Roadies by default have always had the coolest & newest of toys. For some it’s a passion, for others it’s an addiction. But to some internal extent all of us inherit the trait.
Whether it be the novelty T shirt from Budapest or from a truckstop with some obscure opinion (My friends at ThisGigSucks.com can attest) to the wildest phone that can bounce signal off of Alfa Centauri we are all attracted to this addiction. And here’s a News Flash – It DOESN’T GO AWAY WHEN YOU’RE OFF THE ROAD!
These “toys” come in a variety of shapes & sizes. (depending on your frame of mind at purchase) I’ve seen things like mag lights that can shine around corners, whistling footballs tossed the length of an arena, motorized skate boards, the RC car that delivers tools across stage and the helium filled goldfish (blimp) that delivers set lists to FOH. But.. as technology improves, so does the degree of our toys & I think I discovered the Ultimate in Roadie Toys…….(at least for now)
MEET THE PHANTOM…
From DJI Innovations comes the Phantom. (http://www.dji.com/product/phantom/) Weighing in at a whopping 1000 grams (another important measurement for roadies) this little monster can travel 900 yards in any direction and at an alarming rate of speed. It comes 95% assembled including built in GPS & gyros all factory preset all you have to do before your first flight is attach the blades, charge the battery (with included charger) and attach landing gear. Note: you’ll need to rob 4 Pro Cell AA batteries from your friendly audio guy as they’re not included for the main controller. Also included is a mount for any GoPro camera (another roadie addiction – photography & video)
This little guy does not come cheap just shy of $700 (less camera) but as we all know, no price is too high when it comes to a roadies’ (in)sanity.
I can attest within 15 minutes of ripping the box out of your delivery guys’ hands you WILL be airborne. It is really easy to fly right out of the box but you do need to know the “do’s & don’ts”
First off, these 4 little motors spin at some 8600 RPM so in tight spaces it can be like “flying scissors” or like a flying weed wacker so be cautious when around people, animals or near buildings. The overall unit is really tough and forgiving incase you do crash. (which is inevitable)
Secondly, you’ll want to check local laws as I found in the U.S., the FAA has “suggested” guidelines and they don’t accept “I didn’t know” for an excuse. I found the following:
• 400 ft ceiling is recommended
• No flying directly over residential areas or crowds
• No flying within 1/4 mile of an airport or gov’t facility
• You ARE 100% responsible if you hit someone or something.
• Flying for commercial photography is a no-no (it’s against the law to charge for aerial photography from an unmanned flying vehicle due to U.S. privacy act)
Now for the cool stuff. Did I mention it’s SUPER easy to fly???
The learning curve is simple but it can have it’s moments. Like when flying along and you change the direction you have to remember which end is forward because your controls remain in the position you started. (There is an option for this dilemma)
The built in GPS is amazing! With the joy sticks in neutral (center) it will hover in place. The GPS also handles the fail safe whereas if you lose power at the controller it will “fly home” within nine feet of where you started and YES it does work.
With a GoPro camera attached you’ll see a prospective of things that will amaze you. GoPro cameras are incredible in their own design, but fly one once…
As they say – “We fly P.A., we fly lighting… this gives new meaning to flying video…
Over and out,
I did this over Alabama concert at Grand Casino Hinkley with blessings of band, venue management and local law enforcement. (The local sheriff being on the comm telling me, ”your airspace has been cleared” was one of the coolest things ever.)