Finding Places to Fly and Photograph with your Drone

This is one reason TO buy a Drone!

Finding Places to Fly and Photograph with your Drone.

For some this is very easy – for others a bit more difficult. Here are some hints and tips which may help you find some safe – and photogenic – places to fly!
Note: most of these suggestions assume you know how to take decent pics and videos which you can share with the owners or overseers of the properties.

Learn to use Google, Apple or Bing Satellite Maps to locate large open areas. During a recent trip to Florida, I noticed that a large fairgrounds was just a few blocks away. This area provided a great view of the city and surrounding area and was very safe for flying.

Walking or Biking around an area can often locate some additional places to fly. I founds some large abandoned areas near some railroad tracks which provided an amazing view of a local park as well as the center of town.

Consider your Contacts [Read more…]

Understanding Brushless Camera Gimbals

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Introduction

At the heart of many modern camera drones is a magical device called a 3-axis Brushless Camera Gimbal. It contains many of the same technologies which are in the drone itself. Here is what they are and how they work – explained in the simplest terms possible.

The word gimbal can be used to describe any adjustable camera or compass holder designed to keep the device level. A more accurate description of the quadcopter gimbal would be a 3 – axis camera stabilization and anti-vibration device. It uses brushless motors (powerful and quiet as well as long lasting) to adjust the position of the camera. 3-axis describes that the camera is adjusted in all directions – up/down, left/right and forward/backward (3 dimensions or, as we call it, the real world).
[Read more…]

New ebook – Buying and Flying the DJI Phantom 3 Quadcopter

UPDATE – THIS BOOK IS FREE FOR DOWNLOAD JULY 3,4,5.
(hard copy is never free – this is ebook!)
Please share and tell your friends! Note – if you are already an experienced R/C pilot, we ask that you not review this book on Amazon. The reason is simple – it is for beginners and those contemplating a purchase! We have very good reviews but some experienced pilots have downloaded the books and reviewed as “I already know much of this” or “I found this out in one year of cruising the internet”.

Link to book here.

Note – book is always free to those on Kindle Unlimited and also those who can borrow under their Amazon Prime account.

Thanks!

We released our new eBook:
Buying and Flying the DJI Phantom 3 Quadcopter
Book Cover

Like our other eBooks, this is not for those who are already experts with vast experience in Quadcopters and R/C flight. The book is for beginners and those researching the possible purchase of a Phantom 3.

Non-technical and semi-technical Phantom 3 buyers will also gain an overview of all the technologies involved in this new machine.

Here is a list of the basic subjects covered:
[Read more…]

More Reasons to NOT buy a Drone

This is one reason TO buy a Drone!

Take the Test

Newer drones such as the DJI Phantom 3 or 3DR Solo are truly magical. Their capabilities are way beyond former models and they are effectively “miracle machines”.
However, the question remains – will YOU make a good drone owner, operator and pilot?
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In order to test as to whether you are a potential Drone or Quadcopter pilot, we’ve made up the following short test. Consider these 7 statements:

“I spent $1K+ for this Quadcopter and it should just work no matter what.”

“Company X should be available to me by phone 24/7/365 and they should answer the phone with a live person who is capable of answering any question about my drone.”

“If there is any problem or fault with my drone, Company X should replace it – quickly, and with no (or few) questions asked.”

“I crashed (or lost) my Drone and I think it’s the fault of Company X – they should replace it or fix it quickly.”

“I should not have to rely on guesses and other users to provide me with technical support.”

“I use this drone for my work with photography/video and therefore cannot be without it. Lost revenues are the fault of Company X and therefore they should serve me even better and quicker”.

“I consider myself a tough customer and spend a decent amount of time on complaints, calls to manufacturers, lawsuits, etc. to make sure I get what I paid for”.

Think about these statements as a typical survey where you might answer True or False – or even with a 3-way answer such as Strongly Agree/Neutral/Strongly Disagree.
[Read more…]

DJI Phantom 3 Quadcopter – First Look, Review and Rating

Phantom 3 Pro

Droneflyers.com received a new Phantom 3 Quadcopter (Professional 4K model) at the beginning of May and have been flying it regularly since then. With about 20 flights under our belts, it time to do a First Look, Review and Rating on this new quadcopter.

We purchased the Phantom 3 Pro (4K) direct from DJI’s online store for $1259.00 including shipping and a single battery. At the time of our purchase DJI was experiencing a delay in Apple’s approval of the IOS DJI Pilot App, meaning that only those with an Android device could fly the P3. Luckily, a member of the forums on DJI.com mentioned that BestBuy was selling a Moto-X phone with no (phone) service included for $29.95 – so with a quick trip to the mall I was ready to fly.

DJI’s (too) Early Release

For various reasons, some of them “inside baseball”, DJI decided to release the Phantom 3 a few weeks before they should have. This has resulted in some “burps” such as the delayed released of the IOS Pilot App as well as some other shortcomings. In the month since the release, many of these items have already been fixed or updated, but they are worth mentioning in an early review. Here are some of the issues:
[Read more…]

DJI Phantom 3 Improvements over Phantom 2 Vision plus

Phantom 2 Vision + (l) and Phantom 3 Pro (r)

Now the the excitement of the initial introduction has passed, it’s time to take a look at the new DJI Phantom 3 (P3) “camera drones” from DJI and see what the actual improvements are over the former Phantom 2 Vision+. Without further ado, here are the major improvements of the P3:

Phantom 2 Vision + (l) and Phantom 3 Pro (r)

Phantom 2 Vision + (l) and Phantom 3 Pro (r)

Note – differences are given in the order of importance – in our humble opinion! This article should be accurate as of May, 2015.

Improvement #1 – Price/Performance/Value
[Read more…]

DJI Phantom 3 and other NAB Annoucements

Screen Shot 2015-04-09 at 10.28.52 AM

April brings the popular NAB (National Association of Broadcasters) show to Las Vegas. This confab has become a popular showcase for the newest in Camera Drone hardware. The show is April 13-16 (exhibits open), but DJI has jumped the gun by introducing their upgraded Phantom 3 series a week early. Here is what you need to know about the DJI, 3DR and other new models being shown.

[Read more…]

DJI Phantom 2 Vision + Long Term Review #2

Torx T8 and Phantom Screws

In part #1 of this long term review, we discussed the basics of getting the P2V+ setup and the first flight(s). As a result, it was time to venture further afield with our test Phantom.

Finding Places to Fly

For some this is very easy – for others a bit more difficult. My current testing grounds in Florida are quite crowded at this time of year – and, frankly, some of the very flat and sparse areas here are not worthy of good photo and video. I looked a google maps and decided to try some tricks to find new flying areas…
1. I put an ad on Craigslist in the photo section – saying I would take some free photos and video for owners of larger property, etc.
2. I contacted the admin of a local botanical park and offered to take video and photos on their 10 acre grounds.

I received replies from both which were promising – the Botanical Garden, Palma Sola Botanical Gardens, was very pleased and invited me up at my leisure to fly on their property! Bingo!
[Read more…]

DJI Inspire 1 quadcopter – introduction

DJI Inspire 1

The Inspire 1 is the newest entry into the “prosumer” end of the RTF (ready to fly) quadcopter market. It is produced by DJI, the makers of the well known Phantom series.

DJI is on track to quickly become a billion dollar company in the year 2016. They grow by staying one step ahead of the competition and delivering as much technology as possible at the lowest price. According to DJI Founder Frank Wang, just the parts for the modern Inspire would have cost tens of thousands of dollars a few years ago. Todays DJI models are one example of Clarkes Law which states:
“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”

Is it out of our League?

Droneflyers.com focuses on consumer multirotors – those which the hobbyist, technology nut or photographer can use for enjoyment, learning and lower end prosumer or commercial work (real estate, etc.). At about 3K the Inspire 1 is definitely at the upper end of the market. Still, I paid $5200 for my first IBM PC in 1982 (that’s about $15K today!) and purchased it as a “hobbyist”, so although $3,000 sounds like a lot of money, you are certainly getting a lot of technology for the price. Although we are not doing a full hands-on review yet, one of our site partners has just purchased one and we will do some videos as well as a written article on our initial impressions.

What makes a Inspire Different? [Read more…]

DJI Phantom 2 Vision + Long Term Review #1

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We first reviewed the Phantom 2 Vision + last summer – see this article. Since that time, DJI has done a major upgrade to to motors, propellers and transmitter. The new version is usually named “V3.0″ and represents, in our opinion, the most mature RTF Video and Photography hobby quadcopter on the market today. This model is by far the largest selling quad of it’s type in the world. This being the case, we decided that a longer term review on a newer model would be of benefit to our readers.

I purchased a new model V3.0 in February of 2015 and am starting to put this bird through it’s paces. At the same time, I am trying to take my own advice (given in our books and many articles here) and be very careful and conservative in our operation…I want to pamper this Phantom so that it survives and serves for as long as possible!

Initial Purchase and Preparation

I purchased the unit direct from DJI so as to make certain we were getting the latest model. The units were/ore on sale for a discounted price of about $1170 shipped with 2 batteries. Current pricing (DJI has a Spring Sale on as I write this post) can be found at the DJI Site, Amazon or your favorite DJI dealer.

Before attempting flight I decided to take a few steps to improve the odds of long term survival:
1. I purchased and installed a “gimbal protector” which holds the gimbal together in the event of a crash or very rough landing. I purchased the Phantom Fix 2 model, although there are other units also on the market.
2. A camera-gimbal protector was cut from a piece of sign plastic and installed flush with the bottom of the landing gear. This also helps protect the very sensitive gimbal in the event of a hard landing or contact with any object from below.
3. Although I purchased prop guards, I did not install them yet – preferring to get the feel of the flight manners of this new version without them.
[Read more…]