Drone Anatomy Class
Drone anatomy, okay. This is that beautiful copter that we built and crashed. We still have it, I need to put it back together. And this was something that we were working on, like I said, lifting heavier cameras. I think we had specced this out to have 80 pounds of thrust. So, typically you want a 2:1 weight ratio. Most of us don't need to think about that if we're just building turnkey copters like these. But when you're starting to think, okay, I wanna lift a RED Epic, and okay, is it just a RED Epic with a lens, or is it with a follow focus. You know, what kinda battery solution am I gonna use? So, we were just building something that was just gonna be awesome. And you can see it's got two huge batteries on top. And so, just for a sense of scale, I think it was a meter across, something like that. And so the good thing about seeing a copter like this is you can start to understand the different components. Because when you build something like this, you have to go piece out these c...
omponents, whereas something like this, you know, everything's printed on a integrated sorta circuit board, and you've got your GPS, and your inertial measurement unit, and all these different things in these tiny little boards in here. You never see them unless you crack it open. You know, hopefully you won't crack it open flying. But here we'll take a look at some of the parts of a drone. So, we have rotors and motors. That one's the pretty obvious piece, right? We have, in the case of a quadcopter, four motors, four propellers. That right there was about a 16 inch propeller, carbon fiber. That was when it was in one piece. (laughs) The main controller, now a main controller is going to be the bit in there that, so perhaps I should've gone over to the inertial measurement unit, which basically tells the, it's called an IMU. Which basically tells, it senses what's level. And so, based on that information the main controller would say, okay, if you wanna go forward, you wanna go back, you wanna go left, right, we gotta spin the motors up in the front at a certain speed. We need to maybe take down the RPMs at the back motors, just to keep things level. It's like, just in a nanosecond there's all these different commands that the main controller's dishing out to then the speed controllers. So, these speed controllers are what kinda handles the power management of each motor. So, in this case I was trying to keep things as tidy as possible. And I remember I spent just a week on trying to figure out how to get these things into the arm there. So, here we have two speed controllers to go to the two motors. These are coax, so one of the motors is up and one's down, and they're spinning in opposite directions. So yeah, two speed controllers, and that's what divvies out the power to the motors. And then of course we have, in these copters that I have, all the GPS masts are kind of hidden. Whereas the Chroma that I showed earlier, the one that I flew in Iceland, there was a little mast that you had to lift up. On this one, it's on the top of the unit. We just stuck it up there above this, so that's the GPS mast, and then that's the inertial measurement unit. Now, this one, this IMU, has a barometer in it, which a barometer is used in drones for altitude stability. It's measuring the just micro-changes in air pressure to kinda help with vertical stability. So, there's even, I think that little hole is there. They say don't put tape over that because it's a bad thing. So, it's allowing that box there to breathe and kinda sense the changes in air pressure. So, GPS IMU barometer. And then vision positioning systems and sonar. This is something that was not so much a thing when we were first starting out flying drones. Certainly wasn't a thing we were using so much when flying just regular remote-controlled aircraft. But in the case of the Inspire, this is actually the Inspire right here. And on the bottom of this, you'll see that we have sonar. These guys right here are the sonar pieces here, and that's the camera for the vision positioning. Some of you will probably have questions about flying indoors. That was actually a tricky thing to deal with in the beginning with drones. And that's what DJI started using these cameras to, it'll look down and it'll see a pattern on the ground, and it'll use that to lock in. So, if you don't have GPS lock, it'll still stay locked in. We were actually doing a shoot of a big multimedia installation in a big building in downtown Denver. And it had this tile work everywhere. So, we were able to fly indoors safely because there's no GPS, but it was locked perfectly. I mean, it was just kind of amazing. We don't do a whole lot of indoor flying, but occasionally certain jobs call for it. And so, that's something that you'll see on more and more drones. I believe, actually, the Phantom right here, yeah, the Phantom right here actually has two. So, there's just one camera on the Inspire. The Phantom has two cameras in it. What I've understood that to do is that it extends the height. I think on the Inspire you can only go 10 feet, maybe, before the vision positioning starts losing track. Whereas the Phantom, these two little guys right here, that extends it up to about 30 feet. I might be off on my specs on that, but it definitely extends the height. Now, that said, we had no real trouble with that when we were doing that. I'm used to flying very hands-on. With helicopters, when you let go of the stick with a helicopter, unless it has an autopilot, it's just gonna keep going. So, I mean, the whole GPS mode thing is something that I had to get used to, whereas most people that are getting into drones now, it's more the other way around. You're flying in that GPS mode, and then there's that switch on your transmitter, you don't know what it means, and you hit it over, and it's in attitude mode. And all of the sudden if it's windy outside, then the drone's going someplace, you're like, oh make it stop, you know? So yeah, sonar then also it sends out those sound waves to sense the ground. I remember that on the Inspire, that was a newer feature just to kind of help you not hit the ground when you don't mean to. You know, for cinematographers, especially cinematographers where you're dealing with moving images and trying to fly smooth, sometimes these things, you kinda have to know when they're helping you, and also know when they're hindering you. You know, same thing with obstacle avoidance. There may be times when you wanna be really close to your subject. I'm not so much meaning a person, but say you're flying between buildings, or you're flying for that kind of three dimensionality in your shot or something like that. And you might find that the object avoidance is saying hey, I can't go, because I'm too close to that. You have to go into the menu system, which we'll take a look at later, and be able to turn that off. When you're comfortable flying that way, that may be something that you wanna turn off. So, that's the vision positioning and sonar, and moving onto, I think I showed you here, on the bottom we had the two cameras for our positioning. But now with the Phantom 4, and I believe the Mavic has it. The Mavic is DJI's new, just for those of that haven't been on the internet in a few days. The Mavic is similar to the Phantom 4, but it's like you could fold the thing up, it's super tiny. But I think it also has a couple cameras in the front, at least one, maybe it's got two. I've seen tests where people just try to run them into a wall. They must be sponsored or something. (laughter) I'm just like, yeah, okay, it works. I'm good with you telling me it works. But yeah, that's for object avoidance, which if you're thinking about it, you can get these drones now, you can go to Best Buy and pick one up. Which, again, is on one hand kinda scary, but also on the other hand is really cool. For me, it used to be that there was no chance, if I was going on a job somewhere, I had to have all my stuff with me. But now it's like well, wait a minute. I'm going to San Francisco. I could probably buy a drone on every block, you know. If I need a battery, or if I need some component, it's probably there. So, things like obstacle avoidance are obviously making the world a safer place for those of us that are just starting out. So, what do we have here? Receiver. I showed you the transmitter on the copter, right here. Then you would obviously have a receiver that would receive the inputs. And it's pretty self explanatory, but again, you know, I was trying to be tidy. Maybe that's my version of tidy. It's still a rat's nest. I mean, I would've been known to just spend hours soldering, and crimping. I hate the clutter of all these cables, so that's mostly tidy. There's my receiver right there. And then, of course, landing gear. That's fairly self-explanatory, right? I did show you that shot of me flying one without landing gear. Not advised. The Inspire is a really innovative design because, you know, when this thing takes off, you can flip the whole, these arms, at the time I don't know who else was doing that, but DJI was one of the first that I remember to integrate the landing gear with actually the arms. And so then these lift up, and then you have a full view. You don't have to worry like on the Phantom where you've got the landing gear. And that's perfect for dual operation. So, I mean, oftentimes I'll be out flying with Phil with Cloudgate, and he won't even know which way the copter's oriented. He'll just be doing his thing, and I'll be doing my thing. And I'm like, "Alright, I'm gonna back up now," or "alright, I'm gonna turn the copter around." He's like, "I don't care," because he's got free control over the gimbal, totally independent, which is so cool. And yeah, with copters like this, with the Phantom 4, obviously you're working with a fixed landing gear. And later on, I'm gonna show you how you can use different modes to kinda not so much cheat the system, you still have the landing gear to deal with. But in the Phantom 4 there's a sport mode that allows you to fly faster. And typically they say to, that's not so much used for cinematography because you'll get the blades in the shot. But if you fly backwards, you don't. That's another kind of a pitch for getting your flight skills nice and solid, be able to fly backwards aggressively. It will open up shot possibilities for you. So yeah, that's really it for drone anatomy. Certainly there's more parts. But what I wanted you to get a sense are the main components. Because as we're getting into, say, the DJI Go app or the different apps that these drones use to configure. Sometimes you'll get a warning and it'll say, IMU needs to be calibrated and you're like, IMU? Like, okay, I'm out of this drone business. Too many abbreviations. I just want you to understand the different components, so that when you get into the software, the user interface, you know right exactly what we're dealing with, and you can fly safe. Because I mean, sometimes you might think, IMU, I don't know what that is, I don't need to worry about that. Well, it can have a drastic impact on the way your copter's performing or not performing. So, yeah, I think before we get started with doing a little bit more flying, and getting into the app and that sort of thing, I think it's just good to get familiar with the actual transmitter itself. Now, this will vary on depending upon what copter you have. So many of us are flying DJI products in the sort of lower to mid-tier price range. Now we have the Karma coming into play. There's a ton of other manufacturers, Yuneec, 3DR, so a lot of great options right now. I suppose we're spoiled for choice.