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In addition to using the updated firmware for the base and tag I used the new LED settings as prescribed in the new on-line instructions.
Click image to enlarge

SoloShot2 Robotic Cameraman – Revisited

Good improvements but need more

Text and photos by Tom Hintz

Video by SoloShot2 Robotic Cameraman

Posted – 7-2-2015

UPDATE - 8-13-2015 - The SoloShot2 vertical tracking speed is currently maxed out by the speed of the tilt servo motors. They may go to faster tilt servo motors in future versions but nothing is set in stone at present.

See the updated test - Click Here

Despite having registered the SoloShot2 Robotic Cameraman that I purchased and signing up for their email list I heard about an update to the firmware and newly revised instructions on an RC forum. This is like strike #22 on their “Support” system.

I downloaded the firmware update and applied that to the SoloShot2 Robotic Cameraman base and tag per the instructions. While no firmware update was announced for the Camera Controller just to be sure I also downloaded and applied the firmware for the Sony HDR-CX405 camcorder I am using like the one they include in their full package.

To keep the test consistent I again used my Hangar 9 1/4-scale PA-18 Super Cub so flight characteristics/performance remained the same. In fact overall speed and vertical performance is slightly reduced due to a new smaller propeller having been installed on the Hangar 9 1/4-scale PA-18 Super Cub so any difference from previous flights should favor the SoloShot2 Robotic Cameraman. I also tried to fly a similar group of maneuvers that would be common to anyone flying an RC plane.
I also printed out and followed the “setup” procedure which is now a bit different. I used the Big Altitude setting for led #1 (red), the red trajectory setting on led #2 and the wide frame setting (green) on the third led.

For a centering object I used a spot in the tree line several hundred feet out from our flight line, did a “walk about” slightly over 200 steps and then calibrated the tag/base at just over 200 feet from the base on line to the spot in the tree line. As in all previous tests the tag was mounted to the top of the Hangar 9 1/4-scale PA-18 Super Cub on the outside of the fuselage in the arm band holder that came with the base and tag.

Performance

I once again used the same Sony camcorder that comes with the SoloShot2 package when ordered that way.
Click image to enlarge

Overall the SoloShot2 Robotic Cameraman did considerably better than in previous tests. Vertical tracking is noticeably better and horizontal tracking remains good. Zooming (with camera controller) appears smoother and better controlled but that might be more because the vertical tracking is better and the plane remains visible longer.

I tried doing gentle loops at various ranges from the camera and the SoloShot2 Robotic Cameraman continues to lose the plane, often on both the top and bottom of the loop even though the second half of the loops are done without power to control speed. Pulling up on takeoff also strains the vertical tracking capability though the SoloShot2 Robotic Cameraman is getting closer to keeping the plane in the frame.

Making a ”speed” pass (remember, Cub) does not fool the SoloShot2 Robotic Cameraman much at all and that kind of horizontal tracking remains pretty good. If you make a turn that is at all sudden the SoloShot2 Robotic Cameraman tends to overrun the maneuver and might lose the plane for a bit to the side of the frame.

There still seems to be a vertical limit where the SoloShot2 Robotic Cameraman just gives up tracking and holds an angle that keeps the plane right at or just out of the top of the frame. I purposely tried a knife edge figure 8 with the Cub that while relatively high, covers lots of territory coming closer to and then farther from the SoloShot2 Robotic Cameraman which dramatically changes the tilt angle needed. For some reason the plane stays at or just out of the frame, at roughly the same angle it loses the plane in a loop. I also again tried tilting the camera (after shooting the video) using the arrow buttons to be sure the base would in fact reach the necessary tilt angles and it has lots of tilt left in the gear drive.

Conclusions

Overall the SoloShot2 Robotic Cameraman is noticeably better in its tracking, particularly vertical tracking. However it continues to lose the plane in simple maneuvers such as loops and somewhat steeper than normal climbs on takeoff.

Video Tutor

If the folks at SoloShot2 Robotic Cameraman can increase the vertical capabilities sufficiently this outfit will be of great value to anyone who wants to record RC plane flights. As it is right now I cannot use only the SoloShot2 Robotic Cameraman to record flights that we want to document for reviews but it is a bunch closer than it was before the latest firmware/instructions update. If the people at SoloShot2 Robotic Cameraman can refine the performance a bit more we might have a winner for RC plane use.

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