• Category Archives drone
  • Big drones downunder

    Sounds like the Australians are stepping up their drone game;

    https://dronedj.com/2018/11/15/american-drones-australian-military/

    “Defense Minister Christopher Pyne said Australia would buy 12 to 16 MQ-9B Reaper drones from Poway, Calif.-based General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc., becoming the first Asia-Pacific country to acquire the armed unmanned aircraft used by the U.S. military in the Middle East and Afghanistan.”

    “Mr. Pyne said Canberra was in talks with Papua New Guinea about basing warships at the country’s main naval port on Manus Island, on the southern approaches to the disputed South China Sea. Manus Island is a “very important strategic island for the southwest Pacific,” Mr. Pyne said. Australia this month said it would redevelop and expand the Lombrum Naval Base on the island, shutting out a rival offer from Beijing. The U.S. Navy said it may also use the base.”



  • Electric flight school plane

    Love love love this!
    What a great use case, what a learner!

    A new battery-electric airplane goes into production as popularity grows with flight schools

    Slovenia-based light aircraft maker Pipistrel had its Alpha Electro all-electric plane approved for flight in Australia and now the plane is going into operation in Perth.

    The company even started serial production of the aircraft after seeing demand increase.

    It’s a 2-seat electric trainer tailored to the needs of flight schools. The all-composite body with electric motor and 20 kWh battery packs weights a total of 350 kg and it has a max payload of 200 kg.

    The company says that the plane can stay in the air for an hour, with an extra 30 minutes in reserve.

    Please go look at the article and check out the photos!
    She is a beautiful looking plane!
    The thought of flying without the noise from the motor is very appealing to me. I still want to book a flight in the electric glider that is out our way (Martty and I drive past the glider port it is housed at often). But this would be a close second.
    It would be perfect for the sort of flying I would be doing in Temecula.
    We get so many nice days for a short joy flight, it would fit right in for the small air strip that is about 3 kms from our home.

    Anyway, yeah, I am excited for this little guy, glad to see its in production, and go Aussies!



  • Underground drones

    Here is one solid use case of drones. Love it!

    Collision-resistant drone improves mining prospects in Canada

    Until recently, the use of drones in the mining industry has largely been above ground, in the open air. From on high, drones and their paired software platforms can build a detailed picture of equipment stockpiles, materials and landscapes. It’s a great industrial IoT (IIoT) use case.

    But exploring uncharted mines, deep underground, comes with challenges that generally aren’t encountered in the skies. Signal reception is a serious one, but there’s also the difficulty that advanced collision-avoidance vision systems experience in keeping a drone stable and on track in the darkness.

    I have seen these Flyabilty drone cages many times over the past few years.
    One notable video showed it checking out the inside of a very large industrial boiler (which bought flashbacks of of seeing the guys inspect the boiler at the hospital).
    I’m personally not a fan of the DJI link they chose, but its a start…



  • Cold drone

    They are using drones to measure seals in Antarctica. Thats pretty cool.

    https://internetofbusiness.com/drones-scientists-antarctica-food-chain/

    The higher you go up the food chain, the more you can learn about the ecosystem as a whole. That thinking is behind a project that has seen marine researchers use drones to collect biological samples from whales, and it’s now underpinning similar efforts on land in Antarctica.

    Scientists from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Southwest Fisheries Science Center are using drones to gather data on the predator that best reflects the health of local fish stocks: leopard seals.

    So in short, they place the drone at a fixed height off the ground, and place a known marker, photographing the marker, gives them an accurate scale, and then they simply fly over the seals and take photos.
    Long and short of it, they can ascertain the length and weight of the seal within 2% and 4%.
    Very cool.

    Speaking of cool… I had a chance to fly my drone in the morning a week or so back, everything powered up, I waited for GPS lock and all systems to come on-line. The DJI app gave me the approval to take off, I sent the usual signal and the app reported – ‘Takeoff aborted, battery too cold’.
    First time for that message…. The drone had been in the car all night and was cool, so I popped the battery under my armpit for about 5 minutes and took off as usual… But of course, by then, the sunrise light had changed.
    So, no harm done, lesson learned. (Or something…. There might have been some swearing at DJI).



  • Drone antenna upgrade

    I have had some issues with the DJI Phantom 3 Pro dropping the video feed to the ‘monitor’ ie, my phone.
    It is very very very very very very very very disconcerting when it drops as all the data goes with it (things like battery voltage, flight time remaining and so on). Sure, you just look up and keep flying from where it is, but eh, it sure would be nice if it hung about a bit more than both a few minutes and a few feet.

    Did some reading and everyone agrees, the bulk of the issue is Android.
    DJI just have not given the Android version of the app as much love as iOS.
    I could not justify or afford to buy a dedicated iOS device just to fly, so after talking to Freddy, she agreed to let me use her iPad whenever I needed. (It’s not like I make a living from flying and so don’t fly that often, and usually its when I drive, and she is usually still asleep at those times).
    We did some test flights and sure enough, the app itself was more stable, it did not crash, but the video did break up in the usual digital green distortion.
    Back to the Internet, seems the antennas DJI use are, shall we say, less than optimal.
    So, I jumped on Amazon and made my selection.

    The DJI ones are hard wired in, so the upgrade consists of two parts, pulling out the original and replacing the coax cable with a lower loss version and a threaded mount to screw new/different antennas on.

    It was a bit of tight fit, and we had to pad a few washers around the antenna mount point as the previous drone owner had damaged the case around the antenna base when he closed the case lid on them at some stage.
    But, bottom line, I was able to get the new mount in nice and firm and gripping onto enough of the case to be solid.

    The nice thing about having a standard mount (RPA) is that I can run a few different antenna types.
    Here we have a tall omni directional and a small square patch directional antenna.
    The patch will have more gain, distance, but requires that I turn and always point the remote at the drone.
    Depending on the flight requirements, this may or may not be a big deal.
    Honestly, I suspect that most of the time, I will run the tall rabbit ears.

    Of course I did a few before and after test flights. Before the drone would get to about 100 feet and the video would break up.
    After, with the long omni’s, I went to my legal limit of 400 feet and the video feed was rock solid. So, I’m going to call that a win and stop messing with the tech and just fly more.