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Dan Payne 2013

Why is the Federal Government suddenly so interested in the hobby of radio controlled aircraft?

Indeed hobbyist of all ages have been enjoying radio controlled aircraft for many, many decades. What has changed? Well... RC aircraft have become considerable more sophisticated and potentially more dangerous. Privacy and trespassing laws are model airplane news rcbeing encroached upon and making us rethink were the boundries are. Many Americans have no idea what the capabilities of many RC aircraft are, just how cheap and obtainable they are, and where they are currently being operated.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration is currently considering regulations to restrict the use of radio controlled aircraft. Federal, State and local governments are grapeling with privacy and trespassing laws as they pertain to a small craft flying a few hundred feet over someone elses home or property. An aircraft can fly over your home. Can a radio controlled aircraft also fly over your home? If so, how high? how low?

Much of the technology for these aircraft is being developed in the U.S., but much of the manufacturing is in Asia. What are the laws relating to exporting advanced technology in regards to a toy? Well, these can be a little fuzzy or unclear.

Hobbyist - Drone types of hobby airplanes fall into a lot of different categories;

  1. Basic Radio Control. Some people would not consider the traditional RC airplane to be a drone. It is controlled by a remote controller on the ground within line-of-site. The pilot is watching the airplane and controlling it with joysticks on the controller. These have been around since the 1940's.
  2. RC Airplane or Helicopter with a Camera. Add a camera to your basic RC airplane or helicopter and suddenly many more people now start to consider this setup a drone. It is still controlled via a line-of-site controller... but the potential to spy remotely on your neighbor (or enemy) makes this setup a lot more sinister.
  3. RC Airplane/ Helicopter w/ Camera controlled w/ FPV goggles. fpv gogglesThe airplane and even the camera may be the same as the above. A very inexpensive setup. What is the difference? The pilot is not on the ground looking up at the aircraft. He could be in the house, looking into a pair of goggles that are displaying what the aircraft video is seeing... in real time. They are called FPV or First Person View. Its as if the person controlling the aircraft is a pilot on board the small RC airplane flying it. You still need a line of sight signal. Which just means you need an antenna outside the house within range of where you are flying the aircraft. Then you are free to fly to your neighbors backyard, look in their windows or for the free spirit, fly about the clouds and soar.
  4. Helicopter platforms with GPS guidance. For the ultimate hobby drone you can now buy a helicopter platform... place any kind of high def. camera on it you wish. Program the GPS track and send it off to do its job. This is as sophisticated a setup as any military could imagine. No line of site needed. Send it miles away to go secretly watch anyone or anything you like.


Are these hobby drones for real?
Here are some recent examples for sale on Ebay.

A basic helicopter with a camera (like #2 above). Below see the steps for operation. Control it with your iphone. rc helicopter camera

Steps: for operation $43 ebay helicopter with camera
1. In the "App Store app store" on the desktop, Apple iphone
2. Click it, enter the search "wl toys"
3. Download and install software
4. Open wl toys
5. The transmitter to the phone's headphone jack link
6. The volume to maximum
7. Click on Open wl toys on the transmitter (transmitter blue light)
8. Open the helicopter (a small red light inside the helicopter)
9. Start handling your wl toys

Parrot AR Drone - an FPH Quadcopter(like #3 above). Very reasonable price for a very high tech toy.

FPV Helicopter on ebay for $299

ar drone 2.0

The Parrot AR.Drone is the first quadricopter that can be controlled by a smartphone or tablet. By tilting your device, you control the direction of your AR.Drone, and by releasing it, the AR.Drone is instantly stabilized. Thanks to the AR.Drone’s autopilot feature, anyone can be an expert as the AR.Drone allows for an easy take-off and landing.

Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 The AR.Drone 2.0 free flight App Fly. Record. Share. Control Range: 165 feet Lithium Polymer Battery / 12 minutes of use
Download AR.FreeFlight 2.0 control application for free on the App Store or the Android Market New ‘Absolute Control’ mode gives you an option to change levels from beginner to expert Record and share videos and pictures directly from the piloting interface Store and share your flight data (time, speed, altitude) to unlock community achievements Geolocate your flights and connect with a community of pilots to see flights and videos from all over the world, and check who is flying in your neighborhood
Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 Live HD video streams to your smartphone or tablet (view larger). HD Video Recording
Get high definition live video streaming to your smartphone or tablet as you’re flying. See a clean, sharp image just as if you were in the pilot’s seat.

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