When you think of getting a drone, you probably envision those nice camera-mounted drones everyone talks about. But why simply fly your regular drone in the garden when you could convert it into something truly amazing?
Ready to take your drone projects to a whole new level? Let’s get started!
1. Strap a Machine Gun to It
One of the rising military threats in the world is that of the armed drone, a topic that we covered in unstoppable drone security threats.
It’s common knowledge that militaries around the world are starting to use armed drones in locations that are too dangerous to send in ground troops, but did you know there are civilians who are making DIY armed drones as well?
Let me introduce you to FPSRussia, a Russian blogger who demonstrated “Charlene”, a drone armed with a submachine gun with a 100 round clip. It can fly up to 30 miles-per-hour and a quarter-mile high.
As you can see, it’s capable of delivering some pretty drastic damage to just about any target. However, according to FPSRussia, the technology won’t be available on the mass market for another 15 years. Not only that, but this is a military gadget, not something you want to be flying around in your back yard.
However, if you are interested in building your own armed drone, there are options.
DIY drone enthusiasts can mount a BB machine gun on a drone, just like YouTuber Absorber of Light did in this video.
Some of components you’ll need to build this drone include:
- CD drive motor.
- Plastic pen body with a slit cut out of the side.
- Servo to “trigger” the BBs entering the pen body.
- Very small funnel to hold the supply of BBs.
- Clear plastic tubing for “positive air pressure” from under one propeller.
- Wireless servo and rocker-panel switch to arm the gun motor.
- Wireless server and momentary switch to shoot the gun (feed the pellets).
- Battery (or tap off the drone power supply if available).
Since this setup is essentially a stand-alone BB-gun mount and doesn’t require integration into the drone itself, it could be mounted on top of your existing drone. This assumes your drone has the weight-carrying capacity. Or you could build your own homemade drone just for this purpose.
2. Remotely Cast Your Fishing Line
There are many cool uses for drones that can enhance your life, like receiving packages or enhancing security. But you may be surprised to learn that even an activity like fishing can be enhanced by the use of a drone.
This video presents a bunch of uses involving some of the more recently invented drones out there, but one of the most surprising is the Aguadrone.
The Aguadrone floats on saltwater or freshwater, and it comes with advanced electronics attachments that can aid people who love fishing. What are those attachments? You can attach a fishfinder pod, a waterproof camera pod, and a remote bait-casting pod.
It’s that last one that’s especially exciting. If you’ve ever gone fishing where you’ve tried to cast your line out far, especially when sea fishing, it can be very difficult to get your line exactly where you want it to go. With this drone, you can just clip your line to the drone, land it where you want your line to go, and then release the line into the water.
It’s the next generation of fishing!
Believe it or not the whole concept of “drone fishing” is becoming a growing movement across the world. People who are passionate about both fishing and technology are using their drones for “remote line casting”. Now people can stand on a beach and get their fishing line far out into the deep water, with no more effort than a 60 second drone flight over the swells.
If you’re thinking of joining this growing movement, here are some of the basic things you’ll need:
- Any drone will work.
- A coat hanger (or quick-release downrigger clip).
- Duct tape.
- A fishing pole, fishing line, and bait.
Once you get the drone over the spot where you want your bait in the water, you just give the line a small tug. It either slides off the slightly upward-bent coat hanger, or off the quick-release clip. Either method works well.
With a drone, you can really boost your odds of catching those prize fish you always dreamed about, but could never reach!
3. Capture and Report Illegal Activity
If you’re an environmentalist, you probably care deeply about how animals are treated in the food production industry. Some journalist environmentalists care so deeply in fact, that they’ve obtained leaked videos from inside farms (or food factories) in order to reveal horrid conditions for animals (such as video exposed in the film Forks Over Knives).
Drones are joining the arsenal these journalists use to expose “big agriculture” and the crimes (or at least unethical activity) sometimes committed in that industry against animals.
But if you’re planning to start using drones for spying, you have to keep a few things in mind, unless you want to end up in jail.
- Never trespass onto private property (flying over private land) with a drone. This is illegal in most places.
- Never try to “spy” on government facilities or bases. This is a federal crime.
- Never fly a drone near emergencies to get footage. This can interfere with emergency crews.
- Don’t record people without their consent.
If you’re going to use your video drone as a form of journalism, that’s fine. In fact this kind of journalism, especially in an effort to expose wrongdoing, is a great thing. However it’s important to adhere to ethical principles of journalism, as well as studying and following all drone use laws in the area you’re hoping to investigate.
Drones are a new, and powerful tool, for any journalist. But like any other activities involved in investigative journalism, you have to use common sense to stay out of trouble.
4. Make Money From Aerial Photography
Want to be really crazy with your drone? Why not try being crazy like a fox and making a boatload of money from your investment?
If you own a drone that can capture high definition video or photos, and have a good working knowledge of how to control that drone to capture high-quality footage, then you’re well situated to start your own aerial photography company.
What kind of people hire aerial photographers?
- Real estate companies that want a bird’s-eye view of a property.
- Yacht owners looking to sell their boat.
- Couples looking for a wedding photographer.
Note that you will need a permit from the FAA; you can’t use a drone commercially without one.
However, if you’re looking to take this seriously, you’ll need to invest in some very high quality photography equipment that you can mount to a drone.
If you’re looking for some inspiration, check out Rob’s list of breathtaking drone photography.
5. Fly It Into a Volcano
Speaking of breathtaking photography, have you ever considered flying your video drone directly into the top of a live volcano?
Check out the photos this National Geographic team captured by sacrificing several Phantom II drones just above the lava lake.
Don’t worry, you don’t have to sacrifice your drone to capture equally amazing footage. All you need to do is drive or fly to a location that’s as remote as possible, with excellent opportunities for breathtaking aerial nature photos.
Some natural landmarks to look out for:
- Hidden lakes inside a mountain range.
- Large waterfalls.
- Just about any mountain.
- Cliffs or canyons (craters are great for aerial photography).
- Water’s edge (either ocean coastline or lakeside locations).
These locations are ripe with natural, geological structures that look stunning from the air. Once you set up your launch location and settle in, launch your drone, and start exploring the landscape around you.
A few important things to keep in mind if you plan to start this hobby:
- Most national parks don’t allow drones.
- Try to leave wildlife undisturbed.
- Try to use low-noise drones if possible.
- Avoid areas with tourists; the more remote the better.
The reason most national parks in the U.S. have banned drones is because they can become a nuisance to both park visitors and park wildlife. If you stick to very isolated areas, you’re less likely to bother anyone while capturing your aerial nature photos.
6. Cook With It
You’ve owned your drone for a while, flown it hundreds of hours, and you’re running out of ideas for how to make good use of your drone. Well, how about cooking with it?
No, seriously. Think about it. The propellers are great for slicing soft veggies or skinning fruit, and what better way to plop things inside a hot boiling pot of water without burning yourself than using a drone?
This may seem silly to a lot of people. I mean, it’s hard to imagine risking damage to your $200 drone by using the propellers to slide and dice food. But for food affectionados who love drones, maybe it’s a marriage made in heaven?
If this strikes your fancy, go ahead and give it a shot. We’d love to see your culinary drone-masterpieces in the comments section below.
7. Connect LEDs for an Awesome Light Show
If you’ve ever put on a nighttime party and want to have a great light show at the end of it, you’ve probably discovered just how expensive fireworks are.
Well if you own a drone or two, there’s no need to blow your money on fireworks. Just hook up a string of LED lights to several drones, and you’ll have an unforgettable light show your guests will be talking about for years afterward.
This is an inexpensive and non-complicated drone project.
You can buy great LED lights for your drone on Amazon, which come with everything you need to integrate the lights into your drone’s power system (make sure you buy the strips that are made for your specific drone).
8. Build an Ornithopter Drone
If you are a drone enthusiast then you’re more than likely familiar with the ever-present multirotor drones most people use, and maybe even the fixed wing drones that are in use out there. But did you know there’s an entire movement of drone enthusiasts who are trying to mimic the flight patterns of birds with “Ornithopters”?
Orni—as in ornithology—relates to birds. Ornithology is the study of birds. So, an Onrithopter is basically any machine that can fly through the use of flapping wings.
Check out this DIY Onithopter, and make sure to watch to the end ot see its successful flight.
This is by no means a simple DIY project. However, the materials required are relatively easy to obtain and inexpensive. You can find everything you need from your local hobby shop.
If you want a more basic approach, this video shows you how to build a very basic elastic-powered ornithopter.
But with just a few upgrades, you could replace that elastic band with a small electric motor (and various servos to control the direction of the tail feather) for a more advanced, remote-controlled ornithopter.
Want more inspiration? Check out the “SK Slow Hawk” in flight.
With just a little bit of imagination (and probably a lot of hobby supplies), the sky is the limit when you’re inventing new ornithopters.
9. Extreme Sports: Human Flying Drone
Okay, so a drone that’s large enough to pull a snow skier up a steep ski slope might be prohibitively expensive for most people. But just watching this video of a drone that’s powerful enough to send this skier airborne over the mountains is pretty exciting.
It makes you wonder whether there will be a day when drones like these (rather than boats) will pull water skiers across lakes and oceans. Or what about drones that could lift a tourist up to a stunning view of a mountain vista from several thousand feet in the sky? When drones are powerful enough to lift humans, the only limit is imagination.
And maybe a safety concern or two.
10. Build a Hoverbike
His contraption included two parajet motors and propellers and what is basically a welded metal frame with a seat and handlebars in the middle. It’s a contraption the likes of which could potentially land someone as a winner of a Darwin Award.
Could you build one of these yourself? Probably, with a bit of welding skill, and an understanding of how to control electric motors. However, placing your body in the middle of two massive swirling blades is not something I’d ever recommend anyone try at home.
What Have You Done With Your Drone?
Now that drones are powerful enough to lift objects (and even people!), the potential uses for them continue to skyrocket all the time. Do you own any kind of drone? If not, check our guide to the best drone deals.
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