A Practical Guide to Drone Law

I ordered this book today. It seems that the guides published by the CAA make flying drones, while adhering to all the rules,  an almost impossible task. In addition the government plans to make it even more difficult in the future. They also plan on giving the police more powers when dealing with the operators of the drones. Hopefully this book will cover all the legalities so I’m better educated if I ever have to deal with law enforcement.

Master Airscrew Q-Tip Propellers

Yesterday I received Master Airscrew Propellers. Apart from the premium packaging they look like any other normal propellers and are made from plastic. There were only 2 colours being sold on eBay: green and orange, I opted for orange.

 

They came with some screws and a tissue! I thought “no, I have to screw them on”. But it turned out that they are not needed. I think the reason for the screws is that they can also be used with other makes of drones where you do need them.

The props are supposed to be perfectly balanced, more efficient and quieter. I can’t check whether they are perfectly balanced, but upon closer look you can see why they might be more efficient and quieter than normal propellers.

They have, what is called in aviation, a Q-Tip – a slight kink at the end of the propeller. This is to control the air spillage over the propeller tip. In theory, it delays the tip vorticies, which cause drag and turbulence. A propeller, like a wing, works best when it has unturbulated air over the airfoil sections. The Q-Tip delays the vortices, the propellers then have smooth air,  making them more efficient and quieter.

As I mentioned before I bought them on eBay for £29.99 and I hope that the reason for such a high price is not only because they are made in the USA.

I didn’t have a chance to test them, the weather over here in the UK is awful, but if what the makers are claiming is true,  I would give the propellers 4/5. One point knocked off for being way too expensive.

May the force be with you!

Guidance on drones issued to Police Officers

I found a document online intended to instruct police officers on how to deal with drone offenders (pretty much of all the drone users). Here is the list of few interesting extracts:

The ownership and use of drones are not of themselves unlawful but in certain circumstances, their use may contravene air safety legislation or other statutes, commonly used to manage other types of offending. The intention of this guidance is to address the negligent, reckless or malicious use of this technology.

It is not the intention of the Police Service to criminalise innocent misuse and the criminal justice system provides options for non-recordable disposal. However, some innocent misuse might also be reckless and therefore Appendix Two to the SOP provides a gravity factor matrix that users of this SOP may use to help them in decision making. Continue reading Guidance on drones issued to Police Officers

Civil Aviation Authority – Drones

The outline of the CAA guidelines:

The regulations for recreational drone flights are contained within the Air Navigation Order 2016 (ANO) which is the primary document for all aviation regulations within the UK. In order to keep the regulations at a proportionate level for these small drones, a set of specific, simpler, regulations apply to aircraft that have a mass of 20kg or less (which are termed ‘small unmanned aircraft’ within the ANO).

In simple terms, these regulations state that:

  • you are responsible for flying your drone in a safe manner
  • you must keep the drone in your direct sight at all times while it is flying so that you can ensure that it does not collide with anything, especially other aircraft
  • you must not endanger anyone, or anything with your drone, including any articles that you drop from it
  • if your drone weighs more than 7kg, additional rules apply if you fly in certain types of airspace and you must not fly above 400ft above the surface

If your drone is fitted with a camera, there are also a number of additional limitations surrounding where you can fly it, and how close you can fly it to other uninvolved people or objects. In order to be able to fly within these areas, or closer than the minimum distances that are in the regulations, you must obtain prior permission from the CAA to do so.

Continue reading Civil Aviation Authority – Drones

Phone mount

Another accessory that came through the post is the new phone mount.

As you well know the one that comes with the drone is simply terrible. It shakes, wobbles and doesn’t hold your phone firmly enough, you can’t even sneeze without the phone flying away.

Another issue I have is the positioning of the clip. Why is it on the side? It’s like Tesla Model 3 with the speedo on the centre console.

The one I bought attaches (as the majority of third-party ones I’ve seen) to the centre of the remote control – to the tip that is used for the neck strap. The attachment mechanism is made of metal and is easy to install, especially as it comes with all the screws and tools.

The actual phone holder is made of plastic even though it’s made to look like aluminium. I honestly thought that the whole thing would be made out of metal.

In all other ways, it seems perfect. To test how well the phone is attached to the mount I performed a very scientific test: attached the phone to the remote control using the new mount and threw the controller to my sofa from around 3 metres away. It survived the impact and the phone stayed in the original position.

I give it a score of 4/5 (would have given it a solid 5, if the whole mount was metal), it’s an almost perfect mount, but it would have been better if they made the whole thing from metal without any plastic parts for the sake of durability.

Continue reading Phone mount

Phone hood

Another accessory that I bought is the phone hood. It covers the phone from most angles, putting the phone in allowing you to better see the image on the screen.

 

The hood is made from a leather-like material and is of excellent quality. It snaps on very easily, covers just the right portion of the phone and is easy to adjust.

It seems to be perfect for my Galaxy S7. I would give this product 5/5 as I honestly can’t think of anything they could have done better.

If you want to buy it, either go to Amazon or eBay and search for Pgytech phone hood. It comes in different sizes, I believe 3, mine being the smallest one.

Again I have no association with the makers of the product and have nothing to gain by advertising it.

Landing gear extensions

Got another accessory for my drone: landing gear extensions. They are made from black plastic and make it less likely that the drone would tip over during rough landings by widening its stance. The plastic is a little bit flexible so the whole mechanism when installed offers a bit of dampening. Another advantage is that it raises the gimbal away from the ground, allowing for landings on rocks, sand and other uneven surfaces.

The installation is dead easy. The skids just snap on and snap off when needed. Hopefully, they don’t unexpectedly snap off, but if that happens I have propeller guards that the drone should lean on and stop the propellers from touching the ground.

Landing skids
Landing skids

Once installed, I discovered that the extensions snap off if the drone is dropped from a height of approximately 3-4 inches, as shown in the video below. This can be easily fixed with undoable cable tighteners, by tightening the extensions to the main landing gear.

Because of this issue, I can only give this product a rating of 3/5. I still think they are worth having on the drone though.

Again I have no association with the makers of the product and have nothing to gain by advertising it.

Mastering DJI Phantom 3