UAV and law enforcement

Found this video that features a long interview to Prof. Alan Frazier on the subject of drone usage in law enforcement, in which he also answers questions from the public.
Prof. Frazier has a very particular curriculum, as he is both a Professor at the North Dakota University, Department of Aviation and Deputy Sheriff in the Grand Forks County Sheriff’s Department (link). This puts him in a strong position to deeply understand the technical and legal background of quadcopters, multirotors and more in general UAV usage, and to apply this knowledge in the field, as a law enforcement officer. For these reasons it is of particular interest to hear his views on the subject of UAV and law enforcement. Here’s the video:

For some quick examples of how drones were used recently by Prof. Frazier in the field, see this article

Who wants to fly drones in the US

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has released a list of entities that have applied for permission to fly drones – source. The status of the applications (whether they were accepted or not) was not released, despite the EFF had asked for this information.

Interestingly, the list contains a number of authorities, sheriff’s offices but also several Universities. This fits well with the very diverse tasks you can accomplish with those flying machines. It looks kind of strange to me that the National Aeronautics & Space Administration has to ask FAA for a permission to fly something, I would guess anybody has to.

Here’s the list:


1 Arlington PoliceDepartment  (Texas)
2 Barona Band of Mission Indians Risk Management Office (California)
3 California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection
4 California State University, Fresno
5 Canyon County Sheriff’s Office (Idaho)
6 City of Herington (Kansas)
7 City of Houston, TX Police Department
8 City of North Little Rock, AR ‐ Police Department
9 Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office (Oregon)
10 Cornell University
11 Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency
12 Department of Energy  ‐ Oak Ridge National Laboratory
13 Department of Homeland Security  ‐  Science and Technology
14 Department of Homeland Security  ‐ Customs and Border Protection
15 Department of the Interior ‐ National Business Center/Aviation Management Directorate
16 Eastern Gateway Community College
17 Federal Bureau of Investigation
18 Gadsden Police Department (Alabama)
19 Georgia Tech Police Department, Office of Emergency Preparedness
20 Georgia Tech Research Institute
21 Grand Forks County Sheriff’s Department (North Dakota)
22 Hays County Emergency Service Office (Texas)
23 Indiana State University
24 Kansas State University
25 King County Sheriff’s Office (Washington)
26 Lorain County Community College
27 Medina County Sheriff Office (Ohio)
28 Mesa County Sheriff’s Office (Colorado)
29 Miami‐Dade Police Department (Florida)
30 Middle Georgia College
31 Middle Tennessee State University
32 Mississippi Department of Marine Resources
33 Mississippi State University
34 Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office (Texas)
35 National Aeronautics & Space Administration
36 National Institute of Standards and Technology
37 National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration
38 New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology
39 New Mexico State University  ‐ Physical Science Laboratory
40 Nicholls State University
41 Northwestern Michigan College
42 Ogden Police Department (Utah)
43 Ohio Department of Transportation
44 Ohio University
45 Orange County Sheriff’s Office (Florida)
46 Oregon State University 7 Otter Tail County (Minnesota)
48 Pennsylvania StateUniversity
49 Polk County Sheriff’s Office (Florida)
50 Seattle Police Department (Washington)
51 Sinclair Community College
52 Texas A&M University (TAMU) ‐ Corpus Christi
53 Texas A&M University (TAMU) ‐ Texas Engineering Experiment Station
54 Texas Department of Public Safety
55 Texas State University
56 U.S. Air Force
57 U.S. Army
58 U.S. Department of Agriculture – Agriculture Research Service
59 U.S. Department of Agriculture ‐ Forest Service
60 U.S. Department of Energy  ‐ Idaho National Laboratory
61 U.S. Department of Energy  ‐ National Energy Technology Laboratory
62 U.S. Department of Justice  ‐ Queen Anne’s County Office of the Sheriff
63 U.S. Department of State
64 U.S. Marine Corps
65 U.S. Navy
66 University of Alaska, Fairbanks
67 University of Arizona
68 University of California, Davis
69 University of California, Merced
70 University of Colorado, Boulder
71 University of Connecticut
72 University of Florida
73 University of Michigan
74 University of North Dakota
75 University of Oklahoma
76 University of Wisconsin
77 Utah State University
78 Virginia Commonwealth University
79 Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University
80 Washington State Department of Transportation
81 West Virginia University

Quadcopter collides with Sidney Harbour Bridge

And here’s a report on another quadcopter out of control, that ended up colliding with the Sidney Harbour Bridge. It was found near to one of the pilons of the bridge. No information has been released on the specific model, however  a GoPro attached is mentioned. The police is investigating the footage on the sd video card.

“At this stage police don’t believe that the quad-copter is suspicious”

Good to know the quadcopter is not “suspicious”, looks like by default a quadcopter could indeed be suspicious. This is an interesting observation. In people’s mind quadcopters are related to drones, and drones are for surveillance, hence the suspiciousness I would guess.

Here’s the full article

A statement by Peter Gibson, Civil Aviation Safety Authority

The Sidney Harbour Bridge – Source: wikipedia

Update: “Counter-terrorism officers monitor police and aviation authority search for owner of quadcopter found near pylon. The authority is downloading data from the drone’s control system to try to find its owner”. Read the story

Using the Mobius camera for FPV

The Mobius camera is the big brother of the 808 camera. It features 1080HD quality, a wide angle lens, easy of use, light weight, storage on SD card. I recently got one and decided to try an FPV setup by using this camera together with a Fat Shark Immersion 250mW 5.8GHz video transmitter.

Since it took me a little while to figure out how to establish a correct cable connection between the camera and the transmitter, I thought I would share here how I did it, it’s an easy and quick FPV setup.

First let’s have a look at the immersion style cable that comes with the transmitter:

Immersion style video transmitter cable

In this little tutorial we will limit ourselves to connect the video component only, constituted by two wires: the video wire (yellow) and the ground (gnd) wire (black). However, by following a similar approach, it is easy to also hook up the audio and power wires, so as to provide power to the camera directly from the battery of the aircraft.

This is the transmitter cable connected to the Fat Shark video transmitter:


FatShark 250mW, 5.8GHz video transmitter
FatShark 250mW, 5.8GHz video transmitter

For the mobius camera

Mobius camera
Mobius camera


it is easy to buy a special usb cable for video and audio out and power in. It looks like this:

video out usb cable for mobius camera
Video out usb cable for mobius camera

What we want to do is connect the video and ground wires of the USB connector to the video and ground wires of the transmitter cable. We could simply cut out the connector for the video and ground wires from the usb cable and solder them directly to the corresponding wires of the video transmitter cable. However I opted for a little more flexible setup that would leave the usb cable intact, for an eventual different use in the future.

The mobius cables set (optional purchase) not only includes the usb video out cable (photo above) but also an RCA video cable that can be connected to the video connector of the usb cable. It looks like this:

Video cable for mobius camera
Video cable for mobius camera

In the cable in the photo above the video wire is white. I actually used a very similar cable in which the wire is yellow instead.

What we will do is to cut out the connector from the video cable and solder it to the corresponding cables on the video transmitter cable. Here’s the final result:


Job finished. All you have to do now is connect the camera to the usb cable, then the video connector of the usb cable to the newly attached connector to the video transmitter cable.

This is the final complete FPV setup:

Mobius camera connected to the FatShark 250mW video transmitter, custom setup
Mobius camera connected to the FatShark 250mW video transmitter, complete setup

This is a first test mount of this setup on a Lotus RC T380 quadcopter.

Fat Shark transmitter 250Mw, Mobius camera with video output
Loutus RC T380 equipped for FPV with Fat Shark transmitter 250M and Mobius camera

Questions or comments most welcome.

Edit April 25, 2014

Here’s a picture in which the power wires were connected along the video signal wires. In this case the wires from the mobius video cable were soldered directly to the wires of the molex, with no connectors in between:

Another example of setup for the mobius camera for FPV in which the wires were soldered directly and the power wires were connected in addition to the video wires
Another example of setup for the mobius camera for FPV in which the wires were soldered directly and the power wires were connected in addition to the video wires


Personal Drones crashing on populated areas, a case in NYC

Here’s another pilot that brings a bad reputation to quadcopters and personal drones. This guy thought he could land his DJI Phantom from his little balcony and very fly over Manhattan NYC at high altitude, what a great idea. Amazing and unique footage, however it’s just for chance that nobody got seriously injured. The FAA says it does not allow the flight of UAV over densely populated areas.

Interesting to note that the phantom looks very resistant to the impact on buildings, seems to hit several times and still fly afterwords. Also, it looks like the pilot is somehow controlling the flight, however he was not wearing goggles, so was this a line of sight flight?

The story:

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Here’s the full video, however it looks like the crash moment is missing.

How to replace Hubsan 4x motors

The Hubsan 4x is an extremely fun microquadcopter to fly. Sometimes, maybe after a crash, a motor stops working and replacement is required.

Unfortunately motors wires are soldered directly on the controller board. No connectors. The spare motors that can be bought online indeed come with 2 “naked” wires.

I had to replace a motor on an Hubsan 4x for a fiend today. What I did was to open the Hubsan 4x, it is hold together by 3 tiny screws and 4 little plastic pins located halfway on each of the arms. So once the screws are removed, you still have to play a bit, gently, to take apart the two halves.

Once the quadcopter is open, first step is to cut the wires of the faulty motor, approximately 1cm from the the body of the motor, so as to leave a generous length of the wires soldered to the board.

Hubsan 4x motor replacement

The motor can be extracted by pushing it from below with a screwdriver or a pen. The new motor can be now inserted, but first the wires of the new motor have to go through the motor hole.

Then, you uncover the final 0,5cm of each of the 4 wires, the two of the original motor, soldered to the board, and the two from the new motor and join them together as in the picture below:

replacing an Hiubsan 4x motor involves some soldering, but not to the controller board!
Replacing an Hubsan 4x motor involves some soldering, but not to the controller board!

Then the two junctions can be soldered easily. Some insulating tape on each of the junctions will finish the job. Here’s an excellent video about the basics of soldering, highly recommended:



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Stay tuned on the Personal Drones Blog for the latest quadcopter and multirotor news!

DJI Flamewheel F450 NAZA M V2 maiden flight (with dogs)

Finally finished the setup of the DJI Flamewheel F450  and went out for a first flight test very early in the morning at the park, with the idea to avoid kids.


Love kids but I feel that at this stage (of my flying skills), it could be dangerous for them, as they tend to come close to see the strange flying thing and are totally unaware of the possible dangers, those rotating propellers are like blades.

I discovered that dogs, that are indeed at the park early in the morning, are as curious as kids:

Just like kids, dogs are VERY curious about drones
Just like kids, dogs are VERY curious about drones

Anyway it was my very first flight with a NAZA quadcopter, and it took a few tries to take off because of my poor acquaintance with the settings and led light codes. The quadcopter needs GPS calibration, entirely forgot about that. Then, in atti and atti GPS modes, the throttle becomes effective only after the midpoint, which was kind of misleading to me. At the end, all was good. Took a couple of short videos while the quad was locked in GPS mode, holds the position beautifully. Video is very short as I did not really trust the quad in this very first flight. Here you go:


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