.net programming, computers and assorted technology rants

Be Like the NSA and Build Your Own Aerial Drone

Courtesy , ArsTechnica.com

“What exactly did you say you were trying to do again?” the ranger asked me as we stood on a seawall at Fort McHenry, taking turns winding in hundreds of feet of kite string attached to a nine-foot kite.

The kite, a nine-foot delta wing, had landed near a channel marker buoy and was now a nine-foot delta wing sea anchor. Tethered to it was a modified plastic food container encasing a very wet Android phone that was never intended to be a submersible. As we pulled the kite in, I asked myself the same thing—what the hell was I doing?

What I was trying to do was replicate what the military, government agencies, and private companies typically do with satellites, aircraft, and drones: get a bird’s-eye view of the Earth’s surface and create a photographic map.

Instead, my attempt at do-it-yourself aerial mapping quickly turned into a fiasco involving a squadron of US Park Service rangers, a few dozen puzzled tourists, and the flagpole that stood where the Star Spangled Banner once flew. I only mapped the limits of my own sense of humor, the patience of the National Park Service, and the contours of the bottom of the Patapsco River. An effort I planned since August was starting to look like a complete failure.

Fortunately, dear reader, I am not easily deterred.

Read More…



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