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Droning ON

The last year has seen a phenomenal growth of technology - in my head!

I’ve started using new photo processing and retouching software that is progressively changing and developing. When they add or change something at one end, it effects a few items at the other and I have to re-learn what took me a few days (or weeks) to understand initially.

My “worst” is reading a manual (as my older son says “if you need to understand how it works, RTFM”), in plain terms, read the fucking manual.

Luckily nowadays, YouTube is full of tutorials on just about any programme that you need to learn. There are 4 or five guys who all tell you how the same programme functions, so you simply choose the one you relate to best!

The problem is that as the guy drones on, he understands what he’s doing - fluently, I get lost, I loose track, I have to playback and repeat the operation.

And then I fall asleep.

I wake up - could be half an hour later, I start again and master step one and then I fall asleep. Again.

I think back to my days in the Naval Gymnasium in 1965 - I had the same problem.

The instructor, a Chief-Petty-Officer, would tell us about the concept of sonar and it’s pings and echoes underwater and then, as it got more technical, he would set up a 16mm projector and play a black and white movie (produced just after WW2) going into more intricate detail on the technology. I saw the first couple of minutes and then woke at the end.

I must add that I AM a qualified Sonar Operator although it took the bribe of large tin of biscuits to obtain my Certificate of Competence. I got the hang of sitting deep in the bowels of a warship (President Kruger), in front of a monitor, wearing headphones, listening to and watching pings and arrows of outrageous fortune as I found a make-believe sub, tracked it and finally initiated the dropping of imaginary depth charges over it!

Back to mastering my new computer programme…

step by step I get it functioning. Then I find something else I need to know so I go back to YouTube and get it sorted. Then the developers bring out an upgrade, what was on the right, has moved to the other side of the screen and there’s a different way of using it with a different result and couple of new steps in between.

The real point of this story is that that is how I learned to operate my drone - slowly but efficiently.

There are software update but that are mainly to improve functionality of the hardware and the not the physical operation of the unit.

I mastered still photography and then decided to take the jump to movie clips. Not easy, there’s a definite technique. Slower, smoother, a whole new set of commands.

And then there’s the processing software, I use two or three software programmes and have managed to understand them (about 70% competence) by trial and error. Still making mistakes and repeating the function a different way. It’s working.

The problem with YouTube drone tutorials is that when you sit with the drone next the computer, the magnetic field around the computer interferes with the operation of the drone. So you have to remember a bunch of things and then go outside a try them out. Difficult.

Anyway, I got it right and am producing some nice clips and am able to add sound where and when I feel it deserves it.

So last Saturday, remember I still can’t drive as I’ve been locked in the leg brace since mid-January, Maureen dropped me at Muizenberg’s Surfer’s Corner with my drone while she went to do the local Park Run. I hobbled to Rocky Beach, set the drone up - one of the the things one must do each time you fly from a different area, is to reset the compass which is a physical/electronic duet.

I got this right and took off from the walkway above the beach. While the drone was hovering at about 4m, I hobbled slightly higher up the grass mound above the walkway to get above the constant flow of people doing their early morning exercise.

It was an unusually misty morning for summer and I was getting some nice effects between the sea swirling around the rocks and the grey mist with an occasional ray of sunshine breaking through.

I have set my drone to warn me that it’s getting low on power when it has about ten minutes flying time left.

I got the beep, turned off the camera and started heading back to the take-take-off spot.

Whoa, the walkway was really packed, the drone was already in it’s landing procedure so, not wanting to chop any heads off, being exposed to reckless endangerment, I cancelled the landing via the remote.

My thinking was to bring the machine up to where I was standing.

The drone had a different idea.

It had intruded into the electronic/magnetic field given off by the overhead cables from the railway line at Muizenberg station!

I hadn’t even considered that!

I had no control.

Nothing worked, it wouldn’t go up or come down, refused to turn left or right.

It simply went into a magnificently descending arc to the left and smashed hard in to the boundary wall of the station. It was lying in a pile of brown sand, upside down, churning dust.

A crowd on the platform was laughing. I wasn’t quite crying. But close to tears …

Some of the propeller blades were broken, the left rear motor/propeller arm was hanging by its cable.

I am officially out of action.

I told the insurers - who don’t seem in any sort of hurry to effect the repairs - been waiting a week and they haven’t come back to me yet regarding the damage assessment.

My wings are clipped so to say.

And my leg’s still in a brace!

Think I’ll do some YouTube and go into snooze mode.

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