I am interested in drones. I think they look cool and futuristic. I also tend be interested in new technical things that inherently scream ‘I am disruptive’. Listen to or read some of the media around drones and it is easy to find negative and positive viewpoints. Organisations excitedly go out and test how they might use drones for their business (Australia Post & Uber are a couple of businesses that have done this recently). Government organisations scramble to put legal limits on who can fly and where you can fly, while at the same time, people post Facebook messages to community pages about the drones they find crash-landed in their backyards.
Earlier this year I watched Dr Catherine Ball, Telstra Queensland Business Woman of Year 2015, present on drone technology, women in technology and the ethical issues surrounding drone use. My interest in drones grew. Then 4 ½ weeks ago I bought my first drone, controller and goggles from my awesome Grade 11 IT student who taught himself to build race drones. I was so excited I took my drone out for its first test flight that night! We went out as a family on the following weekend with both my drone and my husband’s new drone that he had bought earlier that morning. I’m still not really sure what happened, although I am happy that we were flying at a field with lots of bush and a creek around it, but the end result was that I came home that night without my drone! I put it down as a learning experience but my husband was already ‘hooked’ and proceeded to buy up half the drone stuff on eBay (slight exaggeration).
4 ½ weeks after buying my first drone from a student, my husband and I own 5 drones; 1 easy flying aerial drone (Quattro; great for the kids) and 4 race drones, which includes the one that we DIY built at home. My husband has a mechanical engineering background that has definitely helped a lot with getting us into drones quickly. If something breaks, he knows how to fix it or he knows what part to buy. He now also knows which parts are likely to break and so he has spares on hand. He just purchased a bigger aerial drone (500) and also some cool LED drone lighting parts for it.
Here is a video of my husband explaining the parts of our first drone build and how he used them.
People have asked me whether building drones is easy. Well, I couldn’t do it without my husband’s help at the moment. I think I would need to build a few more before I was comfortable with all of it. Soldering is not difficult but it’s finicky and I’m still learning how to solder efficiently. Some of the trickier jobs is setting up the drone with the software; I’m guessing this would become easier as I build more drones.
My favourite is the Spedix drone. It’s a fun, colourful drone with cool programmable LED light strips at the back. The lights are really handy to help me know where the back of the drone is facing when it’s high up and in the distance.
The hardest part about flying drones is finding the free time to ‘fly’ and this is one of the reasons why I have begun to avidly read about businesses that use drones. I am particularly interested in how women use drones and I am fascinated in their business startup stories. There are not a lot of women in drones currently (similar to the lack of women in IT); however, if you’re interested in finding out more about us or if you want to talk to another woman who flies drones, make sure to check out She Flies @shefliesau #sheflies Don’t be shy! We all have different experiences and stories. You don’t have to be an expert; I’ve only been flying for 4 ½ weeks and I am still learning.
First flight test of the drone that we built: