Drone spies on RAGBRAI at Marble Rock

http://ift.tt/1ny6imW   Marble Rock — In one sense, RAGBRAI is just an overgrown parade, so riders are accustomed to being watched. But they felt more watched than usual here, under the curious buzz of local Bill Bucklen’s remote-controlled drone. The $1,300 Chinese quadricopter spun its four propellers up to 300 feet next to the road, far enough for safety but close enough to shoot bird’s-eye photos of the spandex parade. Technically, the three-pound gizmo is a DJI Phantom 2 Vision-Plus, but Bucklen just calls it Ludwig. Its namesake was a local pilot, John Ludwig, who took off on cross-country plane trips in the ’60s and ’70s from the airstrip he built in a cornfield near town. The gadget hit the market in April. “It’s the first real high-performance, self-contained photography drone,” Bucklen said. Until now, a hobbyist had to separately buy and assemble his or her drone, camera, and camera mount, but the new model is all-in-one. Bucklen’s controller simply hooks up to his iPhone, which serves as a viewfinder. “It really is a very well engineered, well arranged system,” he said. He took Ludwig out for a spin, gently steering it first high for a panoramic shot then low for a selfie. It responded to even the slightest nudge of the joysticks. “You have to keep the drone at the right elevation, pointed in the right direction, going the right way, with the camera angle set right,” he said. “It’s kind of tricky to fly.” Bucklen planned to post the day’s photos online at http://ift.tt/1x8qxZJ — Michael Morain

Bill Bucklen's remote-controlled drone flies over the grass near RAGBRAI Riders.

Bill Bucklen’s remote-controlled drone flies over the grass near RAGBRAI Riders.

Bill Bucklen's remote-controlled drone flies over the grass near RAGBRAI Riders.

Bill Bucklen’s remote-controlled drone flies over the grass near RAGBRAI Riders.

Ludwig , Bill Bucklen's remote-controlled drone, flies near riders for a birds eye view of the route.

Ludwig , Bill Bucklen’s remote-controlled drone, flies near riders for a birds eye view of the route.

Bill Bucklen displays his DJI Phantom 2 Vision-Plus, which is a remote-controlled drone.

Bill Bucklen displays his DJI Phantom 2 Vision-Plus, which is a remote-controlled drone.

 

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