VTX? PDB? ESC’s? A simple and comprehensive guide to all the FPV drone parts

Drones are complicated enough. There are rules to follow, registrations to be done and undone and done again, there’s learning how to fly it, and then there’s deciphering all the components of a drone.

And those components can quickly turn into a pretty messy alphabet soup.

Drone  Nodes came up with a handy infographic that makes at least one aspect of FPV drones a little less complicated — deciphering all the parts that make up a drone.

That graphic is part of a larger, 11,000+ comprehensive guide to everything that goes into building an FPV drone. Continue reading VTX? PDB? ESC’s? A simple and comprehensive guide to all the FPV drone parts

FRiFF 2018 Drone Film Festival is coming to San Francisco next week

The Flying Robot international Film Festival (FRiFF) returns to San Francisco’s historic Roxie Theater for its third year next year.
The film festival will award winners from seven different categories including landscapes, drone racing and even a category called “WTF LOL,” and competitors come from many countries including Bulgaria, Tanzania and Australia. For people who watch the festival in person, they’ll be able to vote in the Audience Choice category.

Continue reading FRiFF 2018 Drone Film Festival is coming to San Francisco next week

DJI launches new FlightHub drone operations software at AirWorks 2017

DJI, the world’s largest drone maker, now wants to help you manage your drones too.

The Chinese drone manufacturer today released FlightHub, a software targeted at enterprise and business use cases, which manages real-time drone operations, flight data, fleets and pilot teams.

The FlightHub software was launched at the AirWorks 2017 conference, which is DJI’s enterprise drone conference happening in Colorado this week.

Here’s how it will work:

Map and Real-Time View

A map and real-time view will display telemetry, camera and sensor data. The map view is intended for offsite teams to be able to easily coordinate simultaneous flights and multiple drone teams. It also displays geofencing data to make sure drones stay away from regulated airspace. The real-time view can show live video feeds from up to four drones.

Access data any where via the Cloud

Since it’s a web-based data management tool, the data automatically syncs and stores to a searchable database. All flight logs are automatically uploaded. Access to FlightHub can be made from any browser through an Amazon Web Services server.

FlightHub will begin taking pre-orders today. Here are the pricing tiers:

  • Basic: Bind up to 5 drones with all features (excluding real-time view). Priced at $99 USD per month.
  • Advanced: Bind up to 10 drones with all features of the Basic plan plus real-time view. Priced at $299 USD per month.
  • Enterprise: Bind more than 10 drones with all features of the Advanced plan plus the ability to integrate data into a private cloud in the future. Please contact a DJI Enterprise dealer directly to purchase the Enterprise plan.

The Menlo Park Fire Protection District is among the companies already set to beta-test DJI’s new FlightHub drone management system. Menlo Park FPD is no stranger to drones, and has been working with DJI since March 2016 to test products, and in emergency situations, including the Yosemite and Santa Rosa fires to provide situation awareness, assist with search and recovery and for surveying. During the Santa Rosa fires, 120 drone flights were made, marking the first time the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection has authorized drone flights as part of the emergency response in a large-scale disaster.

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

Drone Racing League’s 2018 world championships are in one of the world’s most unfriendly countries to women

The Drone Racing League (DRL) announced the location of its 2018 DRL Allianz World Championship — and it’s located in one of the most unfriendly countries in the world toward women.

The 2018 championship races will play out in Saudi Arabia in September next year.

Saudi Arabia consistently ranks among the worst countries in the world for female travelers and workers. It was named one of Global Citizen’s “Five Worst Countries to Be a Woman” and No. 1 in “U.S. News and World Report’s 10 Worst Countries for Gender Equality.”

Adult women in Saudi Arabia must obtain permission from a male guardian—usually a husband, father, brother, or son—to travel, according to Human Rights Watch. Women must also be completely covered while in the country, cannot wear pants and are pressured to wear a full-length black covering called an abaya. Women traveling alone are not allowed to enter the country unless they will be met at the airport by a husband, a sponsor or male relative, and must also receive permission to leave. Women in restaurants not accompanied by a male relative often are not served, and a woman traveling with a man who is not her husband, sponsor or a male relative can be arrested.

Saudi Arabia is also extremely unfriendly to people who are gay, lesbian and transgender. Homosexuality and cross-dressing are illegal in the country.

In other words, it looks to be nearly impossible for female and openly LGBT racers or spectators to be a part of the 2018 world championships.

DRL, which bills itself as the world’s premier drone racing circuit, responded with the following statement:

“We firmly believe that drone racing is a global professional sport open to all genders, physical abilities and cultures and it is one of the most critical virtues of the sport that the greatest drone pilot on earth could be literally anyone, from anywhere,” according to a DRL spokesperson. (See the full statement from DRL at the bottom of this post).

That being said, DRL could provide no further details of how exactly they intend to act on that belief that drone racing is open to women.

DRL did not respond to specific questions as to how their female racers could travel into and through the country, and whether women would be allowed to enter the stadium to watch the live event.

“As many of your questions are best directed to GSA, we would be happy to put you in touch with them,” said Benjamin T Johnson, DRL’s Head of Business Development and Marketing. “Per the rest of your questions, the previous statement is all we’re able to provide on such short notice.”

After multiple exchanges, DRL ultimately did not explain why they chose to host their event in a country that makes it incredibly difficult for females to participate in the drone race.

It is unclear whether DRL has given any thought as to how women will be able to participate.

“Women are handicapped enough in the drone industry without adding official barriers,” said Loretta Alkalay, a drone attorney and hobby drone pilot.

Drone racing is a male-dominated industry, though it is unclear exactly why. Many suspect that there simply isn’t much interest among females to race. It could be lack of role models, a “pipeline problem,” marketing to imply racing is a male hobby, among other things. Those are all huge problems to tackle.

But there is one easy way to ensure we aren’t excluding women: not putting the 2018 DRL Allianz World Championship in a country that oppresses women.

To earn a spot on the Allianz World Championship circuit, anyone in the world over the age of 18 can be part of the eSport tournament on the DRL Simulator, according to a DRL spokesperson.

However, if women do qualify for a spot on the team, it’s unclear if they will have to travel with a male relative or husband, and who would cover that additional cost.

“It disqualifies me from the competition as I wouldn’t be able to get a male relative to accompany me,” said Zoe Stumbaugh, a drone racer and freestyle pilot. “I had hopes that DRL would include female competitors this season, but this doesn’t make me hopeful.”

That’s not to say there are no female-friendly drone races. IDRA’s Dover Race had a handful of female racers, and about 10% of the X Class racers are women.

Other women have referred to the news that the race will occur in Saudi Arabia as a “massive disappointment” and a “big fat ‘you’re not welcome here’ sign.”

The 2017 DRL Allianz World Championship took place in London’s Alexandra Palace.

Here is the full text of the official, lengthy statement from DRL:

At DRL our mission is to bring professional drone racing to as many fans and pilots around the world as we possibly can. This includes delivering the only watchable professional drone races to leading broadcast channels around the world and working to bring our races to new venues and territories. As we expand, we do so with our values of inclusion and competition at the core, bringing the best pilots, staff and technology everywhere we go. With each new market comes unique challenges that we work to address with our committed partners, sharing the goal of making the races and sport available to everyone.

DRL’s decision to host the 2018 Allianz World Championship race in Saudi Arabia was driven not only by our desire to satisfy our growing fan base in the region, but also because the GSA is making a concerted effort to bring global sports to the kingdom, by their own description, “that will also lead to wider social and economic benefits for the country.” DRL is one of many sports organizations hosting events in Saudi Arabia in 2018, including La Liga football, the automotive Race of Champions (featuring drivers from Formula1, NASCAR, Le Mans and IndyCar), the World Chess Championships, and the World Boxing Super Series. The complexities of bringing a major global sports championship to any country are numerous, and we’ll be working with the GSA to tackle each of them over the next several months.

But this venue announcement changes nothing about our league. As it has always been, DRL is an inclusive league. It is open to people of all genders, gender identities and nationalities. To date, we’ve had two seasons, and in that time we’ve had both men and women and citizens of eight countries compete in DRL. As we plan our 2018 Championship race we will work to ensure we are respectful of local cultures while ensuring our values remain uncompromised.”


6 ways law enforcement uses drones

As drones become safer, cheaper and more reliable, there’s one field that has found tremendous success in using drones: law enforcement.

Drone and camera technology allows law enforcement officials to have a better viewpoint of chaotic situations where having ground personnel is too risky. Aerial points of view also allow post-accident or crime scenes to be better evaluated to help understand the timeline of events that took place.

First responder situations are the 6th most common use for drones according to a report from Skylogic Research, behind other popular uses like aerial photography, mapping and construction.

But use of drones by law enforcement is also highly controversial. A pair of drones donated to the Los Angeles Police Department was actually locked away for three years, collecting dust after a public outcry over the idea of police using the controversial technology.

But it seems drones are here to stay, and plenty of police departments are adopting them.

The team at dronefly.com, a commercial drone distributor, created a graphic to show all the ways law enforcement teams are using drones: Continue reading 6 ways law enforcement uses drones

Halloween Drone Contest: win a drone!

Time to test your luck and possibly win a drone!

Drone Girl has partnered with TRNDlabs to giveaway one FADER drone (valued at $129), and one SPECTRE drone (valued at $149).

To enter, simply comment on either the Instagram or Facebook post below with your best idea for using a drone on Halloween!

I’m thinking candy delivery device! Or how about this drone-turned-pumpkin cannon?

**The winner must also ‘like’ BOTH @TheDroneGirl and @TRNDlabs on Facebook OR Twitter in order to be eligible to enter.

Two winners will be chosen at random on Sunday, Oct. 29 at noon PT. The first randomly chosen winner will receive the FADER drone, and the second winner will receive the SPECTRE drone.

The winner will be contacted via Instagram or Facebook message and have 48 hours to respond with shipping information, otherwise a new winner will be chosen.

Want a bonus entry? Tag a friend (or five!), and both you and your friend(s) will receive a bonus entry! Bonus entries are limited to five per person.

Good luck!

Check out my review of the TRNDlabs Fader and Spectre drones here.

DJI AeroScope brings electronic license plates to drones

Your drone could soon get its own ‘license plate.’

Chinese dronemaker DJI this week unveiled DJI Aeroscope, a system that acts like an “electronic license plate for drones” and is intended as a way for authorities to identify and monitor drones while in the air.

DJI AeroScope is a software that works on both DJI drones as well as other manufacturers’ drones without any hardware modifications.

To work, the software uses the existing communications radio transmission between a drone and its remote controller to transmit their location, altitude, speed, direction, takeoff location, operator location, and an identifier such as a registration or serial number. That information can be transmitted to any AeroScope receiver within radio range. Continue reading DJI AeroScope brings electronic license plates to drones