Just some more drone footage from the west side. I just throw my Inspire 1 in the truck and bring it along. I set out a mat to fly off to keep sand ingestion down. I am really starting to look forward to big waves and whales this fall and winter with the Inspire 1. This winter I will finally decide if the Inspire is worth the extra cost over the Phantom for people looking to film under more extreme conditions. I do often miss my Phantom because the size makes it so much easier to transport around.
Realtors can make lots of money brokering real estate transactions but they have to get the clients first. Spending $999 on a Phantom 3 Advanced is a good investment for the ambitious real estate agent because they will have the ability to take their own aerial pictures of the property for potential sellers as well as survey properties for buyers.
Drones For Sellers Agents
Lets be honest, there are way too many realtors chasing too few listings. Usually the top 5% of agents get the bulk of the listings due to seniority, word of mouth, more ad spend, etc. Making yourself stand out can be difficult and you have to find a way to differentiate yourself from the next person. One way you can separate yourself from the herd would be to bring the $999 Phantom 3 to your next client meeting. Insist on taking aerial pictures to assess the value and then make sure you send the best 1-2 photos to the potential client when you follow up with the client. If they are interviewing several realtors, you surely will jump to the top of the list. If you are willing to go out of your way to shoot aerial pictures of the property before you even get the listing, this sends the message that you mean business and will go out of your way for the client.
Drones For Buyers Agents
The most obvious use of drone photography is to get amazing pictures of properties for listings. If you are creative, you can find others uses for your new tool that can help you win buyers too. If you represent investors buying houses that need a little love, offer to survey the property from the air to check the condition of the roof and check the proximity to other properties. So much can be discovered from the birds eye perspective. Imagine the loyalty your buyer will have when you can offer this service and potentially catch things that a normal inspector might miss or even find a reason to skip the property before money is spent on an inspection.
If you are representing a high end home buyer, getting proprietary aerial photography for your client will add a lot of value and help you be different from all the rest. Seeing an amazing from the air might also help your client realize the true value of a property and help get them excited enough to make the offer in times when they are not sure. Even better, it might help identify problems with the property that they might have missed otherwise. In either case, you will likely get a lot word of mouth from your drone operations. "My agent took aerial pictures of the property for me. What did your agent do?"
I Want A Drone But I can't Fly One
Flying a drone has gotten so simple, just about anyone can do it now. They have GPS stabilization that means it just hovers in one spot until you move the stick. You get to see what the camera sees with an HD link to your iPhone that plugs into the controller and you just fly the drone where you want it, frame the property and push the shutter button on the remote. It really is that easy now!
For real estate agents, the DJI Phantom 3 Advanced will pay for itself quickly.
Two crashes in one day
Yesterday I crashed my Vortex twice and had a blast! I have hardly crashed at all in many years of flying FPV and I have not had a pilot mistake crash ever - until yesterday! I tried a roll, no problem. Then I tried a front flip and before I could blink I was laying upside down in the grass. I knew immediately what I did wrong. If you do not pull the throttle when you are upside down you will go down incredibly fast because of gravity combined with the crazy power of these tiny powerful, 4 cell powered motors. The other crash happened because I was flying on an incline and got below the spot I was standing, out of visual range. It is amazing how fast the signal drops out when the earth gets in the way. The signal went from clear to static instantly. This type of crash has happened to me once before with an airplane when I was flying it on the side of the crater here in Maui, it dropped out of line of sight and just went link dead. This is one of the biggest problems with 5.8ghz video links, they just die when something gets in the way.
I have been trying to avoid flying over cane fields because if I crash my little quad I know it will be hard to find. Today I was flying over a newly planted field and so I figured it would be easy to find. I got lucky and found it quickly but I was really worried about a 2 hour search and recovery mission that could easily happen. When the video went out on the second crash, I was really worried that it might take awhile to find but it was laying right on the road. The whole time I was thinking it sure would be nice to have a Tile on this thing to help me locate it! Luckily I have a few extra ones laying around.
Finding a lost quad with Tile
Both times I crashed I thought I could be in for a long search and each time I went out to look for it I wish I had stuck a Tile on the copter. A "Tile" is basically a little bluetooth beacon that you link to your phone. When you get within range of it, you can make it start beeping. Normal people use them to find their keys (I use them for this about once a week!) but us drone nerds can use them to locate lost racing copters in cane fields! They are about $20 - $25 bucks from Amazon and they last over a year. I am sticking one on my Vortex before I fly it again!
Here are the summary points of which drone you should buy:
I have been getting lots of questions about which drone should be purchased and the answer has almost always been the $999 Phantom 3 Advanced or the $1259 version that includes a hard shell backpack and an extra battery. The only difference between the Advanced and the Professional is the addition of 4k and for most people, that is an unnecessary feature that I will explain.
First of all, if you have never used 4k video then you might not realize how intensive it is. You will need professional software to edit it (windows movie maker will not do it) and you will need a fast computer or it will bring it to a crawl. Another downside to filming in 4k is the low frame rate of 30 frames per second. The 4k does look incredible, but paying the extra money ($1519 for the Professional with hard shell case and battery) just does not make sense unless you know that you need 4k. I say save your money or buy an extra battery if you are not sure if you need 4k.
Should you buy the Phantom 3 Advanced or the 3DR Solo? This easily can be boiled down to an easy question of cameras. Do you want to use a GoPro or be locked into the DJI camera world? If you already have a high end GoPro I would recommend going with the 3DR Solo at $999. The other budget option for GoPro owners is the older DJI Phantom 2 at $699.
When does the Inspire 1 get recommended? Not that often for a few reasons. First of all, I have to say that I love mine. It is a beautiful machine and it flies great. However, for most people it just does not make any sense to spend $2899 when the Phantom 3 is nearly as good. What do you get for 2-3x the cost of the Phantom 3 line? A higher power machine (6s battery vs 4s battery in the Phantom 3 and 3s in the Phantom 2) that can fly faster and handle more wind. However, I put my Phantom 2 through many high wind filming sessions and it performed well. The camera can be removed and upgraded and you can use two controllers to drive the camera. The portability of the Phantom should also not be overlooked as the size of the Inspire 1 makes transport more difficult.
You should buy the Inspire 1 if you have the extra cash or you want to look more professional. It is a sexy looking drone and if you are accustomed to top of the line, you will probably buy it regardless of the value of the Phantom 3 line.
It was a beautiful and sunny day in Maui. The wind was calm, the sky was clear, and everything looked so clear and crisp. I also happen to bring my DJI Inspire 1 along because I have not been flying it much at all lately (I have been too busy messing around with my FPV Race Copter). I decided early in the morning of our beach day to bring the drone along so I had to recharge a battery because of the smart feature that causes them to uncharge themselves so they do not go bad. This is generally a good thing if you keep up with it but it caused me to only get one battery pack of flying. I was still able to get some great shots and even do a quick little surf edit of my wife and nephew. Seeing this makes me really excited about the winter and all the amazing surfing that goes on out here. Maui had an amazing summer swell that I am totally kicking myself for not filming - what was I thinking?! I was probably too busy out surfing it myself.. Oh well, next one that comes through I will be on it like cheese on pizza. I have really been loving my Inspire 1 after the warranty issues I had when I first got it. Here is a link to the video in case you can't see it below.
This is slightly off topic and not very drone related but I was impressed enough to justify passing it along to anyone who might be interested. Today I was about to go surfing and there were two guys watching some clips they had shot using an iPhone. I went over to check them out and I was completely blown away by the quality. It looked 100% professional. Super silky slow motion, perfect color, no distortion from a fish eye lens, etc. I was under the impression they used a professional underwater rig with some sort of DSLR camera but it turns out they simply had their iPhone 5 in a Watershots waterproof housing. I knew the iPhone had a good camera and that the iphone 6 had amazing slow motion but this just exceeded any expectations I might have had. Wow. They even filmed on the iPhone 5 that "only" shoots at 120fps. I can't imagine how cool it would look if you used the Watershots with the iPhone 6 that shoots at 240fps in slow motion!
I have about 5 GoPros and the last thing I need is another thingy but I am sitting here about to order this because of how amazing these simple surf shots turned out. To keep it drone related, think how cool your aerial video of a beach would be with some underwater footage of a wave!!
The iPhone 5 Watershots case is $90 on Amazon and the iPhone 6 Watershots case is $140 on Amazon.
I have been playing with my FPV racing quad and having lots of fun with it. I don't plan on putting a Gopro on mine so I just used the DVR feature of my Fatshark Dominator HD goggles and recorded what I see. I have learned a few things so far about race quads that I figured I would pass on to others looking to get started.
1) Use omni antennas like the spherical ones from Fatshark. The higher db antennas I use for aerial photography drop out easily because they have a narrower window. With the race quad you fly all over the place and get in some interesting orientations that seem to add distortion to the signal right at the worst possible time.
2) Buy lots of batteries. The 4s 1300mah battery lasts about 3-4 minutes if you are zipping around. Practice makes perfect so you probably want 4-6 batteries. The hard part is keeping them all charged up. Remember to label your batteries so you can keep track of ones that might be going bad.
3) Acro aka manual mode flying is how these are designed to be flown. I only use angle aka self leveling mode when I am landing and taking off. Even then, landings are a bit rough because you have to tilt the camera up so much.
I have not come up with a good practice method yet for improving flight performance but I will put one together if I can find a good system for training. If anyone out there is having fun with these race quads let me know.. as always I would love a guest article from someone who is an expert in this area! If the video below doesn't load, you can click here to watch it directly on YouTube.
DJI is now selling a hardshell backpack for the Phantom. It looks like it holds 3-4 batteries and is priced at $149 directly from DJI. They also mention that it is waterproof "to a certain extent" and that likely means you can hike it in light rain. One of my favorite things about the Phantom is the ease of transport so this is a must buy for Phantom owners. I am just not flying my Inspire 1 as much as I should because of its size.
DJI still Innovation Leader in Consumer Drone Tech
The obstacle avoidance package for the newly released "experimental" quadcopter called the Matrice 100 is extremely interesting for a number of reasons. First of all, they claim that it will be able to sense and avoid things at high speed. They say it will operate up to 65 feet, which seems to dwarf the Inspire 1 sonar that seems to stop working above 5 feet or so. It also operates in all directions.
This is likely a public beta test of future features that will be added to the high end range of aerial photography copters and should eventually find its way onto the Phantoms. Obstacle avoidance is going to be a really useful feature to have and the price and size should shrink over the next few years. _
DJI is pitching the Matrice 100 as a way to experiment with the technology and they are getting the "DJI API" out there for people who want to develop custom applications. Even though they have mentioned opening up the Phantom to select developers, this modular quad might start stealing the thunder from open source platforms from 3D Robotics.
I do not plan on buying this but I am excited about what it means for the future products coming out of DJI. If you decide to buy one, I would love to have you write a review for the site!!
If you want to check out the guidance system and the modular Matrice 100 platform, head on over to the DJI store.
I pre ordered the vortex the day it was available because I have been wanting to try FPV speed Quadcopters for awhile. It finally arrived a week or so ago and after ordering a sbus to cppm converter so I could use my Futaba tx and rx I was able to set it up and fly it.
I have the R6208 receiver and it would not work properly until I plugged the vortex in the computer and adjusted the end points to 1000 1500 2000. Take the little props off before you mess with it, they still pack a punch and managed to take a bite into my finger.
If you have been flying the phantom or other Dji based flight computers for awhile you probably think you are a good pilot. I have flown fast Fpv wings and all sorts of Quadcopters but these little race quads are FAST and AGILE! There is an angle mode that provides some leveling but the whole point is manual or "acro" on the vortex.
The flight times with a 1300mah 4s battery is about 3-4 minutes and you get to track the consumption of this power with the on screen display built into the vortex. There are several different OSDs available but I am most familiar with the ezosd because I had it installed on a 60 inch Zephyr Fpv wing a long while ago.
The vortex is a great nearly ready to fly race quad and I have been a big fan of the amazing ImmersionRC products over the years. They are true innovators in this niche space and the vortex has plenty of new stuff - like the race band of 5.8 frequencies that lets 8 people fly at the same time, all on 5.8. You would need to get the best pilots all in one spot to actually get 8 race quads all flying at the same time and I would want to get a full face paintball mask to protect myself from the swarm!
If you are looking for a way to improve your Fpv skills for aerial photography or want to try a different aspect of camera on drone, I highly recommend building or buying a Fpv race quad. They are meant to be crashed, crashed, crashed!
I would recommend several batteries because they go fast, but if you are like me you are glad when it is time to land so you can relax! I will post some flight videos whenever I finally mount my gopro or remember to record the flight video from my fatshark goggles!
I ordered mine from getfpv.com.
I wanted to shoot some more of my favorite spots around the north shore to print and use around our house. I went and shot Baldwin beach and Paia Bay. The pictures turned out decent enough to get printed. I am still learning all about the Abode software so my editing is not the best but I love to Photomerge !
I came across two awesome resources for editing aerial photography and video if you are using the adobe suite of products. If you are, you should check out the following two links.
These are two powerful yet complicated software tools that I recommend using if you are interested in spending the time learning. Windows movie maker and Photoscape work fine for most simple things you do when filming aerial photography but you have so much more flexibility once you start figuring out how everything works in the adobe suite!
Starting DroneAbove.com a few years ago was really easy thanks to a website service called Weebly. I am tech savvy enough to figure out WordPress but I always hated messing around with consoles and the general pain in the butt associated with WordPress. If you are just getting started and you want to do it the way people in the web site building business do it, then you should go and start learning WordPress. However, if you want to be a bit lazy and save yourself a ton of time you can get started with Weebly and have a website up and running in 10 minutes.
While it is not as powerful or flexible as WordPress it is just all around easier to use. They are adding new features regularly and it has served me well. If you want to get a free website up so you can practice blogging, go for it. There is no cost to get started and you only have to spend money if you decide on a domain name (like DroneAbove.com for example). I pay for the Pro version and I am really happy with it. I like all of the simple analytic metrics that Weebly offers but you can also drop in a link from Google analytics to get more detailed analysis.
Weebly is simple, easy, but not as powerful as Wordpress. If you want to keep a simple website and blog like DroneAbove.com and you do not have the ability or desire to mess with Wordpress then Weebly is for you. If you have website experience or you want to invest the time to learn a powerful new skill, then Wordpress is for you. However, I don't know anything about Wordpress so I can only offer help and advice related to Weebly!
If you have been putting off creating a blog / website to show your drone photography work just click this link and get something out there on the web!
PS: To help get you some traffic, you are welcome to come up with a topic for a guest article on DroneAbove! Just shoot me a message from the contact page with your idea!