Category Archives: Tips

Drone mapping: what’s the difference between drone spatial resolution vs. accuracy?

“We can get 1cm with our drone!”

Have you heard someone in the drone industry say something similar to this?  For drone mapping professional Jon Ellinger, the creator of TLT Photography, which specializes in aerial surveys, geospatial data processing and fine photography, he gets it a lot.

So much so, that Ellinger wrote up a great guide to what spatial resolution really means, as well as understanding the difference between spatial resolution vs. accuracy. Here goes:

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With affordable drones such as the GoPro Karma, and DJI Mavic and Spark becoming accessible to people of all educational backgrounds it makes sense that there is sometimes confusion about what the specifications of the drone really mean.  Unless you have a geography background, are an avid photographer, or someone who works with geospatial data regularly you may not realize what a vague statement that is.  Grab a coffee and let me explain… Continue reading Drone mapping: what’s the difference between drone spatial resolution vs. accuracy?

6 online drone communities worth joining

Looking to connect with people in the drone world? It can be tricky to find dronies out in the world, but there are loads of online drone communities for any type of drone pilot. Are you a photographer? How about a policy wonk? Just looking to make some friends? There is an online community for you.

Of course there are plenty of other great news sites, blogs, Twitter accounts and IRL (in real life) drone communities to join. But for now, here are some of my favorite online drone communities (listed in no particular order):

  1. UAV Coach Community forum: This is one of my favorite forums for active discussion on general drone questions. The forums are broken down by industry, type of drone and more. The community forum is run by Drone Pilot Ground School creator Alan Perlman.
  2. NODE – A Drone Pilots Advocacy Group: For people interested in law and policy around drones, the Network of Drone Enthusiasts (NODE) is a fairly new grassroots group dedicated to representing drone pilots across the U.S. and Canada. While the FAA regulates the airspace in the U.S., many cities, counties and states have implemented additional regulations which can be difficult for drone pilots, and sometimes even conflict with FAA rules. The group is intended to give drone organizations a voice to collaborate with local legislators on developing reasonable and effective drone regulations that encourage drone use while protecting public safety. It’s worth noting that this group was launched by drone manufacturer DJI, which means there is likely some bias behind the intent of the group (to make sure you’re able to buy more of their drones, of course!).
  3. Amelia Droneharts: For a fantastic, female-only community of drone pilots around the world, Amelia Droneharts is the place to be. There’s a main webpage, but most of the chatter happens in their private Facebook group. For other awesome female communities, check out Girls Who Drone, a group for women in the San Francisco Bay Area
  4. AirVuz: Videographers should join AirVuz, a community of people looking to watch or upload aerial videos. The site also has donate and hire me buttons, for videographers who fly drones commercially. The community also has a pretty strong drone-racing slant, for people interested in racing or freestyle drones.
  5. SkyPixel: For photographers, SkyPixel is a community centered around aerial photography. Members can upvote each other’s photos, and experts are ranked based on votes. SkyPixel also holds an annual photo contest for its members, and the competition is pretty fierce. SkyPixel is run in partnership with DJI.
  6. Meetup: Meetup is actually how I found my first drone friends! Meetup is a site that organizes people from different cities based on different interests, and there are loads of drone-related meetups. There are drone policy meetups, drone racing meetups, drone building meetups and more! Search meetup for a drone group near the city you live in. While you can chat in the group, you’ll probably end up meeting up with the membersIRL! I didn’t know anyone who flew drones in my area, so I searched my city for the word “drone” and found a super awesome group!

Continue reading 6 online drone communities worth joining

7 steps every beginner drone pilot should take to become a pro

The following is a guest post by Michael Karp, author of the blog Drone Business Marketer.

The FAA predicts that hobbyist drone sales will increase from 1.9 million in 2016 to 4.3 million in 2020. With that many novice pilots flying around, it’s imperative they learn how to fly safely.

Here are the 7 steps new pilots should follow in order to become a proficient drone flyer: Continue reading 7 steps every beginner drone pilot should take to become a pro

How to operate a drone commercially in United Arab Emirates

Want to fly drones commercially in United Arab Emirates?

It’s not exactly the easiest task. Applying is costly  (more than $1,000), and time-consuming.

Rules also very by where in UAE you’re flying.

In Dubai, you will have to pay a location fee of AED 3,300 (or more depending on filming location) — that’s $899. Then, you’ll have to pay additional online fees of AED 5,100 ($1,388) to DCAA and expect 5 working days of processing time. Continue reading How to operate a drone commercially in United Arab Emirates

Why your Blade Nano QX won’t lift off the ground

So your Blade Nano QX won’t lift off the ground?

  • You tried replacing the propellers
  • The battery is charged
  • The motors appear to be working
  • Your transmitter is bound correctly with the drone

This happened to me too, and let me make sure it doesn’t happen to you. The reason your drone likely won’t lift is because you have a “clockwise” propeller on a “counterclockwise” motor. Fix it! Here’s how:

 

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The thing most people forget when putting on new propellers is that they are pitched differently. If the propeller you replaced it with is the same color but different pitch, it still don’t fly correctly. Make sure that each propeller is mounted exactly on the motor whether it spins clockwise or counterclockwise.

All quadcopters have two motors that spin clockwise placed diagonally from each other, and two that spin counterclockwise on the other sides. It matters what propeller you use for each motor. If a “counterclockwise” propeller is placed on a clockwise spinning motor, your drone won’t lift.my blade nano won't lift
It’s not a matter of “two blue propellers in front” and “two black propellers in back.”  Even still, you won’t get lift if you don’t place each propeller properly. Use this diagram from the manual to ensure it’s clear which propeller to put on each motor. Always read the manual!

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Pro tip! Having trouble removing the propellers? Placing them firmly on the drone is great to ensure they won’t pop off mid flight or in a crash, but placing them on too firmly can make them hard to remove. Use a credit card to wedge between the propeller and the motor to gently leverage the propeller off the drone.

Happy flying!

P.S. Check out my review of the Blade Nano QX2 —  a great introduction to drone racing for FPV beginners.blade nano fat shark

How to apply for a waiver under the new Part 107 rules

So you’re a commercial business wanting to use drones, but you’re going to have to fly at night, beyond line of sight, or in a situation otherwise illegal under the FAA’s drone regulations?

You more than likely can still operate — but you’re going to have to get a waiver from the Federal Aviation Adminstration in order to operate your drone even if those operations don’t fit under the Part 107 rules.

Here are some commonly asked questions about the Part 107 waiver process:

What are some of the situations in which I might need a waiver for my business? Continue reading How to apply for a waiver under the new Part 107 rules

How to study for Part 107: training courses for FAA’s aeronautical knowledge test

Testing for the FAA’s Aeronautical Knowledge Test for remote pilots (known as Part 107) will be released on August 29, 2016.

Anyone wanting to operate a drone commercially without an existing manned pilot’s license will need to pass an in-person written exam. (People with an existing Part 61 manned pilot’s license do not need to take the written exam. They simply need to complete an online course).

See also: Frequently asked questions about taking the Part 107 test

How are you studying? A good friend of mine told me, “I’m going to just study the night before — college style.” Wait, what?! No! Don’t do that!

It’s important that you know the information not to simply pass, but to really know the airspace so you can be a safe pilot. If you’re like me and struggle to absorb information simply by reading, and prefer to take a course — in-person or online — then here’s how I recommend you study for the Part 107 test.

 study for part 107 Drone Pilot Ground School FAA Drone Certification Test Prep UAV CoachDrone Pilot Ground School:

This is an online test prep course for commercial drone pilots, led by Alan Perlman.

At the end of each lecture you’ll get a 10-question practice quiz, plus a 25 question quiz at the end of each module AND 5 full-length practice tests. Continue reading How to study for Part 107: training courses for FAA’s aeronautical knowledge test