Police Turn to Pepper-Spraying Drones in Congested Indian City

Drones are popping up everywhere. They’ve been largely unfamiliar in India, but that’s changing. The police department in Lucknow, a populous city in the country, is the first to purchase five weaponized drones that can spray pepper on a rioting mob. The concept of aerial robots isn’t entirely new to the city, as they’ve been used for surveillance and imagery during religious festivities in the past, but this new substance-carrying variety is a novelty. Each one costs about $9,600 and can carry a load of 4.4 pounds.

On one hand, pepper-spraying drones seem like a good investment for the capital city of Uttar Pradesh, a state that has a complex history of communal clashes. There are concerns, however, that it could get incredibly complicated for drone operators to get a sense of the situation on the ground. While an officer on foot can easily discern miscreants from bystanders, drones could potentially target throngs of people with complete indifference to innocence. Despite this, they do give the police quick and easy access to situations that threaten public safety in a congested city like Lucknow, that is as popular for its kebabs as it’s dreaded for its traffic jams. Whether or not these drones prove to be appropriate for riot-like situations, their existence might even be enough to scatter a crowd when necessary.

Chimpanzee Whacks Camera Drone Out of Mid-Air with a Stick

Pro tip: Don’t fly your camera drone too close to chimpanzees. They might knock it out of the air using a stick.

That’s what happened to one camera drone user over in the Netherlands while flying a drone in a zoo’s chimpanzee habitat. One of the chimps decided that “enough is enough” when it came to bearing with the pesky and loud flying object.

The video was shared online yesterday by the Royal Burgers’ Zoo in Arnhem, Netherlands, one of the biggest zoos in the country.

While capturing a bird’s eye view of the chimp enclosure, one of the chimpanzees climbed up one of the structures and ambushed the drone as it flew by using a branch.

The chimps then gathered around the fallen drone to inspect their “kill.”

The zoo writes that the drone was completely destroyed by the attack, but that the GoPro survived with the unique footage seen above.

JJRC H8C (In-Depth Review)

The JJRC H8C (also known as the DFD F183) has become one of JJRC’s most popular mini quadcopters since it was released at the end of last year. This is a beginner quadcopter that was specifically designed to compete with the highly popular Syma X5C which has been around for some time.

At first glance, you’ll notice that the 6-axis H8C has a more exciting exterior design. This is especially true with the black version which has fluorescent green and silver livery that gives it a more racy look compared to the white Syma X5C which is beginning to look a bit dated. The H8C also has LED strips on all four corners of its main body, similar to the X5C.

If you’re already familiar with flying the X5C, you’ll notice that the H8C has a lot more power in its motors which makes it more responsive and accurate to fly. This is mainly due to more powerful motors in the H8C which run at 7.4V compared to the 3.2V ones in the X5C and other similar models. Although they provide more thrust and reserve power, these powerful motors do have their drawbacks which I will explain later.


  • Size: 240mm (diagonal)
  • Body size: 200 x 200 x 50mm (without propellers)
  • Weight: About 144g (with battery and camera/without prop guards)
  • Color: White, Black
  • Control distance: About 80m
  • Charging time: About 90mins
  • Flight time: 6 to 8mins
  • Battery: 7.4V 500mAh
  • Battery Dimension: 46*11*45mm
  • Battery weight: 23.3g

The H8C costs approximately $68 and is shipped with propeller guards, card reader, a spare set of propellers and a 2MP 720P HD camera that comes with a 2GB micro SD card. The transmitter is the same type that comes with many other JJRC mini quadcopters such as the F180.

One nice feature that the H8C has that is missing from smaller quadcopters is a power switch. In smaller models such as the F180, turning on the quad means connecting the battery plug. On the H8C, there is no need for connecting and disconnecting batteries thanks to the power switch.

With a diagonal motor size of 240mm, the H8C can be flown both indoors and outdoors. Although it’s not impossible to fly indoors, its size can be a bit of a problem especially if you live in a small apartment. When flown outdoors, the H8C can hold steady in winds of up to 5km/h. In winds of at least 10km/h or faster, it starts to struggle unless you fly it at 100% gyro sensitivity which I do not recommend since this can wear down your motors fast.

The H8C has some cool LED lights. The body has a strong resemblance to the Cheerson CX-20.


The H8C comes with a 2.4GHz 4-channel transmitter that has a mini LCD screen for displaying information such as throttle position, flight modes, battery power, radio reception and throttle trim. Binding the transmitter to the H8C is as simple as powering the quad up, turning on the transmitter and then moving the left throttle stick up and down. Before turning on the transmitter, the H8C’s LED lights will start blinking initially, indicating that it is ready to bind. Once binding is done, the LEDs will stop blinking.

A button on the upper left of the transmitter lets you toggle between 4 difficulty modes – 25%, 50%, 75% and 100%. At 25%, the H8C flies conservatively and is easier to control — a setting that’s ideal for beginners. At 100% it becomes more responsive and flies more aggressively.

The button on the upper right is the dedicated “stunt” button. Press this button when the H8C is flying and the transmitter will start beeping indicating the H8C is ready to perform a flip. To perform a flip, move the right stick in any direction while you hear the beeping and the H8C will flip in the direction you choose. For example, if you move your right stick up, the H8C will perform a forward flip and vice versa.

The control pad on the lower right is the aileron/elevator (right stick) trim while the lower left control pad is the throttle/rudder (left stick) trim. The lower left control pad can also be used to control the camera. Press down on the control pad to turn video recording on or off. To take photos, press the up button.


The H8C comes with a 2MP HD 720P camera that can record both video and stills on the included 2GB micro SD card. The camera is capable of supporting up to 4GB cards and is touted by JJRC as having better image quality than the X5C’s camera. I haven’t done any real comparisons between the image quality of these two cameras, but I seriously doubt anyone who owns a sub $100 mini quadcopter has any intention of doing serious aerial photography with it.

The H8C comes with a 720P HD camera that is capable of taking 2MP stills.

Premature Motor Failure

On paper, the H8C looks like it trumps the X5C in almost every key detail including flight time, weight and motor power and not to forget, a better-looking body. But in their haste to create a X5C killer, JJRC had forgotten to beef up on the H8C’s motors to handle the more powerful 7.4V battery which provides twice as much current as the X5C’s 3.2V battery.

Although the H8C’s motors are listed as slightly bigger at 0820 compared to the X5C’s 0720-sized motors, they are still not big enough to handle the extra current. Just months after it started shipping, a significant number of H8C owners started reporting premature motor failure with some experiencing their first motor failure as early as their third flight. Many more have experienced the same problem in less than 12 flights. The problem is so bad that a thread specially dedicated to the H8C’s motor failure problem has been created at the RCGroup forum for owners to share their experiences.

The motors on the H8C are its weakest link.

However, all’s not lost with the H8C. It is still possible to own and fly one without wearing off the motors prematurely. It is also important to note that most cases of premature motor failure are the result of aggressive flying which generate a lot of heat in the motors, hence one way to prevent the motors from over-heating is to simply fly the H8C at no more than 50% gyro sensitivity.

Owners have also resorted to replacing the stock bushing rings that hold the propeller shafts in place with ball bearings to reduce heat generated when the shafts are spinning. The bearings used are the ones that are specifically used by the WL Toys Skylark V636. Some owners have even applied lubricant on the propeller shafts and gearing to further reduce heat and friction.


Like any other beginner quadcopter that costs less than $200, the JJRC H8C isn’t perfect and you shouldn’t expect it to perform or last as long as a quadcopter that costs over $800. As you have already realized by now, premature motor failure is the H8C’s Achilles Heel. When purchasing cheap quadcopters that lack any real R&D, issues such as this can be a problem. It’s very obvious that JJRC did not perform any long term tests with the H8C prior to releasing it.

To stave off premature motor failure, you need to fly the H8C at 25% or 50% gyro sensitivity to rein in all that extra current. Flying the H8C at maximum power while doing flips in windy outdoor conditions might be fun but you’ll probably see your first motor failure within about a dozen flights. Fortunately, H8C motors come at an affordable price of $4 each and can be ordered at Banggood at this link.

The H8C is also available in white.

Unlike some mini quadcopters that cost over $60, the H8C does not come with ball bearings for its propeller shafts. Instead, it comes with cheap metal bushings that tend to produce a lot of heat due to friction. The power connector can also be an issue due to its rarity which makes it incompatible with other spare batteries that you might have lying around.

Other than these issues, the H8C is actually quite a solid mini quadcopter for beginners. If you wish to purchase one, it is advisable to buy some spare motors and a set of ball bearings to reduce heat generated by the propeller shafts.

The 3DR Solo Is One Scary-Smart Drone

GREAT DRONE FOOTAGE is mesmerizing, no matter what it depicts. (Exhibit A: This video of a truck driving through mud in super-slow-motion.) But perfect shots—the swooping landscapes, the hovering overheads—are hard to come by. A new drone from 3D Robotics (a company co-founded by former WIRED editor-in-chief Chris Anderson) is the beginning of a project to make it a little easier.

The $1,000 Solo drone (or $1,400 with a GoPro-holding gimbal included) is full of clever tools to automate and simplify shooting. There’s even a one-click way to take an ultra-dramatic selfie video. But one of the most impressive features is that the drone will be sold as an open platform, allowing hackers to tinker with the hardware and software.

The Solo, which will be available in May, is designed to be ready to fly right out of the box. This quadcopter is 3.3 pounds, all black, and vaguely threatening; it looks more like a drone you’d want sneaking behind enemy lines than one you’d want delivering your burrito. It has a simple controller, which looks like an old-school video game joystick, with a holder for your iPhone or iPad, which act as both the monitor for the drone and the remote control for the mounted GoPro camera. There are lots of helpful tools for newbie pilots, like a panic button on the controller that will stop the drone in its tracks wherever you are, and a flight simulator app so you can learn to fly a drone without risking crashing $1,000 into a wall. (Repeatedly.)

The Solo’s best feature, though, is its camera automation. In addition to the standard “follow me” mode, you can draw a line on your phone’s screen, and the Solo will fly back and forth along exactly that line while recording video. Pick an object and select “Orbit,” and the drone will fly a perfect circle, camera focused on your subject the whole time. And in selfie mode, the camera trains on you and flies away, epic-action-movie-style. You can control your GoPro settings in flight, too, which no other drone offers. The goal is for Solo to take great video without you doing much of anything, and then do even more as you get better.

A lot of these first features are made so flying and shooting video will be a little easier. But the second phase for 3DR and the Solo is to open it up—the company sees Solo as a platform, and has opened up both hardware and software in hopes that developers will build specific apps, crazy tricks, and unique functionality into the two computers on board the drone. Or, they can drop new sensors or chips into the accessory bay and do even more.

Drones are rapidly getting both more powerful and easier to master; DJI’s new Phantom 3, launched just last week, has a better camera, live-streaming capabilities, and a new positioning system that makes it much easier to fly. It’s also cheaper than the Solo, when you factor in a gimbal and a camera. But 3DR’s vision is bigger, and more open; it wants to be the Android of drones; extensible and customizable for purposes beyond even what it can conceive. And most of all, it wants to get everyone flying and shooting, because as anyone who’s flown a drone tells you, it’s hard not to get hooked.

Drone Home Videos No Longer Provoke FAA Wrath

Unlike other hardened lawbreakers, drone enthusiasts don’t always bother to hide the evidence. YouTube is blanketed with crimes against American airspace committed by private owners of unmanned aerial vehicles, which hasn’t escaped the notice of officials at the Federal Aviation Administration. In recent years, the agency has sent letters to scores of drone hobbyists who published videos in which federal flight rules have clearly been violated. Panicked recipients often pull down the proof of their infractions.

That cat-and-mouse game has come to an end. As part of its kinder, gentler stance toward civilian drones, the FAA has set a new policy against involvement in most cases involving drone hobbyists with YouTube hits. John Duncan, director of the FAA’s Flight Standard Service, told inspectors last week that they have no authority to order or suggest that drone videos posted online be removed. A video “is ordinarily not sufficient evidence alone to determine” that a drone flight violated federal rules, he wrote in a memo.

Any incident with a drone that imperils safety in U.S. airspace or creates a hazard for bystanders on the ground is still almost certain to receive a rapid response from regulators. That was the case in 2011, when the FAA leveled a $10,000 fine against a well-known drone videographer, Raphael “Trappy” Pirker, after he flew a drone over the University of Virginia to create a promotional video. The FAA faulted Pirker for unsafe operation of his five-pound drone in the course of commercial business, a distinction with continuing significance for regulators. After disputing the allegations, Pirker earlier this year paid $1,100 to settle the case without admitting guilt. Here’s the footage that prompted an FAA crackdown:

Safety inspectors “are expected to use critical thinking” when they encounter videos of drone flights, according to Duncan’s memo. The new policy came only days after the FAA said it would speed regulatory review of exemption approvals for commercial drone flights, a move the agency said illustrates its “flexible regulatory approach to accommodate this rapidly evolving technology.”

An FAA spokesman, Les Dorr, says the memo on drone videos was designed to ensure consistency in how safety inspectors approach the incidents. “Our goal is to promote voluntary compliance by educating individual [drone] operators about how to operate safely under current regulations and laws,” Dorr says.

Until now, after noticing a video depicting an illicit flight, the FAA has sent an “informational letter” to drone operators, explaining U.S. regulations and the types of operations that require FAA authorization, such as those granted to law enforcement, Hollywood film producers, and energy companies. Beyond the warning letters, FAA inspectors have also called drone flyers and left voice messages about the flights, says Brendan Schulman, a New York attorney who specializes in unmanned aviation law and who represented Pirker.

Recreational drone flights are generally acceptable during daylight hours, as long as pilots operate the machine at least five miles from airports and at altitudes below 400 feet. All this means you can now buzz your drone along the beach—even a nude beach, as this safe-for-work video from Hawaii shows.

Watch This Homeowner Shoot Down a Drone Flying over His Property

One video shows a drone hovering over a beautiful home in Southern California and you won’t believe what happened!

The homeowner ran out of his front door with a shotgun!

The drone flew away with the guy in hot pursuit. His friend was recording cell phone video of the wild chase.

The homeowner ran around his house, spotted the drone again, took aim, and fired.

Larry Breaux of Valencia, California, is the homeowner who shot down the drone. He told INSIDE EDITION he believes the drone was sent over his house in a deliberate act of harassment.

He told INSIDE EDITION, “I get an anonymous phone call on my answering machine, ‘Hey, get rid of your eyesore sign or you won’t have any privacy.’”

The sign is at the entrance of his property and it advertises a Kickstarter campaign to save money for an organic lemon business he wants to start.

INSIDE EDITION’s Jim Moret asked Breaux, “Do you believe that your neighbors are upset because you have that sign out there?”

He responded, “I believe one of them is.”

Breaux showed us how he was sitting next to a shotgun he uses to scare off coyotes when he saw the drone hovering outside his window.

Breaux told INSIDE EDITION, “I throw my cell phone to my friend, ‘Hey, videotape me.’”

He said he couldn’t get a shot off at first because the shotgun was on safety, but when he turned the corner, he managed to bring down the drone with a single shot.

Somehow Larry’s shot missed the computer chip that was recording video.

Breaux believes the person controlling the drone was standing on top of the hill which is on Larry’s property, and when he shot the drone out of the sky, he heard that person start to yell.

He showed us what could be a figure in the distance, but it’s impossible to tell for sure.

Breaux says he never found the owner of the drone and hasn’t reported the incident to the police.

The video is dramatic for sure, maybe almost too dramatic, and now we wonder if it was a set up for his Kickstarter campaign, which is soliciting donations online for his organic lemon business.

So, we had to ask, “What do you want to say to those folks who think you did this for publicity?”

He responded, “All I can say is it’s a true story and I’ve got the raw video on my phone but not on the drone, and it’s just a freak thing that the chips survived.”

Breaux has a Kickstarter page, showing he has raised a little over 400 dollars of the 60,000 he needs to start his organic lemon business.

His Kickstarter campaign utilizes drone video that looks awfully familiar to the video in question.

Jim Moret asked, “You don’t own your own drone?”

He replied, “No, never have.”

So, you be the judge. Is this a case of man versus drone — or something else?

Jim Moret concluded by asking, “Just for the record, you did not shoot your own drone out of the sky?”

He said, “I did not shoot my own drone out of the sky.”

Meet the Blackmagic Micro Cinema Camera, a Super 16 action camera with a Micro Four Thirds mount

Blackmagic revealed the Micro Cinema Camera today, a lightweight professional-grade action camera with a Micro Four Thirds lens mount. GoPros may be good enough for your extreme family vacation and your cousin Jeremy’s POV skateboard videos, but Blackmagic is counting on pro filmmakers needing more.

The Black Magic Cinema Camera borrows bits of technology from many different manufacturers to make for an incredibly versatile unit. At its core is a Super 16 sensor, about a third smaller than a conventional Micro Four Thirds sensor, but substantially larger than the sensors found in most action cams, the GoPro included. It can output Raw video with 13-stops of dynamic range (same quality we saw on the Pocket Cinema Camera).


The MCC offers both a rolling and a global shutter, the latter of which exposes the sensor all at once, eliminating the jello effect commonly found when using a rolling shutter for fast action shots. Recording is limited to 1080p 30fps when using the global shutter; when using the rolling shutter, users can capture 1080p 60fps in 12-bit Raw or ProRes.


The camera weighs in at 300 grams or 10.65 ounces; that’s about three times the weight of GoPro Hero4 Black, though press materials indicate it is still light enough to affix to a DJI Phantom 2 (one of the more affordable Phantom drone models available). In terms of size, the MCC is 82.5 x 69.5 x 65.4mm (3.25 x 2.74 x 2.57 inches).


On the back of the camera, where you might expect a screen (hint: there is none), you will instead find a mount for a Canon LP-E6 battery. The camera is quoted as being able to record for up to 90 minutes on a single charge.

The Blackmagic Micro Cinema Camera features an active Micro Four Thirds lens mount so you can use high performance photographic lenses including wide angle, primes, standard zooms, telephotos and more.

Unlike the touchscreen-centric controls of other Blackmagic products, the MCC instead has only physical buttons, 6 in total, located to the left of the lens mount. Also on the left is a full-sized HDMI output and a DB-HD15 expansion port. The expansion port can be used for any number of things, including wirelessly controlling the camera’s functionality via a model airplane remote control, or hooking up a wireless video transmitter. You can read more about the expansion port, and the vast number of possibilities it offers here.

On the other side of the lens mount you’ll find an SD card slot (SDXC- and SDHC- compatible), as well as a 3.5mm audio input. The unit also has a 1/4″ thread mount on both the top and bottom of the camera body. The body and lens mount, by the way, are made of magnesium alloy, so the unit should be able to survive encounters that plastic-bodied action cams would not.

The F-35 May Be the Last Manned Fighter Plane the U.S. Ever Flies

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter may be ridiculously expensive, horribly late, and perhaps not all it was cracked up to be. But according to Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, it has one truly distinguishing feature: It’s probably the last manned fighter aircraft the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps will ever buy.

In remarks made at a conference held just outside Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, according to U.S. Naval Institute News, Mabus said, “As good as it is, and as much as we need it and look forward to having it in the fleet for many years, the F-35 should be, and almost certainly will be, the last manned strike fighter aircraft the Department of the Navy will ever buy or fly.”

Mabus indicated the military is increasingly moving toward drones. “Unmanned systems, particularly autonomous ones, have to be the new normal in ever-increasing areas,” Mabus said.


The disappointing F-35 has cost the federal government some $400 billion to date – about $170 billion more than was forecast. It has failed to meet multiple performance standards specified by the different branches of the U.S. military. A highly critical report from the Department of Defense’s Director of Operational Test and Evaluation last month included a laundry list of problems, including engine fires and computer malfunctions.

The delayed deployment of the F-35 has left the 187 F-22s currently in the U.S. military’s inventory as the only currently available fifth generation jet fighters in the world.

The F-22 provides the U.S. military with air superiority over practically every other fighter plane on the planet. However, the F-22, itself a problematic piece of equipment that Congress stopped funding in 2009, is operationally inferior to the Russian T-50, which is reportedly going into regular production as soon as next year.

If Mabus is correct, and the move away from manned combat aircraft is imminent, the effect on the military contracting industry will likely be enormous. The U.S. has spent more on the F-35 alone than the entire GDP of all but about 30 countries in the world.

Drone production will undoubtedly take up a lot of the slack. However, without the necessity of carrying and protecting a human pilot, drones will be cheaper to produce and, at least potentially, less profitable for the companies that produce aircraft for the U.S. military.

Mabus had at least a little good news for the defense industry on Wednesday. The Navy, he said, is creating a new senior position for an official who will be in charge of coordinating its unmanned combat capabilities.

No word on how much money the new department will have to spend.

The Alta from Freefly Systems is one bad ass professional hexacopter

Freefly Systems has unveiled the Alta — its latest professional aerial platform for 2015 and one bad ass of a hexacopter. The Alta, which was showcased at the recent NAB 2015, features Freefly’s new Synapse flight controller and is aimed at professional aerial photographers. It also has carbon fiber arms that can be folded in horizontally to reduce its size for easy transportation.

Setting up the Alta takes only 5 minutes and it can carry a payload of up to 15lbs which means you can use it to take some serious photography gear up in the air such as Red, Arri and other professional cameras.

The Movi gimbal can be mounted at the bottom or on top of the Alta, giving you more creative freedom when filming (Photo by Jason Cole/RCGroups).

The Alta can be used with the Movi gimbal which can be mounted at the bottom or on top for some added versatility and creativity when filming in the air. Imagine mounting your camera on top of the Alta, flying under a bridge and pointing the camera upwards to film the underside of the bridge — this is one unique filming angle you don’t normally get with other aerial photography platforms.

The Alta’s arms can be folded inwards horizontally to reduce its size for easier transportation (Photo by Jason Cole/RCGroups).

The Freefly Systems Alta is scheduled to be released in June with a price of $8495. You can also pre-order one now with a deposit of $1000. For more details, visit Freefly Systems.

Blade Mach25 (Preview)

The days of 250-class quad racers that look like garage contraptions may just be coming to an end soon. Companies such as Blade have started introducing 250-class quadcopters that look more like finished products when compared to their naked counterparts that have exposed wires and components.

Enter the Mach25 — Blade’s official entry into the 250-class racer category. Unlike other 250-class racers built in the naked quadcopter style, the Blade Mach25 features a streamlined aerodynamic canopy designed by Mirco Pecorari from Aircraft Studio Design and looks more like an F1 car with four rotors. No exposed and unsightly wires, ESCs or flight controllers here. Everything’s tucked and hidden away neatly underneath that sleek canopy which is also available as a clear version on which you can apply your own custom paint job.

250-size drones such as the Blade Mach25 are popular models in drone racing (Photo by Jason Cole/RCGroups).

The only thing slightly exposed on the Mach25’s body is its 25mw micro FPV camera and antenna which protrudes up from its nose.

The Mach25 features a 2mm carbon-fiber frame with tough aluminum frame supports (Photo by Jason Cole/RCGroups).

Underneath the canopy is a robust 2mm carbon fiber frame with aluminum frame supports. The arms position the motors at a canted (tilted) angle of 10 degrees forward — a setup that’s favored by serious race pilots and allows for faster acceleration and lower flight angle for better camera visibility. To access the frame, simply unscrew and lift the canopy off.

The Mach25 canopy is also available as a clear version for those who wish to have their own custom paint job.

The Mach25 is shipped fully assembled so there is no need to assemble anything. All you need is a compatible transmitter, battery charger and FPV goggles to start flying it. Just charge the batteries, bind your transmitter and you’re in business.

If you don’t have a FPV goggle, you can still fly one though you only get half the fun.


  • Fully assembled, no building necessary
  • SAFE® technology makes FPV racing easy
  • Multiple SAFE enabled flight modes
  • Spektrum™ AR636QR DSMX® quad-racing receiver with pressure sensor
  • Spektrum 25mw ultra micro FPV camera system (installed, Ham Radio License Required)
  • Vibration-damping, carbon-fiber camera mount
  • Powerful 2300Kv brushless outrunner motors
  • Compact Castle Creations 4-in-1 ESC
  • Self-tightening hubs allow tool-free propeller replacement
  • Robust 2mm carbon-fiber frames with tough aluminum frame supports
  • Canted motor mounts for faster acceleration and higher flight speeds
  • Intense, multi-color LED lighting system (installed)
  • E-flite® 1350mAh 3S 11.1V Li-Po flight battery (included)
  • Streamlined body designed by stylist Mirco Pecorari of Aircraft Studio Design

The Blade Mach25 is one of the easiest Ready-To-Fly 250-class racer to set up and fly and heralds a new era for 250-class quadcopters. Hopefully more brands will follow suit and introduce similar offerings. It’s time we have more Phantom-like drones in the 250 class which is now still mostly dominated by self-build DIY kits.