Category Archives: Q&A

Why is my drone’s LCD so dark? And what is DJI CrystalSky?

Next up in our “Ask Drone Girl” series is about drone LCD brightness and DJI’s CrystalSky monitor. If you have a question for Drone Girl, contact her here.

Hey Drone Girl,

I am new to the drone world. I am hoping to incorporate the aerial photography into my roofing consulting business. I purchased a DJI Phantom 3 Professional and love its user-friendliness; however, I cannot seem to get a clear view of what the camera is viewing. It is taking video and stills but the view is dark. I have adjusted the brightness up all the way to no avail. I have tried using my iPhone 6, Samsung Galaxy and iPad, and the results are the same. I have tried using a glare shield, which is a slight help. I was wondering if I need to purchase those goggles I see others using? Maybe I should put my head into a pillow case or box? 

-Bill

Hey Bill,

No need to put your head in a pillow case! But you’re right; drone LCDs with low brightness are a serious issue.

Such a serious issue, that in fact, DJI announced at CES 2017 a prototype for a new product called CrystalSky, a monitor with an ultra-bright screen designed to be clearly visible in sunlight. With 2000 cd/m² of brightness, it’s more than four times as bright as most mobile devices. The monitor is designed to function with a range of DJI’s drones, including the Inspire 2 and Inspire 1 series, Phantom 4 series, Matrice series and the Phantom 3 Professional, which you have.

It is expected to be released later this year, which unfortunately means you can’t use it now.

That being said, there are some other alternatives: Continue reading Why is my drone’s LCD so dark? And what is DJI CrystalSky?

Got a new drone? 7 things you need to know before getting started

So you got a drone. Congrats! Now what?

There’s a lot you need to know about getting started before you even get your drone in the air (sorry). From registering, to getting a license, to knowing where you can fly, here’s everything you need to do before you get to the fun part — flying!

  1. Register it. Is your drone more than 0.55 lbs and less than 55 lbs? You need to register yourself as a drone operator with the FAA. The process is easy. Simply visit the FAA’s drone registration website and create an account. You’ll have to enter your address, phone number and email. You’ll also have to pay the $5 registration fee. From there, you’ll receive a Registration number, which you need to simply need to affix somewhere on your drone. I recommend writing it with Sharpie on a piece of masking tape, so you can easily remove it should you decide to sell or give away your drone. (The registration number is tied to the pilot, not the drone). Continue reading Got a new drone? 7 things you need to know before getting started

How to fly a drone in highly restrictive areas

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

Any good suggestions or insights regarding commercial (Filming, real estate, building surveys) use within highly restrictive areas, like Washington, DC?

-Jon

Hey Jon,

I’m just going to cut to the chase here. If there are restrictions around flying drones in a certain area, there’s a reason for it. Those restrictions aren’t arbitrary. So, if you want to skirt the rules of flying within highly restricted areas, don’t do it.

However, since you asked, and I want to give you a  more thorough answer than that, let me attempt to impart some wisdom. Continue reading How to fly a drone in highly restrictive areas

Ask Drone Girl: How to dispose of LiPo batteries

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

Hello Drone Girl,

I just read your article about the 15 things to know about LiPo battery care. There does not seem to be any good information on how to properly dispose of LiPo batteries. I have a puffy battery, and no idea what to do with it. Is there any good information out there to responsibly dispose of these batteries? I would imagine this will be a growing/ongoing problem as more and more drones are sold.

-Brian

Hey Brian,

That’s a great question, and I’m glad you asked! A LiPo battery (technically a lithium-ion polymer battery) can be very dangerous and needs to be disposed of correctly.

DO NOT throw them in your trashcan alongside the pizza boxes!

In the event of temperature extremes, or the LiPo being crushed or penetrated by something like a nail, your battery you threw away could end up rupturing, the electrolytes may leak and it could result in a fire.

First off, make sure that batteries in your home are stored correctly. It’s ALWAYS worth investing in an (under $10) explosion-proof LiPo bag.

Now onto disposing… Continue reading Ask Drone Girl: How to dispose of LiPo batteries

Ask Drone Girl: what’s wrong with headless mode and why is it cheating?

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

It seems most experienced pilots say we should learn to fly using standard controls, not headless mode. However, I can’t find any reason for that advice, except that headless is “cheating.” What do you recommend and why?

Jim

Why hello, Jim!

This is an excellent question — and you’re absolutely right. I don’t let my own students fly using headless mode! I’ll explain why, but first, let me explain what headless mode is.

In a traditional drone mode, if you take off with the drone facing forward, then immediately yaw (or turn) your drone 90 degrees to the left, and then pitch your drone forward, the drone will actually go to your left. Logical, right? Continue reading Ask Drone Girl: what’s wrong with headless mode and why is it cheating?

Ask Drone Girl: what to do in college to have a career in drones

Next up in our “Ask Drone Girl” series is about preparing in college and high school for a career in drones. If you have a question for Drone Girl, contact her here.

My daughter is 15 and is in a tech class at school where they are flying two drones. She wants to pursue drone technology in college. We’ve visited Embry-Riddle (we live in FL), but didn’t get much information out of the visit. The amount of information out there is mind-numbing and even the ratings are typically confusing (and I’m an airline pilot).

My thoughts are this:
1.) get the license after turning 16
2.) get a drone and work on flying
3.) internship, summer job or summer camp involving technology, drones

 I think her interests are more in the building and flying rather than coding aspects, but I want to help her “find herself” at this critical (and fun) time. Any help you can pass along would be greatly appreciated!

-Woody

Hey Woody!

Thanks for reading, and hello to your daughter! It’s great to hear about more young women interested in STEAM and drones. This is a critical and fun time for her, so I’m glad you two are thinking about her future. Continue reading Ask Drone Girl: what to do in college to have a career in drones

GoPro CEO Nick Woodman discusses Karma drone on Reddit

“Don’t call it a drone,” says GoPro CEO Nick Woodman on GoPro’s latest product, Karma. That’s the introduction to an AMA (short for Ask Me Anything on Reddit) that GoPro CEO Nick Woodman hosted on Reddit, where he took questions on a variety of topics, including Karma.

The Q&A reads like a script for a parody surfer bro (should we say ‘brah’?) movie, but it is, in fact, Nick Woodman himself writing. ‘Shredding’, ‘dudes,’ and ‘extremely stoked’ aside, here are some highlights from Woodman’s discussion, which provided insights into the future of Karma and Woodman’s thoughts on the drone manufacturer competition.

Reddit:  Will you bring out software/hardware improvements to Karma?

Nick Woodman: We will introduce updates to Karma to enhance its performance and what you can do with it. Karma already has a lot of hardware features built into it that we’re not exploiting yet, so expect more radness to come. We know everyone is excited to learn more and we promise to share more as soon as we can. Thanks for the stoke.

Get a notification when GoPro Karma is available for purchase from B&H photo at this link.

R: How do you feel the Karma holds up against recent drone industry competitors such as the DJI Mavic and the Yuneec Breeze — especially considering the difference in price point? Continue reading GoPro CEO Nick Woodman discusses Karma drone on Reddit

Ask Drone Girl: how can I fly over people for commercial purposes?

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

If a contractor wants me to take aerial footage of their construction site progress over three years — once a year — what’s the exact FAA rule about flying above people?

Isn’t it forbidden unless they’re part of the video project? Or with a waiver (which can take up to 90 days)? Can the drone be above construction workers? Above moving cars from the streets next to the site? Above people walking in these streets? Even if 90% of the time the drone will be only above the site?

Hey there!

I reached out to my friend and brilliant drone lawyer Loretta Alkalay, to ensure you get an accurate answer to your question.

Here goes:

A commercial operation would require compliance with the new Part 107 regulations, including using a pilot in command who holds a remote pilot certificate.  Continue reading Ask Drone Girl: how can I fly over people for commercial purposes?