Eagle Tree Flight Recorder

 

Introduction

How about a box, a black box, that would record, all the possible data you could dream of, during the time of your flight. Then, the data from this device would be uploaded to a PC, with a smart program for analyses, rerun of the full flight and if you ever wish, export to Excel Spread sheet for further analyses ?

Imagine recording the G-Force applied to your model, or the actual air-speed it is flying at.

This device exists and is called the EagleTree Systems Data Recorder. This pearl of technology not only works well, but it goes far beyond any other devices seen on the market today, in this price range. This review has been done as part of a later review of the extended related device, the Seagull. This review of the seagull will follow shortly.

 

 

Package


 

Very well packed, there is little chance anything would be damaged during transport. As soon as you open the box, you get the feeling that this is a serious item. Nothing is shiny, trying to impress you. It is just clean

 

 

What will it do ?

 

What will it do, you can read below what the manufacturer advertise this system can do

From the Manufacturer's Web Site

Specifications:

  • Logged channels: 16

  • Airspeed from ~9MPH to 290MPH

  • USB Live Mode for real time bench monitoring

  • Altitude to 25,000+ feet

  • Climb rate

  • 4 channel servo positions and glitches

  • Dual temp to 424 degrees F

  • Tachometer to 40,000+ RPM

  • Receiver battery voltage

  • Electric motor current to 90 AMPS*

  • Dual Axis G-Force to 38G*

  • Dual Exhaust Gas Temp to 2000+ degrees F

* Optional accessories

 

Integrated RPM and temperature sensing
Altitude to >25,000 ft.
Speed from ~9 MPH to 290 MPH continuous.
Optional expanders are available for current, exhaust gas temperature, and dual axis g-force.
 
Simple to set up and operate, the R/C Flight Data Recorder measures and records critical performance parameters in real time.

After your flight, simply plug the Recorder into your PC or laptop, and watch the included Windows application replay what happened, graphically displaying the plane's parameters. Or, use Excel™ to further analyze and graph the data.

Or, use our live mode USB hookup to do real time monitoring of your model when it’s on the bench!

 



Everything you need is included: Recorder, USB cable, pitot tube, temperature sensor, RPM sensor, four 'Y' connectors, Windows CD-ROM and instruction manual.

See accessories below!

FDR Specifications

Logged channels: 16
Airspeed from ~9MPH to 290MPH
USB Live Mode for real time bench monitoring
Altitude to 25,000+ feet
Climbrate
4 channel servo positions and glitches
Dual temp to 424 degrees F
Tachometer to 40,000+ RPM
Receiver battery voltage
Electric motor current to 90 AMPS*
Dual Axis G-Force to 38G*
Dual Exhaust Gas Temp to 2000+ degrees F
* Optional accessories
Click here to view Datasheet (PDF)
Click here to view Instruction Manual (PDF)
 Records speed, RPM, temperature, steering/throttle movement and glitches, receiver voltage
Options include 2nd temp sensor, pack current/voltage monitoring, g-force, and exhaust gas temperature
Powerful built-in graphing
USB Plug and Play - No new drivers needed!
Fully Compatible with Win 98SE, ME, Win2K and XP™
Lightweight - approx 1.5 ounces with unit and cables
Optoisolated servo monitoring
Simple and quick installation and removal
Retains race data without battery
Graphical race playback in real time
Excel™ compatible data output
Ultra-low power consumption - around 35 mA
Built-in status LED indicates battery level on power-up
Includes app, pitot tube, "Y" connectors, RPM/temp sensors and custom USB cable
Adjustable capture rate
Expansion port for future enhancements
 

 

 


Pitot Tube cable to adjust to the size wanted

RPM Tester. On 1 side the magnet, the other,
the Sensor

 

 

Let's understand first that this device is not only intended for electric planes. Glow planes will use this as well. Let's see one by one the features and think about their uses.

 

 

How to set it up ?

You need to have a PC, connect it to it via USB cable provided with the kit and just program what type of plane you will monitor, what data you want to record and the sample rate.


USB PC cable to connect the Flight Recorder

Then, the installation within the plane only requires a little space for the device, and for the sensors.

 

What you should be careful about:

  • Set it up before you go to the field, unless you have a laptop

  • Think about what you want to record and a good sample rate, adapted to the data, you gather.

    • Recording too many times a second, a variable which moves very slowly, is for example not a good decision

    • Recording too many parameters, while most are not needed is also a waste of bandwidth

  • Install the sensors at the right place !!! Maybe one of the most critical part. A lot of attention needs to be put on this. Failing to do this right will make the reading inaccurate.

    • Make sure the Temp sensor is located where no wind will have an impact on the reading

    • Ensure the RPM sensors are close enough to the magnets. Actually, it would be wise to double check this on the ground, with a RPM optical device, just to make sure everything is fine

    • For the pressure Sensor, put it in an area where the pressure is not impacted by the flight of the plane, with the wind coming in, and doing turbulences

    • The Pitot tube, also, needs to be positioned in an area where no turbulences created by the plane will interfere.

 

Don't install the Pitot Tube and Pressure Sensor, like the below picture shows

Here, turbulences, created by the plane, will affect the quality of the reading

 

A example of Good Pitot Tube Setup

Pitot Tube ahead of the plane in order to avoid possible turbulences
Pressure Sensor in the cockpit, with no air turbulences coming in

Is the User Manual clear ?

Yes, it is. It is simple, clear, and well written. It is very fast to learn how to use it, and the software program used is also very intuitive.


Temperature Sensor

 

Some tests and limits of the system

The device has already been tested in many reviews so we won't redo the job here. It is known, it works !

Still, I could not resist to do some Altitude Check, and stats on it.
So I used my own building, with a GPS to check the data.

 

 

The test on the right show, for a plane position for about 17 minutes, in the same altitude, the recording of the altitude. It shows that 86% of the time, the altitude is seen stable at 2m. It also shows again that the resolution in Meters is 2 to 3 meters. What it does not show here is that the values are distributed pretty equally, along the data recorded.
Since 1 test is not enough, let's try again

 

 

 

Another 17 minutes of test, and for an unknown reason, the results are less pointed to one number. It confirms that the best resolution is 2-3 (6.6-9.8 feet) meters and that if you cumulate within 3 meters of the average, you get a 100% accuracy. So we can say that the Altimeter device is precise +/- 2.5m (8.2 feet)

 

 

Limit #1: So the resolution is 2-3 meters (8 feet) for now, and therefore creates this variation. That means that in the current stage, this won't be a good solution for someone who wants to check on thermics, live, little changes in altitude won't be felt. If you want to globally know about altitude, and the resolution is good enough for you, then it works great.

Now, in order to get proper values, you need to locate the sensors, pitot tubes in proper locations. For example, the pitot tube location should be located where no turbulences happen and facing the air movements. The static port should be located in an area, where the pressure is not under turbulences.

Moving all the recorded data to Excel can provides the following results to this test:

IMPORTANT NOTE: By the time this review went out, EagleTree Systems already released a new device, with a resolution of 1', the GLIDE SYSTEM.
 


Altitute in Meters.

 

Let's see it in action

 


EasyStar recorded flight, move the EXCEL then put into this graph

 

You also could record the servo glitches, which are reported automatically by the software.

 

Let's look at the DATA outputs


You can, easily, look at many the variables recorded during the flight. Using the software included or
loading the data in EXCEL or compatible, and then working within all the capabilities of the spreadsheet


Another way to look at the recorded data is to post simulate what happened. Maybe more visual
for some people.

 

Is it worth the price ?

If you need it, very much !!! Actually, there is no other device, in this price range, that delivers so much.

Who would need this device ?

  • Anyone who needs to check his plane data, using a black box type of device

  • If you want to check how high your flying machine goes, it's speed, G-force

  • If you want to use a remote wireless device to monitor your flying object
     

    • Flying gliders and monitoring Thermics

    • Flying planes that require Amp, and Voltage Monitoring
       

  • If you are a gadget freak (like most guys actually....), this is a great one

  • If you like to know more, about what is going on with your flying object, while in the air
     

    • RPM

    • Temp

    • G-Forces

    • Air-Speed

    • Stalls

    • Monitoring Servo glitches


Links to more information

 

 

 

Conclusion

This device delivers very well on all levels. Is it perfect, does it do everything everyone would wish, no, but what it says it does, it does it well and the manufacturer is very responsive to customer requests to add-ons.

For the few areas where precision was missing, EagleTree Systems is now selling exactly the devices that fill up the holes.

Note all tests were done, and no bug was found so far..

Now, if you want, you now have part of a system, that enables you to wirelessly get data from your flying machine, using the add-on to the Flight Recorder, the Wireless Seagull ! See the coming Seagull Review here for more information

Latest Update: Saturday, 20 August 2005