Gary Mortimer's Posts (323)

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Really fine RPAS filming


I think the trouble with an awful lot of multirotor footage is that its all about the multirotor footage. I see way too many zoom climbs, reveals and drone films XYZ from above its just dull. I have a feeling the general viewing public is also getting used to it so for late arrivals they are going to have to work hard to get noticed.

This short film of Scottish cycling genius Danny MacAskill uses the RPAS to get the job done but does it in a way that adds to the story rather than being the centre of attention. Anybody that knows about Munros has heard the reputation the Cuillin Ridge has.

Of course all shot commercially and perfectly legally in the UK. Job well done Lec Park.

If you happen to be in the UK there will be a 30 minute documentary of the making of next Friday, look out for it on iPlayer.

Here's another Danny movie for those that are only hearing about him for the first time in this post


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Ardupilot for the win! APM lead developer Andrew ("Tridge") Tridgell's CanberraUAV team with a 3D Robotics Pixhawk autopilot completed all the challenges and scored an impressive victory in this premier UAV competition. 

Congratulations to Canberra UAV and indeed all the teams that found and rescued Joe. Everybody that qualified deserves a round of applause its a mission just to get to the venue and get your airframe through the strict requirements.

A bottle drop distance of 2.6m that's insane.

I personally believe the Outback Challenge has advanced unmanned aviation at a faster rate than any other competition and we should all be thankful for its existence. 

If they get to keep Joe I hope there will be a series of road trip selfies. He has had quite a wait so I am sure ready to party it up a bit.


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Hollywood given the green light

FAA-Puma1.jpg?width=400Its all worryingly simple. 

Write manuals, get an N number for your airframe apply for a COA and the pilot needs a PPL.

What took them so long!

In their applications, the firms said the operators will hold private pilot certificates, keep the UAS within line of sight at all times and restrict flights to the “sterile area” on the set.  In granting the exemption, FAA accepted these safety conditions, adding an inspection of the aircraft before each flight, and prohibiting operations at night. The agency also will issue Certificates of Waiver or Authorization (COAs) that mandate flight rules and timely reports of any accident or incidents.

“The applicants submitted UAS flight manuals with detailed safety procedures that were a key factor in our approval of their requests,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. “We are thoroughly satisfied these operations will not pose a hazard to other aircraft or to people and property on the ground.”

The full press release 

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Well done to Gene Robinson one of the first DIYD members. He has been pushing for this for years and it looks like the sun is rising on SAR RPAS in the USA.

Missing woman’s family hopeful as drones take to the sky

Brittany Feagans

After days of searching by foot, ATV and horseback have yielded no new information in the Aug. 30 disappearance of 23-year-old Christina Morris, the operation took to the sky Thursday after Texas EquuSearch got permission from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to use unmanned airplanes to aid in its search effort.

Based in Austin, five waterproof drones are now on hand to take hundreds of aerial photos of the search area. Only one drone is launched at a time on 15-minute flights. When the aircraft – which takes about 150 photos every 10 minutes – lands, the images are removed, and the team moves on to the next area if necessary.


“The cruise speed on this aircraft is about 37 mph,” said Gene Robinson, director of unmanned aircraft operations. “It’s a relatively slow aircraft, it’s not the sexiest aircraft in the world, but it’s a very capable flyer. This is a groundbreaking use of this [specific] aircraft, and NIST was very gracious to allow us to use this aircraft on this search.”

The previous aircraft, the Spectra Flying Wing, is credited with recovering the remains of 11 people since its inception in 2005. The Spectra is an electric model, and the drones being used in the Morris investigation run on gas.

“It has an autopilot on board, and I’m the pilot in the loop,” said Robinson, who builds the drones for Texas EquuSearch. “There’s always a human in the loop, so if something goes south, I can flip a switch and it’s my bird. I’ve been flying these for about 35 years, and I’m a regular pilot as well.”

And while it’s typically Texas EquuSearch policy to prevent immediate family members from being present at search efforts, Ronnie McElroy, Morris’ stepfather, was there for the drone launch.

An aircraft mechanic at American Airlines, McElroy was curious about the drones being used to find his stepdaughter.

“Tim [Miller, founder and director of the mounted search and recovery nonprofit] is very into the search,” McElroy said. “The whole time [we’re driving around] he says, ‘We’ve got to find Christina.’ He’s a good guy, and I’m very glad we met him. He’s on a mission. He treats her like his own daughter.”

McElroy reached out to Texas EquuSearch after learning of his stepdaughter’s disappearance four days after she was last seen in a parking garage at The Shops at Legacy.

“Somebody knows something, and I’m just begging, to be honest with you,” said Jonni McElroy, Morris’ mother. “I’m a desperate mom right now. … I need people to start talking. I know in my heart that somebody knows.

“I’m making a plea. Please give her back to us. We’re not going to ask questions. We don’t care. You can go on your merry way like it never happened, but we need her back. You’ve had enough time with her. I know you want her with you more – who wouldn’t? She’s amazing, she’s beautiful and she’s the love of our life. There’s a reason why you took her … but hey, your time’s up.”

Emotionally drained and physically exhausted, Jonni will stop at nothing to find her daughter. She considered staying back to rest on Thursday, but seeing the drones and the support of the community gave her a renewed sense of hope.

“We’re blessed that the FAA is supporting us now too,” she said. “We obviously had to touch them some way or they wouldn’t have said yes. I understand Tim fought that fight, and he fought it hard with his team because he knows how important it is to find my daughter. We’re very blessed – I can’t stress that enough.”

By foot, horseback and ATV, volunteers will stop at nothing to get answers and find a woman many don’t even know personally.

“Our barn manager actually texted a bunch of us and asked if we wanted to come out [and help],” said Lisa Goldberg, an equestrian from Hidden Vale Stables in Plano. “I immediately broke my plans for the day and said ‘I’m there.’ I felt touched. I’ve been riding for 50 years … and I’m hopeful.”

Ronnie said he tears up everyday when he sees cars pull up to Legacy Church, the Texas EquuSearch command center, with food, water and supplies. The support from the community has played a big part in keeping him and his wife hopeful and focused on their No. 1 goal – finding Christina.

“It’s a true blessing,” Jonni said. “That’s God speaking. That’s the community coming together. We’ve got a lot of stuff going on in the world right now and this let’s you know there’s still hope and faith out there for sure. I thank my parents for always giving me a strong belief in God and faith and for carrying it through to my daughter.

“Somebody’s going to break. I know they are, because everybody’s born with a heart and soul. Everybody.”

For information on search efforts, visit


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LiDAR for $7999!


Many folks are going to be horrified at that price, but I look at it as less than autopilots cost back in the day. I think these will fly off the shelf for professional end users. Moores law seems not to apply to unmanned aviation, its too slow.

“Velodyne’s LiDAR Puck has the potential to be truly transformational, an enabling technology for a vast array of price-sensitive applications,” Hall said. “The introductory pricing of $7,999 for this next-generation LiDAR sensor makes choosing the ‘Puck’ a total no brainer for any automation or robotics application requiring timely 3D vision.

There’s no longer any need to go through the hassle of combining several 2D sensors or mount one 2D sensor on a ‘nodding’ platform, now that one 3D sensor can do the job conveniently and at an even lower price point than multiple 2D sensors.”

Full press release


Wolfgang speaking about Velodyne at sUSB Expo 14

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Mark Colwell made a post on G+ last night about this, Mark is one of the folks that if he says something you listen. I immediately grabbed some Beta updates and realised no aircraft would be coming past me before bed time, blast. Well its morning O clock now and the first aircraft out of Durban is on its way. In fact it rather shows the holes in airfields shown on mission planner as Durban is not there. Perhaps its time to use aviation overlays. Anyhoo

Why am I so excited about being able to display ADSB data? Well its one step in the detect sense and avoid chain. We can now tell aviation authorities that we can see ADSB equipped aircraft at range and plan our actions accordingly. Maybe one day the GCS will even take avoiding action on our behalf.

Even here in my sleepy corner of Africa high end modern light aircraft come by from time to time at low level and I see them in advance. As more aircraft are fitted or retro fitted with ADSB the sky will appear to fill.

Its cheap to do less than $30, I'm not going to go into extreme detail. There are pages of how to's out there.

First you need the receiver itself 

3689610459?profile=originalSearch for R820T and ADSB for the best near you.

Its then a matter of installing suitable free software and getting it to speak on the right port.

I use mine to both track aircraft and receive NOAA weather satellite images. The weather images are handy if you are operating miles from an internet connection and you are a cheapskate like me and don't have a sat connection.

I digress. The supplied antenna with the dongle will work locally if sited well out to more than 100km but you are better off creating a better one, again instructions all over the web. 

This contains everything you need to get this working and talking on the right port.

Once you can see aircraft on your machine you simply tick a box in planner settings and Roberts your fathers brother.


What a week for APM (ADSB might have been out for a while and I missed it)

Terrain following

Transitioning VTOL code


Feels like a leap forward.

Once you get your setup working you might want to send position reports to sites like Flightradar 24 from your fixed site. In that way a better low level picture can be built up worldwide and you can look at tracks on an app that becomes free if you are a contributor.  That's what I have been doing until now, but of course it does not work if there is no web.

Mission Planner latest download Site

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3D Prints of work

3689608396?profile=originalI thought this was pretty cute, well done to boot

Shooting by the company Photos aériennes / post processing and 3D printing by Drones Imaging.

This photorealistic and geographically accurate 3D model was obtained using Correlator 3D software and printed with our Formlab. The technology of our 3D printer is based on the laser and solidification of resins designed for reliable printing with a very high level of accuracy.

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For some spurious story board reason that I have not padded out properly Wimbledon has ball delivery issues!

The T3 task this time is to deliver as many tennis balls as possible using only one 5000 maH battery, to both power the plane and autopilot. Fly between two virtual Wimbledon tennis courts. Take off from Number one and Land and deliver to number two. Then fly back to number one to pick up more balls. Repeat until the battery is flat.


The courts are roughly 20 X 40 m.

Number one and two courts are 300 metres apart.

You will have to soar over centre court, the roof of centre court is 16m above the playing surface so your craft better achieve at least 30m altitude to avoid flags and furniture in its transit between the courts. You could choose to fly around centre court but your KML must show that you virtually missed it!

For the sake of this exercise I will ignore the sides of 1 & 2 courts.

As ever 3DR will provide prizes TBA.

This challenge is open to fixed wing and rotary entries. Take off and landings must happen within the 20 X 40m court.

Autonomous take off and landings will score higher but are not essential. The transit must be autonomous.

No doubt folks will find very light tennis balls but they should be at least 6.7cm wide. 

Honesty is key in the T3 and sillyness often brings points. This might be a great competition to try and fly with other DIYD members. I feel bonus points for every team in those groups coming on. A well documented attempt is also looked upon favorably. 

Lets make the closing date December 30th 2014. There should be enough spring and autumn weather for each hemisphere.

This idea is loosely based on the BMFA heavy lift challenge, it gets pretty serious.

Now bring on the questions, I am bound to have forgotten something.

There are plenty of cargo planes out there to build


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Photographer Edward Burtynsky and director Jennifer Baichwal give us an inside look into the making of their cinematic feat, Watermark. The documentary was shot using groundbreaking 5K ultra high definition photography and aerial technology and explores mankind's complicated relationship with water, using a diverse set of stories that challenge how easily we take it for granted.

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sUSBExpo day 1 streaming live now.


The show has started and you are very welcome to watch! Jim Williams from the FAA after lunch is in charge of airspace integration at the FAA might be worth watching ;-) Questions from the floor so far have been pretty cutting. Chris Anderson speaks tomorrow.

9:00 -- 9:10 Welcome and Opening Statements -- Patrick Egan, sUAS News

9:10 -- 9:30 -- Patrick Egan, sUAS News

9:30 -- 10:00 UAS Certification -- Doug Davis

10:00 -10:30 LiDAR Demo -- Wolfgang Juchmann, Velodyne LiDAR

10:30 -11:00 BREAK

11:00 -- 11:30 Henri Seydoux --Parrot Drone

11:30 -- 12:00 Doug Marshall -- NMSU PSL

12:00 -- 1:30 LUNCH

1:30 -- 2:30 Jim Williams -- FAA UASIO

2:30 -- 2:50 Harshil Goel -- VIRES Aeronautics

2:50 -- 3:10 Knut T. Moe -- Eye Remote Solutions

3:10 -- 3:30 BREAK

3:30 -- 3:50 Parimal Kopardekar -- NASA

3:50 -- 4:10 Rory Paul -- Volt Aerial Robotics

4:10 -- 4:20 Colin Snow -- Survey Report

4:20 -- 4:30 Gary Hethcoat -- 3D Printed Drone

4:30 -- 5:00 Rick Connolly --President RCAPA

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Don't mess with Texas Equusearch


Gene and Trappys lawyer Brendan Schulman will be talking to Patrick on todays sUAS News podcast at 1330 PST.  Call in to ask any questions. It will be available to download from the link below after the show as well.

This is what they will be talking about.


Pursuant to Rule 15(a) of the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure and 49 U.S.C. § 46110,Texas EquuSearch Mounted Search and Recovery Team (“Texas EquuSearch”), RPSearch Services Inc. and Eugene Robinson, hereby respectfully petition this Court for review of an order issued to them on February 21,  2014, by the Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”).

A copy of the order is attached as Exhibit 1 (the “Order”).

The FAA’s Order commands Petitioners to cease all use of radio control model aircraft in connection with their volunteer,  unpaid search-and-rescue efforts on behalf of the families of missing persons.

The Order declares in no uncertain terms that such operations are “illegal” and demands that Petitioners    “stop immediately.”

Download the full petition TES-v-FAA

Watch the movie ;-)

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