Tuesday Train Extra: It flies…I hope…

Oh dear…I appear to have given into temptation for a new “toy”…er em, tool, in my train chasing railfan photographer arsenal. After some months of thinking about it, and mulling, I have broken down and bought a DJI Mini 2 Drone. I have, been feeling stale in my photography and videography of late, and looking for new ways to open up opportunities, I have settled on trying out a drone. I have a number of friends who have drones, and I know a few other railfans (Steve Boyko in Winnipeg springs to mind, his work well worth a look compared to mine if you haven’t seen it). This one came highly recommended as a first drone for new users. It is, apparently easy to fly and easy to learn to fly, and takes good quality video and pictures. I am planning a trip in early May to go and do some railfanning and riding of passenger trains in places well away from home (all in good time, that’s a bunch of future posts), and I have decided that I want as many tools in my bag as possible for this, and the Drone is going to be one of them. Once I decided I was actually going to do the thing and order it, I wanted to do it plenty early so I have two months+ here to learn to use it, and see how I integrate having it with me into what I do when I am out and about.

Oh my…what have I gotten myself into…

My drone arrived yesterday, and after some quality efforts by the staff at our Condo to lose it in the parcel room, I got it home this afternoon. I have successfully fired up the software, linked and registered the device, and confirmed the camera works, by taking a really bad selfie while the drone was sitting in my photo cube (no I won’t be sharing that thanks for asking!). So far, I would say everything has been reasonably intuitive and has worked the way it should. I am hoping to go over to a school down the street tomorrow where there are some wide open spaces to set up and learn to fly. While to get good use while chasing trains, I will need to learn to fly around obstacles and miss things, at least for learning basic operations like how to take off and land, and where all the different control settings are, I figure a wide open space is probably the way to go!

DJI Mini 2. It is about the size of two HO Scale 40′ boxcars side by side with the rotors folded in. No I’m not making my first test flight in the house, that has disaster written all over it.

Future updates on my Learning to Fly will follow in due course…once the batteries finish charging…

8 thoughts on “Tuesday Train Extra: It flies…I hope…

  1. Nice! Taking your photo- and videography to new heights! (Pun intended). Something I always thought about, but haven’t taken that leap of faith. I for one will be looking forward to your adventures with this new tool. Good luck!

  2. Thanks for the shout-out and a great choice for a drone! These are really easy to fly but you should definitely get some practice in an open area. Once you get to video, I found it useful to practice panning with the drone. It’s really a very versatile camera platform.

  3. Fun!
    Are there any restrictions on flying these things? Or is this one small enough that it falls below a threshold?
    Be sure to watch for overhead wires!

    • Yes, there are restrictions, but in its base form the Mini 2 is 249g, below the 250g weight that triggers licensing. The DJI app includes two geo warnings and blocks. For example, turning it on at our house identified that we are in an altitude restricted area because of our proximity to Pearson Airport, and I have to acknowledge that before it will fly. Other zones are more restrictive. Larger drones require a license and approval to unlock flight in restricted airspace.


  4. It will be interesting to see how long each battery lasts. Maybe because of its diminutive size, the batteries should last longer. I think I’d like to try something like this for my railfanning here in Guelph, ON

    • They say 31 minutes flight time. The “Fly More” kit comes with three batteries. My flight time was 16 minutes and the battery I used was saying half full. But learning how much each gets on a charge is on my to do as I fly more and learn.


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