Groans of the Unflown Drone

drone artI hadn’t piloted the drone in a while, and knowing that I planned to take it out Sunday down to the farm my parents used to own, I got it out on Saturday  for a test flight in the back yard.  I charged up the batteries and hooked up the controller to my phone so I could watch the camera as it was recording.  After a quick refresher course on the instructions, I took it out to the back yard, turned on the WiFi receiver, the controller and the drone itself. I did the GPS calibration routine so it would know exactly where to “come home” to if it lost the connection to the controller for some reason.  

With that all done, I was ready to fly.  I put the controls into the start position and nothing happened.  I turned everything off and back on and tried again. Nothing.  I took it back into the house, into my office and swapped out the main battery and thought, well, I’ll see if the props will start in the office without taking off.  So, I put the throttle controller into Start position and it started right up.  It seemed to be revving up pretty fast so I put the control sticks into the Off position, or what I remembered as being the Off position.  It kept roaring and appeared to start taking off.  I quickly put my foot onto the top of the drone to hold it to the floor.  My shoe stopped one of the props as I fiddled with the controller to try to get it to power down. Nothing!  VROOOM!  

My other foot went on top to help keep it down. Another prop fluttered and comes to a stop so I could reach in and hit the switch on the main battery on the drone.  I’d rather my tennis shoes stop the props than my hands.  One I had two props stopped I could turn it off.  There was no smoke but it sure smelled bad.  My faithful companion, Trixie, had abandoned me once the drone started up.  During the 20 or 30 seconds all this took place, which seemed like an hour, my shoelace had gotten wrapped around one of the props.  My wife comes running in wondering what’s going on.  She said I looked like I was having a seizure.

After I got everything all settled and my shoe laces untangled from the flying machine, I called it a day.  If it wasn’t going to fly right I figured I’d do it at the farm where there was plenty of room. I didn’t want it to fly into one of my neighbors’ windows or onto the road somewhere and scare the crap out of some old lady.  I did a review of the instructions and I had my start and stop directions confused.  Also, I think the “revving” noise was just the normal noise, but it seemed louder because it was inside the house.

When we got to the farm Sunday, I got it out and set it all up and then realized I had forgot to bring my cell phone.  The cell phone controls the camera on and off and allows you to see what you’re filming.  Fortunately, my wife had her phone and, also fortunately, I was able to get a signal down in the boonies so I could download the app for the drone.  So after a few more minutes I was finally ready to fly.  It flew exactly like it was supposed to.  Everything worked as expected.  And I shot the video posted here.

Guy Rescues His Old Drone With His New Drone

Two months ago, Harrison Howes’ roommate drunkenly lost his small drone on a neighbor’s roof. Two months later, after upgrading to a larger drone, he attempted a rescue of the smaller drone using hooks made from coat hangers.
Harrison says access to the roof wasn’t possible and that the drone rescued was a Syma X5C. His new drone (the hero) is a DJI Phantom 3 Professional.


Thanks Cari

Flying over flooded Grafton IL


We’ve had some moderate to severe flooding in the Midwest, depending on where you are.  Saturday afternoon a friend and I took a drive up to Grafton IL, which is across the Mississippi River and a little north of St. Louis.  The small but interesting town sits on the bank of the Mississippi River just south of where the Illinois River dumps into the Mississippi.  Grafton is home to some  interesting shops, eateries and wineries.  Grafton is one of the first towns to flood in our area as it sits so close and low along the river.

The Great River Road takes you from beautiful Alton IL (home of Fast Eddie’s Bon Air) on a relaxing 20 to 30 minute ride along the Mighty Mississippi to Grafton.  We stopped at the corner of Highway 100 and Market Street and piloted the drone on two flights over the area.  Of course I forgot to push the record button on the first flight, so we had no footage.  I did a little better on the second flight as seen above.


Distant Storms

We had some awesome clouds over the St. Louis area on Saturday.  Rain storms rolled through off and on all day.  I piloted the drone up for a view of the approaching rain.

We were hit with a fairly steady downpour about a half hour after this flight.  You can see how good the video stabilization is when you notice the prop guards, hence the drone,  moving around quite a bit in the breeze and yet it still has a pretty steady picture.