Guess who is all done grading?

ME, that’s who. I still have to upload these last few grades to the official site, but my computer is acting up, as always, so I’m going to have to walk in to my office and do it there. But to celebrate, anyway, I took off to fly my gadget. This is a quick buzz around the Morris Wetlands management district offices. Just because it’s empty and open land, and it’s very quiet (the whole town is quiet right now — students have gone home for the break).

This thing is fun, and the mechanics of flying it are easy, but just a word of warning to anyone who gets one: it takes practice. Lots of practice. Right now I can do all the basics of getting it to go up and forward and backwards and left and right, but I tell you, when it’s a kilometer off in the distance and you’ve lost track of its orientation and your depth perception is off so you think everything is fine but the camera is telling you you’re flying straight towards a tree, it’s a little nerve wracking.

Also, it’s really cold out there, around -15 to -20° C, and you’re actually kind of relieved that the battery is only good for about a 20 minute flight, because you’re fingers are freezing off. Note also it’s not the best day for photography: hazy and gray, flying over a world that’s mostly white. But that’s Minnesota.


  1. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Conga-rats on finishing the grading. Always felt good, and once they were turned in, freedom for a few days.
    You get the cold in the the middle of the continent. Over in the YooPee, Lake Superior moderated the temperatures until it froze over (didn’t happen often). But then, until it froze over, almost daily lake-effect snow.

  2. Rob Grigjanis says

    Looks great for cross country skiing. Not so much in Toronto; 3°C now, supposedly going up to 13°C on Christmas Eve.

  3. says

    On the Youtube description page you write: “It’s cold. It’s misty. These are terrible conditions for photography”. Of course, this is where I have to disagree, speaking as someone with a modest interest in amateur photography. Cold & misty are in my opinion excellent conditions for photography. Open skies often make for uninteresting, bland pictures, all uniformly lit. But when it’s dark, or wet, or hazy, or whatever, that is when you start to see special things. Also: dusk. Warmth of light, shadows and everything else you don’t have under “perfect” conditions.

    The video does look nice but it does not play smoothly on my end. Not sure what is going on.

    Do you keep propellers for your toy in stock now?

    With regard to orientation while flying: if it is a proper drone, should it not be able to fly itself? Program some manoeuvers and let it go. Or perhaps you need to invest in one of those live video things with goggles that all the hobbyists are now using. FPV they call it, for first person viewing, and the experience should be able to make you forget about your freezing fingers quite easily…

  4. says


    Cold & misty are in my opinion excellent conditions for photography.

    Eh, depends. I’m right next door to PZ, in North Dakota, and we share that cold and misty, which is also uniform gray, and as monotonous as you can get. It really is absolute shit for photography, nothing looks interesting at all, just gray, no interesting light at all. There are times it is, indeed, fabulous for shooting, but on a day like today, not so much.

  5. anthrosciguy says

    What happens if you fly your drone out of range of your controller? Does it have an override to prevent that from happening, or can you set it to barrel forward and have it escape when you lose contact?

  6. PatrickG says

    I know how you feel. Here in Oakland, CA, we almost hit freezing last night. And this unexpected drizzly rain? Doesn’t the weather know we’re in a drought here?

    /runs away

  7. michaelnoone says

    In the Southern Hemisphere we are having some of the hottest and dryer weather we can. 42C on Saturday in Melbourne several home lost to bushfires.

  8. blf says

    That sun thingy is playing peek-a-boo with the rain, the oysters are on the march (or at least in the marché), and from the sound and shaking, either a large oyster or a small walrus collided with a building down the street. Or maybe a carpenter caught an oyster? Basically, a typical winterish Monday morning, except for the estimated 25 tonnes or so of oranges filling the circular stairhall (which is why I haven’t gone out to see what happened). I think the mildly deranged penguin slightly overbought. She does not seem to be concerned, so no cheeses are harmed.

  9. blf says

    Lots and lots of orange juice!

    Ok, so “25 tonnes” is a tiny bit of an exaggeration. It’s more like 25 kilos (which is not that much of an exaggeration!).

  10. pedantik says

    If you’re tired of the cold and snow, I see the solution in your video. Those solar panels are sucking up all the sunlight!

  11. birgerjohansson says

    On Sunday the Dalarna county* had +10 C. Which is also the approximate temperature it got during the midsummer holiday
    * western Sweden, near Norway.

  12. says

    Aargh. Will people PLEASE stop lecturing me on drone safety? Does it look like I’m barreling through MSP up there? Or maybe buzzing pedestrians? Or using it to startle nesting birds? I’m flying it in great empty places.

    And yes, before anyone hectors me on this matter, I registered it with the FAA promptly this morning. OK?

    If you still feel the need to give obvious advice, I’m sure you can find a gun-nut forum that would love to hear from you, and needs your recommendations.