All posts by Guest Post

How to build your own drone for $99

The following is a guest post by Jake Carter, a drone Enthusiast and writer at RC Hobby Review. Follow him on Facebook at RCHOBBYREVIEW.

Think you need several hundreds of dollars to buy a drone? You can build your own drone for as little as $99. For such complicated machines, drones have very few parts and don’t take fancy engineering to build one. Here’s exactly what you need to know to build your own drone

Choose a Quadcopter Frame Design

Quadcopters are the most common type of drone — recognizable for their “X” shape with a propeller on each tip of the frame. Frames also come in tricopter (three propellers), hexacopter (six propellers), and octocopter (eight propellers) designs. Hexacopters are great for redundancy; if one motor fails you still have some stability. Since they are so large, octocopters are typically reserved for flyers looking to carry a payload.

But if you’re looking to cut costs, a quadcopter is typically the best to get started with given its lower costs.

Buy a Carbon Fiber Frame

Carbon fiber is slightly more expensive than other frame options, but it’s lightweight and durable. It will last you much longer should you keep the drone for several years. The cheapest frame option is wood, but wood warps in the rain.

Plastic is commonly used, and it’s durable. If you have a 3D printer, you can even make your own plastic frame. Aluminum frames are also used given their light weight, but they are not as durable.

If you have a few extra dollars to spare, choose carbon fiber. If money is an issue, the next best option is plastic. Wood should only be used for beginner drones that you expect to be replaced.

The Martain II 220 mm and Lisam 210 mm are two quality carbon fiber frames at affordable prices. Continue reading How to build your own drone for $99

How drones are taking off in the agriculture sector

Using drones for crop spraying or for information gathering with multispectral imaging in the agriculture sector has never been easier.

Crop health sensors that run NDVI (normalized difference vegetation index) used to be outfitted to manned airplanes where the system would weigh around 15 pounds.

Now, in the drone revolution, these sensors are so compact they can be outfitted to consumer drones like the DJI Phantom or even a DJI Mavic. And as imaging sensors get smaller and more efficient the cost-benefit of this technology will continue to grow.

These sensors, such as ones made by Sentera, come with software that can be integrated into other farm management platforms such as John Deere’s Operations Center.  Continue reading How drones are taking off in the agriculture sector

What to do if you find a lost drone

The following guest post was written by Oliver McClintock. McClintock is the creator of drone community MyDearDrone.

It’s not every day that a drone lands in your backyard, on your roof or driveway — but it does happen. What do you do if you find a lost drone?

Lost quads are found in 3 general conditions:

  1. Dead – no spinning props, no lights, and possibly in several pieces if the unit crashed.
  2. Active – no spinning props, but lights are on, and possibly in several pieces if the unit crashed.
  3. Live – Still trying to fly, lights are on,  and possibly in several pieces if the unit crashed.

Here’s what to do if you find a drone in each of these conditions:

Dead Unit (safe to approach with caution): Most drones have lights and indicators visible from outside the unit. These lights enhance visibility at long-range, and can indicate the current status of the onboard navigation system, such as flight mode, low battery, GPS status, etc.

Related read: How to get the longest FPV range on your drone

Most of the time, if a unit is completely “dark” with no marker lights or status lights illuminated, the unit is off or has drained its battery pack below a working level. Drones in this category are safe to approach (with caution). From there, check for an identification tag or marking (some owners will mark their unit with a contact name and phone number). Continue reading What to do if you find a lost drone

8 tips for flying a drone in cold weather

The following is a guest post by Jake Carter, a drone Enthusiast and writer at RC Hobby Review. Follow him on Facebook at RCHOBBYREVIEW.

Drones whiz and whip through the air at breakneck speeds. Unfortunately, these cool machines weren’t designed for cold weather. It’s not the friendliest condition for them, but with some preparation beforehand, you can capture the beauty of rolling winter landscapes from a bird’s-eye perspective.

Before flying, read your drone’s user manual. Most quadcopters are designed to fly in a temperature range of 32 degrees Fahrenheit to 104 degrees Fahrenheit. Flying outside that range may put your drone at risk. But if your drone can handle the cold conditions, then read on — then get flying!

1. Beware of ice

The arch-nemesis of all helicopters and planes, ice endangers drones too. Ice accumulating on the propeller blades, alters the weight distribution, hurting the drone’s ultimate aerodynamics. Cold air over warm water causes evaporation, and this evaporative fog will refreeze on surrounding surfaces, including on the drone’s surface.

2. Know how cold affects battery life and sensors

Colder temperatures shorten the flight time of your drone by slowing the chemical reaction with the LiPo batteries and lowering the battery capacity. A fully charged drone that typically will last between 20 to 25 minutes in flight, could fly for just 10-15 minutes in colder weather. Extreme cold weather can cause an unexpected power drop, and while it’s rare, there have been cases where batteries fail completely.

Cold weather dulls the drone’s sensors which can cause the drone to drift or have less response from the control input. In addition, cold fingers or gloves make controlling the input more difficult.

3. Practice good battery health

When flying in cold weather, understanding how to make your battery go further can be to your advantage.

  • Keep your batteries warm.
  • Hover after the takeoff.
  • Maintain a full charge on your batteries.
  • Go light on the throttle.
  • Bring a portable charger for the mobile device.

Continue reading 8 tips for flying a drone in cold weather

IEEE features The Drone Girl in Women in Engineering magazine

Check out the December issue of IEEE’s WIE (Women in Engineering) Magazine.

The magazine is an entity of IEEE, the world’s largest technical professional organization, and profiles of women in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics.

This month features an article written by Katianne Williams about Drone Girl creator Sally French, highlighting her story, how she found drones and her experiences as a woman in the industry.

Don’t have the physical magazine? You can find it archived here.

Want more from Drone Girl? Read her forecast for 2018 in drone journalism in Poynter.

How to get a perfect drone photo during the Golden Hour

The following is a guest post by photographer Max Therry.

Golden Hour is that magical time of day just after sunrise of just before sunset. During Golden Hour, it seems that the entire world is dipped in a beautiful golden glow.

The clouds are lifted. The sky is clear. And the sun rises or sets in a way that your images appear soft and ethereal.

It’s famously known to be incredible for portraits, landscape shots and also — aerial photography.

What Is Golden Hour?

Golden Hour (often called Magic Hour) is the quality of light that comes during the first and last hour of the day’s sunlight. During this twice-a-day event, there’s a soft warmth to the sky that yields incredible images for photographers of all kinds.

If you’re curious about when exactly Golden Hour happens in your city day, you can visit the Golden Hour calculator website. This information is also available on smartphone apps such as Lumy. Continue reading How to get a perfect drone photo during the Golden Hour

17 low-cost holiday gift ideas for the drone fan in your life

The following guest post was submitted by my friends over at AirVuz.

Do you have a friend or loved one who’s looking for a drone or some drone accessories under the Christmas tree this year, or stuffed into their stocking?

According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), more than 2.5 million drones are in our skies today, with an estimated 7 million drones in the air by 2020. Clearly, whether for fun or for commercial use, drones are becoming a regular fixture in our day-to-day lives.

So, if you’re looking for gift ideas for the drone enthusiast in your life, AirVūz, the world’s largest online community for drone videos and photography, has created the ultimate holiday gift ideas list. From small items to entry-level drones, the list offers a wide range of gift ideas to fit just about any budget.

dji mavic pro review drone girlStocking Stuffers ($5-$10 + small items)

●      Spare drone props (DJI Phantom 4DJI Mavic), $8 – for a pilot who already has a Phantom or Mavic drone but could always use some extra props.

●      Battery straps for FPV racing drone, – the perfect gift for the first-person view (FPV) pilot who loves drone racing.

Drone Gift Ideas Under $25

●      AirVuz shirts and hats, $20-$25 – with more than 1.25 million content creators and fans, AirVūz is the world’s most popular online community for drone enthusiasts. Time to join the fun.

●      1-year subscription (6 issues) to Rotor Drone Magazine, $19.99 – for those who want to read up on the latest drone products and news.

●      The flying Santa Claus drone, $24.99 – the perfect gift for people of all ages who love Santa and drones.

Drone Gift Ideas Under $50 Continue reading 17 low-cost holiday gift ideas for the drone fan in your life

How AEB can help your drone photography

The following blog post is a guest piece from Chris Anderson, the creator of the site The Drone Trainer.

Modern drones often come with the possibility to capture mind-boggling images at several different exposures, and create stunning HDR (High Dynamic Range) photos. But with that comes an onslaught of HDR photos that are far overdone — and basically burn your eyes.

Here’s your guide on how to create natural looking HDR photos with your drone, using AEB (Automatic Exposure Bracketing).

What is AEB?

When shooting in AEB mode, your drone’s camera will automatically take three or five shots, each at a different exposure level. On their own, these individual photos are going to be under- and over-exposed. That’s okay though; once you merge them together, you’re going to have a thing of beauty!

Let’s work through this AEB example:

These photos were captured by setting my DJI Phantom 4 Pro to shoot in AEB 5 mode. To adjust this, simply go into your camera settings (right side of your screen below the shutter button), and in photo mode select AEB. You’ll be able to choose 3 or 5 once in AEB mode, depending on the scene that you’re looking to shoot. I find that for scenes that are well lit, AEB 5 works well as all 5 of the photos will capture sharp detail. Continue reading How AEB can help your drone photography