All posts by Sally French

Want to write for Drone Girl? We want your submissions!

Surely you have feelings about drones, and we want you to share them here!

Drone Girl is now accepting article submissions so you can get your voice heard! Maybe you’ve talked your families’ ears off about the wondrous things a drone can do, or perhaps you’ve found some awesome drone video that must be shared.

Here's a selfie of Drone Girl! If you join our team, we'll share your drone selfies too!
Here’s a selfie of Drone Girl! If you join our team, we’ll share your drone selfies too!

Maybe you just want to post once, or maybe you’d like to post once a week. Either way, I want more voices on Drone Girl (you don’t have to own a drone, and you don’t have to be a girl…you just have to write riveting content about drones)! Send me a message with the subject line DG Reader Submission and let’s chat about posting it here!

Here are some ideas of posts I would love to see:

  • Product Reviews
  • Top Photos
  • Flying Tips
  • How-To’s
  • Drone News Commentary

They can be serious or silly, filled with GIFs or packed with powerful prose. Either way, if you are interested in joining the Drone Girl team, then I’m interested in hearing from you!

FAA now 7 months overdue on releasing public records, ignoring journalists requests

The FAA is now more than 7 months overdue on responding to requests for documentation regarding drone operators who have received cease and desist letters for commercial drone use.

Journalists at MuckRock.com submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the FAA requesting this information, which has been subject to numerous approved extensions. The FAA last requested an extension through Dec. 30, 2013. Since then, the FAA has not responded to MuckRock’s requests.

Screen Shot 2014-01-18 at 3.53.16 PMAbove is the text exchange between MuckRock and the FAA.

Below is the last message from the FAA, in which they ask for an extension.

Screen Shot 2014-01-18 at 3.53.21 PM
Since we have yet to receive public records from the FAA, in the meantime, Drone Girl has created an online Document Tracker to study where and to whom the letters of gone. Check out our document tracker here.

Under FOIA, the FAA is legally obligated to provide the general public with full or partial disclosure of previously unreleased documents, including the ones we requested regarding commercial drone operation cease and desist orders.

Stay with Drone Girl for the latest updates on this information.

Related posts:

Own your drone (and paint it too)

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I’ve seen a lot of drones, but very few personally painted drones!

I just put together this 3DR Y6 drone for a project at work, but once it was successfully put together according to the manual, I took it home for a fun project that is nowhere on the manual – painting!

Own your drone, and distinguish it from all the other drones when you’re out at meetups, or just happen to work in an offer where there are copters everywhere.

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This first drone I painted was space inspired, fitting with the whole flying theme, right?

It was painted using nothing but nail polish!

See the picture below to see what it used to look like. Hopefully I don’t get trolled too hard for this, but that’s what you get when you go out on  a limb and own your drone.

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Drone, pre-paint job

Plus I put it together myself, so I can do whatever I want with it, right?

4 accessories you need for your drone

1. Spare batteries! Most consumer drones have battery lives of about 15 minutes. That’s nothing! Easy fix: MORE BATTERIES.

oh-no

2. Spare propellers! If you crash, they’ll get beat up. Even if they don’t explicitly break, your propellers will wear down. Over time, this will lead to an imbalance in your copter, whichcan result in shaky video or rolling shutter. Fix the problem with nice, even propellers.62

3. An FPV kit. This stands for “First Person View.” You basically put on special goggles which are connected to a camera on the drone, and you can stream what the drone sees. It’s amazing!

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4. A brushless gimbal. Want stable video? Use a gimbal, which is basically a mechanism that keeps your camera level. A good quality gimbal will eliminate shaky video. Choose a sturdy gimbal with the ability to balance.

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Related posts:
MEET MY DRONE(S)
DRONE CAM ON DRONE GIRL
#DRONELYFE: PROS AND CONS
MY STORY: WHY I BELIEVE DRONES CAN ASSIST WITH JOURNALISM

Drones + Wine: how UAVs can help farmers harvest grapes

552675_536733593074328_1470466379_n-300x199Below is an excerpt from a story I originally wrote for 3D Robotics and which was picked up on sUAS news. I also directed and produced the accompanying video. Note: this project was completely unaffiliated with Drone Girl; I’m simply reposting it here on the blog.

Kenwood, Ca. — Something’s up at Kunde Family Vineyards.

Developers at 3D Robotics went to Kunde Family Vineyards, a family-owned vineyard, to test a project that could revolutionize agriculture by providing farmers with on-demand aerial images of their land.

Those images give farmers a bird’s-eye view, allowing them to see vine stress and color variation. Those variations can help indicate when to it’s best to harvest the grapes.

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3D Robotics used both autonomous, fixed-wing planes and multi-rotors with a point-and-shoot camera mounted inside.

“They allowed me to select the section of the vineyard to sample these grapes,” DRNK Wines Winemaker Ryan Kunde said. “If I didn’t have that imagery — I know of some general variation from top to bottom, but I didn’t know about that crescent down at the bottom of the vineyard.”

That crescent is probably home to deeper soil and more water, Kunde said. Those differences mean Kunde can harvest his grapes earlier than he anticipated. Click here to read the rest of the story.

5 stunning images captured by other drones

I’ve always loved Flickr since I got my first camera, a Nikon d40 (ok, I used to have this awesome Polaroid as a kid), and these days Flickr is filled with awesome photos captured by neither dSLRs nor Polaroid — but from drones!

Below are five fantastic photos I found from my frequent browsing of Flickr. I didn’t take any of these photos; I’m just honored to share them here. Do you know someone who took an awesome photo from a drone? Send it to me, and I’ll post it here!

This first photo comes from Andrew Trice. I love the light, and the soft, flowing patterns of the houses seems like it follows the patterns of the sky, which makes for some beautiful composition!
Sleepy-Hollow

The next photo I chose by Miquel Martorell is awesome just because of the pure risk factor it took to take this photo. First, the pilot probably had to get to where that lighthouse, which is no small feat in itself, and then they had to fly over that water — no room for error! But it shows us a cool scene of a landscape that would be hard to see any other way since the lighthouse is surrounded by water. If you had the chance to shoot this photo again, I would love to see it done at Golden Hour to get a little less harsh lighting. Still beautiful! Continue reading 5 stunning images captured by other drones

Drones don’t just make pretty photos

Today’s blog post comes from a question I got via Twitter from @Elise12192, a science and health journalism student.

twitterquestionShe asks, “Are drones only for the professional photog or are they becoming accessible to hobbyists? (Price, skills required, etc.)”

Well Elise, that’s a great question! There are tons of drones with all different purposes, ranging from children’s toy, to a vehicle that can mount a GoPro, to a drone that can hold a heavy dSLR. Then there are drones that don’t even carry cameras but rather GPS trackers, infrared cameras, or contraptions that can collect particles in the air. A simple search today on Amazon.com for drone comes up with 10,976 results, meaning there are already tons of drones, accessories and parts on the market.

The cheapest drone I’ve seen with a camera on it is the Badboy Quadcopter for $74, though don’t expect that to be great quality. That’s something accessible to low-level hobbyists who just want a cool photo.

On the other hand, it’s not just professional photographers doing great things with drones, though the incredible work by my favorite drone photographers like Wild Pilots, Team BlackSheep and Drone Dudes are hard to ignore.

Drones have been used for years by non photographers!

Continue reading Drones don’t just make pretty photos