Drones, multirotor, quadcopters

Events have conspired to push us back into flying radio control aircraft. Specifically, drones, multirotor or quadcopters… They all the same thing, but people call them different names. Here is a quick recap of how this all came about.

We shoot video case studies at work to highlight how companies use our gear to automate a process. It’s good for them and it’s good for us, it helps their future customers understand how that company can help them, and it helps our future customers hear and see how others have used our gear.
So, a few weeks back, we had a case study video shoot to do in Northern California, cold storage of fruit.

At first, the boss said that he would be flying the drone… It is after all, HIS drone. He has flown it a few times and he also doubles as the director for the film crew, so it makes sense for him to be there.
Events built to the point where he was not going to be able to make it, so that left me to pick up the drone (I also do camera B and audio duties).
Long story short, I had around 3 days to learn how to set it up and fly it.

Phantom 3 Pro Drones

dji phantom 3 pro drone
dji phantom 3 pro drone

The DJI Phantom 3 Professional is no longer their top of the line drone, but it is still a lot of drone. Costing something north of 1500 bucks, it is also out of my price range.
The really interesting thing for me is that flying the thing is as much about the software as it is about flying.

The system uses a tablet, in this case an iPad something (Sorry, I don’t know anything about Apple products – it just works with the drone is all I know), it gets the feed from the remote. Both video and data show up. Both are required to fly the drone.

Quick practice

I was not going to learn how to fly on the job, so we did a few quick flights the Sunday before we left.

Rusty, but the drone has GPS, altitude lock and active stabilization electronics to help. The thing that really weirds me out is that you pretty much fly it from the video feed 99% of the time. Only during takeoff and landing do I look it (and even then I’m sure there are guys that do the whole thing from the video feed).
This is very different to how I have flown fix wing stuff in the past!

drone prop ballance

We also had to brush up on old skills like propeller balancing.

On location

To say I was nervous is a MASSIVE understatement.
If we get some time, I plan to rough edit some of the video shots we got and share them here.
orchard shoot

Here is a photo that our video guy got of me, I had no idea that he took this photo.

calca cool room

Here is one that I took of me from the drone.
At this point, I am flying inside the massive cool room that they store grapes in.

Nano practice drone

The good news is two fold. Firstly, I did not crash. Secondly, I get to do more flying latter this week at another video case study.
In the middle of the two weeks Freddy and Terry asked me what I wanted for a Father’s day present (apparently I am hard to buy presents for… and my name is not even Gary…).
The answer was pretty simple…. I needed a small practice drone.

practice nano drone

So. There we are.
I am flying for work and pleasure.
Right now the FAA are between rules, so we are looking at whats required to keep this up moving forward.
At the moment it is still the bosses drone. Not sure whats going to happen there as he has been using it less and less (that was happening long before this shoot – just to be clear). It’s the sort of thing that if you don’t keep it up, you get rusty…. As I can attest to.

You might read or hear more about drones moving forward. Radio control aircraft seem to be making a comeback into my life. Amazing how stuff like this works out.