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

My photo travel gear is featured over at Shotkit! The feature includes all of the photography gear I took with me on a recent trip to Cape Town to do both aerial and underwater imaging. Check it out, here: http://shotkit.com/eric-cheng
My photo travel gear is featured over at Shotkit! The feature includes all of the photography gear I took with me on a recent trip to Cape Town to do both aerial and underwater imaging. Check it out, here: http://shotkit.com/eric-cheng

My photo travel gear is featured over at Shotkit! The feature includes all of the photography gear I took with me on a recent trip to Cape Town to do both aerial and underwater imaging. Check it out, here: http://shotkit.com/eric-cheng

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I get asked a lot how I mount my FPV monitors to my radios. My favorite mount for the Phantom radio is the 3D-printed Rave Aerial Video mount, which snaps into place using the radio’s antenna and rear metal handle. It locks in solidly, and is perfect for the Black Pearl 5.8Ghz Diversity Receiver / Monitor, which is my standard receiver / monitor when I’m flying around using my Boscam TS-353 FPV video transmitter.

When I was at Burning Man last week, I used a Lightbridge setup on my Phantom 2, and elected to use a Lilliput 7” 664/o/p monitor, instead. Rave Aerial Video says they have a version that works with the Lilliput 668, but I’m not sure if it works with the 664 (but I don’t have it). I used the Tarot video mount, instead, and it was absolutely terrible. After a day or two, everything was loose, and I had to literally tape the monitor to my radio, which wasn’t ideal.

I think I’m going to go with Sam Chen's mounting approach for Lilliput and heavier displays. Sam opened up his radio, drilled a hole, and mounted a mini ball head with a quick-release plate (use a large washer on the inner side so the ball head is secured by a lot of plastic).

For quick release, I’ll likely use a Mini Clamp DAC-25, which is a tiny, inexpensive, and Arca-Swiss compatible (I use RSS for everything), and a SUNWAYFOTO 26mm QR Plate, which has 3 holes for maximum positioning versatility. If you aren’t standardized around Arca-Swiss or RRS, any ol’ cheap quick-release product is probably fine.

If you’re wondering what timer Sam has mounted to his radio in the photo above, it’s the Presto 04213.

Finally, with all that weight on top of your radio, you will likely want to shift your neck strap mounting location further up. I use these cheap balancers from eBay. Even attaching your strap to the third hole won’t be enough to fully balance your radio, but it will help.

This article has generated some good discussion over at the Quadcopters group on Facebook.

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Aerial footage of Burning Man 2014. Shot with DJI Phantom 2 quadcopter, Zenmuse H3-3D gimbal, GoPro HERO 3+ Black, with DJI Lightbridge and Lilliput monitor as FPV and livestreaming solution. Some of this footage was streamed live to Burning Man’s Ustream live webcast during the event.

If you’re interested in what it was like to fly drones at Burning Man, check out the last post.

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The flying of drones at Burning Man was highly-regulated in 2014. I was told by Firefly, the main organizer of drones this year, that a big reason for the new regulations was that some idiot flew over the Temple last year during the moment of silence before it burned. This prompted hundreds of complaints from Burning Man attendees, and a so, strict rules were formulated for 2014. The rules are listed in one of the pictures, above.

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Aerial footage of ~70,000 people watching The Burn at Burning Man 2014 at around 9:30pm on Saturday, August 30, 2014. Shot with DJI Phantom 2, GoPro 3+ Black, and DJI Lightbridge wireless HD transmission. Black Rock City, Nevada.

A lot of my flights were live-streamed to the Burning Man webcast, which was very cool. DJI’s Lightbridge wireless HD system did a great job in getting 720p footage from the Phantom 2 to the streaming container in Center Camp (behind Media Mecca), where it was real-time transcoded to 480p and streamed to Ustream using a Teradek box.

Special thanks to Gerard Mattimoe and George Krieger!

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A shark aggregation in the surf near Cape Point in Table Mountain National Park, Cape Town, South Africa. Shot by DJI Global Phantom 2, Zenmuse H3-3D gimbal and GoPro HERO3+ Black. The real Shark Week is seeing sharks in the wild!

There is a cape fur seal in the second picture (it’s in the lower-right hand corner). The seal surfed down waves and chased sharks until they scattered.

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We hiked up Lion’s Head in Cape Town, South Africa, for sunrise, and arrived at the top for an absolutely-beautiful morning. Clouds rolled over Table Mountain just across the valley (locals call clouds like this the “table cloth”), and a slight haze made for warm, dramatic morning light. I popped a DJI Phantom 2 w/Zenmuse gimbal and GoPro HERO 3+ Black camera into the air and took some stills. Perfect.

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Morning flight with a DJI Phantom 2 quadcopter from rib at Duiker Island near Hout Bay, Western Cape, South Africa, with Animal Ocean Snorkeling and some friends. It was a beautiful morning—the first clear skies in days—but the wind started to pick up and was blowing around 15 knots by mid-afternoon.
Morning flight with a DJI Phantom 2 quadcopter from rib at Duiker Island near Hout Bay, Western Cape, South Africa, with Animal Ocean Snorkeling and some friends. It was a beautiful morning—the first clear skies in days—but the wind started to pick up and was blowing around 15 knots by mid-afternoon.

Morning flight with a DJI Phantom 2 quadcopter from rib at Duiker Island near Hout Bay, Western Cape, South Africa, with Animal Ocean Snorkeling and some friends. It was a beautiful morning—the first clear skies in days—but the wind started to pick up and was blowing around 15 knots by mid-afternoon.

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A secluded inlet near Duiker Island outside of Hout Bay Harbour, Western Cape, South Africa, houses three poacher rowboats sitting on a bed of thousands of illegally-harvested abalone shells. Aerial perspectives like this one (shot with DJI Phantom 2 quadcopter) show the power that low-cost drones can give to conservation organizations. 
A secluded inlet near Duiker Island outside of Hout Bay Harbour, Western Cape, South Africa, houses three poacher rowboats sitting on a bed of thousands of illegally-harvested abalone shells. Aerial perspectives like this one (shot with DJI Phantom 2 quadcopter) show the power that low-cost drones can give to conservation organizations. 

A secluded inlet near Duiker Island outside of Hout Bay Harbour, Western Cape, South Africa, houses three poacher rowboats sitting on a bed of thousands of illegally-harvested abalone shells. Aerial perspectives like this one (shot with DJI Phantom 2 quadcopter) show the power that low-cost drones can give to conservation organizations. 

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Check out this Lightbridge HD video from last night’s NightLife event, which was recorded using an Atomos Ninja Blade connected over HDMI. George Krieger took my Lightbridge-enabled Phantom 2 and walked down the entire length of CalAcad (we were watching live on a large display). At times, the entire rain forest and planetarium was between the Lightbridge ground end and the Phantom.

The reason you see “FAILSAFE” and “RemoteControlSignalLost” is that the remote control was not turned on.

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