Category Archives: Q&A

Waterproof drones: What are the best options out there for underwater photography?

Next up in our “Ask Drone Girl” series is about waterproof drones. If you have a question for Drone Girl, contact her here.

We do a lot of boating and my husband also owns a boating company. I would like to get a nice drone with a good camera that is splash proof or can even be submerged. I have seen a lot of reviews on the SwellPro Splash; in articles everyone rants and raves, but on Amazon everyone seems to be not impressed or having issues with it.

DJI’s M200

Before we go further, the two big questions to ask yourself are 1: What’s your budget? and 2: What do you intend to use this for?

The DJI M200 is one of the top-of-the-line industrial drones and has a water-resistant body. However, that’s going to run you well over $5,000. DJI’s products are going to be durable , well-made and easy to fly.

If $5,000 isn’t in your budget, check out the DJI Mavic Pro. It’s easily my favorite drone to date. While I can’t vouch for the splash-proofness myself, a lot of users online claim that the DJI Mavic Pro has accidentally crashed into water and been able to come back to life. (I love my personal Mavic Pro too much to test whether it is waterproof for myself!) Continue reading Waterproof drones: What are the best options out there for underwater photography?

Do you need to take the Part 107 test if you have a pilot’s license?

Next up in our “Ask The Drone Girl” series is about taking the Part 107 commercial drone operator test when you have a pilot’s license. Got a question for The Drone Girl? Submit it here.

Do I have to take FAA Part 107 test if I am already licensed as a commercial airplane pilot to fly a drone for hire?

Great question!

For the uninitiated, under the Federal Aviation Administration’s Part 107, anyone wanting to operate a drone commercially needs to obtain a remote pilot certificate with a small UAS rating.

People who do not currently have an existing manned pilot’s license will need to pass an in-person written exam.

But since you are already a licensed airplane pilot, it will be significantly easier for you to get a remote pilot certificate so you can operate drones for profit. You simply need to complete the FAA’s online course, which will take you about two hours to complete.

The course is free, and anyone can access it, even if they do not have an existing pilot’s license. The course covers topics that manned pilots wouldn’t necessarily know, such as recommended drone maintenance procedures, effects of weather on drones and emergency procedures. Continue reading Do you need to take the Part 107 test if you have a pilot’s license?

The best drone for commercial purposes like construction, surveying, inspections or fire fighting

The latest post in our Ask The Drone Girl series is about buying the right drone for commercial purposes. Got a question for Drone Girl? Contact her here.

We are getting into the commercial side of UAS (oil and gas, insurance, construction, wind power, engineering, surveying and possibly fire fighting). What drone would you recommend? I thought maybe the DJI Matrice 210.

The Matrice 210 is a great drone, designed for commercial purposes. It can carry 2 kg of payload (4.4 pounds), fly for 38 minutes and operate as far as 7 km from the pilot. It has a power system for automatically heating batteries when flying in sub-zero temperatures AND is water resistant. It has been used in a variety of use-cases, from wind turbine inspections, to firefighting to search and rescue machines.

However, a word of caution before you make the massive investment in a Matrice 210: Nail down your business model before you nail down what drone you want to use.

Rather than market yourself as an all-in-one drone business, some of the most successful drone service businesses focus on just one niche. Dyan Gibbens’ company, Trumbull Unmanned, focuses on using drones to supply critical data to the energy sector, primarily supporting oil and gas and environmental efforts. Taylor Mitcham’s company, SkyNinja, focuses on the construction industry. Continue reading The best drone for commercial purposes like construction, surveying, inspections or fire fighting

3 advantages, and 3 disadvantages of having a Part 107 license

The next question in our Ask Drone Girl series has to do with the Part 107 license. But it has nothing to do  with how to get one — but rather IF you should get one. Turns out there are pros and cons to having a Part 107 license — besides the obvious one of making money.

What are the advantages to having a FAA drone license versus recreational use other than making a profit? Are you allowed to fly the drone in more areas?

While having a Part 107 license is essential if you want to use your drone to make money, there may actually be some negative things that come with having the license.

For the uninitiated, the Part 107 license is like a driver’s license for commercial drone pilots. To get one, you must pass a written test proving knowledge of the airspace. Once you have one, you must also agree to  a strict set of rules, including that you will not fly in controlled airspace, won’t fly over people, won’t fly after dark, etc. — all unless special permission is obtained. Continue reading 3 advantages, and 3 disadvantages of having a Part 107 license

The best camera drones with a zoom lens for home inspections

Next up in our “Ask Drone Girl” series is about what type of drone to purchase for home inspections (the main requirement is a zoomed lens…no wide aerial video necessary). If you have a question for Drone Girl, contact her here.

I’m starting a home inspection business. I need to be able to take close/detailed pictures of different parts of a house roof, such as the chimney, pipes coming out of the roof, top ridge of the roof. What’s your opinion for a camera to provide detailed close-up pictures and a stable, slow drone? 

Looking for a drone to use for home inspections?

If you have the budget, DJI’s Zenmuse Z30 is arguably the most powerful zoom camera designed specifically for drones on the market. It has a 30x optical and 6x digital zoom, giving it a total magnification of up to 180x. The camera is being used for inspections of all sorts — cell towers, wind turbines and more. The Zenmuse Z30 is designed for DJI’s Matrice drones. But at just under $9,000 (plus you’ll have to buy the Matrice), it’s not cheap.

The camera is ready to go out of the box, and yes — the Matrice is an incredibly stable drone.

Related read: Need a zoom lens for your drone? This may be it

DJI also has a stellar lineup of lower cost zoom lenses for its drones.

My first pick on the more affordable side of things for a commercial-quality, zoom lens, would be the DJI Zenmuse X5S. Its focal length ranges from 9mm to 45 mm (equivalent to 18 mm-90 mm on a 35mm camera). The camera is compatible with the DJI Inspire 2 (sold separately), which is an incredible drone to fly. It’s stable, and can fly at a variety of speeds — including the slow and controlled speed you are looking for.

At a slightly lower cost, the Zenmuse Z3 gimbal and camera features an optical zoom with 3.5 optical zoom and 2x digital zoom. It can be mounted on the Inspire 1, the Matrice 100 or the Matrice 600. The nice thing about the Zenmuse Z3 is that it is compatiable with the lower cost Inspire 1, vs. the Inspire 2.

Related read: DJI now offers a zoom camera with Zenmuse Z3

However, DJI is not your only option. The Walkera Voyager 4 is also an incredible choice. It has a zoom lens that offers 16x magnification. In fact, it’s zoom is even more than the DJI Zenmuse Z3 camera system. The camera on the Zenmuse Z3 has a zoom range of 22 to 77 mm, while the Voyager 4 has a range of a whopping 10 to 1500mm.

It’s also going to be high quality video, offering a gimbal-stailized, 360-camera, which could be important for the inspections you need to do (it means you can turn the camera around to shoot behind you without needing to turn the drone!).

The market for inspections is growing. Goldman Sachs predicts an $100 billion market opportunity for drones between now and 2020, with the utilities sector generating a total addressable market of $93 million.

Keep in mind that in order to fly a drone commercially, you need to obtain a Part 107 license. Here’s an awesome study guide, here are some frequently asked questions, and here’s my video review of exactly what taking the test is like. I highly recommend studying with Drone Pilot Ground School. Use this link to get $50 off!

Starting a drone business? Here’s what kind of revenue you can expect.

Drone job postings and verifiable flight hours: how can I log my drone flights?

I am considering “the drone life” and am interested in pursuing it as a career in some fashion. I see many companies hiring but one of the requirements say “500 hours of verifiable PIC time”.

Do you know what is considered “verifiable”? Is my chicken scratch that is written in a log book considered “verifiable” when there is no one with me to officially sign off my flights, as they do in private pilot courses of manned aircraft? The word “verifiable” gives me some concern. 

Welcome to the drone world! The drone industry is an exciting one, as there are jobs for people in all sorts of backgrounds, and not just flying drones. The drone industry needs engineers, storytellers, policy makers, lawyers, businesspeople and more. But it sounds like you want to actually fly for a living, so we’ll talk about that! Continue reading Drone job postings and verifiable flight hours: how can I log my drone flights?

Ask Drone Girl: how do I build a recreational drone park?

Next up in our “Ask Drone Girl” series is about building a recreational drone park. If you have a question for Drone Girl, contact her here.

Some partners and I are looking to build a recreational drone flying park in the state of Delaware. Are there any specifications for something like this? Any architects in this area? Thanks in advance for your help.

This sounds like fun! Recreational drone parks are a fairly new development. Unlike sports that have specifications as to the size of the field or court, or requirements as to the height of something like a basket, drones are the wild west and there really are no standards as to what a drone park should look like. Continue reading Ask Drone Girl: how do I build a recreational drone park?

Ask Drone Girl: I think my ex is stalking me via drone

Next up in our “Ask Drone Girl” series is about drone stalking, and identifying the drone pilot. If you have a question for Drone Girl, contact her here.

Dear Drone Girl, I believe my ex is stalking me via drone. I have multiple pictures from my security cameras. How can I check to see if he is registered for flying UAS or has registered to fly UAS?

Yikes, that is scary! Drone stalking is interesting. They are loud and large so they are actually pretty noticeable. Clearly you noticed them. The tricky thing though is it can be difficult to identify the pilot. Is it just a neighbor kid flying their gadget? Or in your case, is it an ex stalking you?

The Federal Aviation Administration once had a rule that all drone pilots had to register, but that was struck down in May. There is now no law requiring drone pilots to register. And even if they were required to, the database only publicly shows zip code and city of the registered pilots.  The FAA does not post the names and street addresses of registered owners because the data is exempt from disclosure under a FOIA exemption that protects information in agency files from a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy. Continue reading Ask Drone Girl: I think my ex is stalking me via drone