Zerotech Dobby as GoPro instead of SLR?

Cycling is a beautiful sport in terms of tourism and sightseeing. Few hobbies allow you to spend all the next days exploring the surrounding areas. For me, an additional hobby is taking pictures of such trips. Yes, you can say that constant looking through the lens (which is a slight misuse in the case of eg GoPro) disturbs the perception of the world and instead of surviving, I keep pummeling these photos. Maybe it is, but I like both, and then later, for half a day, to choose a dozen or so of the thousand best snapped for 100km. It is obvious that over time it is increasingly difficult to take an interesting photo. Everything was already there. Fisheye is boring with time, the camera is hard and uncomfortable to carry, and the phone is hard to embrace what you want. The 21st century offers new solutions from year to year: sports cameras, 360 ° cameras, cameras embedded in something, drones ... Well, drones. Are these days in which we can put a drone into the bicycle pocket and go to Gassy by shooting several photos from the camera flying 50 meters above us on the way?


zerotech dobby

The Holocaust is near - digression


I am skeptical about cars, even though I make 30,000km a year. Cars, even super fast ones, are currently so cheap that practically anyone can afford them (after all, 300 horsepower, used Audi can be cheaper than the new Punto, and the suspension / wipers / brakes, etc. do not have to be thought then). Gasoline is also cheap in total, the result of which are cities and roads covered with cars. I have a busy intersection at work, I will not lie if I say that 93% of the cars are occupied by one person. I'm afraid that the drone will be similar. Currently, there are few of them, but the speed with which companies release new models and produce current increases quickly. Will fashion pass quickly - I doubt it. The problem is that the drone is not quite a toy.


Rose drone and rape


Regulations and warnings - jam is above it


zerotech dobbyI spent my youth with gaming machines, mastering the control of joysticks with everything I could. I know something about computers and telephones. Any texts that talk about security, regulations, etc., I ignored, because I am above it. It's for lamers, laymen and beginners. Because when it comes to regulations, it's hard - we have a shot in the face for good morning (if we do not have a finished course, and probably we do not have one), and then it is even worse. Some zones, reporting, prohibitions, conditions, etc.


Zerotech Dobby weighs 199 grams, which is less than the 0.6kg specified in the Act, thanks to which most of the restrictions do not apply to it. It all comes down to:

"According to the regulations, RPAS weighing less than 0.6 kg in CTR and ATZ at a distance of more than 1 km from the airport border, can carry out flights up to 30 m AGL without anyone being informed, or up to the highest obstacle such as trees or building objects located within a radius of up to 100 m from the operator. Less than 1 km from the airport border, flights are prohibited without the explicit consent of the manager. "


dobby drone visibility
At 30 meters, the drone can be seen like this.


Most drones, however, weigh more (Mavic exceeds the limit). We know well that nobody would observe these rules, because after all son, summer only in the park, nothing will happen. I thought so too, until the first time my compass calibrated to me during the flight ... I do not want kids to fly over my head the counterpart of a Coke Coke, let alone bigger toys. Why? Drop the can and look at what will happen if you fall. Or better, throw in someone in the crowd and see if I can find you later.

If you have already been discouraged from flying and reading about various zones and prohibitions, I remind you that we have the 21st century. You do not have to remember things anymore - we can install the application (eg DroneRadar) which, based on our positions, intents and weight, will show if we can use it. One problem with the head.


Miss Sky Choices


By limiting ourselves to the machines that we can fit in the cycling pocket, the choice becomes poor. Of the dozen or so devices that could potentially fit, 90% turn out to be Kickstarter projects that never saw the light of day. The drone must have folded wings, otherwise there is no chance to stuff it somewhere, because I will not attach it to the hypodermic seat .... I guess. So a lot of selfie inventions are gone Yuneec Breezewhich photos can and do better, but so what. The folded ones also fall away Xiro Xplorer Minibecause even if you can shrink them, protruding propellers will break quickly when you quickly insert and pull them out of the pocket.

I'm beginning to understand why no large and self-respecting manufacturer has invented a pocket drone yet - it must be difficult. The obvious choice seems Mavic Pro - it is too big and too heavy for the cyclist. It can be put into the pocket, but more than 30km I would not like to go with it. The device is to be an addition - preferably the size of the phone.


zerotech dobby size
It's so strange that I have two drones - one for sale, one for mine


On the battlefield, two quickly remain: Wingsland S6 and Zerotech Dobby. The other one wins because: his camera can be moved in the vertical axis (which turns out to be a bit useless for me), it is much more popular, has better technical guts, and thanks to the popularity it is easier to replace spare parts. When I start writing this, it costs about $ 400 when I finish - $ 350. For this, spare batteries for 50 $, spare propeller a few, some bag and stuff ... it gets a lot, but the price should be proportional to quality - the more expensive, the better, I think.


Zerotech Dobby - the perfect choice?


Dobby is only 25% heavier than the Samsung S7, the width and length is a little smaller, while the thickness is more or less 4 phones. After inserting into an empty pocket, it becomes practically imperceptible - a bomb! As for the look, it's perfect - spreading the wings is about 2, in gusts up to 4 seconds.


zerotech dobby
The camera can be controlled in the bottom-up axis, but only manually


As for the guts, there is everything I need, at least on paper: a proximity sensor from below, thanks to which I have no problems with taking off and landing on my hands. GPS, which allows him to return without a problem to the starting place, if we lose it or lose the range (hoping that there will be no trees on the way, because the detector is only at the bottom). 2GB RAM, 16GB memory, 4-core processor 2.3GHz, 4K camera (recording 1080p, because electronic stabilization clips video), taking photos in 12MP and control from the phone, so you do not have to carry the second pocket in the second remote. I do not know what more I could want.


The first launch and the first visit on the Internet


On the phone, launch the Do.Fun application (beautiful name) available on IOS or Android, spread the drone, turn it on while holding the button on the top, a few seconds pass, the phone automagically connects to the wifi and it's ready. We set the drone on the hand, click on the start application and it is already in the air. The control methods are 3, boil down to either tilting the phone or up to 2 joysticks, which in my opinion is the only right option. Standard - one up / down and rotation around its own axis, second left / right and front / back.


zerotech dobby
places that pass every day by bike, look a bit different from the sky


Initially, I do not know what to look at: a drone or a preview on the screen. From a height of about 30-35 meters it's hard to notice (I managed to fly a little over 50). Realistic coverage is limited by the WiFi antenna in the phone, but I would not count on more than 80-100 meters. With some external extender, people talk about 400 meters. Here the first discovery: flying a drone is not easy! Maybe if you have such a Mavica all-in for PLN 5000, the range is huge, the battery is capacious, and the stabilization systems are perfect - it's a bit easier. Zerotech Dobby is a toy. Extremely stable toy, which even with a fairly large wind manages to keep the position in place, although shocks (only digital stabilization) negatively affect the video image. With photos it's OK, sometimes it smears, but if we shoot 3 in a short space of time, which one will be good. With a little wind, or flying around the house (yes, flying around the house can be done with the sensor at the bottom) is much better than I expected.


in general everything from the sky looks different


After about 30 seconds I see that half the battery has been left, which was fully charged. Percentages fall quickly. The moment later is already 6%, and the drone is about 25 meters above me. I'm trying to land Panda on my hands - it's almost always the same for the first time. Zerotech Dobby with momentum he falls into the helmet of the terrified Panda, bounces off it and falls on the curb. Everyone manages to get out of this without permanent damage .... but that's the beginning of problems.


I'm sure of one thing: it's not equipment to fly over people and cars - as it stands clearly in the instructions and regulations. Will gimbaza and communists (in the sense of kids from communion) agree with this? I doubt it. Will it fall on someone's head? Will someone break the window? It's hard, we'll run away.


Wrong, worse, Zerotech programmers


You can write a book about Dobby's faults, maybe even a whole saga. Support works a bit like a two-person startup, which sold 10,000 copies of something that had some bugs: one student will fix something, the other fix something, combine changes, release into the world, it turns out that the changes are not compatible.


zerotech dobby
However, it is a bit of a magic that such a toy floats in the air


It's not like this device is bad - it's good ... sometimes. The new version of the application for the phone is released more or less every week (unless the developers are just on vacation, then hearing after them is lost). It fixes problems with one, brings new ones. Speaking of problems, I mean: bad indication of the battery status, crashing application already at the start level (you have to reset it), the application walking all the time in the background and consuming batteries and transfer, lost compass, some broken functions and a million other cases. Most of the time, however, it works. You would think: if it works - why update it? The answer is simple: it is necessary. If, for example, you are in Italy, you just launch applications and drone (in the morning it worked), and in the meantime, when the phone was at home, he noticed that there is a new version, he will inform you about it. If you do not download files - you will not save .... and yet roaming prices are killing.


zerotech dobby


Add to this the problem with batteries - sometimes they hold a minute, sometimes 7 - we are thus sure that all flights will be stress-free. With time, it turned out that the trouble arises from the fact that the battery itself discharges while lying in the house and should be charged max. one day before the next flight. Then I find out that the charger added in the set or any of the fast charging also extends the working time significantly. There are several such tricks, most of them have to be read on the fejsbuk group.

Recalibration of the compass during the flight makes the drone does not know which way it is directed. This means, directly saying, that the control works then randomly - good luck in returning home. This happens when we fly too close to a high voltage line, or simply because of an application error. Recalibration is simple and fast, just looks terribly stupid, spinning around your axis.



From time to time, someone on the net writes about an interesting case, when the Zerotech Dobby falls out of the sky without any reason. The reason is simple and I checked it very painfully. The batteries hold on to a set of very light latches. If we do not make sure that they have been pressed firmly, there is a good chance that when the wind blows, our device will become disintegrated. It's a beautiful feeling to see you dropping PLN 1,500 from 30 meters. I will present it phonetically:
BZZZZZZZZZZ (because it buzzs very loud, there is no option like recording with sound) - SILENCE - SILENCE - PCIIIIK (the sound of hitting the mud with impetus). Damage after falling? Slightly broken down folding wing (silvertejp does the trick) and the whole guts are covered with mud. After washing in running water, the device continues to operate without problems. Despite the seemingly poor construction, I assume that it will survive a lot of falls ...


zerotech dobby drone crash


There are a lot of problems that cause frustrations of the average user to exceed the fun of flying. However, I consider myself a power-user, so:


The worst pocket drone in the world?


By reading the above paragraph, it is safe to say that Zerotech Dobby is bad. It's not true. Dobby is THE BEST POCKET DRON IN THE WORLD (the moment I write this). Why? Because there is no competition. The multi-week search in Google confirms my belief that in terms of image quality, parameters, performance and price, Zerotech Dobby is second to none. Especially after getting to know online tips. So let's go one by one for what's most important to me:


dobby drone panorama
Easy gluing the panorama is a solution to the problem of a narrow angle




zerotech dobby gardaPacking Dobby and 2 batteries into the pocket is not a problem. The lack of protruding elements means that we can do it even without the use of a cover. I, knowing my happiness, put it in a string bag or bubble wrap. I dare even say that it could be a little bigger. 199 grams means that even with rigorous regulations, it is not caught in most countries under the category of "drone".


The quality of photos


The quality is good ... well, let's say enough. The video is good too, electronic stabilization works fine, but without fireworks. I do not expect magic here - such small propellers and lack Gimbal they can not hold the lens still. Pictures look like average quality smartphone. A few filters on the phone and quality for social media is just right - and yet it was created for that. 10GB of memory is so much that foty can be thrown thousands, so one of them will come out for sure (one picture 3-5MB);) I consider the lens too narrow, I would see a fish-eye like GoPro or wide katy like in Bebop Parrot . This raises the second problem - the lens's angle (angle) is controlled only by hand and to stabilize the films, you have to manually select this angle in the application. I do not make films, but I would like to be able to tilt the lens during the flight with such a narrow field of view. For 95% of the time, I take pictures with the camera set horizontally or looking 10 degrees down. As the drone is still sanded after falling down, everything goes hard, so I have no problem turning the lens down millimeter by millimeter ;-)


punta veleno drone


There are no RAWs, the sun is hard for a good picture, the tonal range is low, in the dark you need a lot of luck, but you know - it's cheap equipment from an Asian manufacturer.


garda lake drone


In the video there are problems known to flyers like rolling shutter, which can be compensated by using the ND filter (in this case a dark foil), which in turn can blur the pictures, but I will not get involved in this way nerdowskie topics. I stuck the filter and now I can not take it off. I assume that I do most of the pictures in too strong a light, so it will not bother me. I change the exposure adjustment only in the application to make it a little brighter. Pictures now blur more often or are slightly better.


dobby vs phone




In addition to the fact that with a small wind Zerotech Dobby can stay practically in place, he has a number of other - more or less - needed functions. Face tracking, object tracking, 360 panorama, automatic flying at the indicated angle (10, 30, 60 sec), encircling the object, automatic return home, start and landing on the hand (I succeed in every attempt) and so on. My longest flights in good weather (normal flight, not staying in place) are 6-7 continuous minutes. On the one hand, not much, on the other it is enough for 2-3 flights after a photo. You can quickly calculate how many times you are willing to stop while driving and get enough spare batteries.


Gassy drone


The maximum height is 50 meters, but it is not allowed as high - after all, it allows 30 (unless you find something high at 50m). No wonder, in Poland you can not take the drone out of sight.


Applications and decisions


It is difficult to make a sensible conclusion here. We are dealing here, very rarely, with an innovative Chinese invention. Zerotech Dobby is not (now) equal. If only programmers are overwhelmed (and the product is available for more than a year), it will be very good. Otherwise, it will remain a product for technological geeks as I.


Warsaw from the drone
The photos are of average quality, but after using a few filters ... they are still of average quality but more pronounced;)


One thing is for sure: similar devices will be more and more. They will make better and better photos, fly longer and further. Will they share the fate of smartwatchers and after a short phase of excitement will only remain in the hands of the most ardent fans? Will they be thrown on the shelf after an hour of fun and the memory of them will disappear? I can not judge. I know, however, that if DJI MAVIC (link to the producer) is cool and the price probably even to swallow, it is not equipment for the rider. It's still like a SLR camera (or even a large compact) for GoPro. More important to have a camera always with you than to carry a backpack and do technically better photos. The Internet is full of excellent photos of expensive equipment. Interesting shots and situations are always included. Just like documenting memories - I prefer to have 10 sensible photos than one perfect, unseen and not blurred. Well, I do not have to carry my backpack, which is the most important thing!


zerotech dobby
It can be different with sharpness, but the mode that allows you to take pictures automatically, at a specific time interval, saves the situation a bit


Zerotech Dobby is an unrivaled compromise: average quality of photos combined with very small dimensions - unfortunately, so far it is the peak of technological capabilities of the equipment for the people. If someone is looking for a drone that fits in your pocket - there is no way out. The more I use it, the more I like it. I do not know if it's a matter of improving the application's refinement, more and more confidence in controlling, or simply living with it. One thing is for sure: I plan to do it with hundreds of flights, because it's fun to be amazing.


If you have questions or suggestions for equipment that might be better for cycling trips, let me know!