David Anders's Posts (13)

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Clip the wings of drone cowboys?


As reported in the Sydney Morning Herald today:

"The chief executive of the US consumer drone maker 3D Robotics wants the cowboys who have tarnished the name of the hobby to have their wings clipped.

Chris Anderson, the co-founder and chief executive of the Bay Area-based start-up, has even coined a term for the phenomenon: "mass jackassery".

"[It's] bad and it's going to get worse. And if we don't do something about it, no one's been killed yet, but someone's going to do something really stupid," he told Fairfax Media.

Full story here.

Hard not to agree, especially after the recent US Open saga.  Whilst the media down here appears to be primarily concerned about privacy, I'm sure we have all seen pilots acting irresponsibly.

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Woman snapped sunbaking by real estate drone


In one hot off the press...

A BOARD showing a G-string-clad woman has been removed after she became the accidental attraction in a real estate advertising campaign for a house sale in Victoria, Australia.

An ambitious agent enlisted a drone to take an aerial photograph of the property, which includes a sweeping image of the beach.

“I heard a noise and then I saw this odd thing flying around and thought it was a kid’s toy. It hovered around and luckily I was face down at the time,” Ms Lingard said.

But Steve Walsh of Eview real estate defended the use of drones for aerial photography and says he did not realise Ms Lingard had ended up on the sale board.

“It’s something that Google does and people use that everyday,” Mr Walsh said.

More here: http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/victoria/mt-martha-woman-snapped-sunbaking-in-gstring-by-real-estate-drone/story-fni0fit3-1227124892062?nk=30874ac57b053490f43c37594fa7ef17

Mod notes: Privacy concerns aside, this touches on the use of drones by uncertified operators and flouting the regulations that genuine operators must abide by.  In all the reporting on the incident, none of the media has focused on this.  Also, this follows on from a recent television program that flouted the rules and let one of the presenters fly in an area where it shouldn't have happened.  CASA are investigating this as well, with one could only imagine, some serious repercussions for the operator.

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Do drones pose a threat to our privacy, or are they just the fruits of innovative technology with benefits for governments and industry?

A mini inquiry at Parliament House in Canberra on Friday will try to answer the question.The drone "roundtable" inquiry by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs follows the release of the 2012-13 annual report from the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner last year.

The Civil Aviation Safety Authority, Airservices Australia, CSIRO, the Australian Privacy Commissioner, Australian Federal Police, Australian Privacy Foundation, drone company Parrot, the Australian Law Reform Commission and others are among the invited parties asked to attend on Friday.

Here for the full story:


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Scientists flap to the future with 'insect' drone

art-1535827070-620x349.jpgAs reported in the Sydney Morning Herald, Dutch scientists have developed the world's smallest autonomous flapping drone, a dragonfly-like beast with 3D vision that could revolutionise our experience of everything from pop concerts to farming.

"This is the DelFly Explorer, the world's smallest drone with flapping wings that's able to fly around by itself and avoid obstacles," its proud developer Guido de Croon of the Delft Technical University said.

Weighing just 20 grams, around the same as four sheets of printer paper, the robot dragonfly could be used in situations where much heavier quadcopters with spinning blades would be hazardous, such as flying over the audience to film a concert or sport event.

The Explorer looks like a large dragonfly or grasshopper as it flitters about the room, using two tiny low-resolution video cameras — reproducing the 3D vision of human eyes — and an on-board computer to take in its surroundings and avoid crashing into things.

And like an insect, the drone which has a wingspan of 28 centimetres, would feel at home flying around plants.

"It can for instance also be used to fly around and detect ripe fruit in greenhouses," De Croon said, with an eye on the Netherlands' vast indoor fruit-growing business.

"Or imagine, for the first time there could be an autonomous flying fairy in a theme park," he said.

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DUBAI // Aerial drones could be used to deliver vital documents and medicines within a year.

Two prototypes of the small, unmanned craft were unveiled at the Government Summit on Monday.

“What these things are best suited for is delivery of small, light value things that are time sensitive, like medicines, identification documents, vital papers and things of that nature,” said Dr Noah Raford, special adviser to the Office of the Prime Minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid.

“Technology is moving very fast. Largely like any design, this is an experimental process and we are testing various ideas and options and looking to explore how they will be useful, and making sure we can cover some of the contingencies so we can use them some day for government delivery.”

Abdulrahman Alserkal, the Emirati engineer who designed the project, said fingerprint and eye-recognition security systems would protect the drones and their cargo.

Dr Raford said the UAE would be able to use drones for civilian purposes, unlike in other countries where they had run into problems.

“The issues are not technical but regulatory. We have lot more freedom to design a regulatory system that is safe and responsible and achieves the 21st-century goal to deliver advanced services.”

Read the full article here.

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3DR Quad - Speed and Lift Test

Hey all,

UAV Test Flight - Speed and Lift from David Anders on Vimeo.

Yesterday a group of us headed out for our regular Melbourne catch-up.  This time I was out to test just how fast I could get my 3DR quad to move and then how much weight it could carry.

The aim was to get to 100 km/h and lift as much weight as possible. 

Let's just say that it did unfortunately fall well short of the 100 km/h (by about a third), but my target was a very optimistic figure. (: 

The lift capability though was somewhat surprising as you'll see in the video.  The first lift test was also the first time I'd tried to lift a ~1.2 kg pendulum with my quad, so it's an interesting take off.

I was using my older SD camera because of its' zoom so apologies for the video quality - It's a little stretched vertically for some reason. 

I have put a fair bit of detail in the video, but please let me know if you want to know anything further about the specs, weather or the day in general.

Hopefully you find the tests interesting.


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GPS Locator and UAV Rescue

3689527960?profile=originalSo I've been toying with a number of devices that will act as a great low cost GPS Tracker that I could place on any UAV.  The key points for me were that it was lightweight, battery independent of the UAV, robust enough to survive a hard landing [read crash] and give you the location when you wanted it.

I started off modifying a smart phone that worked fine, but the repeatability and cost was an issue.  I was speaking to some friends of mine in China and they put me onto this - It's a GPS Tracker that is also a mobile phone.

3689528054?profile=originalAs you can see, it's very small.  Dimensions are 80mm long by 30mm wide and a mere 5mm high. Total weight with battery is around 45g.  It did come as just the board, chip etc.

As someone so lovingly pointed out when I accidentally posted this earlier, it is the internals of a Chinese built mobile phone for kids, which was known, but who cares.  It's a perfect addition for any UAV.  At the moment I'm just using a electronics project box, but I just need to get a suitable 3d printed case made up and voila.

With regards to functionality, you can call or SMS the device and it will respond with it's location and even provide you with a link for Google maps.  Also when calling, you can listen to its' surrounds in case anyone is around so you can get in contact with them.  There are buttons on the front that can be pressed and the device will call a set 4 numbers, so if someone else finds it, they can get in contact with you.

I did some more testing with it today, using our largest national mobile carrier - screenshots of the testing are below:



So it does work a treat.  A quick test on my quad showed that there were no problems and everything functioned as it should.  It utilising the GSM network so as long as there is the slightest of signals, you should be able to send/receive SMSs.

Cost?  Very cheap considering what I was trying to protect.  At the local electronic stores here, a basic GPS tracker was going for around $149.  This (ex freight) and at sample pricing was under half of that.

Whilst I was thinking this would be primarily for non park flights, so FPV, Agri-auto flights and building up for the commercial arena, it's become something that I think I will be adding to any country flight where there is height and / or distance.

Would be interested in your thoughts and opinions.




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Arducopter success & safety message

Hey all,

With the recent comments on the latest arducopter build and some hesitation to upgrade, I decided to head out and put it through its' paces.  Or in layman's speak, thrash the quad and see what happens.  The day was beautiful and sunny, with a moderate breeze of 30km/h.

I flipped through stabilise, altitude hold and loiter with no problems.  Handling was a dream, super responsive and agile.

So a massive thank you to the devs again for the work they're doing.


From a flight planning / safety point of view, I have two flight timers (one set to 10 minutes from battery connect and one set to 10 minutes from power up) and a battery alarm.  For this flight, the timers were set, but I DIDN'T attach the battery alarm as I thought it would only be a shortish flight.  Up and down in under 10 minutes.  Ironically, this is exactly what happened, but not entirely of my control.  The total flight time was 9:30 minutes and ended up browning out and landing rather spectacularly.

This was the first incident after probably 15 or so successful flights and the only thing that needed replacing, was one prop.  When you see the video, you'll understand that's a remarkable achievement. The cause of the flight was really simple - I was going very hard in and against the wind, so more power was drawn.  In other words, pilot enthusiasm or error.  We'll work that one out over a drink.

Due to this, the pre-flight checklist has changed to include ALL safety mechanisms and get my spotter (if available) to double check.

I hope you enjoy the video and please learn from others mistakes and remember to fly safe.


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Third DIYDrones.com Melbourne group meet!

Hi all,

Just thought I would share with all that we had our third DIYDrones.com Melbourne group meet on Sunday 24 March 2013. 

Try full screen. No music?  Click here https://vimeo.com/63156767 - it's much better! (:

After having a really successful second meet where all those that attempted, were able to plan and fly autonomously, this meet was meant for photography and the cube challenge.  However, the weather seemed to have other ideas, with some severe wind.  However, it was still a great opportunity to meet up, fly in the gorgeous sun, see what's happening and have some fun. (:

The next meet is being planned now, so check out the Melbourne group if you're interested in attending.

Also, I will be heading to Adelaide over the ANZAC long weekend with my quad so if anyone is around and willing to catch up, please let me know. (:


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Hey all,

The weather conditions were very favourable this morning, so I took advantage and did a couple of technical flights.  The one featured here was to see how stable I could fly at altitude.  As you'll see in the video, it was quite stable on the way up, peaking and holding at 100 metres with some amazing views of Melbourne, Australia.  There's no music with this video so you can hear the change in motor pitch and how it handled the wind (light breeze).  I deliberately descended quickly and found it a little bumpy, so something to work on.


Enjoy Melbourne in Autumn.



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Hi folks,

I just saw this on /. and couldn't believe it.  Has it received much press elsewhere?

"According to an Al-Jazeera report, 'Charlottesville, Virginia is the first city in the United States to pass an anti-drone resolution. The writing of the resolution coincides with a leaked memo outlining the legal case for drone strikes on U.S. citizens and a Federal Aviation Administration plan to allow the deployment of some 30,000 domestic drones.' The finalized resolution is fairly weak, but it's a start. There is also some anti-drone legislation in the Oregon state Senate, and it has much bigger teeth. It defines public airspace as anything above your shoelaces, and the wording for 'drone' is broad enough to include RC helicopters and the like."



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First DIYDrones.com Melbourne group meet

Hi all,

Just thought I would share with all that we had the first DIYDrones.com Melbourne group meet last Saturday.  Attended by 6 people, with 5 quads and a heli all getting a good fly.  It was great to meet everyone and see the variations on a theme with the quads.  There was a nasty breeze that gusted quite strong, so flying conditions weren't ideal, but there was still some very good flying by all.  Unfortunately there wasn't video of everyone, but I have still managed to pull a short video together of some of the action. 

We are planning the next meet for sometime in February (the morning of 10 February is looking to be the date at the moment), with the goal of everyone attending to have a successful FULLY AUTONOMOUS and recorded flight under their belt before they leave.

Of course, all Melbourne people are invited [with more details to be shared through the Melbourne group page] but even if you're in the area from interstate or internationally, please stop on in.

Have a great day and safe flying,


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External ARM and GPS LED kit for safety


So after receiving the protective case for the APM it was very difficult to see the GPS and ARM lights as a number of people have said. 

So in just a short time (probably 30 minutes), I put together some external LEDs (orange for ARM and blue for GPS) and encased it in a protective case.  The GPS LED is receiving the signal from A6 and the ARM LED is receiving the signal from A4.

The LEDs are 10mm, the case is 57mm wide and 27mm tall and fits quite easily on the sonar arm - whether it stays there or not is another question. I can make the case a little smaller, but it doesn't look that bad for 30 minutes work.



There were very minor and easy modifications required to the params within mission planner.  Highlighted in the image below - changing LED_MODE to 3.



Edit: I have included the bit table I used to calculate the LED_MODE.  Thanks to Scott Berfield and his post.

Bit Number

7              6              5              4              3              2              1              0

0              0              0              0              0              0              0              1      =      1              Motor LEDs On/Off

0              0              0              0              0              0              1              0      =      2              GPS On/Off

0              0              0              0              0              1              0              0      =      4              AUX Function On/Off

0              0              0              0              1              0              0              0      =      8              Beeper On/Off

0              0              0              1              0              0              0              0      =      16            Low Battery Flash – fast/slow

0              0              1              0              0              0              0              0      =      32            Motor LEDs NAV blink On/Off

0              1              0              0              0              0              0              0      =      64            GPS LEDs Nav Blink On/Off

1              0              0              0              0              0              0              0      =      128          Not used

Hope this is useful to some people.


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