Sunday, 30 September 2012

DT-3K Headtracker

Mini review of the DT-3K Hybrid Headtracker from Flytron.

If you want the full immersive experience of flying FPV then a headtracker adds that extra dimension which really gives you that feeling of flying from the pilots seat.

The DT-3K is available from Flytron for a very competitively priced $96 and support and customer service from Melih is first class. It is compatible with most brands of tansmitters, but check what sort of trainer connection you have on your transmitter and be sure to order the correct one. Note: This will not work with Spektrum or JR Transmitters that have the phono type jack for trainer connection.

This was, as far as I'm aware, the first hybrid head tracker to incorporate a magentometer into it in order to prevent drift. The first headtrackers that entered the market years ago relied on gyros only which have an inherent problem of drift and required a reset button to reset centre during flight, otherwise you would end up with your camera constantly looking out over a wing or down at the floor.

This headtracker gets around the problem of gyro drift by using what is essentially an electronic compass to keep the camera pointing only in the direction that your head is facing, with zero horizontal drift. The one problem with this is that you are now forced to always stand and face the same direction (either north or south) every time you fly. This is fine if you always fly from the same strip, but if you fly in different places at can become a pain.

The DT-3K can operate in 2 modes. In the first mode (ppm-inject) it allows you to add extra channels to your transmitter, effectively creating a channel 5 and channel 6 on a 4 channel radio or channel 7 and channel 8 on a 6 channel radio. this means that you can use it with even the most basic 4 channel radios that wouldn't normally have enough channels for headtracking.

In the second mode (ppm-create) it can replace any 2 consecutive channels in your radio. So, if you have a 6 channel radio and 6 channel receiver it can take over channel 5 & 6 and still leaving you the first 4 channels for basic aircraft control. I hope that explanation is clear, because I was certainly left scratching my head about which mode did what when I first read the manual.

Programming the DT-3K is relatively straightforward and if you follow the instructions then you can't go wrong. The only annoying part of the programming is that if you mess up or want to change something then you have to start from the beginning and remember all of the individual settings that you have already set. I reccommend writing down the settings as you go along so that you know which part to change if you need to make any changes.

One thing that caught me out the first time I used it was that having set it up at home, the pan seemed to be reversed when I got to the field. I was just about to dig the instructions out when I realised that all I needed to do was turn 180 degrees and then left became left and right became right again. Don't be caught out like I was, this is how it's supposed to work.

To get the headtracker to work, you need to hold the trainer switch on. Most trainer switches are spring loaded to off, so you either have to rig it to stay on using something like an elastic band or you can open up your transmitter and change the switch to a regular toggle switch.

One slightly annoying thing is where the cable exits from the unit, which makes it more difficult to mount to the top of your goggles or on your baseball cap. If the cable exited from the side it would make it easier to mount and you wouldn't have a cable sticking out of your forehead. I'm probably just being fussy though as I haven't heard anyone else complaining about it.

Overall this is a great unit and works flawlessly and was a real step forward in headtracking technology. This was released a few years ago and there are now other units using the same technology, but this was the first and still holds up well against the competition.

Pros: Price, Flytron service, flawless operation
Cons: Doesn't work with Spektrum/JR, slightly difficult to mount

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