Sept 6: I got a call from my friend Steve Albert who lives in Tuscon, and who had seen my earlier post. He graciously offered to 3D print a physical model of my design. So I decided to take my own advice and bring this idea into CAD and see where it goes. With the COVID and the FIRES there's not much left to do anyway.
I took the optics assembly out of the Hoodman Loupe, carefully measured it and then modeled it in 3D along with the enclosure body to match my cardboard mockup. I emailed the files to Steve and after a few conversations...waiting to see the first proof of concept.
Click HERE for the assembly animation
August 20: Any drone pilot knows how hard it is to fly with precision and safety while trying to be cameraman at the same time. Although these amazing machines come with a lot of automation, it doesn't mean they can't crash. Not long ago, I was flying at the local boat harbor on what seemed like a routine, and somewhat boring, video shoot. When I got home and "viewed the dailies" on my desktop...I discovered that the drone...had just missed some power lines!
That was a wakeup call. My biggest problem always been seeing the controller's iPhone display in bright daylight. The App displays real-time camera feed and a serious amount of other small font flight data. It's all but impossible to see in the sun and not much better in the shade. The only available solutions are FPV (first person view) goggles, but those start at $500.
Not long ago I started using a Hoodman Loupe made for DSLR photographers to better see their LCD screens outdoors. It fits standard 3.2" displays, blocks sunlight, and has a 2x magnifier. While the loupe helps with drone flying, it only covers about half of the phone's screen and is difficult to keep in place. I have to hold it horizontally to keep it from moving and then slide it around to see other parts of the screen. If the transmission signal gets weak, I have to move the controller to re-orient the antenna, and that's when things can south...if nothing else, losing the shot.
This is a common problem with millions of users, so I thought there must be something other than FPV goggles but if there is, I couldn't find it. So I started playing around with various ways to adapt the Hoodman Loupe to the Mavic Pro controller. The design goals were to:
1) view the iPhone's entire display
2) be usable in a sunny environment
3) attach and release quickly
4) hold itself in place
5) not interfere with any hand controls
I started a layout using Autodesk's Fusion 360 CAD so that iterative changes would be easier. I cut out a mockup from a single sheet of illustration board, scoring and folding. I attached the loupe to the adapter using tabs and a simple elastic band. The 2-piece assembly is held to the controller with three other tabs.
I field tested this proof-of-concept and it works. It's essentially a poor man's FPV. The next step would be to separate the Hoodman optics make it a one-piece design. I think there could be a collapsible version in there too. If someone wants to take this design and run with it, be my guest. All I want is a pre-production sample.