Tuesday, December 16, 2014
While drones have some great potential both as a tool and an educational hobby, it can be rather intimidating to get started.
There's just so many platforms and widgets to choose from, and it seems every day someone is launching a new type of drone. As I pointed out in a recent post on the sensor journalism Google group, I actually think the market might be bottoming out for creating drone hardware, so hopefully the selection process will be easier in the future.
Complicating the matter is that drones can crash or fly off if they lose a GPS lock, risks that are substantially higher when you're just starting off. Having a $1,000 drone fly off with a $300 camera is not a fun or rewarding introduction to drones and remotely piloted aircraft systems.
So, I've made a holiday gift guide for Make Magazine to show people options for the beginner, intermediate, and advanced drone operator.
If you've never flown a remote controlled aircraft before, I highly recommend something like the Walkera Ladybird. Myself, I've had a fair bit of luck with Quanum Nova, which has an attractive feature set and price for intermediate operators who don't need to loft heavy cameras or go beyond visual line of sight.
Whatever drone you end up choosing for yourself or a special someone, remember to drone responsibly. That means, among other things, picking up an AMA membership and the complimentary insurance that comes with it.
Thursday, February 27, 2014
Writing for Al Jazeera English, D. Parvaz reported on a recent conference for atomic experts organized by the International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA), where it was remarkably difficult to get answers from atomic experts.
The conference, titled “International Experts’ Meeting on Radiation Protection after the Fukushima Daiichi Accident – Promoting confidence and understanding,” was generally closed to the media. Journalists received presentations on USB drives, but were not given any opportunities for Q&A. The media handlers were pleasant, but not very helpful, Parvaz noted.
Great! I requested an interview with the IAEA Scientific Secretariat, Tony Colgan (no can do). Or a statement on why the conference was closed to the media (not so much). How about an IAEA expert on the effects of radiation on sea life? (Nope).
For a conference designed to “promote confidence and understanding” with the public, there was very little engagement with the public. Despite this, Parvaz did find one group of presenters who were very helpful and answered her questions.
Monday, February 24, 2014
The Nov. 17, 2013 tornado outbreak ended the lives of three people in the town of Washington, Ill., and upended the lives of many in the town of 15,000.
Many news stations released aerial photos of the devastation, but only recently were satellite photos released which gave a new appreciation of the scope of the disaster. As many as 500 homes were damage or destroyed during the tornado outbreak.
Tuesday, February 4, 2014
What's better than a tiny drone that buzzes like a bee through offices and hallways? How about a tiny drone shielded with a 3D-printed frame, controlled by a Raspberry Pi base station, and equipped with a miniscule video camera and transmitter?
Monday, January 13, 2014
Last month, Deutsche Post DHL transported six kilograms of medicine from a pharmacy in Bonn, across the Rhine River, to its headquarters.
This wouldn't have made international news, except that DHL accomplished this with an unmanned aircraft system - commonly known as a drone.
This came less than a week after Amazon's Jeff Bezos claimed his company would deliver products to customers' doorsteps via drone in three or four years. Regulations and technological hurdles would make Bezos' plan all but impossible in the US near-term, but DHL proved that with proper planning and logistics, you could deliver small parcels with small drones today.
On January 22, The International Research and Exchange Board, or IREX, will be hosting a "deep dive" discussion on how this same technology could benefit international development.
Tuesday, December 24, 2013
|A small unmanned aircraft system for mapping, developed for a National Science Foundation grant to improve STEM education.|
In north Louisiana, there’s a fantastic little place known for Muscadine grapes, pecans, and on occasion, alligators.
Muscadines always get turned into jelly; an excellent topping for southern-style biscuits (my wife says she’s still working on mastering the family biscuit recipe, but she’s produced the finest biscuits I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating).
Pecans, a grocery bag of which could fetch a gold bar by northern exchange rates, are so plentiful that they must be given away. They’re so much a part of my wife’s heritage that we decided to get married beneath those pecan trees.
And when the water is high in the backyard bayou, a small alligator sometimes will make itself at home. If the alligator is lovingly cared for and becomes fat, a portion of that alligator eventually will make its way to our dinner table in the form of a delightful alligator sauce piquant (wife insists that it be cooked like shrimp, and not burnt to a crisp as it’s done here in the North).
So before we went down to visit my wife’s family farm for Thanksgiving, I decided to pack up one of the “drones” I’ve developed at the National Science Foundation grant where I work, to see if I couldn’t map out this interesting place.
Monday, November 25, 2013
Recently, I was tasked with producing some basic citations on unmanned aerial vehicles, more commonly called drones, for a new grant proposal. As you could imagine, it was not hard to find a cornucopia of papers reflecting the many novel uses for the technology.
What might surprise some, though, was the sheer increase in drone research, how popular these papers are in the academic world, what that research trying to accomplish, and who was funding it.