Government Expo – The National Drone Show 2018

Join Douglas Spotted Eagle at the for a full day sUAS Workshop

DC Post|Production Conference

A three-day training event, the DC Post | Production Conference is designed for professionals in TV, video, film, motion graphics and new media who wish to maximize their creativity and efficiency and improve their technical skills. Sessions are geared toward intermediate to advanced professionals and are presented theater-style with ample time for Q&A. The conference runs three full days in four parallel tracks.Gi

By | November 28th, 2018|0 Comments

Update? Calibrate!

Software and firmware run the world of UAS, and some developer/manufacturers offer/require frequent updates. Updates are a component of the maintenance process for any UAS and should be manually checked at minimum, every 30 days. We recommend that any old software/firmware versions be archived if possible, in the event of problems encountered with a new update. Rolling back software is a good option (when possible).  In addition to archiving old software/firmware versions (when possible), it is required by the FAA that any maintenance be logged. This includes logging any software/firmware updates to the aircraft system.

For many UAS pilots/operators, the process ends at the update. In fact, many updates occur in-field with automated software updates being required by some manufacturer/developers, so the pilot uses WiFi or cellular connection to update the aircraft, controller, software, or battery, just before flying the next mission. There have been many instances where the next action with the aircraft is to begin the planned mission.

This is a mistake.

Any time software or firmware on the aircraft, tablet, battery, IMU, or other component of the aircraft is implemented, it is recommended that the aircraft be re-calibrated. This step is frequently put aside in interests of time, and can result in disaster.

The issue this pilot had could have been avoided had the aircraft and system been recalibrated prior to flight. The aircraft is a total loss due to compass error.

Software/Firmware updates are not always reliable and in some cases, result in safety issues. Recalibration is an important step in mitigating risk due to unknown factors generated via the software/firmware update process.  Compass, accelerometer, etc all must be recalibrated. It is also a good idea to let the aircraft sit for a few minutes after powering up, to acquire all satellites prior to flight after a recalibration.

Take 5 to avoid issues. Calibrate after every software/firmware update, and log the calibration along with the notice of update/firmware changelog.  Your flights will be more safe and confident.

 

By | November 27th, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments

UAVs in Public Safety – H520 Roadshow – Williamsport, PA

WestWind and Sundance Media Group have partnered together to showcase UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) in Public Safety. This unique roadshow is designed to educate agencies (law enforcement, fire, EMS, and other first responders) on the value of a turnkey drone program and how implementing drones into the workflow can decrease costs and personnel risks and increase efficiencies. This free introduction to “UAV as a Tool” will showcase the new Yuneec H520 hexacopter and the DataPilot mapping program, as well as other accessories and technologies that create a turnkey UAV solution for a variety of public safety applications.

  • Search and Rescue
  • Accident Reconstruction
  • Crime Scene Mapping
  • Crowd Control
  • Active Shooter Scenarios
  • Intelligence-gathering
  • Photographing Remote Crash Sites
  • Airborne communication Repeater Platforms
  • Terrain Mapping
  • Crash/Disaster Site Monitoring
  • Enhance Safety at a Contaminated Scene
  • Fire Scene Management Tools with Thermal Imaging & Resource Management
  • Value of a birdseye view of operations on a large scene

Our presenters will also showcase FoxFury Lighting SolutionsHoverFlyVenom Power,  and Hoodman USA accessories.

Join us for a two hour presentation, light snacks and beverages.

If you have any questions about the roadshow or its location, please email rsvp@sundancemediagroup.com.

REGISTER HERE

Be sure to bring all your drone / UAV / sUAS questions with you!

Fire & H520

By | September 19th, 2018|0 Comments

CSI and sUAS: Tools for the Crime Scene Analyst

FoxFury, Pix4D, Sundance Media Group (SMG), and the Nevada Drone Center of Excellence came together during the InterDrone Conference, sharing techniques and technology used for capturing forensic scenes during night hours. This event will be repeated during the Commercial UAV Expo in Las Vegas on October 3, at the WestGate hotel. Register now for the Commercial UAV Expo CSI demonstration.

Sundance Media Group and the CSI data may also be viewed at Booth #5413 at the Global Security eXchange Security Conference and Expo, September 23-27 in Las Vegas, NV at the Las Vegas Convention Center.  Register for the GSX show HERE.

Douglas Spotted Eagle addresses a crowd gathered for a crime scene/sUAS demo with local crime scene investigators, FoxFury, Pix4D, and Sundance Media Group

As you’d expect, the ratio of nighttime vs daytime crime is much higher,” said one investigator from a local law enforcement agency. “This sort of training and experience provides greater depth to our toolkit. We are grateful to have partners willing to research and share experiences that may benefit our agency.”

Using FoxFury Nomad Hi CRI, daylight-balanced lighting, to light the scene in an area of East Henderson where no power and no available light existed, the team used Hollywood makeup techniques, a bit of stage blood, and shell casings to re-create a genuine crime scene. The “crime scene” was kept pristine as nearly 100 attendees looked on.

The FoxFury Nomads, properly positioned, provide a no/low-shadow environment with accurate colors.

Most LED lighting systems will generate a color-cast that may create problems in the post-capture investigation. Moreover, the lights do not require cabling that can trip up those on-scene, or create their own form of scene contamination. To place them, we merely pull down three legs, raise the pillar, and power up the lights. At half intensity, the lights provide approximately 12 hours of lighting,” says Douglas Spotted Eagle of Sundance Media Group. The FoxFury Nomads may be charged over a 12v connection in a patrol/support vehicle as well. 

FoxFury Rugo’s are placed on the aircraft for additional lighting as well as for FAA compliance. The Rugo provides a constant flash indicator in addition to options for Flood, Flat, or Pinspot light distribution. The Rugo mounts for the Yuneec and DJI products offer a 360 swivel, allowing for light control in any direction. Users may choose from four intensities in addition to the flash/cycle option.

 

James Spear talked about the aircraft lighting, saying “We use the FoxFury Rugo’s for our scene and night lighting not only due to the many options for lighting focus, but also because of the interchangeable batteries. At full intensity, we enjoy about an hour of flight time, yet the lights will operate for up to three hours at lower intensities.”

Ground Control Points were laid into place on the perimeter of the scene, taking care to ensure no one stepped into the scene. These are used as tie-points during the 2D and 3D assembly of the data, using Pix4Dmapper. The GCP’s for night capture are painted with Day-Glo paint colors for bright visibility and identification in the darkness of night. Similar techniques may be employed during thermal mapping projects (Pix4Dmapper on the desktop may be used for thermal mapping if the thermal camera properly embeds/captures meta-data). Shown here by Brady Reisch of the SMG team, the GCP’s are a highly-valued component to set scale constraints to the scene.

The area was flown with a drone equipped with a camera capturing GPS location, capturing a reduced area for purposes of avoiding flight over persons, and for expediency during the demonstration.

The pilot, wearing a Brother AiRScouter HUD, is able to simultaneously observe the aircraft and telemetry. Attendees of the event had opportunity to wear the HUD and appreciate the value of a constant display that enables pilots to observe the aircraft, telemetry, and video data, all at once.  Jennifer Pidgen of SMG commented, “We have equipped each of our pilots with the AiRScouter system not only for these scenarios, but more importantly for those times where we’re inspecting critical detail and looking away from the aircraft may increase risk. The AirScouter enables our pilots to observe the aircraft flying closely to objects while providing a constant stream of information to the pilot.”

The sUAS captured nearly 100 photos used to create the overall model/map of the scene. Normally, the scene would encompass the entire area in the event that there may be more clues hidden in the brush or sandy areas surrounding the site. Thermal may also be used to search for other bodies, or persons involved in the crew.

The images were then taken into the Sundance Media Group AVOC computers, where we assembled them as a low-resolution 2D file to verify all areas of the scene were adequately captured,” said Sam Pepple, of Pix4D. “Once verification and confirmation are complete, the scene may be released to the rest of the CSI team for standard investigation. Following the low-resolution verification, a high-resolution image was processed and evaluated by the team, as shown in the Pix4D booth at InterDrone.”

The point cloud of the scene is shared online here. Hold CTRL+SHIFT to rotate the scene in 3 dimensions.

Once the scene is captured, the rectified scene may be viewed internally or via secured online site by CSA, or Crime Scene Analysts, allowing measurements to be verified, retaken, or examined from a multitude of angles. 

The Sundance Media Group team will be demonstrating this experience at the Commercial UAV Expo in Las Vegas on October 3. Location TBA, near the WestGate hotel (walking distance).  REGISTER HERE. It is recommended that attendees register early. The last event ran out of space/slots within three days.

Thank you to Pix4D, FoxFury, Brother, NDCOE, WestWind Unmanned, Las Vegas Metro, Henderson PD, and Sundance Media Group for their efforts to bring this to the attendees of the InterDrone event.

Douglas Spotted Eagle addresses a crowd of nearly 100 attendees at the CSI demo.

Sam Pepple of Pix4D addresses the crowd, describing how Pix4D will be used to capture the scene, the importance and value of GCP, and why these models are valuable to crime scene investigators. 

An investigator briefs the crowd on how UAS are changing the face of scene capture, and details how a scene is approached, observed, captured, and processed.

We captured the scene using multiple drones. Brady Reisch captured video of the event; we’ll soon have that available for viewing.

The SMG AVOC was the hub of activity prior to the night flight. Pizza and drinks provided by FoxFury and Pix4D.

The FoxFury Rugo lights are a key component to SMG night flight. They may be mounted  to nearly any sUAS platform including Yuneec H520, Hplus, DJI Phantom, Inspire 1, Inspire 2, Matrice 200 series, AEE Mach 4, and many others.

By | September 10th, 2018|Drone, Public Safety, sUAS, sUAS, sUAS Safety, Technology, Training, UAV|0 Comments

Practical Night UAV Flight Training (Post-Interdrone 2018)

About the Workshop

Sundance Media Group (SMG) will offer practical Night UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, otherwise known as drone) flight training course to equip UAV pilots with the knowledge, skills and confidence to pilot your UAV at night safely, efficiently and effectively.

Greater than 70 percent of our flying information comes through the eye and the eye is easily fooled at night. This is compounded by the inexperienced pilot alternating views between a tabled/lighted display and the position of the UAV in the sky. Night flying has a higher accident rate than identical day flying, both in UAV and manned aviation. Why? Depth perception is severely distorted, as is reaction time. There are also visual illusions that need to be recognized and mitigated. This session will provide information that will allow pilots to sidestep these challenges, while properly assessing and managing the risks associated with night flight (as waived per Part 107.29). You’ll also learn the foundation of applying for a COW/COA for night flight from an experienced night-flight pilot

Theoretical Training (2 hours)  (Henderson Executive Airport)

The workshop will begin with a comprehensive theory session classroom style, then we head out to the night flight location for some practical experience. Topics to be covered during the classroom portion: 

  • FAA rules of night UAV flight  (What is a 107.29 waiver?)
  • Different types of visual illusions that commonly occur at night
  • Autokinesis and night landing Illusions and how to avoid them
  • Equipment setup
  • Risk Mitigation
  • Importance of acclimating your eye for night flight & avoid light contamination
  • Foundation of applying for a COW/COA for night flight from an experienced night-flight pilot

This workshop is designed to provide all the necessary information needed to empower pilots to sidestep these challenges, while properly assessing and managing the risks associated with night flight (as waived per Part 107.29).  *This workshop includes a certificate of night flight training, which can be used to expedite your FAA waiver.

After a comprehensive theory session, we will travel to the nearby night flight location for some practical experience. We’ll present different types of visual illusions that commonly occur at night. In this practical hands-on class, we will discuss visual illusions as well as best practices for night flying. We will cover Autokinesis and Night Landing Illusions and how to avoid them. We will also discuss acclimating your eye for night flight. We will also cover the use of lights to illuminate our subjects and how to avoid “light contamination” in our eyes.

  • Practical Flight Training (2 hours)  (In the field!)
    • Overview of pre-planning checklist
      • Outline for the day
      • Wind Speed/weather check
      • Location overview: On-site walkthrough of potential obstacles/issues
      • Safety & Emergency procedures (requirement of aircraft lighting)
      • Equipment check, site setup, and basic flight controls
    • Overview of Night Flight UAV flight requirements
      • Airspace & notification requirements
      • Communication with ground crew and Visual Observer
    • UAV Night Flight with craft of choice

Registration with this workshop includes:

  • A Night UAV Flight Handbook
  • Boxed Dinner before heading out to the field for practical training
  • A red flashlight
  • Post-Class, a certificate of completion*

 

*The certificate of night flight training, which can be used to expedite your FAA waiver.

Please note:  UAVs outfitted with required FAA lighting systems will be provided for the attendees to fly for this workshop. Please do not bring your personal UAV as we will not be able to fly it during this workshop.

Participants should have some drone flight experience prior to taking this workshop.  A 107 certification is recommended.

Schedule

  • Theoretical Class (including test & marking):  3:30 – 6:00pm
  • Dinner 6:00pm
  • FIELD 7:00 pm
  • SUNSET 7:31 PM
  • FLYING 8:00pm – 10:30pm

FAQS

What are my transportation/parking options for getting to and from the event?

Attendees are responsible for their own transportation to the event (both classroom and field).   We can assist with carpooling if necessary.

How can I contact the organizer with any questions?

Please do:  Contact us at workshops@sundancemediagroup.com

What’s the refund policy?

Full refunds offered with 24 hours notice.

Do I have to bring my printed ticket to the event?

No, just ID.

Is my registration fee or ticket transferrable?

Tickets are non-transferrable.  Please cancel and re-register.

 

 

By | September 8th, 2018|0 Comments

PRESS RELEASE: Aerial Vehicle Operations Center hits the skies of Southern Nevada, Utah

Mobile command post first of its kind in the South West

 

Las Vegas, NV, February 6, 2018:  Sundance Media Group (SMG) announces the Aerial Vehicle Operations Center (AVOC) for unmanned aerial operations. “We’re very excited about the AVOC, as it not only brings our operations to a more broad level, but also allows us to expand our operational ability,” says James Spear, pilot/instructor at SMG.  “The cooled, large interior operating space with multiple computer stations and operational components designed for night flight allow us to support Search and Rescue missions, overwatch, and other support activities in addition to our more common UAV activities in construction site data, real estate image capture, and training operations.”

The mobile operations center is self-contained with shore, generator, or battery power ability. In addition to supporting up to four UAS operators at one time, the AVOC is capable of delivering data in real-time to any organization requiring live video, photo, thermal image or data transfer.

“Combined with our Class B and Class B night operations waivers, SMG is able to satisfy virtually any client requirement, says Jennifer Pidgen, COO of SMG. “Our waivers, the AVOC, our many pilots that are certificated Airman, Instructor/Examiners, Advanced, Ground Instructors added to our 22 years of technology-focused training leave no doubt that we are the premiere training and post-production offering in the Southwest.”

The AVOC is the core of the field-training component of the SMG instructor/examiner program which trains UAS pilots to also be instructors, generating in-house training programs for corporations and organizations intending to field a fleet of UAS.

“Our training organization is quite different from the majority of training programs in the US,” explains Douglas Spotted Eagle, Director of Educational Programming at SMG, “Rather than simply being pilots that decided to teach, we have implemented aviation standards and training requirements that at the core, are about educational excellence first, risk mitigation-training second, and UAS operations third. Anyone can fly a drone. Yet few 107 pilots have aviation backgrounds and culture, in addition to understanding ISO risk mitigation practices. We offer that background, and that’s why we have so many State, Local, and Federal clients pass through our doors.”

For Release August 21, 2018

Sundance Media Group Contact:  Jennifer Pidgen      Ph: 801.231.4911       Email: jennifer@sundancemediagroup.com

 

 

AUGUST Night UAV Flight Training – Las Vegas

About the Workshop

Experienced field UAV (drone) instructors will offer this practical Night UAV flight training course to equip remote pilots with the knowledge, skills and confidence to pilot an UAV at night safely, efficiently and effectively.

Greater than 70 percent of our flying information comes through the eye and the eye is easily fooled at night. This is compounded by the inexperienced pilot alternating views between a tabled/lighted display and the position of the UAV in the sky. Night flying has a higher accident rate than identical day flying, both in UAV and manned aviation. Why? Depth perception is severely distorted, as is reaction time. There are also visual illusions that need to be recognized and mitigated. This is a practical hands-on class where visual illusions will be experienced in the field as instructors share best practices for night flying.

The workshop will begin with a comprehensive theory session classroom style, then we will head out to the night flight location for some practical experience. Topics to be covered during the classroom portion:

  • FAA rules of night UAV flight  (What is a 107.29 waiver?)
  • Different types of visual illusions that commonly occur at night
  • Autokinesis and night landing Illusions and how to avoid them
  • Equipment setup
  • Risk Mitigation
  • Importance of acclimating your eye for night flight & avoid light contamination
  • Foundation of applying for a COW/COA for night flight from an experienced night-flight pilot

This workshop is designed to provide all the necessary information needed to empower pilots to sidestep these challenges, while properly assessing and managing the risks associated with night flight (as waived per Part 107.29).  *This workshop includes a certificate of night flight training, which can be used to expedite your FAA waiver.

Registration with this workshop includes:

  • Night UAV Flight Handbook
  • Light meal before heading out to the field for practical training
  • A red flashlight
  • Post-Class, a certificate of completion

Please note:  UAVs outfitted with required FAA lighting systems will be provided for the attendees to fly for this workshop. Please do not bring your personal UAV as we will not be able to fly it during this workshop.

Participants should have some drone flight experience prior to taking this workshop.  A 107 certification is recommended.

Schedule

  • Theoretical Class (including test & marking):  3:30 – 6:00pm
  • Dinner 6:00pm
  • FIELD 7:00 pm
  • SUNSET 7:31 PM
  • FLYING 8:00pm – 10:30pm

FAQS

What are my transportation/parking options for getting to and from the event?

Attendees are responsible for their own transportation to the event (both classroom and field).

How can I contact the organizer with any questions?

Please do:  Contact us at workshops@sundancemediagroup.com

What’s the refund policy?

Full refunds offered with 24 hours notice.

Do I have to bring my printed ticket to the event?

No, just ID.

Is my registration fee or ticket transferrable?

Tickets are non-transferrable.  Please cancel and re-register.

 

REGISTER EARLY to Save

Early Bird Pricing – $425

Pricing After August 3 – $520

 

By | August 15th, 2018|0 Comments

Sundance Media Group Training with DMA and Yuneec

Sundance Media Group, LLC (SMG) has been busy this past quarter of 2017 and in an effort to share more of our experiences within the UAS industry, we will post articles more often.  No easy feat when we are more often in the field than in the office!

With most of the clients we train, there is a discussion of which platform is best to use.  Our answer, or rather question, is always the same:  “What is the purpose of UAV as a Tool within your business?”  Every UAV has a slightly different set of benefits and functions and it’s important to source the best equipment for the job at hand.

Early in August, there was an announcement that shook up the drone industry:  U.S. Army grounded its use of all drones and components made by Chinese manufacturer DJI citing concerns of “cyber vulnerabilities”.  As a result, several branches of the military have been investigating other UAV/UAS options.

Subsequent to having their original selection of UAV aircraft grounded for security breaches, the Defense Media Activity (DMA), reached out to SMG for consultation and to identify and train on aircraft that would meet the security directive issued by the Department of Defense.  The DMA is a component of the Department of Defense, in use of UAV for newsgathering, image capture, and field deployment.

Sundance Media Group recommended the Yuneec H520 and Typhoon H480 platforms, and the DMA immediately went about verifying the security statement provided by Yuneec USA regarding security of their platform.

From Yuneec’s Press Release from August 29, 2017:

“Yuneec’s customers recognize the importance of keeping data and images secure. The Yuneec data ecosystem empowers users and organizations to control their data at all times. Yuneec commercial sUAS do not collect and do not share telemetry or visual data to internal or external parties.”

On September 18, 2017, the Department of the Army, the sponsor of UAV programming, did certificate the Yuneec platform as a secure system that may be used for VFR DoD activity in accordance with existing COA’s. The impact of this certification is that the DoD’s DMA division has been able to immediately, securely replace their previous aircraft with an authorized platform that meets security requirements of the military.

According to leadership at the DMA, the Yuneec platform is the only “ready to fly”/ “off the shelf” product currently enjoying the Airworthiness certification for military use. While the new Yuneec H520 was not immediately available for the DMA to purchase, the DMA purchased several Yuneec Typhoon H’s.

Ultimately, the DMA contracted Sundance Media Group for training on their new Yuneec Typhoon H aircraft and with this DoD certification, SMG went to work in providing access to the certificated aircraft, creating a specific training manual and operational documentation for the DMA team.

The SMG team spent September 22 & 23 working with the DMA.  Our instructors, Luisa Winters and Douglas Spotted Eagle spent time going over standard safety practices with the Yuneec platform, the theory of night flight, and in the field working on practical operational use of the aircraft.  As beta testers of the Yuneec H520 platform, we also had the opportunity to demonstrate the new Yuneec H520 platform.

The DMA serves as a direct line of communication for news and information to U.S. forces worldwide. The agency presents news, information and entertainment on a variety of media platforms, including radio, television, internet, print media and emerging media technologies and Sundance Media Group is pleased to be a provider of services that not only meet the quality requirements of the Department of Defense, but also meeting the security requirements set forth by the Department of Defense.

The DMA also had their team film our training days for the creation of a DoD video showcasing how the DMA will be using these sUAS as a media tool.  Once that commercial is finalized, we will be sure to share the link out as well.

Educate.  Mitigate.  Aviate.  Empower your Aerial Workflow.

 

(On a side note, during our day training, we were graced with the presence of a bald eagle!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By | October 1st, 2017|Drone, Regulations, sUAS, Training, UAV|0 Comments

Why *I* Don’t Catch my Drone

Catching a Drone

Recently I was asked “When do you choose to catch your drone vs landing your drone?

Catching a drone in midflight seems to be a badge of honor amongst some drone pilots and the reasoning behind it is baffling. It’s “so easy to do” there are even videos that teach drone operators how to catch their drone.

They have a number of arguments in favor of doing so.

I don’t want to risk my UAV hitting the ground.” “Dirt gets into the props when it’s taking off or landing.” “It looks really cool to people watching, and it shows I’m a pro when I catch my drone.”

On Facebook I once made a comment regarding the safety aspect of drone-catching and was promptly rebuffed with “If you can’t catch your drone, you don’t know how to fly” was the leading theme in the long string of derisive commentary that followed. I *can* catch my drone, just as I *can* play tag with an angry bull in a corral (and have done so).

A previous article entitled “Understanding Turbulence,” discusses how rotors and lee-winds can unpredictably affect UAV/drone flight. A human body is an obstacle to wind and the body is capable of diverting rotor wash or create a sink space. While being able to catch a drone mid-flight is certainly ego-supportive, it simply is unsafe for oneself and bystanders.

Symbol-ErrorWARNING, BLOODY IMAGES TO FOLLOW BELOW!

 

OK, YOU’VE BEEN WARNED

Here are a few injuries from around the web, demonstrating a varying degree of injuries by small UAV propellers. Some propellers are nylon-encased plastic. Others are carbon-fiber (CF). CF props are the most dangerous of all as they have no give, and are very sharp on the edges, providing for faster flight and more precise control.

Small drone injury

This is a relatively small cut from a prop, incurred while catching a drone mid-flight. An arrogant UAV operator commented “He didn’t know how to fly.” Perhaps the injured person knows how to fly; an unpredictable wind caught his vehicle and caused it to tilt?

A drone selfie and catch went wrong when the props fell into the sinkcreated by a body obstructing air.

DroneSelfie

Some people simply don’t learn the first time. There are those that count these scars as “badges of honor.” One might call them scarlet letters of stupidity. This person has experience in cutting himself.

Larger drone injury

With a drone loosely in hand and the motors spinning down,the drone may fall away from or towards the body, catching a bicep or forearm.

Pre-stitch cut

This is a similar injury. The injured man was holding his drone by the landing skids and it “pulled away and then towards him” as the quadcopter attempted to self-balance. Nine stitches later, he regretted catching and holding the vehicle. At least the CF blades made for neat and clean slices.

Drone Stitches

Having a flying Cuisinart at arms-length or less simply isn’t a good idea for a variety of reasons. At arms-length is entirely too close to the face and neck.

A reporter for the Brooklyn Daily was struck by a drone, cutting her nose and chin.

ReporterCut

Ultimately, the crew at Mythbusters (they love UAV/Drones and use them in production of their show) did a segment on the potential lethality of drones. Perhaps a bit extreme, one cannot miss their point.

Latin pop-star Enrique Eglasias likely has lost significant sensitivity in his hand due to attempting to catch a UAV during a concert performance. I have little doubt that some UAV operator is reading this blog thinking “That guy is stupid” while justifying why he/she catches their UAV.

Eglesias

I don’t catch my drone because I lack the skill to do so; like most people proficient with a UAV, I can put it precisely where I want it to land.

I don’t catch my drone because I’m averse to injury of myself and others. Safety always precludes “looking cool” or even saving a small cost of operation.

It may look cool to catch a drone and it may even reduce the risk of ingesting dust or dirt particles into a motor, thereby shortening the motor’s life. Perhaps think of it this way; A new motor may cost as much as $50.00. That’s a mere fraction of the cost of a trip to the emergency room and likely significantly less costly than an insurance deductible.

Happy flying!

 

Douglas Spotted Eagle is an sUAV operator with more than 500 hours of lDSE-droneIconShotogged flight time on various airframe types. He is also a USPA Safety and Training Advisor (at large), and a USPA AFF instructor. Safety is his priority in all aerial endeavors.

By | January 9th, 2016|Drone, Drone Safety, Training|0 Comments

UNDERSTANDING TURBULENCE for sUAS

UNDERSTANDING TURBULENCE for sUAS

 

Image result for drone crash, buildingAs sUAV/drones become more and more popular, it seems that more and more of them are striking the sides of buildings, trees, or poles without the pilot understanding why.
“It was flying fine and all of a sudden it zipped up and into the side of the building.” “Everything was great until the drone had a mind of its own and flew straight to the ground.”
“The drone was flying over the trees and all of a sudden it spun around and dropped into the trees.”

Reading forum conversations around the internet suggests this is a common, yet unfortunate and avoidable experience.

First, let’s establish that flying in GPS mode may be ineffective when very close to a building. Signal may be lost, and this could explain a few of the building strikes.

However, far and away more likely in most instances the UAV was caught in a “rotor.” These are also known as up/down drafts, lee waves, or cross-winds, depending on which aviation discipline one adheres to. Needless to say, these phenomenon do exist, and play havoc with any sort of aerial activity whether it’s wingsuiting, parasailing, skydiving, model aircraft flight, swooping, small aircraft, and particularly light-weight multirotors.

Image result for wind turbulence map
THESE “WAVES” ARE INDICATORS FOR MANNED AVIATION AND CONSTRUCTION CREWS, YET THE PRINCIPLE IS
ONLY A MATTER OF SCALE.

Even when a manufacturer provides a statement of stability in “X” winds, this should not fool a pilot into thinking that the sUAS is turbulence-resistant. Given enough turbulence or infrequency of a wave, the UAV will become unstable.

It’s always better to be down here wishing we were up there, instead of being up there wishing we were down here.

The first rule is to set wind limits. Small quad-craft should stay on the ground at windspeeds of greater than 12mph/5.5 meters per second. Hexcopters should consider grounding themselves at 22mph/10meters per second. Of course, this figure may vary depending on your organizations policy and procedures manual, insurance requirements, or payload on the sUAS.

This video provides some demonstration of the cycle of the wave and how a gyro and accelerometer might cope with the cycles. Notice how all the aircraft are “cycling” in an attempt to maintain altitude and position, even as the waves of the wind rotate?

Truly, knowing about them is half the battle. Staying away from them is the rest of it. Failing the former, being able to manage the craft in turbulence is the next-best step.

A building blocks the wind on one side (windward side) and on the opposite side (leeward side) the wind will pay all sorts of havoc with any flying object. Winds will extend in distance up to four times the height of the obstacle, and two times the actual height.

Understanding Turbulence 2

40×4=160 feet. Therefore, for 160’ beyond the obstacle at ground level, your multirotor is at risk for catching either a down draft or an updraft.

Huh?

OK, say there is a building that is 40 feet in height, and you have a medium wind blowing. Gusting or steady, it makes no difference.

40×4=160 feet. Therefore, for 160’ beyond the obstacle at ground level, your multirotor is at risk for catching either a down draft or an updraft. Either way, the airframe/hull is not in clean air. In extremely high velocities (high winds) the ratio of obstacle/distance may be as great as 15X (of course, a UAS would likely not fly in these winds)!

In terms of height, depending on wind velocity, the UAV may have to climb as high as 80’ to find clean air above an obstacle. yet at 80′ AGL, the winds are likely entirely different as well, depending on the weather and other obstacles in the area.

The air goes over the obstacle and is “pulled” to the ground (downdraft), where it then “bounces” upward (updraft) and tries to resume its level flow.

These phenomena are entirely independent of  sinks,thermal rises, dust devils, and the like.

This also occurs in natural/unbuilt up areas. Trees, canyons, ridges, rock-lines; any large object will incur rotors. Avoid them. It’s virtually impossible to determine exactly where the down draft vs. the updraft may be occurring, and the location of these dirty winds will change with swind velocity.

Understanding-Turbulence-3

FLYING IN URBAN ENVIRONMENTS

When wind flows between buildings, the mass of the air/gas is compressed. This results in an increase in velocity. Think of squeezing hard on a tube of toothpaste, compressing the contents through the tiny hole in the end of the tube. This increases the speed/velocity at which the toothpaste squeezes out. The same thing occurs with moving air between buildings or other solid objects.

Depending on the wind speed, the increase may require as much as 4-10 times the distance before the winds return to “normal” velocity seen before the gap or corner.

Image result for Wind
IMAGE COURTESY OF RHEOLOGIC

Ground winds and winds “aloft” (true winds aloft are beyond the reach of most UAS operations) are rarely equal. Winds at 50′ are rarely the same as winds at ground level in an urban or suburban environment.  Even small berms in the ground can cause jarring turbulence (as shown above) that settle in the low areas. These urban “microclimates” can be very problematic for light weight UAS in required-precision environments.

Turbulence

Here is a more complex example of winds blowing at 22mph in an urban environment.

Complex Winds.JPG

complex winds 2

Compression of the flow due to building dynamics push the wind into more than 40mph in some areas. While the overall winds, and reported winds in the area suggest that the windspeed is perfectly acceptable for most commercial aircraft, turbulence and accelerated velocities within tight areas are far beyond the risk limits of most small UAS’.

Flying from warm sands to flying over water on a hot summer day may also create challenges to smooth and level flight.

DUST DEVILS

Dust devils are summertime phenomena that can be very dangerous to humans anywhere a UAS may be flying. If they happen in a city, there is usually ample evidence of their existence, as debris flies high in the “funnel.” These nasty actors can show up anywhere there is hot asphalt, sand, dirt, and if that mass of rapidly moving air connects with a cool surface, they can turn violent very quickly, slinging a sUAS far from its intended flight path.
Image result for dust devil Image result for dust devil

DUST DEVILS IN THE NEVADA DESERT CAN BE FRIGHTENING, ESPECIALLY WHEN TWO OR THREE COMBINE INTO ONE VORTEX.

If by chance a dust devil is seen climbing in the distance, prepare to bring the aircraft home and land. If the dust devil is anywhere near the vehicle, climb in altitude while moving in any direction away from the dust devil. They are usually very short-lived.

Image result for dust devilIMAGE COURTESY WASHINGTON POST

How do we avoid getting caught in turbulent air? The long answer is “experience.” Flying in these challenging spaces teaches us to find the lee, based on the behavior of the UAS, which will always be slightly latent to the wind.
The short answer is to study environments. Look at the wind indicators that might normally be missed.  Learn to read the environment; it’s not hard once one begins to look for the details around buildings, trees, brush, monuments, chimneys, and other ground obstacles.

Two standard practices that may save pilots from troubles;

  • Always use a windmeter/anemometer, and check the winds frequently in midday flights.
  • Have a corporate or personal policy of a hard-deck/stop speed.  This eliminates wishy-washy/should I/shouldn’t I decisions in the field.  Our cap for teaching students with a Hexcopter/Yuneec Typhoon H is 16mph. If a gust crosses 16, we immediately stop, and wait it out to determine the wind trendline.

Another practice (although not standard) is to put a 5′ stream of crepe’ paper on a stick at eye level or so. This WDI, or Wind Direction Indicator, will immediately demonstrate changes in windspeed or direction, both clues that the weather may be rapidly shifting.

Determine distances from obstacles as accurately as possible prior to flight in order to best understand where the rotors will occur.  Doing so goes a long way to maintaining control and safety when the drone is in flight. With a bit of experience, one rarely needs to worry about obstacle turbulence.

Happy flights!
~dse

PUBLISHED BY DSE:

I’ve been a successful sales manager, musician, film/video professional, instructional designer, and skydiver. Picked up a few pieces of gold, brass, titanium, and tin along the way. This blog is where I spill my guts about how I’m feeling at any given moment, and maybe a blurb or two about what’s happening in the sales, video, or skydiving worlds.
By | December 31st, 2015|sUAS Regulation, sUAS Safety, Technology, Training|0 Comments