Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Moscow protesters use quadcopter to video today's protest

(live stream)

I was watching the Moscow protest about the sentencing of the Navalny brothers. there were several reporters here and there that the news fee would cut to. Then suddenly, video from a quadcopter!  Nice.  I would personally not fly over people though.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Will congress come up with some rules?


"The FAA is expected to propose restricting drones weighing less than 55 pounds to flying at altitudes under 400 feet, forbid nighttime flights and require drones be kept within sight of their operators. Drone operators may also be required to get pilot's licenses, a possibility already drawing fire from critics who say the skills needed to fly a manned aircraft are different from those needed to operate a drone.
Shuster indicated he's concerned that requiring pilot's licenses might be burdensome and unnecessary. And keeping drones within sight of operators would be too strict and limit their usefulness, he said.
The reason for keeping drones within line of sight is that they don't yet have the ability to detect and avoid other aircraft.
AUVSI, the drone industry trade group, recently hired Mark Aitken, former chief of staff to Rep. Frank LoBiondo, R-N.J., as its government relations manager. LoBiondo is chairman of the House Subcommittee on Aviation, which will write the FAA reauthorization bill.
'We're really looking at an incremental approach still,' Aitken said. 'It's not something that is going to happen overnight.'"

That 55 pound rule always amazes me.  What on earth kind of contraption that weighs 55 pounds should be restricted to just 400 feet altitude?  and what on earth could it be?

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Time magazine helps you buy your first quad


"As sales soared like so many drones, YouTube overflowed with spectacular eye-in-the-sky video clips — the kind you’d normally expect to see from big-budget filmmakers with professional helicopter crews. (And when was the last time a helicopter pilot dared to venture inside a fireworks display?) These new toys afford us the freedom to go where birds go, with much of the same exhilarating speed and maneuverability.
For anyone interested in taking to the skies, the only challenge is deciding which drone to buy. Peruse your local or online hobby shop and you’re likely to find dozens of different models on display, with no clear indication of what’s best for different demographics."

These look like good, reasonably priced choices.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Know the rules of the road (in the US) before you fly


"Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), or drones as they are often called, are increasingly available online and on store shelves. Prospective operators—from consumers to businesses—want to fly and fly safely, but many don’t realize that, just because you can easily acquire a UAS, doesn’t mean you can fly it anywhere, or for any purpose. 'Know Before You Fly' is an educational campaign that provides prospective users with the information and guidance they need to fly safely and responsibly. 
Know Before You Fly was founded by the three leading organizations with a stake in UAS safety – the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) and the Small UAV Coalition. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is partnering with the founding members to spread the word about safe and responsible flying."

YES!  This was sorely needed.

kangaroo takes down a quadcopter

Come on people, let's keep a bit of distance here!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Friday, December 19, 2014

activist uses drone to show us something we already knew, trespasses


"SINCE 2012 the director of Speciesism: The Movie has been secretly using spy drones to investigate and expose the environmental devastation caused by factory farms.  In this video, the drones capture shocking aerial footage of the massive facilities that supply pigs for Smithfield Foods."

As far as I'm concerned (not being an attorney), if you fly over someone's property without their permission, you are trespassing.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Monday, December 15, 2014

Quadcopter convention in Vegas, Oct. 13-15


"The development of commercial drones has been gaining momentum. In fact, smart machines such as drones were one of Gartner’s top 10 technology trends organizations can’t afford to ignore in 2015, and InterDrone, the newly announced International Drone Conference and Exposition, is making sure drone-building engineers and software developers don’t miss a thing."

This looks interesting, though it might be a bit techie for amateurs.
The development of commercial drones has been gaining momentum. In fact, smart machines such as drones were one of Gartner’s top 10 technology trends organizations can’t afford to ignore in 2015, and InterDrone, the newly announced International Drone Conference and Exposition, is making sure drone-building engineers and software developers don’t miss a thing. - See more at: http://sdtimes.com/bz-media-announces-interdrone-commercial-drone-industry/#sthash.wiNjaiMD.dpuf
The development of commercial drones has been gaining momentum. In fact, smart machines such as drones were one of Gartner’s top 10 technology trends organizations can’t afford to ignore in 2015, and InterDrone, the newly announced International Drone Conference and Exposition, is making sure drone-building engineers and software developers don’t miss a thing. - See more at: http://sdtimes.com/bz-media-announces-interdrone-commercial-drone-industry/#sthash.wiNjaiMD.dpuf
The development of commercial drones has been gaining momentum. In fact, smart machines such as drones were one of Gartner’s top 10 technology trends organizations can’t afford to ignore in 2015, and InterDrone, the newly announced International Drone Conference and Exposition, is making sure drone-building engineers and software developers don’t miss a thing. - See more at: http://sdtimes.com/bz-media-announces-interdrone-commercial-drone-industry/#sthash.wiNjaiMD.dpuf
The development of commercial drones has been gaining momentum. In fact, smart machines such as drones were one of Gartner’s top 10 technology trends organizations can’t afford to ignore in 2015, and InterDrone, the newly announced International Drone Conference and Exposition, is making sure drone-building engineers and software developers don’t miss a thing. - See more at: http://sdtimes.com/bz-media-announces-interdrone-commercial-drone-industry/#sthash.wiNjaiMD.dpuf

Saturday, December 13, 2014

near misses with aircraft could prompt strict rules for drones


"The report comes after Balpa, the airline pilot’s association, demanded protection for the public against the risks of drones, which it wants to meet the same safety standards as piloted aircraft.  It also wants the machines to only be flown by operators with pilot-equivalent training.
Drones have been rapidly gaining popularity recently, and are a highly-sought after Christmas present this year. London department store Selfridges alone sold more than 100,000 Q4 Nano drones — around the size of a Jammie Dodger — via its concession Red 5 this year, the Evening Standard reported."

One crash between a drone and a plane will lead to insanely harsh rules for everybody. Just stay clear of airports!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Amazing quadcopter photos 2014


"Earlier this year we brought you news of a new competition, backed by National Geographic, looking for the most impressive drone photography.
It was arranged in conjunction with Dronestagram - a website for drone photographers to share and discuss their favourite work.
The winner was of a beautiful eagle, soaring majestically above a national park in Indonesia.
As 2014 draws to a close, we invited the Dronestagram team to bring us up to date with the very best pictures taken over the past 12 months."

Thursday, December 11, 2014

fliers in legal limbo until 2017


"'We all agree that the project is taking too long,' Peggy Gilligan, a top FAA safety official, told a congressional House panel Wednesday.
Gilligan confirmed that a 'balanced' proposal on drones is under executive review. But once that proposal is published for the public's eyes, it could take months to arrive at a final set of rules. The result could mean years of additional delays, according to a Government Accountability Office official.
'The consensus of opinion is the integration of unmanned systems will likely slip from the mandated deadline until 2017 or even later,' said Gerald Dillingham, the GAO's director of civil aviation."

This is certainly frustrating, especially since commercial use of quadcopters is essentially stopped until the rules come out. We just need to be especially careful until then.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

A starter quad for Christmas?


A nice summary article of the current state of affairs for quadcopters


"Lemasters lists three categories of UAV use:
Hobbyists, he says, are in it 'for their own pleasure,' much like R/C enthusiasts. Hobbyists are also likely following at least some of the 46-page Academy of Model Aeronautics guidelines for model aircraft pilots, including a minimum safe distance for operations within an airport. For example, the FAA says that anyone flying a model aircraft within five miles of any airport must notify the control tower; a large slice of beachfront Naples falls within that area.
The next category — folks getting technology off the Internet and launching it into the air without so much as a by-your-leave — is the one that’s potentially causing the FAA headaches. These users fall in between professionals playing strictly by the rules and boys with their toys.
Those may include photographers sending a UAV over a beach wedding or real estate companies doing aerial photos — all are technically in violation of FAA rules if money changes hands for that service. For example, the FAA says that anyone flying a model aircraft within five miles of any airport must notify the control tower; a large slice of beachfront Naples falls within that area.
Larger 'professional corporate entities,' such as enerGies, treat UAVs (and their pilots) as any other valuable resource. enerGies conducts a 100-page site survey and risk assessment before ever unboxing its Lockheed Martin Indago VTOL UAV. The feather-light machine, which costs between $20-$40,000 depending on its payload, has a 45-minute flight-time and programmable controls."

this is a good summary article for current uses of drones, and their uncertain legal status.

Monday, December 8, 2014

bio-degradable drones


"The shell of the drone is made from a mushroom-like material called mycelium, and cellulose coated with the same protein used to make wasp nests waterproof. Inside, the circuit board is printed with silver. Most of the materials—apart from a few components, like the motor—are biodegradable."

I like all this thinking outside the box. A lot won't really work out, but some will.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Canada breaks out new rules for drones


"Transport Canada today introduced two new exemptions that make it easier for businesses to fly small unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) safely and legally.
Under the new exemptions, a Special Flight Operations Certificate will no longer be required for certain operations involving very small (under 2 kg) and small (between 2 kg and 25 kg) UAVs. The new approach will apply to commercial operations and contribute to a strong safety regime.
To qualify under the new rules, operators must check Transport Canada’s website to confirm if the exemptions apply to them. If they do, operators must respect strict safety conditions at all times, including height restrictions, minimum distances from aerodromes and other hazards, as well as flight within specific airspace and visual line‑of‑sight. Anyone operating outside of these conditions will be required to apply for a Special Flight Operations Certificate.
These exemptions were previously announced to stakeholders at the Unmanned Systems Canada conference on November 5th. In October, Minister Raitt launched the Government of Canada’s national safety awareness campaign, which aims to help Canadians better understand the risks and responsibilities of flying UAVs. For more information, please visit www.tc.gc.ca/SafetyFirst."

 These are similar to the US rules.  Stay away from airports, don't fly too high, no license needed unless your rig is less than about 50 pounds (!). 

CBC had a segment this morning on the new rules.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Drone suppresison map


In the United States, the laws regarding drones are a confusing mish-mash of FAA guidelines, potentially unconstitutional state laws, and a deafening silence on the issue from Congress. While the commercial use of drones—along with when and where it's acceptable to take pictures with them—is in flux, it is possible to answer the question of where it is and isn’t legal to fly them.
An interactive map, posted on the custom online mapping site Mapbox by data analyst Bobby Sudekum,details all of the places in the United States where it is and isn’t legal to fly drones. On the map, all of the places where drones are forbidden are indicated in red."

Now things are getting clearer.  We need more information like this.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Chernobyl by quadcopter


"British videographer Danny Cooke made 'Postcards from Pripyat, Chernobyl' in his spare time while filming a segment for CBS News. His aerial footage, recorded using a DJI Phantom 2 drone and a Canon 7D camera, provides a fascinating look at the iconic shots that have come to define a city that has been empty for decades: Decaying ferris wheels, neglected Soviet monuments, heavily-wooded city squares."

Some great video that shows what a quadcopter can do that no other method could so easily and cheaply.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Quadcopters for Christmas!


"Black Friday is bringing prices down even further — here’s a roundup of deals not to miss. We and our friends at Stack Commerce put together the ultimate guide for getting a drone, and we've got one for every budget.
Don't forget to use the code HAPPYBF10 for an extra 10% off. 
Disclosure: This post is brought to you by Business Insider's Insider Picks team. We aim to highlight products and services you might find interesting, and if you buy them, we may get a small share of the revenue from the sale. This is not an advertiser sponsored post and we operate independently from our advertising sales team. We welcome your feedback. Have something you think we should know about? Email us at insiderpicks@businessinsider.com."

I don't own any of these so can't vouch for them.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Weird uses for quadcopters keep coming


"SINGAPORE: Restaurant-goers in Singapore can expect to be served by autonomous flying robots – the world’s first commercial attempt – by the end of next year.
Infinium-Serve, the autonomous flying robotic waiters, will be first launched at one of Timbre Group’s five outlets in Singapore. Infinium Robotics CEO Woon Junyang estimated the project to cost a 'low seven-figure sum' for the five outlets, subject to final negotiations and certain variables of the actual deployment of the robots.
Infinium Robotics signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Timbre Group on Oct 31. Both companies are seeking productivity-related government grants to help offset deployment costs.
Mr Woon said he is confident that such robotic solutions will help alleviate the Singapore’s labour crunch. Introducing this technology into restaurants would take away mundane tasks of serving food and drinks, and allow human waiters to focus on higher-value tasks such as getting feedback from customers, he said."

It's fun compiling all the wacky ideas people have for drones.  At least here they thought of protecting their clients from the four spinning blades of doom.

Thanksviging with an octocopter

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Gopro to make quadcopters!


"GoPro Inc. is developing its own line of consumer drones to expand from its core business of making wearable video cameras popular with surfers and other sports enthusiasts, according to people familiar with its plans.
The company plans to start selling multirotor helicopters equipped with high-definition cameras late next year, aiming for a price tag between $500 and $1000."

This should be great!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

FAA to crack down on drones


"Highly anticipated federal rules on commercial drones are expected to require operators to have a license and limit flights to daylight hours, below 400 feet and within sight of the person at the controls according to people familiar with the rule-making process."

I wish they'd just come out with their final rules already.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Ukrainian ex-minister's palace filmed by drone


"An RFE/RL investigation has revealed an opulent palace belonging to Ukraine's former minister for the environment and natural resources, Mikola Zlochevskiy, who served under ousted President Viktor Yanukovych. Anticorruption campaigners in Kyiv are demanding an investigation into Zlochevskiy, whose business links include the son of the U.S. vice president."

You can't see the palace from the ground, so this was a good way to show what is there.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

quadcopter through the fog

Dude flies his quadcopter in Buffalo snowstorm

and the next day...

Ghost Drone project


"We are an international team of flight enthusiasts and adventurers, and founded Ehang to remove the barriers to drone use so everyone could enjoy aerial filming. Drones are traditionally hard to pilot, easy to crash, and expensive. We developed our first product, the Ghost Drone, to address these challenges so you can discover a new way to capture magic around the earth.
Pre-order your drone to help us generate the volume we need to lower the cost for you and bring you additional features. Vote with your dollars and tell us which features you want us to develop.

Unlike many other drones being advertised, the Ghost Drone will be ready to ship between mid-December and end of January at the latest. With its lower price point and easy-to-use smartphone app, the Ghost Drone will make the perfect gift for first-time users and drone lovers alike."

This looks like a nice but not unique system.  $350.  Worth a look anyway.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Man brings the hammer down on drone pilot


"Writing for the board in the judicial order, Acting Chairman Christopher Hart states:
Respondent [Pirker] points to the legislative history of the Act—as well as a reference in the [Federal Aviation Act of 1958] to policies in furtherance of 'air transportation'—as evidence Congress intended the term 'aircraft' to mean a manned aircraft. However, the Act did not contain such a distinction, and the definition’s use of the passive voice in describing a device that is "used" for flight does not exclude unmanned aircraft. If the operator of an unmanned aircraft is not 'using' the aircraft for flight and some derivative purpose—be it aerial photography or purely recreational pleasure—there would be little point in buying such a device. In summary, the plain language of the statutory and regulatory definitions is clear: an 'aircraft' is any device used for flight in the air."

So FAA rules written for manned aircraft are now used against drone pilots.  Great.  Something to keep in mind.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

quadcopters harassing people, says UK


"Unlicensed drones controlled by members of the public are being used to harass people, police chiefs have warned. They further warn the technology is being used in protected airspace.
Addressing the House of Lords, Chief Inspector Nick Aldworth said unmanned drones were 'undoubtedly' being used in a 'reckless' o'r malicious' way.
The Lords Internal Market, Infrastructure and Employment Committee is holding an inquiry into the civil use of unmanned aircraft.
Committee Chair Baroness O’Cathain expressed concerns about breaches of privacy caused by flying drones close to private property."

Again, I agree that there should be some sort of control over drones, especially in inhabited areas. Like any useful tool, they can be misused as well.  Hopefully this will be worked out in a positive manner.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

When Quadcopters Attack


"The next day I took the Phantom out in the middle of the afternoon. I was about 50 feet off the ground, doing some speed runs to the tree line and back. At some point the GPS signal must have dropped again, because the light switched from green to red. I brought the unit to a halt, hovering it in front of me.

A strong gust of wind came through and suddenly the Phantom was drifting quickly towards my in-laws' house. Without GPS, the unit wasn’t correcting for this at all, and I didn’t want to break any windows. So I tried to correct hard back against the wind, but the breeze had also rotated the unit, and my orientation was off. Instead of fighting the wind, I actually doubled down, accelerating the unit over the house and out towards the road in front.

At this point I panicked. I couldn’t see the drone and wasn’t sure how to recover. So I decided the best thing to do was go to ground. I killed the rotors and listened with horror to the sound of my Phantom impacting into concrete. I think all this happened in less than two or three seconds.
I came running around to the front of the house and found a woman on a bike, stopped by the side of the road. On the back was a small child in a bike seat. Both were wearing helmets. My Phantom was strewn across the road in several pieces.
It was hard to tell how far in front of the drone they had been when it came down, but they were clearly shocked. A few seconds earlier, a few feet to the other side, and it could easily have come down on them instead. There is no way to say exactly what would have happened, but a heavy object falling out of the sky, striking someone in the head, at which point they crash their bike, certainly could have ended in serious injury or worse."

This is why I get very nervous when I see a quadcopter flying over a crowd.  Things go wrong. Blades twirl.  It's a bad idea.  Stick to the open fields.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

$3000 and you're in the professional quadcopter business

Not a bad price, I don't think.  Things are getting interesting....

South Park takes on quadcopters


It's an overgrowth of drones that lead to a tense standoff in South Park. 

quads and airplanes don't mix


"'It should not be a matter of luck that keeps an airplane and a drone apart,' said Rory Kay, a training captain at a major airline and a former Air Line Pilots Association safety committee chairman. 'So far we've been lucky because if these things are operating in the sky unregulated, unmonitored and uncontrolled, the possibility of a close proximity event or even a collision has to be of huge concern.'
The FAA requires that all drone operators receive permission from the agency, called a certificate of authorization, before they can fly their unmanned aircraft. Most certificates limit drones to 400 feet in altitude and require that they remain within sight of the operator and at least 5 miles away from an airport. Exceptions are made for some government drones. The military flies drones in great swaths of airspace in remote areas designated for military use. Customs and Border Protection flies high-altitude drones along the U.S. borders with Mexico and Canada."

the article lists several incidents. These should not happen.  Keep planes and drones separate.

North Korea using cheap drones


"Yes, North Korea's drones are simple and crude, and fly along a preprogrammed route. They're small, with a length of less than 7 feet and a wingspan of less than 10 feet. They're low-performance, with top speeds estimated at 75 miles per hour, a maximum flight duration of four hours, payloads of no more than 7 pounds, and an altitude of no more than 20,000 feet. Contrast this with the high-payload, stealth-capable drones the United States is developing now. Even the workhorse Predator MQ-9 can reach speeds up to 300 miles per hour, has flight durations exceeding 14 hours, can carry payloads up to 1,500 pounds, and can operate up to 50,000 feet. And whereas Predators carry high-tech sensor packages for surveillance and precision targeting, the most sophisticated piece of technology found on North Korean drones appears to be nothing more than a commercial-grade camera. But it's the low-performance qualities of North Korea's drones that enable them to evade South Korean defenses, which are optimized for more traditional threats from bigger, faster, higher-altitude aircraft."

Everybody is getting into drones.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

drones for farmers



"'We've identified agriculture early on as one of the potential early adopters of the technology,' said Justice. His center has invested some $350,000 in the development of unmanned aircraft systems over the past five years.
As progress toward commercial drone operations accelerates, state lawmakers are expected to take up the issue of privacy protections during next year's legislative session.
'It's timely at this point for the legislature to act so that operators in the state know what the rules of the road are,' Justice said.
All told, the Federal Aviation Administration has estimated as many as 8,000 commercial drones could be flying by 2020."

Fly up, take specialized photos, see which area of your property needs more water/fertilizer/whatever.  Save having to reapply to the whole field.  Great savings, and this is one area where I think drones will actually prove useful.


Friday, November 7, 2014

Kiwi travels the world with his drone


"It was posted by photojournalist Amos Chapple to Reddit on Saturday, titled 'I managed to fly a drone over the Kremlin (then hastily escape) yesterday. Here’s what it saw.'
Mr Chapple is a New Zealand freelance photographer who travels the world taking photos of international cities on drones.
He told Reddit users the photo was 'a commissioned shot (from a Russian company) but they made it clear I was on my own if I got caught.'"

I'd like to know what this drone is. A stealth quadcopter?

Thursday, November 6, 2014

another use for those 4 whirling blades of doom; delivery

yeah, those blades aren't gonna hurt any curious kids or protective pets or anything.  And nobody would want to grab it and take it home for fun.  yep, this will work great.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Or, just put a camera on an eagle


"Recently in Paris, Sony strapped its Action Cam Mini on a white-tailed eagle named Victor. It flew from the top of the Eiffel Tower, over the Seine, and down into the Trocadéro Gardens.
The eagle's handler, Jacques Olivier Travers, is the head of the nonprofit organization Freedom, whose objective is to reintroduce the white-tailed eagle into its natural habitat in the French and Swiss Alps. These eagles have been extinct in France for more than 50 years."

No need for a quadcopter, apparently.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

China will shoot your drones down


China has developed a highly accurate laser weapon system that can shoot down light drones at low altitude, state media reported.
The machine has a 1.2-mile range and can bring down “various small aircraft” within five seconds of locating its target, the official Xinhua news agency said, citing a statement by the China Academy of Engineering Physics (CAEP), one of the developers.
Xinhua showed pictures of large metal boxes in camouflage paint and the wreckage of a small drone, some of it burning."

So follow the rules!  Whatever they are in China.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

quadcopters to the rescue!


"Pars is an Aerial robot which is designed and made for saving human lives. The first purpose of building the robot is the relief of people drowning near coastlines. By developing its applications, it can be used in ships and off shore reliefs. It can also be used in other applications such as monitoring of marine and off shore structures, recording films and pictures from dangerous path ways for rescue missions, precise positioning and monitoring of off shore disasters.
The designed robot uses new technologies for guidance and navigation. Some of the technologies used are artificial intelligence, sound and image processing, autopilot search and rescue and a wide combination of sensor technologies. The robot is very simple and also very applicable and can play a significant role in saving the injured people.
Pars is designed in a way that it can quickly move towards drowning people by user guidance and activate its savior system. This system releases life tubes for the drowning ones. Considering that many people drown all over the world every year, this robot can decreases the duration of rescue operations and can save many lives."

I dunno.  It's nice to see how many people are looking for useful applications for quadcopters and drones, but some ideas seem a bit out there to me.  I'm not sure how this would be better than a lifeguard with a jet ski, for example.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Quadcopters buzzing French nuclear plants


"Unmanned aircraft have been seen flying over many of France's nuclear stations and the authorities don't know where they have come from.
Greenpeace, who have previously flown a paraglider over a nuclear plant in France, deny any involvement."

I think with mine I could go about 1/2 mile line-of-sight with my Spektrum transmitter, so the pilot is probably in a vehicle in that vicinity.  It's worrying because they don't know who's doing it, but I suspect it's somebody making a movie about nuclear power.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

drone ambulance!


"The drone tracks emergency mobile calls and uses the GPS to navigate. Once at the scene, an operator, like a paramedic, can watch, talk and instruct those helping the victim by using an on-board camera connected to a control room via a livestream webcam."

OSCE using drones in Ukraine, until they get shot down


"The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has begun using unmanned surveillance drones to monitor the conflict in eastern Ukraine, which has claimed nearly 4,000 lives, including some 1,000 Ukrainian servicemen.
Two drones have been delivered so far and another two are on their way.
'The idea is a 24/7 operation so there is always one in the air,' said OSCE spokesperson for the Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine Michael Bociurkiw.
 The Camcopter S-100 is a 3.5 meter long unarmed mini-helicopter equipped with a camera and radar equipment. The standard model can stay in the air for up to six hours and is able to operate in snow-covered areas at temperatures as low as -40 Celcius, according to Schiebel public relations representative Andrea Blama."

This depends on the good will of both side not to shoot at the drones.  Otherwise, good idea.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Dude melts his Gopro flying over volcano

war reporting with a quadcopter


"Drone footage reveals the extent of damage to Gaza City caused by the recent conflict with Israeli that lasted 50 days, until a ceasefire was brokered.
Between 8 July and 27 August, more than 2,100 Palestinians were killed in the Gaza Strip, along with 66 Israeli soldiers and seven civilians in Israel."

Quadcopters show things in a way no other method could.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

word's first drone?


"In 350 B.C., mathematician and founding father of mechanics Archytas of Tarentum invented a wooden mechanical dove.
“Archytas’ invention is often cited as the first robot, and, in light of recent technological advancements, perhaps we could even consider it to be the first drone; the very first machine capable of autonomous flight,” wrote Jimmy Stamp in a Smithsonian article.
Stamp isn’t the only one to consider this flying dove a pioneering drone. A modern unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV)—i.e., a drone—developed by the Aeronautics Department at the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School was named for Archytas in 1993. "

Not enough info. to make a copy though.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Another starter quad to learn on


"Because of the $80 price tag, I wasn’t expecting much.  To my surprise, the Ominus offered more and I actually got a really good quad for a great price.  Unfortunately for my nephew, I’m having too good of a time with it.  He probably won’t be playing with the Ominus anytime soon.  But from my experience, the Ominus was designed to be enjoyed by beginners and advance flyers alike.
Ominus flyers can toggle from four flight modes by clicking on the F-Mode button.  The modes range from Easy to Expert.  I’ve been sticking with the Normal mode for flight stabilization.  The brushed motors don’t have any problems carrying and powering this quad through the wind. "

I like this guy's reviews.  He shows that the Ominous is stable, cheap, and a good choice for beginners.  But it doesn't have picture or video capability.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

quadcopter causes riot at soccer game


"A soccer match between the national teams of Serbia and Albania had to be abandoned on Tuesday night in Belgrade after rioting provoked by the sudden appearance of a small drone, flying low over the stadium and trailing an Albanian nationalist banner.
Video recorded by a spectator in the stands showed the immediate reaction from the Serbian fans, who booed and whistled before taking up a chant of 'Kill! Kill! Kill!' Albanians, as a flare was thrown onto the field of play."

There does need to be regulation of where drones can be used.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

North Dakota police use drone to find suspects


"The Grand Forks County Sheriff's Office says it deployed a drone to help catch some criminals on the run. They say it is the first time a drone has been used by law enforcement to conduct a mission at night.  
Matthew Dalbey of Emerado, Cole Schmidt of Larimore, and Sawyer Smith of Hatton, North Dakota, are facing alcohol and fleeing-related charges. There's also a fourth suspect authorities are not identifying. Dalbey is charged with DUI, reckless driving, minor in possession and refusing to halt. Schmidt is charged with minor in consumption and refusing to halt. Smith is charged with refusing to halt.
The sheriff's office used a drone after the men ran into a field during a traffic stop just after 2:15 a.m. on September 28. Sheriff's deputies tried pulling over a pickup in rural Larimore when the four people ran from the scene. After a K-9 was unable to locate the suspects, the UAS team was contacted."

This kind of use I have no problem with.

Hawk takes down a quadcopter


"Operator Christopher Schmidt says the incident took place at Magazine Beach Park in Cambridge, Massachusetts and that, upon realizing what was about to happen, he quickly throttled down the Phantom FC40 quadcopter's props to keep them from injuring the bird (or worse).
Other copters have not been so lucky
Other bird-meets-drone encounters have not had such happy endings. Last year, another Phantom operator had his drone dive-bombed by a group of birds, that forced it into a crash landing."

I have never had such an issue.  It was good to throttle down the quad so the bird didn't get hurt.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

How big is that protest? Let's look and see...


"Footage filmed by a drone has captured the scale of Monday's pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong's central business district.
Tens of thousands of people took to the streets to oppose China's decision to choose the candidates for Hong Kong's next election in 2017."

If you need a cheap, quick look from the air, quadcopter is what you want.  Just don't crash.

"Frazier is a proselytizer for law enforcement drones. He believes they add to the police officer’s toolkit in fighting crime. He also stressed how cheap they are to run – when he worked with manned police helicopters in his previous job in Glendale, southern California, the unit cost $12m a year to sustain, while his current drone unit in Grand Forks costs just $10,000 annually.
As interest in drones has grown among police agencies, so too have fears about the downsides. Debates have raged across the country about whether the technology could lead to a vast expansion of police surveillance on individuals.
Such concerns have been fueled by plans floated by police departments for blanket surveillance. The city of Ogden, Utah, came in for a lot of criticism when it proposed putting a blimp semi-permanently on patrol."

This is a good article covering several angles of quadcopter use.So long as the police have rules to go by to protect privacy, quadcopters are a great cheap tool for the police and many other professions to use.

Monday, September 29, 2014

quadcopter pilot fined for losing his quad in national park


A US judge has fined a Dutch tourist for crashing a drone into a hot spring in Yellowstone National Park.
Theodorus Van Vliet was ordered to pay more than $3,000 (£1,847) for flying the unmanned aerial vehicle into the Grand Prismatic Spring in August.
Mr Van Vliet pleaded guilty last week to illegally operating the drone, which has yet to be located by authorities."

I don't mind the idea that people should ask for permission first.  But I hope this doesn't mean that drones will NEVER be allowed in parks for any reason.

Gopro 4 out!


Or if you can't afford such a work of art...


Drones used for movies!


"The film and video industry will never look the same, thanks to drones. Commercial use of drones is now prohibited, but there are signs that regulatory changes may be coming soon. The FAA has just granted exemptions to six filmmaking companies to use drones equipped with cameras.
Drone videos are already changing the way we see things."

Yep. Amazing shots can be had only with quadcopters.  but then, you can also make mistakes...


Friday, September 26, 2014

A wearable quadcopter?


"Meet Nixie, a wearable camera that flies off your wrist and turns into a remote-controlled quadcopter. It's the bizarre-yet-appealing wearable camera drone nobody asked for... and now we kind of want it.

Intel is holding a competition to encourage new wearable technology ideas, and the Nixie is one of the finalists. So far, it's still in development, so the flying wristlet camera is rough around the edges. Team captain Christoph Kohstall eventually wants you to be able to send the the Nixie flying with a gesture. It would recognize where you're standing, snap a picture, then return to the wrist, like a futuristic paparazzi boomerang."

Kinda bizarre, but who knows.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

If there's a headwind either way, you're screwed


"DHL’s Paketkopter 2.0 will begin flying to the island of Juist starting Friday, to deliver medicines to a population of fewer than 2,000 from the Seehund Pharmacy located on the mainland at Norddeich. The drone will fly at an altitude of 50 meters over the span of 12 kilometers each way without any control by a human pilot."

I kinda don't believe this story, unless it's not actually a quadcopter they're using. I don't see a quadcopter making 12 kilometers each way consistently, what with weather being a factor. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Polaroid activity cam; small, lightweight, cheap!


"Beyond the physical allusions, Brunner says he wanted to make the camera as fun and easy to use as the original Polaroid point-and-shoots. The Cube has a single button on top—press once to take a still image, twice for video. A door in the back, unscrewed with a coin, reveals the memory card, a micro USB port for charging the device and for downloading video, and a switch for choosing between 720p or 1080p resolution. The resolution is on par with that of a GoPro, which also offers an intermediate option of 960p."

Looks good, for video on the quad anyway.

Drones for Science!


"And drones aren't just useful at sea — organizations like Conservation Drones are finding drone applications in research and conservation on land, like monitoring birds. And, in addition to Perryman's whale research, NOAA has an entire program devoted to using drones for environmental research, including taking atmospheric samples and surveying sea lion populations.
Drones can also be used to fight off threats of the non-environmental kind: Kenya just announced plans to deploy drones in all of its national parks and reserves giving rangers 24-hour aerial surveillance for poachers."

Yes, quadcopters and other flying platforms are safe, cheap, relatively easy to use!

Monday, September 22, 2014

quadcopter goes to work!

I watched a demonstration on campus here of a quadcopter following a red balloon around. It was pretty impressive.  Now this video shows a quadcopter simulating some actual work by turning a valve.  The future looks bright!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

LAPD promise not to use their quadcopters yet


"The LAPD says the newly acquired Draganflyer X6 pilotless choppers, equipped to carry video cameras and night-vision lenses, are intended for SWAT-team use against armed suspects who may be barricaded alone or with hostages.
But echoing objections aired in Seattle, civil libertarians in California's largest city say law enforcement use of airborne robots raises questions about privacy rights, the limits of government powers to snoop on its citizens and the militarization of police agencies.
Although police in both cities have said the drones would never carry weapons, the deployment of pilotless aircraft has drawn associations with covert U.S. missile strikes in places such as Pakistan and Yemen.
Seattle police originally purchased the drones in 2010 with an $80,000 federal grant, but a plan to deploy them to search for missing persons and fugitives and to assist in certain criminal investigations was scrapped last year in the face of community opposition."

I don't have any objection to the police using such technology, so long as they only use it for severe situations, like a hostage standoff or something.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Friday, September 12, 2014

quadcopter used to record damage to Gaza from Isaeli strike

"Drone footage reveals the extent of damage to Gaza City caused by the recent conflict with Israeli that lasted 50 days, until a ceasefire was brokered.
Between 8 July and 27 August, more than 2,100 Palestinians were killed in the Gaza Strip, along with 66 Israeli soldiers and seven civilians in Israel."

Quadcopters help diplomacy, and history!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

animal activist uses drone


A law in some states makes it illegal for animal rights activists to videotape on farms and slaughterhouses property. So they've come up with using drones to fly over instead.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Wyoming worried about drones


"Wyoming association of Boyd Oedekoven, executive director of the Wyoming Association of Sheriffs and Chiefs of Police, only knows of two drones that exist in the state. Oedekoven says one drone belongs to a fire department that uses it to access rural fires, and another one is owned by a swat team.
'I think it’s better that we evaluate the overall restrictions and evaluate what our need to use them. For example, I think the unmanned aerial vehicles should follow the same rules as using an airplane,' said Oedekoven."

Maybe he means he knows of only 2 drones used by the government in Wyoming?

Burning Man 2014

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Don't fly your quadcopter in a national park without permission


"For the third time this summer, Yellowstone National Park rangers have cited a tourist for illegally flying a drone in the park. 
Park officials said Friday that Donald Criswell of Molalla, Oregon, flew an unmanned aircraft over Midway Geyser Basin and near bison on Aug. 19.
In early August, rangers charged Theodorus Van Vliet of the Netherlands after his drone allegedly crashed into Grand Prismatic Spring. Andreas Meissner of Germany is accused of flying a drone that crashed into Yellowstone Lake on July 17. He was charged earlier this week."

Not that quadcopters can actually cause much damage, but I can see the need for rules.

Warrant? We don't need no steenking warrant!


"'In the 1989 case Florida v. Riley, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that since airplanes and helicopters often fly over private property, citizens do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy that their activities will not be observed from the air,' Ronald Bailey explains in Reason.' Consequently, the police were permitted use of evidence obtained without a search warrant from helicopter observation of a greenhouse in which they suspected marijuana was being grown.'
At the time, aerial surveillance was at least constrained in practice by the significant cost of flying a helicopter. But today, at the dawn of the cheap-drone era, precedents like the one set in 1989 pose a novel threat to privacy rights. Hence the effort by California lawmakers to pass added protections into law:
Earlier this month the California State Assembly voted to require police to obtain warrants to use drones for surveillance except in exigent circumstances. Now the State Senate has handily passed the legislation with a 25 to 8 vote.'
If police need a warrant to enter your property to look through your window, then their quadcopter would need a warrant too.  My opinion.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Will terrorists use quadcopters?


"While the drone may not have been critical in taking the base, it gave militants situational awareness they wouldn’t have had otherwise, [associate political scientist at RAND Corp Colin] Clarke said.  'Any small advantage helps. I’d say it’s kind of a force multiplier,' he said. 'Any time you can get advanced information by scouting out a position before attacking it is helpful because it helps you plan exactly what kind of resources you are going to need.'”

Well duh. ISIS uses Facebook, Youtube, modern weapons, etc.  Why would they not use drones?  But that doesn't make drones inherently bad, any more than it makes Facebook or Youtube bad.

There should be limits and rules placed on using quadcopters and other such flying contraptions.  They should not be treated as dangerous any more than cars or airplanes are dangerous if used incorrectly.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Drone problems in South Dakota


"There aren’t clear and specific regulations for UAVs, according to Allison. He is manager of the FAA flight standards district office at Rapid City.
Allis said people usually bring their UAVs down from the air when asked by FAA and law enforcement officials, but one and possibly more incidents from Sturgis could be heading to court.
He said the seventy-fifth anniversary rally at Sturgis next year could attract many more UAVs."

I would not fly my quadcopter over people unless they all gave me permission to do so.  period.

Monday, August 25, 2014

How Drones are transforming movies


"Getting closer than a helicopter, higher than a crane, and as steady as a dolly - drones are fast becoming an essential part of the professional filmmaker's kit.
Compact drones can now carry heavy camera equipment into the air for spectacular aerial filming and shoot rock-steady shots in the most unforgiving of environments."

This is the Full Fledged Gonzo version of quadcopter video work.  You need two people and a zillion dollar gimbal.  and don't crash.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Best quadcopter to buy?


"If you’ve earned your wings with a trainer drone and are ready to commit, you’ll be pleased to know that after researching and testing all the top-rated camera drones we could find, the $1,300 DJI Phantom 2 Vision+ was not just the clear winner, but a surprise value.
$1,300 sounds like a lot of money, because it is. But compare it to what it costs to build a quadcopter with similar specs. The Phantom 2, for example, costs $960 with DJI’s exclusive 3-axis gimbal (like the V+). Add a $400 GoPro Hero3+ Black and a decent $300 FPV system and you hit $1,660—$360 more than the V+. And then you’re not even getting the V+’s real-time flight data info, such as battery life."

I've only flown my hoverthings quadcopter so I'm no expert on what's the best to buy.  Nice article here.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Good frame, or best frame?

Well some of this is hype, because they're selling a product. But it does show how tough a quadcopter can be. I would crash mine (from hoverthings.com) pretty much every time I flew, but very seldom broke anything.  Basically if it looked like I was getting into big trouble, I'd just cut the throttle and let the thing fall to earth.  That one time... I was flying at the top of a hill in windy conditions, lost control, and plowed the old GoPro camera right into a tree.  Lens broke.  Much sad.

A nice starter quadcopter


"This is a Hobby People Quad RTF Multi-Rotor RC Heli w/Camera. No prior experience needed!  This Quad features an on-board camera that will take still images and digital movies all at the click of a button right on the controller!"

I bought this because my bigger quad is undergoing a skeletal remake.  It's a great starter quad because:

* uses the same basic controls
* has a lipo battery, so you have to get used to how that works
* has a reasonably lousy camera, but still you can start to see the joyful things you can do with a quad!
 * much cheaper than a full-size quadcopter

Kim Komando reports on tiny drones


"Pocket-sized drones could make surveillance and recon much safer for soldiers in combat zones.
Drones are everywhere these days. Take a look at some incredible drones in action."