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AQUISITION Everything you ever needed to know about FLYING A A DRONE FLYING DRONE by Jon Pratchett L ast month we went over some of the legal issues with flying unmanned aircraft in the UK, especially if you attach a video camera to them and charge for your services as an aerial videographer. This month, let’s look at what you need to get started kit wise in this business. First of all, I would like to point out that this is a suggested start-up solution, and there are literally thousands of options of aircraft, cameras and accessories to choose from. However I am going to concentrate this article on putting together a good start-up system that will give amazing results, yet be easy to fl y and importantly not so expensive to repair when you crash, and you WILL crash. First and foremost is the aircraft, what should we look at for starting out in this business. Well as tempting as it is to say “I’m going to get a machine I can stick my Red Epic in and shoot some movie quality footage” I would put it to you, that this may not be the wisest of choices. Remember you WILL crash, and a machine that can carry a Red Epic is an expensive piece of kit, not to mention that when you do crash you will be crashing a very heavy piece of large fl ying machinery to the ground on top of your rather nice and VERY expensive Red Epic. Let’s be clear here, the camera of choice to get VERY good footage and know that it will survive a crash is the GoPro. Anything larger and you will have to start thinking of bigger, more expensive fl ying machines. So GoPro it is, and now with the new Hero 4 Black available with 30fps 4k, we should get even better shots out of these amazing little cameras. So what shall we use to carry the camera, Well we have a number of choices. A ready to fl y model from the likes of DJI and Walkera or do we build it ourselves? There are a lot of advantages to building an aircraft ourselves, one of the main ones being the ease of fi xing when you crash it. However to start with, a ready to fl y aircraft would be a better choice. Now to be honest, there are other options out there for RTF aircraft but DJI have in my opinion the best and that’s the Phantom 2. This little beauty can carry a GoPro with ease, is well put together, and is very easy to fl y. The reason it’s easy to fl y is because the fl ight controller has a GPS receiver built in and can compensate for momentum and wind in order to keep the aircraft in a fi xed position. There are a number of variations, some with built in camera systems but the one I would recommend is the standard Phantom 2 for two reasons: You can fix a GoPro to it, and no DJI camera is as good as that in my opinion. The control is 2.4 GHz as opposed to 5.8 GHz. The standard frequency for controlling remote aircraft these days is 2.4 GHz, if you want to upgrade your transmitter you need a 2.4 GHz aircraft. Also the 5.8 GHz frequency is what we use in the UK to send a video signal down to a screen so we can see what our camera is viewing. I understand why DJI fl ipped the two frequencies around for the other version of the phantom, but you will not be able to upgrade, or fl y those aircraft around any other remote control aircraft as there will be BIG issues of interference. Part 2 So we have a nice DJI Phantom 2, we stick our GoPro in the housing underneath and set off to shoot some amazing footage. All excited we offl oad the memory card to our computer to look at it and a wave of massive disappointment overcomes you. “What!! it’s all shaky and the image is like jelly!!” you say to yourself. And the reason being? Well you need a gimbal, you need your camera to be detached from the vibration and movement of the aircraft in order to give you a stable, smooth image. Gimbal’s work by compensating for the movement of the aircraft as it fl ies. So if the aircraft tips forward in order to fl y forwards the gimbal will tilt the camera up just the right amount to compensate for the aircrafts nose moving down. This keeps the camera perfectly level. With a three axis gimbal attached it can do this for the left- right, up-down and rotation of the aircraft. The results are extraordinary, you suddenly get a smooth video with little jello. There are a number of gimbals you can get for the Phantom. The cheaper ones have the ability to work brilliantly, however they need setting up and fi ne tuning to get the best out of them. The best one for the Phantom is the Zenmuse Gimbal that DJI themselves can provide. This is 58 | KITPLUS - THE TV-BAY MAGAZINE: ISSUE 94 OCTOBER 2014 TV-BAY094OCT14 v118.indd 58 07/10/2014 15:42