Author Topic: Dumb drone questions/advice needed from techies  (Read 1073 times)

EconDiva

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Dumb drone questions/advice needed from techies
« on: June 15, 2017, 07:19:42 AM »
I'm going on a trip and would really like to buy a drone to take with me.

However, I don't want to spend the money on one so I was thinking of buying a used one off Ebay.  I'm looking at the DJI Phantom 3 Pro.

I'm not a techie and have never flown one before.

Are they easy to use/fly?  I know this may sound silly but I'm thinking of buying a used one, using it for my trip, and then putting it back for sale on eBay or Craigslist once I return.  If this model is more complex and it isn't a good idea for a beginner to use I don't want to bother as I don't want to crash/damage it and not be able to resell it if that's what I choose to do. 

Otherwise I'll forget the drone idea and just get a GoPro Hero 4 videocam.

EDIT July 16, 2017:

I got a GoPro Hero 4 silver and just returned from my trip to Kauai.

I actually *also* bid on and won a DJI Phantom 4 (standard) drone but the person refunded my money stating 'something happened to it'.  Go figure.  It totally worked out because I had to learn how to use the GoPro while on vacay and figuring out how to use the drone too would have been just too much.  Also, my brother was originally going to fly from him his place in Oahu to meet me in Kauai but coudn't, so it's not like I would have had a second person to work one of the 2 devices.

Anywho, I'm pretty happy with the GoPro for now!  Here's my very first video I made with it!:

https://youtu.be/p5nTCCd9JSM

« Last Edit: July 16, 2017, 10:58:57 AM by EconDiva »

techwiz

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Re: Dumb drone questions/advice needed from techies
« Reply #1 on: June 15, 2017, 07:24:09 AM »
Drones have been getting a bad name lately and there are more and more laws in how they can be used. I would recommend to checkout the local rules for locations you are going to on your trip before making a decision.

The videocam would be easier to pack and less likely to cause you any problems.

Aggie1999

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Re: Dumb drone questions/advice needed from techies
« Reply #2 on: June 15, 2017, 07:59:45 AM »
The DJI line is simple to fly. If you get in trouble you just let go of the sticks, compose yourself, then figure out what to do. The P3/P4 line is decently big though. You might look at the Mavic. It's video quality is almost as good as the P3 Pro. There is also a new Spark model. No clue on that one though.

EconDiva

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Re: Dumb drone questions/advice needed from techies
« Reply #3 on: June 15, 2017, 08:45:14 AM »
Drones have been getting a bad name lately and there are more and more laws in how they can be used. I would recommend to checkout the local rules for locations you are going to on your trip before making a decision.

The videocam would be easier to pack and less likely to cause you any problems.

I will definitely check out the laws...I know you have to register the device as well.

I guess the GoPro would be less hassle and a sure quick/easy re-sell....

I need to stop watching these drone videos....

EconDiva

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Re: Dumb drone questions/advice needed from techies
« Reply #4 on: June 15, 2017, 08:45:50 AM »
The DJI line is simple to fly. If you get in trouble you just let go of the sticks, compose yourself, then figure out what to do. The P3/P4 line is decently big though. You might look at the Mavic. It's video quality is almost as good as the P3 Pro. There is also a new Spark model. No clue on that one though.

Thanks.  I'm seeing the Mavic is more expensive though.  Video quality definitely looks good.

Aggie1999

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Re: Dumb drone questions/advice needed from techies
« Reply #5 on: June 15, 2017, 09:05:02 AM »
The DJI line is simple to fly. If you get in trouble you just let go of the sticks, compose yourself, then figure out what to do. The P3/P4 line is decently big though. You might look at the Mavic. It's video quality is almost as good as the P3 Pro. There is also a new Spark model. No clue on that one though.

Thanks.  I'm seeing the Mavic is more expensive though.  Video quality definitely looks good.

Yep on the Mavic being more expensive. The P3 Pro/Adv line has gotten pretty cheap used. I just sold my P3 Pro for ~$500 with two batteries and hard case.

Syonyk

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Re: Dumb drone questions/advice needed from techies
« Reply #6 on: June 15, 2017, 10:05:45 AM »
I'm going on a trip and would really like to buy a drone to take with me.

How far away (time) is your trip and how are you getting there?  Traveling with them can be difficult if you're flying.  You'll need to carry all the batteries with you in the cabin, ideally discharged to around 30%.  This isn't actually enforced (state of charge), but it's a really good idea and matches air shipping requirements on batteries.

Quote
Are they easy to use/fly?  I know this may sound silly but I'm thinking of buying a used one, using it for my trip, and then putting it back for sale on eBay or Craigslist once I return.  If this model is more complex and it isn't a good idea for a beginner to use I don't want to bother as I don't want to crash/damage it and not be able to resell it if that's what I choose to do.

They are "easy to fly" in some ways ("keeping it in the center of the sky"), but that doesn't mean you'll get any particularly interesting footage.  There's the basic art of flying them safely, and then the much harder art of understanding how to compose shots and fly in a manner that leads to interesting footage or photos.  That takes practice - I'd say a week or two of pretty consistent flying (several times a day) should get you to a level where you're somewhat competent with the whole filming thing.  Then there's the post-processing and such that goes into making good videos, which is another set of skills.

Do you have a phone or tablet that is compatible with the Phantom 3's interface?  The consumer DJI drones rely on an attached phone for a lot of functionality - they're basically useless without one (you can fly a bit, but you can't focus, range is seriously limited, etc).

Quote
Otherwise I'll forget the drone idea and just get a GoPro Hero 4 videocam.

That's probably a better idea.  I've got a pair of GoPro Hero 4 Silvers that I love for random video work.  Much easier to learn as well.

I will definitely check out the laws...I know you have to register the device as well.

That's sort of up in the air right now.  A court struck down the registration requirement for hobbyist use, which presumably is relevant here, but you'll still need to comply with applicable local laws.  You still need to register them for commercial use.

Quote
I guess the GoPro would be less hassle and a sure quick/easy re-sell....

Yup.

Quote
I need to stop watching these drone videos....

For the most part, any impressive drone video you see is violating half a dozen or more applicable regulations about drone operation.  The big ones are that the drone has to remain in visual line of sight (unaided) and below 400' above ground level, unless you're within 400' of a structure, then you can fly to 400' over the structure (this allows them to be legally used for tower inspections and the like).  I see those violated... oh, pretty much always.  At least based on my experience with maintaining line of sight to a small flying thing.

Thanks.  I'm seeing the Mavic is more expensive though.  Video quality definitely looks good.

The Mavic's video quality is a bit less than some of the larger drones, but it folds down into an insanely compact little package for transport.  You can fit the drone, controller, and three batteries into a bag that's smaller than a film camera bag.  You just pay a bit of a price in video quality compared to the Phantom 4, and it doesn't have all direction obstacle detection (forward only).
My random project blog - ebikes, DIY, fans, and more: http://syonyk.blogspot.com

EconDiva

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Re: Dumb drone questions/advice needed from techies
« Reply #7 on: June 15, 2017, 10:15:22 AM »
I'm going on a trip and would really like to buy a drone to take with me.

How far away (time) is your trip and how are you getting there?  Traveling with them can be difficult if you're flying.  You'll need to carry all the batteries with you in the cabin, ideally discharged to around 30%.  This isn't actually enforced (state of charge), but it's a really good idea and matches air shipping requirements on batteries.

Quote
Are they easy to use/fly?  I know this may sound silly but I'm thinking of buying a used one, using it for my trip, and then putting it back for sale on eBay or Craigslist once I return.  If this model is more complex and it isn't a good idea for a beginner to use I don't want to bother as I don't want to crash/damage it and not be able to resell it if that's what I choose to do.

They are "easy to fly" in some ways ("keeping it in the center of the sky"), but that doesn't mean you'll get any particularly interesting footage.  There's the basic art of flying them safely, and then the much harder art of understanding how to compose shots and fly in a manner that leads to interesting footage or photos.  That takes practice - I'd say a week or two of pretty consistent flying (several times a day) should get you to a level where you're somewhat competent with the whole filming thing.  Then there's the post-processing and such that goes into making good videos, which is another set of skills.

Do you have a phone or tablet that is compatible with the Phantom 3's interface?  The consumer DJI drones rely on an attached phone for a lot of functionality - they're basically useless without one (you can fly a bit, but you can't focus, range is seriously limited, etc).

Quote
Otherwise I'll forget the drone idea and just get a GoPro Hero 4 videocam.

That's probably a better idea.  I've got a pair of GoPro Hero 4 Silvers that I love for random video work.  Much easier to learn as well.

I will definitely check out the laws...I know you have to register the device as well.

That's sort of up in the air right now.  A court struck down the registration requirement for hobbyist use, which presumably is relevant here, but you'll still need to comply with applicable local laws.  You still need to register them for commercial use.

Quote
I guess the GoPro would be less hassle and a sure quick/easy re-sell....

Yup.

Quote
I need to stop watching these drone videos....

For the most part, any impressive drone video you see is violating half a dozen or more applicable regulations about drone operation.  The big ones are that the drone has to remain in visual line of sight (unaided) and below 400' above ground level, unless you're within 400' of a structure, then you can fly to 400' over the structure (this allows them to be legally used for tower inspections and the like).  I see those violated... oh, pretty much always.  At least based on my experience with maintaining line of sight to a small flying thing.

Thanks.  I'm seeing the Mavic is more expensive though.  Video quality definitely looks good.

The Mavic's video quality is a bit less than some of the larger drones, but it folds down into an insanely compact little package for transport.  You can fit the drone, controller, and three batteries into a bag that's smaller than a film camera bag.  You just pay a bit of a price in video quality compared to the Phantom 4, and it doesn't have all direction obstacle detection (forward only).

Leaving 2 weeks from today (yikes) and will be flying. 

I have an iPhone 6.

Right now the GoPro seems like a better option with basically no time to practice flying for now.  I'm not seeing a ton of GoPro vids I'm liking surprisingly but I just started looking.  Maybe the editing in the vids I've been watching was a bit subpar or something.

Lots of helpful information in your post...thanks for sharing!

Syonyk

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Re: Dumb drone questions/advice needed from techies
« Reply #8 on: June 15, 2017, 10:21:36 AM »
The chances of getting your drone skills up to "useful footage" in less than a week are pretty slim unless you have a lot of time to devote to it.

Also, getting used, there's a non-zero chance that you'll need to replace something or other that wasn't mentioned in the auction.

Go with the GoPro.

Or just take cell phone camera photos/video like everyone else.  You have a pretty reasonable camera in your phone.
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inline five

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Re: Dumb drone questions/advice needed from techies
« Reply #9 on: June 15, 2017, 10:24:16 AM »
To be frank a Phantom 3 standard will pretty much do everything you need for the $399 I paid for it last year at Target.

The upgrade form P3S to P3P wasn't worth the $$ IMO and anything above that gets insanely expensive for just hobby use. The Pro limited the Lightbridge over the P4 which made the small extra $ of the P4 worth it over the P3P. IMO.

I will say if you are flying around close in neighborhoods sometimes I have issues with the 2.4ghz video lagging on my P3S which the Pro wouldn't or shouldn't have issues with, so that is a consideration.

Also they are quite large for traveling, the Mavic is expensive but makes it extremely easy to carry around. If I were buying another for hobby use I would get that one.

If you haven't flown a quad before drop $50 on a Syma X5 to learn the ropes. It's got a primitive stabilization system but is harder to operate than the DJI products which will be good practice.

Syonyk

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Re: Dumb drone questions/advice needed from techies
« Reply #10 on: June 15, 2017, 10:42:03 AM »
None of that is particularly useful for someone flying somewhere in 2 weeks...
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EconDiva

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Re: Dumb drone questions/advice needed from techies
« Reply #11 on: June 15, 2017, 12:19:35 PM »
I'd be good if I could get this type of quality from the videos I take while on vacay:

https://youtu.be/SiUHEDi7ZPc?list=PLyHEz2F1HNPq2ulQGuXdmqAVVRlGH2Cia

^Filmed with a GoPro Hero 4 Black...looking at these on eBay as we speak.  I realllly wish they would have mentioned what they edited with...

PoutineLover

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Re: Dumb drone questions/advice needed from techies
« Reply #12 on: June 15, 2017, 12:41:51 PM »
My friends brought a drone on our last trip and learned to fly it on the go, they had purchased it a day before leaving. However, one of them works at the apple store and both are young twenties, into gadgets, so they may have a bit of an advantage. They did some research about bringing the drone in the plane and what the rules were in Mexico, and had no issues there. They got some really sweet footage and the drone came back in one piece, so if you are careful and trust yourself to pick it up, I would definitely recommend it.

EconDiva

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Re: Dumb drone questions/advice needed from techies
« Reply #13 on: June 15, 2017, 12:54:45 PM »
My friends brought a drone on our last trip and learned to fly it on the go, they had purchased it a day before leaving. However, one of them works at the apple store and both are young twenties, into gadgets, so they may have a bit of an advantage. They did some research about bringing the drone in the plane and what the rules were in Mexico, and had no issues there. They got some really sweet footage and the drone came back in one piece, so if you are careful and trust yourself to pick it up, I would definitely recommend it.

Just curious what kind they used...

PoutineLover

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Re: Dumb drone questions/advice needed from techies
« Reply #14 on: June 15, 2017, 12:59:58 PM »
I think it was a phantom, but I'm not sure what model

Syonyk

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Re: Dumb drone questions/advice needed from techies
« Reply #15 on: June 15, 2017, 01:10:29 PM »
^Filmed with a GoPro Hero 4 Black...looking at these on eBay as we speak.  I realllly wish they would have mentioned what they edited with...

Don't buy the Black.  It has no screen on the back, and it's designed for people who need high FPS 4k video.  The Silver is a lot easier to use.
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EconDiva

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Re: Dumb drone questions/advice needed from techies
« Reply #16 on: June 15, 2017, 01:18:00 PM »
^Filmed with a GoPro Hero 4 Black...looking at these on eBay as we speak.  I realllly wish they would have mentioned what they edited with...

Don't buy the Black.  It has no screen on the back, and it's designed for people who need high FPS 4k video.  The Silver is a lot easier to use.

Oh really....?

Thanks for the info....

EconDiva

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Re: Dumb drone questions/advice needed from techies
« Reply #17 on: July 16, 2017, 10:59:07 AM »
EDIT July 16, 2017:

I got a GoPro Hero 4 silver and just returned from my trip to Kauai.

I actually *also* bid on and won a DJI Phantom 4 (standard) drone but the person refunded my money stating 'something happened to it'.  Go figure.  It totally worked out because I had to learn how to use the GoPro while on vacay and figuring out how to use the drone too would have been just too much.  Also, my brother was originally going to fly from him his place in Oahu to meet me in Kauai but coudn't, so it's not like I would have had a second person to work one of the 2 devices.

Anywho, I'm pretty happy with the GoPro for now!  Here's my very first video I made with it!:

https://youtu.be/p5nTCCd9JSM