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Wave g’bye to privacy, folks!

Saw this at a country show over the weekend. It’s the size of a pizza box. It will hover, stable and nearly silent, from a few inches to dozens of feet high. It will run for twenty minutes on a battery. It will send video back in real time. It has built in GPS. If it loses signal or runs low on juice, it returns to the place it was launched and lands.

The owner had only taken delivery a couple of hours before and had never run an RC vehicle before, and he was driving it like a champ. I asked how far he’d managed to send it, and he pointed to a clump of trees I reckon were a quarter mile away.

The base unit is £499, no doubt cheaper in the States (it’s American made Chinese made, Uncle B reminds me. I think the company’s American, though).

And yes, it comes in black.

sock it to me

Comments


Comment from Randy Rager
Time: June 4, 2013, 9:51 pm

I can see a whole lot of really nasty voyeur pornography happening because of this.

I also wonder about the consequences of citizen journalists putting our elected officials under 24/7 surveillance.

The second thought is far more titillating than the first. Gives me a first class Freedom Boner, it does.

 


Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: June 4, 2013, 9:52 pm

And if the gummint will allow us to buy stuff like this, you have to assume they already have bumble bee sized units, watching you from your own hedge.

All of which seems a lot more scary following recent revelations, doesn’t it, Mr Obama?

 


Comment from S. Weasel
Time: June 4, 2013, 10:09 pm

I can’t tell you how stable and easy to fly this was. Presumably, the GPS means you could give it coordinates (I don’t know if there’s a non-joystick way to communicate with it). Also, the payload could be something other than a camera.

The man running it said there were tons of cool videos of it on YouTube, but I haven’t bothered to look.

 


Comment from S. Weasel
Time: June 4, 2013, 10:10 pm

We’ll also have to work out whether you’re allowed to take a baseball bat to one if you find it hovering around your bathroom window.

 


Comment from Gromulin
Time: June 4, 2013, 10:20 pm

I smell a new shotgun sport.

 


Comment from Argentium G. Tiger
Time: June 4, 2013, 10:52 pm

I’m starting to see the need for a high pressure water cannon…

 


Comment from tomfrompv
Time: June 4, 2013, 10:55 pm

Gromulin has it right. Paintball, slingshot, .223 — what a fun way to spend a few minutes. Plus you get to hear the doofus bellyaching that you ruined his toy.

OTOH, it would be even more fun to trail your local PD black&white as it patrols your ‘hood. Not illegal right? Just imagine their faces as THEY become the hunted!

But the real sport would be bombing various events and photoshoots. Lets say its the middle of the big game. You launch from your cat in the lot and fly up and down the field for a bit. Then beeline back to the car. And you’re gone home to watch your stunt on the news.

I want one. How much is one of those £ things?

 


Comment from tomfrompv
Time: June 4, 2013, 11:02 pm

To Uncle,
I was watching “How things are made” and they showed how those double decker London buses are made. According to the narrator, each floor of the bus has 12 (twelve) hidden cameras that viewable in some remote location. Talk about surveillance.

Anyway, I had never realized those big red buses had so much action onboard!

 


Comment from Christopher Taylor
Time: June 4, 2013, 11:09 pm

That’s just government skeet.

 


Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: June 4, 2013, 11:16 pm

Oh, that’s the new-fangled ones, tomfrompv. Back in my day (cut the horsebus jokes, your Stoatliness!) they used to have a single convex mirror at the foot of the stairs so the conductor could see up ladi…. I’m so sorry! I think I meant to type ‘could see if anyone was fighting his way down the stairs just before a stop.’

Actually, better’n that. When I was a kid they had trolley buses in London. They ran on rubber tyres (tires) rather than rails (as run on by trams) but still used overhead wires. When they went round corners the conductor had a huge pole that he used to swap the contact device (what the hell was that called?) from one street’s set of high voltage wires to the other’s.

Used to make a very nerve-jangling ‘crack!’ as he did it, ISTR.

I can just imagine the collective apoplexy of today’s ‘elf and safety warriors if they were introduced today!

 


Comment from Mrs Compton
Time: June 4, 2013, 11:25 pm

We were at a MINI Cooper meet up, about a hundred of the cute little critters were there all lined up nicely. Everyone was hooking up their Go Pro’s cause we driving around the race track. All of a sudden this guy breaks out his own DRONE! At the time I thought it was oh so cute but that was before all the drone buying by our dear leaders. Gotta admit he got some great pictures.

 


Comment from Rich Rostrom
Time: June 4, 2013, 11:28 pm

What I’m wondering is: could it carry a gun of some kind? Not an actual handgun, but a barrel with electronic ignition. One shot. One would also want a camera.

It seems to be able to carry about four ounces of payload. They mention a GoPro Hero3 camera, about 2.6 ounces – unless they mean the older Hero3, which is 3.5 ounces.

Could one get a lethal package into that weight?

 


Comment from Pablo
Time: June 4, 2013, 11:31 pm

And you wonder what people would need an “assault weapon” for, Barry? For this.

 


Comment from RealMc
Time: June 4, 2013, 11:42 pm

000 Buckshot Proof………?

Fly that thing over my house……we’ll find out.

 


Comment from Rich Rostrom
Time: June 4, 2013, 11:44 pm

tomfrompv @ June 4, 2013, 10:55 pm:
I want one. How much is one of those £ things?

The GBP closed at $1.53 today, which would make the GBP 499 price $763.47. However, U.S. dealers have it for $679.

 


Comment from Hutch
Time: June 5, 2013, 12:04 am

$644.54 at Stoaty’s link. There’s a currency conversion button at the right of the screen.

 


Comment from Gromulin
Time: June 5, 2013, 12:30 am

Don’t just think about the hovering / surveillance aspect.

Think about 4 or 5 of them ( or 10 or 20..), with 4 ounces of C4 and ball bearings each, landing in the middle of a crowded stadium. With the GPS, it could be a set-and-forget attack from a field nearby. I’m not the paranoid type, but this technology is WAY more scary as a precise, stealthy delivery vehicle.

 


Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: June 5, 2013, 12:52 am

I’m afraid I agree with you, Gromulin.

And to think, they wrote-off poor old Philip K. Dick as a paranoid loon.

 


Comment from Subotai Bahadur
Time: June 5, 2013, 12:55 am

Comment from Rich Rostrom
Time: June 4, 2013, 11:28 pm

What I’m wondering is: could it carry a gun of some kind? Not an actual handgun, but a barrel with electronic ignition. One shot. One would also want a camera.

It seems to be able to carry about four ounces of payload. They mention a GoPro Hero3 camera, about 2.6 ounces – unless they mean the older Hero3, which is 3.5 ounces.

Could one get a lethal package into that weight?

Cannot speak to this particular model, but I have seen a Youtube of a very similar one flying through a silhouette target course about 100 yards long, targets at irregular intervals. Drone was carrying a multi-shot paintball gun AND a camera for a sighting system. I was impressed by the percentage of what would be lethal hits. I rather expect that there is a certain overlap in the technologies. And that other payloads could be developed.

Surveillance over any distance or time would be constrained by range and I assume a line of sight control system. However, now that I think of it, a signal repeater could be mounted on another drone and control signals could be relayed. Range would be subject to … tinkering.

Just off the top of my head.

Subotai Bahadur

 


Comment from Oh Hell
Time: June 5, 2013, 1:26 am

T-A-R-G-E-T……

 


Comment from Nina
Time: June 5, 2013, 2:00 am

I saw one of those in action at a Faire in Woodland in April. They were taking aerial photos of the faire for a promotional video. It’s a pretty cool toy, if you ignore the snoop aspect of it.

Which is pretty hard to do, I realize.

 


Comment from Randy Rager
Time: June 5, 2013, 2:25 am

It is an awfully scary thing to think of them as a civilian equivalent to the military’s Switchblade system, Gromulin.

 


Comment from Randy Rager
Time: June 5, 2013, 2:27 am

Worse yet, a simple radio controlled solenoid release mechanism could turn them into a reusable (very) light bombers.

Ai yi yi.

 


Comment from pandelume
Time: June 5, 2013, 2:50 am

MOAR CHIKINS PLZ

 


Comment from Stark Dickflüssig
Time: June 5, 2013, 4:20 am

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: June 4, 2013, 9:52 pm

And if the gummint will allow us to buy stuff like this, you have to assume they already have bumble bee sized units, watching you from your own hedge.

I’d guess the primary constraint (on the size & usefulness of a spy-drone) would be battery life, which means that THEY aren’t really that far ahead of us in that regard.

I mean, I hope. Otherwise my laptop’s battery sucks for no good reason.

 


Comment from Mono The Elderish
Time: June 5, 2013, 4:51 am

Another scary thought, you could easily fit one of those things with a signal jammer.

Since you can rig those things to only block one of the two freqs cell phones use, (If it doesn’t receive one, it’ll say “No service” while boosting the power of the signal strength. You’ll have to program the jammer to match this, ) you would still be able to operate your drone without any interference. Although, on that thought, some phones automatically switch between network types so, that’d be harder for these hypothetical drone pilots to jam.

In theory, you could use a freq that’s outside the normal cell range to control your drone and just block everything else. And since jammers are quite lightweight and can run on almost no power, it wouldn’t really effect range very much. Although, more power = more range for your jammer. Some of the ones that use more juice can block for around a mile.

Thank God those things are illegal and impossible to get….right?

TL;DR,

The sheer amount of tiny objects you can stick on a drone that would be a massive pain in the ass is staggering.

 


Comment from Stark Dickflüssig
Time: June 5, 2013, 5:08 am

A Glade® Plug In™ that smells strongly of Krispy Kreme®™² plugged into a drone, that (like the pied piper of Hamlin) leads the fat children into the sea.

Where they float.

Whilst whinging.

Loudly.

 


Comment from Harbqll
Time: June 5, 2013, 5:45 am

My wife is in the TV bidness, which includes satellite uplink technology. Her shop engineer tells me that for around $200 (and with a nearby RadioShack) one can build a lightweight microwave “laser” that silently fires a focused beam which will fry a drone’s circuits at an easy 50 yards. He says anyone with minimal skills and a functional brain could build one, following a set of instructions.

If I start seeing drones flying around, I’m gonna ask him to write those instructions for me. Firing a rifle in my backyard would attract too much attention.

 


Comment from Scubafreak
Time: June 5, 2013, 7:36 am

They actually sell them across the counter at my local Barnes and Noble book store…

 


Comment from Mike C.
Time: June 5, 2013, 9:25 am

Could you mount a weapon on one? Yes – already been done. There are larger/more powerful/longer range variants available, too.

But 000 buckshot? Come, now! #4-6 shot would give you a much better pattern and be more than adequate. They’re not armored, you know…

 


Comment from S. Weasel
Time: June 5, 2013, 9:31 am

The battery, by the way, is about the size of a candy bar. He had a whole bunch of them charged up. So when it ran low, it flew itself home and he swapped out the batteries.

 


Comment from scottthebadger
Time: June 5, 2013, 12:16 pm

It will be real scary when they have a battery life of one hour+.

 


Comment from scottthebadger
Time: June 5, 2013, 12:18 pm

Get one, take off the camera, put a set of blinking LEDs on it, and go freak out the Coast to Coast AM listeners.

 


Comment from mojo
Time: June 5, 2013, 5:56 pm

Hmmmm… I wonder how secure the command channel is? Encrypted or not? Does it obey the strongest signal?

This could get interesting.

 


Comment from Subotai Bahadur
Time: June 5, 2013, 6:48 pm

Comment from Harbqll
Time: June 5, 2013, 5:45 am

My wife is in the TV bidness, which includes satellite uplink technology. Her shop engineer tells me that for around $200 (and with a nearby RadioShack) one can build a lightweight microwave “laser” that silently fires a focused beam which will fry a drone’s circuits at an easy 50 yards. He says anyone with minimal skills and a functional brain could build one, following a set of instructions.

If I start seeing drones flying around, I’m gonna ask him to write those instructions for me. Firing a rifle in my backyard would attract too much attention.

Might get those plans now, before the rush. And a link to them would be nice, and perhaps helpful for a bunch of people. Can I throw in an idea for the consideration of your boffin? Targeting against a moving drone would be interesting. I assume that the drone emits heat above ambient temperature. Could a cheap IR detector be slaved to an aiming system. One maser shot, out of nowhere, which minimizes counterbattery fire.

When these become common, there will be false flag operations. Anyone will be able to use these, with whatever attribution.

Interesting times.

Subotai Bahadur

 


Comment from JeffS
Time: June 5, 2013, 7:01 pm

Can these drones be shot down? Yes, yes they can be shot down.

And I second Subotai’s request for a link.

 


Comment from tomfrompv
Time: June 5, 2013, 7:02 pm

And for another 250 pounds, you can get the First Person View glasses. These let you see what the drone sees! Plus they’re black and look like you belong in Matrix the movie. Very cool.

Imagine tailing your local cop car and when it stops you hover in front. And with your glasses you can look the officers in the face and see their expressions.

And wouldn’t that Michelle O heckler have loved one of these?

 


Comment from Uncle Al
Time: June 5, 2013, 8:38 pm

Hmm. Lightweight microwave “laser” sounds a bit off. If it shoots microwaves, it is a maser, not a laser, and until very recently masers only worked near absolute zero and in a strong magnetic field. That may change, but it doesn’t seem likely Radio Shack would have the bits and pieces just yet. See HERE.

But I’d very much like to be wrong and get my hands on one of these little guys to accompany my 1.25W Class IV handheld laser (and yes, I’m very, very careful with it).

 


Comment from Harbqll
Time: June 5, 2013, 10:03 pm

@Al – that’s why “laser” is in quotes. It isn’t actually a laser, just a tightly focused beam, similar to what they use to bounce a TV signal off a satellite. I don’t know what the wattage would be; not my area of geekdom.

I’ll ask him for more details.

 


Comment from Uncle Al
Time: June 5, 2013, 11:18 pm

@Harbqll – Thanks! Bated breath…

 


Comment from Mono The Elderish
Time: June 6, 2013, 5:42 am

Mojo Said:

“Hmmmm… I wonder how secure the command channel is? Encrypted or not? Does it obey the strongest signal?

This could get interesting.”

If it’s tuned to a specific frequency there’s the possibility to grab control of the drone and dive it into the ground, or the nearest tree. If it’s encrypted, (Rolling frequencies through the spectrum,) you could still (in theory) just start spitting out an insane amount of radio noise on EVERY frequency you can get your hands on and if it’s strong enough, the drone would lose connection. However, that would probably just cause it to fly back. Far more satisfying to make it lose connection, and then grab the signal once it gets back and fly the thing into the guy controlling it’s car. Hypothetically of course. <_<

 


Comment from MikeW
Time: June 6, 2013, 11:08 am

Hey Swease! Funny you should say the drone is the size of a pizza box…

http://techland.time.com/2013/06/03/delivering-dominos-pizza-by-unmanned-helicopter-what-could-possibly-go-wrong/

From the article:
“Proving that it’ll try anything short of making tasty pizza in order to get you to buy its pizza…”

Long time ago, I think it was on Saturday Night Live back when it was still funny (A lo-o-ong time ago, indeed) they did one of those fake ads for “First Strike Pizza” which delivered the pie on an ICBM. ‘Twas funny at the time.

Bread and Circuses, eh what?

 


Comment from mojo
Time: June 6, 2013, 8:37 pm

Subotai’s parabolic antenna (guessing) would give you a beam (of sorts) that would be good for about 40dB of increased signal. You’d have to track the drone, though, or it would fly out of the beam…

 


Comment from mojo
Time: June 6, 2013, 8:38 pm

Oh, and don’t they make auto-tracking rigs for telescopes?…

 


Comment from BBB
Time: June 17, 2013, 10:38 pm

“You launch from your cat in the lot….”

Our first aircraft carrier shall be christened USS Fuzzypants!

Actually, I wonder how hard it would be to EMP one of these things. Better
still, maybe put a big picture on the roof. I’m thinking something along the lines of “Two Rosie O’s, One Cup” would keep the snoopers away.

I’d need to find an artist though, oh S T O A T Y……..

BBB

 


Comment from S. Weasel
Time: June 17, 2013, 10:43 pm

Ah, bless Ace for tweeting a link. He makes my traffic stats all a-flutter.

 


Comment from BBB
Time: June 17, 2013, 11:03 pm

Yeah, hop on the Ewok train and ride to fame and fortune.

Hows the shell inlay stuff going. My hands have gotten so
shaky, I’m building a Sherline CNC mill to do it for me. It takes
the “art” out of it all but on the bright side, you can feed in hello
kitty images into it and tap into the whole “hipster d’bag uke players” market.

 


Comment from S. Weasel
Time: June 17, 2013, 11:24 pm

Oh, I’d love to play with CNC! I haven’t been at the shell for a while, but I got some marquetry and woodburning stuff for my birthday. Which is all related. I’m hoping to do a nice new headstock veneer for one of my banjos, using a combination of marquetry, woodburning and pearl.

It’ll probably suck, but it’s a lousy banjo.

 


Comment from BBB
Time: June 18, 2013, 12:14 am

Did you say marquetry? I am an avid wood collector whose
finds have found their way into the hands of some pretty
good marquetrists (not an actual word).

I’ve also collected a fair amount of luthier pieces. In fact,
this luthier made a parlor guitar for me out of some awesome
Ceylon Statinwood I found at an old lumber yard in Vermont.

http://www.roehmguitars.com/satinwood-parlour-guitar

The pictures do not come close to doing it justice. The nekkid fairy
headstock inlay is just splendid. I ended up donating it to the
Rhode Island Philharmonic. I’m happy that it ended up in a good
home but I miss it.

CNC mills are a little expensive if you buy a ready to roll
setup. If you have time and inclination, youtube is loaded with roll
your own CNC conversions.

I’m also considering a pantograph setup using a micro rotary tool.
I hope to use it to emboss layout lines for some engraving projects.
With any luck I’ll be able to control gravers using a lead shot bag as
a hand prop.

A pantograph/rotary tool setup could also cut inlay cleanly with the
right cutter (shell, metal, stone, or wood).

I still have a scar from the first and only time I tried woodburning.
An observer quipped that it looked like I was welding wood. He’s
buried in my peony garden (haha, just kidding)

And if you’re bored at some point, some artwork of a nekkid fairy
flying an RC helicopter would be awesome. Just saying.

 


Comment from S. Weasel
Time: June 18, 2013, 12:32 pm

Oh, that’s a lovely guitar.

 

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