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Harry Ketterer Builds His Own NightHawk Quadcopter

harr ketterer uav pilotOne of the greatest pleasures I have managing this website is communicating with you all, UAV enthusiasts, pilots, and aspiring business owners from all over the world.

I got a great email from Harry Ketterer, who lives in Dryden, Ontario and has been flying RC planes for the last 15 years. Harry recently built his own quadcopter, and I asked him for a short interview to learn more about his build, the UAV community in Dryden and his background as a pilot.

If you have any questions for Harry, comment at the bottom of this post.

Can you tell me a bit about your background flying remote control (RC) planes?

I’ve been flying RC planes for almost 15 years. I recently accepted the post of Secretary Treasurer for our local club this year, Patricia Region Aeromodelers.

As a young boy, I was always interested in flying. I lived one block from a water base, and spent a good portion of my spare time bugging pilots for a ride (to help with the unloading of course….lol). They were always very tolerant of me, so I got to ride quite often…it helped that my Mom and Dad knew the owners. but that is how I got hooked.

My best friend and I as teens had a couple of control-line planes we learned to crash very well…we couldn’t afford RC but we dreamed.

15 or 20 years later, my 10 year old was interested in RC. He had $100 that he had saved that year and wanted to spend it on an RTF Air Hogs with differential steering , so I offered to go in with him on a real RC trainer….if he would put up his $100, I would put in $250 that I had in my rainy day fund, and we would save the rest……we were still $400 short of the $750 I had gotten the local hobby shop owner to agree to for a 40-size trainer a radio…and he also agreed to train both of us to fly.

On my birthday, less than a month after making the agreement with my son, we both had saved a few dollars more each to add to our RC fund.

My wife gave me my birthday present…..it was a card with a check for the remainder of the amount we needed to get our very first RC plane….what an awesome wife. My love for RC planes only grew to the addiction it is today because of that awesome wife. Our Son has moved on, he is in his last year of university now, hopefully his interest in RC planes will return when he has the time and money.

What kind of aviation / RC community are you part of in Dryden?

The community of Dryden is a small (8500 people) hub in the middle of Northwestern Ontario, two hours from the Manitoba border. We have several waterbases and an airport that is long enough to land a 737, but we have lost our jet service for lack of traffic. The airport has the CL415 water bombers stationed here at the firebase so we see them quite often in the summer. Several of our club members are full size pilots also.

Why’d you decide to build a drone?

I decided to build a drone after buying a Proto X Nano a couple of years ago, and I flew it until I wore it out, then I thought I needed something bigger but I didn’t want the auto type flying of the DJI Phantom or the other ready to fly machines……then I found a video about drone racing….that was it!!!!  I knew what I wanted! A 250 FPV DRONE RACER!!!!!!.  The price at the time ( 2 yrs ago) was nearly $1000 for racer and FPV gear.  That was out of my price range. A couple of our club members have drones, 1 DJI Phantom and the other is a 450 size that was scratch built 3 yrs ago. So I got 1 of them interested in the racing drones. That was in the fall.

Last Christmas, our family got each other to write out a wish list of things you like but wouldn’t buy yourself. One of the items I had on my list was FPV goggles…again my awesome wife advances my RC addiction (I think she’s an enabler).. so I sold a bunch of glow motors and other gear I wasn’t using any more and generated enough funds to shop for a drone racer.

What resources did you consult? How’d you know what parts to buy?

A couple of the greatest forums I have found are RCCanada and RCGroups, there is a huge community involved in both and all are more than willing to help. YouTube was also instrumental in showing me how things should be.  I researched reviews and articles about 250 racers. I read and read and read and read…then I asked questions, watched videos and read and read more.

Deciding which frame, motors, esc, etc. …. one prerequisite was, I wanted to be able to use the 3 cell 2200mah lipos that I had already. It had to be durable as I will be crashing it lots while .  It had to be as affordable as possible…this was probably what made me pull the trigger…when I priced everything again (had been almost 2 years since I priced it last) there was many alternatives at half the price I had seen before.

How much did it cost?

I thought the most durable frame would be carbon fiber. The most affordable carbon fiber frame I could find was the Emax 250 Pro NightHawk. Because I wanted to use the 2200mah batteries I chose the beefier motor setup 2204 2300kv emax , 12a esc simon K. I found a combo on eBay with the frame, motors, and esc’s and 2 sets of carbon fiber 6

FAA Grants Amazon Permission To Test Drone Deliveries

Source: TechCrunch
By: Matt Burns

The FAA just released a statement indicating that Amazon now has limited permission to test and develop drones in the United States. It’s not a blank check, though. The FAA gave Amazon strict rules and regulations.

amazon prime air

Amazon announced its drone ambitions in October 2013 and has since been grounded by the FAA. The federal agency was not as enthusiastic about Amazon’s plans, forcing the company to test its projects overseas. Since then, Amazon has been building and developing its drone project at Cambridge.

Today’s news could bring the operation back to the states.

To use the drones stateside, Amazon must abide to several rules including keeping the drone under 400 feet and during daylight hours. The operator also must have a pilot’s and medical certification and most notably, keep the drone within sight at all times.

The FAA is also requiring Amazon to provide monthly data logs of flights and operators.

The drone industry is finally getting off the ground in the U.S. The FAA is finally responding to calls for action. Just last month the FAA finally published a basic set of rules and regulations relating to using drones for commercial purposes. But it took the FCC years to get to this point. The technology is simply outpacing regulation and the government agency is struggling to keep up.

TechCrunch has reached out to Amazon for comment.

The post FAA Grants Amazon Permission To Test Drone Deliveries appeared first on UAV Coach.

Inside The World’s First Billion Dollar Consumer Drone Company

Source: The Verge
By: Ben Popper

DJI is about to become the first billion dollar consumer drone company The company did around $500 million in sales during 2014 and is on pace to double that this year

Over the last two years DJI has emerged as the world’s most popular consumer drone maker, at least by revenue. And The Verge has learned that the company is currently in talks with Silicon Valley’s top venture capital firms to potentially raise a new round of funding. Sources familiar with the negotiations say DJI reported around $500 million in revenue for 2014, roughly four times what it did in 2013, and is on pace to do about $1 billion in sales this year. The potential valuation of the company would be a healthy multiple of that, several billion dollars, although no deal has yet been finalized.

The company helped bring small, powerful drones to the masses with its Phantom line of quadcopters, our favorite unit during last year’s testing. In doing so, the Shenzhen based firm became one of the first Chinese companies to help forge a new category of consumer electronics at global scale. The Phantom was simple enough for beginners, but powerful enough to interest serious hobbyists, professional photographers, and filmmakers. Last year we dubbed it “the kleenex of drones,” and that ubiquity has become a very big business.

With over 2,800 employees, DJI now has offices in Shenzhen, Hong Kong, Los Angeles, Rotterdam, Tokyo, and Kobe. It sells several different variations of its Phantom drone, as well as its higher-end “prosumer” unit, the Inspire One, and its much larger S-class units. It also has a popular line of gimbals used for stabilizing cameras during flight, and has translated that technology into a handheld camera stabilizer, the Ronin, used by film and TV professionals.

drone funding

CBI Insights found drone funding was up 104 percent between 2013 and 2014.

The company was founded in 2006 by Frank Wang, then a student at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. Originally DJI was centered on building flight control systems for model helicopters, which Wang had loved since childhood. But as multi-rotor drones began to gain popularity, Wang deftly turned the company toward that market.

Before the Phantom, most highly capable consumer drones were sold to serious hobbyists and required a lot of assembly and know-how. The French company, Parrot, had a simple, popular unit with its A.R. Drone, but that was not a very powerful craft. The Phantom represented the first relatively cheap drone that came ready to fly out of the box, but boasted top of the line flight control systems. They also had a potent pitchman in Colin Guinn, who we met for the first time at SXSW in 2012. North America represents DJI’s biggest market.

Mr. Guinn has since left for rival drone maker 3D Robotics, which two weeks ago announced a $50 million round of funding led by Qualcomm. And Parrot recently released its own more powerful quadcopter, the Bebop, taking direct aim at DJI’s Phantom line. Up until now, DJI had taken on relatively little outside capital, preferring to bootstrap the business. But as competition heats up, it is considering taking on venture capital to help maintain its lead and potentially branch out into new sectors of the booming drone market.

The post Inside The World’s First Billion Dollar Consumer Drone Company appeared first on UAV Coach.

Flying a Drone Inside the World’s Largest Cave


Ryan Deboodt, an aerial videographer, takes us on an otherworldly journey through Sơn Đoòng, the world’s largest cave, by both ground and air.

Located near the Laos-Vietnam border, Sơn Đoòng cave was only discovered in 1991. It wasn’t until 2009 that it was officially deemed the world’s largest. If you’re wondering why it took that long, I suggest picking up a copy of Blind Descent: The Quest to Discover the Deepest Place on Earth. It’s one of the most exhilarating books I’ve ever read and gave me an admiration for the amazing amount of logistics and psychological fortitude required to be a deep cave adventurer. Unreal.

Anyways, back to Sơn Đoòng. Ryan filmed the cave near its entrance and the first and second dolines (skylights), which are 2.5 and 3.5 km inside the cave respectively.

Ryan’s aerial videography rig:

Canon 6D Canon 16-35mm f4 DJI Phantom 2 GoPro Hero 4 Black

Check out more from Ryan at his website, on Instagram, or on Facebook.

The post Flying a Drone Inside the World’s Largest Cave appeared first on UAV Coach.

Applications for UAVs in Civil Engineering

Note: The following article comes from Sam over at Civil FX. Read more about Sam in his bio below. Want to write for UAV Coach? Kick us a note at alan@uavcoach.com.

uav civil engineering industryThe horizontal nature of civil engineering lends to some practical and creative uses of UAVs in the industry. From planning to final construction, nearly every stage of the engineering process can benefit from the aerial craft.

While there are those that are slow to adopt new ideas and the government is only now working towards universal commercial laws for UAVs, there is still incredible potential in the field, today and in years to come.

It should be noted that many of the tasks required of UAVs are already taking place on many large projects, just carried out by full sized airplanes and helicopters. These include aerial mapping, LiDAR scanning and taking footage and photography for promotional purposes. However, as these tasks are handed over from manned to unmanned craft during this transitional phase smaller projects will be able to benefit from these uses. Costs will drop and the barriers currently in place for participating in aerial mapping and photography will become a reality for nearly all projects.

Additionally, while even the largest projects currently are usually flown only once due to the cost involved, in the future the mapping applications (both 2D imagery and 3D surfaces) can be more of a dynamic process with multiple flights throughout the life of the project. This can help in updating design imagery and surfaces and also help management track construction progress.

While these improvements on existing technologies will surely be welcomed to engineers and contractors alike (and those in the commercial UAV industry that capitalize on these new opportunities), there are a few less obvious uses of UAVs in civil engineering that I find particularly interesting.

Granted, my entire career is focused on 3D visualization in civil engineering so I’m a little biased, but utilizing unmanned craft in methods similar to how the movie industry is using them has surprising potential.

Currently, when we want to show existing conditions for a project we have to use photos and aerial imagery to recreate these areas in 3D. The process is time consuming and the results aren’t typically great. However, if you were able to fly a project and collect the incredible footage we are seeing from UAVs these days, you could potentially use the power of special effects to avoid existing condition modeling altogether. Through the process of compositing you could possibly combine the existing aerial footage with a virtual 3D flythrough showing a proposed project with realism beyond what is currently possible.

The other area where UAVs can transform 3D visualization in civil engineering as we know it is through the use of photoscanning. This is related to the current LiDAR/surface capturing techniques but differs in the fact that surfaces are rebuilt using only cameras (no laser scanning necessary). But not only can you capture the surface of the ground, photoscanning can capture the entire world as it currently exists. This includes trees, infrastructure, buildings, city furniture… and so on. This technology rebuilds these objects in 3D- using only the pictures and fancy algorithms- and also applies the images to the objects as a texture for an ultra-realistic look and feel. (You can try this technology yourself for free using the 123D Catch app by Autodesk)

Rebuilding the existing world in 3D using aerial photography may not offer the level of realism as the aforementioned composting, but it would allow you to build a virtual world and fly it and render it from an unlimited number of directions.

Regardless of how we use UAVs in the coming years, there is one thing that is for certain- we will use them and- if we let them- they will transform our industry.

sam civil fxSam Lytle, PE is the owner and founder of Civil FX, a visualization studio that focuses on transportation, construction and other civil engineering projects. He is a licensed civil engineer in the state of Nevada where he lives with his wife and three children.

Learn more at www.civilfx.com

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