Monday, 18 September 2017

Ramsey Harbour

I'm keeping the drone busy while the weather stays calm and clear. Still lots to learn about the limits of the system, but I'm starting to trust the hardware now and I'm happy to leave it in place for a few minutes and just let the action happen around it.

The swing bridge just happened to start opening as I was taking a flight over the harbour, so of course I had to wait and watch it all below me.

 

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

A New Addiction - Mostly Harmless

These Quadcopter things are quite addictive. I've bought another one - a much better one that before.

It's a Xaiomi Mi Drone 4K and like the previous one it has come all the way from China. It must have come on a plane as it wouldn't have made it as quick if it was flying on its own! As it's name suggests, it does 4K recording - although I probably won't use it in 4K as I prefer a slightly lower resolution to get a higher frame rate. The camera on this one is 3-axis stabilized. This means that it tries to keep pointing in the right direction, whatever the drone does to speed up and slow down.

With the MGP being on, I don't have much chance to test it at the moment, but here's a short video that I made last week to get a feel for it. I'm hoping it can do more cinematic and above all stabilized shots that are much more comfortable to watch as well as being higher quality.


Monday, 31 July 2017

A Quick Walk Up Lhergy Frissel

As always, we finish at four on a Saturday. I used the hour before picking Dad up from the Pub to try and get some exercise.

Leaving the shop at a couple of minutes to four, I was at the Albert Tower in 28 minutes, having walked along the promenade and over the crossing at Ballure Bridge before climbing Lhergy Frissel. at the top I just spent a few minutes taking in the view and snapping a couple of photos. It was quite breezy, but very pleasant. One day I'll have to take the Quadcopter up there and get a different perspective.


I've photoshopped the masts/lighting posts out on this one - I know we need the coverage for mobile and TV, but they are really intrusive. Trying to disguise them as lighting posts doesn't really work either. At least the other masts along the ridge line were made to look a little tree-like. I don't know why the planners dropped the requirement for the ones at the tower.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

The Quad-copter Goes Farming

Six full batteries of flying, one minor crash and one forced landing later, here's my first real footage with the Hubsan.

My brother - driving the Claas Jaguar silage chopper - likes watching this sort of thing on YouTube, so, of course, we have to do the same thing for him.

I'm trying to concentrate on the action, but you do get a glimpse of the beautiful Manx scenery in the background.


The first filming session on Thursday was grey, misty and overcast. The footage is a little flat, but there was virtually zero wind and this gave me a chance to try and follow the tractors a bit. The Hubsan really is a bit of a handful, especially when stopping and starting. I'm finding that I have to do a lot in the editing, to cut out the jerky, bumpy bits at the beginning and end of each sequence. It's also, of course, about practice and smoothness. The controller is very sensitive and you actually need a very delicate touch to keep it a bit smoother.

Friday's rain meant that they were still at work chopping and carting on Saturday morning. By the time I arrived on site, they were just about to start the last field so I unpacked quickly and started filming. This time the weather was much brighter, with the sun being full for most of the time. I actually ran all three batteries down completely - including the quad doing an emergency landing when called home at the end of battery three. No damage, just a brief hunt to see where it had landed.

I think I'm beginning to get the hang of the controls by the end. Because the field is on a slope - steep enough for the tractor to get stuck at the bottom when loaded - at times I'm doing all four directions on the controller at the same time. This means having to think about, for example, flying forward, up, moving left and rotating right, all at the same time. It's still a bit jerky and wobbly, but that's what cheap quads are like. I'm still not doing this enough to splash on a quad with a stabilized camera - well not just yet.

Thanks must go to the farmers and contractors for letting me film, managing to ignore the quad as it buzzed around them.

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Flying near Ramsey

Russell and I went out with the professional quadcopter this morning, to have a bit of a practice and get used to the camera and the settings. We got a couple of nice photos of the harbour and the swing bridge, but it needs a bit more practice before we'll be happy I think.

Afterwards, I sent my quad up for a quick flight from the promenade. Here's the result. It was a bit windy by this time, so the quad is always on an angle to fight against the breeze. I will just have to get a quad with a gimballed camera!



Here's a sample of one of the photos we took with the bigger drone. They look pretty good, but we do need to practice more.



Monday, 26 June 2017

Learning To Fly - A Quadcopter

I've edited together some bits from my first few flights with my new Hubsan H501S quadcopter.


Having used a couple of DJI drones, it does feel more like a toy than they do, but at little more than 200 pounds it is good fun and adding extras like batteries or antennas is cheap and rewarding. You do have to get some of the stuff direct from China, but Banggood.com and other similar sites are safe, reliable and delivery is pretty good.

I've upgraded the antennas on the controller and have a good range of more than 100m now. I've also bought a cheap FPV headset, but not really had much chance to try it for more than a couple of minutes. it also needs a better antenna, to keep up with the range of the antennas on the quad.

I guess I need much more practice and to get out and about with it a bit more. I want to do some videos of my brother working, and intend to use my action cameras as well to capture the full experience. I might just decide to get a DJI Spark and have a stabilized camera.

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Rambling about Rambling

For the first time in many years, I took a walk up to the summit of North Barrule HERE with Russell. We cheated a bit by walking up from the Guthrie Memorial, but we then walked down all the way back to the sea.

Here's the view from the summit looking north. We had hoped to be able to fly the drone from here, but it was a bit too windy to risk it. it was also, as you can see, very hazy and the cloud kept forming and clearing around us as we took a good look around.


The walk up wasn't too bad, but if anything, the return trip down the eastern shoulder of the hill was more demanding. I'm glad we didn't try and go up that way, as it is very steep and any accessible starting point is much lower down.

Here's another photo taken on the way down, looking towards Ramsey and the north. Russell liked the juxtaposition of the rocks in the foreground and the view into the distance. I've even tried running a Neutralhazer filter on this one in Photoshop, but even that can't pierce this much cloud.


We are hoping to go up again and it'd be great to get the drone out from that high up, to give a different perspective on the area.