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Author Topic: Drones, what an interesting toy.  (Read 1570 times)

luke213(adamsholsters)

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Drones, what an interesting toy.
« on: January 11, 2016, 03:06:40 pm »
Well I recently got to fly one of the newer drones when a buddy of mine was in town. The Parrot Bebop, which is a small drone controlled with a phone via wifi but with a 1080p 14mp front facing fisheye camera. It does automatic stabilization via software, and it's surprisingly good video output. I'd honestly say it's a good as a gimbal on some of the higher DJI type of drones, or dang close for a fair bit less money. None the less I've watched the development of drones over the years, but they were always outside my price point I was willing to spend, but I've been very impressed at some of the videos that guys are getting on Youtube out of them. So I flew it, had a good time was seriously surprised how terrible the software was IE run away drones and sitting while it crashes the software and hovers with no way to reconnect etc. But overall they worked pretty well, not enough I'd spend the money but overall very very neat toy.

So fast forward, same buddy has a bunch of these things and sent me his broken parts and pieces of the last generation drone. The Parrot AR Drone 2.0, well out of all the parts and pieces I assembled two working drones, one without a camera currently, haven't figured out if it's the main board or the camera that is bad. But I'll likely just buy an action cam like the Mobius to mount on there for fun and see how that goes, or maybe put some sort of drop kit on it to be able to drop water balloons on the kids in summer or something like that;)

Overall I haven't spent much time on it, spent a little time rebuilding them from parts but that really wasn't that hard. Had to resolder a few things on the boards etc, mostly parts replacing and cobbling things back to working order. I also took my Nexus 7 tablet, some kydex, an old Logitech gamepad and a custom Freeflight APK program to make a working "skycontroller" basically a larger screen to fly with, along with the gamepad for control rather than the touch screen which makes it a heck of allot easier to control especially this time of year when it's cold and having your hands outside your gloves is a challenge;) I'm also planning on grafting a wifi repeater onto my kydex monstrosity of a controller here in the near future since I've got several laying in a box around here, which should up my range quite a bit.

Overall though it's been a fun toy, video quality isn't nearly as good with the AR drone, it does 720p but isn't very stable at all. But it's still fun and for the money involved, well I've bought a battery and retrofitted the system to run on a regular RC lipo battery as well as running better deans style connectors. So I've got $15 right now in the setup;) But it's been allot of fun figuring it out, as you guys know I like building and fixing stuff, so this fit right in. Eli has a heck of allot of fun trying to chase it around the yard(I keep it high enough he'll never catch it), but it runs some of his unlimited energy outside;)

So after digging into this and being surprised at being able to play with some more modern drones I'm curious if anyone else is playing with this tech and what your using?

Take care!

Luke

Oh and for guys looking at the Parrot drones, I'd recommend going with another brand, likely DJI from what I've seen their "Standard" one they sell now looks allot more stable from a software standpoint. The hardware on the Parrot drones is pretty good, the software honestly sucks, it's unstable and terrible. If it's what you have it's allot of fun, but it's also frustrating to see your expensive drone go some random direction and crash. Or instead of hovering in place just accelerate towards the sky without control, or hover in place 20ft in the air till the battery dies and it crashes. I can say out of the crashes I've had with both the Bebop and the AR Drone, 99% of the time it's the software on the drone or the phone that has caused them. Once in a while I do something stupid or loose control, but honestly I'm flying very conservatively since I don't want to crash them and have to fix it, so I'm not racing around etc. Most of the crashes are things I flat out can't control which is frustrating. As well as that, everytime you get like say 5-10 flights without an issue and start thinking "wow I've finally got the bugs worked out and this is working well" is about the time the software will go sideways and just crash for no reason. And illustrating this, the other day I took the drone out to play with Eli, left it to hover over the yard went into the house to grab Eli. It hovered for around 45 seconds perfectly, the instant I looked away opened the door to the house and tried to get Eli outside it just went belly up literally and crashed to the ground. Didn't touch the controls, hit a button, didn't loose signal strength no input what so ever on my side. The drone tried to commit suicide completely on it's own. Picked it up, blew the snow out of the important stuff and it did it 3 more times. Then proceeded to fly perfectly the rest of the battery without a single issue. They are buggy as all get out.

Take care!

Luke
MichiganI am the owner/proprietor of www.adamsholsters.com Custom holsters made for you. To contact me please use E-mail rather than Private Messages, [email protected]

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    only1asterisk

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    Re: Drones, what an interesting toy.
    « Reply #1 on: January 11, 2016, 07:18:30 pm »
    I sent my daughter's into a pine tree on Christmas day.  My son broke his later that afternoon. 

    I think drone repair and drone insurance might be growth industries.

    luke213(adamsholsters)

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    Re: Drones, what an interesting toy.
    « Reply #2 on: January 11, 2016, 07:38:49 pm »
    Agreed;) I've seen some that seem quite stable and work well but man allot of them are a handful.

    The GPS module that Parrot released for the AR Drone's I'm pretty sure was a clever way to get people to buy allot more parts. Because the only real result to trying to use it the way it's designed to set waypoints and have the drone fly to them is generally it raises in the air, goes some random direction until it impacts something hard enough to bring it to the ground. If your unlucky it goes up above the treeline before doing that;) If you hook it up and just fly like normal the positional data is taken as fact(no matter how bad it is), and as such makes the drone completely uncontrollable. If you wait long enough for the GPS to pull satellites and get a good solid lock sometimes you can get away with flying a little. But if something causes the signal on the GPS to degrade, then hello uncontrollable drone... Software, that's pretty much the fault of allot of this stuff, it's Alpha grade software at best.

    Luke
    MichiganI am the owner/proprietor of www.adamsholsters.com Custom holsters made for you. To contact me please use E-mail rather than Private Messages, [email protected]

    Mikee5star

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    Re: Drones, what an interesting toy.
    « Reply #3 on: January 11, 2016, 08:19:06 pm »
    My dad has 6 or 8 of the things with his biggest about 3lbs and 20 min indoor flight time. He is kinda saving for a bigger one, about $1200 with the auto hover mode, but he is planning on sticking with model airplane type radio control as that allows about 3000 ft range, IIRC on the model he wants. You attach a phone or small tablet above the controls for video monitoring and non line of site flying.

    Anyone heard if any non-commercial drones are being registered with the FAA? I think half of the ones I have seen would fall under their registration rules, even though I think of them as indoor only.
    Alaska

    luke213(adamsholsters)

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    Re: Drones, what an interesting toy.
    « Reply #4 on: January 11, 2016, 08:32:58 pm »
    They are being registered, they started back the end of December I believe. Open registration for free for the first month anything heavier than .5lbs I believe and then $5 registration afterwards from memory. Pretty much only applies to anything flown outdoors from what I recall.

    Realistically I'm supposed to be registering but I'm waiting until the end of the free time frame because with the way it's all been handled I sort of suspect we're going to see some legal challenges to the whole thing.

    The Parrot drones will do the automatic hover and allot of that, well when they work. Actually noticed tonight the one with the broken front facing camera isn't automatically hovering which could be useful for video. That jerk at the end of a forward or rearward movement when it stops by reversing makes video really hard to watch without a stabilizer of some sort. So mounting an auxiliary camera that doesn't feed back and just manually controlling it smoothly might actually lead to some better video from that one in particular.

    Here's actually a video I did with my buddies drone while it was up here, it's airsoft but it was pretty much a little staged thing to see what I could do with it as a camera during a small game out here. The thing that impressed me was how dang stable the software stabilization actually works. Better than anything I've seen previously.

    Keep in mind too this was after only flying the thing for a few minutes before hand;) I was flying and trying to keep it out of all the small branches etc within in the woods it was a handful despite pretty good controls;)


    Luke
    MichiganI am the owner/proprietor of www.adamsholsters.com Custom holsters made for you. To contact me please use E-mail rather than Private Messages, [email protected]

    luke213(adamsholsters)

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    Re: Drones, what an interesting toy.
    « Reply #5 on: January 13, 2016, 05:40:01 pm »
    So this afternoon I learned to shoot a drone down from a tree;) Really I didn't learn to shoot it down, but it did go crazy and land in the top of a small tree. The options were shoot the tiny branches off with a 22, cut the tree down, or shake the drone out of it. Well shaking didn't work, so I started trimming branches with the 22. After the first branch of course it hit another 5 on the way down before it finally fell free. But at least it's out of the tree with only minor damage;) That's what I get though for deciding to take a break from the shop to take a quick flight with it. Figured hey battery only lasts 10 minutes, it will be a nice quick break. Well that didn't work out, around a half hour later I got it down. But also too dang cold out there for a single shot 22 that I have to hand load each round and can't do while wearing gloves;) Should have brought out the Ruger with the 30 round mag instead for drone trimming, next time. Because I'm sure there will be a next time based on how these things control;)
    MichiganI am the owner/proprietor of www.adamsholsters.com Custom holsters made for you. To contact me please use E-mail rather than Private Messages, [email protected]

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