Trans Atlantic Model (TAM)


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Robin Red Kite with Snoopy

Robin's Model Aircraft (and Ducks, Pups and Boats) Page

updated Wednesday 15th June 2016 UK time

I set up this page in 2003 to cover the amazing crossing of the Atlantic by a GPS-controlled model aircraft. See "Trans Atlantic Model (TAM) - Success !" below. Over the years I've found myself adding more pictures and videos. Enjoy ! :-)

Robin Lovelock, Sunninghill,UK. February 2016. white strip

"Robin's Hobby Clips" ...

You may enjoy playing 20 minutes of Robin's Hobby Clips, intended to entertain old and new chums at a meeting of Chobham Common Model Flyer's Association (CCMFA). These clips include those old VHS air videos below, and also other material that has been on my pages for years. Please note the "Health Warning" on the test of an intelligent car by a pidgeon. Rockets are not now allowed on Chobham Common, be they SAMs or Air-to-Air missiles :-) white strip Chobham Common Model Flyers Association CCMFA Chobham Common Model Flyers Association CCMFA Chobham Common Model Flyers Association CCMFA Chobham Common Model Flyers Association CCMFA Chobham Common Model Flyers Association CCMFA white strip

Old flying videos, found on VHS in 2016 ...

Here is a youtube video, recently found on VHS. It includes old flying mates from Chobham Common flying models such as Frank's Caterlina and Martin's Concorde. Yes, Snoopy is also to be seen, doing aerial video and air-to-air intercepts of a Red Kite ! See the old youtube video here. white strip Chobham Common Model Flyers Association CCMFA Chobham Common Model Flyers Association CCMFA Chobham Common Model Flyers Association CCMFA Chobham Common Model Flyers Association CCMFA Chobham Common Model Flyers Association CCMFA white strip

Here is much older Aerial video shot in the early 1990s (?) on 8mm film Anyone from CCMFA remember my playing it at an AGM ? John Hancock: I have DVDs for you :-) white strip Chobham Common Model Flyers Association CCMFA Chobham Common Model Flyers Association CCMFA Chobham Common Model Flyers Association CCMFA Chobham Common Model Flyers Association CCMFA Chobham Common Model Flyers Association CCMFA white strip

TA Model Aircraft

Trans Atlantic Model (TAM) - Success ! :-)

TAM there Yes, they eventually made it: the first trans-Atlantic crossing by a GPS-controlled model aircraft.

The model, launched from Newfoundland, arrived in Ireland on Monday 11th August 2003. This was after three models were lost in earlier attempts in 2002 - although one got 25% across !

The aircraft were tracked by satellite communications - so they knew exactly where each was, and - nearer the ETA - when and where it should appear on the horizon. There on the left are some of the team in the USA, earlier this year, and on the right, the proud team posing in Ireland just after safe arrival.

Barrett 'Joe' Foster first told Robin of this project in 1998, but it took over 4 years to reach fruition. Well Done Lads ! :-)

footnote from Robin in 2016 : Maynard Hill passed away in 2011, but you may read more about his good work on sites such as www.barnardmicrosystems.com (the original tam.plannet21.com is now broken). There is also a Wiki article. You can see a u-tube video here.
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Snoopy Sailing

Tracking GPS bottles thrown into the sea and robot boats ...

Some of you may know of the daft "message in a bottle" project, back in 2004, when Artist Layla Curtis dropped bottles into the sea off Ramsgate, on my birthday, in the hope that they might reach the other side of the World. Some were GPS bottles and we tracked them across the channel to France and Holland. A few years later, we did something similar for BBC Radio Solent here.

On the right you see one of our GPS bottle prototypes - but we never completed the autopilot in time for the launch :-)

In 2008 I became interested in another Trans-Atlantic hobby project: that to be the first Robot Boat to cross the Atlantic. For details, including the Pocket PC based AutoPilot, see GPS Guided Trans-Atlantic Robot Boat.

GPS and Pocket PC takes a flight ...

etrex and iPAQ on the 'plane Robin with GPS and iPAQ on plane Well - I guess it had to happen sooner or later... Robin being daft enough to test his software in the air over Chobham Common, rather than the usual monitoring of where he and June were on one of their cheap holiday flights to Italy.

On 24th May 2007, after adding altitude handling to the Pocket PC version of his GPS Software, he decided to take the risk and fly it on one of his electric gliders - normally used for air photography. No "rocket science" here - just his trusty old Garmin yellow etrex, the iPAQ running GPSSppc, all stuck onto the top of the 'plane with.... yes - duck tape - what else ? :-)

Amazingly the "bog standard" Multiplex EasyGlider, with no special motor, pulled up the 3/4 Lb of payload without too much trouble. replay of the flight Straight after landing, we were using GPSSppc to play back the recorded flight on the same iPAQ, seeing where the 'plane went on a google earth aerial photo added to the iPAQ GPS Software before he left home.

google earth 3D plot of GPS flight recording The instrument panel showed things like ground speed in mph, altitude in feet above sea level (the launch site seemed to be about 190 ft), and distance in yards from where we stood.

Don't know if we will do it again. Has anyone got a neat solution for driving one or two servos from something like the serial output from the iPAQ ? ;-)

On the right is a 3D plot from google earth, of data recorded by an I-gotU GPS logger.

video and still photographs from the air ...

Snoopy on Easyfly Red Kite with Snoopy Most of our aerial filming was done by Snoopy flying "EasyStar" a lightweight polystyrene kit powered by a quiet electric motor. This model flys well in all conditions, including stong winds, and has even used floats to take off water. Robin's favorite trick is to both launch AND land in his hand :-) Here on the left you see Snoopy, gritting his teeth before yet another mission, behind the TV camera in its forward position. On the right is a picture taken by Ron Perkins, of Snoopy being followed closely - the TV camera needed to point up more ! In 2004 Snoopy filmed lots of places and our hope in 2005 is to get some good air-to-air video of Red Kites

To see Red Kites filmed from the air, click on the Youtube image below. If you want to see video of Chobham Common and EasyStars from the air, click here (4.5 MB). If you want to see Grumpy Old Men "behaving badly" with rockets, checkout the one minute of excitement here (2 MB).

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Red Kite video

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Radio controlled puppy dog that can lift it's leg ...

radio controlled dog "Puppycam" was a radio-controlled project to provide Robin and his "grumpy old friends" some amusement occasionally. The little white fluffy dog can run around on grass and can raise it's back leg to squirt a jet of water three metres. The dog seen here on the left tore off puppycam's head and gave him a good shaking. The puppy video is on here in WMV (17 MB), or click on Youtube.

Robin's aerial video and photography

Robin with Model Aircraft Cam4Spy I originally set this page up to cover the amazing attempt to cross the Atlantic with GPS-controlled model aircraft. This re-awakened my interest in an old hobby - use of radio controlled model aircraft to take aerial photos. Thanks to Jan-Freerk Janssen and Holge Buge of www.Cam4Spy.de based in Wendelstein, Germany, I got into flying small video cameras. They sent me one of their miniture colour TV cameras with microphone, radio link transmitter and receiver - see picture on the right. You can see the camera-transmitter in the tube slung under the wing of my electric powered glider. The receiver is in the foreground. This plugs into a camcorder which can switch between it's own camera and the picture and sound from the receiver. Our first flights were from Charter's School, during the kids half-term, and with the kind permission of the Head Mistress.

All Cam4spy kit Charters School Trevor and Kristina

Pixie Madcap Here above are three frames from the video taken in February: my old friend Trevor is on the left. Holding the camcorder, with receiver on the post, is Kristina, another close friend of the Lovelock family. We are on the left of the aerial view in the middle. On the right you can see them again, shortly before the third landing. Many flights have been done since then, using even smaller and lighter TV equipment and models. The "Pixie" on the left weighs only 1.5 Lb (700 gm), including TV camera/transmitter (from China, see GPS page) and batteries ! "Madcap" on the right weighes little more and also carries Snoopy :-)

Duck with ducklings Duck with Robin Unfortunately, despite many requests by me, I've been unable to buy additional hardware from Jan-Freek and Holger, but have found good solutions from Maplins and direct from China - so now we have quite a collection of small TV cameras and receivers. The 1.2 GHz systems from China tend to be cheaper and smaller. We've had excellent results with the Maplin systems, including the 35 2.4 GHz receiver and similarly priced transmitter. Believe it or not, our latest hobby activity involves use of radio controlled ducks with miniture chinese cameras in their heads. Our first attempt is on the left - but we had to add ducklings to stop it capsizing at speed. Mk2 on the right was built with more care and is now our first choice: great for filming other water-birds - or Joe Public on the bank throwing bread at it :-)

Robin with Model Aircraft Tank Hill It was the emails from Joe Foster that re-awakened my interest in model flying - to the extent of blowing lots of dust off my old electric glider, used to take aerial pictures some ten or fifteen years earlier on the Sunninghill page. The 2000maH 8-cell pack hauled up the 3.5 lb model plus 0.5 lb of my wife June's digital camera with no problem - evidence here. On the right is the "Tank Hill" flying site popular with Chobham Model Flyers - you may be able to just make out me and two other guys to the right of the bushes.

Robin from the air :-) Here on the left is a picture taken the day before, from another part of Chobham Common. That's me in the middle, casting a shadow onto the path, with the Monument towards the top right. The seat between me, and the monument, is from where the picture above was taken - by a friendly 81 year old local dog walker - who shares the love of model flight. Look at the height of those gorse bushes on the left - not an easy launch site ! :-) If anyone is interested in doing some GPS-controlled model aircraft work or aerial movie photography, please contact me via the CONTACT page.
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Here are some 35mm stills that I took from the air in the 1980s - I think :-) white strip Chobham Common Model Flyers Association CCMFA Chobham Common Model Flyers Association CCMFA Chobham Common Model Flyers Association CCMFA white strip

© Robin Lovelock.

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