Great Big GADC 5th Birthday and Treasure Hunt Challenge Great Big Discussion Thread

Last night’s Great Big 5th Birthday and Treasure Hunt Challenge winners and competitors seen here at the Awards ceremony enjoying a slap-up fish supper

Now that the winners have been announced and the dust has settled on this year’s Birthday Challenge, it’s time to open the customary post-challenge discussion thread!

This your chance to discuss how the challenge went, what you did or didn’t like, and put forward suggestions for future challenges. All feedback is gratefully received.

There are two ways to do this. Everyone, whether an entrant or not, is invited to fill out this quick and easy form which, unless you wish, can be completely anonymous. Your feedback is private, shared with the Challenge and GADC Committees only.

You can choose to make your comments in this thread, where they will be seen by your fellow contestants, potential competitors and the Committees. Or, and this would be preferable to us, you both contribute to the discussion and send your comments in the form

We’re particularly interested in hearing from those who might have started the competition, but then didn’t finish for whatever reason. Or if you’re reading this and you have never taken part in a challenge, why not?

We look forward to a long (and courteous) discussion with the emphasis on constructive criticism and suggestions to make next year’s Challenge better for participants and judges alike


If you enjoyed this Challenge and want to try something different, if you hated this Challenge and want to do something different, if you just want a Reason to Fly then try the RTF Competition.

Vote now to select the subject for the September 11th season’s opener!

A great competition (as per usual) and all efforts by the @Challenges_Committee and fellow entrants are greatly appreciated by me. It was great fun, though I’d have enjoyed it even more if I’d have been able to get all 25 subjects, regardless of my total points. Two of the subjects were impossible for me due to my location, though I wouldn’t have expected anyone who doesn’t live here to have known that (The Red coach/bus in no. 2 and the freight train in no. 7). I did submit, ahem, ‘alternative’ entries in lieu of these in the hope of at least a point, but these weren’t accepted - I thought that was overly strict, but I suppose in fairness the others who did get the subjects properly that had to be the case. I agree with the post made here in the original thread by Ade @firstadekit that all the subjects should be achieveable by any interested entrant and leave it to the hardcore competitors to go-for-broke on the bonuses. Aside from my two impossibles, I missed out on the windsurfers just through bad luck, despite numerous visits to the local coast. All said, it’s been a couple of months of fun, and an excuse to get out and about with the drone at every available opportunity. Bottom line is, I got as high as 5th, ended up 9th, so I’m happy enough to have finished in the top ten, but my preference would have been to have got all 25 subjects even if i’d ended up down at 30th. Will I enter next year? Hell, yes. And I hope everyone else who took part enjoyed as much as I did. :grin:

1 Like

We understand and regret that we were unaware that two of the subjects were apparently unobtainable.

It seems that we were unaware that freight trains do not exist in Northern Ireland but, in fairness, it appeared that you were also unaware until you went looking for them :slight_smile: That neither Belfast nor regional buses are red was something we could have checked up on, we did discover several coach operators with red vehicles though.

It is difficult to choose new subjects every year that are sufficiently varied, achievable with some thought and effort by everyone, those living in the North of Scotland, coastal Cornwall, landlocked Leicester and urban Uxbridge have different opportunities and challenges in finding each of the subjects. That is why finding all the subjects is not the aim of the competition.

The winning score was 91 out of 100. Someone could have achieved that by not dropping the bonuses and still missing, say windsurfers, an isolated tower and a marina. On that point we were rather surprised at the activity in the first few days, people seeming eager to bag as many subjects as possible without regard to the bonus points they dropped.

The danger with making items too easy is that like last year there was a distinct possibility of having at least one competitor, and maybe more, achieving maximum points. Finding the balance is not the easiest task. And, as has become clear to us throughout this contest, there are some who relish the challenge, some whose sense of entitlement causes them to whinge at any setback, some who cheerfully accept the difficulties and others who quietly and methodically make plans to get as many points as possible before setting out to take the picture.

Glad you enjoyed this curate’s egg of a contest, Paul, It’s been good to have you as a competitor. Will we see you in the RTF competitions over the next few months?

1 Like

That wasn’t a complaint from me, by the way, hope you didn’t see it as such, I was just giving you my thoughts. I had great fun with the competition just from being in it. I’ve already voted on the next RTF so highly likely I’ll take part in that too. Looking forward to see what everyone else thought too.:+1:

For my own part, I think I got carried away with the excitement. Having limited oppotunities for some items meant it was a single visit, and I had to take or leave whatever was there. I can see that to get into the top three you do have to be very tactical.

You asked earlier about wanting to know why some people started, then dropped out. My reason was very simple. I ran out of time before going away on holiday. Poor planning on my part, and certainly nothing to do with me scratching my head over where to find the remaining items (ahem).

1 Like

No, not seen as a complaint at all. We are looking for honest comment and constructive criticism here and/or via the online form.That is far more useful (and likely!) than unstinting praise :slight_smile:

Hopefully below is seen as constructive.

I think the balance of the subjects overall was about right but agree (with myself I suppose) that none of the subjects themselves should be an element of pure chance.

Every subject involves research, to a degree, like a quiz, it’s only easy if you know the answer. So if you know where there’s a clock tower, easy, if you don’t, you need to research. I like that bit about it.

I like subjects like the cement pumping truck, and last year cranes, again research involved and if you’re lucky, you come away making some good contacts who come back to you asking to do some aerial work at other sites of their equipment in use and you end up with some paid work out of it. A nice side effect of the competition

Only one person got the dual carriageway, and by the sounds of it they put considerable amount of time into trying to get it. The rest of us I guess had no interest in sitting for hours near a dual carriageway, or those that did, were not as lucky.

If anything people put more effort into trying to find ways around it with model toys (which could have gone very wrong, never assume everyone has the same level of common sense especially in the pursuit of cash prizes) it’s also not exactly a nice place to sit for hours either unless there’s one going through a hilly beauty spot, but I guess it would no longer then be a beauty spot.

By all means have all the items in the subject, but the main subject could be one of (something I tried to exploit with the use of / in the subject title, but got shot down) and then the bonuses being all the ridiculous stuff for the hardcore.

Most of us was probably willing to spend a full battery recording a dual carriageway and come away with one point, the ones that want to spend hours on it, can do.

Another way to look at it, is if one point becomes at least achievable, you strive more to get additional points for the subject.

E.g. the level crossing was about the right amount of achievable vs pure luck. Timetables allow you to easily know where to go and when, but what sits at the crossing is pure chance. I’m far more likely to keep trying here than I am if the subject itself is pure chance. Windsurfers I’m more likely to try multiple locations in the hunt for 5 for e.g.

But I get there needs to be an element of research vs pure chance vs hardcore

Speaking of hardcore, with the same top 3 (4 if you include me as joint 4th again also) the additional prizes for just taking part was a nice touch. I’d like to assume there was a minimum amount of entries that needed to be submitted to be included in that particular draw.

I would like to see loopholes of toys/miniatures closed in future years by being hardcoded into the rules, did it happen last year too or did I imagine that? (JCB truck, can’t remember, may have been a wind up) as well as ‘trying’ to ensure other bonuses can’t easily be got around with people themselves sitting in chairs, or bikes left on bridges, but appreciate this one is difficult.

And whilst I appreciate no one is paid to do this, and a considerable amount of effort and time is put into this by all behind the scenes. Call me a snowflake all you like, I’d like to see less snide comments. Members were encouraged to not do it but seems that didn’t transpire back to the committee in some cases, which quite frankly caused me to be snidey also. Apologies for that from my side. Practise what you preach I suppose.

There was a few inconsistencies with scoring imo, again appreciate thankless job, and i don’t think effected any of the cash prize awards, but things could get heated if they would have, also accepting entries where the formatting was wrong, this is me being mega picky though, so please don’t take this too critically.

Apologies for the long post. As I said I hope it’s constructive rater than too critical. I don’t need a reply to any of the above, or need explanations of why things are or are not, the way they are. It’s just feedback. I don’t need justifications, but happy to provide more information if required.

Just to repeat, much fun was had. I probably needed the competition to a degree, as like last year when I was new to drones it really helped me with flying skills. As I had just got the Mini 3, and my confidence was knocked after crashing it within a month. I was being extra cautious, this got me out flying and got my confidence back up.

Will I take part next year. Depends if I have a new drone to learn again, but I might put more time into actually capturing summer and doing more hiking next year rather than visiting building sites and dual carriageways. We’ll see what grabs my attention more. A lot can happen in 12 months.

Thanks again for all the effort and time put into organising this.


@Challenges_Committee would it be possible to leverage the coding on Dronescene, applying it to the forum, so that entries are made though a website form, with items/bonuses claimed chosen from a dropdown? It would standardise formatting, and perhaps allow some backend points adding/approval system for the leaderboard

1 Like

Additional on this, in light of consistent competitors in the top 4. If there is to be a prize draw raffle, announcing it at the start may help keep retention rate of competitors up. Each entry could be considered a ‘raffle ticket’ meaning more entries equals more entries in the raffle.

Top 3 should be excluded from said raffle.

1 Like

They were :slight_smile:

1 Like

We had several options. As there were insufficient entries in the birthday card category our idea of having an RTFstyle people’s vote fell by the wayside. We were disappointed in the response to that one, having felt that with evenings drawing in that particular challenge could be done mainly at home, with the family (if any) and not impinge too heavily on leisure time.

The obvious option was to do nothing at all and return the £50 to the person who put up the prize money, as he does every year, out of his own pocket.

In the end we settled on a simple draw using the RTF random subject generator spreadsheet with the leaderboard list (minus the top 3) in place of the subject list. We just felt it added a touch of occasion to the “Awards Ceremony”


I appreciate my (and maybe others, i dunno) feedback last year to start the competition earlier so usage of peak daylight hours could be used for those of us doing the 37.5 hours working week, scuppers some of the fanfare of the sites actual birthday.

Agree there should always be something birthday theme related.

Maybe the initial excitement had waned by that point, with people realising a lot of research and effort needs to go into getting all the subjects meant 5 additional points wasn’t going to get them anywhere near the top 3, so why bother. Again perhaps announcement at time of posting of extra incentive of award may have increased input for that particular subject.

Devils advocate on the competition start/end date, maybe could get away with running into the 1st or 2nd week of September just about in order to allow more time for completion of birthday themed bonuses.

Or just do a totally separate birthday challenge away from the treasure hunt.

1 Like

That’s something the Drone Scene developers would need to code. We have passed your suggestion over to them.

I have thought long and hard about my reply to this year’s competition. And I will try and make it as balanced as possible.

When I started my initial reaction was this is impossible this year - it has gone from hard to very hard and is it worth it?

I wonder whether others felt the same?

Out of the 26 competitors from last year only 10 took part this year to some extent. Meaning 16 didn’t. A couple joined the judges, but the other 14? Perhaps they are the ones to ask? If you exclude the top 4 which was the same as last year - only 6 others took part again. Would be nice to increase that percentage for next year.

Was it the timing? - whilst people are on holiday often in August, the better weather should have more than compensated for that. We had some ideal flying weather. So I do not believe the dates made an impact. If anything they ought to have increased the entrants which they did not.

Overall however there were 24 who took part, mainly thanks to some late entrants, but the number of entries were down by 66 or 18% - so was it perceived as too hard? Did people just make a token entry rather than going for most?

Once I started I found that it wasn’t as hard as I feared - I think my assumption was based on some of the bonuses - such as 5 different coloured windsurfers, 2 red cars at the crossing etc. If you are going to win you need to get the bonuses. As for many, time is not always on your side. I was able to work for a few hours beside a crossing but vehicles were not playing ball. I did find a bowling green behind a pub with a game on, but they were not in whites. But it was several hours from home, but only because I was away on business.

As always the images in the topic were fun, but I’m afraid that I found some of the writing by the committee not so - this is supposed to be a fun competition, but when the fun stops…

I feel that all items should have been obtainable by discovering where they exist - they were not. Level crossings exist, as do quarries, as do AONBs (changed to help some members) but dual carriageways with the required vehicles do not. Or not unless you are lucky or have the time. Likewise the RIB should have had the ‘in motion’ perhaps as a bonus. So that a say a drone image of the RNLI lifeboat standing on the dock would have got an entry.

The items had issues for those who live in the outer areas - Northern Ireland, Scotland, South West etc. Dragline excavators are a northern or eastern thing it seems, as are pubs with bowling greens (plenty in the Birmingham area) - freight trains are not national as we found out - the AONB was changed to help some people - it was a shame that others were not changed to help others to get all base items achievable.

Last year seven people got full entries, but only one this year. With only three points separating the top three, this was the difference.

I enjoy entering - but whether I will next year, I am not sure. It must be an issue seeing the top four the same each year. I might not be the most popular entrant for some (or one) of the committee. Sorry about that.

Perhaps by making it easier, more people will be serious contenders. Whilst my spreadsheet showed many were still in the running, we all knew that in reality unless the front runners all stopped that wasn’t really going to change.

75 people have taken part now in the Birthday Competition, with 1,010 entries and 2,744 points - so I hope that the numbers increase in the years ahead. Incidentally @clinkadink made the 1,000 entry into the Birthday Comps with his spire.

Not an easy task by the committee who work very hard. And that is very much appreciated. It is not an easy task organising anything. Whatever you do someone will not like it. Been there done that many times over the years.

Finally, rules should be applied fairly throughout to all competitors.

Thanks to the @Challenges_Committee and ultimately the @GADC_Committee for the opportunity.

I hope this feedback will be taken in the spirit it is intended.


In terms of returning competitors, and retention of people in this one, I think the price of fuel maybe was a factor but that’s beyond anyone’s control.

There was also the Commonwealth Games FRZ for two weeks over the competition period which may have put some midlanders off, but it didn’t make it impossible. Just one of those things.

All assumptions, that only the ones that didn’t take part can answer, and pride may result in people not willing to say that it is was ‘too expensive to take part’ Just because you own a drone doesn’t mean you’ve tons of disposable income, I suspect many of us are very lucky in that regard that in these times it is our disposable income that’s taking the hit, rather than worse.

1 Like

Yay, I am the winner :grin::1st_place_medal:

Gutted I couldn’t have joined the fun at the start of the comp. I hope you all enjoyed it.

Only last year and this year as far as I can tell :thinking: … see below …

1st Birthday Competition, 2018

Member #
m2bfx 1
ianinlondon 2
Paul_M =3
joe.k =3 =3

2nd Birthday Competition, 2019

Member #
Lozzer 1
BrianB 2
Rezzmo =3
stevesb =3

3rd Birthday Competition, 2020

Member #
Steviegeek 1
McSteamy2010 =2
kvetner =2
macspite 4

4th Birthday Competition, 2021

Member #
Acedrone 1
john768 2
DroneGeek 3
firstadekit =4
clinkadink =4

5th Birthday Competition, 2022

Member #
john768 1
Acedrone 2
Dronegeek 3
firstadekit =4
D0c.Col =4

indeed just the last 2 years. People struggle to remember beyond that :joy:

But the last 2 years us when the number of entrants ramped up.

Before that it was 10 / 18 / 18 then 26 & 24

Drone rules changed end of 2020, so possibly no coincidence entrants went up as sales of sub 250 drones increased. New members with a new toy to play with and the competition provides them an excuse to fly the drone. Was certainly the case for me. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the rule changes and the need to just find any reason to fly it.

This year it was something I was looking forward too, but as time went on, I realised it wasn’t as fun as the first time round, because the infatuation with a new shiny toy was not the same. Theres no longer the adrenaline rush of taking off, being nervous flying. That only comes now when I lose signal. :joy:

As such I’m not sure i’ll take part next year because as I get more and more engrossed with photography itself, this is the best part of the year to get out early/late and work scenes (i’m not a fan of the cold) and I think come next year that’s what I’ll get more enjoyment out of doing. I slightly regret now the competition has ended looking at the crappy weather forecast for this week and wish I’d put more effort into visiting the places that have been on my ‘to visit’ list for months. It’s possibly the same reason why we don’t see the names on the board from previous years, even though several are still regulars to the site. The infatuation to find any excuse to fly is no longer there. Instead they know why and when they want to use it.

Likely see the die hards who love the competition, the odd regular posting a few entries, and the odd newbie who takes it seriously, and the other newbies than just wane off. I think the key is keeping the people that want to take part that year engrossed enough to stay the distance, and that comes back round to difficulty of the subjects.

A lot of that was just me thinking out loud. Again. :upside_down_face:


‘Entrant’ vs ‘competitor’, it’s a very subtle difference. I’m the former, in it for the fun, others are in it to win it and will do whatever’s needed. I can see how that would put some people off entering - ‘it’s too hard, and I can’t win, so what’s the point’ - but then it is meant to be a challenge. So, do we want to make it easy and get lots of members entering, or extremely difficult and have only a few? I thought the balance was about right but were there people out there who may have been put off because they thought it was too hard? It may also be the case that some people would enter if it was RTF instead of Challenge? (And that’s me thinking out loud too, again, also). :smile: