The Drone Thread

Matt2000

An Unfortunate Discovery
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Well I threatened to make this thread when I finally got my drone so here it is. Still surprised we didn't have one years ago to keep track of @leviathan 's escapades.

With the offer of a reasonable discount I finally ordered a DJI Mini 3 Pro with the RC controller and Fly More kit. This was delivered yesterday along with a bunch of accessories to immediately make the drone more usable.

First was a 30W PD charger so I could charge the batteries, why DJI can't offer one with clip-on worldwide socket adapters is beyond me as everyone else seems to manage fine with that. This one was recommended by most and it was drawing 24W while charging the batteries, so that's close enough I suppose?

Second was a combination cover and sunshade for the RC controller. Sunlight is its worst enemy so having the shade should be a huge help, plus it protects the screen and allows the control sticks to be left on when the controller is stored. I was going to get tired of removing and refitting the control sticks very quickly and the thought of cross-threading those scares me. The design is a bit tacky and despite screwing into the controller the spine of it is not quite rigid enough, but it should do the job. I can maybe add reinforcement.
51HCKQpMKRL._AC_SL1500_.jpg
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Thirdly I got some standard glass screen protectors for the controller screen, a pack of six as that seemed to be the standard number for some reason. I doubt they get regularly broken. I got the obligatory speck of dust under the first one, I probably won't see it in use but I have five more anyway.

Finally I got a vinyl skin kit for the drone. I knew as soon as I saw this for sale that I was going to get one, anything that makes the drone easier to see in the sky or on the ground/in a tree will be helpful for a flying novice like me. I really wanted to go with green as the Mini 3 Pro already looks like a frog, but decided that green was a terrible idea because it would blend in with grass or foliage and instead I went for neon orange.

I got a kit made by Wrapgrade, a supposedly Japanese company I had never heard of before. I was only going to get the accent kit that's cheaper and covers less of the drone, however Amazon didn't have that kit in orange. Accent vs full kit:
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They only had one full kit in stock for most colours too, so I grabbed the orange before anyone else did. As you'd expect, fitting it is a fiddly affair. I'd like perfection but I'll settle for visible and OK from a few feet away.



Currently I've only applied the vinyl panels to the top and bottom of the drone, as I'm yet to decide what to do with the big side panels. I think I'm going to cut them in half and only apply the front half, so I can more easily identify which end of the drone is the front. I did apply vinyl panels to the sides near the gimbal, as that allowed me to fit the most important things of all, the googly eyes. The drone doesn't have side-facing object detection sensors, but the little guy can now see what's going on.



I've charged the three batteries and the controller, I just need to apply for (pay for) my operator ID from the CAA and purchase the DJI Care plan before activating it. Turns out I don't need to take/pass a theory exam before I can fly. I'd then like to try it at the weekend, although I haven't decided where that will be yet. Not sure if the current MicroSD cards I have will be up to the job of recording 4K60 at the moment, will have to see. They did with my GoPros I suppose but this may record at a higher bitrate.
 
I took Blinky the drone for its first flight today at Desborough airfield. Took it easy as it was quite breezy and I hadn't flown one before. Still very impressed with the shots I got.


View: https://youtu.be/0gI8v_mZ0ns
I used 50% of the battery on each flight, a little under the estimated runtime but I know it would've used extra power fighting against the wind.

The zoom function didn't work while I was flying, going to try and work out what that's about.
 
Yay, we have the same drone and controller!

I've taken the controller sticks on and off many times and I never thought it would be possible to cross-thread them. I keep putting them on and taking them off because I use the carrying bag that comes with the Fly More Kit. You need a bag to protect the drone and carry the accessories, but it would be nice if the bag was a bit bigger in every dimension. Everything is too tight in there.

I'm staying at the cottage over the weekend and I did some flying last night since there was no wind at all. I could hear it a long ways away, even at 120 meters which is the maximum allowed altitude. I guess the cottage neighbors heard it as well and wondered wtf it was. I've never heard it this way before.

It's nice to have everything integrated into the RC controller, but the lesser controller would give me the ability to use my 11" iPad. This doesn't. Using the app on your mobile device also means it's able to update FlySafe etc on the fly (no pun intended) while my controller needs wifi to do this.

It took me an embarrassingly long time to realize that when I'm reaching in between the propeller arms of the folded drone to pinch and pull the battery out, I'm bending the arms in a way they're not supposed to bend. For the longest time I thought I was bending on the pair of arms that's supposed to bend that way. Turns out I was not.

The MicroSD card is annoyingly difficult to eject. You need unclipped nails, or in my case, the plug from my USB-C card reader. You need to boot up the entire drone before it'll mount as a removable drive, so pulling photos straight from the drone is a bit of a pain in the proverbial. Hence the need to eject the card all the time.

My personal record is 3500 meters and some change, line of sight. It still boggles my mind that I'm sending a 249g piece of flimsy plastic that far. I made it back with maybe 20-25% battery left.

I would like to capture some film of myself out boating using the tracking feature, but I'm not sure how easy it would be to land on the moving target that is a boat on the water. The drone knows how to sit perfectly still in the sky and land on a perfectly still object. My boat however is none of those things.

Also, I'm sure you're adding more than 1 gram of vinyl wrap to that 249 gram drone of yours. You filthy criminal :ROFLMAO:
 
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Yay, we have the same drone and controller!

I've taken the controller sticks on and off many times and I never thought it would be possible to cross-thread them. I keep putting them on and taking them off because I use the carrying bag that comes with the Fly More Kit. You need a bag to protect the drone and carry the accessories, but it would be nice if the bag was a bit bigger in every dimension. Everything is too tight in there.
With the sticks on and this cover fitted I can still fit the drone, controller and three batteries (in the charger to keep them tidy and so I can easily see charge states) in the bag. The USB cables, spare props and screwdriver are in the top as you'd expect.



The batteries have to be removed to take the controller out or put it in, but you'd be doing that anyway when flying.

I will probably want something better, but this bag was really nice to carry around today on my longer-than-expected walk to find a spot that wasn't too windy. It lacks a normal handle though, which is weird when you just want to carry it normally. I'll probably buy something like this:

71JWGjtt1NL._AC_SL1500_.jpg


One of the controller cover reviews specifically points out that it fits in this case.

The microSD card is fiddly yes, same as it is in dashcams. I clip my nails short on a Sunday evening so they're as long as they're going to get over the weekend, generally that's when I'd fly the drone or would want to remove the cards from the drone, dashcams or GoPros.

I'll weigh the drone and see what the vinyl, eyes and stickers have added, maybe I'll have to put tiny capsules of helium inside it to counteract the extra weight. :LOL:

Edit: Oh yeah, and I saw that the zoom isn't available in 4K60.
 
My (regular) mini 3 sits in a spare park design field pouch that I still had around, since I don’t have fly more shenanigans or any other accessories. The only thing I do have is the official prop guard so I don’t have to think about it all too much when just shoving the thing in there. Currently sticks are always off the remote, but there would be room for a cover/guard still… but for nothing else. Bag is rather close to perfectly full like this. Both Items are pulled out so you can see them in the picture, it does still close just fine (folds at about 1cm from the little rubber strip up top, you can sort of see the crease in the Material if you know it’s there).
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Re SD card: errr… isn’t the slot on the pro spring loaded? I know mine is, and the card pops out far enough that I can pull it with zero fingernail lol. See picture above that’s how far it jumps out for me :dunno:
 
Re SD card: errr… isn’t the slot on the pro spring loaded? I know mine is, and the card pops out far enough that I can pull it with zero fingernail lol. See picture above that’s how far it jumps out for me :dunno:

Yes it is spring loaded, but you need to first push it in to make it pop out and it’s unnecessarily fiddly with short nails. I’ve resorted to pushing on it with the plug on my USB-C card reader, at an angle, because the male C plug is wider than the card slot as well. I guess I could carry a plastic spudger in the bag or something.
 
Ah huh, that’s weird indeed, because also the pushing the card in to pop it seems super easy in my case (even with super short nails and going 90° between cars and nail - just tried it again I don’t even need the nail, actual fleshy fingertip is enough). Can’t possibly be different from pro to non pro, right? I guess half a mm of difference would already be huge in terms of usability, but still … 😵‍💫
Edit: while I do have super short nails I also have fairly thin fingers (and thus tips) so that may help quite a bit.
 
Ah huh, that’s weird indeed, because also the pushing the card in to pop it seems super easy in my case (even with super short nails and going 90° between cars and nail - just tried it again I don’t even need the nail, actual fleshy fingertip is enough). Can’t possibly be different from pro to non pro, right? I guess half a mm of difference would already be huge in terms of usability, but still … 😵‍💫
Edit: while I do have super short nails I also have fairly thin fingers (and thus tips) so that may help quite a bit.

It's been about a week since I last cut my nails (what a topic of conversation this discussion is turning into) and while I can just about manage to eject the card using a nail, it's certainly totally impossible with the fingertip only. Not sure I could do it with soft nails either, like after a bath or similar. Or with freshly cut nails. Guess the Pro is designed a bit different.
 
I went out to try the tracking features today, pretty impressive! Another feature that doesn't work in 4K60 though, sadly.

The first shot is the drone just hovering as I was starting out of shot, I probably needed to get it to lock on to a bit of the scenery to keep it more stable.


View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K-gL5DzhI4I
 
Really cool stuff. No need for a dashcam anymore when you have a drone cam following you giving a perfect overview. How fast can this drone fly?
 
How fast can this drone fly?
The specs claim 16m/s with no wind, which is almost 60km/h! I don't intend to try that.
 
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I almost crashed mine into the sea when I dived under a bridge in S mode. The altimeter went down to negative numbers before I pulled up. Many poos came out of my anii. And yes I've got 4k60 footage of it. :ROFLMAO: Not of my anii but of the dive.
 
The tutorial/review videos I watched basically pointed out the sport mode and said 'don't use it'. I ain't racing so who am I to argue? :p

I'm pretty confident in how robust the little drone is, based on the video below, but have no desire to test it.

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=elYmEFXya6w
Edit: Oh yeah, I forgot:


I was expecting it to be over but apparently not. I promise I didn't cheat and that it was tared to zero properly.
 
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So what's a good photo (and video) management solution?

I don't own a normal camera. I'm all Apple, I take all my daily photos with my phone and everything lives in iCloud Photos. But I'd like to keep my drone content separate, partly because I'm trying to get by with the 200GB iCloud storage tier. If I could start over and use Apple Photos all over again I would, because it's exactly what I want. But it's already full of my life going back almost two decades.

Affinity needs to make a competitor to Lightroom, something that I can pay for once and then use for many years to come.

https://www.darktable.org/ seem to be an option, I will need to check that out later.
 
I was sitting on the porch today putting the control sticks on. I just realized that for me, dropping a control stick under the porch is a lot more likely than cross-threading them, something @Matt2000 was worried about. Crawling under the porch is not my idea of a good time.
 
I was sitting on the porch today putting the control sticks on. I just realized that for me, dropping a control stick under the porch is a lot more likely than cross-threading them, something @Matt2000 was worried about. Crawling under the porch is not my idea of a good time.
I 100% recommend that cover as a solution to leave the sticks on and protect the screen. Two fewer things to worry about.

Haven't flown mine for a while, hoping I get the chance soon. I intended to fly it on my Rudetrip last week but the places I was stopping were either near MOD airspace or were over National Trust beaches where they apparently get shitty about people flying. I didn't fancy having my trip ruined by a busybody from either.
 
I intended to fly it on my Rudetrip last week but the places I was stopping were either near MOD airspace or were over National Trust beaches where they apparently get shitty about people flying. I didn't fancy having my trip ruined by a busybody from either.

I'm at the cottage at the moment and while the scenery is awesome, you have to be careful because it's the season and when you've got your own private place, swimwear is optional. I wouldn't like it either if my tackle got caught on 4K60.
 
Speaking of cross-threading, I just swapped all my propellers which meant eight teeiny tiny screws. A couple of them went in really easily and the rest required lots of torque, which I'm hoping is because they had more threadlock on them and not because I ruined the threads in the motors. And of course Phillips screw heads are prone to stripping if you don't do it right the first time.
 
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