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Inside Drones

Inside Drones (Nov 29th, 2016)

DroneGun jams drone systems, aerial video of Apple campus, FAA restricts Standing Rock drones, drone shopping guides

The new DroneGun from DroneShield can jam drones’ signals from as far as 1.2 miles away. The futuristic-looking device forces the vehicle to land or return to its starting point, allowing anti-drone teams to disable threats from a safe distance. This is especially important if the drone could be carrying explosives. So far the DroneGun isn’t FCC certified, but once approved it could protect soldiers against drone bombs or take down drones at airports. - ENGADGET

A new foldable drone tethered to a handheld controller could be a cheap and easy way to launch a GoPro camera. The Fotokite Phi, priced at $249, is light, portable and easy to fly, making it a potential choice for first-time pilots. It flies a bit like a kite (hence the name), auto-descends for landing if the battery runs out or the tether is cut, and folds up for storage in a Pringles can-like case. It doesn’t have its own camera, however, so you’ll need to use your own GoPro for aerial footage. - TIME

New drone footage gives us an aerial shot of the nearly-complete Apple Campus 2. Posted by YouTube account Sexton Videography, the video shows the spaceship-looking structure with most walls and solar panels in place. The $5 billion facility will reportedly feature 3,000 floor-to-ceiling glass panels, an underground 120,000 square foot auditorium, a 90,000 square foot cafeteria, and a 100,000 square foot fitness center. - DIGITAL TRENDS

The FAA has issued a temporary flight restriction over the Standing Rock oil pipeline protest, banning all drones except those flown by law enforcement or pre-approved journalists. Several drone videos shot by Native American protesters have gone viral, including a video of police spraying people with water in sub-freezing temperatures. This is the second temporary flight restriction placed over the area; the first took place after law enforcement claimed that a drone flew too close to a police helicopter. - RECODE

A drone pilot helped police chase down two robbery suspects in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Eyewitness David Bell happened to be flying his drone downtown when he spotted someone climbing out of the broken window of a local business carrying two bottles of scotch. He tracked the burglars with his drone to a park bench across the street, and guided officers right to them. The men were arrested, one for the break-in and the other for public intoxication. - NEWS ON 6

DJI is opening its first “authorized retailer” in the Seattle area. The store in Bellevue’s Marketplace @ Factoria mall will let people test out DJI’s drones and get training on how to use them. The grand opening is scheduled for Saturday and will feature demonstrations of the DJI Phantom and Mavic series, as well as the Osmo stabilization gimbal series. Customers are reminded, however, that flying drones is prohibited outside Factoria mall, and unmanned aircrafts are not allowed in Bellevue parks. - GEEKWIRE

Will physical stores be the way to get newcomers into drones as a hobby? Would you want to try out flying a drone in a store setting before investing in one? Hit "Reply" and let us know what you think.

Fauna & Flora International is hoping two quadcopter drones will help them protect wild elephants in Sumatra, Indonesia. FFI’s Aceh team is using the drones to monitor elephants’ locations, allowing them to respond quickly when the animals approach community farms. The drones can also help with forest patrols and produce detailed ground maps of community forest areas. Farming communities are increasingly coming into conflict with the elephants as they encroach on the natural environment. - PHYS.ORG


On the Drones subreddit, jamiethecoles is getting a bit disillusioned with DJI. "I'm thinking of cancelling my Mavic Pro order and I don't really want to give DJI any of my money because I'm starting to hate them," he says. "Realistically, what alternatives do I have at a similar budget?"

Bix1775 replies, “Autel X-Star Premium. Its camera is second only to the new P4 Pro that came out and it only costs $699 right now. I own one. Easy flyer. Biggest thing for me is the customer service. DJI CS sucks, can barely get ahold of them. Autel answers every time, no fail."

dazonic urges him to not give up on DJI just yet: "If you want good video, reliable gear, updates... go DJI, they're miles ahead and yet still pushing. Not many of them have great customer service. You need to consider there's a fairly large community supporting DJI outside the company as well. Typically the more people that use a product, the easier it will be to find parts, mods and fixes."

Over on the Drone Videos subreddit, we have a pretty compelling argument in favor of the DJI Phantom 4: a beautiful 4K shot of a pod of 60 humpback whales migrating off the coast of Cape Town, South Africa, courtesy of Kieran Donnelly. "Stunning footage," writes Amanda in the comments. "Thanks for not flying too close and disturbing them."

Last week we asked you: "Are there any drones on your holiday shopping list? Which models would make the best gifts for beginners, or for experienced pilots?"

David Young from, which offers an online prep course for the Part 107 FAA Remote Pilot Exam, had this detailed answer:

"We typically recommend that people get started with something like the Syma X5C. It is lightweight, durable, cheap, and a ton of fun. I still fly mine around to this day. You can pick on up on Amazon for about $50. Comes with an onboard 720p camera.

"If you've graduated past the beginner phase, we typically recommend that you move to something like the DJI Phantom 3 Standard. These typically go for about $475-500. The Phantom 3 Standard gives you some of the features that are found on the higher end drones (like the return to home function, live GPS tracking and integrated GPS flight mode, and the gimbal-stabilized camera). What you don't get is the extended range (the higher end DJI models go about 3 miles. P3 Standard only goes about 0.5 miles) or the 4K resolution camera. But in our opinion, most of the filming or pictures you'll ever take will be within 0.5 miles (hard to see the drone beyond that anyhow) and the 2.7k resolution camera still produces beautiful video (over twice the resolution of 1080p). The Phantom 3 Standard is about half the cost of the next level up. It's the best bang for your buck, in our opinion."

Andy P wrote a full Christmas buy guide on LinkedIn, which he was good enough to share with us. The article covers everything from inexpensive toy drones that he expects to last you a month, to top-end models like the DJI Phantom 4 Pro.

"When spending less than $200 dollars, you can get a drone this is good for flying & racing at home, the office, or at close range outdoors," he advises. "Above $200 you are gifting a specialized camera, not a drone. There are many cool camera gadgets on the market including 360 cameras, light field cameras, and of course, flying cameras, aka drones. In the end, these are all just cameras. Remember this when evaluating the options below because for over $200 the only question you need to answer is: will this drone allow me to capture photos/video at my desired quality?"

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