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Photography Techniques and Equipment This forum is for the discussion of technical details of how to take good pictures as well as discuss the equipment used in that pursuit.

Xiaomi Mi 4K drone
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Old 12-25-2017, 10:03 PM   #21
Rich Z
The height allowed now is kind of "set" by the FAA to 400 ft. Not sure how much they can enforce such a thing, however. But supposedly all drones over 1/2 lb have to now be registered with the FAA. I'm not sure this would ever pass a constitutional test if it went to court, however, because as long as I am not engaging in some sort of problematical interstate commerce with a drone, I can't see where the federal government was ever granted this sort of authority by the US Constitution. But of course, proving you are right about such things, by riding such a lawsuit all the way to the Supreme Court, is a whole lot more expensive to do than most people would ever be willing to take on voluntarily.

The only restriction on horizontal range appears to be the recommendation that the drone stay within line of sight. But not sure where it says anything about the drone actually remaining IN sight along that line. These things are pretty small, and become very difficult to see pretty quickly. Some of them claim a distance of a couple of miles, but realistically that would have to be a one way ticket for such maximums. Battery power is a major consideration when you want a return trip for your drone. Here is a video of a guy running his out to about a mile and a half and then returning it with just a small bit of battery power still remaining.

Had the wind been blowing the wrong direction because of a sudden change during the flight, there was a real good chance that his drone would have dropped down into the trees long before getting back home. There are quite a few videos on YouTube of just this sort of thing happening to people.

This can also be problematical because once many of these drones reach a particular low value on remaining battery life, they will automatically land the drone, no matter where it is and what is underneath them. Seems kind of short sighted to me, since apparently this is being done to keep the drone from just falling out of the sky when the battery becomes completely depleted. Personally I would like to have it that I could still use that remaining 5 or 10 percent or so of battery charge to try to pick a better spot to bring it in, rather than the drone itself just deciding, "I am landing HERE, right NOW." And to top that off, with the new smarter batteries, they show zero percent charge remaining even though there is still a substantial charge left in the battery. But to try to keep the battery from terminally discharging, they show zero percent with actually a good margin to spare. Again, personally, I would like to be able to make that decision myself. If I have to choose between losing the drone in a lake, or having the battery depleted to the point where it becomes permanently dead, I would choose to lose the battery rather than lose the drone itself. So I do wish these manufacturers would put some sort of overrides in the system so the operator had some say in the matter when things get a bit out of hand.

Maybe in some later generations that will take place. The drones do seem to be getting more and more "intelligence" programmed into them with things like obstacle avoidance and the like, so maybe some sort of rudimentary artificial intelligence to make rational decisions in an emergency will show up in these things eventually. Of course, even then, I would STILL like to have a say in the matter concerning MY property, not what some programmer in China thinks is best for me.
Old 12-26-2017, 10:19 PM   #22
After checking the specifications, the Xiaomi Mi has a pretty good range, compared to the less expensive models. What else do you plan to do with the drone once the gutters are all clear? I've flown a cheap model just for the fun of flying without crashing. Do you have some practical application in mind?
Old 12-27-2017, 02:54 PM   #23
Rich Z
Originally Posted by Twolunger View Post
After checking the specifications, the Xiaomi Mi has a pretty good range, compared to the less expensive models. What else do you plan to do with the drone once the gutters are all clear? I've flown a cheap model just for the fun of flying without crashing. Do you have some practical application in mind?
Nothing really specific at the moment. Might take it out into the national forest near me and see if there are some spots that might look interesting from an aerial view. Too bad the state and national parks all have phobias about drones, as there are some beautiful areas I would really like to get video footage of from this flying platform. I would like to fly over St. Joseph state park (Cape San Blas) and St. George Island park, but apparently I would have to take off and land outside of the park areas to do so legally. I don't believe this drone has the range for me to be able to do that. It is usually quite windy at St. Joseph state park (Connie and I usually refer to it as Cape Sand Blast), so that would complicate estimating where the turn around point in remaining battery power would be. The battery drains rather quickly when having to fight winds. It is usually much safe to fly out against the wind, so that you have the wind at your back on the return trip. But that can be hard to predict for a drive out to such areas, as wind direction can change in a heartbeat around here.

I had thought that the ground level of my own property would be much more visible through the trees than it actually is. Well, at least when viewed from my smart phone while flying. Easier to see more detail when I play the video on my PC's screen. Seriously, there is a lot of our land that Connie and I have never set foot on. We have a stream running through the north end of the property, and unless it is a particularly dry season, it can be swampy in patches. Not to mention that if the mosquitoes are in abundance, it certainly wouldn't be much fun in those areas. With the property being heavily wooded, the shade keeps the mosquitoes quite comfortable waiting for a meal to wander on by. So looking at the land via a drone, I thought, would be rather intriguing. I guess I can once I get over being such a weenie about being too close to the tree tops.

I guess this is more of a fun toy, which I thought would be a reasonable purchase now that the reliability of these things is much better than when I first looked into them, and the video quality is respectable enough to actually be useful. As I mentioned before, I do think that 4K 60fps will be much better to use on a moving platform, but that option is not widely offered quite yet, and only now on drones that cost a lot more than this one. But maybe next year options will improve. By then either less expensive drones will offer this improved video capability, or else maybe I will have even more confidence in these things to where I won't mind so much spending a bit more money on one that is a bit more full featured with better resolution options and all directional obstacle avoidance. Sure hope there is "hawk avoidance" too, as I know we have them around here, and getting the drone attacked by one would certainly bring it down, not to mention likely injuring the hawk too.
Old 01-03-2018, 04:34 PM   #24
Rich Z
Took the drone out the other day to try to figure out where that high pitched squeaking noise is coming from that I am hearing. First I took the props off and then used a microphone attached to my camera to try to see if I could identify which motor was making the noise by checking one motor after another. But I really couldn't hear the noise that way, so perhaps the lifting force of the propellers is necessary.

So I put the props back on and then did a short flight and brought the drone as close to the camera as I could to see if that would register audibly what I have been hearing. I guess I should have moved the work table out of the way, as this drone just does not like an uneven surface that gets in the way of the prop wash. I found it tough to control even under GPS mode and had to fight with it when it kept trying to drift close to me and the camera.

But I can plainly hear the squeaky noise starting around 2:54, but not too much luck trying to determine if it is just one motor making the noise and if so, which one. I think it got slightly louder as the left front motor of the drone faced the camera, and I kind of leaning towards that motor being the culprit, if I had to make a choice.

If it would hold still, I could try the same thing using the microphone, but that would mean having to set the controller on a table and walk around the drone closely without having any hands on the controls. I am not too keen on that idea.

Not sure how much this is something to be worrying about, though. Maybe a little spot of lubricant applied to the motors would help? Hopefully if it gets worse, it will do so gradually instead of a sudden motor failure while 200 ft up in the air and over a pine tree.
Old 01-03-2018, 11:48 PM   #25
Why can't you anchor the landing gear to a picnic table and let the motors run so you can Check them? We used a hollow tube in the old days to hear engine noises. Today they have stethoscopes. I'd be careful about lubricating the motors. If they are brushless they may be either sealed, or shielded, with high temperature grease. Oil may dilute the grease and cause more problems.

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