Berndty

Drones for sailing photography and video recording

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Looking at buying a drone for photographing/fliming sailing racing. What suggestions do you have?

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DJI is really the only game in town for consumer drones.

If you are looking at launching/retrieving from a boat, Sparrow is correct - the Phantom series is the best bet.

If you are looking at filming from shore, then the Mavic series is really cool. I've owned a Mavic and was very happy with it. I wouldn't try to hand retrieve one though.

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5 hours ago, Sparrow50 said:
DJI Phantom series seems to be one answer due to the grab handles. Perhaps best to find a used one. 

Which DJI model do you recommend?

Here is a used list where we are in New Zealand now.... https://www.trademe.co.nz/Browse/SearchResults.aspx?&cid=5322&searchType=&searchString=drones+DJI&x=0&y=0&type=Search&sort_order=&redirectFromAll=False&rptpath=347-&rsqid=df4b5980a8434b37aaeb8c9941a0ee1b-004&user_region=100&user_district=0&generalSearch_keypresses=5&generalSearch_suggested=0&generalSearch_suggestedCategory=&condition=used

We are on a 40' Trimaran and would launch from the boat and have never used a drone (are any 'waterproof' if we goof-up?

41 minutes ago, Rambunctious said:

DJI is really the only game in town for consumer drones.

If you are looking at launching/retrieving from a boat, Sparrow is correct - the Phantom series is the best bet.

Which Model Phantom?

https://www.trademe.co.nz/Browse/SearchResults.aspx?searchString=drones+DJI+Phantom&type=Search&searchType=5322&user_region=100&user_district=0&rsqid=9442d03c190848f88bca3dd7b03d2aff-005&generalSearch_keypresses=9&generalSearch_suggested=0&generalSearch_suggestedCategory=

 

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No DJI models are waterproof. If it goes in the drink it's over. Some good videos on launch and retrieval techniques. Since I singlehand typically, I may string up a sheet & just fly the drone into it to retrieve. 

No real advice on which model. Your call depending on your budget/risk profile. Here is one comparison done not too long ago: https://3dinsider.com/dji-drones/ 

Sometimes waterproof storage cases show up in the used listings which is a good idea, although the standard foam case isn't horrible.

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There was an article in Cruising World couple of month ago.  
i was thinking same,. Why the model phantom is good to launch from a boat and retrieve on?

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You can hand retrieve a Mavic. A couple of things though. The DJI drones have ultrasonic altitude sensors for fine control of altitude when low. These do not work over water. You can live without them but it will warn you every time and the altitude stability is less than over land. There are schemes to put floats on a Mavic, either a couple of pint pop bottles or short sections of pool noodle. These actually work pretty well, it will keep it from sinking anyway. The reason that is important is that DJI offers and insurance policy against wrecking your drone - and this covers water damage. But you need a carcass to send in to get the replacement. Can't do that if it is on the bottom somewhere. With the floats you can land and take off from water, but salt water has got to be hard on things. 

I have a waterproof drone ("SplashDrone") that is nearly new I'd sell pretty cheap. It is waterproof and floats, but nothing these days is as integrated and seamless as a DJI. 

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On 8/29/2020 at 9:01 PM, cpt_757 said:

There was an article in Cruising World couple of month ago.  
i was thinking same,. Why the model phantom is good to launch from a boat and retrieve on?

Because of the design of the Phantom - the legs are convenient for grabbing and project far enough down that the risk of getting sliced by the blades is reduced. The Mavic has smaller, foldable legs and (particularly the rear) blade sets are quite close to the body. To hand retrieve it, you'll need to grab the underside of the drone which may be a little sporty from a floating platform like a boat.

By the way, the drones can be unpredictable when you hand retrieve them as the sensors might sense an obstacle as you reach for it. When that happens, the drone will try to avoid it by flying away at the last moment. Those blades aren't a joke if they catch your hand or your face.

The photo below (not mine) shows the differences in size and design between the Mavic and the Phantom.

Phantom-4-versus-Mavic_394x.jpg

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Understood!  Thanks!

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On 8/30/2020 at 3:38 AM, Sparrow50 said:
 
 
 
DJI Phantom series seems to be one answer due to the grab handles. Perhaps best to find a used one. 

Whoa.

These videos show the DJI drones are getting allot of salt spray (if not completely drenched) ? Are they considered expendable in the VOR...  or can they take a bit of this? Do you wash them down with fresh water? Are the battery compartments semi-protected with a seal to keep contacts dry? what about any cooling vents for the motors, are these sealed up?

How about in storage on a sailboat; are they best  in a Pelican watertight box or do they absolutely need one because of the salty/moist air?

(Background for us is that we are on a sailing trip 1/3 of the way around the world in a Farrier F36/39 Trimaran... so it is often a bit wet around the place at any wind speed above 11 kn)

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Yes they were considered expendable in the VOR. I don't remember how many they carried, but Sam Greenfield said that they went through several over the course of the race. There are very few prosumer level drones that are sealed against moisture and especially salt water. It's a limitation that I really wish they'd address.

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Sailing magazine has an article on drones this month.

 

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4 hours ago, PaulK said:

Sailing magazine has an article on drones this month.

 

I am not finding a link to that Sailing Magazine article, any chance you have one?

Any opinion of these?....   https://southwindsmagazine.com/waterproof-drones/   (Splash-3)   Any opinion of this model Reviewed here,  anyone using this model? 

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7 hours ago, ryley said:

Yes they were considered expendable in the VOR. I don't remember how many they carried, but Sam Greenfield said that they went through several over the course of the race. There are very few prosumer level drones that are sealed against moisture and especially salt water. It's a limitation that I really wish they'd address.

I am trial flying a 'used'  DJI Phantom 4   (that is for sale on TradeMe here in New Zealand)  about 7 hours from now. It's listed at $850 NZD ($575 USD).... There is also a Phantom 4 Pro sold with an iPad for $1,100 NZD ($744 USD).  But I am somewhat concerned about the salt spray issue. 

Anyone know just how vulnerable the DJI drones are to a bit of accidental salt water spray?

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36 minutes ago, 2flit said:

I am not finding a link to that Sailing Magazine article, any chance you have one?

http://sailingmagazine.net

Article in September issue isn't online; you may have to buy a copy on printed paper at your local newsstand. They discuss the Mavic Mini as being good for light/no wind situations, and the Mavic Air 2 as decidedly better.

 

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I'm sure sv Delos has gone through a half dozen or more. Retrieving them while underway is both challenging and scary to fingers.

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I’ve flown my mavic while under sail a few times.  Catching the drone is a bit tricky but doable, especially if the catcher is wearing gloves.  Best to turn off obstacle avoidance and make sure you set the drone to ‘hover’ if signal is lost, and continually update your home point.

This video covers most of what you need to know for flying your DJI from a boat:

Found the video on this forum https://mavicpilots.com/threads/who-here-wants-to-fly-from-a-boat-but-doesnt-want-to-lose-their-drone.76448/

 

and some shots of with my mavic:

2A924F62-61FD-4BF2-A936-7D153FA5B380.jpeg

EB0D787D-FB6C-4EB4-A2C1-651975B057C1.jpeg

E617CD1E-C7D7-44AF-820B-4F8198ED78BA.jpeg

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I’ll have to look through that mavic pilots forum thread again, but I think some one mentioned 3D printable legs/handles for the mavic 

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Also forgot, I nearly lost the drone between Long Island and Rum Cay when it lost signal and was trying to return to its take off point (that’s why you keep updating RTH point).

The problem was likely caused by the WiFi put out from B&G instruments or cell phones onboard.  Have all persons onboard put their cell phones in airplane mode and shut off any wifi signals.

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Last post....I promise!

i did crash the drone in fresh water when flying backwards into a piling.  

I removed the battery and put the drone in a bag of rice for a month.  It was fully operational afterwards.

 

 

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I seem to remember somebody doing something clever with a mavic and some fishing line looped around the body with a small weight on it. I think there was enough tolerance with the battery that it sort of locked in there ok, and the line became kind of a tether to grab with the mavic hovering, and then you just shut it off. the thinness of the line and its position seemed to indicate it wouldn't show up on any video. I can't find the link though

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19 hours ago, 2flit said:

I am not finding a link to that Sailing Magazine article, any chance you have one?

Any opinion of these?....   https://southwindsmagazine.com/waterproof-drones/   (Splash-3)   Any opinion of this model Reviewed here,  anyone using this model? 

I have a Splashdrone 3. It does have a watertight body and floats. The motors are conformally coated, they suggest rinsing with fresh water after using in salt. It is nearly new (flown twice over land) and I'd be happy to sell it for about a 60% discount. It seems to fly well enough and there are plenty of internet videos of landing and taking off in salt water, taxiing around while floating and getting interesting underwater shots, etc. My issue with it is that the integration of the pieces is not as tight as DJIs latest offerings. If you can live with that it seems far more robust and waterproof than my Mavic Pro. 

12 hours ago, mrybas said:

I’ll have to look through that mavic pilots forum thread again, but I think some one mentioned 3D printable legs/handles for the mavic 

Yes, you can 3D print legs, handles, but more importantly float holders for the Mavic. I printed some that use two short lengths of pool noodle. These can be used as handles to retrieve, but will also keep it afloat in a water landing. Thingysverse lists them I believe. 

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6 hours ago, DDW said:

I have a Splashdrone 3. It does have a watertight body and floats. The motors are conformally coated, they suggest rinsing with fresh water after using in salt. It is nearly new (flown twice over land) and I'd be happy to sell it for about a 60% discount. It seems to fly well enough and there are plenty of internet videos of landing and taking off in salt water, taxiing around while floating and getting interesting underwater shots, etc. My issue with it is that the integration of the pieces is not as tight as DJIs latest offerings. If you can live with that it seems far more robust and waterproof than my Mavic Pro. 

Yes, you can 3D print legs, handles, but more importantly float holders for the Mavic. I printed some that use two short lengths of pool noodle. These can be used as handles to retrieve, but will also keep it afloat in a water landing. Thingysverse lists them I believe. 

How does flying with pool noodles affect performance?  Could see it being a problem when flying at the upper end of the wind range.

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The pool noodles reduce flight time a bit, maybe from 25 minutes to 20 minutes. I've not had a problem in wind, but haven't flown it in strong wind, maybe only 10 - 12 knots. 

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Not the first time I have posted about this.  When someone asks about which boat I should buy there is always a post about 'what is your price point'; and then what will you use it for.  Also posts about your skill level.

So my first question is what is your price point?

Instead of what will you use it for I would ask what is your minimum acceptable IQ.  IQ is basically photographer talk for Image Quality.  You will see terms like 1080p, 4k, and likely most important to things like rolling shutter and jello.  Unless you are happy with the images your UAV (Unmanned Ariel Vehicle) which is the term the FAA uses (and you do need to register it with the FAA if used in the US, and often register it in foreign countries and get a permit to import it) it really is a waste of money.  Not saying this is always enforced but many places they will simply take it away and fine you as well.  Not trying to put you off here but these are things you need to be aware of.

Even with DJI stuff which most folks say are the easiest to use there is a minimum skill level required to pilot one.  But more importantly this will also affect the IQ of the images you capture.  There is also the issue of post processing the raw images you capture using software on a computer.

The point I am trying to make is that most of the great vids you see on line are not straight out the UVA camera; they are the result of a decent pilot who also put in some time postprocessing raw footage on a computer.

My first advice is to get a simulator and play around with it to see how easy/hard it is for you to pilot a UVA; some are free and some cost more than you think.  All the skilled pilots I know probably spend ten times as much time on the sim as flying the real thing. I like the DSR sim on my android.

While I am a big fan of DJI stuff and have an Inspire, Phantoms, Mavics, and Sparks I also have an HexH20.  It really is waterproof and is a pro level hexcopter; and is likely above your price point.  Also have a Splash that does not meet my minimal IQ level.
 

 

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On 9/2/2020 at 10:41 PM, mrybas said:

I’ve flown my mavic while under sail a few times.  Catching the drone is a bit tricky but doable, especially if the catcher is wearing gloves.  Best to turn off obstacle avoidance and make sure you set the drone to ‘hover’ if signal is lost, and continually update your home point.

This video covers most of what you need to know for flying your DJI from a boat:

Found the video on this forum https://mavicpilots.com/threads/who-here-wants-to-fly-from-a-boat-but-doesnt-want-to-lose-their-drone.76448/

 

and some shots of with my mavic:

2A924F62-61FD-4BF2-A936-7D153FA5B380.jpeg

EB0D787D-FB6C-4EB4-A2C1-651975B057C1.jpeg

E617CD1E-C7D7-44AF-820B-4F8198ED78BA.jpeg

Great shots!

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