Monday, February 2

A drone's eye view of Nikao

It's been ages since I made a drone video.
I used to make a point of calling my Phantom a 'quadcopter' because some folk objected to the word 'drone'. They thought everyone equated them to the Predators used to bomb people in Afganistan and Pakistan. And elsewhere.
So 'quadcopter' was OK. Also UAV which if you've got one you might remember means unmanned aerial vehicle but is just jargon to most people.
Well, I've now decided to ignore those folk and call my little machine a drone as the many thousands of people all over the world who got one for Christmas are undoubtedly doing.
My drone is a Phantom 1 and I'm not particularly interested in the flying side of things; it's more of a flying tripod (quadpod?).
I added prop guards when I first got it, for protection when flying into trees and bushes (necessary, believe  me) and more recently a gimbal to help steady the camera while the drone was flying. That made it a bit heavy and shortened the flying time so I got some gruntier batteries, removed the prop guards and added slightly bigger props. I've now got a longer flight time.
Unlike more recent (more expensive) drones I can't see what I'm filming until I get it back to the computer but I like editing anyway.
What I need now is some decent weather. Had a few good days a couple of weeks ago but we've had strong winds, heavy downpours and even the occasional thunderstorm since then. This is good for filling the water intakes and relieving the previous drought conditions but not much use for drone video.
Anyway, here's a short drone video of the Nikao area taken on a couple of days when I thought there wasn't much wind.
It turned out that although it was calm where I was standing, higher up and further away it was quite gusty. You can see that from the smoke trail in some sections of video. The drone got caught by the wind, spun around a couple of times and then drifted behind some trees. I don't fly it beyond line-of-sight but when it's high up it's a small white blob against a light background of sky and it hard (make that impossible) to see what it's actually doing. Thought I'd lost it but there's a failsafe switch on the controller and a couple of minutes after flicking it on I heard the sewing-machine sound of my Phantom heading home. Whew!
I could see from the video that the wind caused quite a bit of vibration but I flew it again next day and everything worked well.
No more flying since then because of the wind, but it looks as though the weather's improving so maybe I'll get a chance to fly again soon.