Showing posts with label Drones. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Drones. Show all posts

Sunday, January 8, 2017

DRONE Helicopters

Drone helicopters are increasing in popularity every single year, mainly because of the advances in technology that makes them so appealing but also because they are hitting the market by storm so are freely available. Most drone helicopters are quadrotors, which means that they are lifted and kept up by four separate rotors although you can get some that vary from this. For this reason, many of the designs are known as ‘quadcopters’ which is an amalgamation of the two. 
English: Aeryon Scout UAV system with its cont...
Aeryon Scout UAV system with its controller, missions and support cases (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

These devices normally use two different sets of propellers; one set of two will go clockwise with the other set going counter-clockwise. This keeps the device stable when in the air and able to quickly change direction in all conditions. Due to the success of the drones, production actually begun on a larger scale version of the quadcopters but ultimately ended in failure. At first, many people believed that a helicopter would benefit from the counteracting rotors instead of the front rotor and the rear vertical rotor (which actually produces little lift and therefore little help to the taking-off process). Many test vehicles appeared around the world in the early to mid-1900s and were, at first, a success and were many of the early vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft. However, this soon came to an end after many problems including poor and inconsistent performance. Improvement was thought to have been made a few years later only to suffer again as the workload of the pilot became too heavy. 

With advancements in technology in recent years, quadcopters have benefitted hugely from additions such as cameras, GPS as well as better and more efficient designs that now allow the user to use the drone inside and outside. These devices are now small and lightweight making it easier to carry around as well as fly. Quadcopters have also been used for research into unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) as a result of their efficiency. 

Quadcopters are often cheaper than original remote control helicopters because of their size and their lower cost of production. They are also known for causing less damage because they have smaller blades meaning that they produce less kinetic energy. The risk of any damage can also be further diminished with the addition of rotor protection that is available that will not affect the performance of the drone.

It was at the beginning of the twentieth century in 1907 that the first product of this idea came to light when Louis Breguet designed and built a four-rotor helicopter. Though it only flew a few feet from the ground a couple of times, it is widely seen as the first product of its type. It would take over ten years for somebody else to follow up on Breguet’s hard work when a French helicopter designer built a number of different aircraft. One of which was made up of four rotors and up to eight propellers (which included many clockwise but also counter-clockwise). This device started with small flights but could stay in the air for several minutes by 1923. This was seen as a success thus being the catalyst for all future four-rotor vehicles. 

Sunday, November 20, 2016


With the commercial drone industry booming and currently growing by nearly 20% each year, there are now an unprecedented amount of drone kits that are available to you depending on your need. Thanks to heavy levels of research and development, drones can now be purchased for an affordable price whilst still maintaining a high quality design and a number of useful features. 

Quadrocopter (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you are looking to purchase a drone, we have some things that you should keep in mind. Firstly, don’t get over-awed by some of the terms that may pop up, you may see acronyms such as ARF, RTF and BNF but once you know what they mean, you will be ready to find the right drone for you. RTF stands for ‘Ready-To-Fly’ and is a great option for beginners because it requires minimal assembly and can be used within a short period of time. RTF drones normally need charging, connecting with the controller and possibly installation of the propellers but other than that, it is ready to go. 

Secondly, BNF means ‘Bind-And-Fly’; this option comes without a controller. This can be useful if you already have a handheld controller for a drone and don’t want to pay extra for one included with your new drone. You do have to check whether the new drone is compatible with your old controller because some may not work even if they are on the same channel or frequency. Finally, ARF stands for ‘Almost Ready-To-Fly’. This description for a drone can actually be quite broad and may mean different things for different products so be sure to read the description before purchasing. Some ARF products will include everything bar the transmitter and receiver whereas others may not even include a battery. 

As a result of the booming industry, drones can be bought from just about anywhere in the world from a number of major online retailers. The main stores of this kind are based in the US as well as China but offer shipping around the world. You may be able to find a retailer closer to you if you search a little but you can’t go wrong with a big name. 

Hobby King is one of the biggest names when it comes to drones and for good reason too. They manufacture their own products, have permission to manufacture others as well as sell some of the biggest brands available. While the thousands of options is great from a consumer point of view, you also have to remember that some parts or even drones themselves may not be that good in quality so remember to check the reviews before you make a purchase. also offers a wide selection of products in its ‘classified’ section. This is where people can put their drones/parts up for sale creating a market for the products. Again, you have to be careful with this one as there maybe scammers (as there is everywhere online) so be sure to talk to the seller and maybe even view the desired product for yourself. There are also many other fantastic sources for drones and drone parts including DJI, and amazon. Just remember to stay safe when purchasing online and do not pay out money in a situation where you feel uncomfortable. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

DRONE Aerial Photography

The addition of cameras to drones may have just changed the way many industries run forever. They can be used to check areas that were previously impossible to see such as piping when checking safety and security, they can be used to keep control of policing situations such as riots and protests and they are even used in movies. Look out for it next time you watch a film, normally the video will start in the air like a plane and then move across giving the viewer a wonderful aerial shot that will be remembered. 

Français : Ce drone assemblé par Flying Eye pe...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Most drones that are available nowadays come with a built-in camera and a high quality one at that. If you own an old quadrotor and are looking to attach a camera of your own then a ‘GoPro’ camera is a good option however, you do have to consider the vibrations of the drone as this will affect the quality of the pictures that you take as well as the videos that you shoot. Built-in cameras offer a much more reliable quality consistently. Before shooting your first video you may also want to invest in a transmitter that will allow you to increase the range of connectivity when flying as well as broadcast video live from your drone.

You may look at some pictures that have been taken on a drone and compare them to yours and wonder how in earth theirs look so good yet yours barely classify as a picture. Here are some tips to remember when taking pictures or shooting videos from your drone!

Firstly, your camera is likely to get knocked around by the wind whilst in the air so make sure you are using a shorter lens to counteract this. If you couple a short lens with a fast shutter speed, you are likely to see dramatic improvements in your photography right away. A good rule of thumb to receive top quality is around 1/1000 second at 200mm and 1/500 second at 100mm. These combinations will allow you to take sharp, crisp photos no matter what conditions.

Another great tip when taking pictures from your drone is to set your camera to high contrast if haze becomes a problem (which it often does). If the problem is really bad to the point where you are getting black and white video, you may also want to shoot with a red filter. Normally, using any sort of filters such as ‘UV’ and ‘Haze’ tends to worsen the picture quality when in the air but the red filter will help to add colour.

Of course, it is important to have fun when attempting photography with your drone but you also have to remain sensible at all times. Do not go out on the streets on your first day having never flown a drone before because this can actually be quite dangerous. Also, think about where you are flying your drone; avoid flying near an airport where you could be causing serious problems. It all comes down to confidence and this will come with practice. The more you practice, the more you will learn and therefore the better your pictures will get!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

How to Build a DRONE

English: AR Drone part
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Building your very own drone has never been easier as a result of the technology that is available nowadays. Drones used to be something that you would only ever hear about on the news or something that you would read about but not now. Now, we can purchase our very own drone and even a step further, we can make our own.

The first step to building your own drone is to decide on what design you wish to emulate, this will in turn decided the parts that you will need. Do you want speed? If so, you need to build a fixed-wing drone. However, if you wanted precision then a multi-rotor drone is what you require. If you choose to build a multi-rotor, your options then increase again as there is many different shapes and designs to choose from. You can decide to have an ‘x’ shape, a ‘+’ shape or even a ‘y’ shape with two propellers on each arm.

The next step is to choose the base of your drone. Many years ago, sensors were not quick enough to react to the push of a button but with the advancements of technology, there is now many to choose from. Many different manufacturers offer a central, focal point to your drone that specialise in navigation as well as altitude (through the pressure sensors). You need to choose a system to your drone that best represents what you are trying to achieve, whether it is stability whilst in flight or speed. There will be a circuit board in this device that will react to your hand-held device with which you wish to fly the drone with. If you are willing to invest the money, you will also find main frames that will allow you to pivot the camera (once installed) up and down as well as send the video down to a device on the ground via Wi-Fi or any other internet connection. As previously mentioned, if you wanted a camera on the drone, this will also need to be integrated into the system.

So now you have the heart of your drone, you have the electronics, the sensors, the camera and all the wires that are going to make this thing work but now you need to create a frame. You need to choose a material that will be resistant to damage but also hides away the main system; you want to keep all the wiring hidden from view. Carbon fibre is one of the most popular materials for drones as it is light yet extremely strong. It is also great for reducing the vibrations which will improve your drone’s ability to remain steady whilst in the air. 

English: AR Drone part
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The final step is to attach the arms of your drone that hold the propellers. Depending on your design, it may be easier to add the arms before the body; you may also want to improve the aesthetics of your drone as well as efficiency by adding foldable arms for easier storage and mobility.

All that’s left to do now is to make sure that everything is complete. Ensure that the main system is completely wired and that the sensors will react to your remote. Ensure that your drone will actually work and is a reasonable design to stay up in the air. Ensure that your camera is linked up to a device on the ground. Once all this has been checked, it’s time to give your drone its maiden test flight!

Friday, March 11, 2016

DRONES with a Camera

Many years ago, attaching a camera to a drone would have been a ludicrous idea to simply put, would not have been possible. However, dramatic advancements in technology has now meant that small yet powerful cameras are now built-in to most drones that are available on the market today. Although you can still find quadrotors without a camera, it is rare and most do include a high quality option for both pictures and video. Because of the addition of cameras to drones, the industry is now huge and growing ever more popular every single year.

Drone and Moon
Photo by Don McCullough
In 2014, the well-known drone manufacturer, DJI, introduced HD to their drones and the game was changed forever. The quadrotor was also equipped with a three-way gimbal which keeps the camera steady during rough weather conditions as well as the vibrations of the drone itself. As a result, drones are now being used worldwide for a number of tasks including film production and crowd control.

If you are still picturing a photograph from a drone to be from a ‘fisheye’ point of view then think again. DJI’s Phantom 3 is one of the most popular choices of drones for photographers because of its high quality camera and 94 degree field of view (non-fisheye). The new Phantom 3 also includes features that can be found on some of Sony’s most popular camera products and the pro version even allows the user to shoot 4k video at up to 60fps. This is the same as can be found on Phantom 3’s sister product, Inspire 1; the Inspire 1 offers more extras and is therefore more expensive. With the Inspire 1, you will also be benefitting from the increased control with which you can fly and therefore take pictures as well as a 360 degree gimbal. The Phantom 3 gimbal can only be turned 90 degrees to 30 degrees which means that the drone itself has to be moved in the direction that you want to shoot. A 360 degree gimbal removes this necessity and can even be controlled independently of the drone by a second remote control.

The 3D Robotic Solo (3DR) is thought to be the two aforementioned products’ biggest rival in the camera department as it allows the user to shoot in HD and stream to a chosen mobile phone or tablet. The 3DR also includes a detailed app where you can access the drone’s inflight telemetry as well as adjust the settings to your personal preference. The 3DR does differ slightly in that it uses a GoPro camera rather than an own-brand device; this means that you will get a slightly more natural fisheye look which can be altered in editing but is something that should be noted if you are unsure of which one to buy. Despite this, the 3DR offers an array of options on the app via a segment called ‘smart shots’ that allows you to get the perfect shot that you require. This is a unique function and maybe the reason why they are starting to compete with the big boys in the industry.

So those are two of the best camera options when it comes to drones but there are many other options in-between so why not have a search and see what ones stand out for you?

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Remote Control DRONE

Remote control drones have changed dramatically over the years along with the actual handheld controllers themselves. Technology has come so far that the drones have gone from a couple of minutes flying time and little added extras to nearly half an hour flying time with cameras and more while the remotes have gone from two levers (one to lift and one to steer) to a confusing looking device with an array of buttons.

Due to the availability of remote control drones and now affordable prices also, they are becoming ever more popular for recreational use with the market leader, DJI, reaching $1 billion in revenue last year. Smaller, cheaper drones are available to the beginner that plans to fly every so often while bigger and more expensive models are available to those who see it as a hobby and fly often.

Remote control drones are now also being used in many industries making them more efficient with a little investment; many oil and train companies for example, use remote controlled drones to help fix any problems that may occur on a day-to-day basis. A train company may use a drone to find out exactly where a part of the track may be broken. An oil company may fly a drone out in the sea to find the exact cause and location of an oil spill. Such is the advancements in technology; underwater drones are now becoming more popular because of their ability to dive deeper in the sea than any human meaning that we can access never before seen areas to conduct research. All these models of drone can end up saving lives as they are completing jobs that may be unsafe for the company’s workers.

The remote controls themselves have had to adapt to the many additions that have been made to drones in recent years. Not long ago, the handset would just include to sticks but now there are buttons to control the camera, a screen to watch where you are going as you fly and even ways to control the gimbal. The gimbal is a device that can be found on your drone that will lessen and ultimately remove the effects of vibration thus creating perfect conditions for taking high-quality pictures.

Although the handheld devices have changed to an extent, the communication methods that the drone uses have changed even more. GPS is now included on many models, this allows the user to know the exact location of their aircraft as well as set out a planned route. This can come in great use as the drone will only have a certain amount of flight time so you can plan a route keeping in mind that it will have to return to you after 20 minutes, for example. Wi-Fi can also be found on many devices which allow direct communication between the drone and the user via mobile/tablet applications. The video taken from a drone can now be livestreamed to the internet as a result and was put into practise by a New Yorker who livestreamed the Wall Street protests to hundreds of thousands of people watching from home. Bluetooth also adds another layer of communication. Finally, the iOS/android apps have grown in popularity in recent times and now boast many benefits including; flying the drone (once linked up), changing certain camera settings to ensure you get the best possible picture quality as well as inflight telemetry.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

What Is A DRONE?

A drone, also known as an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) as well as many other names, is a device that will fly without the use of a pilot or anyone on board. These ‘aircraft’ can be controlled remotely using a remote control device by someone standing on the ground or by using computers that are on-board. UAV’s in the beginning were typically controlled by someone on the ground but as technology has advanced, more and more aircraft are being made with the aim of being controlled via on-board computers.

An Hermes 450 Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) of...
An Hermes 450 Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV)
of U.S. Customs and Border Protection taking off,
with a CBP Border Patrol agent using the remote to steer the UAV.
(Photo credit: 

The idea of an unmanned aerial vehicle can be traced back to early in the twentieth century and were originally intended to be solely used for military missions but have since found place in our everyday lives. Reginald Denny, who was a popular film star as well as an avid collector of model airplanes was said to produce the first ever remote piloted vehicle in 1935. Since this date, the aircraft have been able to adapt to new technologies and can now be found with cameras as well as other useful extras. As a result of this, UAVs are used for policing, security work and surveillance and firefighting, they are even used by many companies to check on hard to reach assets such as piping and wirework adding an extra layer of safety and security.

The rise in popularity of these devices has however, brought some negatives as well as positives as new rules and regulations have had to be introduced to control the situation. As the UAVs were getting stronger and technologies were improving, it meant that they could fly higher and further away from the operator. This has led to some troubles with airport interference all over the world. In 2014, South Africa announced that they had to tighten security when it comes to illegal flying in South African airspace. A year later and the US announced that they were holding a meeting to discuss the requirements of registering a commercial drone. 

As well as the previously mentioned uses, drones are now also used for surveyance of crops, counting animals in a certain area, looking over a crowd among many others. Drones have managed to change the way that many industries are run and have also allowed many businesses to become more efficient. Drones have also helped to increase safety and also contribute when it comes to saving lives. Forest fires and natural disasters can be monitored and the drone can be used to alert the relevant authorities of anyone that is in trouble and in need of help. The exact location of these events can also be found with ease. 

Drones have also become a hobby for many people around the world. In the US, recreational use of such a device is legal; however, the owner has to take some precautions when attempting to fly. The aircraft must adhere to certain guidelines that have been laid out; for example, the device cannot be more than 55 pounds. The drone should also avoid being used in a way that will interfere with airport operations and if a drone is flown within five miles of an airport, the airports traffic control tower must be made aware beforehand.