Sunday, 29 May 2016
Some may recall I got a Parrot AR ages ago, It was not easy to fly, rather flimsy, not good video, and not good in the slightest gust of wind, so hardly played with at all. If anyone wants to buy it - just ask.
However, at the weekend, I made the mistake of going in to the Apple shop while my wife and daughter were in Primark (it seemed the better option). I only wanted a lightning cable. Well, I left with a DJI Phantom 4.
I have to say the difference from the Parrot AR drone is unbelievable!
It is much more stable, much better picture, much easier to fly (has proper dual stick controller connected to phone/iPad, not using the iPad itself), way better in wind. It really does what it says on the tin!
The problem with drones are the rules! The Civil Aviation Authority and the Air Navigation Order. They are a bit complex, but basically there are restrictions flying near people and property. So short of finding some field somewhere you don't get to do much legally with the drone.
Sorry CAA, please don't prosecute me - I'm going to do it right now...
What that means is taking an approved course, with theory and practical tests, and then applying for a permission for aerial work from the CAA (for 12 months). Once I have that, subject to the rules on safety, and proper operating procedures, and so on, I will be allowed (from CAA point of view) to fly near buildings, and do things like aerial surveys of people's houses and stuff. I'll need insurance as well. I'll be able to do the flights commercially too. I'll need to consider any DPA issues and registration. Whilst I think it is obviously hassle, as it is a 4 day course, I am thinking I'll go for it. It will be a new skill ("certified drone pilot" sounds good). A&A already sells photographic services, why not start selling aerial photographic services, at least locally. With any luck I can pay for the drone and course with some work. I may even have two pilots on staff...
There will be a lot more on the process of getting training and permission in future posts. It will be a few months as I need to go do some proper practicing (in a field) first, and book the course, and do a practical test, and then apply for the CAA PFAW. I'll post more on this as I go.
In the mean time, just a few points on the drone itself. We did go find a deserted car-park with no people around, and permission to be there, and had a bit of a play well away from any nosey neighbour.
I have to say, one of the most impressive features is the tracking mode - I can point at someone on the screen on the iPad and tell it to track them, and it does - hovering, flying, and directing the camera. It has built-in collision detection and avoidance, and just flies itself. It also has GPS, and in the beginner mode was even smart enough not to follow someone anywhere near the road (restricted area!). Very smart.
The "home" mode is good too - using GPS, it shoots up like 30m, flies over everything and lands back at the start. And it can do that on loss of signal automatically.
The 4K video camera is excellent quality too.
So, assuming I maintain the motivation on this, more posts to follow and a new A&A service in the making...