SD Card Holder

I’d been traveling with several microSD cards for both GoPro and Drone usage for the past year when I finally got around to buying this inexpensive plastic card to organize them.

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Before buying it, I had read several reviews, and worried that cheap plastic might either make it brittle, or let the flash cards fall out of the enclosure. For $6.95 it was worth a try.

What I really found out was that I should have been using it for at least a year before I got it. The fact that I can carry 10 micro SD cards and they are all in order is a complete boon for organization.

20170922_185055016_iOSBefore using this, I’d often have two identical looking SD cards in my hands and forget which one was full and which one was empty. I’d also take a card out of my device and set it down, and nearly lose it.  Now I take a card out of my camera and immediately put it into this holder. I fill this holder from one end with empty cards and from the other with full cards and never have to remember which cards have something on them any more.

It’s essentially the same size as a credit card, but is quite a bit thicker. I wouldn’t carry it in my wallet, nor would I use the hole for a key ring, but having it in a pocket in my drone bag keeps all the memory cards in one place in a known order.

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exiftool to manage DJI media files

DJI Drones don’t seem to remember the image count between formats of a media card. This creates a problem for me when I’m trying to backup and maintain my images and video.

Because the dates are all correct in the media files, retrieved from GPS data, organizing the files by naming them based on the date works for me.

Using ExifTool by Phil Harvey is a great solution for pulling the metadata from the files and renaming the files.

The command line that I was initially using is:

exiftool "-FileName<${CreateDate}.$filetype" -d %Y%m%d-%H%M%S%%-c -ext mp4 -ext dng -ext jpg dji*

It’s problem is that it orphans the SRT subtitle files from my videos that I’d like to keep matching the video files.

I’ve tried this variation to do it in one step but it doesn’t work, because the SRT files get renamed as MP4 files.

exiftool -verbose "-FileName<${CreateDate}" -d %Y%m%d-%H%M%S%%-c.%%le -ext mp4 -ext dng -ext jpg dji* -srcfile %f.srt

If anyone has a suggestion for how to rename all the media files in one directory I’d appreciate it. Even running two commands in sequence would be fine.

Update:

I’ve figured out that running these two commands in sequence will get me the results I am looking for:

exiftool "-FileName<${CreateDate}" -d %Y%m%d-%H%M%S%%-c.srt -ext mp4 -srcfile %f.srt dji*
exiftool "-FileName<${CreateDate}" -d %Y%m%d-%H%M%S%%-c.%%le -ext mp4 -ext dng -ext jpg dji*

I’m still looking for a way of doing it in a single command that may leave less room for error, but this is working for now.

Being a responsible drone pilot

I try to be a responsible drone pilot. I use the FAA B4UFly App on a regular basis to see what it has to say about locations that I’m interested in flying. Unfortunately, it lists every uncontrolled heliport as an airport and reports “Action Required” so often as to be nearly useless.

Yesterday I was sitting on the beach at Golden Gardens Park in Seattle, watching sailboats race offshore. I thought it would be good to check to see what the app would show. I was sitting at sea level, with a hill near me that would be at least 200 feet high. The rules for drones say that you are not allowed to fly over 400 feet above the surface without permission from the controlling authority. Aircraft are not allowed to fly below 700 feet without similar permission.

GoldenGardensVFR

Golden Gardens is located about where the “E” in KENMORE sits on the map above. It’s under the Class B Airspace that starts at 3,000 feet, going up to 10,000 feet.

While understanding VFR charts  may be more than the average drone pilot should be expected to recognize, especially for a dense area like Seattle, the B4UFly App’s tendency to show warnings is similar to the boy who cried wolf. It’s impossible to recognize when an action is really appropriate.

AMA Membership and BestBuy

An interesting thing I found in the drone aisle in BestBuy was a card to join the Academy of Model Aeronautics.


I’ve been a member since I got involved with drones. I had to become a member to join the rc flying club I frequent. It’s good to see that it’s being easy to recognize in consumer stores, as opposed to the complete hobby level word of mouth that I’ve seen in the past.

Best Buy and DJI Accessories

I don’t shop too much locally for technology, because it always seems that what I want is not available locally. Yesterday I was wandering around killing time and went into the local Best Buy.  Instead of just looking at the normal things I might go for in a best buy, I looked around to see what was new. They now have an aisle dedicated to drones. There were complete drones from DJI, Yuneec, and several other manufacturers. More interesting to me was that they carried accessories for those drones as well.  I knew that they sold drones on-line, it just never occurred to me to look at them in person in the store.

I bought a Mavic Pro directly from DJI soon after they were released. I got the Fly-More package that entails several items including spare propellers. I’ve not needed to replace a propeller in my first 7 hours of flight time but it’s nice to know that propellers are available locally. DJI charges slightly less, $9.00, but they charge for shipping, and you have to wait for the item to arrive.

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DJI Phantom and Wind

This week I took my drone to video Initial Point in Idaho. It’s a rocky outcrop about 20 miles south of Boise that was chosen as the initial survey point for the Idaho Territory in 1867. It has a concrete platform installed at the top with a survey marker embedded. There’s a rocky trail that can be driven to the top if your vehicle has a high ground clearance. I chose to walk to the top.

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Initial Point Idaho

My car was parked at the base, I climbed up about 130 feet to the top. The wind was occasionally gusting at the base. It was constant at the top, with much higher gusts.

I carried the drone in my backpack to the top, and launched it from the platform. I manually flew it around the point, but was feeling extremely nervous doing so. I only flew about 36 feet above the platform during the entire flight.

The concrete platform has a metal railing surrounding it, and I didn’t trust the drone to return safely to land without hitting the railing so I manually had it land nearby. As I was hovering the drone before landing, it was holding a fairly constant 20° lean because of the wind.

After hiking back to my car I still had plenty of battery for another flight. From near my car I launched the drone and flew vertically to about 200 feet, centered the drone over the survey marker, and used the point of interest feature to create a video circling the point.

I don’t believe that the wind was any less on my second flight than it was on my first flight. The fact that I was in the wind on the first flight had me feeling significantly more nervous while flying than when I was out of the wind on the second flight. Watching the video from the first and second flight doesn’t appear significantly different. I would have liked the point of interest video slightly more if I’d been on top of the point the entire time, but I was too nervous to do it all while I was sitting in the wind myself.

DJI Battery Monitoring

DJI charges a significant amount of money for their batteries and calls them Smart Batteries. I’ve seen the statistics reported of how many times the battery has been power cycled, as well as details of how much flight time is available. This was a new and interesting feature to me.

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I had left the drone in the back of my car overnight. The temperature had probably gotten into the high 30s, and was still in the mid 50s with the sun shining. The warning message “Battery Temperature Too Low. Warm battery to at least 15 degrees Celcius before flying” came up on my screen and would not let me initiate a takeoff.

I have used batteries in cold climates in the past. I know how temperature affects both current output from batteries and future usability. I’m impressed that DJI has built in this feature to their firmware.