This episode explains why you should use a launch pad with your drone, and reviews the Hoodman Launch Pad / Landing Pad.
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Youtube Video Show Notes - The Script
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Thank you for watching videos by Jeff Sibelius and Land and Air Photos.com. If I had to pick my favorite drone accessory, it would probably be the Hoodman launch pad. In this video, I’ll tell you why.
I’ve flown well over 1,000 flights with several different drones, and over the years I’ve tried out a bunch of different accessories.
The one accessory that I have used more often than any other has been my Hoodman launch pad. For the past three years I’ve used my Hoodman launch pad on at least 80% of my flights, no matter what drone I was flying.
For the rest of this video I’m going to answer two questions. Why use a launch pad or landing pad, in the first place? And why use a Hoodman?
So let’s start with why you should use a landing pad in the first place.
Well, there are a few reasons.
The most obvious reason is to protect your drone.
Look at this clip - the Fimi is hovering 4 feet off the ground but you can still see debris from the ground being kicked up by the props. It really doesn’t matter where you are launching or landing, whether it’s concrete, sand, dirt or grass - when those props spin up you’re likely to throw debris into the air that can damage your motors or your lens.
If you’re launching from grass, you have the additional problem of ground clutter interfering with your gimbal. I started flying drones with the Q 500, which had a significant amount of space between the bottom of the camera and the ground beneath it. The same held true for the Typhoon H and even the Phantoms.
Even with that I found that launching from grass could result in grass blades interfering with the gimbal’s normal start up routine - this can cause the gimbal to function improperly during the flight, or it may even damage the gimbal.
Modern drones have extremely low ground clearance. Any grass at your launch site will almost certainly interfere with the gimbal when you launch as well as during landing.
A good quality landing pad can provide a flat surface for your drone to launch from and land on, protecting the gimbal.
Another reason for using a launch pad like the Hoodman is visibility.
When I started flying I was frequently working on construction sites. At these sites you may have 400 or more workers and dozens of pieces of equipment, all doing their own thing at the same time.
I always wore a vest and a hard hat, but having the bright orange launch pad on the ground added to my visibility - it made it safer for me to fly in that environment.
You may not fly at construction sites, but visibility is still important. People wandering through a park are clueless about what you or your drone is doing. The launch pad establishes your presence to pedestrians and lets them know where your drone is going to come down.
Visibility also helps you as you fly. When you’re buzzing around a complex location like a construction site, the launch pad establishes a big, bright bullseye to help you maintain a constant sense of your location. This holds true in the opposite situation. When you’re flying around a park, everything looks the same from 200 feet up. It’s all green. That big orange landing pad is a great tool for locating yourself as you fly.
The third reason is professionalism. If you’re flying a drone commercially, you know you have to maintain records and have safety plans in place to operate within Part 107 guidelines. Using a launch pad is one way you can establish credibility and demonstrate your flight safety plan. In the event an accident occurs, the launch pad is just another piece of evidence that you were acting responsibly, and trying to communicate with other people with regards to your flight.
One more reason to use a launch pad, if you own a Fimi - the Fimi now has precision landing built in but you must use a properly marked launch pad for it to work. I’ve tested this and the Fimi lands within inches of its launch point, when using a landing pad.
Those are good reasons for using a launch pad - to protect your drone, to improve your visibility to increase the safety of yourself and those around you, and to demonstrate professionalism. And of course the extra perk for Fimi flyers. If your landing pad keeps just one drone from being damaged, keeps you from getting hit or hitting someone or helps your case in the event of an FAA investigation, it has paid for itself many times over.
So now the question is, why Hoodman?
There are several different launch pads you can buy, at varying price points. Some people just use drone cases or floor mats from their cars. So why would you buy a Hoodman launch pad?
When I started flying, I didn’t use any launch pad but quickly saw the potential for problems. I bought a rug that I’d carry around with me to fly from. Truth is, the rug didn’t do much in the way of protection, visibility or professionalism.
That’s when I decided to get a launch pad.
There were several to choose from. Most of them were smaller, and you had to drive spikes through them so they wouldn’t blow away. That didn’t work for me. In many instances I had to launch from concrete slabs at construction sites. There’s no way to keep those launch pads from blowing away in that situation.
The Hoodman pad is built with a heavy cable around its circumference. While there are loops around the edges in case you want to spike it down, I’ve never had to use them. The cable provides enough weight to keep the launch pad from blowing away. Frankly, if the wind is strong enough to move the Hoodman launch pad, it wouldn’t be safe to fly in the first place.
I also liked the fact that the Hoodman was bright orange, which made it extremely visible.
At the time, the 5’ Hoodman was very expensive. I went ahead and paid the premium for it for the reasons I just explained, and because I was flying large drones. and it quickly became an integral part of my flight procedures.
Shortly after I started using it, an incident occurred that provides another reason why I believe in Hoodman launch pads so strongly now.
I was flying at a construction site with heavy equipment travelling all over the place. My launch pad was laying on concrete.
One of the drivers either wasn’t paying attention or decided he wanted to have some fun, and he drove his massive dirt hauling truck, weighing many thousands of pounds, over the side of the launch pad.
I was furious - I’d just purchased this thing and the idiot behind the wheel destroyed it.
When I checked out the pad, I found that it hadn’t been damaged. The cable was still completely intact. The PVC-coated polyester material was not torn at all, even though it had been on concrete when the truck rolled over it. Thousands of pounds of weight, grinding it into rough concrete. No damage, other than tire tracks.
In this video you can see the tire tracks on the launch pad.
If that doesn’t demonstrate to you how durable the Hoodman launch pads are, I don’t know what does.
A couple years later, the tracks are gone from the launch pad and it still works perfectly.
That’s why I’ve never looked at another launch pad since.
As I said, I went with the 5’ launch pad. I was flying large drones, I wanted maximum visibility, so the larger launch pad was right for me.
Today, most pilots don’t need a landing pad that large and heavy.
Hoodman also makes a 2’ and 3’ version of their launch pads. I asked Hoodman to send a smaller pad for testing, and they provided the 3’ landing pad. I took it with me on a recent trip to the desert and, just like the larger launch pad, the 3’ version worked perfectly. I simply pulled it out of the trunk, dropped it on the ground and took off.
The 3’ version weighs about 5 pounds, less than half the weight of the 5’ pad. It retails for $59.99.
Hoodman’s 2’ pad weighs only 2 pounds. It retails for $39.99.
Either of these pads are perfect for consumer sized drones. If you fly a larger drone like the Typhoon H or the Inspire, I’d personally recommend the 5’ version, which weighs 12 pounds. It has dropped in price from when I bought mine - it is now $99.99.
All three launch pads come with a carry bag and shoulder strap.
You can buy less expensive launch pads, but the convenience of having a pad that doesn’t need to be staked in place and the confidence that your pad is tough enough to handle any conditions make the Hoodman my best choice for launch pads.
You can buy the Hoodman launch pads from Amazon or directly from Hoodman. I’ve put links for all three pads in the description below.
If you buy from Hoodman, use the coupon code in the description to save 10% off the price.
I hope this video has demonstrated the value of getting a launch pad for your drone. It’s not flashy or sexy, but it is a great accessory to provide added safety to your drone, yourself and people around you. And if you want a launch pad that is going to last for years and doesn’t require tent stakes to use, the Hoodman is your best choice.
I’ve talked about other drone accessories on other episodes and I’ve got more videos like this in the works now. Onscreen is a playlist of drone accessory videos so be sure to check those out.
If you found this helpful, I hope you’ll click the cartoon Jeff icon on screen and subscribe. As always, I appreciate your likes and comments as well.
Thanks for watching.