Drones are pretty fun.

I’ve been on hiatus for a few reasons that are mostly boring: computer problems through most of June and a new job that’s taken a lot of attention through most of July. Now I’ve got my feet under me again. Thanks for understanding.

A few days ago, I got a package in the mail from Amazon. My ex-wife had ordered a surprise unbirthday present for me: a Cheerwing CW4 drone. The little device has occupied much of my free time since, and I couldn’t be more pleased.

In recent years, the word “drone” has had its military UAV association superseded by images of kids’ toys. I think of filmmaking when I see drones, in large part because I subscribe to YouTube channels like Sam and Niko, the guys behind Corridor Digital, who have used drones to make videos like Drone Star Wars. It’s one thing to know that movies like Skyfall and the Harry Potter series have used drone footage; it’s another to watch the ins and outs of drone filmmaking behind the scenes. Really lays it into the brain.

So I’m over the moon that the CW4 has an onboard 720p camera. It’s not the gimbal-mounted 4K camera of the DJI Phantom 4, but that’s fine by me. The CW4 is a beginner’s drone, something well-built on which to learn the ropes.

And I’ve been learning the ropes pretty well. Two days ago, every landing was a crash landing. (It’s a testament to the CW4 that I haven’t had to use any of the included replacement propellers.) Today, I gently, if not smoothly, backed the drone into an Adirondack chair and set it down without a hitch. I’m getting the hang of using the trim controls to keep it steady. The CW4 has a headless mode (where the operator’s orientation is used for the controls, not the drone’s, so holding right on the stick will make the drone move to my right regardless of the drone’s facing), but I’ve abstained from using it, and as a result I’m good at keeping track of the drone’s heading.

Hopefully I’ll get good with that camera soon. This blog could use some high landscape shots.

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