Any advice for flying further away?

As a fairly new drone user, my flights so far have been more vertical than horizontal. Each time I’ve ventured a bit further with my Mini 4K it seems to attract mysteriously appearing seagulls from goodness knows where, and so I retreat the drone to safety. It’s not even like I’m trying to fly it at the coast.

What advice do you more experienced drone flyers have to help me to get the confidence to fly my drone a bit further?

Thanks

Richard

Try a wrap, helps with VLOS and the seagulls do not like them :+1:

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Oystercatchers do… :scream: :joy:

I once hated seagulls until I met this lot… They don’t give a feck what your drone is wrapped in, you’re a target regardless. 99% of my flying is coastal and out to sea, and I’ve found they are more perturbed by drones than other coastal birds. I sometimes wonder if it’s the noise of the props that freaks them out??

They are also very smart if in a flock of breaking off into two smaller groups and attacking from the rear.

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It’s likely that the gulls are actually further away from your drone than you think. If they are getting close, the best thing to do is pop it into Sports mode and increase altitude (go straight up) as birds cannot do that!

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If my drones attract birds, typically my answer is to go up. So long as they’re not protecting a nest, I think it’s probably a pain/more work for them to gain height whereas a drone has no issue going straight up. Can hamper VLOS/footage, but I’ve found it works great against birds. By the time you’ve done that 5 or so times, the gulls seem to get bored and realise which then lets you fly your intended routes.

I also try to commit to muscle memory the actions of 1) move in any safe direction to throw off their aim, 2) switch to sports mode if not in it already/applicable, 3) climb above the birds. Making sure I’ve got in my head how my fingers need to move to perform those actions helps react when a bird encroaches.

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Whilst I regularly find that once over 200 feet gulls tend to stay below, there’s always a number lurking at a much higher altitude.

The black headed gulls are very chilled, I’ve taken off at times in close proximity to them and they don’t ruffle a feather.

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:rofl:

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So - it wasn’t that close when it took it out of the sky?

Don’t think so.

Hythe gulls don’t work with a safety margin.

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100%!!!

They are bastards in Hythe!

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Hi Richard,
I remember very well what it was like to fly for the first time, a very nervy experience, I wouldn’t even go up too high let alone fly off any distance. I was constantly fretting over battery level wondering what would happen when I ran out of juice or what would happen if I lost connection with the drone. I was a real wimp. I realise nothing is completely fail-safe but on these two concerns there seems to be little to worry about. Ascend to a height that is above any obstacles, say 60 to 80 metres, then fly out a reasonable distance keeping VLOS in mind to remain legal. Don’t be nervous or get panicky. If you’re concerned about something simply take your fingers off the sticks, the drone will just stop and stay put, then calmly think about what your situation is.

I suggest have the radar feature on screen so you know for certain the orientation of the drone and where it is relative to you. Before setting off though make sure the lost signal safety setting is set to RTH. The battery always lasted longer than I imagined it would and in any case there is plenty of information on the RC screen to keep you informed. When the power is low the on-board computer lets you know it’s time to come home. Don’t override this, best not to ignore this when first out or try to push your luck. If for some reason signal is lost for a while or feel the need to press the pause/rth button the drone will come back to you providing you have set the option to RTH so don’t forget to check this every time you make a flight. I have found that sometimes this setting changes for no obvious reason.

My first drone was a mini 2 and very early on as a very novice pilot the screen on the phone did go completely black. The drone was not visible as it was obscured by some houses and I didn’t know what to do. The only option I had left was to turn off the RC and phone and reboot the system. By the time I had done that the drone was on its back and returned home safely. Whilst a nail-biting experience I learned a lot from it which helped me be a bit less nervous and gain a little more confidence. I’m still a wimp but enjoy flying with a lower level of stress.

As for bird strikes I’ve not had a problem but I would fly vertically up as fast as possible and see if that puts off any aggressor.

I also recommend you look at one of Ian in London’s youtube videos at https://youtu.be/C_g4cgxjYCM regarding the radar/map feature. Very useful like a lot of his stuff.

This is probably a case of teaching granny to suck eggs but I’ve tried to relate my own early experience with the way the question was asked.

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@rthorne Hi Richard, I generally don’t look at the distance on the RC. Watch your drone until your happy it’s above any obstacles and that there is no-one else flying in your vacinity, then launch it purposely towards your intended subject (VLOS maintained of course :innocent:). Could be monument, a building, a ship(s), a piece of landscape; anything that keeps you focused.

Keep your eye on your signal, if it drops out of white you’re still good to go usually, but if it makes you uncomfortably use the compass to bring it closer back to you until the signal strength improves.

Make sure your RTH is set higher than anything likely to get in the way should you lose signal. I have lost signal loads of times, especially while orbiting and, so far, it’s always started to make a b-line back to me until I cancel it.

On level ground with a standard RC setup, and no buildings etc getting in the way, your drone should get to at least 400m without losing signal so just keep it going until you can’t make it out in the sky anymore and then bring it back along the same trajectory until you can see again. Do this a few times making a note of the distance and you’ll soon get used to it.

Be aware that the little blighter can shift pretty quick in the sky so if you take your eye of it for a second or two to frame a shot for example it will have shifted a fair bit so use your compass again to re-establish its orientation etc. Maybe enlist someone to help as a spotter while yor doing this to give you a bit more confidence.

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Hi Andy,

Definitely no egg sucking involved. That’s all really helpful information, thank you for such a detailed response. I’ve said it once before, and I’ll say it again, this is such a great forum, and so many of you are very generous with your help and advice. Thank you for that.

Your recollection of flying for the first time certainly matches my own. I’m probably overthinking lots of stuff. e.g. That tree over there looks pretty tall, how do I know how tall so that I can be sure to set the RTH height well above it? etc.

Part of the problem that I’m still getting my head around is maintaing good VLOS. The Mini 4K is unhelpfully almost exactly the same grey as a typical sky here in Wales (apologies to the Wales Tourism folks). I’ve stuck a little strobe to the back, but it still seems to have a stealth mode from time to time. I think it was Sparkyws that suggested trying a wrap to help keep the gulls away, and I’m wondering whether this might be an option to make it a bit more visible against the sky?

I just had a look at that YouTube video, as I’ve not seen the radar/map feature. That certainly looks like a really handy feature. If the wind ever dies down, I’ll give that a try.

Thanks again

Richard

Thanks D0c.Col, that’s really helpful.

I can certainly relate to the little blighter shifting quickly, and have noticed that when glancing at the screen, there’s a moment when looking back at the drone where I hope it’s still where I think it is. In fairness, I’ve already discovered that it does hold its position well as long as I don’t interfere with it.

Judging distance isn’t coming naturally to me yet. A couple of times, I’ve bravely flown it off into the distance, only to later discover that it had actually gone about 100 ft or so away when checking the flight info. I don’t think I’ve got used to how small the thing is yet.

Still, importantly I’m enjoying the process of learning, and I’m quite inspired by your phrase “launch it purposely towards your intended subject”. :grin: I’m definitely going to do that!

Thanks again,

Richard

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Hi Richard,

I don’t know if this was a rhetorical question or not but please don’t take this as me being patronising. First off enable gridlines in the DJI fly app. I like to have both the diagonals and centre spot visible. Launch your drone and ascend vertically making sure the camera gimbal is set to 0 degrees. Using the left stick rotate the drone a full 360 degrees and check for any object, or parts thereof, that appear above the centre of the screen. Anything that appears above the centre line is higher than your drone so raise it up. All you need to do is to make sure all objects are below the centre line and you should then be good to go but make sure the gimbal really is a zero degrees.

Hope that helps.

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@rthorne Take Andy’s advice Rich and binge watch @ianinlondon 's YT vids. He is a well respected member of GADC as well and you’ll learn shed loads that will give you the tools to do the job with confidence. By the way, watch the strobe thing as some will put the drone over 250g that will then require you to have further quals to fly in A1 (Ian also did a vid on this too). :+1:

Hi Andy,

Again, that’s really helpful and makes perfect sense, thank you.

I hadn’t thought of using the gridlines for that. So far, I’ve been doing the 360 check but still doubting whether I’m clear or not. Using the centre line as a guide will make that a lot easier. (I will check that the gimbal is set to zero too).

Thanks again.

Thanks D0c.Col. I’ll definitely work my way through those vids. The one I watched on the map and radar feature was done really well, so an easy watch.

I did think about the weight of the strobe, and made a point of getting a small and light one. I stuck the lot on a scale, and am still comfortably under the magic number. Thanks for highlighting that though, as it could be an easy gotcha.

Cheers

Richard

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Others don’t seem to agree, but I can spot my mini2 a lot more easily since putting on a bright orange skin. I’m not saying it helps me fly further, more that if I take my eyes off it for a moment, it’s much easier to pick back up again. I also wouldn’t worry too much about the weight of the drone with strobes on. It’s highly unlikey you’ll be stopped by police who just happen to be carrying calibrated scales with them.

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Fluorescent Orange works better on eyesight at a distance, yellow begin to turn a shade of green at distances, hence why workmen on highways, railways etc now predominantly wear Orange.

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“That tree over there looks pretty tall, how do I set my RTH to fly over it…”

It doesn’t matter, trees are sneaky, and will jump out in front of you. Not quite sure how high they can jump, though…

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