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Aerial imaging using small, unmanned aircraft systems. Also, I work at DJI.

Here’s how I have my DJI Lightbridge configured for Phantom 2 and local recording. I’m using DJI’s 5.8G radio control and replacement receiver for Phantom, so I’m not running vehicle control over Lightbridge (which is what I’m doing on the S800 EVO setup). This keeps the radio light and simple, which is OK because the Phantom can’t take advantage of all the extra channels a Futaba provides, anyway. The replacement 5.8G radio is hard to search for, but you can find it at IntelligentUAS, a DJI dealer.

I’m using a Really Right Stuff tripod for the Atomos Ninja Blade monitor and ProRes recorder (overkill, but it’s the tripod I usually have with me), and have clamped Lightbridge to the tripod center stalk using a music stand mount for a tablet. This mount is versatile because the ball system also matches the ball system used by the Phantom 2 Vision+’s phone mount, so you could also use that system to mount a tablet to your radio (and run a thin HDMI cable to Lightbridge). Lightbridge is on the heavy side for this particular tablet mount, but it seems to be working, so far.

Regarding HDMI cables, you want something fast, thin, and long. I’m using a 16’ PNY Smart Active HDMI cable, which works well.

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DJI Lightbridge local capture vs Google Hangouts On Air live broadcast. DJI Phantom 2 quadcopter with GoPro HERO 3+ Black and DJI Lightbridge. The Lightbridge ground end is connected to an Atomos Ninja Blade via HDMI cable (720/60p) for ProRes recording. The Atomos’ HDMI output is connected to a Macbook Air via FEBON USB grabber (720p version), which exposes the HDMI video to the computer as a generic webcam. The signal was broadcast to Google Hangouts On Air via a Verizon LTE signal.

As you can see in this video, I need more bandwidth to do live video broadcast. LTE isn’t cutting it.

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Woz decided that he was suddenly curious about the DJI Phantom, so we chased him and Janet around while they were on their Segways. Shot with DJI Phantom 2 quadcopter, Zenmuse H3-3D gimbal, GoPro HERO 3+ Black camera with Ragecams 5.4mm lens. Thanks to Jeff Cable for instigating!

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A few buddies and I spent the early morning today flying at an abandoned structure near San Francisco. All of them had zippy mini-quads and were rocketing all around—and, inside—the structure. I wish I had a sport flyer, too, but I haven’t had the time to do a build.

While they shot between support pillars and did flips, I did a flight with a DJI Phantom 2 quadcopter w/Zenmuse H3-H3 gimbal and GoPro HERO 3+ Black and captured this footage.

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Last week, I went to Fakarava, a remote atoll in the Tuamotus in French Polynesia, as part of the Blancpain Diving Experience 2014. The south pass of Fakarava is the best place on the planet for seeing schools of gray reef sharks—there are upwards of 700 schooling sharks in the pass at any given time. I captured footage of the sharks in the pass using a Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera in a Nauticam housing (video below), but the low-altitude aerial shots I took with my DJI Phantom 2 quadcopter and Ricoh GR camera are much more rare. What an incredible place!

Schooling sharks in the South Pass of Fakarava (Tumakohua), French Polynesia from Eric Cheng on Vimeo.

Last week, I went to Fakarava, a remote atoll in the Tuamotus in French Polynesia, as part of the Blancpain Diving Experience 2014. The south pass of Fakarava is the best place on the planet for seeing schools of gray reef sharks—there are upwards of 700 schooling sharks in the pass at any given time. I captured footage of the sharks in the pass using a Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera in a Nauticam housing (video below), but the low-altitude aerial shots I took with my DJI Phantom 2 quadcopter and Ricoh GR camera are much more rare. What an incredible place!

Schooling sharks in the South Pass of Fakarava (Tumakohua), French Polynesia from Eric Cheng on Vimeo.

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Here’s the video of the sunflower field! Tons of fun for an early-morning meeting. Shot with DJI Phantom 2 Vision+ quadcopter and camera.

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Best meeting ever. I drove about 100 miles to the east to some beautiful, gigantic, sunflower fields with photographers Barry Blanchard and Jeff Cable to do some flying with DJI Phantom 2 quadcopters and Barry’s Spreading Wings S1000. So beautiful. Photos shot with DJI Phantom 2 Vision+.

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I finally had time to install DJI Lightbridge on my Phantom 2 tonight. Lightbridge is a wireless HD video transmission system that also includes radio control and telemetry support using a single ground end and air end.

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Last night, I participated in a panel discussion hosted by the Churchill Club about consumer drones. Panel members included me, Chris Anderson (3D Robotics, DIY Drones), Jonathan Downey (Airware), and Christian Sanz (Skycatch, DroneGames), and was moderated by Robin Murdoch of Accenture. The discussion is about 90 minutes long, but if you are interested in drones, it’s worth watching. Special thanks to the organizers of the Churchill Club for inviting me!

Before the event, we all went outside for a quick dronie, which I posted to Instagram:

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Micro FPV quadcopter: LaTrax Alias

I’ve been looking for a fun, small, quadcopter suitable for FPV and inexpensive / durable enough to hand the radio over to friends for test flights. My buddy Steve Doll over at Hovership recommended giving the LaTrax Alias a try (~$150).

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When the LaTrax Alias came out, it was accompanied with a video that showed just how durable the little quadcopter is. It survives crashes into street signs and is run over by a bike without causing noticeable damage. Friends have confirmed that it is durable enough to crash often and hard.

For FPV, Steve recommends the tin, Fatshark / ImmersionRC-compatible AltitudeRC Nano 25mW video transmitter (available at Hovership, GetFPV and other stores) and a tiny camera like the Lumenier CP-520 Pico nano camera.

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AltitudeRC tx and small camera (photo: Hovership))

The AltitudeRC transmitter supports 1s to 3s batteries, so you can power it directly from the 1s battery that powers the LaTrax Alias. The transmitter can also directly power a 3.6v camera (like the Lumenier camera linked above), which is very cool.

Obviously, you will have to own your own FPV goggles (e.g., Fatshark) or receiver / monitor (e.g., Black Pearl).

Check out Hovership’s setup page for more information about FPV on tiny quads. I should have my parts in about a week, and will give it a try! Here is Steve’s setup:

If you decide to get this same setup, remember to buy extra batteries, props, and motors for the Alias.

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