was completely inert and when I removed the battery cable and re-inserted it, there was no reaction. I wasn’t expecting any and it was quite likely that the battery had fallen below it’s working limit with still spinning rotors. So I brought the MJX home, removed the battery and, after a brief inspection, decided to see if it would recharge. This was a time that I wished I’d had the SkyRC iMax B6 charger, so that I could analyse the state of the battery.

Mossvale Park - Drone Recovery Spot

Mossvale Park – Drone Recovery Spot

Anyway, I was beginning to get worried as the five hours of charging got closer and the charger was still blinking away, knowing that a full recharge was supposed to take five hours. I let it go another hour and then took it off charge. I did a quick startup test with the MJX and I’ll be stuffed, but once again it started up fine. This is one tough mother of a drone. But just to be safe, I took the battery out and put it outside for the night in case it went nasty. The next morning I took the MJX to the logging area for a test, but it was quite windy and there were motorbikes everywhere, so I packed things up and came home. I put the battery on charge once again, this time using a different charger and did a voltage test as well. the battery wasn’t up to full charge so I left it charging and very shortly the light went solid and a quick test revealed the battery at 8.4V, so things might be OK afterall. Several recharges later, the battery was still charging to 8.4V and holding that charge.

MJX Bugs 3 Drone - battery state after an hour or so after charging

MJX Bugs 3 Drone – battery state after an hour or so after charging

I’ve always been aware that the state of the rotor blades/propellers has an effect on the quality of flight of aircraft; however, I didn’t realise how much of an effect damaged tips would have on a drone. With all the crashes that I’ve had, the rotor blade tips on the MJX were in a pretty poor state to say the least, with bits missing and/or bent out of shape. I’ve been having great difficulty in keeping the MJX stable and under control, and having no joy in maintaining a hover state, the latter which isn’t easy at the best of times with a fully manually controlled drone. So I decided to replace the rotor blades with the spares that came with the kit and then tried it out at Mossvale Park one morning. What a difference! The MJX was now under complete control and hovering was actually doable. It seems what applies in the world of aviation applies in the world of drones as well.

MJX Bugs 3 Drone - Rotor Damage

MJX Bugs 3 Drone – Rotor Damage

My next issue was the camera. Now that I’d lost the action cam and mount, I needed something new. The mount on the MJX is certainly it’s weakest link, being a slide on mount with a small swivel lock on the base of the battery holder to secure the mount in place. This lock broke off on the third day after a minor crash and to fix it required a new battery mount. This is why the mount separated when I crashed into the gum tree, as there wasn’t more than friction holding the camera mount and camera. Anyway, I was fully over action cams and, to that end, I’ve modified the mount using parts from the action cam box and have come up with a much better solution to the camera mount. The MJX housing has a hole just behind the front light, which is the perfect spot to mount a camera holder, which is what I did. I’ll let the photographs speak for themselves.

MJX Bugs 3 Drone - Modified Camera Mount

MJX Bugs 3 Drone – Modified Camera Mount

MJX Bugs 3 Drone - Modified Camera Mount

MJX Bugs 3 Drone – Modified Camera Mount

As I’m fed up with these cheap action cams that produce rubbish video, I’ve decided to use my dash cam instead that records Full HD 1080p, Wide Dynamic Range, video and mount it to the holder. The results that I’ve been getting from my dash cam are significantly better as you can see in an earlier video (taken through a dirty windscreen) at 1080p than I was able to get with a cheap action cam. The dash cam just needed some bush mechanics to get it to attach to the action cam mount and I then had something that made me much happier. The only issue with the dash cam is battery life (or no battery life), which I think I have worked out by using a mini portable power bank attached to the base of the battery holder with some more bush mechanics. The power bank is located to provide some balance to the slightly more forward placement of the camera mount. Again, I’ll let the photographs and video speak for themselves.

MJX Bugs 3 Drone - Removable Camera Battery

MJX Bugs 3 Drone – Removable Camera Battery

MJX Bugs 3 Drone - Removable Camera Battery

MJX Bugs 3 Drone – Removable Camera Battery

MJX Bugs 3 Drone - Dash Cam

MJX Bugs 3 Drone – Dash Cam

So after probably no more than a total of 30 mins flying, certainly well under an hour, I’m beginning to get the hang of the MJX and I can now only wait to see how things go our forthcoming trip, where I hope to get more uninhibited practice and aerial footage. I’m also hoping the MJX will hold up and not spit the dummy while I’m away. It still seems to be going reasonably well at the moment, but it most certainly is showing the effects of frequent unintended landfalls, especially at the logging area. In fact I’ve stopped going to the logging area, as the ground there is just fine gravel and dust that isn’t great for the motors when the MJX goes wheels up on the ground. But the fact that the MJX keeps coming back for more is astounding, so more in Part 3.

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