Whenever possible, most of my purchases are made with a credit card for accumulating reward points, and the charges are paid off at the end of the month. Recently, an e-mail from the bank declared 287 points will be expiring in 60 days and 539 points in 90 days, prompting me to look through the catalog for redeeming rather than losing them.
A Polaroid PL600 Camera Drone caught my eye. I’ve been thinking about getting one lately and here was the perfect opportunity.
After my ordering it on February 13th, the parcel arrived Monday, the 17th, during which time I assembled the drone and read the instructions’ manual to learn how to fly the small craft.
On the 18th, I took a trip to a local state park in Philadelphia, where an area designated for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) is provided for enthusiasts. Sitting myself down at a table thereat, I studied through the manual again to test out the functions, having never flown one before.
The UAV took off in a flash upon my activating the controls. I had intended the craft just to hover at around 10 ft. (3m) in the air; but from my not being fully familiar with the throttles, up it went, flying like it had a mind of its own. I couldn’t get the drone to return, watching the device disappear into the woods.
That’s another fine mess I had gotten myself into. The drone creates a WiFi network and transmits live video from its camera to a smartphone through an app available from the manufacturer, which I downloaded and set up on my phone. I hadn’t turned the software on prior to takeoff, but figured maybe I’ll be able to see where the unit landed by doing so.
“Son of a gun,” I said, not exactly in those same words. The lead-in photo to this essay is a facsimile of what appeared on the smartphone after my activating the WiFi app. evidently being captured by the drone’s camera while stuck in a tree.
By moving the controls, I noticed the transmitted image showed parking spaces and a car traveling down the road, which gave me an idea where it was at. Moving the camera’s apparatus up and down, and the other remote controls for a couple of minutes, I saw the ground and grass getting closer until the image faded to black. Too bad no pictures or video of the fiasco was captured or recorded. It would have been hilarious to watch.
Driving over to a spot where the drone may have crashed, nearby the road on which that car was driving, also by some parking spaces, I walked through the woods for a good hour or so, but didn’t see it anywhere. Giving it one more attempt at finding the wayward UAV, I went to another area where parking spaces were, not very far away, and found it sitting upright under a sycamore tree. I couldn’t believe it, and thanked my lucky stars.
By then the battery had died, so I didn’t know if it survived the crash. The camera and its casing had been yanked off, most likely by my activating the raising-and-lowering apparatus, which ultimately freed the craft from the branches. One of the blade guards was broken. Other than that, the drone was in good shape.
Once at home after charging the battery, I tested the device and determined one of the blade motors had burned out. The camera’s motor that raised and lowered it had also shorted out. I could tell by that funky, roasted-transformer smell that I was accustomed to from my days as a service technician.
Fortunately the circuit boards for the WiFi and motor controls still functioned. I measured voltage in the wires leading to the faulty motor once it was out of the system. The camera recorded video and photos as well, which appeared on my smartphone.
While researching the availability for parts, I learned the drone is no longer manufactured, but found a distributor who carried spare parts for this model and ordered a new motor, camera assembly and blade guard. Also two more batteries and a charger are included with the order. Flight time on one battery is twenty minutes, so now I’ll be able to fly it for a total of one hour.
The parts should arrive sometime next week. Another thing I learned is that drones over .5 pounds (.2kg) must be registered with the FAA, and the registry number needs to be plainly marked on the craft.
The drone is now legal to fly, once fixed. I ordered custom-made stickers with my registration number to be place on the front of the UAV, and a telephone number to call in case it gets lost.
I learned a big flight lesson the day the drone almost fully destructed. My second attempt to fly it should go a lot smoother, and I’ll be recording this time. Hopefully something good to report and show will be available for next week’s entry.
Thanks for stopping by, and for your continued support.