2.1 Technical Specs
Getting good shots starts with knowing what the tools are capable of. In this lesson you'll learn about the technical limitations of small and medium drones.
1.Introduction2 lessons, 06:29
2.Equipment and Setup2 lessons, 09:33
3.Cinematography1 lesson, 04:46
4.Outdoor Factors2 lessons, 07:29
5.Camera Setup2 lessons, 12:46
6.Maintenance and Preparation2 lessons, 11:23
7.Legalities2 lessons, 07:30
8.Drone Services1 lesson, 02:36
9.Conclusion1 lesson, 02:05
2.1 Technical Specs
In this lesson, we're going to learn some general information about drones, focusing on their technical specs and limitations which is gonna help us greatly when planning for a shoot and how to execute the shots we need. I've had a couple of drones for about two years now and I can tell you before I purchased them, I had little to no experience with RC aircraft. So I'll explain some of the things I learned when I first got introduced to drones. I'm primarily gonna be focusing on the DGI PHANTOM 3, the PHANTOM 2 with the H3 and 3D Gimbull, and the INSPIRE 1. Since I would expect these three models to be the most popular among drone users, I'm gonna compare and contrast a lot of differences between them. I'll start off with one of the most asked drone questions which is what is the flight time per battery? This is roughly going to be about 10 to 14 minutes. Most drones claim more time on their specs from about 20 to 23 minutes. However this is if you drain the battery completely and that isn't recommended for most drone flights. It's a pretty common practice to begin to land your drone with about 40 to 35% of battery left in the LiPo batteries. This helps prolong your life and also if you can't land immediately, you've got a little bit extra juice just in case you need to stay up in the air. And this brings up my next point about batteries, they have a shelf life. They'll eventually bloat up and expire. That's not saying your drone is just gonna fall from the sky, but after repeated use, batteries tend to inflate. And once they reach a certain level, it's recommended that you dispose of them properly because they can pose a fire hazard and even explode. And if your battery ever inflates to the point where it won't fit in your drone or if you see any fluid leaking from it, dispose of the battery immediately. Flying till the battery's close to zero every flight, or banging the batteries around will cause them to inflate quicker. So don't just leave them rolling around the trunk of your car. Secure them in a case, and avoid leaving them in a hot environment, or in direct sunlight. With proper maintenance, it actually does recommend draining the battery fully about every 15 flights. If you store the batteries about 50% charged, you can expect the batteries to last about one to two years or roughly 200 flights. Some can last longer, others not, they retail for about $100 to $200 a piece, so that's just something to keep in mind. Next is a first person view transmitter type, also know as FPV. I knew nothing of these when I was first interested in drones and it's often a cost that most people don't factor in. Depending on which drone you choose, you have different methods of observing the footage from your controller. There are two main types, digital antenna and WIFI signal. Digital antenna is definitely the less superior of the two and simply gonna be used with a Phantom 2 and a GoPro. In my opinion, this method of observation is getting outdated quickly, but is by far the cheapest way to view your footage live if you need to view the film from a GoPro camera. The major disadvantages with this setup would be the SD signal. This usually has quite a bit of static, but it's still quite manageable. The range is also quite short, typically cutting out around 400 to 600 meters away. One advantage is they're simple to use once they're installed, you just turn them on and go. And they also have a matte screen which is a bit easier to see in the bright daylight. These systems are third party FPV kits that you can buy and install yourself, or buy pre-installed on a phantom two, they typically run about $500 to $600. A much better solution is the Wi-Fi transmitter types, these are on the DGI phantom three and the DGI inspire one. These work through a wireless signal sent from the drone to a smart phone or tablet on your controller. This signal is typically much stronger. It's HD with a much longer range, cutting out around 500 to 2,000 meters away depending on the surrounding terrain. It works through the DJI Pilot app which also gives you a real time feedback of the status of your drone and you can selectively record or take photos, as opposed to the Phantom 2, which you pretty much have to record the entire flight. The older DJI Vision Plus works through a similar app, and the camera on the Vision Plus is limiting in my opinion, which isn't up to par with the GoPro or the new Phantom 3. Also, just as a side note, it's not recommended to use the GoPro WiFi app on your phone as an FPV unit, because it's been claimed that the signal can interfere with the controller and cause malfunctions. I've heard pros and cons of its use from both sides, however DGI doesn't recommend it, and it could void your warranty if you're in an accident while you're using the GoPro Wi-Fi app. When it comes to distance and elevation limits on your drone, typically your FPV transmitter is gonna cut out before your radio signal does. This is both good and bad, it's good because once the signal starts cutting out this can kinda serve as a warning that you wanna come back and get into range. It's bad if it cuts off completely because then you're flying blind. Unless you can see your drone, it's gonna be a little bit more difficult to navigate back into range. Not to worry though because this brings up my next topic of GPS Failsafe systems. All the drones I mentioned throughout this course are equipped with GPS Failsafe systems. And I believe this is going to be one of the functions that's going to mandatory on all the drones in the future. With the GPS failsafe system, the drone will automatically fly back to where they originally took off from, guided by their built in GPS. This will typically take a drone that may have flown out of range back into range, so the pilot can regain control. Some drones even have a return to home button that can be pressed, bringing the drone back automatically, even if it's still in view. These functions help prevent what are called fly-aways, in which case a drone might drift out of range, and then eventually crash down. DGI and FAA both recommend limiting your flight height to about 400 feet, and limiting your drone range to 400 meters, or about 1200 feet, that's about a quarter mile away. Their main recommendation is just keep it with in eye sight. So if you can see it your safe. In the next lesson we are going to go over some of the most common drone cameras. Russel will give you some accessories in travel gear that will be essential for your drone projects.