Traveling with The E384 – By Guest Author Frank Sedlar

Article By Guest Author:

Frank Sedlar

The sparse vegetation of Western Mali offers little protection from the sweltering sun. But today in the bush, even if there was cover everyone would still be subjecting themselves to the sun. It’s not everyday a UAV is flying overhead.

A group of kids excitedly giggle and point their necks skyward to catch a glimpse of Event 38’s e384 as it effortlessly glides overhead. I take a quick glance at my ground station before transitioning from pilot to crowd-control in order to clear a spot for the e384 to come in after it’s mission – a mission with a flight time of 60 minutes covering an area of nearly 4 km2 at a resolution of 5 cm/pixel. It’s an impressive performance but this flight time comes at a cost. To be capable of flying for 100 minutes you need a very large wingspan. 1.9 meters to be exact. Before I could perform this mapping in this remote area of Mali, I had to find a way to transport the e384 from the U.S. to West Africa.

The stockcase sold by Event 38  is excellent. Sturdy, customized exactly for the e384, and it comfortably fits all the necessary equipment. It’s a very good option to safely transport the e384. That is unless you need to fly. The total dimensions of the case (55’’ x 13’’ x 13’’) amount to 81’’. A bulky case by any stretch of the imagination that will not only guarantee you oversized baggage fees (typically above 60’’) on all domestic and international airlines but will even exceed the maximum baggage dimensions on some carriers. Delta for instance has maximum baggage dimensions of 80’’.

A second consideration when flying with the e384 arises from the batteries. It is extremely dangerous, and prohibited on all airlines, to have LiPo batteries (especially the powerful 10,000 mAh LiPos used on the e384) in your checked luggage. Rapid changes in temperature or pressure can have disastrous effects on LiPo batteries Note – before flying with LiPo’s always discharge them to a storage voltage and put them in a LiPo sack.

To travel to Mali I needed a case with the smallest possible dimensions and a means to carry on the LiPo batteries.

Enter the undisputed heavyweight champions of hard case carry, Pelican. After some exhaustive research I settled on a two part Pelican solution to transport the e384.

  1. A Pelican 1740 Long to hold the e384 and some sharp tools (knife, screwdrivers, etc) that the TSA won’t allow to be carried on. Dimension 44’’x16’’x14’’  = 74’’. Cost $320
  2. A Pelican 1510 with the 1519 Lid Organizer to hold the batteries, cameras, transmitter and a host of tools. Dimensions 22’’x14’’x9’’ = 45’’. Cost $160 + $25
  • Both cases use Pelican’s pluck and play foam to customize the exact fit.

1740 Long 

The 1740 Long perfectly fit the e384 with the tail section disassembled. Furthermore the case doesn’t appear as oversized baggage. In a number of flights with this case a quick smile to the airline representative working the check in counter has gotten this case ticketed as normal luggage (that’s a $300 dollar smile). When navigating an airport the wheels and handles on this case make transportation a one man job. Finally it doubles as a great desk for your ground station.

1510  + 1519 

The 1510 is designed to be the maximum FAA carry on size so it will fit in any overhead compartment. The lid organizer holds all of the tools needed for the e384, including the long range telemetry transmitter. The telescoping handle and the addition of wheels making traveling through airports a breeze.

The cost of this setup amounts to $510 USD, which if you’re lucky will pay for itself in the savings from over sized baggage fees from just one round trip flight. Furthermore Pelican cases give you a peace of mind when your e384 is at the mercy of rough baggage handlers in Bamako or long drives in the back of pickup trucks through “roads” in the African Bush.

The e384 is in a class of it’s own when it comes to flight time and ease of use. And with the right cases the e384 and its impressive 1.9m wingspan can efficiently be transported as easy as drones half its size.

Photos by Frank Sedlar and Andrea Amici

Frank Sedlar owns Vela Aerial.  He is currently a Fulbright Fellow to Indonesia where he works with the Government of Jakarta and Peta Jakarta  to coordinate an urban drone research program. He moonlights as a journalist for Carryology  exploring better ways to carry.

Event 38 Mentioned in Crains Cleveland

Event 38 received a mention in a recent Crains Cleveland article. We certainly are on the edge of innovation and proud to be headquartered here in Akron, OH! Check out the full article at the link below.

http://www.crainscleveland.com/article/20151030/BLOGS05/151039977/future-is-bright-in-manufacturing-for-northeast-ohios-next-generation#utm_medium=email&utm_source=ccl-dailynews&utm_campaign=ccl-dailynews-20151030

 

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Drones for Business Use – Fixed Wing or Multi-rotor?

Drones for Business Use – Fixed Wing or Multi-rotor?

Founded in 2011, Event 38 builds and sells easy to use drones, sensors and a Drone Data Management System-TM . Customers all over the world use our drones for Construction, Environmental Conservation, Mining, Surveying and Precision Agriculture.

Introduction

June, 2015 –  If someone mentions the word drone today most of us think of a four or six propeller frame with a camera mounted below thanks to their tremendous growth achieved in the consumer world. You can buy a drone that fits in your hand or one as large as a manned helicopter.

But for the business user there is another alternative, the fixed wing UAV.

So if you are a farmer, surveyor, construction company, or researcher which do you choose?

For the past four years we have been focusing on small and medium sized business and overwhelmingly, the fixed wing UAV is the drone of choice.

Drones are used today for a rapidly growing list of business purposes including: agriculture, surveying, construction, security, environmental conservation, inspection, aerial & cinematic photography, and a long tail of research applications.

As the cost of digitizing the physical world has decreased from $thousands to $pennies per acre, drone technology is solving age-old problems and creating unprecedented new opportunities. Sensor technology has also made tremendous progress – we are able to measure more things more accurately than ever before. Today we can track every single plant in a crop field at the leaf level. And for the first time, drones are able to work in areas that have been inaccessible or too dangerous to consider using manned aircraft.

Finally, we believe that we have only scratched the surface of drone, sensor, and software/analysis capabilities. As regulatory environments solidify and the technology continues to advance, the sky is the limit.

Drone Purchase Considerations

There are no real standards in our industry from which to easily make comparisons when deciding which drone to buy. In general, industrial users pick drone solutions based on several criteria:

  • Application specific requirements – what problem am I solving and what and how much data needs to be collected?
  • Endurance – how long and how far can it fly?
  • Payload capacity – how much weight can it carry?
  • Cost – what is the initial price and total cost of ownership?
  • Ease of use – how easy is mission planning, autonomous flight, and  data collection & management?
  • Software capabilities – what do I do with the data once it’s collected?
  • Customer service and technical support – how good is post-sale support if I have a problem?

So which type of drone do you choose?

Above all else, you need to consider the problem you are trying to solve. What data do you need, are there geographical and/or regulatory constraints, what analysis capabilities exist, and how much drone operations experience do you need to have? And remember that drones and sensors collect data, period. The key is in creating actionable information from the data collected.

In many cases either a multirotor or a fixed wing drone can solve the need at hand. As you might expect, there is much overlap in capabilities. However to generalize a little:

  • If an application only needs limited geographical coverage (ie real estate photography) or has narrowly defined physical constraints (ie bridge inspections) and needs relatively straight forward data collection sensors (ie short video and RGB still photography) then a multirotor drone makes sense.
  • On the other hand, if the user application requires wider geographic coverage (ie 500 acre farm) or needs highly specialized sensors, (ie multispectral camera, thermal imaging, Lidar, etc) or needs to operate at higher altitudes, then a fixed wing drone is probably a better alternative.

Benefits of multi-rotor drones

Many consumer oriented drones have been successfully employed in commercial applications and others built specifically for industrial use are extending those capabilities.

There are obvious things that they can do better, for example, get into confined spaces, ie under bridges, they can hover over a specific area to capture more information, and they need little space to take off and land. Here are a few pros and cons:

Pros

  • Cost – Usually less expensive
  • Applications – really good at aerial photography and hi resolution video
  • Ease of use – good
  • Access confined spaces more easily

Cons

  • Endurance – less flight time
  • Payload capacity – usually less weight
  • Customer service – little support if you are buying a consumer drone
  • Occasional bugs, ie “fly away”

Multi-rotor Summary – Most multirotor drones can fly up to 15-30 minutes carrying a still or video camera weighing less than 500 grams. They are relatively easy to use and moderately priced, usually in the $1,500-$4000 range. Leading manufacturers include DJI, 3D Robotics, and Parrot but there are literally hundreds of manufacturers from which to choose.

Benefits of fixed wing drones

When it comes to mapping anything but very small parcels, fixed wing aircraft win hands down due to the overwhelming endurance advantage. For the serious business user, this is usually the deciding factor. Additionally, fixed wing drones can fly faster when needed and can fly much higher – important for work sites above 5000’ elevation.

Pros

  • Endurance – fly as much as 10x longer and cover more geography in a single flight
  • Payload capacity – can carry more weight
  • Applications – larger selection of sensors

Cons

  • Cost – usually more expensive
  • Ease of Use – not as easy as a multirotor
  • Size – requires more space for storage and transport

Fixed Wing Summary – The fixed wing drone is a true workhorse for the business user. Most of these drones can easily fly a 250-1,000+ acre plot in a single flight and can carry a wider range of sensors than their multi-rotor counterparts. In general, they are priced in the $3k-30k+ range depending on the application. Leading manufacturers include Event 38, Agribotix, and Sensefly/eBee but of course there are literally hundreds of others.

You choose

Event 38 has been providing drones to business users and researches since 2012 and more than 80% of our customers choose the E384 fixed wing drone.

The E384 costs 5-20 times less than our competitors, has an industry leading flight time of two hours, and can carry a 1 kilogram payload. The E384 can fly a 1,000 acre farm in a single flight and capture data at the 2 centimeter level.

Customers have flown our drones for thousands of hours all over the world. Whether it’s a farmer in Brazil, a surveyor in Africa, or a conservationist in Belize, the fixed wing drone is the UAV of choice.

However as multirotor drone capabilities continue to increase, realtors, photographers, and others find the multirotor UAV to be their drone of choice.

We look forward to the day when both types of drones are used in combination, ie capture large data plots with the fixed wing drone and zero in on specific areas of interest with the multirotor. The good news is that as users we have so many useful choices available to us today.

our comments and feedback are much appreciated! What do you think? Contact us anytime.

 About Us

Event 38 designs and manufactures drones, specialized optical sensors, and a cloud based Drone Data Management System-TM for small and medium sized businesses. Today we have customers in 49 countries using our products for agriculture, surveying, construction, environmental preservation, and other applications. Please visit our website, www.event38.com or contact us for additional information.