Keeping track of the various small Unmanned Aerial Systems (sUAS) affiliated with the DroneJournalism.org community.
Ted Pretty's DJI F550
Pretty, a morning meteorologist for Fox 5 in Las Vegas, is developing a hexcopter for news reports. While his is the only major station in Las Vegas not to have a news helicopter, he is seeking to add aerial footage and drone-assisted reporting to KVVU's repertoire. Pretty hopes to eventually incorporate drone footage into weather and traffic reports, and help provide aerial footage for news events. His first drone is the DJI F550. Read about Pretty's experiences building and operating this drone here.
Avrobotics.ca MulticopterThis is a multicopter system used by Avrobotics.ca, a company started by experienced documentary videographer and drone developer Ian Hannah. Based on the DJI S800 hexacopter, it uses a custom-built gimbal that's been specially designed to match the GH2 camera. It's also equipped with a GPS guidance and targeting system. For sample footage and more information on Hanna's drone, visit his website, Avrobotics.ca.
With a 1.7 meter wingspan and 925 watt electric motor, JournoDrone 3 is larger and more capable aircraft than its predecessors. Designed for aerial photo mapping missions, it is equipped by an Arduino-based guidance system and a 11MP GoPro 2 HD camera. Given this camera, the JournoDrone 3 is capable of
a Ground Sample Distance (DSG) near 3 centimeters per pixel, which is better than many piloted mapping aircraft.
Similar systems are now being deployed to high schools in central Illinois as part of a National Science Foundation grant to improve K-12 STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education.Read the JournoDrone 3 development blog.
A variation on the hand-thrown drone, this sUAS began life as a hobbyist's RC aircraft. It was upgraded and made more durable by wrapping the fuselage in two layers of carbon fiber reinforced polymer (CFRP). This was as much an experiment in working with high-tech, high-strength materials in the shop as it was in drone development.
Read the JournoDrone 2 development blog.
The "original" experiment in creating a fixed-wing unmanned aerial system for journalists. The original concept was to develop an sUAS that was "powerful, durable, transportable, affordable, upgradeable and supported by a community of experts." While it wasn't a terribly successful exercise in obtaining aerial photos, it did provide a great deal of practical experience in working with and deploying drone systems. The development blog on Journo Drone One includes some final pointers that should provide some helpful guidance to others wishing to make their own drone.Read the JournoDrone 1 development blog.