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Atlanta Real Estate Photographer/Realtor Abandons AR Parrot Drone After Crashes and Stability Problems

November 7th, 2011

Ryan Ward an Atlanta Real Estate photographer and Realtor told me last week that after spending more than $100 in repair parts for his AR Parrot drone he’s going to upgrade to a bigger drone that can carry more weight.

Ryan says:

I’ve concluded that after crashing and fixing and needing to spend more than $100 more dollars on more parts to get it working again that the AR Drone really isn’t the right platform. I’ve now spent over $700 on a GoPro, the drone and extra parts and the very few times I could get it flying with a camera, the video was too shaky. It’s just too close to the maximum carrying weight for it to be stable. Maybe others will have better luck, but I am cutting my losses. Not with unmanned aerial video, but with the AR Drone. I think there are other options that can add value for RE aerial video, but this isn’t it. I think true costs will be more tan $1,000 for a good copter and a decent camera that will produce good enough results to incorporate in a video. I don’t want to be an r/c enthusiast – just be able to use one to shoot aerial video…the AR Drone came up just a little short for me.

As of right now, I’m trying to find a prebuilt Gaui 330X like this one.

I know that there are a bunch of real estate photographers wanting to use the AR Parrot to carry the GoPro Hero 2 so I feel it’s important to pass on this information. Ryan has been doing a bunch of experimentation with the AR Parrot so he’s has a lot of experience with the AR Parrot.

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19 Responses to “Atlanta Real Estate Photographer/Realtor Abandons AR Parrot Drone After Crashes and Stability Problems”

  • We have been watching this space for years. Thanks for your experience.

  • I spoke to Ryan at length on the phone after you featured him a few weeks ago. His feedback for you today sounds like an unfortunately but likely outcome of using this rig for Aerial photography. Looking forward to his future trials! I am going to try to meet up with him once he figures it out and shoot some video of the production process itself.

  • For those looking at video and flight,This was developed by Japans Defence force. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pF0uLnMoQZA&feature=share.

  • I really think to get the quality of video that Ryan is looking for, and is generally required for real estate, one almost must become an “r/c enthusiast.” Particularly not wanting to spend thousand$. And even then, it takes a long time to become proficient at flying in the best conditions. There are stable and fairly noob friendly ‘multi-rotor’ machines out there, but they are not cheap to acquire or maintain. If you have a property or job that requires quality aerial video, you should do that which you ask your agents to do… hire a professional.

    For those who are determined to DIY, I recommend reading through the forums at http://www.APLanding.com. There you will find abundant information and some great guys that can help.

  • An update though! I purchased the Gaui 330X which is capable of carrying over 1 pound in camera gear and will be getting it set up as time permits (hopefully within a week. I was inspired after finding some video examples like this one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=filUq5V1ycg&feature=results_main&playnext=1&list=PL978BFC226990BFA8 and remain a believer that this can be a real value add to sellers in providing exceptional marketing.

    I’ve used helicopters for listings before, but for the price of one ride, you can own the equipment. Nikoli, I agree that this isn’t for everyone, but still maintain that it can be helpful in providing better marketing for a homeowner!

    Alan,
    I owe you a phone call and we will get something set up…

  • Not directly relevant, but this article shows that the problems of aerial photography have been around for over a hundred years!

    Some interesting then and now pictures of London, UK

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2057093/Google-Earth-view-London–circa-1909.html

  • I have been learning about RC helicopters, flying them with a view to using them for Arial Photography. Its relatively easy to get a mulitrotor to fly, and to attach various cameras but the image results are most likely at the armature end of the scale.

    The big issues are (1) weight of camera, forget about DSLR unless you have a $erious machine, (2) Stability – its got to be able to hover and fly gracefully which needs alot of skill and more $serious electronics. (3) Control of the camera, ideally you want to be able to see what the camera sees which requires transmitters and receivers hooked up to a monitor and PC – more hardware and complexity. (4) It’s got to be quick and easy to set up, which means professional gear. (5) Vibration, unless the machine is perfectly set up it will shake the camera badly, which means you better marry an RC heli mechanic or learn about it yourself (6) Flying time – battery is the only way to go for photography due and that limits flying time to 10 – 15 minutes in an ideal set up.
    In other words to do it properly requires a large financial commitment and climbing a very steep learning curve to acquire some decent skills in flying and set up of the machines.

    Multirotor seems to b the future, I use a Draganfly X6, $26,000 US but it will do all of the above expect carry a DSLR. For the DSLR I have a T-Rex 700 but the third party stabilisation system on the T REX costs around $5000 USD. Incidentally the T rex can decapitate you if you don’t know what your doing.

    Result, I am still learning…with these machines you don’t want to be crashing on a windy day or losing it in a forest somewhere –

  • I got it up in the air today with a GoPro for a test flight. I do think that this can be a great tool for RE photography. Below is a link to the video I took. I have only flown it for about 15 minutes so my skill will need to improve, but it should be pretty easy. For a real estate video where each clip is something like 5 seconds and you are going to use maybe 30 seconds worth of footage, I think you can make a strong case that there is a camera that will be more than adequate. My plan is to attach an iPhone 4S once I feel more comfortable that I won’t crash. For this type of video, my thoughts are that it will work well (but probably not with a GoPro).

  • Ryan, congrats on moving forward with your plan. Like you said, it is going to require some practice but the upside looks very promising.

  • I’m looking forward to see if this one works. I would love to incorporate a rc helicam into my services but it’s hard to justify a $20,000 kit for RE work… There has to be a more affordable solution, eventually.

  • There is Iran. I think this will work. I’m leaving for Vegas for a week on Tuesday so I don’t think I’ll have time to get my camera kit installed, but I am pretty sure this will work and do it well. I have the parts built and just need to attach it.

    I bought mine online, but found I needed some local support and found my way to a hobby shop. Turns out there are people using this just not in RE – or at least not much. It states that it will carry about 18 ounces more than the weight of the machine + battery so you could look around and see what is available.

    The guy at the hobby shop will build one of these out and set up the remote control system for right at a $1,000. It will carry a Sony NEX and a lens – which would give you DSLR quality video – I think that would set you back another grand, but I plan on trying first with an iPhone 4S which, in short scenes may work well. I’m feeling pretty good about this one. The AR Drone just couldn’t carry any weight and controlling it with a phone or iPad sounds cool, but doesn’t give the control that a real transmitter seems to do and it is easy to fly – anyone could do it if they bought a ready to fly kit for $1,000…for about $200 more you could get the upgraded one which would carry about 2 pounds.

  • Ryan,
    Why are you going to use the Iphone over the gopro – is the resolution better – I thought the new gopro2 was 1080P and could shoot stills at 11MP with no more lens distortion?? I’m very interested in setting this system up, I live in a mtn town and have houses on cliffs/hills.
    Thanks and goodluck,
    Mack

  • Mainly, the GoPro is close to fisheye and correcting the distortion in post reduce the image quality considerably due to the fact that you end up cropping heavily. The angle is also very wide and it makes it difficult to get outside of the view of the quadracopter.

    I did a test yesterday carrying the iPhone (my old one so as not to destroy the new one) and it works very well. The guy at the store told me I would need about 3 hours of practice of actual flight time to be able to create meaningful shots that are smooth like something you would see on a crane. I’ll be back next week and will try to set aside some time to get a demo video of the iPhone (I hope the CMOS sensor doesn’t have too much jello effect) to see how it goes.

  • For the past 5 years or so, I have been shooting elevated images using a 40’ pole with an air compressor in my van. I use a light DSLR, and fire it with radio control. It has helped me increase my income, but at 40 feet, I am very limited. I would truly love to have a way to shoot from at least 100-200 feet in the air. I mainly shoot stills, but want to venture into video. I’d love to find a way to shoot from an RC helicopter with a hi-quality lightweight camera. Super wide will no longer be an issue when I can get up that high. I’d like to know more of what my fellow real estate photographers have found about shooting aerial images.
    please see my website for examples.

  • Looks like this will work! Ryan, have you tried the R3 setting on the GO PRO? Its not as wide angle and produces a “real” looking video. I haven’t used it for this kind of application, but for others the R3 setting works the best, (even though its only 720P). But for web video, 720 is plenty.

  • If your looking for aerial photos and HD video in Atlanta from an rc heli, check out

    http://www.gunnphotoservices.com

    Ive been doing this for tha past few years with much success.

    matt

  • I fly a MikroKopter Hexa2 with MK Hisight SLR 1 mount a Pentax WG1 for stills, and am working with a GoPro Hero2 for video, trying to work around and edit out Shake, hope to have product ready to use this spring, for those that are interested getting into multi rotor platforms does have a pretty steep learning curve, I have about 45 years plus of R/C experience and am a retired pilot, it took a good 40 hours of flying time to become competent with the MK, after that you will work on using the camera via video down-link for view finding etc and that’s just for stills. (cost wise you are looking at a 5K min investment) if you build it yourself

    a sample of some real estate shots from my platform

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GZjGAw_Q3yY

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jho_3tuvtlU&feature=related

    http://www.mikrokopter.us/ try that link for good info on the forum

  • Just waiting for one of these drones to crash into my car or property, hope you guys have very good insurance.

  • I have a DJI Phantom with the GoPro Black and isolation mount. It definitely works better than the AR drone, but be cautious if you are doing any work with these things for money. The FAA prohibits drone photography for commercial use. It has to do with FAA classification of aircraft. Even if you can get an Airworthiness Certificate which is required by law to do business, experimental aircraft are not allowed to do any commercial work. All UAVs are considered experimental aircraft. You are also required to have a commercial pilot’s license. They are working on easing these restrictions, but don’t expect anything to happen before 2015. You and your customers can be heavily fined for any photographs that were done with drones.

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