Tell me what pains you about drones/UAVs. (VENT AT ME)

I've been fascinated by drones for quite some time, but have recently had the opportunity to join a university engineering team and we're looking to develop some sort of drone component. We've had a few great ideas so far, but we want to do some more research by asking actual thought leaders and seasoned hobbyists. 

I want to hear what really pains you about drones. What would make your life easier? How can we build something to fix your problems? Also, I'm very open to having a Skype call!

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  • CMOS Cameras suck. We need a 1080p or 4k WDR camera with a global shutter the size of a mobius and for $50. 

    FPV POD (250 Mini Quads) Racing is hampered by lousy video.

    If you stick to legal 5.8g frequencies you can only race 4 people at once. Using Boscams E band you can add two more racers.

    1.2g video only has a few channels available but so far they been wiping out my 2.4g RC radio so I can't say how they might work for racing.

    There isn't much hope for a 5.8g digital video solution due to video lag. 200ms lag will put you into a tree or branch that pops up suddenly. Video quality and resolution is the limiting factor right now in FPV proximity racing. 

  • I'd like to see more data radio options. For example the DJI lightbridge is a cheap solution to having telemetry, rc control, and video, all in one radio. Sure someone can hook up a ubiquiti radio and do the exact same thing for a fraction of the price, but it's certainly not an off-the-shelf product.

    I want to minimize the number of antennae on my aircrafts. I used to fly with 3 (RC, Telemetry, Video), but now use 2 by using a PC joystick with APM Mission Planner. I eventually want just 1 for all 3.

  • The pain:
    Seeing people putting complicated things and then crash without knowing the basic of flights.  It hurts my heart seeing my buddies give up half way into drone technology.  The success of drone flight is not all about complexity of the technology, but the simplicity in the design and the ability to harness nature energy resources (wind).

    Keep the design simple. Don't think too hard.  You'll be surprise even the most simplest build can produce greater productivity, usability and enjoyment of flying drone. Think out of the box. I flew bunch of drones, the further i gain experience the simpler and cheaper it gets, it never fail me going KISS.

    ...if you want to know more you know where to find me. ;)

    • very true the first design cost me over 400$ second twice as advanced 200$ obviously i am not talking about the cost of tx and charger. Every time i build a new quad/plane it get ether cheaper or more advanced for same price and by advanced i mean longer flight times or longer range or a more efficient design with less things to break.

  • The lack of a capable and robust autopilot system that fits inside my aircraft.

  • I think the transmitter (remote control) should be a transceiver. It should have the 4 channels (rudder elevator aileron throttle) still as analog, but everything else digital, and also to get feedback from the multicopter. For example, to send back battery level, current GPS position, signal strengh, etc... this way when the battery is low, you don't have to listen for the beep on the multicomputer, it can beep on your remote, and in case of a crash, you have the last GPS position. This way you don't need FPV with OSD just for getting that information. And for digital transmission; you can update your return to home GPS position, while you move around (this should be very usefull if you are in a car or boat). And what I want most; more flexibility on the buttons! right now each button takes one channel, and you run out channels way too quick! if we had one channel as digital, you can map ALL buttons on that channel, you simply can send information something like "button 1 ON", when you flip the button... of course there is a longer delay doing that, but only a few milliseconds, and that is fine for ON/OFF type of buttons.


    I also think this is relatively easy to do for your project Robert

    • I second this notion: I want a radio that can send a digital FHSS signal, allows for fully-configurable switches/knobs/joysticks/inputs (hence the digital portion), and is set up as a transceiver/telemetry system.  It would be able to handle video AND data, but you could swap out Rx/Tx modulals depending on what you need (short-range guys can use 5.8 and 2.4, then they can swap in their low-frequency/long-range for those long fixed-wing flights).  If we can get all aircraft systems speaking a similar language with minimal bulky analog-to-digital converters, we open the door to a lot of creative growth.  I'm not saying that there isn't a ton of creativity now, but the more streamlined a system becomes, the more time we can spend in the air and off the forums.

      I also really like the earlier mention of integrating ADS-B into our operations, but assuming we're all flying below 400'AGL and away from restricted airspace, the only folks who MIGHT find utility in our integration of ADS-B would be the general aviation guys who are typically boppin' around in the Class-G and occasional Class-E airspace.  That said (and this is what really bugs me about most full-scale aircraft), a large percentage of the general aviation community operating in the 400AGL neighborhood do not have Terrain Awareness Systems, aka Radar Altimeters, with which to determine if they are actually at, above, or below a specific AGL altitude.  They set their barometric altimeter to field elevation (then take-off), pick up corrections along the way, and (hopefully) take a peek at their chart to determine the altitude changes they'll need to make along the way.  When a local aircraft flies by my neighborhood ( live on the side of a large hill in Seattle, Washingtion) while maintaining a flight path along the ridge, they have no way of determining if they're at 300'AGL or 500'AGL, other than "I've been flying for 20 years and I know the difference."  So while I love the idea of adding ADS-B capability to our drones/UAVs/sUAS's/Model Aircraft, I'm not sure that the effort and cost would necessarily net us an improvement in Safety or a reduction of the Accident/Incident rate (at this moment in time).

      I'd rather see public drone exhibitions and seminars for the public (let people fly them, attempt FPV in a closed environment, try to do "spying" with a GoPro, etc) so that we can foster an environment that emphasizes responsible building and flying of these model aircraft instead of having to battle public backlash and scrutiny for the folks who build/fly foolishly. 

      • ADSB-IN on our GCS with say a $20 SDR would make things a lot safer.  That way you can know a plane is coming into your airspace long before you see it.  That way you'll have plenty of time to get out of the way.

  • I think the most wanted thing right now would be a dedicated gimbal/camera that is of similar quality to the Sony nex 7 or equivalent. The camera could be stripped bare bones and repackaged to reduce weight and an HD down-link could be added. The gimbal could be tuned and precision balanced to the weight of the camera module and the entire thing could be made quite compact. This is what the market is (or at least I am :) ) begging for!

    • I second this. Using consumer cameras for mapping is less efficient than one that is made for mapping. As far as I know, none of these systems are sold separately, and they are all ridiculously expensive. I was quoted $6k for a gimbal from one company (their whole system with Photoscan was $15k...)

      We need sensors that are between industrial and consumer - low-cost, low-weight and made for SUAS sensors.

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Aug 25