OT: I want my own drone

riredale wrote on 2/2/2014, 11:29 PM
I have absolutely no use for one of these, but they are just so cool--the ultimate toy. This particular model is just single-axis, but there's a link in the text for a two-axis version, and it appears to be very stable. I recall there was discussion about a similar product here recently.

Would there be much demand for video footage from one of these things for commercial use?


musicvid10 wrote on 2/2/2014, 11:40 PM
In real estate, absolutely.
Problem is, they're already outlawed in many urban, rural, and wilderness areas, for a variety of reasons ranging from public safety to privacy and security to hunting.
GeeBax wrote on 2/2/2014, 11:41 PM
I think there is a market for footage, but it is already well and truly met. There are larger drones than can carry a Red or Alexa up, although why you would want to risk that much money puzzles me.

Recently in Sydney, Australia, the Nine Network were shooting material on the harbour for the cricket sports show when their drone lost power, dropped into the harbour and sank like a stone. Scratch one camera rig.

And there are even larger machines being manufactured by people like Yamaha with their RMax unmanned helicopter. It could take a really big rig aloft with complete safety, however you cannot actually buy them, only rent or lease them, and you have to be licensed (in Australia at least) to fly one.

As musicvid10 says, there are growing concerns and new laws being brought in to deal with them.

However, like you, I was tempted and have now crashed and destroyed two of them :-)
FrigidNDEditing wrote on 2/3/2014, 12:04 AM
We've used a similar rig for some interesting aerial shots of obstacles for our TV show, but I'm not willing to fly it during the event day because we had one take off on us once and it went up like 200 ft and then just went hurtling into the ground.

Fortunately no-one was there because it was a day that was pre-event, but I was piloting, and using eye goggles, and all I could do was watch it shoot up, and then come screaming into the dirt ( also fortunately it landed in soft dirt and the modular pieces saved us from a ton of repairs ). After that, I was pretty much un-willing to fly it at an event because I think they could probably kill if they did that to a kid or even an adult, they're not light weight with batteries in them.

Dave H.
Serena Steuart wrote on 2/3/2014, 1:35 AM
The quadro-copter machines are a very much easier to control than a normal RC helicopter because of their built-in autopilot. Watching one recently I was impressed by its ability to hold station in gusts, which it does under internal control. Of course the autopilot counters wind by rolling (if your view is normal to the wind) so you need two axis camera stabilisation for steady video. Piloting involves inputs to the autopilot, not active flight controls. If your work can profit from the sort of thing these can do, then it's a relatively cheap solution. But like any aerial solution, not fail safe.
Terje wrote on 2/3/2014, 3:47 AM
One thing to keep in mind, given the actions of the FAA the last few weeks, is that flying such a drone is perfectly fine if you are an amateur, but it is not OK to fly them if it is professional. In other words, if you use this for a project you are charging for, you need FAA approval and training, if you use it for fun, you are OK.
Grazie wrote on 2/3/2014, 3:50 AM
I do wish people would stop droning on and on and on about these . . .


. . pure jealously
Steve Mann wrote on 2/3/2014, 3:58 AM
I have a hex copter that will lift two pounds of camera and gimbal. The technology is pretty good, and I tell all newcomers to plan on crashes during the training phase. I watched a $25K rig fail and crash right next to a actor on a film I was working on. The directors' instructions to the cast for the scene was to look frightened- he got the shot he wanted, but the 5D camera and much of the copter were junk.

In the US, local regulations would not stand a court challenge as long as the FAA maintains that light drones like these are aircraft, and subject to FAA regulation, preempting local regulation. I sure don't have the deep pockets to test that, however. One operator is challenging FAA jurisdiction in federal court now, so the regulatory picture is constantly changing.

Currently, the FAA allows hobby use with few limitations, but strictly forbids commercial use. I can shoot video of my neighbor's house and put it on YouTube, but the minute I give the same video to a realtor to sell the house, it becomes an illegal commercial flight.
richard-amirault wrote on 2/3/2014, 6:19 AM
The Discovery Channel's show GOLD RUSH uses drones and GoPro's .. the drone shots are mostly for "hero" shots for intros and commercials. They film in the USA, Canada and in South America. Not sure I remember specific USA (Alaska) shots however.
Gary James wrote on 2/3/2014, 7:59 AM
Just curious. How immune to stray RF interference are the R/C controls of these drones? Years ago I was stationed on an Air Force base that let R/C modelers fly planes over an old abandoned runway that was a couple miles from their active one.

I was watching several planes when suddenly everyone of them lost control and they came crashing down onto the tarmac. I can only guess that some stray RF interference was the cause of ALL of them losing control at the same time.
Steve Mann wrote on 2/3/2014, 9:01 AM
When was this? Most RC gear today is either in the 2.4 or 5GHz band, and use a modulation mode that is pretty immune to RF interference. Ten years ago they were either in the 27 or 72MHz band, and any nearby CB transmitter could cause mayhem.

Could an enterprising hacker take over a drone today? Possibly, but it would be remarkably difficult because of the frequency- hopping modulation mode. It would be like taking over your cellphone in mid- call. It only looks easy in the movies. The few random reports you read about people hacking a drone in order to discredit them or spread fear-mongering were orchestrated. The hacker had access to the drone beforehand in order to gather some of the needed pairing details.
Gary James wrote on 2/3/2014, 9:24 AM
This was back in the early 1970's when I was attending aircraft electronics tech school at Keesler AFB near Biloxi, MS. They let R/C modelers on the old shorter runway used to train Army Air Corps pilots during WWII. So we're talking 40+ year old technology.

I only asked because I have some knowledge of the capabilities of the ECM ( electronic counter measures) equipment on Air Force B-52 bombers of the day. Their broad spectrum RF jamming capability was impressive even by today's standards. And I was speculating if someone who was aware of a drone flying nearby, could interfere with it using surplus military equipment. I would think that immunity to spurious RF signals would be a factor in their design. At least for commercial drones, if not hobby models.
riredale wrote on 2/3/2014, 10:46 AM
I don't understand. So we will NEVER see a real-estate ad with video shot from the air (other than from a helicopter) because the FAA bans any commercial use of lightweight drones? That seems a bit draconian.

Anyway, I also love the fact that the drone will fly itself back home and land gently if the battery gets low.
Woodenmike wrote on 2/3/2014, 2:16 PM
Well some folk just get stupid with these things, although I admit, one would be fun to play with!
GeeBax wrote on 2/3/2014, 2:45 PM
I don't understand. So we will NEVER see a real-estate ad with video shot from the air (other than from a helicopter) because the FAA bans any commercial use of lightweight drones? That seems a bit draconian.

I don't believe that is what is being said, you CAN use them for that purpose, but you have to be licensed. And that is a good thing.
Woodenmike wrote on 2/3/2014, 5:22 PM
You could always claim you were making "refreshment" deliveries...Waiting for this concept to catch on in Colorado and Washington!
richard-amirault wrote on 2/3/2014, 8:00 PM
I don't understand. So we will NEVER see a real-estate ad with video shot from the air (other than from a helicopter) because the FAA bans any commercial use of lightweight drones? That seems a bit draconian.

Not according to this:

It seems like the FAA is working towards getting rules in place, but for now bans all 'commercial' use. However this may have been only unlicensed users.

Not sure if the FAA has licensed any 'civilian' operators at this point. Seems like only military and government right now.
fldave wrote on 2/3/2014, 8:25 PM
Yeah, it is illegal to sell commercial footage from one. I was brainstorming this weekend about offering a real estate package, and I throwing in a free aerial clip. Not sure if an "added value" offering would skirt the law or not.
PixelStuff wrote on 2/4/2014, 10:30 PM
DJI makes larger drones as well such as the S800 and it's Panasonic GH3 Gimbal. So I guess it depends on how professional you are talking.

However, if you want cheap, (you know, in case you crash and burn) the Phantom 1 or 2 is probably as cheap as it gets without being a full on "toy". Also the DJI Phantom has a slew of accessories that can be purchased to enhance stability and use with a GoPro camera. You may need some of those accessories to get the shot you want.

Take a look at the Phantom upgrade kits on the DSLR Pros website.

And watch this drool worthy video.

Steve Mann wrote on 2/6/2014, 10:30 AM
"I don't believe that is what is being said, you CAN use them for that purpose, but you have to be licensed. And that is a good thing."

Well, no. The FAA has no licensing procedure in place for UAV's right now, so even if you wanted to be fully legal, there's no way to get there.

There's currently a lawsuit in Federal court by an aerial videographer who the FAA cited for "careless and reckless" operation under part 91 of the FAA rules. He has a pretty good chance of winning as his lawyer has really done his homework by finding precedent cases that state that the FAA's regulations begin at 500ft AGL except for takeoffs and landings. He has also found regulatory proceedings from the FAA that reinforces that position. If he wins, it could open the doors for commercial use of UAV's below 500-ft AGL.
richard-amirault wrote on 2/6/2014, 4:32 PM
The FAA has no licensing procedure in place for UAV's right now, ...

Well they *do* ... but right now it is only military and government that can get one (not even sure that the military *needs* one)
richard-amirault wrote on 2/6/2014, 4:37 PM
Another tact is that a drone is, essentially, a model aircraft (at the size and weights considered here) Why would commercial use of a model aircraft be, legally, any different than non-commercial use.

GeeBax wrote on 2/7/2014, 1:56 AM
Well, the Nine Network here in Australia has been using a octocopter for several months over summer with live shots of the stadiums where the cricket is being played. So I guess they are likely doing it within the framework of our laws.
Serena Steuart wrote on 3/7/2014, 8:57 PM
Well the issue has been resolved. You can use them for commercial purposes without needing a license. In the USA, anyway. And commercial use is fine in Australia -- just have fly below regulated airspace. That is below 122 metres and no closer than 4.8Km from an airfield.


Of course, this is unlikely to be the last word on their use.