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MM, arguably the best invention since sliced bread - Drone newbie - long read.

Mynah

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Location
South Africa
Once in a while one buys a piece of equipment that impresses so much that you feel like buying one extra to store in a cupboard, just in case they stop making it, my Bernina 950 industrial sewing machine, Daystate AirWolf MVT PCP air rifle were some of those, and now, the Mavic Mini.

Drone flying was on my bucket list of hobbies, I listened, watched and postponed as battery, mini camera and GPS tech evolved, and Chinese craftsmanship improved.

So I saw an ad for 'refurbished' MM's and the price looked right so I took the leap, little knowing what pleasant advanced tech surprise awaited me! I am a big fan of acquiring 'slightly used' toys, my belief being that 'Friday production mistakes' were already sorted out by the previous owner. The 'refurbished' MM is as new, no matter how hard I looked for traces of previous ownership, I could not find any. Sealed, packaged, new battery and warranty as for new, I'll anytime buy a 'refurbished' DJI product again, this way the savings can be put to use for luxury accessories.

My first obstacle to overcome was the mental block of letting expensive toys, be it cameras, microscopes, metal detectors or anything else valuable simply buzz off into the unknown without me maintaining physical contact with it. (The original capital outlay for the MM had by now grown considerably, phone upgrade, memory cards, extra battery to name but a few, most of which will become paperweights if ever the Mini disappears over the horizon.) This here forum to my rescue, the info is all here, and I absorbed it like a sponge. Steep learning curve but its all here.

My main considerations for wanting a spare Mini in the cupboard:

-It's light and compact. (I do a lot of multi day backpack hiking in the most exquisite locations, every extra ounce counts.)
-As for drone tech, the AI complications are kept to a minimum since it's an 'entry level' model. (As a born individualist I prefer doing things manually as far as possible, this force me to understand and appreciate the hardware and operational principles involved.)
-It is relatively inexpensive as hi-tech hobbies go, the amount of hi-tech for money spent is mind boggling compared to a fancy hand held GPS for instance.
-The camera on this 249gram wonder is very acceptable. (I was an aerial photographer during the infamous Angola border war era doing my national service in the South African Air Force. We used Vinten camera pods mounted to aircraft wings shooting 12 inch wide roll film to record visual detail from the air. All while being shot at sometimes. And here I have a 249g UAV with resolution enough to show me my dog’s long lost tennis ball on my house rooftop from 50m up on an image covering almost a whole street block.)
-It uses uncomplicated easy to maintain battery tech. (My cameras all run on Li-ion batteries, never ever let me down and eventual deterioration is predictable.)

I live in a small town here in South Africa, but with a small tower-less airport nearby, mainly used by recreational pilots and they often push the low-flying rules over town during weekends since the river makes for a nice scenic aerial view and the low-flying for a nice show-off to tourists and girlfriends. That was my first concern, so I set out to determine the height of local obstacles like trees, cell towers and church steeples around me. This would determine the minimum alt any pilot would dare to fly at and that also helped determining my minimum RTH alt. I suck at judging height I soon realized; as good as I am at judging distance, (brought upon by shooting and hiking.) I am fortunate to have wide open uninhabited space next to me, so I could practice hand-eye stick co-ordination and RTH maneuvers before setting off too far by sitting on my garage roof for optimum VLOS. With the roof being metal I had to learn to take-off and land from ground level some distance off since the MM compass would certainly be influenced taking off from said metal roof. Gimbal tilted down in C mode does the remote landing trick.
DJI_0291web.jpg

We are forced to do the CE thing here in South Africa so the initial 480m range was a slight let down, knowing that the ‘Mericans can go much further in FCC mode and they do not pay more for their MM’s than us with our weak ZA currency. And we have the wide open spaces here in South Africa. So I set out to improve the range without breaking laws. I first built a pair of temporary parabolic reflectors using a condensed milk tin and a pool noodle. I gained almost 50% in range. Then I fired up my Cantennator App I use for designing radio antennas and built 2.4 GHz yagi’s using Kydex moldable knife sheath material and 3mm aluminum rods I use for pinning on knife handle scales. The yagi’s and reflectors gave me 1500m range at least... I was happy, so I ordered factory made yagi’s and reflectors knowing that it works. I won’t need more that 1500m since I plan to spend flight time doing photography instead of trying to break distance records.IMG_20210519_125059.jpg

IMG_20210519_125415.jpg
My first long distance test was conducted during a hike last weekend on an escarpment near the Mozambique border, but wind warnings made me high-tail it back long before I ran out of signal.
DJI_0395.JPG
So far the single biggest challenge flying the MM was wind awareness. I have a Kestrel hand-held weather station from my precision air rifle shooting kit that comes in very handy but wind up there and down on ground level is a different story altogether as everyone cautions. And when there are mountains involved even more so. The AC orientation display in Fly App comes in very handy in observing wind matters while up there. I took the MM in hand while looking at the orientation display, tilted it every which way to see the changes in orientation display and that correlates with the way the Mini battles wind during flight. Once that was understood I knew when to back off or when to push my luck. The golden rule, learnt over and over from this forum is to NEVER fly distance down-wind; you have to battle up-wind back home with low battery levels.
My biggest let-down so far was hiking/climbing 500m into a treacherous gorge with optimistic plans to film a spectacular waterfall from bottom to top with the MM, only to see it default to ATTI mode over water and for the lack of GPS signal and it refused to ascend more than 5m, as per user manual. And then the ‘hand landing’ procedure in ATTI mode resulted in a dual between desperate me to ‘save’ the Mini and a stubborn Mini, the final outcome being me with a sliced finger, bleeding like a pig, and the Mini sitting safe in its carry case with not even a damaged prop. You live, you learn...and climb 500m back up again.
IMG_20210517_154456.jpg
Things I’ve noticed:

Low light capabilities in photo mode exceed that of video mode, reason being that shutter speed in photo mode drop as low as a full second with ISO pushed to 3200, it cannot possibly maintain 25fps video frame rate while exposing for a full second. The stability in hover is mind boggling to produce relatively sharp images at a full second exposure time, NO way it can be done by hand without a tripod, even though we are talking super wide angle lens here.
Untitled_Panorama1.jpg

The extra 20 deg upward gimbal movement (often forgotten) allowed for by enabling ‘Allow Upward Gimbal Rotation’ comes in handy when composing landscapes with lots of sky; I managed nice panoramas of very interesting cirrus cloud formations.
pano5web.jpg
Signal drop-off while using Yagi’s at end of transmission range is much more sudden than with standard antennas, not much warning before it suddenly happens. Yagi’s and parabolic reflectors are by design very directional, good VLOS and a far away landmark used for orientation makes things easier.

I religiously run a screen capture app while flying, this allows me to do a quick review of stupid things I did and system messages I received while hyped up on adrenalin. (I had a case of an ant hitching a ride on my gimbal, I swore UFO until I had a look at the freeze frames of my screen capture. Scary stuff.)

After coming back from my 450km trip to the hiking spot on some rough roads the Mini seemed more paranoid with wind warnings than usual. It might have been my imagination, but after watching a Youtube video on IMU calibration I performed such using a bubble level and flat surface. I have never done so since getting the Mini and it seems the Mini complains less often about wind conditions.

I hope to be soon comfortable enough flying so I can start concentrating on some aerial photography.
DJI_0116web.jpg

DJI_0155web.jpg

Thanks again to every contributor on the forum, without your wisdom and experience I would have been Mini-less within the first few days of flying.

PS: DJI Fly has just updated to Ver 1.4.2
 
Yes, a nice write up. Some nice photos as well. Except that gory one, OUCH!

Very nice DIY on the Yagi booster.
My first obstacle to overcome was the mental block of letting expensive toys, be it cameras, microscopes, metal detectors or anything else valuable simply buzz off into the unknown without me maintaining physical contact with it

I had a similar reservations. I flew R/C aircraft, both fixed wing and rotary winged aircraft. I always worried about a potential fly away due to signal loss or equipment failure, they did not return on loss of signal back then. I have the Mini 2 and even though she should come home on loss of signal like the MM, I still think about it when I get far out. I often refer to it as a flying money sack with $450 in it, just to make a point to my non-flying friends. ?

Just a reminder for a MM that may end up in the cupboard, read the battery section of the manual carefully. These types of batteries need maintenance and can be permanently damaged, and their capacities reduced or worse, if allowed to set for too long.

Have fun, it looks like you have an almost infinite subject matter where you live.
 
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Once in a while one buys a piece of equipment that impresses so much that you feel like buying one extra to store in a cupboard, just in case they stop making it, my Bernina 950 industrial sewing machine, Daystate AirWolf MVT PCP air rifle were some of those, and now, the Mavic Mini.

Drone flying was on my bucket list of hobbies, I listened, watched and postponed as battery, mini camera and GPS tech evolved, and Chinese craftsmanship improved.

So I saw an ad for 'refurbished' MM's and the price looked right so I took the leap, little knowing what pleasant advanced tech surprise awaited me! I am a big fan of acquiring 'slightly used' toys, my belief being that 'Friday production mistakes' were already sorted out by the previous owner. The 'refurbished' MM is as new, no matter how hard I looked for traces of previous ownership, I could not find any. Sealed, packaged, new battery and warranty as for new, I'll anytime buy a 'refurbished' DJI product again, this way the savings can be put to use for luxury accessories.

My first obstacle to overcome was the mental block of letting expensive toys, be it cameras, microscopes, metal detectors or anything else valuable simply buzz off into the unknown without me maintaining physical contact with it. (The original capital outlay for the MM had by now grown considerably, phone upgrade, memory cards, extra battery to name but a few, most of which will become paperweights if ever the Mini disappears over the horizon.) This here forum to my rescue, the info is all here, and I absorbed it like a sponge. Steep learning curve but its all here.

My main considerations for wanting a spare Mini in the cupboard:

-It's light and compact. (I do a lot of multi day backpack hiking in the most exquisite locations, every extra ounce counts.)
-As for drone tech, the AI complications are kept to a minimum since it's an 'entry level' model. (As a born individualist I prefer doing things manually as far as possible, this force me to understand and appreciate the hardware and operational principles involved.)
-It is relatively inexpensive as hi-tech hobbies go, the amount of hi-tech for money spent is mind boggling compared to a fancy hand held GPS for instance.
-The camera on this 249gram wonder is very acceptable. (I was an aerial photographer during the infamous Angola border war era doing my national service in the South African Air Force. We used Vinten camera pods mounted to aircraft wings shooting 12 inch wide roll film to record visual detail from the air. All while being shot at sometimes. And here I have a 249g UAV with resolution enough to show me my dog’s long lost tennis ball on my house rooftop from 50m up on an image covering almost a whole street block.)
-It uses uncomplicated easy to maintain battery tech. (My cameras all run on Li-ion batteries, never ever let me down and eventual deterioration is predictable.)

I live in a small town here in South Africa, but with a small tower-less airport nearby, mainly used by recreational pilots and they often push the low-flying rules over town during weekends since the river makes for a nice scenic aerial view and the low-flying for a nice show-off to tourists and girlfriends. That was my first concern, so I set out to determine the height of local obstacles like trees, cell towers and church steeples around me. This would determine the minimum alt any pilot would dare to fly at and that also helped determining my minimum RTH alt. I suck at judging height I soon realized; as good as I am at judging distance, (brought upon by shooting and hiking.) I am fortunate to have wide open uninhabited space next to me, so I could practice hand-eye stick co-ordination and RTH maneuvers before setting off too far by sitting on my garage roof for optimum VLOS. With the roof being metal I had to learn to take-off and land from ground level some distance off since the MM compass would certainly be influenced taking off from said metal roof. Gimbal tilted down in C mode does the remote landing trick.
View attachment 129480

We are forced to do the CE thing here in South Africa so the initial 480m range was a slight let down, knowing that the ‘Mericans can go much further in FCC mode and they do not pay more for their MM’s than us with our weak ZA currency. And we have the wide open spaces here in South Africa. So I set out to improve the range without breaking laws. I first built a pair of temporary parabolic reflectors using a condensed milk tin and a pool noodle. I gained almost 50% in range. Then I fired up my Cantennator App I use for designing radio antennas and built 2.4 GHz yagi’s using Kydex moldable knife sheath material and 3mm aluminum rods I use for pinning on knife handle scales. The yagi’s and reflectors gave me 1500m range at least... I was happy, so I ordered factory made yagi’s and reflectors knowing that it works. I won’t need more that 1500m since I plan to spend flight time doing photography instead of trying to break distance records.View attachment 129482

View attachment 129483
My first long distance test was conducted during a hike last weekend on an escarpment near the Mozambique border, but wind warnings made me high-tail it back long before I ran out of signal.
View attachment 129484
So far the single biggest challenge flying the MM was wind awareness. I have a Kestrel hand-held weather station from my precision air rifle shooting kit that comes in very handy but wind up there and down on ground level is a different story altogether as everyone cautions. And when there are mountains involved even more so. The AC orientation display in Fly App comes in very handy in observing wind matters while up there. I took the MM in hand while looking at the orientation display, tilted it every which way to see the changes in orientation display and that correlates with the way the Mini battles wind during flight. Once that was understood I knew when to back off or when to push my luck. The golden rule, learnt over and over from this forum is to NEVER fly distance down-wind; you have to battle up-wind back home with low battery levels.
My biggest let-down so far was hiking/climbing 500m into a treacherous gorge with optimistic plans to film a spectacular waterfall from bottom to top with the MM, only to see it default to ATTI mode over water and for the lack of GPS signal and it refused to ascend more than 5m, as per user manual. And then the ‘hand landing’ procedure in ATTI mode resulted in a dual between desperate me to ‘save’ the Mini and a stubborn Mini, the final outcome being me with a sliced finger, bleeding like a pig, and the Mini sitting safe in its carry case with not even a damaged prop. You live, you learn...and climb 500m back up again.
View attachment 129485
Things I’ve noticed:

Low light capabilities in photo mode exceed that of video mode, reason being that shutter speed in photo mode drop as low as a full second with ISO pushed to 3200, it cannot possibly maintain 25fps video frame rate while exposing for a full second. The stability in hover is mind boggling to produce relatively sharp images at a full second exposure time, NO way it can be done by hand without a tripod, even though we are talking super wide angle lens here.
View attachment 129488

The extra 20 deg upward gimbal movement (often forgotten) allowed for by enabling ‘Allow Upward Gimbal Rotation’ comes in handy when composing landscapes with lots of sky; I managed nice panoramas of very interesting cirrus cloud formations.
View attachment 129489
Signal drop-off while using Yagi’s at end of transmission range is much more sudden than with standard antennas, not much warning before it suddenly happens. Yagi’s and parabolic reflectors are by design very directional, good VLOS and a far away landmark used for orientation makes things easier.

I religiously run a screen capture app while flying, this allows me to do a quick review of stupid things I did and system messages I received while hyped up on adrenalin. (I had a case of an ant hitching a ride on my gimbal, I swore UFO until I had a look at the freeze frames of my screen capture. Scary stuff.)

After coming back from my 450km trip to the hiking spot on some rough roads the Mini seemed more paranoid with wind warnings than usual. It might have been my imagination, but after watching a Youtube video on IMU calibration I performed such using a bubble level and flat surface. I have never done so since getting the Mini and it seems the Mini complains less often about wind conditions.

I hope to be soon comfortable enough flying so I can start concentrating on some aerial photography.
View attachment 129486

View attachment 129487

Thanks again to every contributor on the forum, without your wisdom and experience I would have been Mini-less within the first few days of flying.

PS: DJI Fly has just updated to Ver 1.4.2
Loved your story and photos. Great job. We also love South Africa, having been on safari there numerous times.

Quick question- did you buy the refurbished mini directly from DJI in China on the DJI web site? I am in process of acquiring a MM2 to slip into my carry on for upcoming trip to Tanzania andKenya. It is impossible to get official approval and permit despite months of writing. So I am just going to bring it in, and willing to sacrifice it if needed endnote lose my expensive M2P. I just want to take photos above the safari camps, have no intention of taking it on the daily game drives.
 
Loved your story and photos. Great job. We also love South Africa, having been on safari there numerous times.

Quick question- did you buy the refurbished mini directly from DJI in China on the DJI web site? I am in process of acquiring a MM2 to slip into my carry on for upcoming trip to Tanzania andKenya. It is impossible to get official approval and permit despite months of writing. So I am just going to bring it in, and willing to sacrifice it if needed endnote lose my expensive M2P. I just want to take photos above the safari camps, have no intention of taking it on the daily game drives.
Dale, I bought the refurbished Mini from a DJI authorized dealer here in South Africa. Don't know about further North up in Africa but down here game wardens are very pedantic about drones flying near their territory, reason being that poachers use drone tech to track down wildlife in the bush. All of South Africa's national wildlife parks are no-fly zones for drones.
 
Dale, I bought the refurbished Mini from a DJI authorized dealer here in South Africa. Don't know about further North up in Africa but down here game wardens are very pedantic about drones flying near their territory, reason being that poachers use drone tech to track down wildlife in the bush. All of South Africa's national wildlife parks are no-fly zones for drones.
Thanks for that. I've been in every African nation , more than once, usually two or three at a time. I am well aware of the poacher problem and feel strongly about them being caught and put away forever. That is the excuse they always give. However, every single African safari company I have ever dealt with provides glorious drone footage in their advertising. If you ever watch the famous wildlife couple, Derek and Beverly Joubert's stuff it is FILLED with drone footage showing lions swimming from above, elephants from above, and wildebeest, etc. Thus, a drone for thee, but not for me.

I have common sense and know when and where I can shoot. Mostly, I want establishing shots of camps or a high view of herds. There are many examples on their web site. Here is but one example. Establishing shots of camps and vehicles on safari is what I am interested in. The wildlife will be captured by the 600mm lens I am bringing.
 
Just a reminder for a MM that may end up in the cupboard, read the battery section of the manual carefully. These types of batteries need maintenance and can be permanently damaged, and their capacities reduced or worse, if allowed to set for too long.
DJayl what I usually do with Li-ion batteries of equipment not regularly used is draining them to 30% then seal them in a Zip-Loc plastic bag with silica gel and store them in the fridge, NOT freezer at around 4 degC. This way I get optimal lifetime from them. But that said, I'll be using all available Mini batteries regularly, the 'spare Mini' will be sitting in the cupboard minus battery :)
1621735120873.jpg
 
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Another observation flying the Mini:
Capture.jpg

The Fly app fortune cookie 'warning message' surprises are seemingly unending.. Operating at 1638m (5374ft) above sea level it conjured up this message, (see photo), not to be confused with the max alt reached, or the max safe level reached or any of those messages, this is a new one to me. It was well below the advertised 3000m service ceiling, and I honestly did not notice any perceivable degradation in performance.
 
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An update after a month of a LOT of fun:
71 km, that is just over 44 miles and the 2 Li-ion batteries I'm using are showing no signs of deterioration. Tested a LOT of 'what if' scenarios and very cautiously determined the Mini's physical limitations. And again, thanks to all the contributors to the forum, search function being my best friend. The only 'hiccup' I experienced was a prop screw that worked itself loose somehow, but I detected a 'funny' sound when starting up the Mini one day and immediately powered down again and inspected. So, be aware of your Mini's sound, it tells you things.. And I'll be inspecting prop screws as usual pre-flight check instead of the suggested 60hrs flight time inspection. I sparingly applied Loc-tite and problem was solved.
I have not flown bigger drones, but the Mini's capabilities given it's size astounded me. I hear about 'they almost all blow away' but I'm suitably impressed with the 250 gram performance, can almost call it a 'flying Li-ion battery' it weighing only slightly more than the battery :) I've had close shaves, but did what everybody tells you to do, lower ALT and be always aware of wind conditions, I'm lucky to have a few strategic tall trees around and watch their tops do see what wind is like 'up there'. And I do heed the system warnings.
So the 'add-ons' all arrived, factory yagi's and reflectors to replace my home-made ones, a must have, especially the 2.4 ghz ones given the Mini does not sport 'occusync'. I have flown out to 1500m with ease using the yagi's only with CE limitations and all.
The OEM prop cage is a nice to have but I'll rarely use it, it triggers 'payload mode' and the drone battles to carry it, also makes the Mini VERY noisy.
1050758.jpg
I have done some indoor flying without them, very carefully, in C mode, given the DVS can read the floor surface the Mini is very stable without SAT signal, chased around some mosquito's and looked on top of my cupboards for dust.

Then I received a 'searchlight' gadget for the Mini from China, basically a very tiny AAA flashlight with bracket to fit the Mini, very bright and some fun can be had with it but again, not a necessity. It also triggers 'payload mode'. I often trick the Mini with a Led Lenser headlight during take-off to silence the 'bad lighting condition' warning, once above 10 meters the DVS quit operating anyway and the Mini is VERY stable during night flying given it has good GPS sat reception. I also got 4 'beacon' led's from China, very lightweight, about 10g all 4 and color programmable, but I have not fitted them yet. (We do not have the weight restriction thing here in SA, only need to register when you apply your drone for commercial purposes.) But every gram added to the Mini results in less-than-optimal performance at the end of the day.
P1050796.jpg

Then clip-on landing skids, very light and handy for rough terrain but they clip onto the bottom air vents and the Mini is the only DJI drone without cooling fan so I'd rather not use those extensively on hot days. And a very handy clip-on lens hood and gimbal protector.
This pic of what's left of last week's 'blood moon' here in the Southern hemisphere with the Mini coming back from its first successful automated waypoint photo-mapping mission, it sporting the skids and gimbal protector.
P1050811.jpg

I have not had so much fun with a single toy since I got my first Matchbox dinky toy at age 6, a Studebaker with sliding roof :) And then, just when I thought I've tried all the Mini can offer, I purchased Litchi, and lo-and-behold, the 'beta tester' option offers waypoint missions for the Mini :) Of course I just HAD to find a use for it so I set out to program a mission to map the open field adjacent to me, it will soon go up in flames, vagrants set it on fire every year so I can do precise repetitive mapping of the area to show before, after and spring regrowth over time for comparison. I only need to save the mission parameters and run the mission again later in the year.
Here's the mission plan I put together using the sat view and measuring the coverage area of a single shot from the Mini from a given ALT. I then used Photoshop to do the layout of waypoints on scale to the sat pic. I also included a standard pic of my yard, (I'm planning on painting my roof soon so will see before and after shots) and finally, a panorama of the surroundings on the same mission for time record.. I use 'Mission Hub' on PC to do the initial planning and waypoint commands, it is transferred to the phone via Litchi automatically when starting Litchi's waypoint function. Once loaded on the phone 'airplane mode' can be activated on the phone for the mission.
Capture_6.jpg
The resulting photo is a 9 photo 47mp collage with immense detail, stitched together with either Photoshop or Microsoft's Image Composer Editor. Now, coming from a 250g 'entry level' drone flying 'beta' software that impressed me.
DJI_0027_stitchWEB.jpg
I now also have automated pano functions on the Mini, it needs some touching up though, for instance; doing night shots the drone changes course before the exposure is finished, resulting in streaking. The Mini's camera is capable of one second exposures when faced with very low light levels.
DJI_0942.jpg
Easily solved though by adding a 3 second 'do nothing' command after every photo taken, this gives the camera time to finish exposing and writing to card before the Mini moves. Adding same command before every photo also gives the Mini time to stabilize before the camera goes into action:
DJI_0940.jpg
I can now start concentrating on getting some photography done with the Mini. I feel fairly comfortable with flying it safely. Doing a backpack hike into the bundu soon again and I'll gladly leave a liter of water behind to accommodate the Mini in my backpack :)
DJI_0069web.jpg
And have I done the Litchi thing sooner, it would have saved me upgrading my phone, Litchi runs on my 2014 11 inch Samsung Tablet AND on my old phone. I could have bought a spare Mini with the money saved!
Thanks for letting me share, safe flying!
 
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Seems like you are making good use of your Mini.
Still, I have to wonder if you will ever get your money's worth out of it.?

I hope Litchi will be available for the Mini 2 soon, adds some nice features to the Minis.

I too enjoyed Matchbox cars and Hot Wheels. But my first autonomous vehicle was a toy car called the Amazamatic. A cardboard strip with various cutouts steered the car in some "pre-programmed" patterns, and a few blank strips to create your own. Still, I think Litchi would be more fun, certainly more useful ?

Nice post.
 
Seems like you are making good use of your Mini.
Still, I have to wonder if you will ever get your money's worth out of it.?

I hope Litchi will be available for the Mini 2 soon, adds some nice features to the Minis.

I too enjoyed Matchbox cars and Hot Wheels. But my first autonomous vehicle was a toy car called the Amazamatic. A cardboard strip with various cutouts steered the car in some "pre-programmed" patterns, and a few blank strips to create your own. Still, I think Litchi would be more fun, certainly more useful ?

Nice post.
DJayl, thanks for the compliment, got my money's worth out of it all right :) Albeit only playing with it, here in SA you need to register the moment you earn money with it commercially and just about every guy calling himself photographer is doing just that already. So I'll be using my Mini recreationally, trying NOT to think of the shots I've missed during my travels and excursions to exotic locations in Namibia and here in South Africa doing fine-art photography :(
 
So I finally got around to fitting the Mini into a Pelican case for safe transportation on rough bundu trips and I needed to decide what is worth packing and what can be done without gadget-wise. So I tested the Mini-searchlight gadget again, this time using a Duracell AAA battery which shaved a few more grams off the Ni-MH battery I used for testing first time around. The Mini was happy with the extra 35 gram payload, did not enter payload mode and the gadget proved useable after all. @newtodrones123 asked about searchlight possibilities in another thread so I did a few pics, he'll have to wait though for Aus to change their night flying prohibitions. So then a storage hole was cut into the foam of the Pelican case for the 'searchlight' :)
1622823278664.jpg

DJI_0345.jpgDJI_0353.jpg
 
Same here, if you use the drone to make money, you need to register the drone and get a license(part 107).
But the fun and nice photography opportunities totally mean we get our money's worth out of the Mini 2.
I too wish I would have had the drone earlier in my life, though I have not been to very exotic locations. But at least I have some nice ground-based photos of those times before the drone.?

As an non-pro without a license, I think I am also prohibited from night flying, though I can fly 30 minutes before dark starts or ends, so still able to make some sunset/sunrise photos. Have only made one group of sunset pictures so far, but want to do more.

If your flashlight can take rechargeable LiPo batteries, some of those are fairly light and over 3x the voltage of NiMH and over 2.5x voltage of alkaline, as well as significantly more current than either. I carry a cheap flashlight with a LiPo battery, constantly impressed with the illumination capability of that no-name flashlight.
 
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With lights on your MM and and a good camera with long exposure facilities you can create light paintings :)
Example (amongst many, many): Reuben Wu Reuben Wu
 
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With lights on your MM and and a good camera with long exposure facilities you can create light paintings :)
Example (amongst many, many): Reuben Wu Reuben Wu
Thanks for that link, truly inspirational photography and techniques there!
 
So the Mini hitched a ride in my backpack on a two day mountain hike to 'Cannibal Cave' near the Lesotho border. And as expected, a totally new dimension was added to my hiking endeavors. The sandstone mountain range is the remains of a massive ancient lake-bed. I have observed dinosaur skeletons embedded in the sandstone on previous hikes. This hike offered a nice example of primitive San Bushman rock art, an eland antelope painting in ochre. I just had to photograph it with the Mini of course :) , and the Mini kept it's cool even under the rock overhang hanging onto DVS for the lack of GPS signal.
DJI_0840.jpg The overnight spot, the temperatures plummeted to -1 deg C that night, hence the tents.DJI_0858.jpg
'Mushroom Rock'
DJI_0875.jpg
And a sunset shot that would not have been possible without the Mini, the rock window is 180m AGL.
DJI_0857.jpg
Me, dwarfed by the enormity of the sandstone formation.
DJI_0811.jpg
The additional 700g the Mini, controller and 3 batteries take up in my backpack on a bundu hike is a totally worth its weight in gold for the photographic possibilities it offers.
DJI_0905.jpg
Now we patiently wait for inter-provincial lockdown restrictions to be eased so we can tackle the next hike that had to be cancelled.
 
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So the Mini hitched a ride in my backpack on a two day mountain hike to 'Cannibal Cave' near the Lesotho border. And as expected, a totally new dimension was added to my hiking endeavors. The sandstone mountain range is the remains of a massive ancient lake-bed. I have observed dinosaur skeletons embedded in the sandstone on previous hikes. This hike offered a nice example of primitive San Bushman rock art, an eland antelope painting in ochre. I just had to photograph it with the Mini of course :) , and the Mini kept it's cool even under the rock overhang hanging onto DVS for the lack of GPS signal.
View attachment 131596 The overnight spot, the temperatures plummeted to -1 deg C that night, hence the tents.View attachment 131597
'Mushroom Rock'
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And a sunset shot that would not have been possible without the Mini, the rock window is 180m AGL.
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Me, dwarfed by the enormity of the sandstone formation.
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The additional 700g the Mini, controller and 3 batteries take up in my backpack on a bundu hike is a totally worth its weight in gold for the photographic possibilities it offers.
View attachment 131601
Now we patiently wait for inter-provincial lockdown restrictions to be eased so we can tackle the next hike that had to be cancelled.
Thank you Derek for these comprehensive posts on the Mini.
I'm a new member and new to drone piloting. I have already learned a lot from reading about your tests and experiences.
Your photos look wonderful by the way.
 
Just a reminder for a MM that may end up in the cupboard, read the battery section of the manual carefully. These types of batteries need maintenance and can be permanently damaged, and their capacities reduced or worse, if allowed to set for too long.

First thing I though when I read spare MM in cupboard, ensure the battery(ies) are used in with your others.
Looks like the OP has that in mind in a later post.

I would also use the 2nd controller every now and then, to keep that battery in good order.

You are certainly getting your moneys worth from the MM.
Beautiful country @Derek ZA enjoy the walking when you can get out again more.
 
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