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Old 19-08-2015, 13:36   #16
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Re: Quadcopters and boats

If a drone could tow a small sonar unit or depth sounder, that would have potential. Or even a small sounding lead armed with the modern equivalent of tallow to take bottom samples to assess holding conditions. In clear waters, fish finding. With instruments, checking winds aloft, and looking for wind shifts and areas of more or less wind. Seeing large ships coming at a long distance. Inspecting inlets with bar crossings for breaking waves before entering an inlet. With increased lift capacity, sending a drone ashore for pizza. Looking for current boundaries. Sending a messenger line to a boat that is not safe to approach. Carrying a signal/distress flare high for a relatively long duration. With IR camera, night search for crew overboard.
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Old 19-08-2015, 13:44   #17
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Re: Quadcopters and boats

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Balloon idea might be tough.

The envelope would need to hold enough helium to carry your payload, so what are you going to do with the large balloon when you are not flying it? Additionally, helium balloons, if left inflated, will lose a percentage of helium each day - even when using a decent envelope material.

Helium filled balloons that would be large enough to carry all but the smallest payloads will have a lot of drag, and will 'dance' quite a bit (though, with the right shape and some fins you could get some lift). Eventually, the stressed material will fatigue and will no longer be able to hold helium. Worse, your balloon along with your electronics could end up in the drink.

Not saying a drone or kite is any better, though I think the drone would be fun.


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Pick up a tank from a party store to keep them topped up and buy one of the baloons like they use at the car dealers (those are often left up for days). Definetly longer duration flights than a remote control hellicopter.

For a small camera I think weight capacity shouldn't be an issue.

As for dancing around, that was my point with the PZT being the issue. You would need some way to stabilize the camera and reaim it at what you want to see. If it's checking the rigging or getting a photo of another boat, you can fiddle with it until you get a good view. To use it to navigate thru coral, that's a little trickyier but I wouldn't want to trust a RC copter that could run out of juice halfway thru and now I need to keep piloting the boat and pilot the RC back to the boat at the same time.

For coral navigation, I would think a cheap remote camera mounted in the rigging or on the mast would be the way to go. Same effect as climbing but you can watch from the helm.
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Old 19-08-2015, 13:49   #18
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Re: Quadcopters and boats

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I have wondered, but have not tried, if they would be any use at getting that all important overhead view when transiting coral head (bommie) waters. ...........................
A fellow Bahamian cruiser friend of ours has a camera mounted on his masthead with a forward view to the water off his bow for this same purpose. It seems to do the job. He's pleased with it, but I haven't been on board with him about the coral heads. He can't scout ahead and around turns, but his plan is simple.
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Old 22-08-2015, 18:07   #19
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Re: Quadcopters and boats

Super thread..

Man overboard location.
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Old 22-08-2015, 19:33   #20
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Re: Quadcopters and boats

It's pretty easy to find the drone flyer , they are the one with the dunce hat . A quick shot of mace does the trick .
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Old 22-08-2015, 21:37   #21
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Re: Quadcopters and boats

I've started selling them in my store. My target market is big sport fishing boats. I already sell them GoPro cameras. I think they will launch them when they hook a fish to film the fight. The one I'm selling is waterproof and floats. The more expensive version will follow you without needing to be controlled by someone on the boat. They also come with a cargo release hook and can carry up to two pounds. They come complete with a 7" screen that you can see what the drone sees in real time. They have camera stabilizers. You can get extra batteries and change them when you need more flight time. This is the one I'm selling: Splash Drone Waterproof Quadcopter | Urban Drones
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Old 22-08-2015, 21:56   #22
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Re: Quadcopters and boats

Rgscpat there are fish finder transducers designed to be cast out from the boat with fishing rod. They transmit the info back to the boat wirelessly. It would be pretty easy to hang one under a drone and dip it in the water. I don't know what their range is.
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Old 23-08-2015, 12:58   #23
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Re: Quadcopters and boats

Hopcar, looks like a practical, though expensive, drone for a boat. Did not see a gimbal mount for the camera. That makes taking pictures a bit of an issue as the camera angle to the horizon will change constantly making for jerky shots. Do they have a gamble mount. Know that another drone I saw online did not have a water proof gimbal though they were supposedly working on it and close to getting one to market.

For taking boat pictures, think a non water proof drone would get very very expensive quickly. Launching and retrieving would be fraught with danger and certainly end up with a swimming drone needing to be replaced regularly.

Kites and/or balloons will work but they are not maneuverable. You will only be able to shoot from the angle back against the wind. Yves of Cape Horn Self Steering used a kite very unsuccessfully on his circumnavigation. Believe he dunked the camera after only a few tries to take pictures and gave up on the kite.
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Old 23-08-2015, 20:53   #24
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Re: Quadcopters and boats

Peter, a waterproof camera gimbal is standard equipment with both models. They are really quite complete, except for the camera. You've got to supply that.
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Old 23-08-2015, 21:47   #25
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Re: Quadcopters and boats

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Old 23-08-2015, 23:59   #26
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Re: Quadcopters and boats

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Rgscpat there are fish finder transducers designed to be cast out from the boat with fishing rod. They transmit the info back to the boat wirelessly. It would be pretty easy to hang one under a drone and dip it in the water. I don't know what their range is.
I think it would be a whole lot easier to drag it behind a RC boat than hang it from a drone.
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Old 24-08-2015, 02:21   #27
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Re: Quadcopters and boats

I bought a Splash Drone (as advertised above) direct from the factory here in China. Taking it to my boat in Thailand for an extended vacation Sept-Oct. We're planning to use it for filming, fishing, and location scouting.

There was a giant "remote control things" expo in Shanghai over the weekend - amazing show! - and I was able to meet with the maker of the Splash Drone and discuss various ideas...

I think the real drone+boat magic will happen as soon as the boat and drone are able to communicate. There are already "networked drones" being developed (look it up on YouTube). They're aware of each other in space, and able to interact in really cool ways. Having the drone "see" the boat as its mother-ship and always be aware of the bow/stern, heading, plus the landing pad location, means the drone could take off and land at the push of a button.

That would mean you could use it for scouting an anchorage without having to leave the wheel. Same goes for using the drone as a MOB marker, LED flare, etc.

Anyway, that's all pie in the sky stuff (har har), but it's not far from being reality.

Will report back on our experience using the Splash Drone in the wild.

PS: What's with all this "I'm going to shoot your drone!" stuff? I just don't get it. I see tons of people posting negative comments like this all the time now. What's the difference between someone zooming around an anchorage in their dinghy with a camera/phone/GoPro and someone using a drone to film the same scene? Are you going to shoot me with a sniper rifle because I use a pair on binocs to see what kinda party you're having in your cockpit?
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