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Drones

ndboarder

Bill Gates' Gimp
Members
I know there's a topic on these elsewhere, but that's a bigger grade of drone.  Anyone here fly hobbyist drones, like the DJI or the quad copters you can build?

I know of some guys that fly some racing type drones, and saw some footage and pictures of others playing with a TinyWhoop which is a tiny little thing that will fit in the palm of your hand.  Though it apparently still has quite the range with a proper controller.

It looks pretty interesting, but I'd feel like I was invading peoples space flying one in a populated area.  The setups I've seen (even for the TinyWhoop) used some large RC controllers (like those used on old model planes and such years ago) that could pair with multiple drones.  They also had a VR like headset made by a company called Fat Shark.  From what I gather the range with the controller they had was quite a long distance and the drones all have a camera of some sort, so with the controller linked to the drone and the headset you could basically just see what the drone saw while flying.  Sounds like something that would be quite fun, but I'd still feel awkward just flying around my local neighborhood with such a thing
 
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nodle

Cheesemonger
Administrator
I've seen drone racing online. It looks cool with the VR googles. DJI is probably the best makers of them, not the racing. They are getting hot even around here. Guys are buying them and taking aerial photos of farms, or recording footage of them haying and making tons of money. So many new small startup companies or amateurs doing it even here.
 

ndboarder

Bill Gates' Gimp
Members
Stopped by a local hobby shop yesterday and ended up picking up a Blade Inductrix to play around with in the house.  It's the drone that they updated (or you can upgrade yourself) to be the Tinywhoop.

Pretty sure I'd have to get a lot better at flying it before I'd dare put a camera and antennae on top of it.  The thing itself is pretty cheap, but yet durable.  Crashed many times, no problem.  Put that camera on there and it might be a different story.

Fun to play around with so far.  One dog hates it, the other wants to eat it.
 

nodle

Cheesemonger
Administrator
How much weight do you think the camera would add? It looks like a small camera.
 

ndboarder

Bill Gates' Gimp
Members
I don't think it would add a lot of weight, but I wouldn't be surprised if it nearly doubled the weight of the thing.  Haven't really dug into it, but the motors on these tiny toy drones seem to be based on the weight in grams of a machine, so even tiny additions are going to make a difference.

That said, I guess I recall having seen people say they are using the stock motors for their tiny whoop, so the upgraded motors might be more about speed too.  I wonder if a nice controller (Spektrum or Taranis level) would make a difference in flying it.  As it is, I don't know if the cheap controller it comes with has any fault or if it's all user error - but you are barely hovering, push the stick up, push it some more, and more and nothing happens.  Then a tiny bit more and it goes to the ceiling.  Pull the stick down it stays there, pull it down some more, still there.  A little more and it drops slightly slower than a rock.  Basically it's pretty tough to get a consistent altitude.  It can be done, but takes a lot of fiddling around.
 

nodle

Cheesemonger
Administrator
So are you looking to get into more of a Surveillance style drone like a DJI or more into a racing drone style?
 

ndboarder

Bill Gates' Gimp
Members
I'm not too interested in the AP (aerial photography) style stuff like the DJI.  I'm more interested in just the FPV stuff where you could fly a fair distance and height and wear the goggles where you see what it does, so probably more racing style.

The DJI's are Ok and all from some guys I've been chatting about this with, but pretty slow and far more geared toward just doing photography than any FPV.  You can get a thing for HDMI out and run FPV with them that way, but it apparently has a lot of lag compared to true FPV setups
 

ndboarder

Bill Gates' Gimp
Members
Dunno, anyone could buy a phantom and claim to do it.  How many could do it well and such is another story
 

nodle

Cheesemonger
Administrator
Well I know with the new obstacle detection features they have, along with the GPS almost anyone can fly them anymore.
 

ndboarder

Bill Gates' Gimp
Members
True, the phantoms are mostly pretty automated.  You can pick a target and it will follow it around and such, it will avoid obstacles, it will attempt to return "home" on it's own.  So for the AP ones with that level of junk, pretty much anyone can fly, but doesn't mean they can take pictures worth a darn.  On the other hand there are better drones for it, like the DJI Inspire (and many other non-DJI I'm sure) where one person steers the drone, while another has a controller just for the camera gimbal.  I'd guess anyone using that form of setup would get better images and videos than leaving it solely to software - or at least would have far more flexibility.

On the more fun side of the spectrum, the race type ones that have a camera for FPV and another HD camera for capture flight, it's up to the builder what capabilities it has, and for the most part I think people aren't putting anything for obstacle detection or return home type functionality in since the goal is to keep them pretty light.  Granted these rigs aren't meant for aerial photography necessarily, but given the capability of flying at 80+ MPH they could be a lot more useful for certain types of filming
 

ndboarder

Bill Gates' Gimp
Members
I've been flying the little Inductrix around.  Pretty fun to play with indoors. In light wind it could be outside, but I'm a little leery of just doing it in the yard, though I've found a few nearby places where some outdoor fun could be had.

Related to my soldering topic, I ordered some upgraded parts for it.  Faster motors, a little camera to try out FPV stuff, upgraded battery pig tail, some higher mAh batteries and a case.  So I'll have some work to do with solder for installing the camera and swapping out the pigtail that's on it.  Motors are just little plugs.  Looking forward to testing out the upgraded setup, but also means at the least I need to order something to receive the FPV video, so will likely get some goggles for that soon and also a real RC controller where a lot more can be done to fine tune flight options.
 

ndboarder

Bill Gates' Gimp
Members
Should have all the stuff I need to turn my little Inductrix into a Tinywhoop in the mailbox later today.  Have some other stuff for the whole FPV thing on order which will be awesome to try out when they show up.  I've been getting a lot better at flight with the thing indoors.  Had it outside a bit yesterday too.  For a little thing it can hold up to minor breeze and easily climb well above the roof of a house.  I didn't let it get too high as without FPV to see where it is, it would be easy to lose line of sight with the little thing.  The more powerful motors should help with bucking wind a bit too.  It would still get blown around, but easier to fight against it I'd guess
 
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ndboarder

Bill Gates' Gimp
Members
Just order a DJI Phantom and be done with it.
No Sir!   The Phantoms are not at all what I am interested in.  I'm much more interested in the race style drones capable of speeds exceeding 80mph with a small camera that transmits an analog signal picked up by a set of basically VR type goggles so you get a first person view (FPV flying).

The Phantom's can do FPV, but not well.  You have to do an HDMI connection to the controller from an adapter they make, then connect that up to your FPV gear and it introduces lag into the stream.  The lag on it might not be a big deal given top speeds on a DJI, but still the huge drones like DJI's meant more for aerial photography than anything else are not of interest to me. 

I want to eventually get some motors, frame, ESCs, VTX board, etc and build a couple speed demon toys to do some FPV flying.  Hence the recent pique in my interest of soldering and getting better at doing it.  Speaking of which I removed battery pig tail from the control board on my inductrix last night, and then put on a new one with wires that are a slightly higher gauge so that it will be better able to make use of higher mAh batteries.
 

ndboarder

Bill Gates' Gimp
Members
Also, in case you doubt these things can move... here's the current world record holding drone for speed - 128mph

 

ndboarder

Bill Gates' Gimp
Members
The FPV goggles, basically look like a small VR headset.  Definitely not a fashion statement or anything.  There's some that are quite large and others that get smaller.  One of the top brands from what I've seen is Fat Shark FPV goggles.  They have a few different models.  The image below is the popular Dominator V3 goggle.   

You can put an SD card in and it will DVR your videos for you, but the stuff from the FPV camera won't be very HD quality - you'd mount something like a GoPro to the drone in addition to the FPV camera if you wanted high quality flight video. Also, you can see the panel on the front that you remove to put the receiver in (you can get them for 1.2Ghz, 2.4Ghz and 5.8Ghz) and then connect your antennae to the receiver.  It's modular so that you can swap things out for different conditions/purposes and to be more future proof.

 
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