Runcam 2 for a day

Runcam 2 – love at first sight

My first HD camera was the Runcam HD. It only did 30fps in 1080p but I was impressed by its sharp videos, compact design and minimalistic, yet easy to use, interface. That is why I was really excited when the Runcam 2 was announced. I preordered one as soon as possible.

A few weeks later my orange Runcam 2 arrived. It was lightweight and fit great on my ZMR250 quad. I strapped it on and went to my favorite Brentwood park for a few flights.

That day I was also testing Airmode with a few new PID configurations, one of which I really liked. The flight session went great, even did a few risky tree stunts. When I got home, I downloaded the videos and was beyond impressed – same sharp image but with smooth 60 frames per second. What more can I wish for!

Here is a video of this glorious day.

Second day – fortune failed me

The next day I decided to go back and take the ultimate smooth relaxing video. Few seconds in the air, with confidence from the previous day, I was lining up the acrobatic moves with amazing stability and precision. In one of the passes, I went between a natural gate between a tree and a fence – one my my favorite return paths. As I was completing my smooth approach I notices a thin maybe 4cm park pole and few things went through my head: “Don’t hit that”, “You are going so smooth, don’t ruin it now”, “You could not hit that if you tried”. A second later the pole was right in-front of me and an unmistakable clang ended my video feed. Hoping the crash was not too bad, I went to pick up the craft. Unfortunately this was what I discovered:

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I hit the pole dead center! My new Runcam 2 was completely obliterated. I had to quickly discard the battery as it had cracked, being  jammed against the pins, and it was starting to hiss.

Unfortunately that crash took more casualties, jumping to #1 of my single most destructive crash:

  • The brand new FPV Runcam SKYPLUS had broken lens and image sensor
  • My Afroflight Full Naze32 never booted again
  • My ZMR250 top plate had a serious dent, that I managed to patch and turn into a great looking battle scar.

Dissection and Rebuild

At home, after a quick sympathy post on Facebook in Multicopters International (thanks guys for the comfort), I took the Runcam apart. Surprisingly it is rather simple inside. Main board, battery compartment, image sensor and lens. Great package with minimal weight. Unfortunately the lens was dust, image sensor was also destroyed and the case was cracked tho seemed patchable. The main board seemed in good condition. Sadly the video of my last unfortunate flight was not saved. I took some pictures for educational purposes:

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As for the rest of the craft – I replaced the camera and flight controller from Tangra (I was done with its folding frame and just gutted it). Strapped back the half-focused Xiaomi Yi, sighed heavily and reordered another Runcam 2.

Lessons Learned

Yes, few of those are from Captain Obvious, but after a relatively long crash-free period, I had forgotten them.

  • Flying into poles, or other hard immobile objects, is very destructive
  • The carbon frame absorbs impact a lot better than the rest of the craft
  • Move the HD and FPV cameras back enough so the frame will absorb an impact, even when the craft is tilted forward, in fast-forward flight.
  • Do not attempt to power up after a serious collision without through inspection of the craft. I believe the VBAT cable/connector was damaged or ripped and high voltage touched somewhere on the FC, killing it.