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Comment Re:Working on it (Score 1) 148

I don't want to take investors on at this stage because the "cost" of that money would be too high.

As someone who's successfully been through the process many times, I know that the cost of investment capital falls significantly as you move towards commercialisation. Besides, I don't need money -- all I need are a bunch of idiot bureaucrats to admit that there is *no* real difference between flying an RC plane over a grassy field in the country and flying the same an RC plane with a 250g payload over the same grassy field.

Simply classifying something as "commercial" does not increase the level of risk to anyone and, as I've already stated, many hundreds of people all over this country fly their RC models over grassy fields (and even in busy city parks within controlled airspace) every weekend -- without the need for a pilot's license and other bureaucratic nonsense.

And yes, I *do* understand how GA works. Been working around aircraft for a long time and have had a workshop at the local airfield for over 10 years.

Why do people presume so much when they know so little?

Comment Re:Working on it (Score 1) 148

Sorry, but you are wrong on just about every point.

And, as I've always claimed, intelligence is inversely proportional to one's propensity to engage in profanity.

I guess you're also talking about all the other people who fly RC models all around the world -- since that's *exactly* what I'm trying to do here.

And, for the record, I've been involved in aviation for decades. I spent many year servicing avionics and provide consulting services to several local aviation companies.

You should check your facts before embarrassing yourself.

Comment Re:To Hell With You Types (Score 1) 148

The rules sir, are an ass.

Please explain how the fact that their *might* be a commercial result to my flying an RC model should somehow make the risks associated with that flying so great as to require a full-sized pilot's license and a raft of other compliance hurdles to be negotiated -- while at the same time people with far less skill/experience are crashing their RC models in parks all over the country on a weekend?

Did you even read what I posted?

Unless your children are tresspassing and illegally standing in a privately owned grassy field miles from anywhere in the middle of the countryside (which is where I would be flying my 900g RC model), how would I be flying over them? Do your children regularly tresspass onto private property? You need to teach them about property rights.

They are far more likely to be hit by some novice RC flier trying to control their much bigger and more powerful RC helicopter or plane down at the local park.

And remember -- we're not talking about a "drone" here, we're talking about an RC plane that weighs 900g, is made of foam and is simply a vehicle for carrying a few bits of electronics into the air to collect some data. You do know the difference between a foam RC plane and a Predator don't you?

So yes, I guess (even if only because I read what others have written), I guess I *am* smarter than some -- well smarter than *you* anyway. :-)

Comment Re:Working on it (Score 1) 148

Yes, I have spent a lot of time around these sort of systems.

Testing on a bike is fine -- in a 2D environment and a degree of that testing has already been done -- to verify the concept and the first-level implementation.

What's needed now is some real-world testing in a 3D environment so that the firmware can be refined to provide the desired level of performance and its effectiveness can be validated.

Obviously I'm not giving the full story as to the mechanisms involved but suffice to say that the system presently meets all the expectations had for it - but the firmware requires quite a bit of refinement. To undertake that refinement I need to collect some real-world datasets and that involves flying the system while logging the data collected from the sense elements.

Unfortunately, since I only have around 50 years of RC flying experience and am considered by many to be something of an "expert" in the field, I'm apparently wildly unqualified to strap 250g of electronics to the side of a small foam model and fly it around for a few minutes over a remote grassy field so as to collect this data.

Comment Re:Working on it (Score 1) 148

The problem is gaining patent protection in all the key markets.

Sure, it's easy enough to file for a provisional patent in NZ - but then there's Australia, the UK, USA and many other countries that would also require the same process so as to ensure the IP was adequately protected.

Right now, my best protection is to keep the system in-house for as long as is possible and I don't need any additional funding to continue the work so why sell-down at such an early stage when the ony real hurdle is a bunch of stuffy bureaucracts?

Comment Re:Working on it (Score 1) 148

I have a strong record of successful innovation in the tech field.

One of my very successful tech ventures was actually showcased by the NZ government at an international meeting of APEC leaders back in 1999. They used it as a shining example to the world of how this country was boxing above its weight in the burgeoning "Knowledge Economy".

I was also building "drones" and their guidance systems over a decade ago -- long before they became fashionable.

Comment Re:Working on it (Score 1) 148

Yeah, the interesting thing was that I was seriously considering making this an open-source project, or at least releasing it to the public domain so that no commercial interest could "own" it and use that ownership to extort the marketplace.

However, with CAA unilaterally declaring it to be a "commercial activity" -- even though I have not accepted *any* investment or funding and have not made *any* plans to commercialise the project, I think it's time to take a stand against this example of bureaucracy gone mad.

Comment Re:Working on it (Score 2) 148

Geez, given the sentiments expressed in your comment, I'm surprised you actually have a computer.

You do realise that computers are used to spy on citizens and design all sorts of weapons don't you?


Nah... surely not :-)

The reality is that SAA is a *safety* techology.

Every year, a good number of people are killed because sometimes (due to a lack of this technology), aircraft crash into each other (go check out the Wikipedia article on mid-air collisions).

This technology would make *all* aviation safer.

Do you have something against a technology that saves lives? Shame on you!

Comment Re:Working on it (Score 1) 148

I don't have a lot of cash, what I do have is the knowledge, skill and experience to do this project.

Besides, why the hell should an organisation charged with the responsibility of keeping the airspace *safe* be placing so many hurdles in the way of a project that is designed to do just that?

It's not like I'm planning on flying a big heavy drone over a built-up area or flying in controlled airspace. It is the fact that somehow, because an RC plane has something with commercial potential strapped to it then it becomes so unsafe as to require all this extra regulation is a nonsense.

Sadly, I'm old enough to remember an era when government and its bureaucracies played a much different role and weren't micro-managing every activity of its citizens, while also spying on their every communication and movement.

These days you can't fart without the permission of some self-important little civil servant (and in the days of alleged AGW, this really isn't far from the truth).

Comment Re:Working on it (Score 1) 148

Care to give us a hint as to how it works? 1 mile in all directions without transponders is pretty impressive. The obvious solution would be some kind of radar, but all in a package weighing only 250g? Also, active radar wouldn't be much use on a stealthy drone.

If your invention really is capable of what you claim it is then getting some investment and a commercial testing license shouldn't be an issue.

Obviously I'm not about to give too much away -- suffice to say that it is an active system which operates below the RF noise floor and has two elements to the sense component (not visual or audio though).

You are right that conventional radar is too heavy and too power-hungry for this type of application.

Suffice to say that this approach to SAA would not be possible without some serious (and compact/low-energy) processing power, only made possible by the advances of recent years.

Comment Re:Working on it (Score 1) 148

The problem is that there's a catch-22 here.

Before I can gain any worthwhile IP protection (ie: a patent), I need to ensure that the design is tested/finalised. Without IP protection, the level of disclosure required to negotiate a partnership would produce a significant risk (especially considering the size of the market) of a prospective partner just taking the technology and using it then saying "so sue us" (I've had that happen before).

I've been around long enough to realise that such partnerships can be fraught with peril, especially when you're talking about tech breakthroughs that have this level of commercial potential - after all, the US government is mandating the use of these systems by 2016 so it's a "must have" for anyone wanting to use "drones" in national airspace.

Comment Working on it (Score 5, Interesting) 148

I'm a guy who's been in the electronics and software industry for over 40 years and have a very strong background in RF, digital and analog systems.

I recently started putting that expertise to work in an attempt to come up with an effective and affordable "Sense And Avoid" (SAA) system -- at least in part because I fly FPV RC model aircraft and for these to be flown safely "beyond visual line of sight", some form of SAA is required.

After spending a considerable amount of time investigating previous strategies and considering the strengths and weaknesses of the available technologies, I have designed and prototyped a system that delivers a 1-mile "sphere of awareness" around any craft on which it is installed.

It does not rely on transponders (thus will "sense" *any* potential threat within that 1-mile sphere) and is small/light (250g) enough to be fitted to all but the smallest unmanned craft. The price (in volume production) would also be very reasonable -- about US$250.

Initial (ground-based, static) testing has shown that the prototype system conforms very closely to the design goals and expectations -- the next step is to strap a second prototype to a small foam RC model plane and start collecting dynamic data which will be used to test and refine the firmware.

Unfortunately -- this is where everything turns to custard.

The national airspace administrator here in New Zealand is CAA (our equivalent of the USA's FAA). They, in their infinite wisdom, have decided that since what I'm working on has significant commercial potential, I can not continue my development work (ie: strap this thing to a small foam RC model and fly it over a grassy paddock in the countryside) without first gaining a "commercial operating authority".

Now I've been flying RC models for almost 50 years and have a very high level of skill. Hell, I have two very popular YouTube channels with a total of over 45 million views and 100K subscribers in which I entertain and inform folks on the subject of RC models. However, all this counts for nothing and, according to CAA, if I want to continue my development of this technology by strapping it (as a passive payload) to the type of small foam model that thousands of folk fly here every weekend, I must jump a raft of ridiculous hurdles.

Firstly, the "minimum requirement" is a full-sized pilot's license -- which costs about $18K to obtain in this country.

Secondly, I have to file all sorts of safety plans, obtain a radio qualification and engage in a huge amount of bureaucratic crap -- simply to do what I've done as a hobbyist for decades -- fly a tiny (900g) foam RC plane over a grassy field in the countryside.

Now I don't have $18K to spend getting a pilot's license, besides which, this is silly bureaucratic nonsense!

As a result, the technology which I've developed and which stands to be a real "game changer" with massive export/earnings potential for this tiny nation that keeps crowing about its "innovative tech sector" is becalmed because some idiot desk-jockies seem to think that somehow, simply because what I'm doing has commercial potential, any RC flying I do will result in widespread death and destruction -- unless I spend months filling in forms, learning to fly a full-sized plane and licking boots.

This, my friends, is why New Zealand barely qualifies as a first-world country and will *never* play any significant role in the tech world.

Meanwhile, the same country spends $1m of taxpayers' money on something as lame and dangerous as the Martin Jetpack.

Go figure!

Those who ask "why not just find a quiet spot and test it anyway without telling anyone?"... well CAA have advised me that if I dare to do this without the required "authority", they will take "enforcement action" against me. So, if I turn around and say "I've tested it and it works" then it's "do not collect $200, do not pass go, go directly to jail".

And for those who ask "if this technology works as well as you say, why not get an investor to fund you or partner with someone who already has the necessary authority?"... My original goal was to produce a low-cost solution that could be used by the RC model community to make the hobby of FPV flying much safer. I don't need investors, I have enough money to continue the development and testing because that's mainly sweat-equity. To bring in investors or partners at this stage would result in the final cost of the system escallating far beyond that which could be afforded by hobbyists -- investors/partners generally want significant returns on their investments.

And there's also the matter of principle here.

Comment Come on DARPA - let's have another challenge! (Score 1) 234

Perhaps it would be a good time for DARPA to offer one of their technology challenges... perhaps $1m to the first team/person who can successfully bring down a drone using a home-made countermeasure.

That way we'd know for sure just how viable such "amateur" countermeasures would be (and I'd be $1m richer :-)

Seriously though -- drones flying at lower altitudes (ie: 5000m or lower) would *not* be that hard to take out using "off the shelf" technology adapted and applied in innovative ways.

Comment Re:I know that I need mine (Score 2) 136

You guys are all sissies! :-)

The longest I've gone without sleep is almost 48 hours and I have to say the last few hours of that were really trippy!

I was working hard to get a big software project out the door and I have to say that I was pretty productive right up to about hour 40 -- then I started making mistakes (despite the coffee). By about the 44th hour I was decidedly paranoid so decided to walk home and have some sleep.

That walk home was so damned scary. The sun was just coming up and it felt like there were people hiding behind every lamp-post and in every shadow.

Once I did get home and fall into bed, I could not get to sleep for several hours because I was constantly getting up to check if the door was locked and to check every little noise.

It's an experience that everyone should have at least once (so they can understand it) but hell, I'd never do it again.

When I was younger I could pull the occasional overnight coding session (24hrs straight) and recover with just 4-5 hours of sleep but these days (I'm 60 now), even missing an hour's sleep makes me feel crappy the following day.

What's always annoyed me most about sleep deprivation is that you feel crappy -- right up until the mid/late evening of the next day when it's time to go to bed. Suddenly, the feelings of fatigue subside and you're tempted to stay up even later than you did the night before. They say most people's circadian cycle is closer to 25 hours than 24 hours and in my case I know that is true.

I was once working in an isolated location (more productive coding that way) and simply went to bed when tired -- got up when I awoke. Sure enough, my sleep period slowly drifted around -- getting about an hour later every day until over the period of nearly a month, I was right back where I started.

Sleep is interesting stuff -- it's just a shame I'm never awake when it happens :-)

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