Hoverfly Pro Hexa XL1st Flight FPV Heworth
by Jonathan Malory
I’ve been thinking about buying a Hoverfly Pro flight controller for a while, they’re fairly well-priced for what they do and I know a few serious aerial photographers use them. Also, as luck would have it, a friend of a friend happened to have one for sale so I bought it and saved some money, and some time as you can normally only by them from America.
The Hoverfly Pro is a flight controller, i.e. the brain of your machine that keeps everything flying as it should, that has pretty much everything you need on one printed circuit board. A bit like the Gaui 344 only a lot more stable and reliable. You can also have different configurations like tricoipter, 3 and 6 props, quadcopter in X or + config, hexacopter and octocopter, which you setup yourself via downloadable software.
The HP also has a built in On Screen Display (OSD) that you can use if you’re flying FPV (First Person View) to give you various bits of data on your screen or goggles. There is also an optional GPS addon, but I don’t have that yet as reports say it is not working properly yet.
One big plus for me is built in camera mount stabilization, which I couldn’t live without. In fact I will never buy another flight controller that does not come with onboard camera mount stabilization as I’ve found expernal methods, using separate gyros, is just nowhere near as good.
Anyway, I had a Mikrokopter Hexa XL frame already built, with motors, ESCs and my homemade power distribution board attached, so it was a simple matter to use the Hoverfly Pro on that and get it up in the air with a bit of software fiddling, helped by browsing rcgroups.com.
One thing perculiar to Hoverfly boards is that they do not self-level as standard, which means if you push forward on the stick and let go it keeps on going forward until you pull back on the stick enough to stop it. This is very difficult to get used to if you never experienced it before. I certainly don’t like it very much, but could see why some people would like it after I’d practiced flying this way a bit.
The Hoverfluy Pro does come with a Self-Levelling option via a swirtch on your radio, but I haven’t been able to get it to work yet – everytime I try the Hexa wants to flip over and crash, not good. So the video below was using the standard Hoverfly technique of fying, constantly ciounter-correcting your movements to try and stay level.
Oh, finally there is the Height Hold, which also works in a way I’m not used to, but it does work nevertheless. With Mikrokopter and Wookong and a few others, Height Hold, when switched on, works by keeping you at the same height if you have the throttle in the middle, lowring your height if it’s below the middle and increasing your height if the throttle is above halfway. However, when you switch on Height Hold with the Hoverfly Pro it locks you in at that height and moving the throttle does nothing at all. It works very well but means you have to be very careful about where your throttle lever is – for instance if you accidentally dropped the throttle down while in Height Hold you wouldn’t notice anyhing until you switch Height Hold off, then your drone would fall at a speed depending on how far down you nudged the throttle. I found that having the throttle above half when I switched off Height Hold was safest, so you rise upward a bit before controlling the height yourself.
Anyway, like most test flights, this aerial photography video is of the boring field ilk, because you never know what will happen with a new setup. Also with Hoverfly’s unique flying style (without the Auto-level working) I had a bit of a wrestling match to get it to go where I wanted it to. I was kind of getting the hang of it by the time I was filming the Mobile Phone Mast. The Hoverfly Pro is certainly an interesting beast, and has the feel of being very reliable and predictable once you get used to it, which is always a good thing.
The weather was a bit grim, windy, cold and damp. In fact my hands were too cold after this flight to try another, so I just went home.