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105 gram Xtra 300 with on-board camera AND Altimeter by Jolly Logic
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Published
Apr 24 2011 by FaTe
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Imagine being able to see your altitude during flight either via live video or in this case an on-board video recorder. Well last year I contacted a company called Apogeerockets.com to ask a pretty specific question. They sell a unit called an AltimeterOne which is designed for model rockets to record their peak altitude and able to view back the data via the built in USB plug (also used to charge the unit).

This tiny little device weighs in at only 7 grams / 0.24 ounces and I wanted to know if it would be possible to not record peak but have live altitude output on the LCD display. I emailed their president John beans to find he was willing to send me a BETA unit in return for data and feedback. Keeping all this in mind I decided to push the 95 gram Xtra 300 to it's limits in load ability and really see what this tiny aircraft is capable of.

Nine Eagles Xtra 300 RC 4 channel Altimeter Nine Eagles Xtra 300 RC 4 channel Altimeter Nine Eagles Xtra 300 RC 4 channel Altimeter
Nine Eagles Xtra 300 RC 4 channel Altimeter Modifications on the Xtra 300 where only very slight. First of all is the issue of seeing it when trying to reach altitude, it's only got a 50CM wing span! I used pin-line tape to give a nice red contrast on the bottom of the plane, giving some sort of pattern.

The AltimeterOne unit was taped into position with a little excess tape on the front nose side to make it more aerodynamic.
















Nine Eagles Xtra 300 RC 4 channel Altimeter Nine Eagles Xtra 300 RC 4 channel Altimeter Nine Eagles Xtra 300 RC 4 channel Altimeter
Thought I'd start with my peak altitude for this maiden test flight which was an impressive 232 feet seeing as by that time I only really seen a dot in the sky! A nice view out over the lake cruising at a decent 82 feet. We had wind force 2/ 13KPH winds today so descending was fun here I'm banking in towards myself passing the club house :) (@ 18 feet)
Nine Eagles Xtra 300 RC 4 channel Altimeter Nine Eagles Xtra 300 RC 4 channel Altimeter Nine Eagles Xtra 300 RC 4 channel Altimeter
Inverted wind hovering at 101 feet is always fun. Hell why not at 143 feet! Got a nice view here of all the fields then the lake at 228 feet, I would of pushed her higher but I could already feel a lacking in power at this point. The extra weight did turn a normal 8 minute flight too only 4 minutes.




So how did she handle being 18 grams over stock weight? FINE yes she was more twitchy than normal which I expected prior to even flying. This plane when not used for simple circuit flying but more aerobatics is already not for the novice pilot so that said the difference is not worth mentioning.



You can watch the video for the maiden flight below where you can see for yourself how flawlessly the AltimeterOne performed. In emails between John and myself discussing the use of the unit I had mentioned maybe making a moulded mount unit for it but upon research into rockets the build design is not air-tight at all, housing the unit in a pretty air tight area would prevent proper read outs although of course air pressure differences and even wind gusts causing sudden high pressure could give false read outs but as you can see in my video no such thing occurs.



The read out is consistent and does not at any time give erratic read outs as could be expected. I would highly recommend this unit for ANY model, if I can use it on a 95 gram aircraft then you can use it on pretty much anything. Check out the video:





Even on loops and deep stalls the AltimeterOne unit keeps track very nicely even though its mounted outside and not in the canopy (it was too close to the camera I did try). Again I have to stress I did use scotch tape to secure this unit and it totally covers the nose side creating a mini canopy for aerodynamics, I feel the need to mention this again because airflow was not just effecting the planes dynamics on drag but also the airflow pressure allowed to reach the unit. In essence the unit was reading for low pressure air flow where the air stream over the tape canopy suddenly lost surface contact (the front LCD display of the unit). All in all I think the unit worked perfectly.


You can find the AltimeterOne peak height recorder and more information here.
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