Getting unique angels from above is something just not normally possible on a cycle tour. Adding a quadcopter with HD video has allowed a new and unique perspective to my latest bike tour. Here is a list of the equipment used on this trip:
- DJI Phantom quadcopter.
- AeroXcraft 2D brushless GoPro gimble.
- GoPro Hero3 action cam.
For this trip, I was 'flying blind' meaning that I was not able to see what the camera was seeing while in flight. For the next trip, I will add a so called 'FPV' or first person view. This system will allow me to get better quality footage. Watch this space for details of that setup.
The batteries last about 7 to 10 minutes each which is enough to get a few good shots. I carried two batteries which allowed me to get it out twice a day more or less. Charging takes about 1.5 hours from the mains, I don't think it would be practical to charge the batteries with a solar charger though I may look into this in future if I go to a more remote place.
Flying the thing:
It doesn't take long to get used to flying this quadcopter. It is GPS stablised and will return to home if it goes out of range or looses contact with the transmitter. So far, this has not happened. There are several other flight modes but I have not found them very practical.
The angle of the camera is adjusted with a lever on the back of the controller, this is the most difficult part of using the thing when you can't see what it is seeing, I often ended up with a low angle that was not ideal. Adding the FPV will solve this problem.
The GoPro takes very high quality video for a thing that small. I had some problems with vertical banding in the over exposed areas. I am working on getting it replaced as I think this is a manufacturing fault. I have found that the best mode is 1080p - Med at 60fps. This allows you to slow down the footage and the Medium field of view gets rid of the props or skids in most shots.
The biggest problem I found initially was forgetting to turn on the camera! Stupid mistake but it cost me some great footage. I do recommend putting the GoPro on one touch mode which starts recording as soon as it is turned on.
I packed the copter and controls in my backpack on the back rack. This workd great, I found it easy to access and quick to setup. It was protected from the weather by the rain cover and allowed me quick access when a train was coming or the perfect light come out of the clouds.