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Any Drone Enthusiast In DN?

ghostofuga1ghostofuga1 Posts: 8,948 mod

I'm looking at buying a drone to help me in line of work. I do home inspections and want to use one when I can't get to certain areas on a roof for visuals. I've done a lot of research and I know DJI is the top of the line, but I'm trying to get started within a lower budget for something that will only be used every so often. Looking at spending in the $500 -$650 range to start out.

Anyone here do drones and have any recommendations?




  • jc30116jc30116 Posts: 927 ✭✭✭✭✭ Graduate

    As soon as I talk to my brother I can get you some info. Might not even be that much out of pocket either.

  • jc30116jc30116 Posts: 927 ✭✭✭✭✭ Graduate

    Check your messages. I sent you a link for YouTube to see what the video was like from my brothers drone.

  • razorachillesrazorachilles Posts: 1,273 ✭✭✭✭✭ Graduate
    edited July 2019

    @ghostofuga1 - my wife & kids got me a DJI Mavic Air this past Christmas and it's been excellent. It's going for about $640 now and it has a lot of great "autopilot" type features that work great for aerial video or pictures. Takes very professional footage even for a drone noob like myself.

    The controller connects with your phone or tablet so you can easily see where you're flying as well as what you want to video/photograph. For example, you could get it up 30 or 40 feet over a property you're assessing, point to the roof on your phone/tablet and hit a circle shortcut and it will automatically record as it takes a long, slow circular flight path over the object you selected. Also very good for real estate listing shoots, as well.

    It is important to note that there are a fair number of restrictions re: where and at what hours one can fly a drone. You'll have to register the drone with FAA and you'll probably want liability insurance if you're going to be using it as part of your business. Also be aware that there are a suprisingly large # of restricted airspace areas near airports, schools, etc. which send a signal to the drone and will not allow it to either enter said air space or take off if within.

    That said - you can get permission to fly at certain altitudes in such zones with local authorities in advance if necessary. After just my first attempt over my house last month as a test flight, I found it pretty easy to use.

    I actually took it on vacation a couple of weeks ago and got some nice footage as an example. Don't bore yourself with the whole video, but the drone footage starts the first 5 secs of the video, again at the1 minute mark, again the 2 min mark and then again at 4:45. (Everything else was shot on a GoPro, not the Mavic Air)

  • jc30116jc30116 Posts: 927 ✭✭✭✭✭ Graduate

    A little more about the Mavic is the batteries. This is coming from a third party but he said the battery lasts about 15-20 mins and takes about 2 hrs to charge. They do make a fast charger for it and there are kits with extra batteries included. Also has a go home feature in case it loses signal. Has about a 2 mile line of sight range.

  • razorachillesrazorachilles Posts: 1,273 ✭✭✭✭✭ Graduate

    Agree - battery life is an issue still for most drones as its powering navigation tech as well as the props themselves, so 20 min flight time per battery is about right. You'll start to get a warning beep when you have about 5 mins left. Batteries will drain quicker than that in cold temps or high winds.

    I find they charge fairly quickly - closer to 45-60 mins each since I'm usually bringing the drone back to replace the battery with about 3 or 4 mins charge remaining to make sure I get it back. You can pick up extra batteries for about $75 each on Amazon. I have the one that came with the drone and two extras, giving a total of ~50 dependable minutes of flight/recording time.

  • SniperdawgSniperdawg Posts: 39 ✭✭✭ Junior

    I have the Phantom 3 standard that I got for Christmas a couple of years ago. Very easy to fly, and has a number of features that allow for various flight situations. The app that it connects to on the phone has a tutorial mode for when you are first getting started. If you are hovering it will stay pretty still as long as you are in gps mode. The simplicity of the DJI is why I would pick it again.

  • pippin888pippin888 Posts: 166 ✭✭✭ Junior

    I think you should be allowed to shoot down drones flying over property without permisson

  • ghostofuga1ghostofuga1 Posts: 8,948 mod

    @jc30116 , @razorachilles and @Sniperdawg thank you for the input. Looks like I'll stick with the DJI brand because we know it's top of the line. I'll will looking at the Mavic Air, Mavic Pro and the Phantoms 3/4. I like that the Phantoms are a little more beefy, and even though not as compact, seem to have most of the same features as the Mavics. Still trying to keep it my budget, might have to go with a pre-owned unit on the pricey ones. There are a few new units out there that fit in that budget as well. Hmmm decisions...

    @pippin888 Even though not legal, I would have no problem shooting down a drone over my property if I felt that it was being used for illicit purposes. Of course I would have it all documented on video as to stand my ground when the owner took me to court.

    BTW- I live in a small mountain town in NE GA. Not going to have any restricted flight areas which is good.

  • FirePlugDawgFirePlugDawg Posts: 5,480 ✭✭✭✭✭ Graduate
    edited July 2019

    (you brought it up.) I disagree. It is one thing to hover or maneuver (circle, etc.) to surveil, and quite another to transit. Drones (owners) should have a right to transit any property with very few exceptions. Surveillance is another matter. If one has a privacy fence, for example, allowing a drone to defeat that fence should not be allowed. This means, no pictures on a transit in such cases. So, surveillance ought to be prohibited where any attempt to have ground view privacy has been established.

    Of course I haven't a clue as to the law or case law in the matter, but when I am king - you know where I stand.

  • ghostofuga1ghostofuga1 Posts: 8,948 mod

    It's a grey area where the law is concerned. I have no issues with drones "traversing" the property, but low level, maintaining stationary positions, I would have a problem with. I read that a homeowner should have a 375' "privacy" air space above their property. It used to be the "heaven to h.ell" rule where property owners owned everything above and below their property for as far as it could go. Modern aviation sort of made that "rule" obsolete...

  • SniperdawgSniperdawg Posts: 39 ✭✭✭ Junior

    375’ is long way up. Only 125’ shy of the max allowed by law. I think I’ve taken mine up to 150’ and you aren’t going to spy on anyone with any detail at that height. With most drones you have to get fairly close to something to get any details, as the zoom is stationary.

    Anyone trying to spy on someone with a drone doesn’t have much sense anyways, as there is no masking the sounds of the blades. My last flight was from my front yard, 100’ straight up to video the fireworks in my neighborhood. I got some pretty good footage of it too. Gives you a different perspective.

  • Razor2027Razor2027 Posts: 894 ✭✭✭✭✭ Graduate

    I am a Part 107 Drone pilot who has flown drones for the past several years professionally. The industry standard in a lot of companies/jobs is the DJI Phantom 4. It is very reliable, rugged in high winds, and has a good battery life (typically around 30 minutes is good weather., 20 in higher winds) Make sure to get a good tablet or interface with at least 3GB of ram for a smooth control interface...4GB is better. It makes a difference. And a fast multi- charger with a minimum of three batteries for any type of serious work.

  • Razor2027Razor2027 Posts: 894 ✭✭✭✭✭ Graduate

    Also, be very careful of "shooting down" drones in flight. The FAA consideres that the equivilant of shooting at a manned aircraft and that is a felony. Just fyi...they don't have a sense of humor about that.

  • ghostofuga1ghostofuga1 Posts: 8,948 mod

    @Razor2027 I appreciate your advice. Not much drone activity where I live so no worries about me shooting one down...lol!

    Looking at both the Phantom 4 and the Mavic Pro. Hard to decide but for my price range, it looks like I'll probably have to go with the pre-owned route on eBay. Of course I do mega research before I buy anything especially pre-owned.

    I'm aware of the Part 107 for commercial use. I'm going to have to work towards that to be "fully" legal regarding my business. I wish the FAA had some sort of scale for commercial use because I would only be using it for less that 5% of what the job requires and wouldn't have to use it except for hard to access areas.

    Any way.....Let's see where this goes..

    Thanks again all!

  • pippin888pippin888 Posts: 166 ✭✭✭ Junior

    I don't have a fence. I built my house 500 ft off the road so the woods would provide me with privacy. I live in the country, so anyone flying a drone over my house I consider trespassing and an invasion of privacy. There is absolutely no reason for anyone to fly over my property but to snoop. I even had a law enforcement officer tell me thieves are using drones to case rural properties.

  • ghostofuga1ghostofuga1 Posts: 8,948 mod

    Sorry to bump, but just settled on a used Mavic Pro. Been shopping for about 3 months and finally pushed the buy button. Thanks for all the input and suggestions!

  • razorachillesrazorachilles Posts: 1,273 ✭✭✭✭✭ Graduate

    Happy Flying! Enjoy!

  • BankwalkerBankwalker Posts: 5,348 ✭✭✭✭✭ Graduate

    Why would you oinly use it “every so often” instead of all the time to provide a better presentation and report, plus document every inspection? Climbing on ladders and scaling shingles is for young men and dumb old guys. Seems you would be better off to image the entire roof and do a more thorough inspection from your computer. Probably miss less and make it easier to justify the cost of the inspection, which is really the goal of every home inspector - find enough wrong to make the buyer feel good about the cost of the inspection.

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