All posts by Sally French

DJI Spark just got an adorable Line Friends drone makeover

The day I have dreamed of is officially here: the day of cute drones.

Dronemaker DJI today announced a partnership with Line Friends to create a new version of its DJI Spark drone based on the popular character, Brown.

The new drone is simply DJI’s Spark, but this Line Friends drone is painted brown with the face of the iconic, stoic bear, Brown, on the surface of the drone’s body. The controller also has a picture of the adorable bear on the back.DJI Line Friends drone spark

Line Friends are featured characters based on the stickers from messaging app Line. Line is a messaging app primarily popular in Japan and Taiwan, though its characters are gaining popularity around the world, including via a store in New York’s Times Square.

The DJI Spark is DJI’s smallest drone, and was the first of its drones that could be controlled purely by gesture control. The DJI Spark’s camera can detect its user’s body movements such as raising and lowering your hands or waving them. It then can interpret those gestures to follow commands such as flying up and down, or taking a picture. The DJI Spark can even land in the palm of your hand. DJI Line Friends drone Spark brown

It has a battery life of 16 minutes with a camera supported by a two-axis gimbal. With a 1/2.3” CMOS sensor, it can capture 1080p video and 12 megapixel still photos, and has onboard sensors that allow it to detect and avoid obstacles.

The Line Friends drone costs $399, which is the same price as the regular DJI Spark drone as well. (The DJI Spark was $499 when it initially launched). Continue reading DJI Spark just got an adorable Line Friends drone makeover

How can I get a free or cheap drone? 7 tricks to getting a drone deal for non-profits, students and more

Next up in our “Ask Drone Girl” series is about getting a free or cheap drone. If you have a question for Drone Girl, contact her here.

We are a volunteer-based animal rescue. We are rural and have a very low budget, but we would like to start a YouTube channel to help raise awareness. Would you have any ideas on how/who might have a drone they could give us (or sell very cheaply) so that we can start our story telling journey?

This is a question I get a lot! There are tons of schools, non-profits or research projects that are looking to get a free or cheap drone donated to their cause. And while every cause has its merits, the harsh reality is, not everyone can pull the strings needed to get a free drone. I wish I knew the secret to getting free drones myself!!

That being said, here’s my guide to finding free or cheap drones! These 7 tips will get you a drone at way less than you would pay at full retail price:

  1. Use the DJI Education discount to save 10%! The DJI Educational Discount allows customers with a “.edu” email address and who successfully fill out DJI’s online form to get a coupon code (typically a 10% discount) on a select group of items from its online site.  The items available for purchase include everything from drones like the Mavic Pro, accessories like DJI Goggles and –for those who prefer shooting from the ground — the Osmo Mobile.
  2. Use the DJI Better-With-Drones discount for non-profits to save 10%. Don’t have a .edu address, but you’re a non-profit? DJI offers a similar program to its DJI Education discount called its Better With Drones Discount program. Fill out the form on DJI’s website here, and when your application has been approved, DJI will send you a discount code, typically 10% off as well.
  3. Look for contests and promotions with free drones involved. Plenty of groups are offering free drones as prizes for taking surveys, submitting feedback, winning photo contests, etc. One of the best places to remain privy to drone-related contests! This site itself, right here at TheDroneGirl.com! For example, right now, Skylogic Research is giving away one free DJI Spark as a raffle prize if you take their survey. Other promotions, frequently offered by DJI themselves, give you a chance to “try” out the drone before you buy it, such as this deal a few months ago promoting the DJI Mavic Pro, where you could get one for two whole weeks, completely free.
  4. Rent a drone! Why pay $1,000 for a drone you really only want to use a handful of times, when you can pay closer to $50 to rent it for a day? Sites like Up Sonder offer drone rental services. It’s a similar model to Airbnb, where owners can post their drone up for rent, meet the customer, and the customer gets to use the drone for a certain amount of hours.

Here’s a pretty common example of the types of deals you’ll find on UpSonder: Continue reading How can I get a free or cheap drone? 7 tricks to getting a drone deal for non-profits, students and more

Drone attack targets Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro in assassination attempt

Explosive-carrying drones were detonated near a stage where Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro was giving a speech on Saturday in the capital of Caracas, the government said.

While Maduro was unharmed, seven soldiers were injured, said Jorge Rodriguez, the information minister.

“All of the work we have done immediately after has allowed us to establish with evidence that it was an assassination attempt,” Mr. Rodriguez said in a televised statement. Continue reading Drone attack targets Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro in assassination attempt

How to inspect a beer factory without shutting it down? Use a drone

How do you inspect the ceiling of a major beer factory without having to shut the entire operation down?

In honor of International Beer Day (yep, that’s today!), here’s another example of Drones for Good.

Czechoslovakian beer giant Pilsner Urquell is now using the collision-tolerant Elios drone, by Swiss dronemaker Flyability, to run inspections of its bottling factory in the Czech Republic.beer factory Pilsner Urquell Czech Flyability Elios
The Elios drone is designed to navigate difficult spaces. It has a rather unique frame — surrounded by a circular cage — allowing it to bounce off obstacles, rather than with more traditional drones where the propellers get caught and the drone crashes. Continue reading How to inspect a beer factory without shutting it down? Use a drone

These scary-realistic scam sites charge absurd sums of money for drone registration

The Federal Aviation Administrations requires that drone pilots in the U.S. to register their drones. It costs $5.

But if you register your drone through one of these ‘scam’ sites, it could cost you 40x that much.

Sites like FederalDroneRegistration.com and FAADroneZones.com pose as official FAA drone registration sites, but instead of charging you a $5 fee — they charge you as much as $200. Continue reading These scary-realistic scam sites charge absurd sums of money for drone registration

Drones are flying over the Great Wall of China to help with restoration project

One of the most historic sites in the world is undergoing a restoration project — with the help of drones.

Drones are working to capture more than 10,000 hi-res aerial images that will be stitched together to create a 3D model of the Great Wall of China.

The China Foundation for Cultural Heritage Conservation (CFCHC) is in the midst of restoring one of the Great Wall’s most famous stretches known as the Jiankou section — a section that’s dangerously steep and surrounded by wild terrain.

Jiankou Great Wall of China Intel drone Falcon 8+
(Credit: Intel Corporation)

So rather than do the surveying portion by traditional methods, Intel Falcon 8+ drones are being used to create a model, which provides preservationists with a digital replica of the current state of the wall.  Intel says that the drones enable conservation teams to produce a more effective repair schedule in a matter of days vs. the manual process, which requires a tape measure and visual inspection by people over a monthlong period.  Continue reading Drones are flying over the Great Wall of China to help with restoration project

Can I fly my drone in X spot in the U.S.? 3 simple steps to know if your flight is legal

Next up in our “Ask Drone Girl” series is about where you can legally fly drones as a hobby user. If you have a question for Drone Girl, contact her here.

I was hoping to get some info on flying my drone around Twin Peaks in San Francisco. My city is covered in helipads. Can I still fly there? Can I fly over a bridge if there is a big international shipping port nearby?

This week’s “Ask Drone Girl” question is not just one question, but a culmination of what is 100s of reader emails I get! People want to fly in a specific area, but aren’t sure if they legally can!

This post will (hopefully) answer all of those emails, once and for all! Note that this post is directed at people flying as hobby pilots, meaning you aren’t making a business out of your drone pilot (if you’re flying for commercial purposes, you need to fly under Part 107).

But if you simply have a drone that you want to take on your vacation to grab great photos for your social media profile, this is for you! Here’s your guide to knowing whether you can legally fly your drone, anywhere in the United States — in just 3 steps.

Step 1: Check Know Before You Fly. Know Before You Fly is a website founded by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) and the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) in partnership with the Federal Aviation Administration, so you can assure the data on the site is accurate. Continue reading Can I fly my drone in X spot in the U.S.? 3 simple steps to know if your flight is legal

No. of FAA-licensed drone pilots crosses 100,000 milestone

The drone industry just marked a huge milestone this week, as the Federal Aviation Administration announced that it has now issued more than 100,000 Remote Pilot Certificates.

The benchmark figure only represents pilots registered to fly commercially, and does not include the many thousands more who fly drones recreationally — as well as the pilots who fly unlicensed. (The FAA has only cracked down on one pilot for flying commercially without a license, though pilots expect many more are skirting the law.)

And the 100,000 milestone may dispel any fears that the drone industry was nothing more than a bubble. Sales numbers are growing in line with the growth in registered pilots, as U.S. dollar sales of drones increased 33 percent in 2017, according to The NPD Group.

A Remote Pilot Certificate is required in the U.S. by the FAA to fly drones for commercial purposes under Part 107. Those regulations required that drone operators pass a UAS aeronautical knowledge test. The test can be taken at one of the 696 testing centers in the United States and asks questions on topics such as air traffic, weather and safety. Upon passing, pilots receive a license, which is good for two years.

The rule that requires drone pilots obtain the Remote Pilot Certificate went into effect on August 29, 2016, with a huge chunk of America’s pilots obtaining their certificates in Sept. 2016.

A whopping 1,338 people completed the test within two days of it being made available back in 2016, and thousands more have followed. Within three months, the FAA had issued nearly 23,000 drone pilot licenses. Continue reading No. of FAA-licensed drone pilots crosses 100,000 milestone