Saturday, December 5, 2015

First flight...


Honestly, I was as nervous as my first solo many years ago, when I was getting a pilots license.  Don't know why - if things go bad with a quadcopter, you lose your investment, not your life.  Maybe it was all the research I had done on these things?  Reading about drones that "fly away" on the first flight made me overly cautious.

I sat out on our deck, reading through the instructions and practicing the maneuvers without anything turned on...


When I felt I had it down, it was out to my "launch pad"... aka the neighbor's empty RV lot.  I turned on the controller, turned on the quadcopter, and waited for GPS on each of them to acquire satellites.  I pressed the button to turn on the rotors... it came to life.  Took a deep breath and pushed the climb lever forward to get it off the ground.  Yep, it flies!

I let it hover there for a bit to see how stable it is.  Then landed.  The neighbor lady who lives next to that lot asked, "Is that all there is?"

"No, I plan to do that a few times to make sure I can land this thing."

She and a friend were heading out, but had to wait and watch.  When it didn't do anything dramatic (just what I was hoping for), they got in their car and left.  I did a few more touch and goes, seeing if I could land it where I intended.  Cautiously, because it is on a concrete pad.

Up once more, and the first in-flight photo...


Seems pretty straight-forward.  Here's what it looks like from the ground...


Ready for a higher altitude flight...


Rotated it around to check out all the flight controls...


About that time, a car stopped at the end of that lot; the lady rolled down the window and asked, "Are you spying on people?"

"Not yet," I said.  "This is my maiden flight - I'm more interested in not crashing it.  Let me get better with it, then I'll come spy on you."

She laughed.  That was a concern I had about getting one of these: plenty of articles on-line about people flying these near airports or around people's houses.  This one has a "safety zone" that won't let it operate (without disabling that feature) around airports.  You have to be smart enough all on your own to not fly it over crowds or invade anyone's privacy.

I ran it even higher...


That is with the camera on automatic - nice exposure control.  The camera is mounted with a gimble that keeps the camera steady and level as the quadcopter moves around.  You control the up/down movement on the camera with a lever on the base station and get the right/left perspective by moving the whole unit around.  A view with the camera pointed lower...


It is possible to shoot straight down while hovering directly overhead, as well.

The copter gets about 20 to 25 minutes on a battery.  I ran it until I got the "time to set 'er down" warning, then landed.  In one piece.

I'm calling this a very successful first flight series!  :-)

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On edit:

Second flight.  I had to see if the not crashing thing was a fluke.  I ran the copter higher, practiced some basic maneuvers, shot more photos, and a few videos.  Didn't crash.  Security drove by - he said, "That looks like fun."  So, I guess none of the neighbors turned me in.

From 100 feet or so: you can see the high-rise condos on South Padre Island at the horizon on the left side...


Looking towards the north, you can see our neighbor's sailing catamaran in the canal...


The far end of that canal leads to the Intracoastal Waterway.  Port Isabel is on the far side of that.

Looking into the sun, towards the west, you can see the drilling rig that is parked in the PI Turning Basin...

 
The video was a bigger file than the blog software wanted to deal with.  But, it looks good.





5 comments:

MarkJ said...

Boys and their toys!
I'm so jealous!!!

Captain Jim and the Blonde said...

Mark, I went back and forth on this. I think I am going to enjoy it... certainly not a necessity, but it is fun.

MarkJ said...

With your photography skills and your ability to read directions (I have neither) you're going to turn out some amazing videos! Time to get your YouTube channel. Would love to see your videos!

MarkJ said...

Rick Moore is a YouTube channel I follow. He takes amazing videos from a quad copter in the Caribbean. You might show them to Joan and tell her you need to go there for the winter to practice.....

M. J. Shelton said...

I really enjoyed this, Jim