Well, snow or no snow, I decided I needed to cheer myself up yesterday (more on why I needed to be cheered up later this week) and I should probably get the drone that I’ve “accidentally purchased” with Matt W out and to have a go flying it “on the trail” as it were.

The Bebop 2 is a properly funky bit of kit and Matt and I are trying to make sure we are capable of taking this thing out on a ride, without the need for the ride being all about the filming.

Or at least thats the plan!

So to that end, we’ve bought a groovy little Lowenpro bag which takes the drone, two batteries and the props all snuggled up with lovely padding. It’s also small enough to strap to the back of a pack – although I’ve not tried that yet.

The Parrot also has a big chunk “Sky Controller” (the big joysticky thing above) which you attach your phone or tablet into and use to fly it. The Sky Controller is really good and very easy to use, even for a fat fingered goon like me (which is saying something) and it has a massive range extender transmitter thingy on the top so you can fly it over a km away from where you are (not tried that either!).

However, and more realistically for MTB, you can fly the drone just from your mobile – which is what yesterday was all about trying out. So I headed up to the Devil’s Punchbowl and walked down to one of my favourite trails “Flat out Fun”, determined to try some drone camera angles imagining I would be filming some bikes. Take a look at the video below to see the first results.

So, initial conclusions are:

  1. Controlling the drone from the phone is really scary – and much harder than using the Sky Controller. I was totally paranoid about the wireless range between the drone and the phone. Not helped by the fact that the live stream to the phone starts to break up after about 20 metres.
  2. Cold is absolutely no good for battery life – I got just over 15 mins of flight time from each battery
  3. “Buttons are not toys”. If you randomly press things when flying a drone weird things will happen which will totally freak you out. If you want to see what I mean, forward the video to 2.44!
  4. You really do need a good open trail to film BUT the opportunities for awesome camera angles are just brilliant

So the next plan is to try out both the “follow me’ functionality as well as the waypoint flying stuff. I suspect if I’m honest the drone is probably better at flying itself than I will ever be. However, I do need get out on the bike and film some TFITers coming down the same trail – what could possibly go wrong?