Drone Accessories, Mobile Office Gadgets, Cases and Camera Accessories.
Livin’ the Drone Life and having the title “drone pilot,” often means extreme multi-tasking, long checklists and black cases full of drones accessories necessary to complete the job! As a drone pilot, we tend to travel a lot. If we don't’ have the right accessories, we could lose a job or we could be unable to fix our vehicles. Whether we need better range for our video feed during a live stream, or you need a better cell signal in the call to communicate with clients. My goal is to have this guide provide guidance on the tools and accessories I use to be a better, more reliable pilot. Often times whenever a new student comes to Drone U or I'm out on a job and a friend shows up.. I get this common question, “What are you using, can i take a picture of your case?”
In this long post you’ll see accessories by drone, what I have in my tool kit in addition to, what I have done to turn my SUV into the mobile office...Without breaking the bank.
If you have any comments or suggestions I welcome them. If you’re interesting in learning more about Drone Training or our workflows, go to http://thedroneu.com
How this is broken down:
I’ll first discuss my drone kits, what drones i take with me, what accessories and why. Then i’ll move onto non-drone related accessories that help my business prosper. Here is the whole list
Ultimate Drone Kit: Including Drone Accessories, Points of Redundancy, Camera Accessories, and mobile office accessories.
Whenever I travel to a Drone Job, I always try to consolidate as much as possible while also having the most flexibility. Traveling to a job via airline is completely different than traveling to a job via car. A lot of people think i’m crazy driving 12-16 hours to jobs, but often times I can drive to Los Angeles from Albuquerque faster than most people can fly it...and that’s a 12 hour drive. I won’t go into the reasons why i drive everywhere in the Southwest (beautiful roads, vast landscapes, no traffic and high speed limits). I’m telling you all of this nitty gritty detail because I tend to drive more than i fly for jobs. Which means this drone kit will be better suited for someone driving. This also means that your drone kit must shrink in size when flying, so not all of this gear will be relevant to everyone.
Why: I always bring more than one drone, you must have a “risk taker drone,” and you must have a this will never take risks drone. What do i mean? Clearly i’m not talking about flying over the heads of your children, i’m talking about deciding which drone is best for flying through obstacles. You must have a drone that you’re ok with crashing, i honestly believe it will help you become a better pilot. Why? Because if you’re thinking about “what if’s,” while flying, its only a matter of time until you crash. Eliminate the worry and doubt.
Inspire 2 Pro: use it for mapping and most of my missions. Great Basic Sensor (p4p sensor) more opportunity to fly
Phantom 4 Pro: Hands down the best drone for the money and I use it for all my obstacle shots, i call it risk maker! Just kidding, she doesn’t even have a name.
Inspire 1 Pro: use it for zoom and shooting event with a high volume of people. With this drone i can stay far away and zoom in to get the shots i need.
Before you ask what i think the best drone is for what, as of june 2017 this is what i think:
Mavic Pro: Best for travel and is commercially viable. The james bond drones. Really it is the best travel drone ever, seriously hike into the jungle, through it in the air and capture cinematic aerials. Yes i’ve done that.
Inspire 1: Best overall drone period.
Why: I think the best thing i’ve ever done in this business is keep my equipment organized and protected by cases. There is only one manufacturer of cases i will use. GPC.
It's simple, the people are amazing, customer service is on point and the people at GPC go so far beyond the other case manufacturers. They think outside of the box and provide exponentially more value in their cases because of the brains behind the design. Let’s take GPC’s osmo case, there are multiple osmo cases but one thing you’ll find in all of them. A stand. Yes, there is a stand for your osmo. So if you need to use your case as a tripod, well they got you covered by simply cutting a space to mount your camera inside the case. ITs truly brilliant and I have used it plenty of times shooting car scenes especially. You get a nice low angle, and if the car hits the case.. WHO CARES. GPC custom cuts all the foam to fit a pilot/videographer’s needs. They are truly the best, i highly recommend to get wheeled cases when possible.
GPC Inspire 2 case: I purchased the landing mode case for two reasons. 1. I hate travel mode. 2. It actually wears out the motor over time and shortens the life span of the drone.
GPC Inspire 1 Dual Case: I still take this with me to every training because it literally has a training kit in a case. I still have all my tools, dual monitors, dual remotes, a phantom 4 and accessories with the inspire 1 as well! Truly has everything! (ask for the dual foam)
GPC Phantom 4 Pro case: With wheels. This case can go on a plane, carry your batteries and everything you’ll need for the p4p. Yes I keep a phantom in the GPC i1 case and have another case for teh Phantom 4 PRO.
Mavic GPC Backpack: It's seriously the ultimate backpack for any adventure freak like myself. Whether you’re hiking into the forest or you’re walking down the beach, this thing lets you be mobile while providing eyes in the sky and on the ground.
When traveling on an airline, you must carry on those large batteries. You can do that with a GPC battery case.
My personal backpack: I always carry a dslr with me. You never know when a marketing opportunity is at your doorstep. I also carry a variety of cameras, laptops, cords, extra batteries, charging hubs, lights, grid-it, nd filters, lens clothes, lens cleaning pens.. You name it.. Its in there.
Now, lets dig a little deeper and discuss what I put in these cases. I’m just going to go over general accessories, I tend to move tool kits from one case to another often. I'm normally always carrying a minimum of 3 drones on me. I learned a long time ago in college, that redundancy is everything. You must have a backup if you’re onsite and hours away from a store.
Drone Pilot Field Kit of Tools: The paper version is here:
Why: dense neighborhoods rich in wifi and over time the quality degrades of your signal.. This helps out.
Field tool kit: The ultimate set of tools from screw drivers to plastic tools, you can take apart an iphone or build an S1000 with this tool kit.
ND filters (x4s) Seriously the Secret to Great video.
For shooting great video, increased contrast and saturation.
Nd filters: (p4p) Again the secret to epic color.
Lens cleaner kit: If you're not cleaning you're lenses, its only a matter of time until you'll regret it.
Charging hub battery: You can charge a spark on it, your phone over a dozen times, or charge a bluetooth speaker. This is a life saver and a must have for any traveler!
Grid It cord Organizer: This is the ultimate cord organizer. I've given these as gifts before, they make your backpack organized from the cord frenzy!
in ear buds to monitor noise levels on camera
ParaCord Braclet: Always useful when needing to tie up product in place when you're shooting it.
Foil: Because its cheaper than the Russians.
FlySight Black Pearl monitor: I love having a seperate monitor to show directors/DP's/personnel a live feed. It can also double as a monitor if you run a Flir Vue Pro Camera on an Inspire 1. Your second monitor would be the black pearl. RMUS has the best thermal setups for drones. Check them out and tell them Paul from DroneU sent you!
Crystal Sky Large Monitor (waiting to test it) I still use my iphone as a screen.
Inspire 1 Drone Field Kit:
SmartPower Charger: Colorado Drone Chargers (testing one now)
2 Sets of Props: Always have extra props and replace your props every 10 flight hours. And i wouldn't recommend flying in the heat above 105 degrees.
Dual Remotes: If you're going to live stream, this is a necessity.
Ipad Mini 4: I still prefer my phone.
Hoodman: You need a hood for the ipad.
nd filters: Again the secret to epic footage.
Z3 Camera: Best for live streaming.
X5 Camera: The high resolution stills camera. I recommend Vic's Oly Trinity of lenses in the his aerial photography course inside Drone U.
Inspire 2 Kit:
Charging hubs: haven’t found one yet.
Lightning cables: Because you always need 3.
hoodman: Because everyone needs a hood for there ipad screen! I believe this is the best one.
Camera Backpack Related:
This is what i take with me just about everywhere. Literally everywhere, we’re drone pilot buts we must deliver packages of video, in order to increase the production value, this is the kit i use to accomplish non-drone related tasks!
Joby Gorilla Tripod: http://amzn.to/2ukBBcd
GoPro session 5: easy to conceal and add a random camera angle.
Osmo + (carried in the mavic backpack)
Benro Mini-Tripod with phone attachment (again for timelapses)
Press Pass: To save on luggage!
10 Brand new lens clothes (i also give them out for marketing)
Business Cards: vistaprint
Protective Case for SSD: http://amzn.to/2uar0Eo
Mobile Office Related:
You’ve got to have hazard lights if you ever pull off on the road to fly, but also you want to make sure you stay connected on the road. From a cell tower booster that really works to a simple good cup of coffee, this is what i tote around!
Keurig Cafe Bustelo Coffee: The best coffee ever .
Charki: Lamb Jerky that is unreal good!
Full tool box with Harbor Freight fillings: Always keep a tool box in the car!
Truck Lights: EasyNew 20” 120w Strobing controller for when you have to pull off to the side of the road on a private property, for which you have permission to fly. This makes your mobile vehicle look legit, and provide hazard lights to traffic. Not recommended for real estate shoots.
Power Inverter (Pure Sine Wave):
Lesson number 1-100 back up your data.
Drobo Backup Storage
I highly recommend backing up your footage right away, then in a separate place (like a drobo) and maybe in a third place like an editing SSD.
This guide is meant to help those who are navigating the drone life. They may be turning their passion into profit with DroneU, or simply flying for fun. Either way, I think this could actually help out a lot more people than just drone pilots. The mobile office may seem funny to some, but after 3 years of working on the road, you quickly realize what’s important to always have in the car.