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Old 09-01-2018, 13:46   #1
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Boat photography with drones?

Iím intrigued with the possibility of taking aerial pictures of my boat under full sail with a drone. Getting a good shot from a dinghy or even another boat requires close coordination, and they are always at sea level.
I donít know anything about these drones, (yet), and wonder if it is practical to fly one from a sailboat, and circle it taking pictures, or even video, then returning it to the boat?
The result would surely be more spectacular than from a dinghy.
If anyone is already doing this I would appreciate some advice about which drones are best suited for this purpose, and what the practical requirements are.
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Old 09-01-2018, 13:55   #2
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Re: Boat photography with drones?

You may want to check out this thread.

Good Drones for Cruisers? - Page 4 - Cruisers & Sailing Forums
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Old 31-01-2018, 03:45   #3
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Re: Boat photography with drones?

Here's one shot we got from our Phantom 3 while sailing outside Marsh Harbour. Go Where There Is No Path And Leave A Trail

Plus I have a video while motoring in the ICW. It was shortly after we got the drone so it's not the best video, but here it is none the less.
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Old 31-01-2018, 05:04   #4
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Re: Boat photography with drones?

Thanks David, those are the sort of shots I was thinking about, which can only be taken by a drone.
Iím intrigued how you launched and retrieved your drone from the boat? Some videos on the web say it should be landed by approaching the stern and grabbing it. That sounds very dodgy to me.
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Old 31-01-2018, 05:18   #5
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Re: Boat photography with drones?

I am the Captain (and boat pilot). My son is the drone pilot.
Recovery is done by me walking to a clear area (stern quarter, or bow quarter), I squat, he flies it down to hover about 5' off deck, I stand up and grab the landing legs stating "Got it", and he shuts down motors.
Doing it alone would be much trickier on a moving boat.
We've considered landing it on the trampolines out front in a sort of "controlled crash". That's likely to snap blades.
When at anchor, he can land it on deck or on our solar panels (we have huge panels).

If you are alone... I don't have any suggestions.

Just a thought, but there are some drones that will auto-land. Maybe try one of those with a landing pad deployed on deck.

Worst case, you'd have to stop your boat to land the drone.

But with two people, it's fairly easy to do.
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Old 31-01-2018, 05:29   #6
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Re: Boat photography with drones?

Actually I was wondering about landing in the dinghy on davits? I have more than the average running and standing rigging on Britannia which could easily impede a side or bow landing, but the stern is clear. So when I get more proficient would this be feasible?
I havenít bought a big machine yet, but I need one with a built-in screen on the controller, because Iím the only person in the world who doesnít have an i-phone or tablet. Iím looking at the Up-air One or the Raptor 3.
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Old 31-01-2018, 14:10   #7
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Re: Boat photography with drones?

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Originally Posted by Jolly Roger View Post
Actually I was wondering about landing in the dinghy on davits? .... So when I get more proficient would this be feasible?
If you have rotor protectors on, that may work.
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Old 31-01-2018, 15:17   #8
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Re: Boat photography with drones?

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Originally Posted by Jolly Roger View Post
Actually I was wondering about landing in the dinghy on davits? I have more than the average running and standing rigging on Britannia which could easily impede a side or bow landing, but the stern is clear. So when I get more proficient would this be feasible?
I haven’t bought a big machine yet, but I need one with a built-in screen on the controller, because I’m the only person in the world who doesn’t have an i-phone or tablet. I’m looking at the Up-air One or the Raptor 3.
1) Even a very accomplished drone pilot would have trouble landing into a dinghy on davits without some degree of damage to something.
2) If you don't have a smart phone you won't be able to use a drone sophisticated enough to even attempt it (IMHO)

This phone is an incredible buy, and I'm using it as a dedicated drone phone because I don't want my real phone's data being transmitted to China by DJI (I never even inserted the SIM or activated a plan). I use it Wi-Fi only. https://www.bestbuy.com/site/cricket...?skuId=6032705
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Old 01-02-2018, 06:56   #9
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Re: Boat photography with drones?

The concept of a cheap dedicated phone on a controller is interesting. A separate screen would then allow me to look at any machine. But some of the reports I have read say that built-in screens are better pictures than a plug-in phone or tablet. The i-phone Iíve seen on a Phantom was very woolly. Whatís the experience on this?
As regards landing in a dinghy. Surely it will be easier to guide any drone down into a ten foot dinghy on the stern, than try to hover it so close that someone can grab it? Would a sheet of foam in the bottom make a more ďsoftĒ landing?
My boat has twin backstays so the stern is open, and if conditions are right it might be just as easy to fly it in over the dinghy so someone can grab it. But I have also read that it is doubly difficult to pilot them and try to grab them yourself Ė hence the dinghy landing.
Iím just trying to get the best ideas for shooting sailboats before I buy, but in any case I donít want to spring for an expensive machine, because the first time I use it over water might well be the last.
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Old 01-02-2018, 07:16   #10
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Re: Boat photography with drones?

Drone recovery on a sailboat is easier if you put a small piece of fishing line and a small sinker on the back of one of the landing struts. When you want to catch the drone, grab the line and pull it in.
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Old 01-02-2018, 07:37   #11
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Re: Boat photography with drones?

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Drone recovery on a sailboat is easier if you put a small piece of fishing line and a small sinker on the back of one of the landing struts. When you want to catch the drone, grab the line and pull it in.
Have you tried that? The DJI drones have a lot of internal stability logic that might cause unpredictable behavior if pulled down from one side or corner. If you havne't tried it, I suggest you experiment on land first (and wear protective gloves and full face shield).
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Old 01-02-2018, 07:43   #12
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Re: Boat photography with drones?

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Originally Posted by Jolly Roger View Post
The concept of a cheap dedicated phone on a controller is interesting. A separate screen would then allow me to look at any machine. But some of the reports I have read say that built-in screens are better pictures than a plug-in phone or tablet. The i-phone I’ve seen on a Phantom was very woolly. What’s the experience on this?
As regards landing in a dinghy. Surely it will be easier to guide any drone down into a ten foot dinghy on the stern, than try to hover it so close that someone can grab it? Would a sheet of foam in the bottom make a more “soft” landing?
My boat has twin backstays so the stern is open, and if conditions are right it might be just as easy to fly it in over the dinghy so someone can grab it. But I have also read that it is doubly difficult to pilot them and try to grab them yourself – hence the dinghy landing.
I’m just trying to get the best ideas for shooting sailboats before I buy, but in any case I don’t want to spring for an expensive machine, because the first time I use it over water might well be the last.
Phone displays are far better than those in dedicated controller, and there are added controls/settings in the app that you can't access otherwise. If concerned about going overboard and cost, I think the Phantom 3 is a good choice. If get the DJI Refresh repair contract it covers water damage, but you must be able to send in the failed drone. Suggest you look up "getterback" and check youtube for other flotation schemes people have tried.
As for landing in dinghy, those props can cut deeply. 'nuff said.
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Old 01-02-2018, 08:45   #13
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Re: Boat photography with drones?

Okay, Iíll look into the screen situation with either a cheap i-phone type or tablet. I didnít know about extra data coming into a plug-in screen.
Iím more concerned about bringing a drone back under full sail. That would be six sails, including a fisherman and squaresail, to get the most spectacular shot.
My boat has more than the average standing and running rigging than even a regular schooner, and Iíve heard that even wire rigging can impede a drone, never mind a solid slab of canvas. When that lot is up there is not much room on even the lee side to clear obstructions.
The stern is always clear, especially if the main is to windward, but there is still a downdraft from the large mainsail. And what about wind? Would 15 knts be too much to try this?
I can envisage that if I flew in from dead astern, over the dinghy, someone else might be able to grab it, and if they fumbled it it might crash on the after deck, or even into the dinghy.
Itís all very iffy at this stage of my drone development. I guess Iíll just have to continue to research the most cost effective machine, then bite the bullet and first experiment at the marina.
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Old 01-02-2018, 09:25   #14
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Re: Boat photography with drones?

Don't know if you've heard of this one, but it's what I'm saving my pennies for.... it is not only waterproof but floats, and can 'fly' upside down in the water as well Apart from nice aerials of the boat, I'm fantasizing about not having to dive the anchor on a cold day... just set it down in the water and pan the camera down.

https://www.swellpro.com/waterproof-...ne-3-auto.html
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Old 01-02-2018, 11:26   #15
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Re: Boat photography with drones?

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Originally Posted by Sojourner View Post
Don't know if you've heard of this one, but it's what I'm saving my pennies for.... it is not only waterproof but floats, and can 'fly' upside down in the water as well Apart from nice aerials of the boat, I'm fantasizing about not having to dive the anchor on a cold day... just set it down in the water and pan the camera down.

https://www.swellpro.com/waterproof-...ne-3-auto.html

Me Too!!! I've been waiting for the all clear on Splash Drone 3 and think it the best of many worlds. I read an article as it came to market a few months ago and there were a few glitches to be worked out.

I like the perspective of the aerial shots but also like working low and slow as well. The Splash Drone for the marine environment gives you the best of all worlds.
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