We Have A Drone Convention

In La Paz on June 30
BY: PAIGE TURNER

As prices come down on them, drones are growing in popularity. They are also getting easier to keep in the air as the software gets better, and they are coming down in size, as they are now foldable. The better ones can be kept in a pocket because they are the size of a smart phone when not in use. Camera quality is going up, and battery life is now up to a realistic 20 minutes. (Buy two batteries, keep one on charge).

Researchers use drones to explore new areas and even to identify plastic debris in the ocean. Photographers and videographers use them to get amazing shots that would be too expensive if using a helicopter. Drones are now a standard tool in real estate and the film industry. In the northern Sea of Cortez, conservationists have used them in the fight to save the Vaquita porpoise from extinction.  Well, that’s a losing battle, but at least they’re trying.

There are plenty of recreational flyers out there too. You don’t just fly around aimlessly, you need a camera on it to have fun with it. Most cameras are on a gimbel so your pictures are not shakey or inflenced by the wind. Nowadays a big part of the fun is in editing the video and posting it on Youtube.

Another, more difficult aspecto of drones, but the best part, is using the goggles. When you put these on you feel like you are riding in the drone. It is exactly like being in an airplane. I call it a poor man’s airplane.

So how much does all this cost? Anywhere from $100 for a kid’s toy, to about $1000 for a good amateur set. Drones go up from there, the high end usually used in industries like movies, structural engineers, to string power lines, de ice those power lines, and oh yes, to drop bombs and missles on people.

I personally have a DJI Phantom 4, using the drone for landscape photography. I have some great lucky wildlife shots too. A few weeks ago, I found a great stretch of empty beach on the Pacific coast; I could not resist taking out the drone.

I took a video of the beach, the arroyo, and a patch of palms. Those palms were my demise. Just when my partner said, “look out for that tree,” I pulled a George of the Jungle in the middle of the desert. The transmission failed, and the buzz was gone. After rushing over to the trees, we found my forlorne drone crashed at the base of the tree. Two broken propellers and a bent camera gimbal sent my mind into overdrive. How was I going to get this fixed in Baja?

Fly to the States? Too expensive and too long to wait. Send it to Mexico City? That’ll probably take longer than flying to the States. So I decided to look at my local options. 

A Facebook post suggested Drones Sudcalifornia (their Facebook page is “RC Dron’s). The post said Manuel was a wizard. “That’s exactly what I need!,” I thought. I drove to an area of La Paz where dirt roads are common, found the unassuming store front, and walked in. Manuel greeted me in perfect English. I explained what happened, and he looked at my drone. He gave me a receipt that he received my drone for service, an estimate, and then said it would be ready in the next couple of days.

The next day the drone was ready! A quick drive to the store and $50 later, the machine was back in my hands.

His shop has lots of really fun toys, like remote controlled boats and cars, and other toys with engines, making you feel like a kid.

So, if you’re interested in grown up toys, there is a drone expo on June 30th from 12 to 5 at the Plaza Paseo La Paz. There will be drone demonstrations, workshops, and even some drone races. It will be a good place to learn about these incredible tools/toys and see if this hobby could be for you. They’re kind of like jet skis—the bee buzz sound they make can be annoying when you’re on a tranquil beach, but they’re a lot of fun when you’re zipping one around on that tranquil beach.

After my experience with a broken drone, I’m looking forward to the drone expo, and I’m also very happy to have found a reputable repair shop in La Paz.  His number is 612 170 4874. The shop is at The address is: Calle Licenciado and Adolfo López Mateos La Paz.