It was a fair certainty that Chris Anderson couldn't make it on August 23 to the local radio club and discuss the state of the art of DIY drone technology. On the other hand, he would have raised many smiles at the thought of attending the Anderson Radio Club monthly meeting! My best effort was applied though and everyone in attendence left with more knowledge than they arrived with.
My mostly home-brew AC Quad definitely peaked everyone's interest. Very few were aware of the capabilities of these aircraft and once a 3D lock was achieved by the GPS board, they were very impressed with Mission Planner showing exactly where the aircraft was located. I then explained that the APM2 and related software gave the vehicle the ability to execute a flight plan and if there were cameras or other instruments on board, they could be employed at the various waypoints entered in the mission plan.
The audience was diverse and was made up of a graduate student in CompSci (at Clemson - he was very interested in the code), retired College Professors, former servicemen, business owners, and others I have know for years in the local community. As nearly all were Amatuer Radio operators, I tied community service use of the AC Quad into our ham work by suggesting we could provide eyes in the sky in areas we often go such as disaster stricken locations. With professional relief agencies usually overwhelmed, we could use FPV to look over into neighborhoods with blocked access due to fallen trees and other storm debris. Another idea was to use the Quad to lay out the pull lines/cables we often use to drape over trees for wire antennas. How about a small radio repeater that we could deploy onto the top of a high building as a temporary communication node? We could drop FRS radios or other communications devices into areas where cell and land line communications were down. The lists will grow as others realize what can be done with this technology.
I discussed the current legalities of the technology and how the FAA is collecting information about their mandate to decide what will be done about non-hobby/volunteer uses of the technology. A tour of DIYDrones.com was provided and I am certain that hits to the site from this area of the county went up for the next 12 hours or so.
Also discussed, as the display on the screen shows, is the lack of 6M Amateur band radio gear for RC. There is a minor ripple in the ocean by the MS2K folk employing classic old RC TX cases and gimbals with new electronics. Alas though, there is little motiviation to use that segment of the spectrum anymore with the overwhelming advances in Spread Spectrum radio gear at 2.5GHz.
The presentation was wrapped up with the short video my friend John helped me edit. HERE is the link.