You are on page 1of 100

DRONE

dEVOTION
Our devotion to reliability and performance is what you’ll find in every Blade® drone design. That’s because each
one is engineered by a team with decades of combined flight experience. A team that knows a great experience
requires durability, maneuverability and power to spare. This performance is complemented by innovative SAFE®
technology that delivers precision, stability and the kind of intuitive flight mode options that exceed expectations.
Whether it’s aerial video capture, learning to fly or just having fun, we have the drone experience you deserve.

See More At BladeQuad.com

facebook.com/bladehelis
©2015 Horizon Hobby, LLC. Blade, E-flite, Glimpse, Mach 25, Chroma, EFC, SAFE, the SAFE logo, Serious Fun and the Horizon Hobby
logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of Horizon Hobby, LLC. All other trademarks, service marks and logos are property of
their respective owners. Actual product may vary slightly from photos shown. 48202
Chroma™
Camera Drone
RTF (BLH8675/BLH8670/BLH8665)
BNF (BLH8680)
• Easy to fly with 30-minute flight times
• Available with camera or GoPro-ready
• No-distortion 4K and 1080p options

ENGINEERED WITH

Pico QX Glimpse™ FPV Nano QX


RTF (BLH8200) RTF (BLH2200) | BNF (BLH2280) RTF (BLH7200) | BNF (BLH7280)
• Compact 8 gram micro quadcopter • Integrated HD camera and free App • Spektrum™ ultra micro FPV camera
• Single or double flip button • Low-latency Wi-Fi video downlink • Fat Shark Teleporter V4 headset (RTF only)
• Internal battery and LED lights • Durable airframe with blade guards • Small enough to fly in any room or office

Mach 25™ FPV Racer 200 QX 350 QX3


BNF (BLH8980) BNF (BLH7780) AP COMBO (BLH8160)
• AR636QR receiver with pressure sensor • Powerful brushless motors RTF (BLH8100) | BNF (BLH8180)
• Spektrum ultra micro 25mw FPV camera • Integrated, bright LED lighting • Available with the CGO2 GB camera/gimbal unit
• Robust 2mm carbon-fiber frame • Support for optional HD camera • Brushless power and Li-Po flight battery
• Free PC programming interface
on the cover: Where and how will multirotors RotorDrone (ISSN 2374-8389) published by Air Age Media, 88 Danbury Road, Wilton, CT 06897 USA. Copyright 2015; all rights
be used in five to 15 years? Ten experts share their reserved. Canadian Post Publications Mail Agreement No. 40008153. SUBSCRIPTIONS: To subscribe to any Air Age publication, call
(800) 877-5169 or go to AirAgeStore.com. Canada and elsewhere call (386) 246-3323. CONTRIBUTIONS: All materials published
predictions in our feature article, “The Future of
istockphoto

in RotorDrone become the exclusive property of Air Age Inc., unless prior arrangement is made in writing with the Publisher.
Drones.” Illustration by Sinelab Descriptions of products were obtained from manufacturers or their press agencies and do not constitute an endorsement by the
Publisher or guarantee their safety. ADVERTISING: Advertising rates are available on request. Please send advertising materials to
on thIS PAGe: An artist rendering provides Advertising Dept., Air Age Inc., 88 Danbury Road, Wilton, CT 06897 USA; (203) 431-9000; fax (203) 592-3010.
another look into the future of drones.
JULY/AUGUST 2015

FEATURES
30 | The Future of Drones
As drone advancements accelerate, experts weigh in
By Team RotorDrone

42 | Disaster in Nepal
Drones aid first responders in the aftermath of a devastating earthquake
By Team RotorDrone

48 | Total Control!
The inside scoop on eight great flight controllers
By Team RotorDrone

54 | A New Breed of Multirotor


Sprite’s form follows its function
By Team RotorDrone

58 | AeroCine
Artistry, industry, and innovation take flight
By Matt Boyd

80 | RCX: Radio Control & Hobby Expo


The ultimate radio control expo returns to the OC!
By Team RotorDrone

AIR SUPPORT EXPERT TECH DEPARTMENTS


68 | DJI Phantom 3 Advanced 72 | Video Editing Tools 101 12 | Top View
The next generation of video production, Which program is right for you?
ready to go out of the box BY ROBERT C. RODRIGUEZ 14 | Return to Home
BY JOHN REID
88 | 3D Printing Project 17 | Aerial Intel
76 | Graupner Race Copter A DIY $30 quadcopter
Alpha 250Q BY WILLIAM LEVASSEUR
98 | Over the Horizon
A speed demon with all the bells and whistles
BY JOHN REID 94 | Legal View: State & Local
Drone Laws
92 | Blade/Horizon Hobby Glimpse No substitution for strong federal rules
A compact FPV HD camera drone BY JEFFREY ANTONELLI
BY GERRY YARRISH
CONTRIBUTORS

James Williams
The Future of Drones
Just recently retired from the FAA’s Unmanned Aircraft
Systems (UAS) Integration Office, James believes that
drones will become commonplace in our skies in the very
near future. He is looking EDITORIAL
forward to what he calls his Executive Editor Debra Cleghorn › debrac@airage.com
“encore career” in the UAS Senior Technical Editor Gerry Yarrish › gerryy@airage.com
Senior Editor John Reid › johnr@airage.com
field.
Associate Editor Matt Boyd › mattb@airage.com
Editorial Manager Kayla Parent › kaylap@airage.com

CONTRIBUTORS
Jeffrey Antonelli, Tim Bresien, Mark Cayouette, Gus Calderon, Mike Gantt,
William Levasseur, Kyle Matthew, Gordon Meehl, Patrick Sherman

Bob Sutton ART


Graupner Race Copter Alpha 250Q Creative Director Betty K. Nero
Art Director Kevin Monahan
Bob enjoys shooting images for RotorDrone and notes,
“I like working with the drones; every photoshoot I learn DIGITAL MEDIA
Web Producer Holly Hansen
something new about them. I am surprised by how
advanced the technology VIDEO/PHOTOGRAPHY
is getting for these little Photographer Peter Hall
Videographer Adam Lebenstein
four-blade wonders and am
amazed at how fast they ADVERTISING
Advertising Director Mitch Brian › 203.529.4609
can go.”
Senior Account Executive Ben Halladay › 203.529.4628
Account Executive Diane de Spirlet › 203.529.4664

CONSUMER MARKETING/PRODUCTION
The Media Source, a division of TEN, The Enthusiast Network

Jeffrey Antonelli MARKETING & EVENTS


Legal View: State & Local Drone Laws Associate Creative Director Leslie Costa
Marketing Assistant Erica Driver
Jeff’s law firm, Attonelli Law, recently launched Drone Event Manager Emil DeFrancesco
Democracy (dronedemocracy.com), which allows drone
PUBLISHING
users with simple applications (like residential real estate)
Group Publishers Louis V. DeFrancesco Jr.,
to petition the FAA for Yvonne M. DeFrancesco
approval to fly commercially
and offers lower
attorney’s fees than more
sophisticated applications FOLLOW US
On Facebook: rotordrone
like photogrammetry and Follow us on Twitter: @rotordrone
pipeline inspection. Instagram: instagram/rotordronemag
Visit us online: ModelAirplaneNews.com
Comments may be sent to: rotordrone@airage.com
Patrick Meier
Disaster in Nepal ASK FOR ROTORDRONE
AT YOUR LOCAL HOBBY SHOP!
An internationally recognized thought-leader on
HOBBY SHOP DISTRIBUTION BY:
humanitarian technology and innovation, Patrick is the Kalmbach Publishing Co. (800) 558-1544 ext. 3
founder of the Humanitarian UAV Network (UAViators), NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL DISTRIBUTION BY:
which has been endorsed Kable Distribution Services, (212) 705-4600
by the United Nations.
The UAViators provide
assistance wherever it is
needed after disasters like
the earthquake in Nepal.
EDITORIAL OFFICE
88 Danbury Road, 2B, Wilton, CT 06897 USA
EMAIL rotordrone@airage.com
Randy Scott Slavin PHONE 203-529-4647

Get Race Ready! FOR CUSTOMER SERVICE AND


Randy is a commercial director and aerial SUBSCRIPTION QUESTIONS
cinematographer based in New York City. When his video Renewals, Address Changes, Email Preferences, Billing
and Account Status, go to ModelAirplaneNews.com/cs.
“Aerial NYC” went viral in early 2014, he came up with the You can also call (800) 827-0323 or +(386) 246-3323 (outside the U.S.)
idea to start the New York City Drone
Film Festival so aerial cinematographers
could have a place to show their work.
He shares his tips for getting into FPV
racing in this issue. RCX.com Magazine Publishers The Official Publication
of America of the UAVSA.ORG

Printed in the USA

10 RotorDroneMag.com
top view

Moving at the Speed of Sound and Beyond


The speed at which drones and multirotors are moving in get serious about cinematography will want to check out
development and application is really quite astonishing. our review on the DJI Phantom 3; I can tell you this is one
I am amazed by the new designs and features that the sweet bird!
drone marketplace keeps developing. What will they be Many drones are being used for good causes, and
John Reid like, and what will they be doing, in five to 15 years? That is our article on the Nepal earthquake is a perfect example
Senior Editor the very question we asked many leaders in the industry. of this. We wanted to find out how drones are being
johnr@airage.com We talked to designers, manufacturers, operators and organized for humanitarian aid and learn what it’s like to
policymakers who work with drones in every segment fly a multirotor in such a devastated area. We solicited the
of the industry. They gave us their thoughts on what the expertise of Patrick Meier, who has been an advocate and
future holds for drones in their field of expertise. Check innovator in setting up the Humanitarian UAV Network.
out the Future of Drones feature this month for some Then we talked with Naimul Islam Opu, the owner of
thoughtful insight as to what you can expect to see from Cygnus Aerial Photography in Dhaka, Bangladesh,
drones very soon. In addition, the key piece of equipment who gave us a first-hand look at what it is like on the
that provides all of the latest features for flying current ground helping out with his drones after the earthquake.
and future drones is the flight controller. Our editorial team And last, but not least, I am proud to announce that
looked at the latest flight controllers available to give you RotorDrone Magazine recently presented its first Drone
some insight as to which controller you can use on your of the Year award at the RCX radio-control exposition
rig. Check out “Total Control: the inside scoop on eight in California. Don’t miss our RCX show coverage; this
great flight controllers” to see which multirotor brain fits event incorporates the entire remote control industry and
your needs. multirotors have established a strong foothold in that
If you’re looking to add a multirotor to your fleet (or community. We had a blast putting this issue together
get started!), we have three nice quad reviews. The Blade and I’m sure you are going to enjoy every page of it. I hope
Glimpse is the ideal drone for pilots who want to start out you’ll take a minute to let us know how we did, and what
in aerial videography. For those of you who have a need you’d like to see more of in RotorDrone. You can email us
for speed, the Graupner Hott Alpha 250 racing quad will at RotorDrone@airage.com or leave a comment on our
definitely scratch that itch. Advanced pilots who want to Facebook page. We look forward to hearing from you!

12 RotorDroneMag.com
RETURN TO HOME

We love hearing from readers: your emails, tweets, and comments let us TABLET
know what you’d like to see more (or less!) of in print and online. Here’s EDITION
Our tablet
what some of you are saying about RotorDrone magazine. edition—for
iPad, Android
and Windows
devices—
RotorDroneMag.com › Star Wars Speeder Bike is the same page-turning
This unique scale quad was created by Adam Woodworth magazine you enjoy, plus videos
and other bonus content. Follow
from a 1/6-scale Hasbro Speeder Bike toy, and it generated the links to download the
a lot of conversation! app at RotorDroneMag.com.
Access is free with your print
subscription!
LB: Being a Star Wars fan I just loved the way it flew.
At first I could not see the Rotor Blades so you really
had me with how is it being powered. Super job!

TC: I think this is a very cool vehicle. Would it be


possible to build a model for me? If so, how much
would it cost?

FACEBOOK INSTAGRAM
Firefighters vs. Drone We asked,
“Were the firefighters in the right
by shooting a drone down with a
water hose while battling a blaze
at a home in Walden, NY?” You
gave us your replies quickly.
BD: The operator should not have shot
directly above the firefighters. If it failed and
fell from the sky, it could land on them. Also
in some shots, he moved in a little too close. Still, the firefighters should shown restraint and try
not to spray the drone.

PT: It seems like both sides should have handled this a lot better. If the guy wants video of
the fire, then get up higher and stay above the next lot over (above the trees) so the firefight-
ers can focus on their job and not on a vehicle buzzing above head. Use some common sense
and don’t fly above people, or that close to emergency responders. Having said that, if the
firefighters were unhappy about this, they should have approached the pilot afterwards to tell
him, rather than trying to destroy his personal property.

Oil Spills We showed you another


way to use drone technology in
“Drones can now give a better
view of oil spills.”
SAPF: There’s nothing that drones can’t do!

facebook.com/ twitter.com/ pinterest.com/ instagram.com/ youtube.com/ rotordrone@ RotorDrone


rotordrone rotordrone rotordronemag rotordronemag airagemedia airage.com 88 Danbury Road, Wilton, CT 06897

14 RotorDroneMag.com
AeriAl intel
reviews | accessories | gear | technology | news

Hawk Aerial Multirotors For Full-size aircraFt to be approved for


commercial use, they must have back-up systems, which
can mean the difference between a successful flight and
an accident. As the FAA continues to grant exemptions for
more commercial unmanned aircraft operations, the need
for back-up systems is essential as these platforms carry
expensive payloads (such as thermal sensors and infrared
cameras) and fly over a large array of solar panels.
Leading the way in the commercial rotor drone arena,
the German company Service-Drone has sold over
400 airframes and is conducting successful and safe
operations in Europe, with no accidents or incidents due
to component failure. All of their multirotors have flight
data recorders, and even though some of their multirotors
were involved in incidents, review of the flight data
revealed that they were all due to pilot error.
Service-Drone multirotors are designed to be
compatible with Jeti Model radio systems, and they have
dual speed controls and dual battery packs. The proprietary
flight controller has two processors that provide very
precise altitude control with integrated high-quality sensors
and a referenced GPS system. These multirotors are
designed for surveying, mapping, and inspections when the
highest level of flight stability is required.
Hawk Aerial, the North American reseller of Service-
Drone multirotors, allowed me to demo their Eagle 2 and
Skycrane. Flying these remarkable aircraft made it easy
to understand how they earned the nickname “Survey-
Robot.” —Gus Calderon

July/August 2015 17
AERIAL INTEL

UAVSA Insider

Fast Track to 333 Exemption


Last issue we previewed the changes that the UAVSA Another big win for the UAVSA and all commercial
helped work for with the FAA to streamline the 333 drone operators was the approval of Burlington Northern
Exemption Application process and help drone operators Santa Fe Railway for the ability to test the first drone
to fly safely and legally in the U.S. From this action, we operations beyond line of sight for commercial purposes.
are very happy to report the UAVSA’s “Fast Track to 333 This is paramount for the expansion of the technology
Exemption” program is a big success as we continue to commercially, and the data that will be collected will
assist our members with creating and applying for their help to create the standards needed for the FAA and all
UAVSA.ORG 333 Exemption Application to the FAA. We encourage you legislators to understand and approve systems that fly
to visit uavsa.org/333 to learn more about how we can beyond line of sight for commercial use.
help you to fly commercially legally, safely and insured.
There are big changes coming to the FAA for drones
as James H. Williams, the manager of Unmanned Los Angeles Drone Expo
Aerial Systems in the National Airspace System for The 2nd Annual International Drone Expo in the Los
the FAA, retired June 1st and we have yet to hear the Angeles Convention Center December 11-12, 2015
announcement of his replacements. (Yes, you read is shaping up to be the most incredible international
that correctly, that is “replacements” as the FAA is commercial drone event in history with the addition
expanding the office to two officers now assigned to of pavilions from all across the globe displaying and
oversee the integration of Unmanned Aerial Systems into demonstrating cutting-edge, never before seen
national airspace.) This shows the urgency as well as the technology and product announcements. The co-
acknowledgment of the need for the FAA to move quickly located Professional Drone Business Conference will
and to not impede the progress of commerce driven by have experts, entrepreneurs, scientists, engineers,
technology. designers, and business professionals from around the
One of the big issues that we are pushing hard for world, creating the most comprehensive and immersive
at the UAVSA is the creation of an “Unmanned Pilots professional commercial drone experience ever. If you’re
Requirement,” and we have some news that we could see interested in exhibiting, presenting, or attending, please
this as soon as the end of this year. This won’t eliminate visit intdroneexpo.com for more information.
the 333 Exemption Requirement, as the integration of We would like to thank our partner and the official
small drones into U.S. airspace continues to be a much publication of the UAVSA for a wonderful experience at Air
broader issue with many manufacturer standards, Age Media’s RCX Show and for a fantastic event!
certifications for pilots and aircraft, and the legislation that For more information and to join the UAVSA, visit uavsa.
must be vetted federally and locally still to be debated org. —Keith Kaplan
publicly and politically.

Dronefly’s
Taylor Chien
Co-founder and CEO of Dronefly, Taylor
Chien has been flying since 1997, when he
flew radio-control helicopters in 3D aerobatic
competitions. He got hooked on multirotors in
2012.

RotorDrone: How did you start Dronefly?

Taylor Chien: I started Dronefly as a small side project


and the goal was to sell just one or two drones a month
for a little extra pocket money. I remember my first big
order (at the time) for 20 units: I thought, “How in the
world will I sell all 20?” I attended the NAB show in Vegas
in April 2013 and sure enough sold 25 my first day. In
eight months, we did over 3 million in sales from only one
Another big win for the UAVSA And All commerciAl drone operAtorS wAS the
ApproVAl of bUrlington northern SAntA fe rAilwAy for the Ability to teSt the
firSt drone operAtionS beyond line of Sight for commerciAl pUrpoSeS

model drone, the Phantom 1, and a few accessories. I


think our name was a hit as well. Before Dronefly, I used
to order parts from other dealers and I remember not
receiving the help I needed or the customer service I
thought was necessary. So I knew that if I was going to
do this I needed to make sure that was our number one
priority. Both my brothers and good friend Frank Tesoro
joined the team and now we have about 20 employees.

RD: Your film “Superman with a GoPro” won the Best


in Show award at the first New York City Drone Film Best in Show winner of the New York City Drone Film Festival,
Festival. Can you tell us a little bit about what it was like “Superman with a GoPro.”
to film this piece and what inspired you?

TC: That was a lot of fun. That video pushed my flying of other shots required me to fly around some buildings
limits since there were many shots that required me to and fly below me as I stood on top of the high-rises.
fly through tight areas and far away. One of the shots Flying below yourself is always weird. There are so many
that took place over the downtown Los Angeles river. cool videos you can create with drones; everyone seems
My battery ran low when I was flying far away and over to always do the same thing so we wanted to create
water. I noticed that I was quickly losing power and since something no one has ever seen before.
I was over water, I had to quickly pick a dry spot to land
on the river bed so I did and saved the drone. A couple

July/August 2015 19
aerial intel

Flight Ready Training


National training program accomplishes a range of missions

PerhaPs the single greatest joy of being involved


with rotor drones at this particular moment in history
is that this is still a very young industry. As a result, you
never know who you’re going to meet when you step
outside your front door, and how meeting them might
forever alter the trajectory of your whole, entire life.
Such was my experience at International Drone Day
this past March. Among the people I met out on the El
Dorado Dry Lake Bed was one named David Prall who, it
turns out, is the chief operations officer for Unmanned
Experts. At the time, neither David nor I recognized what
a fateful meeting that would ultimately prove to be.
As it happens, each of
us had a problem that the
other was ideally suited to
solve. Unmanned Experts
is a powerhouse in the The Flight ready training Program is the result of a partnership
between Unmanned experts Chief operations officer David Prall (left)
industrial, public safety and and Patrick sherman of the roswell Flight test Crew.
defense sectors of drone
operations, offering training,
consultancy and managed is designed to get people up and running quickly, over
services. The list of projects the course of a single weekend. The Academy provides
that they have worked on is smaller classes and more individual time with instructors,
truly staggering: They have additional instruction on the topics covered in the Boot
worked with the U.S. Air Camp, as well as more hands-on time with simulators and
Force to develop the first— live aircraft.
and still the only!—multi- Finally, each Academy session ends with the students
aircraft control system for producing a video on a subject of their choosing, which
Patrick sherman of the roswell the MQ-1B Predator drone. The U.S. Department of Justice is then posted to the Roswell Flight Test Crew’s YouTube
Flight test Crew coaches Flight selected them to perform groundbreaking research using channel, making them a permanent part of rotor drone
ready Boot Camp student rob-
ert Valentine as he pilots a rotor rotor drones for fatal crash scene reconstruction and history. Classes are offered monthly in different cities
drone during the indoor flying they are doing ongoing work with the Dutch Ministry of around the United States, to reduce the travel time and
portion of the training course. Defense and Canadian civil aviation authorities. expense for students to be able to participate.
Yet, in spite of their formidable list of accomplishments For me, having the opportunity to stand up a training
and obvious depth of knowledge on this subject, they had program like Flight Ready—and to do it in partnership with
not succeeded in getting much traction for their training the consummate professionals at Unmanned Experts—is
program aimed at civilian and commercial operators. literally a dream come true. For more information, visit
Here at the Roswell Flight Test Crew, we’re all about beflightready.com. —Patrick Sherman
helping those individual operators learn to fly safely and
Flight Ready
tRaining CouRses responsibly while using drones for beneficial purposes.
Our problem was that we were only ever
Boot
Camp aCaDemY going to be so effective in achieving those
goals by making YouTube videos and writing
Denver, ColoraDo articles for magazines. From Socrates
July 24-26 Boot Camp right up until today, the best teaching and
July 27–august 2 academy learning has always been done face-to-
face.
Seattle, WaShington After International Drone Day, David and I
august 21-23 Boot Camp kept in touch by email and over the following
august 24-30 academy months, the ultimate form of our alliance
took shape: Flight Ready Training. We
neW York, neW York designed our program from the ground up
September 25-27 Boot to give our students the ability to select the
Camp level of training that they need to achieve
September 28–october 4 their individual goals, and to make it as During the 7-day Flight ready academy training course, students are
academy convenient as possible for them to attend. exposed to professional-grade systems provided by Unmanned ex-
We offer a choice of classes: a 2.5-day Boot Camp and a perts, such as the aeryon sky ranger quadcopter and liteye thermal
7-day Academy. As the name suggests, the Boot Camp imaging cameras.

20 RotorDroneMag.com
The roswell Flight test Crew
aerial intel selected the robust, all-weather
Vortex hexacopter from UaV
experts as the primary search
aircraft in the hunt for Bigfoot.
equipped with a thermal imaging
camera tied into its First-person
View video system, the Vortex
is capable of staying aloft for
15 minutes with a 6-cell,
16,000mah Lipo battery.

Gone Squatchin’
The Roswell Flight Test Crew and the
Animal Planet look for Bigfoot

How appropriate is it that we, who selected for our


namesake one of the most enduring myths of American
folklore—the 1947 flying saucer crash in Roswell, New
Mexico—were asked to help investigate one of its greatest
unsolved mysteries: the search for Bigfoot?
Before beginning their nighttime search, the “Finding Bigfoot” team
Our years of experience using rotor drones to fly and the roswell Flight test Crew meet to develop a plan. From left to
thermal imaging cameras prompted the show’s producers right: Matt Moneymaker, Cliff Barackman, Brian Zvaigzne, patrick
to give us a call, and it was a typical mission for us: use a sherman, ranae Holland and James “Bobo” Fay.
rather than visible light, a First-Person View system to fly overhead in support of
thermal imaging camera “sees” a team on the ground. In the past, it has been firefighters
heat radiated by objects in
not so much. To get around this problem, the producers of
and environmental scientists, but this night it was “Finding Bigfoot” rely on infrared cameras. Just so we’re
the environment—even in
total darkness. in this case, the going to be Sasquatch hunters: Matt Moneymaker, Cliff clear, these aren’t thermal imaging cameras like the one
camera captures an image of Barackman, Ranae Holland and James “Bobo” Fay. we mounted on our aircraft for this mission. Instead, they
Brian Zvaigzne of the roswell For the past six seasons, they’ve traveled throughout
Flight test Crew as well as
pick up a frequency of infrared light that lies just below
the United States and remote locations in Australia, the visible light spectrum.
two members of the “Finding
Bigfoot” team, standing in the Vietnam, Indonesia, China and Nepal in search of their They do not detect emitted heat, but instead rely on
background. quarry. For this episode, they were paying a visit to reflected light, just like a normal camera. So, the camera
one of Oregon’s most distinctive landmarks: Mt. Hood, operators are using lights to properly expose their shots—
For this mission, the Vortex
the state’s highest peak. From its perch on the eastern it’s just light that’s invisible to the human eye.
carried a FLir tau2 640 thermal
imaging camera, in the hopes it horizon, the mountain keeps watch over the city of Most of the cameras available today are actually
would capture evidence of Big- Portland, which happens to be the home base of our capable of detecting this type of near-infrared light. In
foot, the mysterious, ape-like operations.
creature that reportedly lives in
fact, they’re so good at it that camera manufacturers
We met the crew in the picturesque town of Hood install an infrared cut filter in front of the image sensor, to
the remote, heavily wooded ter-
rain surrounding Mt. Hood. River at 4 p.m. on the afternoon of the search. They prevent it from showing up as aberrations in visible light
had already been on location for several days, talking photographs.
to witnesses and collecting stories about local Bigfoot Apart from the surreal experience of doing a regular,
sightings. However, it would only be after the sun had set stand-up TV interview in total darkness, the thing that
that we would begin our work in earnest. I will most remember about the shoot were the camera
Of course, we are under the strictest possible rigs that give the show its distinctive look. The Sasquatch
injunction, which precludes us from revealing the results hunters, along with their guests, wear backpacks with a
of our search, so you’ll need to tune in to Animal Planet to long arm protruding over one shoulder, with a GoPro and
see what happened next, but even the most mundane a small infrared light looking back at their faces to capture
details of the expedition proved fascinating. their reactions.
For example, here is one little known fact I discovered No big surprise: these aren’t especially compatible
during the shoot: at night, it’s dark outside—really, really with rotor drone flight operations, making it hard to pick
dark. Normally, we clever humans get around this fact up and carry the aircraft, change batteries, work the radio
by building fires, putting up streetlights and so forth. and do pretty much every other task you take for granted
However, if you’re on the hunt for a nocturnal hominid that when you’re out flying. How the show’s principals manage
has successfully evaded all but the most furtive detection to navigate heavy underbrush wearing these rigs, I’ll
for millennia, apparently those aren’t good options. never know.— By Patrick Sherman
Fortunately, spend enough time in the dark, and your
eyes eventually adjust well enough for you to perceive
your surroundings; television cameras, on the other hand,

22 RotorDroneMag.com
AERIAL INTEL

New Releases

HITEC X2 AC PLUS
A built-in 10-amp power supply, internal
Flying a drone and getting great photos and video has balancing circuits and 10 charge/discharge
LILY profiles will make this new charger a field and
CAMERA never been easier: just strap its tracking device to your
wrist and toss Lily in the air to start shooting! Lily flies bench favorite. It can even be controlled using
itself using GPS and computer vision to follow you around your smartphone using an optional WiFi module!
and has an internal rechargeable battery that provides The X2 AC Plus costs $99.99.
20-minute flights. It’s waterproof, ultra-compact, and hitecrcd.com
shoots HD pictures and videos. Lily costs $999.
lilycamera.com

ECOPOWER 2204 BRUSHLESS


MOTORS
Ideal upgrades or replacements for 200- and
250-size FPV racers,
these motors have
“bullet style” prop
adapters and have a
machined aluminum
alloy can that
provides great
cooling. They
have 7cm wire
leads and weigh in at
less than an ounce each. A
four-pack is $60; single
motors are
$16.
BLADE CHROMA amain.com
This friendly flyer is designed to be
easy to fly and take amazing video
and photos—perfect to turn life’s moments into an epic adventure! Its Follow-Me and
Tracking modes take all pressure off the pilot, and its cartridge-style battery provides
30-minute flight times. Available in a variety of configurations, it starts at $599.99.
flychroma.com

SYMA X8C VENTURE


This quad’s Intelligent Orientation Control
makes it easier to fly, 2 megapixel video
camera means you’ll be capturing all the
action in no time. Other features include
flashing lights, six-axis gyro flight control
system, 3D lock and more! It costs $120
and comes with a 4-channel 2.4GHz
radio and 4G memory card.
tenergy.com

24 RotorDroneMag.com
UDI u842
fAlCon
With 6- to 8-minute
flights, the Falcon can
easily get the aerial
image and video
footage you need! It
has snap-on safety
guards to protect the
propellers, and its
forward-facing video/
photo camera can
take high-definition
images. It costs $150.
BlaCkmagIC DesIgn miCro super 16 tenergy.com
CinemA CAmerA
With a Super 16 sensor and 13 stops of dynamic range and
built-in RAW recording and features, this $995 HD camera
is perfectly suited to rotor drones. The 2.5x3.25x2.74-
inch camera can use interchangeable lenses, and its HDMI
output makes it easy to connect to a display.
blackmagicdesign.com

ProTek r/C lost AirCrAft AlArm


The only thing worse than crashing your aircraft is
not being able to find it after the crash! But if your
multirotor has this $8 alarm on board, you’ll be able
to follow the beeps to find it. To initiate beeping, turn
off your transmitter and to activate the alarm within
60 seconds. It doesn’t require a separate receiver
ProTek r/C Aluminum universAl multirotor CAse channel, and it doubles as an alarm to remind you
when you accidentally leave the power on.
Protect your investment! This case has a tough aluminum shell, reinforced corners, amain.com
locking latches and a high-density foam inside that’s custom-cut to fit the DJI Phantom,
Blade 350 QX and 200QX, and Walkera QR X350. It costs $194.99.
amain.com

maxamPs pArrot BeBop


BAttery upGrAde
Get 40% more flight time from your Bebop with
this high-performance 3S 2000mAh LiPo battery
pack and tray! With the upgrade battery your Bebop
will still be able to flip, and the battery’s 100C rating
means you’ll have plenty of power. The tray is
available in red, blue, and yellow.
amain.com

DJI mAtriCe 100 & GuidAnCe


A rotor drone that avoids collisions on its own? Sign us up! DJI’s new Guidance visual
sensing system has cameras and ultrasonic sensors that can scan in all directions to
detect obstacles! Combine that with their new Matrice 100 platform, which comes with
DJI’s E800 motors and has “expansion bays” that allow you to customize it with any
devices you’d like, and you have an ideal R&D machine. The Matrice 100 costs $2999;
Guidance is $999.
dev.dji.com

July/August 2015 25
AERIAL INTEL

Spotted! Cool new drone


and gear startups
Popular crowd-funding websites enable the little guy to raise dollars
to help get an idea off the ground, and we think these new products
deserve to take off (pun intended!). If you spot a new crowd-funding
AXIS DRONES WALLET
drone or accessory you believe in, let us know on our Facebook page; DRONE
here at RotorDrone we cheer the inventor!
This tiny, take-anywhere quad comes
with a small controller that also serves as a docking
charge station—no wires or access to a USB port needed.
Designed to be so small and lightweight that you can
carry it in your pocket or purse, it’s the perfect solution for
everyday fun and flight practice.

AIRSTIER YEAIR!
We have a feeling this won’t be the last we’ll hear
from this innovative company. With four small
2-stroke 10cc gas engines as the main power system
and electric motors for fast maneuvering, Yeair! can
fly for up to an hour at speeds of up to 62mph! This
impressive industrial machine has a “follow me”
mode, auto start, return to home and auto-landing
functions and can carry a payload of 11 pounds.
B B-UNSTOPPABLE
Like a mini tank, this
hybrid quad can crawl over
obstacles and turn on a SKYWORKS AERIAL SYSTEMS EEDU
dime, and if the going gets
tough, B-Unstoppable can The creators of Eedu want to encourage the inventor
power up its rotors and take in all of us with this drone kit, which has configurable
off! B-Unstoppable has hardware and software options. It comes with free
front and back lights and open source software and looks like a great learning
can fly/drive for 12 to 15 tool for kids (and the kid in all of us!). Where do we
minutes. Build the obstacle sign up?
course and we’ll be there!

RCREBEL BLACKOPS TRICOPTER


Fast, agile, and responsive, this rotor drone is made of powder-coated aluminum and has breakaway landing gear
and foldable arms for storage. We like its tilted tail moment, which allows it to change pitch and roll like an airplane,
yet still hover like a helicopter and allows it to easily perform aerobatic moves and stunts.
aerial intel

Flying in nyc
while andy shen
relaxes and
watches my feed.

Get Race Ready!


Learning to fly in rate mode

Drones are an aDDiction: once you’re into them, flying! Once you’re good 2
it’s a slippery slope before you’re building all different enough, then it’s time to
types. I started my addiction with the first DJI Phantom put on the FPV goggles.
and have since built the QAV 400, S900, Dronekraft Don’t be a hero; take it
Mach 300 V2, Hovership Superbeast and more (and slow.
definitely lots more to come). In the beginning I focused
on getting the best and smoothest aerial cinematography FailsaFe
I could, which was hard before the camera gimbals were Make sure to set the
available. I took the normal route and started with GPS failsafe on your radio and
mode and quickly switched to attitude mode to utilize on your flight controller
inertia for smoothness. Manual mode was elusive and I and test it without the
was unsure about why I would ever need it. Nevertheless, props installed. When you
my curiosity got the better of me and I tried it. I quickly turn your radio off, the
crashed and never tried it ever again. Why would I need it motors should stop. If you 3
anyway? My footage is looking great! don’t have this set and
The reality is that aerial cinematography manual mode, you happen to lose signal,
as far as I’m concerned, is completely unnecessary. But then the flight controller
once you get into other types of drones, it’s time to face the will continue with the last
music: you have to learn rate mode. After seeing the videos input you gave it and you
of Charpu, Metalldanny, Boris B and others, I started to feel will crash—hard! Or, even
the call of FPV racing. You’d have to be made of stone to worse, you’ll experience
see these racing videos online and not want to build and fly the dreaded space
one of them yourself. After years of line-of-sight flying, elevator maneuver, where
I thought I knew how to fly drones. I can fly nose-in no your drone just keeps
problem, figure-8s are a breeze, I can do it all … but when going up and up and you
you start flying rate, you start all over again. And when never see it again.
it comes to racing, rate mode is the only mode. Here are
4
some tips to get you successfully into rate mode. BuDDy system
Another good thing to do 1. First step is to fly the Blade
start small is find someone who’s nano QX on agility mode line of
sight. This drone is agile and can
Crashing is part of the game but save crashing for when better than you at rate flying and have them watch your
take a beating.
you know how to fly. Get a Blade Nano QX (or Nano QX moves. Have them tune into your VTX video feed while
FPV if you’re going for FPV (these things are awesome), you’re flying, or record your flights and ask them for 2: once you’re comfortable
and learn to fly it in agility mode. The Blade Nano QX is advice. I was lucky enough to have famed drone designer flying line of sight, get the Blade
nano QX FPV and start using
fast and nimble and can withstand tons of abuse (you will Andy Shen as my sensei. He’d watch as I flew and give me
your goggles.
crash a lot at first). It’s much better to crash a Blade Nano on the spot advice like “too much yaw,” “ too little aileron!”
QX than a $500 plus racing drone. During your down time, you should also watch lots 3: my DroneKraft mach 300
Practice rate flying outside and preferably over grass— of online racing videos—especially the videos that have takes a beating like a prize
fighter.
soft landings are way easier on the wallet. Pairing the remote camera footage. You can learn tons by watching
Blade Nano QX with a Spektrum radio is even better than how the pros take a turn! Finally, practice makes perfect, 4: Futaba 14sG, Fatshark Domi-
the stock controller because it has exponential, which is so fly as much as you can. Ultimately your skill level will nator HD and nycDFF swag are
a must for flying in rate mode. Expo softens the model’s be reflected by how much you practice. Ask any of the all necessary for FPV flight.
response close to the control stick center position while best racers how often they fly … I’m sure they will tell you
increasing response as you move the stick to its fullest “EVERY DAY”! — Randy Scott Slavin
deflection. Practice using line-of-sight first! Don’t get
into the goggles until you have it down with line-of-sight

28 RotorDroneMag.com
THE
FUTURE
OF
As drone advancements
accelerate, experts weigh in
BY TEAM ROTORDRONE ILLUSTRATION BY SINELAB

DRONES
IN JUST A FEW YEARS, multirotor technology has rapidly
advanced to the point where these stable machines are being
flown in backyards and businesses around the globe. Applications
as varied as agriculture, wildlife conservation, search and rescue
missions all benefit from adding multirotors to their resources. A
few more years from now, where else will multirotors be used, and
how will they change? We talked to a few experts to find out where
they see rotor drone technology going over the next several years,
and here are their predictions.

OUR PANEL OF EXPERTS

Ty Audronis Eric Cheng David McCallister John Minor Matthew Mosher Steve Petrotto Mike Rivard Michael Shabun James Williams Dan Willyerd
President DJI Director of Hobbico R&D UVU Provost Aerial DP, Horizon Hobby, Founder/CEO DJI, Marketing former Unmanned Director of Sales,
Audronis Media Aerial Imaging Manager, Sky Bandit Brand Manager Radflight Manager Aircraft Systems Monarch Inc.
Electronics Pictures Executiv, FAA

30 RotorDroneMag.com
It’s hard to guess how drones of the future will look. Our artist was inspired by the Sprite drone
(also in this issue) to create this futuristic rendering of a compact, coaxial flying robot.
the future of drones

ENVIRONMENTAL

I
n the next five to 15 years, environmental
conservation drones will play significant roles in
protecting wildlife, spotting poachers and tracking
forest loss. In some parts of the world where the
restrictions on flying drones for commercial purposes
are far less than in the U.S., these efforts are already
happening. Although it’s still the “dawn of drone ecology,”
as one innovator calls it, these unmanned aerial vehicles
are already skimming over Indonesia’s jungle canopy to
photograph orangutans, protecting rhinos in Nepal and
South Africa, and studying invasive species of aquatic
plants in Florida. The Sumatran Orangutan Conservation
Program is testing drones over Indonesia’s Tripa peat
forest where fires set by palm oil growers are threatening
the world’s highest density habitat of the great apes. One Quiet, compact drones can monitor endangered species like the orangutan in remote areas without disturb-
drone team associated with UVU sent a team to Nepal to ing the animals.

map the areas of destruction. There will be more organized


efforts in the future stemming from NASA and other large These unmanned aerial vehicles are already skimming over
and well-funded organizations, many of them private. A Indonesia’s jungle canopy to photograph orangutans, protecting
UVU graduate from our certificate program is using his
knowledge for anti-rhino-poaching in South Africa.
rhinos in Nepal and South Africa, and studying invasive species of
—John Minor, UVU Provost aquatic plants in Florida

R
adFlight had the privilege of working with Captain
Charlie Moore who discovered the “Great Pacific
Garbage Patch” back in 1997. Capt. Moore and
his crew decided that drones were a valuable tool, and he
wanted to add them to his arsenal in order to locate and
measure the plastic masses that are a part of the larger
garbage patch. They were able to get aerial shots of the
“plastic soup” that had never been seen before. RadFlight
is working with NOAA to develop a research VTOL drone
that can take off and land on a moving ship. This will take
the range of drones and their visual capabilities beyond
where they can currently go. NOAA is currently using
drones for monitoring whale populations.
—Mike Rivard, RadFlight Inc. Founder/CEO

I
magine a swarm of insect-sized multicopters
patrolling forests, each armed with a different
type of sensor package: Infrared, ultrasonic, even
sniffers to monitor pheromones in the environment.
These swarms can detect embers before they’d turn
into fire, detect distressed animals and hikers for rescue,
monitor environmental conditions from dew points to CO2
concentrations. They could even potentially monitor fault
lines for stress on constant patrol to give warning. Having
worked at California Academy of Sciences for four years,
and in talking with some of the world’s finest scientists,
believe me, this isn’t science fiction. The scientific
possibilities with multicopters and swarming are truly
astounding. I believe if people can get past their fear of
multicopters, these applications—and many more—aren’t
even very far around the corner.
—Ty Audronis, President Audronis Media
istockphoto

After Capt. Moore discovered the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch,” he


returned with multirotors to find and measure additional patches of
floating debris.

32 RotorDroneMag.com
istockphoto

Inspecting tall structures like


bridges and oil rigs is easier and infrastructure
faster with camera-equipped

T M
multirotors than using man- his area highlights where drones can do the job ulticopters could be immensely invaluable in
power.
more effectively and more efficiently than the this aspect of daily living. Within five years,
human being. According to a recent report from I’d expect to see multicopters equipped with
the White House, one in four bridges in the United States sensor packages to detect things such as stress fractures
are in dire need of significant repair, or cannot handle inspecting some of the larger bridges around the country.
automobile traffic. Typically, when bridges are inspected In 10 years, multicopters will be executing minor repairs. In
for defects, such as cracks, engineers must use hanging 15 years, it would be amazing to see automated service of
scaffold systems or view them from elevated platforms. our infrastructure to completely manage bridges, power
It’s a slow, dangerous, expensive process and even the lines, even pick up the slack for communication in the
most experienced engineers can overlook cracks in the event of an outage with onboard signal repeaters.
structure or other critical deficiencies. In the long run, —Ty Audronis, President Audronis Media
drones could prove to be a far more cost-effective option

W
because not only would they make bridge inspection ind farms will benefit from having a safer way
safer, they would also potentially detect damage much to inspect blades. Solar farms will benefit
earlier. University engineers are already employing from having thermal cameras to inspect
wireless sensors and drones that may soon be able for early problems, saving many hours of manpower
to examine the condition of bridges in a quicker, more to inspections. Multicopters will be used to inspect
efficient manner. Similar technology can be applied to bridge and power lines, oil rigs, and a multitude of other
any kind of infrastructure inspection. Over the next five applications.
to 15 years there will almost certainly be many new —Dan Willyerd, Director of Sales, Monarch Inc.
start-up service companies developed to conduct these
inspections based on drone technology. Drones will
become a standard piece of equipment for inspectors,
engineers, consultants … every part of this industry.
We envision existing companies employing many land
surveyors and inspectors adding drones to the “toolbox” Drones will become a standard piece
to make their companies more profitable, but to also of equipment for inspectors, engineers,
provide a better service to their customers.
—John Minor, UVU Provost
consultants … every part of this industry

July/August 2015 33
the future of drones

public safety

T D
he ability to arrive on a scene and to be able to isaster relief and public safety industries will be
“see” the entire situation from an aerial view is a two of the biggest beneficiaries 10 to 15 years
tremendous advantage to public safety command down the road. I see a fleet of UAVs assisting
and control operations. This will lead to saved lives. In in all search and rescue missions, eventually replacing
addition to the local responders seeing the image, there helicopters. There will be UAVs equipped with infrared,
will be capability to stream the video anywhere in the thermal and night-vision cameras, all functioning without
world over the internet, connecting to the expert for a pilots. Others will have the ability to automatically track
particular situation; think hazmat subject matter expert, where missing people are and deploy defibrillators, food/
hostage crisis scenario, structural engineering following water, medicine etc.
a disaster such as a major earthquake, tornado damage, —Michael Shabun, DJI, Marketing Manager
bio-chemical incident, nuclear incident, etc. The ability

R
to stream live video can assist these subject matter adFlight has been working on a solution for the
experts with making professional assessments on how U.S. Coast Guard, the Port of Long Beach and the
to best handle the situation on the ground. There are large Long Beach Police Department for drones to be
private security firms that are already rapidly adopting used for Panga interdiction. Pangas are small, very fast
and deploying unmanned aerial systems in third world boats that smuggle drugs and people along the Southern
countries. California Coast. At the present time, the only way the
—John Minor, UVU Provost Coast Guard can determine if a small boat is a smuggler
or a fisherman is to send a boat out to check them out in
person. We see a time when long range “wings” will fly in
broad solar-powered swarms that will monitor the coast
At the present time, the only way the Coast on a 24-hour basis.
U.S. Coast Guardsmen assigned
to the coastal patrol boat —Mike Rivard, RadFlight Inc. Founder/CEO
USCGC Haddock count bales of Guard can determine if a small boat is a
smuggler or a fisherman is to send a boat

U.S. coaSt gUard


marijuana aboard a seized panga
in the Pacific Ocean off the coast
of southern California. out to check them out in person

34 RotorDroneMag.com
aerocine

Aerial cinematography outfits


like AeroCine use drone-mount-
media & film

H Y
ed cameras to film action
sequences like this car chase aving been in the movie and commercial ou’re going to see the playing field level off
in New Mexico more safely and production business for a few years, I believe between the content professional photographers/
more affordably than a manned that within five to six years we will see a drone cinematographers have been able to capture for big
aircraft could.
on every movie and major production set just as we see budget productions and what independent filmmakers are
cranes and steadicams on every set today. The creativity trying to achieve. Big cranes and pricey helicopter shots will
factor of using a camera drone is still being discovered by be replaced by a skillful pilot flying a UAV from the ground.
directors and cinematographers. The more they use the You might even see a majority of on ground cameras be
drone as a cinematic tool, the more creative and complex replaced with cinema-quality cameras rigged onto UAVs.
the shots will become. Drones open a complete other And who knows, custom silent drones might even be
dimension to filmmakers and producers that they are just created for Hollywood that can capture audio as well.
beginning to discover. —Michael Shabun, DJI, Marketing Manager
—Mike Rivard, RadFlight Inc. Founder/CEO

I
really don’t see much changing on these fronts.

O
ver the next five years or so, most films will have Of course things will get smaller, and guidance
some sort of remote aerial cinematography. As systems will get even smoother. Other than maybe
the technology continues, the shot design and swarming technology helping with lighting (maybe
execution of aerials will become easier for the operators multicopters equipped with lighting), and special effects
and in return the shots will be able to break new ground in sequences (motion capture on set, floating “bullet-time”
shot design. arrays, etc.), the fact that this industry has been the
—Matthew Mosher, Aerial DP, Sky Bandit Pictures main driving force in the multicopter industry means that
(most) of the possible uses have already been imagined
and at least tested.
—Ty Audronis, President Audronis Media

July/August 2015 35
the future of drones

agriculture

T A
he U.S. is currently behind the Japanese and other griculture will benefit from having a quicker and
countries in implementing “precision agriculture” less expensive way to have precision 3D mapping,
into our agricultural landscape. The AUVSI predicts multi spectral images to ensure crop health,
that 80% of drone use will be for agricultural use in one monitor irrigation, and spot pests and invasive weed
form or another. We are working with major agricultural growth; All increasing yields and reducing cost.
companies in the Fresno, California area to introduce —Dan Willyerd, Director of Sales, Monarch Inc.
“swarm” technology and how we can utilize this approach

I
to monitor and scout crops for various signs of distress. think line beyond visual line of sight will become
A drone equipped with infrared cameras can take a close commonplace in agriculture. There is a huge market
look at the health of plants to help growers determine for precision agriculture, which is where you fly your
whether they need water, are suffering from insect drones over your field and it tells you everything from
infestation or need additional fertilizer. As we get this where you need to water to where you need to apply
equipment in the hands of our farmers, we can increase pesticides or herbicides. The chemicals used in farming
crop yield using less water, pesticides and fertilizer. Future are expensive, so reducing the amount that you need
uses could include: planting, crop sampling, spraying of to put down is both cost-effective and environmentally
pesticides and fertilizer, and maybe someday harvesting. friendly. Even small farms cover 25 to 30 square miles, so
Drones allow the farmers to finally have data that they a person flying visual line of sight can only cover a very
can utilize to increase their yields. As one expert said, small portion of that and would have to take down and
“Agriculture is a big data problem without big data,” but set up their flight operation many times. The FAA realizes
drones can change that dramatically. this and is looking into ways to make flying beyond visual-
Perhaps the most important –Mike Rivard, Founder/CEO Radflight line-of-site a safe process so that in five years it will be
way drones can improve our
lives is in making agriculture
commonplace.
more efficient and cost- —James Williams, former Unmanned Aircraft Systems
effective. Executiv, FAA

istockphoto

36 RotorDroneMag.com
recreation

W
Soon, action sports enthusiasts ith the ever-increasing spread of social media
everywhere will be using drones and YouTube, I expect an explosion in content
to take selfies during their
stunts! and an ever-increasing quality of video from
the casual user in the next five years. Looking farther
down the road, 10 years and beyond, I see smaller markets
and more specialized multirotors becoming defined. An
example of a current specialized market is the 250mm
FPV racer. Perhaps this will extend to additional sport and
competitive markets. I think regulations will also shape
the multirotor culture as to what size, payloads, and areas
can be flown legally and safely.
—David McCallister, Hobbico R&D Manager, Electronics

D
rones, multirotors, quads, or whatever you call
them, it’s clear that the everyday consumer has
started to latch on to this technology. Now, more
than ever we are seeing the everyday family making a
“drone” purchase. Why buy a hand-held recorder when
you own a smartphone? Why not spend that money
on something that can make your family video that
much more epic! In the next few years, we will see even
more adoption rates on this aerial media technology and
the use of these products will become more and more
accepted.
—Steve Petrotto, Horizon Hobby, Brand Manager

T
he way the industry as a whole is heading, you’re
going to see some phenomenal advancements
in autonomous flight, camera quality and
personalization. If I was a firefighter, a farmer, a
snowboader or a number of other professionals and
hobbyists who are starting to incorporate UAVS, I’d be
really excited. These guys are going to have a hardware
and software developed that caters to their professions.
—Michael Shabun, DJI, Marketing Manager

T
hings on this front are going to blow people’s
minds. Being able to survey a mountain bike route,
hiking route, or have your multicopter follow you
down (or up) the mountain—just incredible possibilities.
Just the other day a friend was asking me if he can have
a drone follow him while he’s surfing. Believe it or not, the
possibility of this already exists. I imagine a future where
a micro-multicopters are the new personal assistant, just
as common as iPhones. Remember “Bit” from the original
Tron? A tiny multicopter that answers your questions, acts
as a hot spot, warns you of danger around the corner …
the possibilities are limitless!
—Ty Audronis, President Audronis Media

A friend was asking me if he can have a drone follow him while he’s surfing.
Believe it or not, the possibility of this already exists
istockphoto

July/August 2015 37
the future of drones

challenges

T T
he drone industry needs the FAA to develop he ongoing lack of clear direction or policy from the
and implement the rules and regulations for FAA. The 333 Exemption is one step in the right
commercial use of drones. One day drone direction, but we still need concrete guidance and
operators with the proper education, experience, training, policy making to free the drone operators to work and
and certifications should be able to “file and fly” just like private companies to hire them.
is done in manned commercial aviation. A second major —Mike Rivard, Founder/CEO Radflight
challenge is educating the public that drones are good!

C
They can make businesses and non-profit organizations urrent drones are fairly barbaric compared to
more efficient and cost effective by replacing human where they will be five to 10 years in the future,
beings and manned aircraft. Studies have shown that and I don’t think that the biggest challenges will
there is still a lot of fear by the public that drones will be technical. The biggest challenges are likely going to be
be crashing everywhere or used for unlawful purposes. on cultural and regulatory fronts.
Drone technology has improved significantly and will —Eric Cheng, DJI Director of Aerial Imaging
continue to improve over the next five to 15 years.
Multirotor drones have a safety record that is at least as
good as or better than manned helicopters.
—John Minor, UVU Provost

During Drone Day at Apollo Field


in Van Nyes, CA a multitude of
multirotors filled the sky.

The biggest challenges are likely going to be on cultural and regulatory fronts

38 RotorDroneMag.com
istockphoto

Will drones of the future have


batteries that allow them to stay dream features
airborne for extended periods?
The experts say yes!

I ’d like to see a multirotor that can stay in the air for


much longer periods of time and have a longer range to
assist rescue worker and emergency responders.
T he ability to track a cell phone would be awesome.
Imagine putting a cell phone in an actor’s pocket and
having your multicopter with the camera automatically
—Michael Shabun, DJI, Marketing Manager track that person? That would be liquid awesome.
—Ty Audronis, President Audronis Media

F rom a technology point of view, we will see increased


user friendliness, better camera systems and longer
flight times. User-friendliness is the biggest piece of the T he technologies that I hope will tackle challenges
to multirotors are collision avoidance and a smarter
puzzle in my opinion. airspace. Collision detection technology could prevent
—Steve Petrotto, Horizon Hobby, Brand Manager collisions that result in property damage and injury while
reducing the pilot’s burden. Airspace management

I would like to see airbags for protection of people and


gear in the unfortunate event of a power failure.
—Matthew Mosher, Aerial DP, Sky Bandit Pictures
technology should allow manned and unmanned aircraft
of all sizes to safely navigate and use our airspace.
Smaller and cheaper ADS-B transponders and projects
like the NASA UTM (Unmanned Traffic Management) are

I would like to see easy-to-fly, crash-proof multirotors


that know where and when they can fly legally and
safely.
hopefully leading us to these goals.
—David McCallister, Hobbico R&D Manager, Electronics

—Eric Cheng, DJI Director of Aerial Imaging


I n five years, drones will be standard equipment in
aerial imaging and survey across all relevant industries.

I f the batteries and motors can be significantly


improved to offer flight times comparable to fixed-
wing drones, this advance in the technology would be
They will be legally and safely integrated into low-altitude
airspace for both recreational and commercial use,
except perhaps in a few nations that have philosophical
huge for the multirotor industry. In addition, alternative or geopolitical reasons for keeping them out. In 10 to 15
propulsions systems can be looked at that will provide years, small drones could become ubiquitous as aerial
more range and endurance. payload delivery systems not restricted only to imaging.
—John Minor, UVU Provost They could, in acceptable regions, also safely be integrated
into manned airspace.
—Eric Cheng, DJI Director of Aerial Imaging K
D ream features include a transponder that will have
the owner’s I.D. on it and a black box that will record
all the flight data. Hopefully this will be the first step in
managing the unsafe and careless flights that some of the
drone enthusiasts have been doing. When a drone flies
too close to a commercial airliner, I think we should know
who owns that drone and where they’re flying from.
—Mike Rivard, RadFlight Inc. Founder/CEO

July/August 2015 39
These two images show just how
extensive the damage was from
the earthquake.

DISASTER IN
NEPAL

42 ROTORDRONEMAG.COM
Once the drone is airborne, all
eyes turn to watch the flight.

DRONES AID FIRST RESPONDERS IN THE AFTERMATH OF A DEVASTATING EARTHQUAKE


BY TEAM ROTORDRONE
PHOTOS BY NAIMUL ISLAM OPU

EARTHQUAKE! As soon as they hear the news, RotorDrone: Tell us a little about your organization, what
you do, and how drones have helped.
teams of doctors, humanitarians, and search and rescue Patrick Meier: The mission of the Humanitarian UAV
crews are on their way to the damaged area to render aid. Network (UAViators) is to promote the safe, coordinated
This is nothing new; it has been going on for decades. But and effective use of UAVs in a wide range of humanitarian
settings. We actively promote a Code of Conduct and
what is new and newsworthy is the new, essential device that provide a coordination service during major disasters
they bring to gather information as quickly as possible: rotor to ensure that UAVs are used appropriately, and the
drones. resulting imagery shared with humanitarian organizations,
Flying a multitude of drones around a stricken city, like government, and local communities. UAVs have helped
Nepal after April’s 7.8 magnitude earthquake, is useless to shorten the time it takes to assess disaster damage
and needs following disasters. They have also been
unless there is a coordinated effort to gather information used to support logistics operations, like road-clearance
and quickly relay to the officials and emergency workers projects and the search for survivors. In fact, there are
who need it the most. Patrick Meier has been an advocate dozens of ways that UAVs have, and continue, to support
of getting that information to a central databank that humanitarian efforts worldwide, including the use of UAVs
allows a variety of people easy access, and his organization, to carry payloads like medications, vaccines, and water
filters.
Humanitarian UAV Network, put people on the ground in Nepal
to gather information from the air with small unmanned aerial RD: After the Nepal earthquake you had a number of
vehicles. We recently had a chance to talk with him about UAViators visit the disaster area. What was your mission
the Humanitarian UAV Network and the organization’s very there?
important role. Patrick: A total of 15 UAV teams voluntarily liaised with

July/August 2015 43
DISASTER IN NEPAL

P H O T O B Y G LO B A L D I R T
the Humanitarian UAV Network in the immediate aftermath of the direct violation of the UAV Code of Conduct. The Government’s decision
earthquake. The Network’s mission was to ensure that each team knew to limit the use of drones was perfectly understandable. Unfortunately,
about each other (for safety and efficiency reasons) and to actively this has indeed made it harder for legitimate, professional UAV teams to
advocate that all teams respect the Humanitarian UAV Code of Conduct. operate.
In addition, UAViators actively encouraged all UAV teams to share their
imagery with appropriate responders. Alas, not all UAV teams respected RD: What new features or technology for drones or programming would
the Code of Conduct and some did not share imagery. This is unfortunate you like to see developed that would help your mission?
and will certainly not help their reputations moving forward. Patrick: We need a dedicated smartphone app to safely coordinate
flights—something we are working on with several partners. We also need
RD: How did employing drones help in that disaster? to move entirely to real-time data collection, that is, streaming pictures
Patrick: UAVs were used to search for survivors, recover deceased and videos, and we need methods to clearly analyze this imagery on the
bodies, assess disaster damage to infrastructure, support road clearance fly, particularly 3D models.
operations, evaluate landslide risks due to the upcoming monsoons, and
create high-resolution 3D models of Heritage Sites such as temples. RD: What do volunteers need to do to get involved with your organization
and what qualifications are required?
RD: I know that Nepal grounded many drones after the earthquake. Did Patrick: Volunteers who are pilots join the UAViators Pilot Roster and
that affect your mission? others join individual UAViators Teams that focus on different aspects
Patrick: The government of Nepal did not ban UAVs, they simply limited of Humanitarian UAV Missions such as policy. The Network is open to
the use of UAVs for humanitarian purposes only. This was in part because all. For more information on the Humanitarian UAV Network, go to our
disaster tourists and drone journalists were particularly insensitive to local blog at iRevolutions.org and get our book and newsletters at digital-
communities vis-a-vis their use of UAVs. In addition, other UAV teams humanitarians.com.
did not even seek to request permission to operate their UAVs, which is a

Above: 3D-rendered images from a multirotor can help authorities locate problem areas. Opposite, top: Here Opu launches his DJI Phantom to inspect damage on the upper part of the
building. t Opposite, bottom: With many buildings collapsed on each other, the only effective way to evaluate the damage is from the air.

44 ROTORDRONEMAG.COM
“ WE NEED A DEDICATED SMARTPHONE APP TO SAFELY COORDINATE FLIGHTS—SOMETHING
WE ARE WORKING ON WITH SEVERAL PARTNERS. WE ALSO NEED TO MOVE ENTIRELY TO REAL-
TIME STREAMING OF PICTURES AND VIDEOS.”

July/August 2015 45
DISASTER IN NEPAL
Authorities go over the flight plans with
Opu to let him know where they want him
to send his quad.

46 ROTORDRONEMAG.COM
BUILDINGS CAN EXHIBIT TELLTALE SIGNS OF DAMAGE AND PERHAPS IMMINENT COLLAPSE
BY SHOWING SMALL CRACKS AND STRESS FRACTURES. BUT SOME OF THESE CAN BE
OUT-OF-SIGHT TO THE INSPECTOR ON THE GROUND.

On the Ground
Naimul Islam Opu, the owner of
Cygnus Aerial Photography in
Dhaka, Bangladesh, was on the
ground in Nepal right after the
earthquake. He was flying different
multirotors with cameras equipped
with real-time telemetry, which
transmitted the image back to the
ground unit. Officials could examine
the video and determine if the
area was worth the risk of sending
rescue workers in to search for
survivors. Sometimes the officials
would stand over Opu’s shoulder
and direct where he should send
the drone to scout.
Because of the limited resources,
it was very difficult and time-
consuming for first responders to
climb over the rubble and assess
the damage. Areas in the center
of cities have older buildings and
in many instances, many of these
buildings collapsed on each other.
This made the multirotor a perfect
tool to get up over those hills of
rubble and see what was on the
other side. In this case, the officials
would watch and examine the video
to see if there was a justifiable
reason, such as a survivor or injured
person, to send rescue workers
over the debris and into damaged
buildings.

Rebuilding efforts
Andy Trench from XactSense,
designer of custom UAVs for lidar
survey and mapping (using lasers
to illuminate a target and calculate
distance), provided Naimul with
assistance from the U.S. to keep
his drones flying after the Nepal
earthquake. He notes that after
all the rescue efforts were over,
Having the ability to easily traverse over piles of rubble is one of the advantages of using quads to scout out damaged areas.
drones still had value for rebuilding
the damaged cities. For example,
after the earthquake in Haiti, inspectors had to assess some 80,000 immediate demolition and which require closer inspections. Drones can
buildings for structural damage for the rebuilding effort. Buildings can speed up this process and help a city to recover after a natural disaster.
exhibit telltale signs of damage and perhaps imminent collapse by
showing small cracks and stress fractures. But some of these can be out- The takeaway
of-sight to the inspector on the ground. Natural disasters such as earthquakes will continue to happen, but the
Drones are the perfect tool for examining a large number of buildings increased popularity of drones means that these increasingly important tools
or large areas of a city from a close proximity above the structures. This are readily available during emergencies. Drones are easy to transport, so
video data can be collected and sent to an inspector, who can comb they can be immediately deployed and, when their operators are coordinated,
through it and determine which buildings are salvageable, which warrant drones can be used to save lives, assess damage and aid in rebuilding. K

July/August 2015 47
TOTAL THE INSIDE SCOOP ON
EIGHT GREAT FLIGHT CONTROLLERS
BY TEAM ROTORDRONE PHOTOS BY JOHN REID

CONTROL!
A flight controller is the brain of your multirotor: it keeps your aircraft level, allows you to use different flight modes
and may even let you customize your flight patterns. Here’s the inside scoop on eight popular units, from lightweight
controllers that are ideal for smaller drones to mid-level units with GPS stabilization to high-end, professional machines.

Lightweight Powerhouses
This first group of controllers is very lightweight and
perfectly suited to small multirotors like FPV racing quads.
But don’t let their size fool you, these machines have a lot
of features and can control much larger aircraft.

AbuseMark Acro Naze32


LIGHTWEIGHT
This is a very popular flight controller board that has a 32-bit ST
microprocessor, along with a memory and CPU power that can host a
number of sensors. This board has some great programs and features
that aid pilots in getting the most out of their multirotors. This board does
require some soldering of the pins before it is ready to use, which is a very
simple process. The Acro Naze32 version has many of the same features
as the full Naze32, which costs slightly more. abusemark.com

WE LIKE SPECS
› Easy to configure software › 36x36 mm (30.5mm mounting)
› Acrobatic, auto-level, heading › 7.3 grams with headers
hold, head-free and altitude hold › 2000 degrees/second three-axis
flight modes. MEMS gyro and accelerometer
› Fully customizable motor mixer › Max 16V on input rail and up to 35V
for any airframe type 6S on the voltage sense line
› Built-in micro-USB for › $24.99
programming/firmware updates

Graupner GR18
LIGHTWEIGHT
This compact receiver has an integrated flight controller
and real-time telemetry on board; you will need a Graupner
transmitter. One big advantage is that no computers,
programming boxes or complex wiring is needed to set
up your multirotor; you can do it all at the field using the
transmitter. Real-time telemetry notifications appear on
the transmitter, making it easy for pilots to know exactly
what is happening during the flight. The three-axis gyro
stabilization can be adjusted with remote gain control
from the ground. We found the stabilization to be solid,
responsive, crisp and easy to adjust to our flying skills.
openhobby.com

WE LIKE SPECS
› Very easy to use; can be configured › 46x21x14mm
› Two flight modes › 14 grams
› Usable telemetry features with extra expansion possible › 3-axis ultra-fast gyro and accelerometer
› Over-the-air setup of all controller features and › 3.6- to 8.4-volt input
functions › $149.99

48 ROTORDRONEMAG.COM
Open Pilot CC3D
LIGHTWEIGHT
We used the CC3D board in an FPV racer and noticed
the quad’s crisp response throughout the flight (and we
can say from our experience that this board is durable!).
The ground control software is very easy to program
and set up (via USB connection) to your specifications.
This board comes fully assembled and does not require
any soldering, and its included RC harness can connect
to any standard receiver. The CC3D supports Spektrum
satellite receivers and Futaba S-Bus hardware.
openpilot.org

WE LIKE
› Software support for Windows, Mac and Linux (easy
to program)
› Three-axis, high-performance MEMs gyros and
accelerometer
› Innovative Flexi-port technology
› High-speed USB support (no drivers required), a true
plug and play device

SPECS
› 36x36mm (30.5mm mounting)
› 4.8- to 15-volt input
› 3-axis MEMS gyro and accelerometer
› $34.99

Mid-size Workhorses: This group of controllers is designed for larger multirotors in the range of 350 to 900mm. These full-
performance controllers have a wide array of programming features and will generally include GPS stabilization. Many of them allow
you to select the type of aircraft and features you need and make any adjustments using a computer program or app.

DJI Naza-M V2
MID-SIZE WORKHORSE
This all-in-one controller has an inner-damping
three-axis gyro, a three-axis accelerometer, and
a barometer. It can measure flying altitude and
attitude and can be used for autopilot/automatic
control. Naza controllers have been around for
a while and they now have a fourth generation
attitude stabilization algorithm that provides
outstanding flight stability. Programmable
through a computer or app, this controller has
a long list of features to fit any pilot’s needs.
After flying with this controller in a number
of different multirotors, we feel that its flight
performance is second to none. dji.com

WE LIKE
› Software for smartphone and tablets
› Supports nine types of multirotors
› Takeoff assistance
› Multiple flight control modes with
intelligent switching

SPECS
› 45.5x32.5x18.5mm
› 27 grams
› 3-axis gyro and accelerometer w/GPS
› 7.4- to 26-volt input
› $299.99

July/August 2015 49
( eight great
flight
controllers

Eagle Tree
Vector
Mid-size Workhorse
This is the perfect controller
for pilots who want a lot
of information while flying
FPV. The Vector includes
full color OSD with sharp
color graphics, voice alerts
and has a fast, easy menu
system. The flight controller
has a number of flight modes
to choose from and everything
can be adjusted from the
onscreen menus. The Vector
comes with an input harness
that can be connected to any
type of receiver and it supports
three different types of RC
inputs, standard/PCM, SPPM
and S-Bus. This flight controller We Like specs
will fit the needs for many
different types of multirotors,
› Built-in flight data recorder › 65x33x14mm
is very easy to set-up and is › Expandable with additional sensors, › 21 grams
accessories and firmware updates › 3-axis gyro + accelerometer w/GPS
perfect for the video/FPV pilot.
eagletreesystems.com › Built-in OSD with color graphics › 11.3- to 22.6-volt input
› Simple to set-up and operate out of the box › $279.99

Robot Shop Lynx Motion


Quadrino Nano
Mid-size Workhorse
The Lynx Motion Quadrino Nano is a relatively
new addition to the multirotor controllers, but
from early examination it looks to be a nice unit.
This compact controller comes with a number
of extras that make it easy to adapt to your
particular needs. Using the MultiWii software, it
has onboard three-axis gyroscope, three-axis
accelerometer, three-axis magnetometer,
barometer and GPS. It is mainly designed
for quadcopters and hexacopters, and the
controller has eight speed controller outputs
and radio inputs. robotshop.com

We Like
› Vibration-dampening mount
› Arduino bootloader allowing for DIY/hacking
projects
› Integrated sensors
› Built-in GPS module with external antenna
specs
› 53x53x17mm
› 28 grams
› Three-axis gyro, accelerometer, and
magnetometer w/GPS
› 3.3- to 5-volt input
› $149.99

50 RotoRDRoneMag.coM
( EIGHT GREAT
FLIGHT
CONTROLLERS

Top of the line: These controllers are designed for the large multirotors
in the range of 900 to 1000mm+ and with four, six or eight motors. These
full-performance controllers offer many standard multirotor types, GPS
stabilization and in-depth pre-programmed features. Some of them allow
you to select different waypoints and let the multirotor fly autonomously.
Pilots will find many different programming features they can adjust to
fit their needs, and these controllers have some redundancy and safety
systems to guarantee a successful flight.

3D Robotics Pixhawk
TOP OF THE LINE
This system includes new autopilot functions that allow sophisticated scripting of
missions and flight behaviors. The custom PX4 driver layer ensures tight timing
across all processes, and there are basically no limitations to programming for
autonomous aircraft. A backup system provides in-flight recovery and the unit
has a manual override with a dedicated processor and standalone power supply.
Some peripheral options include digital airspeed, support for external multi-color
LED indicator. This is an impressive, compact controller that can easily adapt to
whatever configuration needed. 3drobotics.com

WE LIKE SPECS
› External safety button for › 50x81.5x15.5mm
easy motor activation › 38 grams
› High-power audio indicator › Three-axis 16-bit gyroscope and
› Redundant power supply three-axis 14-bit accelerometer/
inputs and automatic failsafe magnetometer
› Abundant connectivity › 5.3-volt input
options for add-ons › $199.99

DJI A2
TOP OF THE LINE
The A2 is designed for the Spreading Wings
group of multirotors but will work on other 800-
1000mm multirotors. It can support nine multirotor
configurations and has a customized motor mixer. A
great feature is the intelligent orientation control
system that will lower the landing gear during
an emergency, motor failure or auto landing to
protect the aircraft and gimbal. Of course it also
has DJI’s intelligent return-to-home function.
This advanced multirotor stabilization controller
provides total ease of flight with stability and
reliability for just about any situation. We like
its compact design and easy set up. dji.com

WE LIKE
› Point of interest flying fix
› Banked turn mode to make turning easy
and smooth
› Cruise control feature
› One motor fail protection
SPECS
› 54x39x14.9mm
› 35 grams
› Three-axis gyroscope and three-axis
accelerometer/magnetometer
› 7.4- to 22.2-volt input
› $1299.99

52 ROTORDRONEMAG.COM
A
BREED
OF
MULTIROTOR
SPRITE’S FORM FOLLOWS ITS FUNCTION
BY TEAM ROTORDRONE
PHOTOS COURTESY OF ASCENT AEROSYSTEMS

54 ROTORDRONEMAG.COM
It’s amazing how many great ideas come about
by happenstance. In 2010, twin brothers Nate and Jon Meringer were
doing one of their favorite activities: climbing the craggy, 500-foot
face of Granite Mountain in Arizona’s Prescott National Forest. It took
them four attempts to find the right trail to reach the summit, and
when they arrived at the top they realized the path was obvious from
an aerial view. The aerospace engineers had an idea that, two years
later, became Sprite: a rugged, portable, simple multirotor that’s unlike
anything we’ve ever seen. After joining forces with business consultant
and RC airplane enthusiast Peter Fuchs, they founded Ascent
Aerosystems, and then launched Sprite on Kickstarter; no surprise that
their unique project reached its goal halfway through their campaign!
Sprite is a sophisticated unmanned aerial vehicle that’s designed
to go and operate anywhere. It will be able to fly completely
autonomously with the guidance of its built-in autopilot, and it will also
be able to be operated manually by using a standard radio transmitter
and receiver or with an Android-based mobile device and downloadable
app. Its radical new modular design allows Sprite to easily fit almost
anywhere. With no exposed motor arms, its coaxial rotor blades
automatically fold against its body so you can easily slip it into a
backpack.
The prototype in these photos is a 3D-printed model, and the
production version of Sprite will be made of rugged polycarbonate and
injection-molded and ABS plastics with some parts made of fiberglass
and aluminum to keep the overall weight to a minimum. The entire
drone will be just 13.2 inches long, 3.8 inches in diameter and weigh
2.6 pounds. Everything will be sealed so sensitive parts don’t get wet,
and Sprite will even float should it find its way into a river or stream.
Using a standard 11.1-volt 2,600 to 3,000mAh LiPo battery, Sprite has The Sprite is easy to hand-launch from any terrain, and its blades fold up so it can
approximately 10 to 12 minutes of hover-time. fit in a compact space, like a backpack.

July/August 2015 55
SPRITE
A NEW BREED OF MULTIROTOR

EASY OPERATION 3D-PRINTED


To get in the air, Sprite uses a simple two-button PROTOTYPE
The Sprite shown here was
arming system. Once you’ve made all your preflight produced with 3D-printing
adjustments, you simply hold the Sprite up techniques. The final product
vertically and squeeze the two arming buttons. will be made of polycarbonate
and injection-molded and ABS
A tone will sound indicating that Sprite is ready
plastics with some parts made
to go. The optional LaunchPod landing gear will of fiberglass and aluminum.
be included with Sprite and can be attached
without tools between the Main Module and the
Payload Module. With its tripod configuration, the
LaunchPad ensures a clear field of view for the
camera. During landings, the rotor brake stops
the spinning blades in less than a second, and
they safely tuck in against the airframe before the
Sprite rolls onto its side.

THIS UNIQUE
PROJECT
SLIM FIT
REACHED ITS
The double sets of KICKSTARTER
blades fold down for
transport. GOAL HALFWAY
THROUGH ITS
CAMPAIGN!

TRAVEL-SIZED
Not much larger than a
standard Thermos bottle,
Sprite was designed to be
highly portable.

56 ROTORDRONEMAG.COM
GEAR DOWN
The optional landing tripod
is designed to provide a
clear view for the included
camera.

ACCESSORIES
Using a unique, modular design, Sprite IT’S MODULAR
allows you to change modules to suit your Designed to accommodate a variety of modules, the Sprite can be customized with various sensors to suit the user’s
needs.
needs. Each module is stackable and quickly
interchangeable. Optional components,
accessories and parts will include: FLIGHT MODES
 GoPro two-axis-stabilized gimbal Using an open source autopilot, the Sprite is fully compatible with and supports all of the
features of the most common Ground Control Station Software including Mission Planner,
 Close-proximity obstacle-avoidance technology
will allow safe flight operations in confined DroidPlanner and the new Tower flight control software. It can be flown in a fully autonomous
areas flight mode that includes Waypoint-to-Waypoint navigation, as well as programming for Loiter,
 High-intensity LED light band for improved Circle, Return-to-Home and Follow-me flight options.
visibility and night flight operations

HIGHLIGHTS
Designed for active outdoor enthusiasts,
serious professional photographers and JUST IN TIME FOR THE HOLIDAYS!
Planning on a December release date, the Ascent Aerosystems team is now in the testing
commercial operators who just need to get
phase and evaluating various rotor blade designs, gearing ratios, and motors, all aimed at
the job done, the Sprite has:
delivering the longest possible flight times. Pricing is not yet available, but Ascent says
 Fully autonomous autopilot with GPS, including various versions of Sprite will be competitive with consumer drones like the DJI Phantom and
waypoint navigation, “follow me,” and return to 3D Robotics Iris. We know what we’re adding to our holiday wish list—and it will even fit into
home functions our stocking! K
 Full-HD 1080p video with stabilized camera
gimbal
 Real-time telemetry
 First-Person-View (FPV) ready
 Fully enclosed, compact, ultra-durable water-
proof design

July/August 2015 57
Co-founder and Flight Ops Director Jeff Brink, Chief Pilot
Mike Ferguson, and Lead Engineer Suresh Kumar set up
and shake down their newly designed heavy-lift camera
platform. Mike flies the craft while Suresh uses telemetry
on the laptop to dial in the flight controls, GPS and other
instruments. Jeff serves as safety observer for the initial
flights. Once Suresh has the controls fine-tuned, he will
take over observer duties while Jeff operates the camera.

58 RotoRDRoneMag.coM
AeroCine
T
he initial conver-
sation that would Artistry,
industry And
become this
interview took
place via cell with
AeroCine’s CEO
and co-founder innovAtion
tAke Flight
Brian Streem and
VP Jon Ollwerther
from the back
of an Uber cab By Matt Boyd
shuttling them through downtown Washing- Photos By Peter Hall & Courtesy of aeroCine
ton, D.C. on their way to meet with the FAA—an
appointment that hadn’t even been on the table
when we scheduled the interview a few days
prior. But the pace at the professional end of the
drone world is a frantic one, and AeroCine is right
on the leading edge so they are used to reacting RotorDrone Magazine: You were the first company
fast. As VP of Marketing & Operations, Jon put it— to receive FAA approval to fly UAVs commercially in
somewhat apologetically at the beginning of our New York City. How did that come about, and how
chat—when the FAA asks you to come to Wash- important has that been to AeroCine’s success?
ington to meet, that’s an invitation you accept, Jon Ollwerther: “So about a year, year and a half
even if it’s last minute. As the only company with ago, Brian and Jeff were looking into how to legally
an exemption to fly commercially in New York fly drones in America, because it was still a very
City, AeroCine has a strong relationship with the gray area; there were people doing it and they were
FAA and consults with them on a regular basis, in dubious legal territory. Brian and Jeff had heard
which made our second conversation—in person about the Section 333 exemption that was coming
in AeroCine’s Brooklyn headquarters the following up, and they decided ‘Hey, this is something we
week—all the more fascinating. I would find out at should really look into.’ At that point there was one
that meeting that the other half of the founding group— the MPAA—that was about to file. Brian
team, Jeff Brink, Director of Flight Ops, missed the and Jeff decided they wanted to do it on their own.
FAA trip because he was called to upstate New They went out, they hired aviation attorneys, they
York to shoot aerial video of the ongoing manhunt hired aviation consultants—they hired all the people
for the two escaped prisoners that had been all who knew how this might work and brought them
over the news—coverage that relied to a notable all together and said, well, we really want to file
extent on AeroCine aerial video footage! This is a a petition for exemption. And they learned what
busy team, but the projects and policy discussions they needed to do and what the steps were. They
they are a part of give them tremendous insight
into the state of the professional drone world, and
where it’s headed next.
I first met the AeroCine crew at the 2015 New
York City Drone Film Festival, where their film
The Fallout won first place in the Architecture
category, and won the admiration of all with its
poignant, ghostly images and by exploiting to full
advantage the unique perspective that only a
drone-mounted camera can provide. The Fallout
was effectively the company’s demo reel; Brian
and Jeff created that film almost two years ago to
demonstrate both AeroCine’s technical expertise
and its filmmaking artistry. I sat down for an
interview with Jon and Brian at their temporary
offices in the aptly named Industry City section of
Brooklyn. They had leased this space while their
new larger, permanent offices a few doors down
were undergoing final outfitting. Then we went out
with Jeff, Lead Engineer Suresh Kumar, and Chief
Pilot Mike Ferguson to a park near Coney Island as
they flight-tested their newly designed heavy-lift
camera drone. Obviously, these guys have a lot
going on, but they graciously gave us tremendous
VP of Marketing & Operations Jon Ollwerther chatting with
access to all aspects of their operation during our the author about AeroCine’s consultations with the FAA, and
visit. where they hope to see the regulations evolve.

July/August 2015 59
AeroCine

wrote dozens— hundreds—of pages of original material: manuals, safety RD: You guys were recently on-site for the manhunt for the two escaped
procedures, proprietary safety management system, and they filed that convicts in upstate New York. Clearly drones have a lot of potential to
with the FAA. We were the first independent entity to file for an FAA help make search and rescue and other sorts of emergency service
exemption. You had the MPAA, then you had AeroCine. missions safer and more effective. Do you see that sort of role as
How important has that been to AeroCine’s growth? Big companies something AeroCine will do more of, and how do the demands of those
won’t work with you unless you’re legal—unless you can do things legally. duties differ—in terms of tech or skills—from your traditional projects?
Insurers won’t insure you. By law, you cannot insure an illegal activity. So if JO: “We were hired by several news networks to film the manhunt in
you want insurance you have to have an exemption.” upstate New York for the two escaped prisoners. The problem that
broadcasters are faced with is that they have a lot of airtime to fill, and the
RD: The very first time we spoke on the phone you were in the back of viewer at home is used to seeing a lot of the same shots. But an aerial
a cab on your way to consult with the FAA! Can you tell us what they image really spices that up—breaks up the monotony of the ground shot.
wanted to talk to you about? B-roll of the State Troopers “beating the bush” from ground level actually
JO: “We’re requesting relief from a couple conditions that exist under gives you another perspective on the whole matter, on how vast the
Section 333, primarily for closed-set filming. For one thing, filmmakers all terrain is that they’re trying to search, and how heavily wooded the terrain
want to do car chases at high speeds. And when you’re flying line-of- is. It’s an incredibly difficult task to find two guys in the middle of—we
sight, a car chase at high speed is very, very difficult, because you lose think—three states. So there’s an 800-man effort underway right now—
sight of your craft and perspective on the shot very quickly. AeroCine all the machine of ABC, CBS, NBC, reporting teams are up there—in an
has pretty deep experience operating abroad—operating from moving area where it’s kind of hard to get a cell phone signal. So it’s an incredible
platforms abroad: from a boat, from a car, from a truck, from a golf cart! opportunity to go and to be able to film live for these networks, in a place
But in the U.S. it’s not legally permitted. And when you think about it, on that most people can’t drive to—it’s just shy of the Canadian border.
a closed film set there’s not much reason that it shouldn’t be permitted.
You have a closed set, you have a controlled environment. You have all the RD: Do you find that filmmakers/producers etc., now understand the
safety precautions that you need. We literally blow up buildings on film potential that drones present for their needs, or are the capabilities of
sets. We set fires; we set people on fire on film sets. There’s no reason aerial camera platforms still something of a black art? If so, is it fun to
that a drone operator in a chase car shouldn’t be allowed. show up and be able to blow their minds with what your rigs can do?
The FAA is seriously considering that. And it’s not just for Hollywood. If JO: For me, the shot [in The Fallout] where our camera comes out of one
you look at proposed regulations, you realize that inspecting offshore oil of the cooling towers in Chernobyl is emblematic of—wow, that is a drone
rigs from a drone is not possible while maintaining visual line-of-sight if shot. And there is no other way you could do that—flying from inside to
you’re not on a boat, because the rig inspectors want to fly beneath the outside, doing a beautiful pirouette over a cooling tower that looks so
rig. And a boat by definition is a moving platform. Even if it’s anchored it drastically different when viewed from ground height. A lot of people in
can be construed as a moving platform because it’s moving in three- Hollywood consider cable cams—a Klaus cam [Ed: a stabilized long line
dimensional space. I think that eventually we will be allowed to operate on camera system that is suspended from a cable that attaches to the cargo
a closed set from a moving vehicle. The expectation is that the pilot will be hook of a helicopter] as an alternative to a drone. And you figure you’ve
able to keep a much better line-of-sight. got 50 to 150 feet of tether to run a Klaus cam or a cable cam under the

AeroCine has extensive


experience abroad operating
drones from moving vehicles.
In Dubai they even flew from a
golf cart! They are working with
the FAA and hope to amend the
rules that prohibit it in the U.S.

60 RotoRDRoneMag.coM
We tagged along as the flight
team tested its custom camera
platform in a park near Coney
Island. It carries an authentically
weighted and balanced dummy
camera to simulate payload and
conditions it will encounter on set.

AeroCine X8 Camera Drone


AeroCine just finished building the prototype
camera platform designed in-house by
airframe engineer Julian Alvarez, gimbal
designer Phil Salisbury and avionics
developed by Suresh Kumar. Originally they
had used commercially available drones,
but decided a custom design would serve
their specialized needs more effectively.
This monster runs eight KDE motors on
four aluminum booms. Once the testing
is done they may switch over to carbon
fiber. Interestingly, Suresh found more
aerodynamic efficiency by running wood
props (which give a wider selection of prop
pitch) on the bottom motors, and lighter
carbon fiber props on top. They fabricated
an accurately weighted and balanced
dummy camera to simulate the ultra-
expensive RED Epic, as well as Alexa Mini
and Sony F55 cameras.

Above: Mike, Suresh and Jeff discuss calibration settings after the first flight.
Below: AeroCine’s portable charging rig mounts a pair of iCharger 4010duos in a Pelican case. It came in handy
when the three-man flight team had to charge up while driving up to upstate New York to video the manhunt for
two escaped prisoners.

QUICK SPECS
Weight: Airframe ~20 lb.; payload 20+ lb.
Flight Time (fully loaded): 15 min.
Typical Battery Configuration: 2 MaxAmps
8S, 22,000mAh LiPos
Motors: 8 KDE 5215XF brushless
Speed Controls: Not disclosed
Flight controller: Not disclosed

July/August 2015 61
AeroCine

Lead engineer Suresh Kumar


fine-tuning the new custom
heavy-lift camera platform.

belly of a helicopter, but you’re also dealing with rotor-wash and safety RD: What’s the biggest challenge to fulfilling the potential of drones
issues. In a helicopter crash, there are at the very least two people in it, moving forward?
and their chances of surviving, especially in a low-altitude power failure, JO: The biggest limitation I see in the industry right now is batteries. You
or in contact with power lines or terrain, are drastically reduced because look at the battery technology and research that’s been thrown behind
they have no time to react. If you’re 50 or 150 feet off the ground you cars and houses, and that’s where a lot of the advances have been made.
have no time to react. Unfortunately, they are incremental advances.
We’ve had a couple jobs come up where helicopters don’t exist. These
are islands where you cannot get a helicopter. Or if you get a helicopter RD: Some high-profile and somewhat salacious things that have
happened with drones in recent months, have you found that that has
made client conversations harder for you, or do people kind of take those
To The naysayers, Technology always wins. if
episodes with a grain of salt?
you look aT The horseless carriage, This was a JO: “You know, most people who are sophisticated in business
Terrifying invenTion To americans aT firsT. BuT understand that with new technology there are going to be early adopters
you’d Be hard pressed To find someBody who and there are going to be people saying no. To the naysayers, technology
would noT geT in a car Today. always wins. Technology always, always wins. If you look at the horseless
carriage, this was a terrifying invention to Americans when it came out.
And I think you’d be hard pressed to find somebody who would not get in
a car today. Now if you look at, sure there are more cars on the road than
there it’s because you put the helicopter on a boat, and that’s incredibly there are drones in the air, but look at the number of flights and accidents
expensive. By contrast, we can throw a couple Pelican cases in a plane and there are vs the number of driving occurrences and accidents, I think
we’re there. With a helicopter—there are certain shots you can’t do with a the numbers are going to be staggeringly in favor of UAVs. We’re flying
drone—or can’t do legally with a drone. You can’t exceed 400 feet above $500,000 worth of camera equipment and we don’t take that lightly.
ground level. That’s a definite constraint, but 90% of the time, maybe even We’re also flying over people’s heads sometimes on set who are by
95% of the time, when someone is looking for an aerial shot, they may definition part of the film shoot, but that doesn’t mean that we take that
think they want more altitude, but for the most part that makes people on lightly. There’s nothing more sacred than human life.
the ground look like specks. You know what people like watching? People Let’s talk about something topical for a minute. Enrique Iglesias—that’s
like watching people. something that the press wants to know about and I think this is very

62 RotoRDRoneMag.coM
AeroCine

Mike Ferguson and Jon Ollwerther with


The TODAY Show host Matt Lauer on
the North Fork of Long Island.

topical for your readers. [Ed: Iglesias recently suffered a well-publicized to an acceptable level? And so that’s something that the FAA considers,
hand injury while reaching out to grab a drone during a live performance.] that’s something that we consider, that’s something that the compliance
We had a lot of our news partners who we work with calling us and asking departments of large companies consider.
us to comment on this. We had print media calling us. Brian was on Inside
Edition. Everybody wants to know, ‘Oh drones are dangerous! Just say RD: AeroCine’s original mission was obviously aerial cinematography
drones are dangerous.’ Well, drones aren’t dangerous. You know, if you (hence the name) and that’s what you’re known—and have won
lean on a stove that’s hot, that’s dangerous also. If you stick your hand in awards—for. But you’ve since diversified a bit. What’s next on the
a blender while it’s running, it’s dangerous. Common sense is paramount, horizon for AeroCine?
and grabbing a copter out of the air that has props that are spinning JO: Yeah, we have a lot of big stuff in the works. There’s a lot that I can’t
between 6,000 and 8,000 revs per minute, whether they’re carbon specifically talk about, but I will say that the company is growing rapidly.
fiber or plastic doesn’t really matter, as Enrique found out. They had a We’ve done more live TV broadcasts from a drone than anyone in the
drone as part of the show. It wasn’t in the U.S. so they weren’t subject world. And I think that probably points to the direction that the company
to FAA regulations. But the question isn’t how to completely eliminate may be headed in. The film business will always be a business for us—TV,
any risk, because there is risk associated with everything in life. There’s advertising. Events and experiential marketing. We have a competency—
risk associated with walking across the street. The question is how do we can design copters, we can build copters, and what’s more exciting to a
we mitigate and minimize those risks. How do we bring that risk down brand than having a copter that meshes with their message?

That’s a Wrap Things are fast and fluid in the circles AeroCine runs in. Rules are changing, technology is changing, and the demands on
companies like AeroCine that operate drones professionally are changing even faster. Public awareness is exploding, and with that the demand
of companies to capitalize on the unique capabilities that only drones can provide—even as that same public has little concept of what those
capabilities actually are! AeroCine’s challenge is to meet those demands, while threading the regulatory needle and helping the FAA develop
policy that will be in the best interests of public safety and good business. They are an informal but professional group of guys, and their success
speaks for itself. Whether it’s big movie and TV studios, big ad firms, or the big news networks, demand for its aerial cinematography and live
video feeds is strong and growing every day. If you want to know what the future looks like in the professional drone world, look to the skies
above Brooklyn!

64 RotoRDRoneMag.coM
The Fallout: AeroCine’s Ultimate Demo Reel
AeroCine created their award-winning short film The Fallout to introduce their company the world. What
better way to showcase the nucleus of talent and experience they had assembled? The film is striking
not just for its subject and location, but for the skill and subtlety with which it is flown and filmed. Put
together by founders Jeff Brink and Brian Streem, with world-champion helicopter pilot Oscar Ohlson at
the sticks, it’s a tremendous piece of work and showcases the kind of work that can only be performed
by a drone. I talked with Brian about his experience filming The Fallout.

RD: You guys won an award for The Fallout, which was kind of going nuts, and I kind of assumed they’re not
documented the site of the Chernobyl Nuclear disaster going to put us in the city where this coup is going on. But
more than 25 years later. What was the experience like no, we’re staying in Kiev … we were on the block where
to actually be there? people had barricaded all the streets where guys with
Brian Streem: “Chernobyl was like the first thing that guns were standing. They had militarized the zone.
we did. Jeff and I thought: ‘What’s the coolest place we Then the next day we drove two hours north to
could go film?’ Oh, Chernobyl, that seems obvious. I had Chernobyl. I don’t really know how much authority we
information from some people. People go on vacations had to be there. I was one step removed from that. I
to Chernobyl, people like go to it. I’ve seen photos of it. hired other people to do it for us. And being there was
Photographers go to it. There must be a way to go there. very spooky. But the most surprising thing is that there
My background is in film production, so I called a local is actually like five or six thousand people that live in
production company that works in Kiev and I said ‘I want Chernobyl. They’re all scientists conducting research on
to do this, and how much is it going to cost, and I need the plant and wildlife that have inhabited the area. There is
you to set it up for me.’ In the film industry it’s called a somewhat of a normal life there. We had a Geiger counter
fixer: the local guy who’s going to show you around. The with us, obviously measuring radiation. You know, I don’t
know if it worked, I don’t know if the operator knew what
they were doing. But I remember driving by the reactor
AeroCine CEO that melted down, when we drove by that, the Geiger
Brian Streem counter started to spike.”

RD: So the footage that you took was kind of guerilla


style to a certain extent? You had semi—official
permission, but you just said, “You know what? This is
the shot we want.”
BS: “I think we had permission. This is what I was told by
the people that I’d hired. I don’t know if we had permission
to fly a drone, but I also don’t know if anybody really
cared. Like, nobody cared is the real answer. If a tree falls
in the woods. But we were not just in the woods, we were

“I don’t know If we had permIssIon to fly a drone, but I also don’t know If anybody
really cared… ‘If a tree falls In the woods.’ but we were not just In the woods, we
were In the radIoactIve woods. so noboDy’s there.”

scary thing was that there happened to be a political in the radioactive woods, so nobody’s there. The weird
coup going on in Kiev that very day. We were supposed thing was that there was stuff going on there. There were
to show up and we were getting emails from the United soldiers moving about. There were people kind of doing
States consulate advising us not to go. But here we were maintenance on stuff. The hotel we stayed in—like you can
at the airport with a drone and all this other stuff and imagine, who was the hotel caretaker that has a business
we decided, ‘Eh, screw it. Let’s take a risk and just do it.’ here? It’s definitely not like a Ritz Carlton, you know.
Showing up with a many thousands of dollars in rotor I think we were there for two or three days, and at the
drone gear and equipment—mind you, this was still like a end of every day there you’re supposed to go through
year and a half ago so this was really before drone fever this machine. You know like the subways in New York,
really kind of took storm. We looked like lunatics and of how you go through like a turnstile, like a full body
course we were immediately pulled in by these Ukrainian turnstile, it’s kind of like that but it looks older and more
guys at the airport that didn’t look very friendly. And I’m decrepit than those things. You put your hands on these
just there waiting and waiting and hoping to God that boxes and then the light either blinks green or blinks red
the guy who I hired on the other side is going to show but it looks like this freaking thing hasn’t been serviced
up. We each get pulled into a separate room. They took since the ‘70s so who the hell knows if it’s actually
my IDs, they took the drone; I don’t know where my working. And that was the test essentially [to see] if they
friends are. They didn’t even speak English. Then this would allow you to return to the outside world. If the red
fixer—who I never actually saw before—walked into the light blinks, I can only imagine what they do to you! Did
room and started speaking Ukrainian, and then we were I like lose a day or two of my life—or even a year —going
walking around the streets of Kiev an hour later. It was there? Maybe, but I’ll never know it and it was probably
scary. They were killing politicians and the whole country worth it.” K

66 RotoRDRoneMag.coM
Eerie and hauntingly beautiful, Chernobyl
provided a striking and unique setting for
AeroCine to showcase its artistic vision
and technical skills. Flying through decrepit
carnival rides and up out of a dilapidated
reactor cooling tower would be impossible
for anything other than a drone.

July/August 2015 67
air support

DJI
Phantom 3 Advanced
The next generation of video production, ready to go out of the box
By john reid Photos By bob sutton

W
hen it comes to aerial platforms for video capture, no one
does it better than DJI, and the new Phantom 3 Advanced and
Pro are great examples of this. This multirotor is designed
for the aerial enthusiast who is looking to capture some nice
footage (both video and stills) from a high perspective.

68 RotorDroneMag.com
The vision position-
ing system uses
both visual and
ultrasonic sensors
and is on the bottom
of the Phantom 3.
This activates when
needed and works
seamlessly with
the GPS location
system.

HIGHLIGHTS
The Phantom 3 is available in Advanced and Pro versions,
with the key difference being the quality of camera
resolution: Pro shoots at 4K and the Advanced shoots at
1080p. The Phantom 3 comes completely assembled and
just requires that you charge the batteries and attach the
props.
The GPS positioning is very solid, and if you fly into
a GPS-free area (indoors), a vision-positioning system
underneath the aircraft uses both visual and ultrasonic
sensors to maintain its position. Flying from inside to
outside is seamless, and you even can set up a GPS
enabled “geofence” that keeps the aircraft flying within a
given distance and altitude.
The included Sony Exmor camera is attached to a
SPECIFICATIONS three-axis gimbal that provides great video stabilization
Name: Phantom 3 Advanced and can be vertically controlled (somewhat) by the
Manufacturer: DJI Technology, LCC (dji.com) transmitter. I worked with the Advanced version and the
Type: camera rig 1080p video and the 12 megapixels photos it produces
Size: 590mm were high quality. Live HD real-time viewing is possible
Weight: 45.15 oz. with a tablet or smartphone attached to the transmitter
Motors: included and installed using DJI’s built-in Lightbridge image transmission
Battery: 4480mAh 4S intelligent battery technology. The downloadable app also provides easy to
Speed controls: included and installed use controls for the camera and quad.
Flight controller: included and installed The transmitter has all the controls needed for operating
Radio: included and bound to the Phantom 3 the quad and camera without the tablet or smartphone
Price: $999 (Advanced), $1259 (Pro) (but your flight experience and control is enhanced with
them). A flight modes switch, camera control buttons and
dials along with customizable buttons allow you to make
the transmitter intuitive and user-friendly.
WE LIKE
+ Ready to fly
+ Comes with high-quality camera/gimbal
installed
+ Easy to fly and control
+ Full camera control from the pilot app

Camera controls are on both sides


of the transmitter at the top,
within easy reach. It is very easy
to transfer between video and still
photography during a single flight.

July/August 2015 69
High-quality
images are
produced
from this
small
camera
mounted
on a fast-
reacting
gimbal.

Camera Included aerial recap


Our Advanced Phantom 3 has a fully integrated I’ve flown the previous two versions of the Phantom and I have to say that
camera/gimble setup and is able to shoot 1080p the Phantom 3 has marked improvements in precision, stabilization and flight
video at up to 60 frames per second. In addition it performance. From my very first takeoff I felt that the controls were extremely
is able to capture 12 megapixel photos, in a single smooth and this was a very easy quadcopter to fly. I was impressed by the stability
shot, burst shooting 3/5/7 shots at a time, and even in some rather high wind conditions that we have in the high desert where
has auto exposure bracketing of up to five frames some of the test flights took place.
with a 0.7/EV bias. The nice thing is that the pilot I did not test out the maximum flight time of 23 minutes; I did fly an average
on the ground can activate all functions from the 19 minutes per battery charge during testing. The auto-return home function
transmitter or the pilot’s app. The f/2.8 lens has a works flawlessly and manual landings were very stable and easy to perform. The
94-degree field of view, which does a good job of CPU warm-up takes a minute or two to complete, so just be patient before the
eliminating distortion. The three-axis gimbal did flight. Once everything locks in, you have a very solid, easy to fly multirotor in your
a great job of keeping the footage stable during hands. An auto-takeoff function on the DJI Pilot app can start the motors and lift
some quick quad movements and while flying in the quad to a preset height waiting for your input on where to go. This function
the wind. Capturing nice aerial footage is easy to worked flawlessly every time I used it. Overall, I was really impressed with the flight
do with this setup. performance I got out of this mid-size quad.

Left: The proprietary battery


is completely integrated in the
system and provides up to 23
minutes of flight time—more
than enough time for anything I
needed to shoot.
Right: The battery pack has a
combination of LED lights that
can easily be seen from some
distance away. The number
The color-coded props match the colored of lights reflect the amount of
spindles on the motors. This ensures that the charge remaining in the battery.
correct prop is always on the right motor.

DJI Pilot App


The free DJI Pilot app really does put control in the pilot’s hands. The app is compatible
with newer tablets and smartphones, and it’s used in conjunction with the
transmitter. The app allows complete control over the camera and gimbal during
flight in real time. You also have a display of the video coming from the camera;
this is done through DJI’s Lightbridge that is connected from the transmitter to the
tablet/smartphone via cable connection. Once installed, the app gives the pilot many
options (too many to share here) that make for a complete flight experience.

A smartphone or tablet can be mounted on the front of the transmitter


to allow the pilot to use the DJ I pilot app. The Phantom3 can be oper-
ated without it, but the addition of the pilot app allows for more control
over the video and still photography.

last word If you want a quad that comes out of the box ready to fly and easy-to-fly/control, shoots high-quality videos
and photos with creative camera controls on the transmitter, then the DJI Phantom 3 Advanced or Pro
version should be in your future.

70 RotorDroneMag.com
YUNEEC INSPIRE

B AT T E R I E S , C A M E R A S , C A S E S , C H A R G E R S , G O G G L E S , P R O P S A N D M O R E

Whether you want to be


Yuneec, or Inspire others
We stock everything you need from
drones to FPV. We take the time to
listen to your needs so you get the
right equipment for the best results!

W W W.AT L A NTA H OB BY.COM • 6 7 8 -5 1 3 -4 450

Follow Us
EXPERT TECH
BY ROBERT C. RODRIGUEZ

Video Editing Tools 101


WHICH PROGRAM IS RIGHT FOR YOU?

F
Adobe Premiere Pro offers ollowing up on my article in Apple Final Cut Studio
a unique feature that helps There are two versions of this older software, and
fix some common issues
the May/June issue, this article
such as image distortion continues the discussion about depending on which one you started with, you’ll probably
commonly seen on GoPro hate the other. I use Final Cut Pro7 for a lot of my work,
video editing. There are a lot
or proprietary cameras that but that’s because it’s what I know best. The interface
come with smaller drones of options when it comes to is intuitive and similar to other editing platforms, and it
like the DJI Phantom Vision selecting your editing software. Choosing a supports a huge amount of codecs on both import and
and Vision 2+.
software package is usually dependent on export. The companion tools like the compressor make it
your choice of personal computer system. really easy to publish files to most channels like YouTube
One of my favorites is Adobe Premiere Pro, but and Blu-ray, and because it’s part of the Apple eco
don’t feel that you have to use what everyone system, it works really well when sending projects over to
other Apple applications for additional work like titling or
else is using. If the program that comes with
scoring sound.
your PC is sufficient for your needs, then stick Available from Apple resellers › $299.99
with it. If you’re looking for a better way to tell
your story, I’ll suggest a few different tools Final Cut Pro X
for you to consider. Today, the cost of entry There’s nothing faster on the market in my opinion for
has come down, so much that the same exact editing than Final Cut Pro X, but it takes some getting
editing tools used by major motion pictures used to. It feels very counterintuitive but once you get
familiar with the toolset you wonder what people were
and television shows are now available to
complaining about! If you’ve tried X in the past and written
everyone for a very reasonable monthly it off, do yourself a favor and give it another shot. It has
charge. Most of these also have a free trial come a long way and will quickly become a valuable asset
version available, so I encourage you to try it in your video editing tool box.
before you buy it. itunes.apple.com › $299.99

72 RotorDroneMag.com
ORGANIZE YOUR WORKSPACE Most applications will allow you to customize your workspace to suit your needs. Select the view that works
Take some time to organize projects intuitively. best for you. Dual displays offer the most flexibility to keep everything clean, but most applications offer a
very well-thought-out, single-display option with minimal distractions.
One of the worst things you can do is just
dump everything into one bin and try to find
it when needed. You should find what works coming into my day job are cut on Avid. Media Composer
best for you, but I suggest grouping shots by offers you a very mature and battle tested application EDITING
shoot date and then by scene or type. Keep for your editorial needs. Some may complain that the SHORTCUTS
your sequences in a separate bin and label interface was getting a bit dated, but for those like myself I’m going to let you
them clearly. Music, graphic elements, and that have been using Avid for years, I appreciate the fact in on a secret. No
pictures all do well tidied up in their respective that Avid has continued to innovate its software without matter what you
bins as well. This would also helps if for changing the familiar feel and workflow. If you plan on program you select,
some reason you weren’t able to finish a job working in broadcast or theatrical in your career, you’d be to be your creative
and someone else needed to take over the doing yourself a huge disservice if you don’t learn Avid. best you have to
project. They should be able to find everything connect.avid.com › $49.99/Month take shortcuts. I’m
without having to involve you. Speaking as a not talking about
professional, however, be sure to hide a couple Black Magic Design Da Vinci Resolve cutting corners on
items. You always want some job security, Whether you know it or not, you’re familiar with the quality, I’m talking
right!? gorgeous results that Resolve has been producing for about learning
major motion pictures for years. It’s one of the dominating how to use your
color correctors of choice and up until a few short years editing software
Adobe Premiere Pro ago, was way out of the reach of most of us. That changed by feel like you
Adobe’s offering is very similar in layout to Final Cut Pro. when Black Magic Design purchased Da Vinci Resolve and would a musical
Once you spend some time with it, you’ll quickly realize decided to make it one of the most controversial decisions instrument.
that not only do some editing platforms look the same, in post-production history: they gave it away for free! It’s Nothing takes
their core functionality is the same as well. I can’t think of limited in what it can do in comparison to the fully licensed you out of the
any file type that I’ve imported into Premiere that it did not version, but not by much. You may wonder if I’ve made a moment more
like. It even supports some files that have been orphaned mistake listing color corrector platform along with editing than having to go
from their original camera file directory system that other software, but the answer is no. Download it, load up some through all the
platforms are dependent on to read. Where Adobe really media and jump to the editing page; You’ll be greeted by menus to look for
shines in its suite of products is how easy it is to bounce some very powerful and familiar tools that will allow you a feature that you
projects back and forth. If you’re at all serious about this to edit, title and deliver your project quickly. Resolve has could otherwise
industry, chances are you already have Photoshop and some of the best support for native camera files from accomplish with
FX installed on your PC. Premier integrates with these h.264 all the way up to R3D. Add this to your system. It’s a few keyboard
applications brilliantly and you’ll soon be finding new available for Mac and Windows and at this price, you can’t combinations. If
efficiencies in your workflow. Premiere Pro should not be go wrong with it. the J,K,L, I and
ignored. blackmagicdesign.com › free download O keys on your
creative.adobe.com › Creative Cloud $49.99/month keyboard aren’t
I hope this article gives you an appreciation of the various worn out, you’re not
Avid Media Composer editing tools available. I strongly encourage you to give working efficiently.
If I had to guess I would say that Avid is used on 95% of all new programs a try; you may not know what you’re Give it a try.
broadcast and theatrical shows. 99% percent of the shows missing until you check them out! K

74 RotorDroneMag.com
air support

Graupner
Race Copter Alpha 250Q
A speed demon with all the bells and whistles
By john reid Photos By bob sutton

G
raupner has been a leader in radio-control innovation for decades, and now they’re
bringing their accumulated knowledge to the multirotor world. The new Alpha 250Q
racer has an innovative, combined receiver and flight controller, eliminating excess
wiring and weight to create a lightweight, fast and responsive aircraft.

76 RotorDroneMag.com
The camera is well-protected by the carbon-fiber faceplate that
stands guard in front of it. The different color high-intensity LED lights
are both in the front and back of the chassis, and come pre-mounted
and wired.

HIGHLIGHTS
The Alpha 250Q comes completely assembled and just
needs to be bound to your Graupner transmitter, unless
you get the ready-to-fly version that includes the
transmitter. The triple mode receiver and flight controller
combination is installed and attached to all the speed
controllers. The body is made up of a strong 3mm carbon-
fiber motor frame and 2mm carbon-fiber chassis, which
gives it strength and keeps it lightweight. The combination
receiver/controller provides additional room in the chassis
so you can move the 3-cell battery pack toward the
center of the quad.
There are plenty of locations for attaching your FPV
equipment, and the front of the quad is designed for a
camera to be protected behind a carbon-fiber plate. On
top is a carbon-fiber vibration-free camera mount. The
Graupner Ultra 2300Kv motors and speed control provide
good performance and very quick response. In addition,
the Alpha 250Q includes an aluminum carrying case and
two sets of their C-props. The ready-to-fly model comes
SPECIFICATIONS WE LIKE with an mz-12 radio, battery pack and charger.
+ Easy to One of the standard features of the Graupner radio
Name: Race Copter Alpha 250Q
assemble equipment is that they come with built-in telemetry with
Manufacturer: Graupner (graupner.de)
altitude, voltage, radio-frequency signal strength, receiver
Distributor: Open Hobby (openhobby.com) + Fast and
temperature and live voice telemetry announcements.
Type: Racing quad responsive
It was very easy for me set this quad up for racing, and
Size: 250mm + Real time I was in the air after about one hour of setup and FPV
Weight: 1 lb., 2 oz. (ready to race) telemetry installation. Next up: how will this bird perform in the air?
Motors: Graupner Ultra 2300kv (included)
Battery: 3S 1300mAh + Built-in
controller with
Speed controls: included
receiver
Flight controller: Graupner GR-18 (included)
Radio: 6-channel Graupner (required)
Price: $449-$649 depending on configuration

July/August 2015 77
FPV equipment
For this review I installed the Lumenier CM-
650 mini camera and an ImmersionRC 5.8GHz
600mw transmitter for my FPV. Along with
that I used the Fat Shark Dominator V2 goggles.
This combination made for a solid connection
at the park with little static until I got some
distance away and low to the ground. It was easy
mounting the camera right behind the front
plate on the quad and this did offer protection
during some rough landings. This lightweight
FPV system worked very well for me and kept
everything light.

aerial recap
One of the
high- Flight performance was answered the next day when I took the Alpha 250Q to my
performance local park for a test flight. On my first flight I left it in attitude mode, which keeps the
Graupner quad level when the sticks are released. It had no problem lifting off quickly with all
ultra 2300
Kv motors, of my FPV gear onboard and performed very well in the air. The controls are very
with C-prop responsive and the 250Q really moves out, if you are flying line-of-sight it will get
attached. out of sight very fast.
Having the battery located in the middle of the aircraft allows it to corner well. If
you are a beginner pilot you will need some help from a more experienced pilot until
you get a feel for this airframe. I really had no problem placing the Alpha 250Q where
I needed it to be and I had a blast flying it around in the park. Switching to rate mode
it became very responsive to the sticks and allowed for aerobatics (rolls and flips).
This mode requires the pilot to use opposite stick to get the aircraft to level out. This
is the preferred mode for racing because the aircraft will maintain a 45° angle.

Flight
controller
The Graupner GR-18
receiver is everything
a receiver should be.
The flight controller is
built right into it and it
can relay a number of
telemetry items to keep
pilots up to date on all the
onboard systems. With
some programming, it
can control many different multirotor configurations. It is easier to set up than many
flight controllers and for this model it is ready to go out of the box. An additional plus
Because the receiver and controller are combined, the battery is able
is its all-up weight of 0.49 ounce, and installation only involves making sure one of its
to slide in quite a bit toward the center. This keeps most of the weight sides is parallel to the side of the multirotor frame.
at the center of the quad and protects the battery inside the frame.

last word This is the perfect quad for anyone who is looking to get into racing without having to deal too
much with construction. The Alpha 250Q is durable, fast, and can stand up to some hard hits.

78 RotorDroneMag.com
The Ultimate Radio Control Expo Returns to the OC!
BY TEAM ROTORDRONE
PHOTOS BY CARL HYNDMAN & JOEL NAVARRO

LUCKY THIRTEEN! The Radio Control Expo, better known as RCX, cel-
ebrated 13 years of radio control excitement as the event returned to
sunny southern California’s beautiful Orange County. The OC Fair & Event
Center in Costa Mesa hosted thousands of amped RC fans for a full week-
end of fun that included indoor and outdoor flight demos, drag racing,
try-me tracks, stunt demos, full-size race vehicles and “star cars” from
movies and television—and of course, the latest RC gear. Whether you’re
into planes, drones, scale, helicopters, racing, or drifting, RCX had it all.
We hope you joined us in person for the fun, but if you didn’t, you can get
a look at all the excitement in the pages ahead. And it’s never too soon to
plan for next year—RCX 2016 will be here sooner than you think!

Flight Zones
Part of the excitement each
year at RCX is our exciting
Flight Zones. To keep all
types of RC aircraft and their
pilots happy, we provided
two zones: a big indoor
netted flight area for electric
powered helis, multi-rotor
craft, lightweight 3D flyers
and micro RC planes, and for
the RC craft needing a larger
flight space, a huge outdoor
flight zone, right outside the
center hall.
This year’s RCX saw an
amazing increase in the
number and scope of mul-
tirotor aircraft on display.
The two hot tickets for 2015
were the video camera
rotor drones that use WiFi
to transmit images to your
mobile device, and the hot
and fast First Person View
quadcopter racers. When it
came to flight demos, there
were so many flights, both
inside and at the outdoor
flight zone, pilots had to
sign in and pick slots for
their demo flights. From
big electric-powered 3D
helicopter flight demos with
inverted hovers so low they
almost trimmed the grass to
high energy 3D aerobatics
airplanes, both big and small,
the outside flight zone was
the place to be. The fun and
excitement was nonstop!
80 ModelAirplaneNews.com
Horizon Flying Cage
At the Horizon Hobby booth, attend-
ees got a chance to get up close and
personal with Blade micro quads and
helicopters while flying them inside
a circular “cage” with 12-foot walls.
The current crop of these micro
flyers is so stable that newbies can
fly them, and even if they do crash
they’re so light that they aren’t often
damaged. As you can guess, the
Horizon Fly-Me cage was a popular
RCX destination!

SEPTEMBER 2015 81
4

1. The RadFlight team captured aerial footage of the show.


RotorDrones invade RCX 2. The Graupner racing quad is a hit at RCX!
3. Hitec Q-Cop; just one of the rotor drones on display.
A large contingency of drone vendors showed the world how diverse and exciting RC rotor 4. Samy’s Camera had a variety of multirotors on display.
drones really are. Aerial coverage of the RCX show was made possible by Michael Rivard 5. The Multicopter Warehouse was a popular booth.
of RadFlight flying an Inspire 1 multi-rotor to capture great bird’s-eye video of all the ac- 6. The UAVSA was on hand to answer questions.
tion. One of the fastest growing segments in the RC industry, RC drones are also the most 7. Editor John Reid interviews the AMA.
exciting, and RCX featured several opportunities to learn all about the tech and fun found in 8. Keep your drone safe in a custom MicroRaptor case.
the market. Several vendors including Horizon Hobby, Total Control Innovations, Multicopter 9. This aerial camera will get you a birds-eye-view!
Warehouse, Hitec RCD, Samy’s Camera, UAV-RC, DroneFly, Drone Proz, Dinogy Lipos and 10. DJI has dozens of multirotors!
Graupner were on hand to show their wares. There were also Try-Me Drone Zones, and 11. Horizon’s Blade quadcopters come in a variety of sizes.
booth-side flight demos (in protected enclosures), as well as the indoor and outdoor Flight 12. DroneFly demos some new equipment.
Zones. Several industry pros were also on hand from the UAV Systems Association to field 13. Attendees check out the new Yuneec Typhoon.
14. The Eye of Mine Action Camera booth.
questions. In all, RCX was the perfect opportunity to stock up on aerial cameras, flight bat-
15. Custom multirotors come in all shapes and sizes.
teries and the other multi-rotor gear and accessories you need. If you missed it this year,
16. Attendees stocked up on motors and gear!
don’t let that happen again. Next year the drone invasion at RCX will be massive!
17. The UAVSA’s Keith Kaplan gets ready to fly a Yuneec Typhoon.

2 6 7

9 10

82 ModelAirplaneNews.com
11

12

13

15 17 17

14
win a free
subscription!
Tell us whaT you Think.
We appreciate all of our
readers and want to deliver
the absolute best content
to you. Please take a quick RutanRC Flight Demos
A special treat this year was the Rutan
survey to help us get to RC prototypes being flown during some
know YOU, so we can make amazing flight demos. Two scale SpaceShip
Ones and the White Knight mothership
RotorDrone Magazine model were on display in the AMA booth all
weekend and Rutan RC’s Dan Kreigh, with
even better! help from Mason Hutchison, put on several
demo flights on Saturday. SpaceShip One
is the powered model and it carries the un-
Hurry! the first 12 participants powered mothership up to altitude. When
the two models separate, the mothership
who respond to our survey glides back down (under RC control by a
will win a free one-year second pilot), and the smaller SpaceShip
subscription—a $36 value! One is free to perform. Powered by an EDF
unit, it also has the ability to reconfigure it-
Winners will be notified via email. self for “feathered” descent. The SpaceShip
One has full control during both feathered
and unfeathered flight and it showed it had
plenty of power. Top: Team RutanRC poses
Dan actually worked with Burt Rutan as a Scaled Composites after their demo flight.
engineer for many Rutan designs, including the original Space- Above: RotorDrone editor
ShipOne craft. It is famous for winning the $10 million Ansari X Debra Cleghorn interviews
surveymonkey.com/r/9SZBDWG Prize by reaching 100 kilometers in altitude (suborbital, weight- Team RutanRC.
less flight), twice within a two-week period. Dan told us that the
SpaceShip One and White Knight combo is just the beginning and
they are planning to produce several more of the amazing aircraft.
Brand Partner-
ships Manager
Michael Shabun
happily accepts
the Drone of
the Year trophy
from Air Age
Media CEO Louis
DeFrancesco.

Every year at RCX our sister publications


celebrate and recognize what we feel
are the best products of the year, and
this year RotorDrone Magazine gave
out its very first Drone of the Year
award. Our favorites have many
things in common: high quality,
great performance, and overall
“wow” factor.

 DJI Inspire 1
Our Drone of the Year is packed with features, easy HIGHLIGHTS
to fly and has safety features to protect the pilot and » Capture 4K video and 12MP stills
the community. With its integrated 4K video Camera, » Included 360° camera stabilized by
3-axis gimbal
retractable landing gear, cutting-edge camera gimbal
» Great for indoor and outdoor flying
PHOTO BY TONY DONALDSON

stabilization, GPS and ground stabilization sensors,


integrated batteries with long flight times, smartphone and
tablet compatibility and dual transmitter control options for
the drone and camera, the Inspire 1 is a game-changer in
aerial cameras. It starts at $2,899.

86 ModelAirplaneNews.com
FROM THE GLOBAL SPONSOR OF THE DJI SKYPIXEL TOUR 2015,
FOUR DURABLE PROTECTION OPTIONS FOR THE INSPIRE 1

AS SEEN ON:
GOOD MORNING AMERICA

$
549 $
429 $
469
COMBO TRAVEL LANDING Travel Mode Case
MODE MODE
CASE
CASE CASE

Four Case Designs: Combo, Travel Mode, Landing Mode,


and Compact Mode (not shown)

Telescopic handle and wheels for easy transportation

Four unique models for the DJI Inspire 1TM and accessories.
Combo case also accommodates the Phantom 3

Industrial, military-grade SKB case

Custom closed cell foam interior


Inspire 1/Phantom 3
Waterproof, dust tight design Combo Case

Resistant to UV, corrosion and impact damage


Landing Mode Case

GOPROFESSIONALCASES.COM CONTACT US TODAY 855-223-2932


EXPERT TECH
BY WILLIAM LEVASSEUR PHOTOS BY WILLIAM LEVASSEUR & CHANTAL RACETTE

You can 3D print your own


quadcopter, like this one. But I
recommend that you do your
homework first. Even expert-
made projects found online
have quirks and will likely
require some tweaking before
they actually fly. But I enjoy a
challenge!

3D Printing Project A DIY $30 QUADCOPTER


Building stuff is fun. Building stuff that works is better. Quadcopters are a staple of 3D printing project repositories,
Websites like Thingiverse, YouMagine, Cubify and MyMiniFactory so I decided to build one for the purpose of this article. I settled
offer a variety of projects for your 3D printer. What they don’t on a slick-looking project offered on TinkerineU (u.tinkerine.
com). Tinkerine is a Canadian 3D printer manufacturer, and
provide are any guarantees that your creation will perform as
this website launched in March and is still in its infancy. Most
advertised, especially when various electronic components are consumer-oriented 3D printer companies have some kind
required. Maybe the servo that you bought is slightly different of website offering projects and STL files of stuff that their
from the one you needed. Or the circuit board has the right customers can make. Unlike Thingiverse, which hosts user-
technical specifications, but it’s of a newer model with the generated content, TinkerineU is marketed as a teaching
holes and pins at different places. There are few things more platform, with professionally designed, high-quality projects
frustrating than finding out those parts you bought don’t and lesson plans aimed at schools. In fact, the press release
states that the content was co-developed with educators.
actually fit together.

88 RotorDroneMag.com
Lesson 1: Appearances can be deceiving nothing has changed since. Good thing I didn’t wait!
The project STL files for the TinkerineU quadcopter Thankfully, this mini quadcopter uses brushed motors
SEARCH &
comes with an instruction manual. It’s all very clean and identical to the common Hubsan brand that you can
DISCOVER
How can you find
official looking; I can tell serious man hours went into this. buy online. Brushed motors don’t use electronic speed
good projects?
Diagrams show how to put the various parts together, controls, so one less thing to worry about. I figured out
There’s a search
what kind of screws and size motors to use, and where that I need the exact same motors as the Hubsan H107L.
engine for that!
the circuit board goes. I feel that I’m in good hands. Replacement motors are easy to find online ($10). They
With possibly
But as legitimate as the document looks, I can spot some have to be for that exact model, though, since the more
dozens of online
flaws. No model number or clue where to buy the motors recent ones use bigger motors. I also buy a Hubsan flight
repositories
and no recommended electronics. I’m even expected to controller board ($14), which has the radio receiver built-
of 3D printing
3D print the propellers, which is something I know for a in, and four propellers ($5), because I figure the ones I will
projects, finding
fact is near impossible. Could a high school student build try to print aren’t likely to work. I already own a Hubsan,
the very best is
this? Unlikely! But I decide to go ahead anyway ... because so I have a remote control and battery. The instructions
near impossible
if it’s too easy, I won’t have anything to write about! recommend a 300mAh 1S LiPo. I’ll use a 500mAh, because
without help. I use
why not? I’m basically building a Hubsan H107L from spare
STLFinder.com and
Lesson 2: Locate the hardware first parts in a custom 3D-printed body.
Yeggi.com, two
On the TinkerineU website, the link for locating the
search engines
hardware that I need is grayed out, with the dreadful Lesson 3: Can your printer handle it?
especially made
mention, “coming soon.” I inquired about that and I have plenty of time to print the actual frame while my
for sorting through
Tinkerine replied that they are “currently working hardware ships across the ocean. My first attempt is
several resources
diligently with [...] suppliers to have the hardware parts for a disappointing failure. You see, I don’t own a Tinkerine
at once.
all the projects available. It shouldn’t be much longer.” That printer. Mine is a DIY RepRap with a different set of
was back in March, when the website was launched, and characteristics. The project is tailored for the company’s

I picked a project with challenging


fine features. 3D printers are not all
the same. Your results may vary if
you are using a different machine
than the person who designed the
project in the first place.

July/August 2015 89
EXPERT TECH 3D PRINTING PROJECT

PRECURSORS At the end of the day,


my 3D-printed mini
TO FAILURE quadcopter is the same
1. No actual real as the Hubsan H107L,
but with a custom frame.
life pictures of the
This is a fun project if you
finished project. happen to have a broken
Hubsan lying around.
2. Absent or
incomplete list of
required hardware.
3. No links to the
stores where the
electronic parts
can be found.
4. No details
or assembly
instructions.
5. No comments or
pictures from other
users who built it.
6. STL files
containing errors
(non-manifold,
intersecting
triangles).
7. High detail and/
or overhanging
parts that look like
they could only be
printed on a high-
end machine. printer, which probably handles fine features better than mention: “The blades of this propeller are printed flat and
8. The title reads my contraption. must be bent after printing to create the desired pitch.”
“NOT-TESED” [sic]. No panic! A few calculations and a quick tuning later No clues on how to achieve that and I will be in awe of
and I’ve got the layer width of my printer just right. I’m not anybody who can pull it off. I’ll just use the ones that I
9. The title
able to get it precise enough to print all the tiny locking bought.
contains an
pins this frame is supposed to have, but I figure I can use
obvious typo.
epoxy glue … This is as close as I can get it. Lesson 4: You are on your own
10. This is the very As for the propellers, I printed one just for the sake of I located the tiny screws needed to put it all together, but
first posted object it. It came out better than expected, but in no way strong the very first part that I try to attach cracks. My delicate
by this user. enough to lift the aircraft. The instructions come with the print, coerced from my barbaric RepRap machine, isn’t
going to cut it. Time to improvise!
I dismiss the screws and glue
everything with epoxy. At this point, I
just want it to fly.
And fly it does! About as well as
the Hubsan H107L, whose guts I
Frankenstein-ed to life in this new
body. The project worked … after a
fashion.
There are a lot of ways this could
have gone better. Owning a superior
3D printer would have been a plus.
It would also help if Tinkerine sold
hardware kits for its projects.
3D printing has true potential
when it comes to teaching things like
It may be possible to 3D physics, mechanics, and electronics.
print a propeller, just not
My goal isn’t to discourage you from
such a small one. This one
(left) doesn’t look too bad, exploring projects found online and
but it’s far too flexible and attempting to build them. But you
I have no practical way of will need to be clever and remain
shaping it to give it the
skeptical in the face of things that
right pitch. I’ll go with the
ones that I bought (right). look too good to be true. K

90 RotorDroneMag.com
HARBOR FREIGHT
QUALITY TOOLS AT RIDICULOUSLY LOW PRICES

How Does Harbor Freight SUPER COUPON SUPER COUPON

20% FREE
Sell GREAT QUALITY Tools
at the LOWEST Prices?
We have invested millions of
dollars in our own state-of-the-art WITH ANY PURCHASE

OFF
3-1/2" SUPER BRIGHT
quality test labs and millions more NINE LED ALUMINUM
in our factories, so our tools will go FLASHLIGHT
LOT 69052 shown
toe-to-toe with the top professional 69111/62522/62573

brands. And we can sell them for


a fraction of the price because we
cut out the middle man and pass 6 ANY SINGLE ITEM

LIMIT 1 - Save 20% on any one item purchased at our stores or HarborFreight.com or by calling
800-423-2567. *Cannot be used with other discount, coupon, gift cards, Inside Track
$ 99
VALUE
the savings on to you. It’s just that Club membership, extended service plans or on any of the following: compressors,
generators, tool storage or carts, welders, floor jacks, Towable Ride-On Trencher,
Saw Mill (Item 61712/62366/67138), Predator Gas Power Items, open box items, LIMIT 1 - Cannot be used with other discount, coupon or prior purchase. Coupon good at our

simple! Come visit one of our


in-store event or parking lot sale items. Not valid on prior purchases after 30 days stores, HarborFreight.com or by calling 800-423-2567. Offer good while supplies last. Shipping
from original purchase date with original receipt. Non-transferable. Original coupon & Handling charges may apply if not picked up in-store. Non-transferable. Original coupon
must be presented. Valid through 11/21/15. Limit one coupon per customer per day. must be presented. Valid through 11/21/15. Limit one FREE GIFT coupon per customer per day.

600 Stores Nationwide.


R
PE ON
SU UP
CO
10 FT. x 20 FT.
PORTABLE CAR CANOPY
R
PE ON
SU UP
CO
72" x 80"
MOVER'S BLANKET WOW SU3PEGARLLOCON,UP100ONAKPSEI
OILLESS PANC
LOT 60728/69034 shown LOT 66537 shown
69505/62418
AIR COMPRESSOR
SAVE LOT 60637/61615/95275
shown

$80 SAVE

$ 99 5 $ 5999
55%

39
$$3 99
119
REG. PRICE
$ 99 SAVE REG. PRICE $17.99 $89.99

REG. PRICE $199.99


66% t
be used with other discoun
calling 800-423-2567. Cannot last.
LIMIT 5 - Good at our stores or HarborFreight.com or by calling 800-423-2567. Cannot be used with other discount LIMIT 8 - Good at our stores or HarborFreight.com or by calling 800-423-2567. Cannot be used with other discount or HarborFreight.com or bypurchase with original receipt. Offer good while supplies
LIMIT 3 - Good at our storeses after 30 days from original per customer per day.
or coupon or prior purchases after 30 days from original purchase with original receipt. Offer good while supplies last. or coupon or prior purchases after 30 days from original purchase with original receipt. Offer good while supplies last.
or coupon or prior purchas presented. Valid through 11/21/15. Limit one coupon
Non-transferable. Original coupon must be presented. Valid through 11/21/15. Limit one coupon per customer per day. Non-transferable. Original coupon must be presented. Valid through 11/21/15. Limit one coupon per customer per day. must be
Non-transferable. Original coupon

R
PE ON
SU UP
CO
12 VOLT
MAGNETIC
TOWING
WO26"W SUPER COUPON
, 4 DRAWER
R
PE ON
SU UP
CO
40 PIECE 1/4" AND 3/8" DRIVE
SOCKET SET
SAVE SAVE
TOOL CART
66% LIGHT KIT $ 180 • SAE and Metric
LOT 61328
LOT 67455 shown
47902 shown
69925/62753 WINNER • 580 lb. Capacity
69626/62517 – Truckin' Magazine LOT 95659 shown SAVE
61634/61952
60%
$ 99 9 $9999 $15999 REG. PRICE
$279.99
$ 99 3
REG. PRICE $29.99 be used with other discoun
t REG. PRICE $9.99
calling 800-423-2567. Cannot last.
LIMIT 6 - Good at our stores or HarborFreight.com or by calling 800-423-2567. Cannot be used with other discount or HarborFreight.com or bypurchase with original receipt. Offer good while supplies LIMIT 6 - Good at our stores or HarborFreight.com or by calling 800-423-2567. Cannot be used with other discount
or coupon or prior purchases after 30 days from original purchase with original receipt. Offer good while supplies last. LIMIT 4 - Good at our storeses after 30 days from original per customer per day. or coupon or prior purchases after 30 days from original purchase with original receipt. Offer good while supplies last.
or coupon or prior purchas 11/21/15. Limit one coupon
Non-transferable. Original coupon must be presented. Valid through 11/21/15. Limit one coupon per customer per day.
le. Original coupon must be presented. Valid through Non-transferable. Original coupon must be presented. Valid through 11/21/15. Limit one coupon per customer per day.

WOW SUPER CO875UP0 ONPETTS


Non-transferab

R
PE ON
R
PE ON
AIRLESS
AK/ SU UP SU UP PAINT SPRAYER KIT
• 76 dB O SAVE O
7000 RUNNING WA )
SUPERT C RAPID PUMP® C
3 TON HEAVY DUTY $85
Noise
QUIE
Level
13 HP (420 CC SAVE
GAS GENERATORS
LOT 60600
SAVE STEEL FLOOR JACK $125
LOT 68530/69671 shown
OVER
$ 262 LOT 69227/62116/62590 • Weighs
LOT 68525/69677

17499
62584/68048 shown

59999 $7499 $159.99


$
74 lbs.
CALIFORNIA ONLY
537
$$5 73
$
REG. PRICE
REG. PRICE

REG. PRICE
$799.99 $299.99
t
be used with other discoun
calling 800-423-2567. Cannot last.
or HarborFreight.com or bypurchase with original receipt. Offer good while supplies LIMIT 4 - Good at our stores or HarborFreight.com or by calling 800-423-2567. Cannot be used with other discount LIMIT 5 - Good at our stores or HarborFreight.com or by calling 800-423-2567. Cannot be used with other discount
LIMIT 4 - Good at our storeses after 30 days from original per customer per day. or coupon or prior purchases after 30 days from original purchase with original receipt. Offer good while supplies last. or coupon or prior purchases after 30 days from original purchase with original receipt. Offer good while supplies last.
or coupon or prior purchas 11/21/15. Limit one coupon
le. Original coupon must be presented. Valid through Non-transferable. Original coupon must be presented. Valid through 11/21/15. Limit one coupon per customer per day. Non-transferable. Original coupon must be presented. Valid through 11/21/15. Limit one coupon per customer per day.
Non-transferab

R
PE ON
SU UP
CO
SUPER-WIDE TRI-FOLD
ALUMINUM LOADING RAMP WOW SUPE18 RVOCOLTILLCOUP/DRRDONLESS
IVER
R
PE ON
SU UP
CO
FOLDABLE ALUMINUM
SPORTS CHAIR
3/8" DR LOT 62314

WITH KEYLESS CHUCK


LOT 90018 shown 66383 shown

SAVE
69595/60334
SAVE SAVE
37%
• 1500 lb. • 250 lb.
56% LOT 69651
$70 Capacity
68239 shown Capacity

$ 79 99
Includes one
18V NiCd
battery and charger.
$1513$2299 $ 2499
REG. PRICE REG. PRICE
$34.99 REG. PRICE
$149.99 t $39.99
be used with other discoun
calling 800-423-2567. Cannot last.
LIMIT 5 - Good at our stores or HarborFreight.com or by calling 800-423-2567. Cannot be used with other discount or HarborFreight.com or bypurchase with original receipt. Offer good while supplies LIMIT 5 - Good at our stores or HarborFreight.com or by calling 800-423-2567. Cannot be used with other discount
or coupon or prior purchases after 30 days from original purchase with original receipt. Offer good while supplies last. LIMIT 6 - Good at our storeses after 30 days from original
er per day. or coupon or prior purchases after 30 days from original purchase with original receipt. Offer good while supplies last.
Limit one coupon per custom
Non-transferable. Original coupon must be presented. Valid through 11/21/15. Limit one coupon per customer per day. or coupon or prior purchas
coupon must be presented. Valid through 11/21/15. Non-transferable. Original coupon must be presented. Valid through 11/21/15. Limit one coupon per customer per day.
Non-transferable. Original

• 100% Satisfaction Guaranteed • No Hassle Return Policy • 600 Stores Nationwide


• Over 25 Million Satisfied Customers • Lifetime Warranty On All Hand Tools • HarborFreight.com 800-423-2567
AIR SUPPORT

Blade/Horizon Hobby
Glimpse
A compact FPV HD camera drone
BY GERRY YARRISH PHOTOS BY PETER HALL

L
ooking for a compact, HD-camera-
equipped, First-Person View (FPV)
quadcopter? One that’s easy to
set up and fly? Then check out the
new Glimpse FPV HD Camera Drone. An RTF
(ready to fly) quadcopter, the Glimpse is
perfect for anyone wanting to get started,
and it comes with everything you need, all
in one package.

SPECIFICATIONS WE LIKE
Name: Glimpse + 720p / 1.0MP
Manufacturer: Blade (bladehelis.com) integrated flight
Distributor: Horizon Hobby (horizonhobby.com) camera
Type: ready to fly, camera-equipped quadcopter + 5.8 GHz 480p
Size: 160mm video WiFi
Weight: 1.83 oz. downlink
Motors: 8mm coreless (installed) + Apps for iOS or
Battery: 500mAh 1S 25C LiPo (included) Android mobile
Speed controls: Integrated 4-in-1 mixer/speed devices
controls/gyro (installed) + SAFE technology
Flight controller: SAFE (Sensor Assisted Flight lets beginners be
Envelope) successful
Radio: Blade/Spektrum MLP4DSM (included) The Blade Glimpse is an easy-to-fly, FPV-
Price: $ 219.99 camera-equipped quadcopter that’s fun to fly.

92 RotorDroneMag.com
HIGHLIGHTS
The Glimpse has a built-in FPV HD camera and includes
an easy to use 2.4GHz transmitter, a flight battery, USB
charger, and a micro SD memory card and a USB cable.
There is no assembly required and all you have to do is
install the included AA batteries in the controller and
charge the flight battery, which takes about 15 minutes
attached to the USB port of your laptop. No tools are
required, and the Glimpse even comes with a spare set of
Above: The inverted rotor blade
rotor blades in case you manage to bump into something design keeps the blades well-
hard. protected and provides excellent
To control the onboard camera, you need to download stability and response.
the free Glimpse app and load it to your mobile device. (A left: The built-in camera has a
micro sd card slot and it is con-
smartphone holder is included.) trolled with a downloadable app
Turn on the radio and power up the Glimpse, then turn using your mobile device.
on your phone, activate the app and join the Glimpse
network. Now you can turn the video recorder on and
off and/or take still photos. To retrieve the images, you
can either remove the 8GB micro SD card and use a card
reader to load to your PC or use the included USB cable
and connect the quadcopter to your computer. There is
a very slight lag time between the camera and the image
in your device screen, but it isn’t long enough to interfere
with true FPV flying.

The glimpse comes in a ready to fly package including the


quadcopter, transmitter, flight battery, spare rotor blades, a
micro sd card and a UsB cable.

aerial recap
The Glimpse drone features Blade’s SAFE (Sensor Assisted Flight Envelope) technology, making it easy for
beginners to fly. It automatically rights the quadcopter in windy conditions, and the pitch and roll responses are
limited to ensure positive flight stability. As soon as you release or neutralize the control sticks, the onboard
stabilization system brings the drone back into a stable hover. With a full battery charge, we get six to eight minutes
of flight time both inside and outdoors. The 8mm coreless motors provide plenty of power to fly the camera-
equipped quadcopter and provide lively performance.
Responsiveness. With the SAFE flight controller, the Glimpse is stable yet responds well to control inputs.
Flight modes. The included transmitter provides high and low rates to adjust the Glimpse’s control response. By
pressing the right control stick down until you hear a click, you can switch from high to low. In low rate, the model is
very docile and ideally configured for first-time pilots. For pilots with more experience and to fly in mild wind, high
rate is preferred as it provides quicker response.

last word For the new pilot looking for an easy to fly aerial camera equipped quadcopter, the
Glimpse provides a solid starting off point. It is rugged and easy to fly, and its inverted
rotor blade design increases safety. Flown indoors or out, it’s an ideal choice.

July/August 2015 93
LEGAL VIEW
BY JEFFREY ANTONELLI

State & Local Drone Laws


NO SUBSTITUTION FOR STRONG FEDERAL RULES

In previous columns, I have discussed spectators. No one was injured, but that will not always be
federal rules and laws that relate to aviation the case.)
and drones in particular. This makes sense— In a similar vein, Chicago is considering adopting an
ordinance that would require drone operators to obtain
after all, the Federal Aviation Administration a permit from the Park District prior to flying in the city.
(FAA) has been tasked with protecting the Phoenix, Arizona, restricts model aircraft flight to specific
national airspace and regulating aviation. The parks in the city limits.
FAA currently classifies drones as aircraft and, There are also laws that limit specific uses of drones.
as readers of this column know, has asserted Illinois and Tennessee prohibit people from using a
its authority over many operators. drone to interfere with hunters, and many states have
considered, or have passed, laws prohibiting using drones
However, a regulatory vacuum exists in two ways to hunt wildlife.
which poses a problem. First, regulations for drones have Of course, privacy is a major concern across the
not yet been finalized. Although the FAA has recently country. Every state will have laws regarding nuisance
announced that the rules will be final in June 2016, the and trespass that you should consider before taking
Jeffrey Antonelli, question remains whether the drone operator program your quadcopter out in the neighborhood. Some states
Antonelli Law will be ready to implement at that time. Second, the lack are also considering modifying existing laws to make it
With a legal of a cohesive, national policy for drones including privacy clear they apply to drones as well. Colorado, for example,
background in concerns and where drones are allowed to take off and is considering criminalizing “drone trespass” and “drone
corporate outside land is prompting local and state authorities to propose, harassment.”
counsel, civil litigation, and in some cases, pass laws that affect drone users.
insurance defense, There are serious questions that need to be answered Law enforcement & government agencies
and intellectual regarding these local attempts at regulation, such as, are Many states and cities have laws that only apply to law
property and drone/ they valid? And are they good or bad for the public and enforcement or government agencies. Some states,
UAV law, Jeffrey began the industry? Without having a national policy in place, such as Virginia, prohibit any law enforcement use of
flying radio-controlled we are risking having a mish-mash of laws that stifle the drones. Other states, including Florida, Iowa, and Montana,
aircraft several
industry because of uncertainty of their validity, and we require police officers to obtain a search warrant before
years ago, which
are also risking having the answers be provided through using an unmanned aircraft to collect evidence. Illinois
lead him to research
new technologies, the inefficient process of litigation. Litigation is likely, in also limits the amount of time this evidence may be
including first-person the author’s opinion, because of the doctrine of federal stored. Wisconsin prohibits law enforcement agents from
viewing (FPV) and preemption which this article will discuss below. And, we conducting drone surveillance where individuals have
drones. may not like the answers that litigation provides. reasonable expectations of privacy. In addition to requiring
a warrant for law enforcement use of drones, Oregon also
Hobbyist considerations requires any model aircraft used by public bodies to be
In Section 336 of the FAA Modernization and Reform registered with its state Department of Aviation.
Act of 2012, Congress prohibited the FAA from issuing
rules or regulations for hobby or recreational use of small Federal Preemption
drones, though the FAA is authorized to use enforcement It is important to remember that FAA regulations may
action against anyone using their drone when the flight trump, or preempt, local or state laws. That’s because
endangers the safety of the national airspace system. the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution makes federal
However, state legislators and city council members law the supreme law in the United States. In practice, this
are not directly bound by this mandate, and appear to means that local governments are allowed to pass laws
be allowed to limit what properties may be used for and regulations as long as they do not conflict with federal
drone takeoffs and landings, so long as there is a rational law. If there is a conflict, though, federal law trumps the
relationship between the limitation and a legitimate local law.
government interest. Often, federal law will act as a floor that states can be
Some states and cities have chosen to limit the places at, but cannot go under. For example, while the federal
where an individual may operate a drone. New York minimum wage is $7.25, Missouri’s minimum wage is
City is considering a ban on civilian drone use within the $7.65 and Oregon’s is $9.25. A state law authorizing a
city, due to safety concerns for uninvolved individuals if lower minimum wage would be preempted by the federal
the drone should fall. (Consider that at a Memorial Day minimum wage.
parade in Massachusetts, a drone operator lost control of When it comes to a system of regulations governing
his Phantom, which fell from the sky and landed on two aviation, it has been recognized since the early 1900s

94 RotorDroneMag.com
that a uniform regulatory system—rather than laws
that vary from state to state—is necessary. Even when
driving between states, without signs announcing border
crossings, it can be difficult to tell where one ends and
the next begins. This problem is magnified when traveling
above the cloud level, with limited, or no, location markers.
No one doubts the FAA’s authority to regulate
unmanned aircraft operating in the national airspace
“ New York City is considering
a ban on civilian drone use within the city,
due to safety concerns for uninvolved
individuals if the drone should fall.

unmanned aircraft to collect evidence at crime scenes,


but may not be able to actually do that because of FAA
limitations.
This is true even when it comes to potentially lifesaving
uses. Washington State’s Department of Transportation
(WDOT) conducted research in 2008—after obtaining the
appropriate COA— on using unmanned aircraft to assist
its snow avalanche control program. The WDOT quickly
Disclaimer: None of this
article constitutes legal
system. Unfortunately, there is actually a regulatory realized that the biggest barrier to effective use of the advice. Please consult an
vacuum due to the FAA’s failure to enact a comprehensive technology was the FAA’s tight control over who can fly attorney if you have legal
regulatory plan. As a result, there are more questions unmanned aircraft. Similarly, even though Henry County, questions. Antonelli Law’s
than answers about what is legal, and the United States Indiana’s Office of Emergency Management applied for a associate attorney Amelia
is severely behind most of the rest of the world when it COA in early 2014—recognizing that using manned aircraft Niemi assisted Jeffrey
comes to integrating unmanned aircraft into the national for search and rescue applications was cost prohibitive Antonelli with this article.
airspace system. and would not be included in the budget—it took the FAA For a discussion on
States cannot fill this vacuum. Some states are passing over six months to give its approval. the history of the laws
very limited laws over the areas they can control, but surrounding manned
state authority is weak. For example, although a state Conclusion aviation in the United
may authorize a certain amount of funding to go to State legislation is no substitute for a strong set of national States, take a look at Who
unmanned research, states are also required to follow the rules. As I have advocated many times, federal regulation Owns the Sky by Stuart
FAA’s requirements of obtaining a Certificate of Waiver or and a clear national policy is necessary to end the current Banner, published by the
Authorization (COA) to conduct that research. Local police state of limbo the United States commercial drone Harvard University Press
departments may be authorized by their state to use industry is in. K in 2008.

May/June 2015 95
more online! MOST PRODUCTS AVAILABLE
AS A DIGITAL DOWNLOAD

AIRAGESTORE.COM PAY PAL D ORDER ONLINE at AirAgeStore.com


ACCEPTE ORDER BY PHONE (888) 235-2021
OUTSIDE THE U.S. +(203) 961-7690

Magazines | Memberships | Books | DVDs | Special Issues | Digital Editions | Plans | Merchandise

Join the Multirotor revolution! HOT NEW PRODUCT


must
ROTORDRONE MAGAZINE have!
SUBSCRIPTION ROTORDRONE
$19.95 (6 issues) ESSENTIALS
Item# 2048 $17.95
The first magazine of its kind, RotorDrone lets you pilot your
adventure by showcasing all types of multirotor aircraft, from This handy guide will help you with
easy-to-fly micros to sophisticated giants as well as all the everything from flight modes to how to
latest accessories and must-have gear. program your speed controls and tips on
■ Get professional-quality photos and video with our expert setting up your video camera. You’ll also
tips and insider flight secrets. find expert setup and flight tips as well
■ Each issue of RotorDrone is filled with the latest multirotors
as information you need to know about
and gear as well as interviews with people using these brushless motors, battery use and care,
machines everywhere—from Hollywood movie sets to and the most used tools and equipment.
action sports arenas. This 32-page book is the ultimate
reference for getting the most out of your multirotor system. It has a spiral binding so it will
stay open for easy reference, and its heavy high-gloss pages are easy to clean. RotorDrone
Essentials is the ideal resource for both new and experienced multirotor pilots.

DVDs to Advance Your Aerobatics


print &l
digita

FREESTYLE AEROBATICS ADVANCED


AEROBATICS MADE EASY AEROBATICS
MADE EASY Item# DVD20 $27.95 MADE EASY
Item# DVD23 $27.95 This high-definition, one- Item# DVD21 $24.95
In the fourth installment of hour DVD has everything Learn all the maneuvers you
Must-Have Heli Buyer’s Guide our Aerobatics Made Easy you need to know to become need to know to become an
DVD series, expert RC pilot a hotshot aerobatic pilot! advanced airshow pilot!
RC HELICOPTER and national champion John National champion John
National aerobatic champion
BUYER’S GUIDE Glezellis demonstrates Glezellis demonstrates:
John Glezellis demonstrates:
Item# HBG13PD $6.99 a variety of maneuvers ■ Straight and level flight,
■ Competition-level 3D
Whether you’re looking from an electric Carbon-Z loops and rolls, knife-edge.
Yak to 12-point hesitation moves, 8-point rolls, the
to buy your first model or ■ Flight spins, snap rolls, and shark’s tooth, inverted
are upgrading to a heli that and hyper-fast rolls. With avalanches.
instructions for setting harriers, and more.
performs 3D aerobatics, the
up your electric plane for Get up to step with John’s ■ Captured in high definition,
2014 Radio Control Helicopter
maximum 3D performance, step-by-step instructions, including in-flight footage.
Buyer’s Guide is a must-have
this in -your-face aerobatic pro setup tips, and piloting
resource! Find the latest John’s pro setup tips, flight
DVD kicks up electric secrets.
insight on: instructions, and 3D secrets
■ Engines aerobatics to the highest will make you the local
level. hotshot pilot!
■ Rotor blades

■ 200+ product features

This exclusive, standalone guide will feature something


for every heli enthusiast. Buy one for yourself and give MAIL ORDERS—PLEASE INCLUDE POSTAGE AND HANDLING CHARGES WITH ALL ORDERS: U.S. — $3.99
another as a gift. You won’t find a more comprehensive first item, $1.50 each additional item, per shipping address. Canada — $9.99 first item, $2.99 each additional item, per
guide for helis anywhere else! shipping address. International — $14 first item, $4.50 each additional item, per shipping address. Residents of CT, add 6%
Print and digital are available. state sales tax. Residents of KY, add 6% sales tax. Additional county taxes will also apply. Canada, add GST. All checks and
money orders must be in U.S. dollars drawn on a U.S. bank. Mail in address: 88 Danbury Road, Suite 2B, Wilton, CT 06897.
P.O. Box 7337, Wilton, CT 06897. AirAgeMedia.com
Download order form online
over the horizon

Live Art
Location: Tulip fields near Sassenheim, The
Netherlands
Photographer: Anders Andersson
Equipment: HAB Paparazzo V2
Camera: Sony Alpha 7 w/ Zeiss 35 2.8 lens

( send us your photos If you have an image that you’ve taken with your own rotor drone that you’d like to
see showcased in Over the Horizon, please send your high-resolution image to rotordrone@airage.com

98 RotorDroneMag.com
VISIT CLICK CALL SERIOUS FUN.®
Your Local Retailer horizonhobby.com 1.800.338.4639