Niviuk Doberman & DJI Inspire

2015-03-23 Not my normal filming session!

This was a first -- camera work with a drone. You can see the video that resulted here. Mike, Tim & I hatched the plan when Mike said he had access to the high-end DJI Inspire quadcopter and we wanted to see what was possible. We scratched the surface.

I'd seen some incredible shots of Shane Denherder on skis and was curious what kind of capability the drone had. Boy was I impressed!

Conditions were perfect--there was not even the first ripple of bumpiness so Tim and I both played. We even got to do no-wind launches, oh boy.

Niviuk Doberman

My primary mission was trying out the Doberman 18 which I have access to for a couple weeks both for fun and a review. That meant a bunch of takeoffs and landings as I would changed various settings to get comfortable. It has the PK system (it calls it something else) which must be hooked up on the ground. It makes speedbar application ALSO let the trimmers up--handy for having a big speed range while keeping your hands in the brakes. It was quite effective although I will need to make another adjustment because the wing's speed line is 2 inches too long. That's a lot of travel to give up and renders my speed tests pretty much useless.

In the video, you'll see the wing come up crooked, requiring me to get under it. That's entirely due to laziness.

When I'm doing multiple flights like this, after landing I frequently let the wing fall behind me, keep walking forward and pull brakes just before it hits the ground. If the nylon gods are with me, it lays out, reasonably nicely for the next launch. With no wind its rarely perfect. After making my adjustments, I launch from that layout, and yes, it would usually require some left or right movement to get things happily moving down field.

The Doberman is a modern competition wing that will fill other niches such as filming. I like being able to come up on someone quickly, throttle off, reduce speedbar, ease in brake, then add throttle as I match speeds to my subject. Oooh that feels good! It's very satisfying having that all come together especially since I certainly don't get it right every time. Just keep some left/right margin in case of a misjudgement. I didn't do any filming on this flight since it was about wing speeds, handling, and flying around the drone.

The full review will be in an upcoming edition of XC magazine.

Paramotoring with the DJI Inspire

First: make sure the Inspire pilot knows what he's doing. James Aldred clearly does as evidenced from the above-mentioned footage of Shane. My pilot, Mike Terfehr sure does, he's a competition level R/C helicopter and airplane pilot.

The Inspire is not a toy -- it's bigger, heavier, and has neck-cutting props that are best left to just slicing air. It is aimed squarely at the video professionals. As you can see in the video, it's fast, and had no problem keeping up with me. Quite the opposite, a couple times I couldn't catch it when i wanted to. And it's smooth. The 4K camera is highly stabilized. There were a couple times while watching the footage later that I had to look to see that it was, in fact flying, and not stuck on a frame. I'll bet this is a big hit for video guys. Legalities are "up in the air" a bit but, if you keep it in line of sight you're legal to play. The only only uncertainties are taking pay.

There are a bunch of different modes that can be employed in the right place. If you have another transmitter you can have a camera operator point the camera while the drone pilot flies. That would the ultimate but, unfortunately, we didn't have that. Plus, Tim, the natural choice there, apparently needed his air fix.

Mike could see what the camera sees by having his phone clipped to the transmitter. It uses sends the camera signal through either Bluetooth or wireless.

This was spur of the moment, with a bit more planning and radio communications it would be much better. Gives us something to look forward to.


Sadly, I cannot think of justification for purchasing one of these things since my next project doesn't really call for it. have no way to justify purchasing. But it's not so much about need it's about want, lets face it, and it may happen anyway. But I'll wait until the "need" arises so as to get the latest version. You'd definitely want to get the extra transmitter and a couple of battery packs.

1. While trying out the Niviuk Doberman I worked with my neighbor and DJI Inspire pilot. He happens to be an expert R/C pilot in addition fly flying full size things for a living. Photo by Tim Kaiser.

2. Tim Kaiser enjoy the air himself. He also flies around the Inspire for a cool shot. That's our place in front and just to the left of his flight path.

I still marvel that we actually live here. This is why it's so hard to leave.


2015 Jeff Goin   Remember: If there's air there, it should be flown in!