August 2014

Aerial Mapping with Software Magic

I just did an aerial survey of 10 acres of land with a friend using my supercopter. I processed dozens of high-resolution photos using some very sophisticated and specialized mapping software that gives me a completely browsable 3D view of the resulting area. The applications for this are amazing. I can’t wait to apply this in other projects, too.

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ALS Ice Bucket Challenge with my X8 copter!

I did the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge with my X8 copter today. 10 pounds of ice water dumped from the air on my head. It wasn’t easy, but it sure was fun! Hopefully I can whip together a “Making Of…” if I have some time this week. It was quite the adventure!

My challenges were my own personal safety, protecting the copter from damage from an admittedly inappropriate UAV application, finding a way to adequately capture this on film in a way that would tell the right story. I also didn’t want to waste any water, as we’re suffering from a serious drought here in Northern California. I was fortunate that my friends Colin Snow and Charlotte Ziems (newlyweds!) were generous enough to come out and help me. Colin’s an experienced UAV pilot, and was one of my mentors when I got started. And Charlotte is a newly-minted enthusiast and helped film the whole thing from the air with her Phantom Vision 2.

We nearly lost the daylight after an electrical issue grounded us for a half hour after some water got inside the copter and caused some anomalous behavior. But I got it sorted out and when it came time to do this, all systems worked perfectly. It was actually quite thrilling. I love it when something works as well in real life as it did in my imagination!

Here are a few photos showing what my day looked like as I prepared for this.

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The next chapter

Going to give the fixed-wing genre another shot after my earlier attempts ended somewhat unceremoniously with a lot of pieces of broken styrofoam. My dreams are still intact (as are the electronic bits), fortunately!