Using drones for "recovery"

Discussion in 'Recovery' started by Funkworks, Jul 3, 2019.

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  1. Jul 3, 2019 #1

    Funkworks

    Funkworks

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    Has anyone ever used a drone to recover a rocket that got hung up in a tree or a power line? I’m not making a recommendation here, but it seems like an interesting challenge in itself, and I’m wondering if people have thought this through yet.

    Engineering a way out of the tree scenario looks like a lot of fun, but I’m not sure what the power distributors' positions are regarding quadcopters near their lines.

    Just looking for any story or information on the matter, or any good reasons why it shouldn’t be attempted.
     
  2. Jul 3, 2019 #2

    jadebox

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    I have been asked if I would try using my quadcopter to recover rockets from trees. But, I didn't think it was worth risking a $2000 quad to try to rescue a $12 rocket.

    Maybe George or someone else with his skills and knowledge could design and build a less expensive multicopter with more lifting capability just for that purpose.
     
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  3. Jul 3, 2019 #3

    neil_w

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    It does seem like it would be challenging, since the problem with rockets in trees is often that they are tangled and snagged, and I'm not entirely sure how a typical drone is going to solve that.

    However: having a drone at a launch for rocket *spotting* seems hugely useful.
     
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  4. Jul 3, 2019 #4

    hobie1dog

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    +1
     
  5. Jul 3, 2019 #5

    jadebox

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    Roger Smith

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    I haven't been all that successful with that either. Even though my quad has a really good real-time video system, it often isn't easy to spot a rocket on the ground or in a tree. If you fly high enough to see a wider area of the ground, things on the ground are harder to spot. If you fly lower, you see less area and appear to move across the area quicker.

    I lost my YouBee in a wooded area when the main deployed at apogee. We saw it land on the horizon, so we had a good idea of which direction to look. We estimated how far away it was when it landed (I think the estimate was between a half mile and a mile away). We spent hours on the ground looking for the rocket. The next weekend, I used my quad to fly over the area and didn't find it. I was nervous, flying over trees and a wide distance.

    A couple months later, the rocket was found about two miles from the launch site by a couple hunting for hogs on their honeymoon.

    So, hog hunters may be more effective at finding lost rockets than a multicopter!
     
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2019
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  6. Jul 3, 2019 #6

    cvanc

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    I'm sorry... what?!?
     
  7. Jul 3, 2019 #7

    Banzai88

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    Depending on his part of the country, hunting feral hogs is a fairly popular activity. Finding someone who shares your passion....priceless! Freedom is good.

    As for the OP's question.......haven't found anyone yet willing to risk a $2K drone for my $12 rocket. If it's a $50+ rocket, you can bet dollars to doughnuts that I'm NOT launching it in conditions that benefit the trees.
     
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  8. Jul 3, 2019 #8

    liv3mind

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    I have used my filming quad extensively to scout riding spots out in the desert, but I dont think it would be terribly useful for spotting, hard to see much detail on a phone, maybe if you used an ipad or android tablet as the video output and reflective material on the rocket. There is a guy locally here that uses his to pull shoes off tele lines for the county, but he gets paid for it
     
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  9. Jul 11, 2019 #9

    Handeman

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    It sounds useful, but considering the size of our site we didn't feel it was that useful. We came to the consensus that we didn't want to be distracted from the safety of the launch to also control the drones. Letting drone owner free range at our launch site during rocket operations was not an option since most of them were for video recording of the launches and could easily interfere with launch safety. Because of the safety issues involve, drones are banned during launches at our site.

    I'm sure the question will come up to the board again, but unless someone has better arguments than we've heard already, I doubt they will be allowed in the future.
     
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  10. Jul 12, 2019 #10

    afadeev

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    +1
    I does help to have a drone with decent-sized FPV screen, and 1K-4K video resolution.
    Here the pic from my drone grid-pattern searching the corn fields, on the way to finding my rocket (spot the little yellow piece of laundry). corn-fields hiding rocket.jpg


    And what exactly were those "safety issues involved" ?

    Just curious, since nothing obvious comes to mind.

    a
     
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  11. Jul 12, 2019 #11

    Handeman

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    Primarily it was LCO responsibilities and bandwidth. Most people wanting to fly drones wanted to record video of the rocket launches. That meant they would be flying above the pads where a collision with a rocket could have safety issues with where drone parts landed and rockets ended up. Because of that, the unrestricted flying of drones over the launch site was not allowed. Next we looked at allowing the flying under LCO control similar to the way RC planes are done at RC sites. The board decided that the additional responsibility put on the LCO for coordinating drone flights and rocket flights could reduce the LCOs concentration on rocket flight safety. The final decision was to not allow drone flights while the waiver was active.
     
  12. Jul 12, 2019 #12

    afadeev

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    Your comments suggest that you are not very familiar with drone photography, or flying.
    It does not affect me one bit what you choose to do in the future, but you may want to research and consider that flying right over the subject of video recording (e.g.: a race car, or a rocket) is the most undesirable placement a drone video pilot would want to achieve. Not just for safety, but for recording angle reasons (many drones can't shoot straight underneath them, or pan above their horizontal plane).

    30-45 degree angle to recording target is way more desirable, especially for fast moving objects in the horizontal plane (e.g.: shooting cars on a race track). Even more so for objects that are moving fast in the vertical plane (e.g.: rockets).

    To give you a visual idea of a practical drone video shooting angle, consider this from a NAR launch event:


    Overall, your chances of hitting a drone with a rocket are probably lower than those of hitting a bird.


    My local RC plane club never assigns an LCO to supervise the flyers.
    Novice pilots may request help from volunteer Flight Instructors, but only if desired, and only of later are available.

    LCO manages the airspace, similar to LCO duties at a rocket launch event. I can't think of any reason you would want an LCO to supervise drone flying, beyond insuring a safe maximum number of birds in the air (if that is ever an issue).

    I'm certainly NOT here to tell you what to do.

    Just sharing a few data point that suggest you might be drawing conclusions from flawed assumptions.

    Cheers,
    a
     
  13. Jul 13, 2019 #13

    gldknght

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    I don't know how you could make this ban stick, since you don't own the airspace above the launch field, and since most clubs don't even own the field they fly from.
    If the field is privately owned, and the landowner gives his permission, there would be literally NOTHING the rocket club could do about a drone sharing the airspace except shut down launches till the drone pilot gets bored.
    As a drone pilot myself, I would never put the rocket club in this position and also would NEVER risk my very cheap $500 drone in a collision. But if for example, a news agency wanted aerial footage of the launch, there's nothing the club would be able to do about it.
     
  14. Jul 13, 2019 #14

    jjwb22101

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    You could make the same argument about keeping people from standing right next to your rockets as you launch them. It's a safety issue - we ask them to ground the drone, and if they refuse, we don't fly. Also, while most clubs don't own the field they fly on, they have permission from the landowner to conduct their operations in the safest manner they can, and presumably the landowner would ask the drone operator to leave if necessary. The only drone operator who has ever been allowed to fly at the launch site I normally fly from was a commercial drone pilot for a defense contractor, and only under some very strict positioning guidelines (for coverage of launches at TARC finals).
     
  15. Jul 13, 2019 #15

    OverTheTop

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    Where we fly we definitely "own" the airspace of our cylinder when it is activated. We do have the airspace allocated for "rocketry-based activities" so flying a drone for video or searching would be permitted if LCO and RSO agreed to it. We did try it at one launch, with a drone running FPV. It was allocated a designated landing/takeoff zone and had to have a spotter as well as the FPV pilot watching it whenever it was in the air. I thought that setup worked great. That flyer ended up spending time elsewhere and drifted away from the club, so it has not been done since.
     
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  16. Jul 13, 2019 #16

    jjwb22101

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    As a general rule you don't 'own' the airspace above your flying field, even if you have an FAA waiver - that is just a license to use said airspace, and triggers a notice to airmen (NOTAM) that something is happening in that airspace. They may also route flights around said airspace, but planes still have a right to use it (and if one is in the vicinity, you have to halt launches until it is clear). With drones, it is less clear, since they are unmanned and have a pilot who is within visual contact at all times (aka on the same field as you). As such, you can ask the pilot to ground their drone or be asked to leave the field, but they have just as much right to the airspace as you do.
     
  17. Jul 13, 2019 #17

    OverTheTop

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    Our airspace is operated by us when activated. Even the police helicopter and other light aircraft are not permitted to use the space there. Yes, we would not launch anyway, but we are the people in control of that space when the instrument is activated. I don't know the detail of the wording of our document but it is quite definitive I think.

    Remember I am in Australia, and things may be a little different.
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2019
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  18. Jul 13, 2019 #18

    jjwb22101

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    Yeah I've got no idea how things work down under, I'm US based. Would love to visit for Thunder at some point in the future though!
     
  19. Jul 13, 2019 #19

    gldknght

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    Around here, because of crop dusting activities all over the area, you'd never get that kind of exclusive use of the airspace. I maintain that I could safely fly my drone at a club launch, especially if I had a spotter. As noted, directly above the pads is a lousy place to shoot video from anyway. Because of the range of my drone, I wouldn't even need to be on the same property as the launch. It would probably be safer if I was standing right next to the LCO table when flying, though.

    It seems to me that common sense and good communication between the Lco/Rco and the drone pilot would be much better than just outright banning the drones.
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2019
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  20. Jul 13, 2019 #20

    jjwb22101

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    While it may be the case that you could safely fly a drone at a launch, I would not want to have the additional responsibility as LCO or RSO of making sure your drone is safely away from the rocket being launched, and more importantly, that YOU are aware of what's happening and are watching the launch (one thing I definitely would never be ok with is FPV drone piloting during a rocket launch - the potential for the pilot to be unaware a rocket was heading in their direction is just too high), especially if it is a large or otherwise busy launch - if I've got 15 pads ready to fly and another 20 people in line at check-in, the extra time spent in communication with you and making sure you're positioned safely is time I could be spending flying more rockets.

    Note that in all of this I'm also assuming that you are a competent and safety-conscious pilot, which is more than can be said about a lot of the drone pilots I've met, and I doubt most rocketry LCO's and RSO's (myself included) have the ability to quickly judge a pilot's suitability to fly. As such, it's probably safer to ban them in general, with the possibility of rare exceptions, than to let anyone fly.
     
  21. Jul 13, 2019 #21

    gldknght

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    You'd have no more responsibility with a drone, than with any other aircraft. It's NOT your responsibility to make sure I'm safe, it's MINE. I can fly my drone FPV, but the rules say I have to maintain a direct line of sight with it at all times. Also, of course I'd be aware of and watching the launches, it's what I'd be doing there in the first place.

    Large busy launch? We wouldn't be having this discussion at all, because I'd be likely standing in line to fly my rocket.
    It was pointed out, but something I think is being missed, my drone is worth a lot more money than most smaller hpr rockets. I will never ever put my $500 drone is a position where it could be taken out by a $75 rocket. I don't know anyone else who would either.
     
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  22. Jul 13, 2019 #22

    jjwb22101

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    As the RSO, it is my responsibility to make sure that everyone is aware of and paying attention to the launches. My concern is less with your drone being hit by a rocket, and more with a potentially problematic rocket creating a scenario in which something unsafe is happening and you're preoccupied with controlling your drone - especially since the sorts of things that can cause those problems, like a sudden gust of wind, might also cause you to need to pay more attention to the drone. It's a similar logic to why we don't let people throw a frisbee around at a launch - you need to be paying attention to the launch. I agree that there are ways to mitigate these concerns - have a buddy with the drone operator whose job is to ONLY watch the rockets, not the drone, or have the pilot stationed sufficiently far away from the launch activity, or right at the LCO table so they can more easily communicate with the LCO. However, all of these require additional input from the launch operators, who in general are NOT DRONE EXPERTS. Yes, it is POSSIBLE to create a situation where a drone can be safely operated in the airspace of a rocket launch. However, it requires a level of coordination between the drone pilot and launch operators that would not be possessed by a pilot simply being allowed to fly their drone. As such, I don't think it's unreasonable (especially at larger launches) to restrict or ban drone flights outright during launches, and if you would like an exception to that rule, go ahead and talk with the RSO or LCO, and decide on a plan for safe operation.

    Edit: Sorry, I may not have been clear earlier - by FPV I meant with goggles, not just a handheld screen.
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2019
  23. Jul 13, 2019 #23

    gldknght

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    Well, it seems like you've made up your mind to do what you want without really listening to what I've got to say, so I'm out of this discussion.
     

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