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 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."