Mavic to Agulhas

It’s the weekend you’ve I’ve all been waiting for!

This weekend, I get to take the Mavic down to Cape Agulhas and fly around open fynbos, open beaches and other… open stuff.

When I first thought about buying a drone (I know, I know), it was with this in mind. Flying around urban Cape Town is fun, but I’m hoping that there will be nothing like the fresh air and the big skies of the Southernmost Tip of Africa.*

And my 3D printing contact has even come through with some superb battery covers and joystick supports. It’s all coming together so nicely.I are rather excited.
Photos and maybe even some video to follow.

Have a special weekend.

 

* note that you are not actually allowed to fly at the Southernmost Tip of Africa.

I’ve been saying…

I love it when a plan comes together …when two recent 6000 miles… blog posts are linked by some external force or means.

I’ve been talking a lot about the local water restrictions (because it is big, big news here) and yesterday, I mentioned how people hate “drones” because they think that they are spying on them.

Guess what, readers – today, there was this on the Cape Talk website:

The City says about 20 000 residents are guilty of excessive water consumption.

It was revealed on Friday that the largest water consumers include the green belt of Newlands and Constantia as well as neighbouring suburbs Athlone, Newfields, Rylands and Lansdowne.In the northern suburbs, more big consumers are to be found in Kraaifontein, while further afield verdant Somerset West is another water-guzzling area.

Yeah, “water-guzzling”, “verdant” Somerset West. Sort yourself out.

The City says they will be working with residents to reduce usage before taking harsher measures.
Limberg says they will begin introducing new technology such as drones.

ROBOTIC SPY CAMERAS! EYES IN THE SKY! IT’S LIKE 1984 ALL OVER AGAIN. (I MEAN THE BOOK, NOT THE YEAR!) (DRONES HADN’T REALLY BEEN INVENTED BACK THEN.) IT’S INVADING MY PRIVACY AND LET’S FACE IT, THE OPERATORS ARE ACTUALLY JUST LOOKING FOR BIKINI-CLAD SUNBATHERS IN THE BACK GARDENS, AREN’T THEY? SICKOS!

See what I mean?

Negative perceptions

On the DJI Mavic Pro Owners Facebook page, this question:

DRONE vs QUADCOPTER
would it be better if we started calling these “quadcopters” ? Public has a stigma against the word “drone”
drone = surveillance
quadcopter = hobby
just a thought …

I’ve only had my Mavic for a few weeks now, but I completely agree with this sentiment. When mention of it came up at the recent Molton Brown Curry Club, the immediate reaction was that I had obviously bought it to spy on my neighbours.

Yeah, that’s exactly why I spent $[loads] on the Mavic. I was desperate to see what was going on next door, and I needed to upgrade the current periscope over the back fence setup I was using previously.

And even when we’re on the field, flying well away from anyone and anything, we’ve noticed that we’re still getting disapproving looks from dog walkers. I like to think that I am a considerate flyer: I’m aware of the rules and of my responsibilities, and (literally) go out of my way to avoid disturbing or bothering other people.
But it’s only a matter of time until someone writes a dramatic letter to the school and flying there is banned. It’s coming.
And why? Well, here’s a reply on Facebook, which makes some good points:

Euphemism treadmill. No matter what we call it, it will be viewed negatively because of what it is. A flying camera. People don’t like the idea that they are being watched/recorded even in places where they don’t have a realistic expectation of privacy.

The school field being one of those places. If I was sitting on that same bench but rather than holding a Mavic controller, I was playing with the long lens on my camera, no-one would be so much as batting an eyelid. And I’d know that, because I could take photos of their eyelids from a huge distance away with the long lens on my camera.
Far more so than with the Mavic.

Facebook commenter continues:

The only way to break the stigma is to show people the positive side of them and show that they are less of a threat to their privacy than the kid across the street with a telescope.

Yes, of course. Except that while the Molton Brown boys might be open to this idea, the dog walkers on the school field will almost certainly not want to engage.

If you go down to Agulhas, you’ll see that just next to the lighthouse there is already a “Drone Free Zone” sign. Just a reminder that you’re not allowed to fly anywhere in any of the SA National Parks – and that’s absolutely fair enough. Their gaff, their rules.

I’ve been very careful to look (in detail) about where I can fly and where I can’t around Cape Agulhas. I’ve already got my routes planned and my photos and videos in my head, ready to go. All street legal, all above board and I can’t wait to play.
But half the reason for my checking and double checking this stuff is that I need to know my rights in case I am challenged, because I’m almost expecting that I will be.

Why? Because of those immediate negative perceptions around quadcopters, UAVs, flying cameras…

… around drones.

High

Remember how I lamented not dragging my sorry ass out of bed last weekend? This weekend, I put all that right by dragging it (and the kids) down to Wynberg School field and taking the drone higher than I’d ever taken it before. 121 metres up in fact. That’s according the the flight log, which is part of the software that limits the drone to the 120 metres legal ceiling, so you do the maths.

It’s all rather academic anyway. While I launched from the flat field, I was sitting in the shade at the top of the steep bank (you can see me, at about 10 o’clock, actually), a good 5m up already.

I’m pretty sure that I wasn’t endangering anything or anyone.

The photo includes the kids, waving madly at a dot in the sky from the Jacques Kallis Oval, which as any fule kan see, are distinctly square.

My confidence in my ability, together with my knowledge of what Florence the drone can do, is growing all the time. It can’t be long now before I run out of excuses for taking kak photos with this amazing machine.

What I’m not doing…

Sleeping. I’m not sleeping.
That could actually be the root cause of all the other things I’m not doing. Although maybe there are causes for that as well – it’s been hot and we have a beagle (so heat and stress) – so lack of sleep might not be the root cause in the truest sense of the phrase.

But when you’re not sleeping well, a lot of other stuff starts to slip as well.

For example: I can’t remember the last time I picked up my camera.  And that’s disappointing. I didn’t get a lot of photography done over the summer break, but I thought I’d make some plans in the New Year. The New Year isn’t very New anymore, and I actually haven’t done anything.

And then the drone. The drone is slightly more problematic, in that the infernal South Easter is being regularly infernal once again.
Time enough, sure, but there it sits there on my desk, taunting me. I look at the Mavic Facebook groups and I look at the often incredible videography and photography on there and I want to do it. Even though I’m still learning how to fly, I am getting to that point now where I can begin to concentrate on the more creative side. I need to have that ready for our next visit to Agulhas, but I need some calm weather to get in a bit more practice. It’s not happening.

And the sleep comes into that again because instead of using the light early morning winds this weekend, I decided to try and get another hour or two in bed, and missed out. Idiot. Tired idiot, but idiot, nevertheless.

Football. That’s also an issue. Anything from the UK is on late at night. 10pm kick offs mean that you’re going to be watching til (almost) midnight. And then you’re up at Foolish o’clock because the kids need to get to school. Bring on BST (still 2 months away).

At the moment, I’m not quite sure how to break this cycle of no sleep and constant tiredness and lethargy and getting nothing done.
Just know that I am aware of it, and I’m working on it.

Starting tomorrow.