Greetings to the DIY Drones community!
My name is Adam Morrison, and I’m one of the co-founders of DroneRafts LLC. I wanted to introduce you all to our new and exciting product called WaterStrider. Since the early fall of last year, our team has been totally dedicated to developing and bringing to market an accessory for drones that allows effortless takeoffs and landings anywhere you want to go with your drone. This includes water, sand, snow, mud, deep grass, sloped surfaces and many other situations where you might find yourself.
As we immersed ourselves over the past few years in the industry, there are several operational issues that we’ve struggled with and that other drone owners we have interviewed have also struggled with. Many of these issues revolve around easing takeoffs and landings in areas that are absolutely beautiful for filming and photos but are not very friendly for takeoffs and landings. Operating in these situations frequently result in expensive camera damage or at least the inconvenience and expense of tip-overs and propeller breakage. On top of all of this, the frequency of people losing their drones in water while filming above and around water is truly staggering. Then there is the dangerous practice of hand launching and catching, which seems just fine until there is an inevitable mistake.
So, we set out to solve these problems with a fully engineered, lightweight and durable product that has a minimal impact to the actual job of taking aerial photos and video. We believe that the WaterStrider provides an awesome, balanced approach to solving these problems while providing massive added stability and protection to the drone and camera.
We have already started low rate production of the WaterStrider. The product design and testing as well as our manufacturing and production processes are all worked out and validated. Our team is really experienced in product development, supply chain, and manufacturing. We didn’t ‘go live’ with this product until we knew everything was ready.
We’re currently running a Kickstarter campaign currently to raise the additional funds necessary for the more durable tooling needed for full-rate production. With a successful campaign, deliveries of WaterStrider will start next month (June 2016). You can learn a lot more about the product and our experienced team by reviewing the full campaign page and video at the following link.
Our Kickstarter campaign ends on May 30th. It is our intent to deliver WaterStrider to all backers of the campaign before starting deliveries through other channels. It will take through at least July to complete these deliveries depending on the number of backers at the end of the campaign. This is the quickest way to get the product in your hands and onto your drone this summer.
Two weeks ago, we also did a public debut with four WaterStriders at AUVSI XPONENTIAL in New Orleans. This is one of the largest drone and UAS conferences in the world and thousands of people attend. We were able to get the WaterStrider into the hands of real drone users (other than ourselves) and demonstrate the product flying and landing on gravel and sloped surfaces in the demonstration area. The overall response to the product was fantastic. Here is a quick video compilation from the show.
A Few Common Questions
Our website and the Kickstarter page already address a number of common questions, but I’ll post just a couple of the most common ones here.
What Drone Models Does It Work With?
Presently, we’re fully validated on the DJI Phantom 3 (all variants) and the DJI Phantom 4. We’ll be working other models as we see demand, so please let us know what other models you’d like to see.
Flight Time Reduction
In an indoor, side-by-side test we see approximately 30% reduction in flight time. We know how to make this impact less, but it requires a trade-off on the incredible durability and performance of the current product. We believe we’ve found a really nice balance of protection/durability, effortless takeoffs and landings, and flight time/handling.
With all of this said, in real-life flying situations we’ve found that in some cases we can increase our useful filming time by landing some distance away to ‘rest’ and save batteries (instead of hovering) while waiting for the situation to be perfect for filming. This can even be done on water! For example, with the stock drone we would never consider landing 200 yards away where you can’t see the landing surface close-up, but its a regular occurrence in our flying with WaterStrider. In addition, we spend less time thinking about and setting up takeoffs and landings. You just set it on the ground or in the water and take off. When you want to land, you just land. This all saves a lot of time finding a landing spot or dragging out a landing pad or flying back and forth for landings.
Stability in Wind
We’ve recently posted a video on YouTube and our Kickstarter page showing operations with WaterStrider on the Phantom 3 and Phantom 4 in winds gusting to 31 mph. We recommend a wind limitation of 17-23 mph for the Phantom 3 and 23-28 mph for the more powerful Phantom 4. Check out the video!
How do I Know it Will Work?
We’re confident that the WaterStrider will do what it was designed to do. To alleviate any concerns about this (we totally understand that we’re a new product and company), we’ve included a guarantee to our Kickstarter campaign backers. If you’re not happy with the product, return it to us within 30 days and we’ll refund your pledge.
We’re working hard to get the word out about the WaterStrider. DIY Drones is an amazing venue with wonderful content from experienced drone pilots. We’re excited to be introducing the product to you!
Finally, we’re happy to answer any questions and dialog with you on this thread about the product. I understand that this post may not have answered all of your questions. Check out the Kickstarter video and page and then post any questions or comments you have here. And if you’re excited about the product, let us know that as well and please consider backing the campaign.
Sincerely and respectfully,
Co-Founder; Head of Engineering & Technology