Frequently Asked Questions for Aerial Photography....
This will Probably be a LOOONG Page...:)
Ok maybe not QUESTIONS really, but the usual discussions that we have with new people interested in Aerial Photography...
Aerial Photography with an R/C Helicopter is NOT a "get rich quick scheme". It requires work, time, flying ability, and knowledge of your helicopter.
Work means that just like ANY business, you have to work at it to be successful. A business plan, capital funding, networking, all the things that make any business work must also be done in THIS business.
Time means you need the time to devote to your business, one weekend a Month is NOT going to be sufficient to make you successful. You will need to spend time with your heli, maintaining, practicing, flying, tweaking, etc.
Flying ability is MOST crucial! Just being able to hover does NOT make you an AP Pilot. Neither does being a Hot Dog 3D Pilot...
The BEST AP Pilots are the ones who practice holding a smooth steady hover, someone who can hold that heli in ANY orientation, in ANY condition, transition smoothly from a hover to forward flight and back again. Aerobatics plays NO part in Aerial Photography, it only makes the viewer sick...:)
One of the FIRST questions I will ask when someone calls and is interested in purchasing an AP machine, "Do you CURRENTLY fly R/C Heli's?" If so, then we move on to the generalities. If NOT, then I suggest that you'll need appx 1 YEAR to learn how to fly and learn how to fly well enough to safely make use of an AP R/C Helicopter.
In addition, the Pilot needs to KNOW the machine, needs to have good general heli knowledge, but also the particular machine that is being flown. The best AP heli is one that is setup like a high level FAI contest helicopter vs an Extreme Aerobatic (3D) helicopter. Some helicopters on the market can be setup either way, but never at the SAME time. We recommend that if you want to be successful, your AP heli be DEDICATED to AP work. It's difficult enough to get a heli setup properly to do AP without having to repair it from the weekends little oopsie at the local club field...
We at Bergen R/C sell some dedicated AP machines, some of them can be purchased turnkey, ready to go fly. Unfortunately this does NOT mean that you will be ready to go make any money the first day you pull the heli from the box. You still have to spend time to get to know your helicopter, tune it in for YOUR conditions/location, break in the engine, tweak it to your liking as far as "feel" in flight, add your payload to the heli and tweak it some more. This CAN take as long as a month, depending on your skill level and your familiarity with heli's in general.
Should I go Gas, Electric, or Turbine?
Each option has pro's and con's, it's up to you to decide your need and your budget. Even though you may have a HUGE budget, if your need is the smaller, cheaper heli then so be it. I LOVE to sell Turbines, but for still shots at low levels, it's kind of overkill...:)
Lets cover Gas first. The pro's for gas are the LOOONG flight times and low $$$ to operate. The con's are having to tune that darn carburetor! EVERYTHING in AP centers around how smooth your machine is. You MUST learn how to tune your engine AND heli to obtain the smoothest possible platform. The tricky part is figuring out if a vibration is an ENGINE problem or a HELI problem...Higher altitudes can be difficult for Gas power, relating back to tuning the carburetor for the conditions.
Electric....Pro's are how EASY it is to get it SMOOOOTH.....If there's a vibration, it's in the heli. there is NO tuning needed, the electric motor either runs or it doesn't. Altitude is NO problem for electrics as it doesn't care that there is no oxygen to breath...Con's are the low flight times (comparatively speaking), the cost of the batteries/chargers/power supply, and the time it takes to charge the batteies. In recent months and years, flight times have gone up (15 minutes is not unheard of) and charging times have gone down with the ability to charge at up to 5C. But the cost is still there.
Turbine....Oh how we LOVE the sound and smell!! Pro's are again the smoothness of the engine and the lack of needing to be tuned, it's either running or it's not. Again altitude is less of a concern for Turbines, it compresses it's own air...Turbines are very powerful, therefore able to carry possibly larger payloads in larger airframes. Con's..Price. That Turbine engine is expensive. It also LOVES to suck down the Kerosene so careful calculations must be made for weight vs onboard fuel capacity. The Turbine is typically a larger, heavier heli, so transportation must be given consideration.
With the Introdction of Multirotors, the next question is, "Is this better/easier/cheaper?"
And the answer is, ABSOLUTELY!
Multirotors, with a Flight Controller/Autopilot, makes an extremely stable, easy to fly, and in most cases a cheaper alternative to a dedicated AP standard type Helicopter.
With one of our Built, RTF Multirotors, I can teach someone who has NO experience with R/C Helicopters how to fly in a matter of hours. There are fewer operating parts to be concerned with and the autopilot keeps the aircraft level and or in position until you tell it do otherwise.
The aircraft is generally smaller in max dimensions for carrying the same payload, so it makes portability much easier, and you can now even get a folding machine that can be kept on the backseat or your trunk!
Downside, the flight time is limited right now to 10-12 minutes, but that's carrying a full frame DSLR camera, video downlink system, and 4 ea 4s 5000 Mah Batteries.
More to come.