Drone Course

General flying movements

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Master to help with your aerial productions

The below is appropriate for flying FPV or Line Of Sight. There are lots of different flight patterns that you will need to master on your big videoing and photography missions.

What these are and how these will help generate inspiring footage for your production is covered in a whole other section of the course with extensive illustrated footage. Meanwhile there are a few simple exercises that you can practice to prepare you for flying these video generating flight patterns. Practice these exercises below in a relatively small area such as a local field. Make sure the area is far away from property or people that you could damage. You are not concentrating on getting any video at this stage, just seeing if you can keep a target on track as you fly at different speeds.

Straight Line: Practice following a line such as a row of hedges. See how close you can stay to that line without drifting off it and practice it at different speeds and heights.

Curved Line: Practice the same as above with a line with a curve such as hedges, a curving ditch, a row of plants.

Pivot Point: Find a target such as a tree in the middle of a field. Hover in front of it and above it. Try and move your drone sideways and slightly forward so that you rotate around the tree in a circle maintaining the tree in the centre of the view from your quad. Try to keep the distance between the drone and the target the same as you circle around it. Do the same but this time fly towards the tree, pole or whatever your target is first and sweep into an arc around it.

Be wary of any signal loss that may occur as you rotate around the object. Stay above it in order to allow you to maintain line of sight and reduce chance of signal loss. Otherwise when the target gets in between you and the drone it may block your control or video signal depending on the density of the target and the distance of you to the drone. Have a spotter to help and position them so they can see around the back of the object and still communicate to you.

Combination: Find a set of targets like the above and plan some flight patterns like above and practice combining them all together in fluid motions.

Flight Simulators are useful for bad weather situations, night time and other times when you are desperate to get out but can’t – or you haven’t got a multirotor yet. There are a number on the market and three of the names include Phoenix RCRealFlight and AeroSimRC. At this time (06/DEC/14) they range from about 85USD upwards.

You can typically use your own controller to control the simulated multirotor (the software normally comes with a lead or wireless attachment that plugs into the back of many controllers). This is excellent as you are developing real muscle memory that will be transferable to the real world. AeroSimRC is marketing itself very pointedly at multirotor pilots including those that want to practice FPV. It offers to simulate the Naza’s (as found in the DJI kit) 3 flight modes. The other simulators are also starting to offer similar features and they update their software regularly.

I started out with a flight simulator a long time ago and found it relatively useful. They sell themselves on giving you risk free practice with zero crash costs. There were no GPS or ALT modes in the simulator I practiced with only manual flying mode, though a basic simulation of FPV mode. The key thing it did was build my confidence up. Frankly, I found it a lot easier flying the real thing with GPS mode which made me broaden my wings quicker after the flight simulator practice.

Mini-indoor quads: An alternative to get practice if you can’t get out doors is to buy a very cheap mini indoor quad that will fit in the palm of your hand. Buy one that is designed to be operated off your own controller (i.e. it doesn’t come with a controller of its own). This will keep the cost down. Some can operate with a 2.4 control signal which your controller will be likely to have and if you get a spare battery or two (they typically charge off a USB port), then you can keep flying whilst you charge and have long practice sessions.

They typically come with spare props which you will need. The price for this whole setup is often the same as a simulator. You can then practice the routines at the top of this list . Like with the flight simulator, as you are using your own controller you will be developing some relevant muscle memory. Typically these mini indoor quads are fun and much harder to fly than the “real thing” so can set you up quite well for when it stops raining or its dark. Make sure it is a safe and suitable place to fly indoors that you can do no damage in.

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