This is another DJI Spark post

The DJI Spark has been covered quite a bit by many many reviewers. Here’s our favourite ones. Here and here.

But of course, nothing beats trying it out ourselves.

Intro
While flying the Spark, you must first and foremost understand, this is not a photography or videography drone like the DJI Phantom or even the DJI Mavic. The Spark is in the selfie range of drones. It can’t do shots like:

Or fly out to sea and take this:

Or video chases like

Or “Fly Away Shots”:

 

Camera

Image and video at full resolution are: 12 megapixel/3968 x 2976/, 1080p/ 30 fps videos.

Photography and videography with the Spark is so-so. You’re better off finding a high point, climb it and take a pic with your handphone. You’ll save more time. Gentle breeze causes it to moves around quite a bit. It’s very hard to track subjects when using the transmitter, if that’s what you are taking videos of.

Can you get shots like the above? yes you can. It won’t be easy considering battery life, it’s size that it moves around in gentle breeze… and it may not have the range needed to go where you want it to.

Resolution

  • Note the resolution is already quite low and it’s lower if you do not have a SD card, the photos will be saved to your phone at 1024 x 768 and videos will be 1280 x 720
  • The resolution drops to 1440 x 1080 or 1.5 Megapixel, no not a typo it is 1.5 (instead of 12 megapixel/3968 x 2976) when you are in Gesture Mode.

Compare –

Spark Image | EXIF Only

Phantom 4 Image

Sports Mode
Kinda useless when the camera can’t keep up. You get tilted videos the second you need to change directions. Useful for getting back to landing point, quicker. Normal non sports mode is slow.

Range
The spark transmitter connects to your phone via wifi and the usual RC channels 2.4ghz or 5.8ghz to the Spark. We used 5.8ghz, we managed to fly 300 meters and it’s really pushing it. It keep dropping video while we have full control of the Spark but if you can’t compose shots, it’s as good as useless to us.

On the way back to land from 300 meters, at 105 meters, we tried flying over trees to take some shots, RC link lost, video feed lost. Only trees and leaves made us lost connection.

GESTURES
TL;DR version – DO NOT USE IT.

But we’re very sure, people won’t listen till they try it. So try it in a big field with no obstacles.

It worked half the time. We get 50/50 success rates. First don’t do this indoors, it’s so unpredictable but of course, we had to try.  We thought it’s the lighting, so a sunny bright day, we went flying the Spark and tested it again.

During 1 take-off indoors, the spark refuses to land on our palm and keep moving around ever so slightly. We had the transmitter on at all times so we took over using the transmitter and landed in manually.

Sometimes it takes off after double tapping the battery button, the camera scans up and down for a face, most times it does not and goes back to waiting. When it works, gesture controls will make your arm ache trying to get it to obey your palm. Waving at it worked once from the 5 times we tried it. Y arms to bring it back and land worked when waving worked. At all times, the transmitter can be used to take over the Spark to manual flying. You’ll have to land the sparky with the transmitter once you fly it around for a while.

Battery/ Flight Time
15 mins. A mixture of sports mode and normal flying but mostly, we get around 10 mins playing with gesture mode and a little manual flying. Landing and taking off again and again tends to drain battery quicker.

The transmitter now connects to your phone via wifi and not cable, then the transmitter to the drone with the 2.4 or 5.8ghz RC connection. So your phone batt is constantly drained.

Conclude
As a selfie drone, this is quite fun to have. Small and dandy, easy to bring around. For shots like the below, 30 to 50 meters, it’s not bad to remember a holiday, a trip.

Taking selfie from a height of 5 to 10 meters showing the surrounding with you and your loved ones, not too bad but could be easier to setup a tripod or place your camera on a ledge or in a tree.

Filename – DJI_0005.JPG – Exif here.

Low altitude flying on grass fields is quite fun, we can imagine using this on a calm day flying over padi or tea leaves fields. See video below.

BUT, If you want to take some shots of a building from 50 meters height, do not use this.

The DJI Spark is available for rental at Camera Rental Centre Singapore. Check them out.

 

Red Wild Willy 2

We got around to rebuild another Wild Willy and this round, with quite some hop ups. We call them mods but the community call them hop up so well, we have to go with the lingo. #lol

When unsure. Build 2. #wildwilly2 #wildwilly #tamiya #hobbyking #frsky #taranis

A photo posted by RC itcow (@rcitcow) on

Order 1 more set from Hobbyking. Didn’t get the pre-built set from RCMart as we just love building it. Hope it wasn’t our building that caused all the problem. Week of 23 Jan 2017. 2nd set arrived from Hobbyking. Decided to change to lipo! 2S seems to work fine. 1

22 Jan 2017 – Ordered the hop ups from Asiatees. Going to love the red…i hope.

asiatees

and these from rcmart.

rcmart

Feb 2017 – Colors. Preparing…

Colors #tamiya #wildwilly2 #wildwilly2 #frsky #taranis

A photo posted by RC itcow (@rcitcow) on

Our RC Build, non flying Instagram account.

We flew the DJI Mavic Pro

We flew it, here’s our thoughts. Out of the box, the yaw is too sensitive to us. Great for pictures, tracking with videos will be hard

Distance is great! Built up area and we flew 2.1km easily getting shots we never tried before with confidence.

Drifts quite a bit in little wind. Gesture modes works but we don’t think we’ll be using it often.

Wifi is a great alternative to control the Mavic but as the transmitter is already so small, dont think why you wouldn’t want to bring it out. It’s also useful for that 1 quick photo you need but do not need to go a far distance or need much control. Something like take off, go up to 100 to 200 meters, snap and land and be on your way.

The Mavic is available for rental at http://sg.camerarental.biz/

Maybe it’ll finally be easy to reach some fields in Tuas

With the Tuas West Extension opening soon in end of 2016, we hope to be finally exploring Tuas as a flying alternative.

These may not be the location and only based on what is described below and plotted.

– Fully Elevated line
– 13.5 km long with 2 legs: Tuas West Extension and Tuas South Extension
– Total 6 stations and a depot
– West Extension is 7.5 km long with 3 stations plus one interchange station with South Extension.
– South Extension is 6 km long with 2 stations, a future line.

EW30 to EW33 will be on Tuas West Extension to be completed in 2015. EW34 and EW35 will be on Tuas South Extension, a future line.

EW30 (the next station after EW29 Joo Koon) will be the interchange station of the 2 extension lines. EW30 is proposed to be located along Tuas Road, near the junction of Tuas Ave 3 and Gul Circle. EW30 will be at least 20m from ground level.

EW31 will also be at least 20m from ground level, it will be build around 8m above a proposed road viaduct along Pioneer Road. EW31 is proposed to be located above the Pioneer Road viaduct near the junction of Tuas Crescent and Tuas Avenue 2.

EW32 is proposed to be located along Pioneer Road near Tuas West Road.

EW33 is proposed to be located along Tuas West Drive near Raffles Marina.

State of the hobby

It is end June 2016. A round up of what is the current status of multicoptors to us.

We’ve always love folding quads. Just look at our fleet. 30 builts later, we’ve partnered up and now flying Phantoms and Inspires do make us ponder and wonder.

The neatness of these ready to flys. Less hassle of packing things. We primarily fly for aerial videos and photos. Seldom fpv racing/ mini quads. We have a few (See our fleet) but its just for speed and fun mostly. It also means less things to be messing around with. Gains, programming knobs, it’s great knowledge but the hassle with so many China based made with crude documentations, don’t get us wrong, even leaders like DJI has manuals that seems written by school students but they’re getting there…slowly but surely.  

 

 

Being able to push out products in a lot shorter time frame and putting in technologies that they heard feedback from is critical. We all don’t need that new iPad or iPhone, that new Android tablet or new graphic card or cpu,it however makes your competitors play catch up.

Gimbal
Even powering up our good old Phantom 2 with a Hero 4, on a H43D seems a hassle now. You power up the Phantom 2, the Hero 4, connect your antennas to the Black pearl monitor, turn it on….

With the Inspire 1 or Phantom 4. Power up, connect iPad/ your phone, wait for GPS, fly, enjoy the scenery.

Auto Modes/ follow me, circle/ polar
It’s ridiculously easy with the DJI Go app for the POI or follow me.

We love to DIY. The smell of solder get us going and the ability to mix and match motors and ESC and learning the different Flight Controllers can be both fun and frustrating at the same time. If you’re the casual flyer, do not hope to purchase one but hope to have an aerial shot of your holiday or a one off shot of your loved ones having fun flying a kite or spending a day skating, consider renting as even buying one has some maintenance to be done. The least is the firmware updates for your drone and at times, all the bits that come with it, the batteries, gimbal, camera etc etc may all require update(s).

Another important point is, on tiny Singapore and with strict DJI No Fly zone implementation, we weren’t able to take on some past assignment with the church sitting on the edge but inside the no fly zone. On Google Map, go to 1.373587, 103.898441. From the church, you have to fly past 5 blocks of more than 12 storeys high buildings, cross a river and then a forested area of about 500 meters even then, you’re only at the edge of the airport. We needed the church tower video-ed and it’s no more than 20 meters tall…the solution? A DIY hexacopter.

There’s even guys who are certified circumventing this by disconnecting their GPS from their Inspire 1 and fly it in ATTI mode. Go google…

We hope one day, DJI will release what is in the DJI Go app to any Naza DIY-ers that they can build and making the geo-fencing a little more flexible.

Till the day comes and for all commerical jobs we received, seems like mostly, Inspire 1 and Phantoms prevail…for now.

Toy shops selling drones

 

Recently we were on flying assignment that requires us to move around a few locations. At a location we met a fellow drone flyer at a field. He was flying a Syma he said to have got it from a toy shop. His first drone, he proclaim. Then he went on to complain about how lousy it flies then he flew it and showed us. It scare the shit out of us. There is basically no control and it ascend on its own when he had it on the throttle at middle position. He held it out and showed us. It kept going up then it crashed after hitting a tree. Thank the gods there wasn’t any children at the playground of this hot afternoon.

Toy shops not knowing what these are must not be trying to make a profit and sell these drones. We visited the said shop and there are a lot of models. Traditional toy shops know nothing about drones, it’s care, repair and most importantly how to operate it safely. It’s not like the trucks and cranes or dolls and action figures they’re selling. These don’t crash or drop out from the sky and hurt or worse, one day, may have someone, a child no less, lost an eye ball a finger or… get killed.

He ended his day after we let him tried out the Phantom 4 after some explanation why it is dangerous, how it is dangerous and how to have fun, real proper fun with the Phantom 4. He was real happy and say he’s getting a “DJ”. Yes, that’s what it’s known to him, a dji Phantom to him. We told him in the meantime to look at renting it from us and left him out contact and website address. He’ll be back, we’re sure of it and we look forward to have him enjoy one with some shots of him and his kids and wife having a good time, safely.

How a crash looks like in Flytrex

 

Flytrex is a great, cheap and lightweight tool to help, to a certain extend see what may have gone wrong. It doesn’t however include input from your transmitter.

An example below from a crash, speed and altitude has a sudden drop within 2 secs. It’s regardless there is no other logging as the crash was caused by a broken propeller mid flight after reviewing the onboard video footage.

crash

Comparing, a normal flight does not have erratic lines or a sudden fall in speed and altitude.

normal

Simple analyzing of these cannot really help in determining if it was pilot input error but does help somewhat.