My Review of the AR Drone for roof inspections

For those interested…sorry might be kinda long. Drone version 2.0 came last week from Brookstone, $269 + shipping. Do not buy the original version of this, it is cheaper but lacks ability to take photos or record video. First thing out of the box is that the coloration on it was too ‘toylike’ for me, so I went to Lowe’s and bought a can of Valspar plastic spraypaint primer and then to Advance Auto to get a can of black flexible bumper spraypaint (there are foam parts on this meant to give if bumping into things), and painted it matte black. I put an orange sticker that comes with it on the back of the drone so I could tell which end was rear when flying it. I also added some zip ties under the props to give it some suspension for landing and it also gives it a little more ground clearance when landing.

It has 2 hulls for it, 1 is for indoor flying and is a foam shell that encompasses the entire drone rotors and another is an outdoor hull that keeps the rotors exposed. This things does NOT take very long to learn to fly if you are used to playing video games (even old school Nintendo) or have any experience with a joystick and runs on Android or Apple. I used the indoor foam shell outside for awhile till I got the hang of it, but found the outdoor hull allows it to fly MUCH more stable and I found using my 10 inch Acer tablet a little easier to use than my Evo phone just due to the screen size.

My main use for this is to get a shot or 2 of roofs that under ordinary circumstances you might not be able to see. Down here, especially along the coastal areas the houses are close together and you cannot get a good shot idea of a 3rd story roof from the ground, in some cases you’ll be lucky to see anything other than 1 side. Taking a queue from Bill Chandler on my previous post on this (thanks Bill) I went online and bought a fishing reel style kite string holder for $6 and some 30 lb fishing line vs the string that the kite string holder came with. I drilled through the handle and attached a zip tie with a carabiner to hook onto my belt loop and another smaller caribiner to attach to a zip tie I secured around the drone underneath in the middle. This would be if the drone were to crash on a roof or somehow get caught in a horrible updraft (it’s light). I did read some posts on message boards on this that updrafts took their drones right up out of sight and they never saw this thing again, so this idea solves that dilemna.

I basically start the drone alongside the house, let it takeoff and hover to let the computer calibrate itself to the conditions, then just hit the video record button and go straight up to the roofline and do a flyby from left to right. Then I stop recording and do another flyby taking a few photographs using the camera. Then do the same thing from the other side. Watching the video inside (glare on these screens makes it not as clear outdoors), you can see alot of the roof and the quality is good. I attached some pics of a roof here so you can see the quality of the photos it takes.

Thats about it. I had it up today in about 10mph winds and it did a serviceable job trying to control it, it basically has a computer that will try to autostabilize itself in the wind, just hafta stay with it if it moves around a little on you. Anything more than 10mph though and it might be a little difficult. Probably more of a luxury than a necessity per say, but overall this tool will have a use with me and was just sharing my experience with it.


Guess I will stick with my washer pole.
Here is from yesterday off a video. (locked hatch)

Any opinion on that dryer vent (short at left side)?

Seems like the ‘drone’ is a waste of time. I did not even bother reading his review.

In Port St. Lucie, FL, that dryer vent would be considered to be discharging against the CUs. Also, does that type of vent term have the req’d backdraft damper? Looks like a 4-way… I do not see many multi-family residences in Fort Pierce, FL.

Glenn I appreciate the time it took you to write the review. Your time is precious and I appreciate your detailed in oput and analysis on the subject. Please keep us updated as changes occur. Its these inputs which let us know what does and does not work without each of us spenidng money on failed ideas and where to spend money on successful ideas.

From the picture…
This would not be indicative of a Residential Roof…
Multi-Family (Commercial) code requirements will vary Dependant upon the State / Municipal Locality…
Your mileage may vary…


The roof does not appear to be a Residential Application.
the vent may meet applicable code at the time of construction for Multi-Family Dwellings (4 or more)…
Your Market area and mileage may vary…

What manor of castle are you inspecting Bob?

Bob put a arrow on it, do you mean the one close to the condenser? i would say it would be a problem , High was it going and did all four go into it? did it have a booster fan installed?
I still think the drone will make in the future soon thanks for posting the information Glenn , Bob is just pole has pole envy. That is why i will not post my system . But Russel has seen it lol BTW Russell i got the wfi cam working with the phone works very very well i can zoom and pictures ares are clear . looking into making another extension to go up to 35 feet . so soon i be taking shots of your Van from here

Just a regular 1920’s rental to condo conversion.
I mentioned the shared dryer vent as being a lint issue at one of the compressors.

This is my most common shot as it is the most popular style building in Chicago and they were built to last despite ongoing tuck pointing and lintel issues at many.

Did the same type at a 6:30pm appt last night at a foreclosure on the 3rd floor so needed proof the compressor was still there as they steal them sometimes.

I would not risk losing a fun toy on a non accessible roof ,so no envy here.

Glenn, I think its great that you’re trying new things and have the time and money to experiment and are willing to share. Sorry but it seem there are alway some who are set in their ways, ain’t broke don’t fix it, been doing it this way for xx years…and are not willing to change…to each his own. Just look at some companies who failed to be innovative or enbrace new technology in a timely manner, Kodak and blackberry are two the come to mind. This might not be a game changer but I can see where it can be useful, save time and improve safety.

No it’s fine and it is what it is. I could have bought a 30 foot sectional painters pole and rigged it to attach a camera to it for these, but in our ever ongoing efforts to differentiate our services from one another in terms of marketing, thought I would give this a try and it looks like it will work for my purposes, and possibly others. I just wanted to put this out there in case someone saw this drone and thought of using it for a similar purpose, just what my experience with it is/has been. I actually had an insurance roof inspection today on a 2 story house where I used it to snap 4 shots of the roof. Was super fast and client was impressed with it, but the ultimate goal is to get the job done be it this way or any other. Embracing technology doesn’t necessarily mean going all in, but it certainly is neat to see things like this be produced and all the different things people can do with it.

Customers do get a kick out of flashy, cool tools. Thanks for the feedback!

Hay Pete, who gives a rats azz about what YOU do in Florida?!

Who gives a crap about what you think?

Got nothing to contribute, go **** with a Gator or something…

Glenn, That thing does more than I expected for >$300.
There are units in the tens of $K’s that do that same job.

I could easily get a camera from Flir to stick on that and go thermal!

Even the big boys tend to fly off, never to be found! :wink:

Thanks for your time. Too may here have way too much of it, obviously!

You can take shots for Realtors of their listings during Open House!

That will get you in their door!! :wink:

You have competition with Google, but that isn’t video!

I’m thinking I’d like to add both ideas to my toolbox. Bob’s 30 ft pole/cam and the AR Drone. I can see the benefit to both!

30 foor pole idea is OK, if your camera doesnt have a touch screen :frowning: not sure how to make it snap a pic once it gets up there, my arm isnt long enough. (old school guys may have camera with a button, new school guys may be taking pics with the Iphone)

Looks like pics from a ladder, from the ground, me and the camera actually being on the roof.

Next time I have $300 extra i may consider the drone idea. I may save time (on a non windy day) fly it up snap some pics, bring it in, sound like less time than get out the ladder extend it up, climb up to the roof, snap some pics, climb down, fold up the ladder put it away. :-k

You put it on video.
You take stills off the video easily unless you have cr-ppy video.

Glad to see guys trying new ideas and sharing.:slight_smile:

“Accept accountability for your current situation.
Either you take accountability for your life or someone else will. And when they do, you’ll become a slave to their ideas and dreams instead of a pioneer of your own.”

My cam takes still using a app on my phone no problem Now there you go

which camera model is that?