Product Reviews

I Heart RC Hobby is your source to learn more about airplanes, drones, etc. We'll try it before you buy it!

Read More

How-to videos, tips and tricks

Learn tips and tricks from the experts that will help you get the most out of your Remotely Controlled planes, drones, etc.

Read More

Drones at CES 2017

The second half of my day at CES was spent in the drone section. Wait…let me rephrase that. CES is one big drone section, sprinkled with other stuff. People are finally getting it!  If companies aren’t selling drones at CES, there is a pretty good chance that what they sell can be used for drones. Although the look is much more polished than it was a few years ago the innovation was mostly in the sensors and the utility. I didn’t see any earth shattering technology that filled a technological hole in the drone industry.

The Mota company has drones that look like they were inspired by the Parot Company, and others that are a rip of of a DJI Phantom. It’s a stylish and sexy product in black.20170105_142415

Codrone has an interesting little product that allowed the user to customize the drone into wheeled vehicles, or quadcopters and a few other variations. The setup also allows the user to learn code for programing the drones. It’s a nice way for children to learn and grow with drone technology.


Lego is also joining in the drone and robot business. 20170105_143537 20170105_143552

With so much drone technology coming from China, you end up with some really strange company names coming from poor translations.20170105_143951 20170105_143958 20170105_144020 20170105_144023

I hadn’t seen this body style yet.20170105_144107 20170105_144110 20170105_144219 20170105_144302

Getting more on the industrial side of the house.20170105_144355

This years CES featured more utility coming from the drone industry. I can only imagine this is a response to the FAA opening the door for commercial use of drone. Check out this crop dusting drone below. 20170105_144401 20170105_144405 20170105_144413 20170105_144506 20170105_144516 20170105_144520 20170105_144534 20170105_144638 20170105_144650 20170105_144725

Still lots of consumer grade drones at CES. I guess those who thought drones were a flash in the pan, something that would be big for one Christmas and then gone, are now realizing that drones are cool and they have to have one. 20170105_145139 20170105_145142 20170105_145220

This one isn’t on the market yet, but they are boasting 57 MPH speeds.20170105_145228 20170105_145230

Now it’s time to make drones aquatic.20170105_145737(0)

Racing drones are a growing niche within the drone industry. 20170105_145737



Radio control airplanes…plane and simple.
20170105_154340 20170105_154344 20170105_154557 20170105_154601 20170105_154607 20170105_154704

The moment you’ve all been waiting for… DJI presents…20170105_154715 20170105_154730 20170105_154736

A really cool paint job!20170105_154744 20170105_154815 20170105_154820 20170105_155119 20170105_155125 20170105_155218

Ehang released their 184 at last year’s CES, I didn’t hear of any significant update on it’s progress.
20170105_155225 20170105_155236 20170105_155259 20170105_155303 20170105_155309 20170105_155403 20170105_155505 20170105_155515 20170105_155533 20170105_155540 20170105_155749 20170105_155757 20170105_155826 20170105_155937 20170105_160119 20170105_160154 20170105_160210 20170105_160214 20170105_160303 20170105_160442 20170105_160445 20170105_160450 20170105_160634 20170105_160647 20170105_160810

The Hover camera is cooler than I thought.

Something about this makes me say… “Wow, that’s cool…” I think it’s because they made all the parts. i.e 3D printed wheels, etc.20170105_160933 20170105_160939 20170105_160948 20170105_161529

The Lily Drone never made it to production, but the rip off version is here!20170105_161550 20170105_161559 20170105_161647 20170105_161653 20170105_161657 20170105_161700 20170105_161745 20170105_161752 20170105_161757 20170105_161839 20170105_161844


3D printers at CES 2017


I had to start my CES experience at Mark Forged, where I met the legend himself “Greg Mark,” CEO of Mark Forged. He has a big smile on his face because they just released a 3D printer that prints in metal and costs less than $100,000. Ladies and gentleman…that is a first!!! (You can see the machine behind me to the right in the picture above.) The “Metal X” as they call it is considerably larger in size than any of the other machines produced by Mark Forged. The Metal X also prints parts that require a considerable amount of post processing (basically an oven).
20170105_122733 20170105_125507

The part on the left was printed using the Mark Forged ONYX material on the Mark 2 3D printer. A really incredible FDM machine. I am probably bias because I own one of the original Mark One machines.  The Mark One was a great Nylon printer, but a below average composite printer, which is what the machine was designed to do. Supposedly the Mark Two has fixed all the problems they had on the Mark One. Now with the Mark Two you can fit fiber into really small parts, and the fiber jamming issues associated with the Mark One are gone. Not to mention the Mark Two has added another material to it’s list of capabilities and can print in the ONYX material (As seen in the pictures)20170105_125539

Another really interesting 3D printer is the “Carbon” printer which used a Process they call CLIP or Continuous Liquid Interface Production. The parts basically grow upside down as they are pulled from a solution. The advantage of this process is that the finish on the part is very smooth. Historically the parts created using similar processes were also very weak. The creators of the Carbon printer claim to have solved this issue by creating very strong parts using a “Cyanate Ester” material which their testing shows is comparable to Nylon15GF. Before you get too excited, the price tag might slow you down a bit. Carbon machines are nearly 4 times a comparable FDM machine. Instead try ordering parts from one of their service providers Sculpteo.

The next printer comes from Zmorph3D. I thought this printer was very stylish to look at but a very average 3D printer until I found out the print heads can be switched out with lasers and routers which makes this machine much more exciting. The idea of having a desktop CNC machine makes sense. Now you can laser engrave labels, and trademarks, mill your wooden parts and extrude your additive manufactured parts. It’s all-in-one, it’s like a Walmart of 3D printers.



My daughter is really into robots right now, and they are featured prominently at CES. Although they are still very gimmicky, with the advent of Smart Home technologies, these little robots are actually gaining utility. You might just find yourself telling a robot to “turn off the lights, Arm the alarm, order milk.”20170105_130223

Drone regulations: The FAA’s new rules FAR 107

This post is intended to cover much of the new rule making material published by the FAA, it is not comprehensive and should be used for information only.

Use the following link to access the information for getting licenced with the FAA.

Basic licensing requirements:

  • Be at least 16 years old
  • Be able to read, speak, write, and understand the English language
  • Be in a physical and mental condition that would not interfere with the safe operation of the small UAS
  • Fulfill training and testing requirements (online course – if licensed, or Knowledge test) and requalification tests every 24 months.

After taking the test or online application for licensed pilots you must:

  1. Submit an online application using IACRA
  2.  Meet with an FAA-authorized individual [3] to validate your:
      • IACRA application ID number
      • FAA Tracking Number (FTN)
      • Identification
      • Online course completion certificate
      • Pilot certificate
      • Flight review documentation (in accordance with 14 CFR part 61.56)
    1. Receive a temporary certificate in person (or if meeting with a CFI, receive email notification to print and sign a temporary certificate through IACRA)[4]
    2. Receive a permanent certificate by mail

Before operating a UAS, the remote PIC must first:

  • Before operation, mark the small UAS to identify that it is registered with the FAA.
    • Visible or accessible. The number may be enclosed in a compartment only if you can access the compartment without tools.
  • Remote PIC must maintain and inspect the small UAS prior to each flight to ensure that it is in a condition for safe operation. (no airworthiness certificate is required).
  • Preflight should include:
    • Assess the operating environment
    • Inform any supporting crewmembers about the operation and their roles
    • Inspect the small UAS to ensure that it is in a condition for safe operation
    • Maintain documents required in the event of an on-site FAA inspection
    • Local weather conditions
    • Local airspace and any flight restrictions
    • The location of persons and property on the surface
    • Other ground hazards

    Before any small UAS operation, inspect the aircraft for equipment damage or malfunctions.

    For example, ensure that:

    • All control links between the control station and the small unmanned aircraft are working properly
    • There is sufficient power to continue controlled flight operations to a normal landing
    • Any object attached or carried by the small unmanned aircraft is secure and does not adversely affect the flight characteristics or controllability of the aircraft
    • The unique identifier is readily accessible and visible upon inspection of the small unmanned aircraft

    Visit the Resources page to access a sample preflight inspection checklist.

    You must make available to the FAA, upon request, the small UAS for inspection or testing.

    In addition, you must verify before flight that all required documentation is physically or electronically available in the event of an on-site FAA inspection. Such documentation may include:

    • Pilot certificate
    • Aircraft registration
    • Any necessary waiver, authorization, or exemption
    • Other documentation related to the operation

Small UAS:

  • weigh less than 55 lbs.

FAR 107 does not apply to the following: 

  • Model aircraft that meet the criteria in 14 CFR part 101.41 (describes circumstances in which model aircraft can be operated safely in the NAS). For more information, see AC 91-57 (as amended).
  • Amateur rockets
  • Moored balloons or unmanned free balloons
  • Kites
  • Operations conducted outside the United States
  • Public aircraft operations
  • Air carrier operations

Note: Remember that hobby and recreational use that meets the requirements of 14 CFR part 101 is not required to be operated in accordance with 14 CFR part 107. However, a hobbyist or Government entity conducting a Public Aircraft Operation (PAO) has the option to operate wholly under part 107 if all part 107 requirements are met.

Registration of Small UAS

– Like other types of civil aircraft, most small UAS must be registered with the FAA prior to operating in the NAS

  • Owners must register any small UAS that is greater than 0.55 lbs and operated under part 107.
  • The owner must satisfy the registration requirements described in 14 CFR part 47, Aircraft Registration, or part 48, Registration and Marking Requirements for Small Unmanned Aircraft for commercial operations. If the owner is less than 13 years of age, then the small unmanned aircraft must be registered by a person who is at least 13 years of age.
  • 14 CFR part 48 establishes the streamlined online registration option for a small UAS that will be operated only within the territorial limits of the United States.
  • Visit the Resources page to access:
    • FAA guidance on small UAS registration and marking
    • FAA’s online UAS registration website

Defined Crew Roles in a Team Environment

– A small UAS operation may involve one individual or a team of crewmembers. Part 107 defines the following small UAS crew roles:
  • Remote Pilot in Command (Remote PIC): A person who holds a current remote pilot certificate with a small UAS rating and has the final authority and responsibility for the operation and safety of the small UAS
    • The ability for the Remote PIC to immediately take over the flight controls may be achieved by using a number of different methods.
      • Use a preprogrammed safe-mode system with “home” or “hover” functions
  • Person manipulating the controls: A person controlling the small UAS under direct supervision of the Remote PIC
  • Visual observer: A person acting as a flight crewmember to help see and avoid air traffic or other objects in the sky, overhead, or on the ground
    • The use of VOs is optional.

Operating rules for UAS:

  • Maintenance Requirements

    Scheduled Maintenance: If the small UAS or component manufacturer does not provide scheduled maintenance instructions, it is recommended that you establish your own scheduled maintenance protocol.

    For example:

    • Document any repair, modification, overhaul, or replacement of a system component resulting from normal flight operations
    • Record the time-in-service for that component at the time of the maintenance procedure
    • Assess these records over time to establish a reliable maintenance schedule for the small UAS and its components.

Unscheduled Maintenance: Do not conduct flight operations until the discrepancy is corrected.

  • Must remain within visual line of sight: The small unmanned aircraft must remain within visual line-of-sight (VLOS) of flight crewmembers. Visual line of sight means any flight crewmember (i.e. the Remote PIC; person manipulating the controls; and visual observers, if used) is capable of seeing the aircraft with vision unaided by any device other than corrective lenses (spectacles or contact lenses).Crewmembers must operate within the following limitations.
    • Minimum visibility, as observed from the location of the control station, must be no less than 3 statute miles
    • Minimum distance from clouds must be no less than 500 feet below a cloud and 2000 feet horizontally from the cloud.
  • Night time operations: 14 CFR part 107 prohibits operation of a small UAS at night, defined in 14 CFR part 1 as the time between the end of evening civil twilight and the beginning of morning civil twilight, as published in the Federal Air Almanac, and converted to local time. In the contiguous United States, evening civil twilight is the period of sunset until 30 minutes after sunset and morning civil twilight is the period of 30 minutes prior to sunrise until sunrise. When small UAS operations are conducted during civil twilight, the small UAS must be equipped with anti-collision lights that are capable of being visible for at least 3 statute miles from the control station.
  • Speed restriction: Cannot be flown faster than a groundspeed of 87 knots (100 miles per hour)
  • Altitude restriction: Cannot be flown higher than 400 feet above ground level (AGL) unless flown within a 400-foot radius of a structure and is not flown higher than 400 feet above the structure’s immediate uppermost limit
  • Operation near Aircraft: Right of Way Rules

    No person may operate a small unmanned aircraft in a manner that interferes with operations and traffic patterns at any airport, heliport, or seaplane base. The Remote PIC also has a responsibility to remain clear of and yield right-of-way to all other aircraft, manned or unmanned, and avoid other potential hazards that may affect the Remote PIC’s operation of the aircraft. This is traditionally referred to as “see and avoid”.

    To satisfy this responsibility, the Remote PIC must:

    • Know the location and flight path of his or her small unmanned aircraft at all times
    • Be aware of other aircraft, persons, and property in the vicinity of the operating area
    • Be able to maneuver the small unmanned aircraft to:
      • Avoid a collision
      • Prevent other aircraft from having to take evasive action
    • Avoid operating anywhere where the presence of his or her unmanned aircraft may interfere with operations at the airport, such as approach corridors, taxiways, runways, or helipads
    • Yield right-of-way to all other aircraft, including aircraft operating on the surface of the airport

    First-person view camera cannot satisfy ‘‘see-and-avoid’’ requirement. However, such cameras can be used as long as the “see-and-avoid” requirement is satisfied in other ways.

  • Operation in Certain Airspace

Many small UAS operations can be conducted in uncontrolled, Class G airspace without further permission or authorization. However, operations require prior authorization from Air Traffic Control (ATC) in Class B, C, and D airspace and within the lateral boundaries of the surface area of Class E airspace designated for an airport.

Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFRs) are inclusive of small UAS operations.

  • Operation Over People
You may not operate a small unmanned aircraft directly over another person unless that person is:
– Directly involved in the operation (such as a visual observer or other crewmember)
– Within a safe cover, such as inside a stationary vehicle or a protective structure that would protect a person from harm if the small unmanned aircraft were to crash into that structure

Protecting Non-Participants

To comply with limitations on small UAS operations near persons not participating in the operation, the Remote PIC should employ the strategies described below.
  • Select an appropriate operational area for the small UAS flight
    • Ideally, select an operational area (site) that is sparsely populated
    • If operating in populated/inhabited areas, make a plan to keep non-participants clear, indoors, or under cover
    • If operating from a moving vehicle, choose a sparsely populated (or unpopulated) area and make a plan to keep the small UAS clear of anyone who may approach
  • Adopt an appropriate operating distance from non-participants
  • Take reasonable precautions to keep the operational area free of non-participants


Operation from Moving Vehicles or Aircraft

14 CFR part 107 permits operation of a small UAS from a moving land or water-borne vehicle over a sparsely populated (or unpopulated) area. However, operation from a moving aircraft is prohibited.

Additionally, small unmanned aircraft that are transporting another person’s property for compensation or hire may not be operated from any moving vehicle.

Transporting Another Person’s Property

You may also operate a small UAS to transport another person’s property (cargo) for compensation or hire provided you comply with the additional requirements described below.
  • The total weight of the small UAS (including the cargo) must remain below 55lbs
  • The small UAS operation must be within the boundaries of a State (intrastate)
  • No items may be dropped from the small unmanned aircraft in a manner that creates an undue hazard to persons or property
  • You may not operate the small UAS from a moving land vehicle or water-born vessel

No Careless or Reckless Operation: Part 107 also prohibits careless or reckless operation of a small UAS. Operating a small UAS while driving a moving vehicle is considered to be careless or reckless because the driver’s attention would be hazardously divided. Therefore, the driver of a land vehicle or the operator of a water-borne vehicle must not serve as the Remote PIC, person manipulating the controls, or visual observer.


  1. Lost link: program lost link procedures prior to the flight.
  2. Flyaway: If a flyaway occurs while operating in airspace that requires authorization, notify ATC as outlined in the authorization.

Accident Reporting

The Remote PIC must report any small UAS accident to the FAA, within 10 calendar days of the operation, if any of the following thresholds are met:
  • Serious injury to any person or any loss of consciousness
  • Damage to any property, other than the small unmanned aircraft, if the cost is greater than $500 to repair or replace the property (whichever is lower)

File the report:

  • Electronically, via the FAA online small UAS accident reporting website
  • By phone to:
    • The appropriate FAA Regional Operations Center
    • The nearest Flight Standards District Office (FSDO)