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The Drones that loved me...


It all started a few years ago when I bought the Mota JetJat Nano-C Micro Drone with Camera.You can get it for $50, but I didn’t know. So, I got it on sale from some smooth talking website for $80. It had one motor that turned more slowly than the rest. So, it would always fly off in some direction and crash. It had no GPS or altitude hold. If you mustered extreme concentration, and were lucky, you could make it fly for a few seconds. It’s kind of like balancing a pencil upright on the tip of your finger. It would have cost another $80 to send it out and get it fixed so it’s resting at the bottom of a drawer somewhere. But, it inspired my imagination, and I was hooked. Next came the Wingsland S6. I got a deal and picked it up for $130. They were selling these for over $300. It had altitude hold and GPS. You had to control the Wingsland S6 with your phone. The controls were sluggish. It had no gimbal. It was small and squat, so it could really take a beating. The camera quality was excellent. It’s downfall was that the battery was designed wrong so you only got two minutes of flight time. It was nice because it easily fit in your pocket. If they had given it a decent battery, everyone would have had one. At the end of the day, it made a beautiful video. You could only have used it if there was a lot of time because of the slow controls. It too graces one of my drawers. After that came the toy drone. It was the Red Heron U49C. Every drone manufacturer needs to take a lesson from the guys who made this indestructible drone. The good: You can’t break this drone, because it is made of cheap lightweight superbendy plastic. This thing can crash from any height. No worries. DJI needs to make their landing gear and some body guards out of this silly putty. I took this drone on a trip to Michigan and a heavy box had rolled over on it for a couple days. It was unrecognizable. I put it on my floor in my bedroom for a few weeks. It slowly bent itself back into the proper shape and suffered no negative effects. It is fun to fly. It is possible to make a low quality but spiritually positive video for YouTube with this thing. It has a microphone. You can’t hear anything but the motors when it flies. If you wanted to spy on someone, this is your drone. It’s big and red, so no one would suspect that it was a spy drone. But all you have to do is crash it or land it (I’ve never managed to actually land this thing) near someone having a conversation, and you will have a recording of whatever they say. It has 15 minutes of flight time. It’s cheap. Usually it’s between $50 and $150. It comes with two batteries. The bad: There has to be no wind at all to fly this thing. It weighs nothing and has a lot of exposed surface. So, it tries to blow away on the slightest of breezes. It’s almost impossible to land, but hey that doesn’t matter. It has no GPS or altitude hold, so you must be the flight computer. The video is pixelated and it doesn’t know what to do with the sun if it gets in the shot. The sun gets a hole in it and a teabag string. It has no gimbal. The controller is nice, but it only gets about 300 feet of range. I actually still fly this sometimes when I need to laugh. Here is where I bought the green and black froglike Hubsan X4 (H107C) 4 Channel 2.4GHz RC Quad Copter with Camera - Green/Black. These are about $30. I did two things with this quadcopter. I used it to chop up one of my fingers. That was my fault. I didn’t think it was loaded. I flew it once. You have to turn on the camera using tiny buttons on the drone before you fly it. It has no altitude hold or GPS. Unlike the Heron this is hard to control. I kept bouncing it off the parking lot like it was a super bouncy little rubber ball. This was unintentional. I did get it to go up pretty high. I didn’t lose it. In the end the video quality wasn’t good. Also, it had no gimbal. I packed it up and gave it to a coworker as a gift. That’s what this is. It’s a stocking stuffer. Probably best to give some Band-Aids too. This was the game changing moment. I decided to quit wasting money on cheap drones. But, I was still a cheap person. The Mavic Pro 2 was on the horizon. I managed to get a refurbished Mavic Pro for $800. This done had some problems when I first got it. There’s a lot about it that makes me mad. For instance, it has a camera that you need to set settings on and then focus it. What is this? 1865? It’s hard enough to fly a drone. Whoever thought of giving it a manual camera was insane. The outside edges of my shots weren’t as crispy as the middle. I was able to correct that enough with the settings that it no longer bothered me too much. But, often I would forget to focus and ended up with blurry video. Fortunately that’s a horrible enough problem that your brain becomes conscious of it after only a few episodes. Then no matter how much of a space cadet you are, your fear will kick in and make you deal with it automatically. The thing had something more sinister wrong with it though. The stats said this thing could fly three miles. I was only getting about 300 feet without the weak signal warning. So, I packed up the controller and sent it to Drone Nerds for an antenna upgrade. I bought the mammoth antenna and some arm slings so I could lift the controller. Also, I downloaded a hacked version of the go app which automatically doubled the power output of my signal. Between these two adjustments, I was now getting about two miles. Two and a half in the country. That’s good enough since it’s bvlos anyway. One thing about the Pro is I don’t have any fly aways. If I lose signal, It has always returned home.  I read the horror stories from the guys with the Mavic Pro 2s. They crash and arms break. They crash in water. They have fly aways. My camera isn’t as good as the one on a 2 Pro. But my drone flies well over water. I’ve crashed it at speed into tree trunks. I’ve crashed it into tree trunks at speed and had it fall to the ground 30 feet. Once the gimbal came apart, but all the parts were still connected. I snapped it back together and it still works as intended. There has never been a broken arm. If there had been a passenger on that thing in some of my crashes he’d be a goner for sure. That thing is tough enough. But it could still use some bendy plastic from the Heron just in case. One time I flew it into a guy wire about ¾ inch thick. It landed normally even though it only had stubs for some of the propellers. I use this drone whenever I need distance. After this I bought two SJRC F11 4K 5G WIFI FPV GPS with 4K HD. The SJRCs are inexpensive. They are $200 from Amazon. But, I bought them from a discount outlet from China directly for $150 each. These drones are similar in size and style to the Mavic. They don’t have 3 axis gimbals. I don’t think they even have 2 axis gimbals. At the time I bought mine they were talking about putting out a version with a better camera. It sure needs that. It claims to be 4k. But, I don’t think it’s even less than that. In order to keep the video from pixelating, you have to make it half the size you would normally make a video. Also, this drone leans when it flies in some direction, and it shows on the video. This drone gets pushed backwards in a 15mph wind. So, it has to be a calm day to fly it. It is not as tough as a Mavic. I broke an arm with an 8 foot fall onto grass. So, one of my arms is epoxied on. But, that is probably now the strongest part. I used good epoxy. The propellers are not carbon fiber. So they are weaker than the Mavic. So, what is good about this drone? I gave one to a hot chick for her birthday and she got excited. So, that was good. It has good range from the controller. On a fairly calm day it flies well and responds to controls well. It hovers well. You don’t have to be afraid to let go of the controller and look away. It will still be there when you get back to it. It has 20 minutes of flight time. Extra batteries do not cost too much. So this is a good drone to learn to fly drones with. Sadly, with it’s poor video quality I don’t fly this bird. I would say it’s really not a bad drone. Just don’t try to fly it without calibrating the compass or you’ll poke your eye out. Lastly, I had been one of the early guys on the waiting list for the Skydio 2. I got mine in batch 1. This is everything drones were meant to be. It’s not a drone that can go very far from its controller. So, you’ll still need a Mavic for the distancy stuff. But with this drone and the Mavic, that’s all you’ll need. It has an automatic camera. Hallelujah! It takes perfect video. It doesn’t crash. It does amazing things to keep you in frame. Flying the way you wouldn’t dare. It follows a thing called a beacon so you don’t have to fly it manually. But, you can buy an optional controller if you do want to fly it manually. It has cameras all the way around it. It has a brain and intelligence. That’s why it flies itself. If you try to fly it into a wall, it won’t let you. There are a few guys with videos that have crashed this drone. But most of these crashes were caused by unsafe conditions. You can’t fly it through a dark tunnel, or around thin wires or too close to dusk or too soon after sunrise. It doesn’t handle flying over water too well. It can’t see little branches. It can’t avoid moving objects. To get around these limitations you must fly it higher than any moving objects it will encounter. You should fly it under bright and direct light. Also, I’ve noticed when you first are getting it oriented with the beacon it has a time where it is trying to figure out where is the beacon and where it should be. It seems to be confused during this time. I have always been careful with it. And it has given me some great video. It is much braver than I am. That’s what makes its videos so breathtaking. It moves about quickly. From the few guys that made this thing crash I noticed it’s not tough like a Mavic or a Heron. If it crashes it will be in fifty pieces. It’s $1,000 for this drone. There is one video on the net where it hit a plant while following a mountain biker. It crashed and broke an arm. I did not think it was operator error. But, it’s only one time and nothing is completely perfect. It’s very nice to get stunning video from a drone and to have to do nothing to get it. So, you decide. That’s where I’m at now. The future’s so bright, I gotta wear shades. You can check out my vids on my YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/user/christianlula/videos

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