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Alaska Inside Passage - Inspire 1 from a boat

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I'm currently boating around Alaska's Inside passage and I'm doing some videos for our travel blog. I just picked up the Inspire 1 in Ketchikan (after my TBS Discovery Pro had an unfortunate encounter with an eagle). Here's the first - shot in Tracy Arm in a flow of icebergs near South Sawyer glacier.

 
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Here's the second - shot in "Ford's Terror" - a gorgeous fjord that's accessible only once every twelve hours at slack high tide. I ran into a black bear while shooting this one.

 
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Here's the third, shot near Sitka, Alaska. We were anchored and I was flying over some intertidal marsh and ran into a grizzly bear.

 
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Here's the second - shot in "Ford's Terror" - a gorgeous fjord that's accessible only once every twelve hours at slack high tide. I ran into a black bear while shooting this one.

Great scenery, from a perspective rarely accessible until now. Next year I am on a 16 day trip going from North Alaska to the coast of Russia and down towards Japan. I intend to take my Inspire 1 (if not the latest from DJI - I have gone from Phantom 1 to Phantom 2 and now am enjoying the Inspire). I have a few queries if you don't mind me asking. I presume you took off from the boat pictured but did you have any trouble calibrating the compass? The boat I am on has around 100 passengers plus crew and it worries me with all that there will be interference from the shear metal mass of the boat, radar and electronic noise from the radio's etc. I'm guessing its not (always) going to be possible to take off from land accessed by the Zodiacs. Was the temperature an issue? Any other pointers would be much appreciated. Many thanks David Barton (Australia)
 
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Hi David,
I calibrated the compass once on land in a good location on land, and then I do not re-calibrate each flight from the boat. Small compass errors that might come from failing to re-calibrate are not important for me - particularly compared with larger ones that might come from calibrating in a bad location with lots of magnetic fields.

I did take off and land from the boat you see in the videos. It's a bit tight and tricky on the upper deck - particularly when it's windy and the boat is swinging on the anchor :) There is just enough space to put the quadcopter without knocking a prop on the railing on the way in or out.

Temperature has not been an issue. It's been in the 50s-70s F during all my flights.

Your trip sounds amazing! I hope you post videos.

We are blogging our Alaska trip here: http://www.riveted-blog.com
Kevin
 
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Hi Kevin,

I loved your videos, particularly the smooth flow of panning and movement and think they show the edge that the Inspire platform gives over the smaller Phantom aircraft.

I did a trip to Huslia, AK a few years ago doing aerial mapping which I blogged at http://blog.nickrussill.com/alaska?more=true.

I wonder if you are going near there?

Best,

Nick
 
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Hi Kevin,

Great flying and video footage, thanks for sharing. I just love Alaska, lived there for 14 years and try and go back every year in the late summer early fall. I have to ask, what happened in the unfortunate encounter with an eagle?

Regards

Dave
 
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skylab,

I thought about that. At one point, when it looked like the grizzly might be reacting to the copter, I pulled back quite a bit.

Nothing I did caused him to stop grazing there - he stayed in that marsh (and was joined by other bears and deer) for the rest of that day, and for the entire next day.

Thinking more about it, the quadcopter was pretty minor compared with the other distractions/annoyances facing the bears there. There were (loud) float planes flying over, boats going by, other animals wandering the same marsh, eagles and crows making racket and diving down and picking up things... I really don't believe the sound of the Inspire was making any difference in the overall sphere of things that would frighten a grizzly. And, grizzlies really don't seem to much care what's going on anyway - unless it's something else trying to eat their food. We saw one charge a deer that tried to graze nearby.

Actually, one thing I like about the Inspire is that it is very quiet compared with other quadcopters I have used. The lower RPM motors/props really help on that front.
 
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skylab,

I thought about that. At one point, when it looked like the grizzly might be reacting to the copter, I pulled back quite a bit.

Nothing I did caused him to stop grazing there - he stayed in that marsh (and was joined by other bears and deer) for the rest of that day, and for the entire next day.

Thinking more about it, the quadcopter was pretty minor compared with the other distractions/annoyances facing the bears there. There were (loud) float planes flying over, boats going by, other animals wandering the same marsh, eagles and crows making racket and diving down and picking up things... I really don't believe the sound of the Inspire was making any difference in the overall sphere of things that would frighten a grizzly. And, grizzlies really don't seem to much care what's going on anyway - unless it's something else trying to eat their food. We saw one charge a deer that tried to graze nearby.

Actually, one thing I like about the Inspire is that it is very quiet compared with other quadcopters I have used. The lower RPM motors/props really help on that front.
Maybe other quadcopters but the inspire is one of my loudest machines....I can hear it 400ft above me in the heart of Seattle, there's a lot more sounds going on there than in Alaska.

That bear is used to all the sounds you described (he lives there:p) while he still looked a tad on the younger side of life that spot wasn't his first visit, I'm sure he's used to the float planes and surrounding noises...and he could definitely hear that inspire, just didn't know where to look, and this isn't surprising either, I've had moments where I can hear my aircrafts but I look around to see where it's at directly....While I can't say what the hearing range is for bears (hard thing to determine) I imagine as a predator they have a great sense of hearing as good if not significantly better than humans.

I'm not trying to degrade your footage at all...that's an epic shot and I would've done the same...I've got a shot of a wolf pack from eastern Washington but nobodies ever gonna see that.

I just feel bad when they are reacting to drone use...He just looked rather confused. I don't blame him either.
 
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Agreed skylab, I think we all should be conscious and careful of the impact of our flying on the environment, other people, and wildlife.
 
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I have been thinking about the "disturbing the wildlife" issue, and thought I'd put in a couple more thoughts as they might be interesting for others.

I assume we all want to fly and make photos and video with minimal impact. We want to avoid disturbing other people, wildlife, and the environment. Most of us are fairly sensitive to the public's concerns about "drones" when it comes to privacy, safety, and general annoyance factor.

Here in Alaska, though, the standard advice for someone just going for a hike is to make lots of noise - use bear bells and bear whistles, and generally do as much as possible to create loud, unfamiliar sounds in order to scare away any bears within earshot. If that doesn't work, you are supposed to carry "bear spray" and shoot pepper spray in the bear's face. Failing all of those, many people carry sidearms so they can kill a bear if necessary. Given all of those practices which are considered "normal" and "prudent", flying a quadcopter nearby is a far less invasive way to observe a bear than even taking a normal hike in bear country.

The point is, when we're working to minimize the impact of our quadcopter use, we also should consider the alternatives. It's possible that the minimal impact of a quadcopter is much better than the other options. It's quieter, safer, and cheaper than a full-scale helicopter, often lower impact than trying to access a location on foot or by other vehicle, and generally a pretty attractive alternative to other means of getting similar results.

Of course, the least disruptive thing to do would be to stay out of bear country altogether and leave it to the wildlife. For most of Alaska, that's the case already.
 

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