We Have a Parrot... It's a... Drone!

It all started when our team of gardeners decided to prune the fir trees that line the garden and face the beach.

They had to use special machinery to get up there (very high actually) and do the job. One of them likes to take pictures and he sent us several photographs of our house as seen from the air... which meant that for the first time ever since we bought Les Tertres, we had a good view of the roof. A good view but a very incomplete one... Half of it that is!

In October, Popeye decided to go to Brittany for his birthday... He mainly wanted to go boating of course, which we did... of course!

A few weeks before, I had read an article about a toy-drone built in France.

I should mention that Popeye loves to fly miniature and very basic helicopters which only last a couple of weeks, usually...

The Parrot was the real thing though. A real drone complete with four rotors, a camera and controlled from an app on your iPhone or iPad.

Its name - The Parrot AR.Drone 2.0.

It looked nice and fun. I bought it. It really was a rash impulse! I liked the demonstrations on YouTube and I was pretty sure that Popeye would love to fly the little beast all over our land and above the house... and get nice movies from the flights.

(To tell the truth, I was a little bit worried since Popeye does not really like to get gifts for his birthday.)

Back to his Parrot which I managed to bring to Brittany in total secrecy (the box was quite big though)!

Popeye acted very surprised when I gave him the box after breakfast... and he truly was flabbergasted when he discovered what was hidden inside the wrapping paper!

The Parrot! At the time I did not know that he had read quite a few articles about the A.RDrone 2.0... and that he really was hoping to get one... not for his birthday though.

He was extremely happy and we started to watch the tutorials on the Parrot website... I could see that he was getting worried though. 

Popeye is a great sailor but new technology like a drone that you control with your iPhone feels a little bit out of his league. You know... all the setting-up... the Wi-Fi connection... Well, new technology...

His phone is to be used as a phone and certainly not as a remote-control nor as a monitor screen.

But he’s a brave man and I am not afraid of new technology so we tried to get the beast ready.

And then we called Swee’Pea because it was a lot of fun on YouTube but it was not this easy to control after all! Besides the fact that we had to start “playing” with it inside because it was very windy outside. (They sell it with a special device which looks like a big four-leaf clover and allows you to fly the Parrot inside your home!)

Swee’Pea cried out: “Wow! You’ve got a Parrot! This is so great! But guess what? My boss has one and he says it’s driving him insane!”

We were going insane because the thing was erratic... But I guess that we really did not get it working real well after all...

After a while and only because he did not want to break his new (and expensive) toy, Popeye said: “Let’s wait for Swee’Pea to come back from California and then we’ll have a lot of fun!”

And off we went boating which proved to be a lot more fun than our experience with the drone... But Popeye was still very happy about his Parrot!

Swee’Pea did come back from California for good and the three of us went to Brittany for Christmas.

And the fun did begin! Swee’Pea is great with this kind of technology... Give him an iPhone and he’ll turn it into a wonderful remote control right away. Give him a drone and he’ll fly it all over the place... (And not necessarily because he is a fully-fledged pilot now.) 

Getting ready for the first take-off

Well done!

Where is IT going? 
Popeye tried to keep really cool but boy, was he tense!

It was windy... and this did not worry Swee’Pea a bit! He loved to get the Parrot up as far as it could safely get with quite a strong southern wind and then down, hovering over the house and the garden and the moor.

Nice landing, Swee'Pea!

The movies the Parrot brought back are quite hard to watch without feeling a little bit seasick... but they are  a lot of fun though. Exactly the way I thought they would be...

"Refueling" and getting another range of a 10 mns flight
Imagine flying all over your fields and your garden and your house when you are still standing with your two feet in your garden while watching everything on your phone because it is real-time video after all!

Flying all over the countryside without actually taking off!

It kind of makes your head spin round, doesn’t it?

Of course, the Parrot never got really autostabilized! We are still hoping for some fine and calm weather next time we’ll be there...

Because Popeye did learn how to control it since it is his toy after all...

Never ever try to stabilize your Parrot manually even if you feel it is bound to crash due to high winds...

Never ever...

Because... it does crash!

And then you feel real' bad!

The Parrot’s last landing was a little bit rough... We all were expecting this to happen sooner but it crashed at its last planned sortie.

(Let’s use some military word there. It is a drone after all. A friendly one but so close to the real ones. The killers. Which can be a little bit scary when you do think about it.)

Right now, our AR.Drone 2.0 is resting. Back into its box. Waiting to be fixed. Popeye hurried to get the spare parts though. (In triplicate, you never know!)

We’ll be going back to Brittany in a few weeks... We no longer have cats but our Parrot will be on the back seat... This time, Popeye wants to take it down to the beach and fly it from there...

Does a drone drown?

*Good Luck, and Good Night*


Myrna said...

That looks like so much fun...seems that Craig and Eric T. had a similar kind of flying / camera device at one time...

Colleen said...

Actually, it was Michael. He flies planes though, not helicopters or drones. He's taken lots of amazing pictures with it. He straps a camera onto his plane and up it goes. So fun to read Marie's report!!

Eric Torrie said...

Great article and photos!! It has been too long since I looked at your blog! I need to come here more often! My mom is actually a bit mistaken.... Michael flies planes, and I have a multicopter (thats what they are calling the generic versions..).

Actually, right now I am working on building a new one, and it has a computer board on it with GPS and other sensors so in theory it should be able to fly around in the wind just fine, and even be controlled by clicking on a map on my laptop! We'll see how it goes and maybe I'll have to write a post about it on my blog!

Keep up the good work! Your home in Brittany looks gorgeous! Maybe I'll have to swing by sometime when you are up there and see the view!