Drone Operation - Railroad.net Guidance

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Drone Operation - Railroad.net Guidance

Postby Jeff Smith » Thu May 26, 2016 7:31 am

There's been some discussion of drone operation in relation to railroads. Of course, that might involve railfanning. Here is a topic on a law being considered in New Jersey: viewtopic.php?f=127&t=161358

As technology evolves, laws are often written to respond to actual or perceived issues. Security concerns often conflict with libertarian concerns. Please feel free to discuss the NJ proposal in that thread, and other proposals that come to light either here or in appropriate forums and topics. Let's discuss them rationally.

As far as a policy for our site goes concerning drone operation, like trespassing, we advocate compliance with the law, and law enforcement authorities. The position is not a political one. We advocate safe operation with respect to private property and appropriate regulatory authorities. Please contact your local jurisdictions for guidance in legal operation of drones.

If we feel that any drone video or photography posted may violate our guidelines, we reserve the right to make appropriate judgement regarding its posting here after consultation. This may constitute removal and review of membership privileges. If you feel something posted may violate these guidelines, please use the report function. This is consistent with our trespassing guidelines. Above all, we advocate common sense. There's a balance to be struck here; as issues arise, we'll continue to review and enhance our own guidelines.

Thanks, and I look forward to your input.

-Jeff
Next stop, Willoughby
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Re: Drone Operation - Railroad.net Guidance

Postby RussNelson » Thu May 26, 2016 11:13 pm

I am unaware of any drone that could harm a train. The biggest danger in a drone is that the blades spin very quickly and can lacerate skin. That means that you shouldn't fly them close to people. A lesser danger is that it could fall from the sky because the batteries ran down, or the operator pulled the throttle back.

But "photographing critical infrastructure"? Sorry, but there is no evidence that terrorists do that.
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Re: Drone Operation - Railroad.net Guidance

Postby Backshophoss » Fri May 27, 2016 1:08 am

The RR PD's are beginning to use drones as part of their security efforts,so here come the "run ins" with
railfan owned drones.
It's a matter of time untill a drone gets caught up in the Catenary of the NEC,MN or NJT with some form of
unwanted results. :(
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Re: Drone Operation - Railroad.net Guidance

Postby justalurker66 » Fri May 27, 2016 2:24 am

RussNelson wrote:I am unaware of any drone that could harm a train. The biggest danger in a drone is that the blades spin very quickly and can lacerate skin. That means that you shouldn't fly them close to people.

On one of the 2015 Mythbusters shows they investigated this danger. It was "plausible" that a drone collision could kill you ... but the drones they proved dangerous were not consumer grade - they were the industrial grade flying camera platforms. (I believe the one on the show had eight unprotected carbon fiber blades. The small camera drones lost their airworthiness when they came in contact with the test subject and didn't do a lot of damage.)

RussNelson wrote:A lesser danger is that it could fall from the sky because the batteries ran down, or the operator pulled the throttle back.


"It seems the larger threat to human life comes not from the blades of the drone, but from the potential force generated by a 25-pound to 50-pound drone dropping from the sky and smashing your skull."
http://www.informationweek.com/it-life/ ... id/1321516

My biggest concern about a drone going down is people trying to get their drone back. Sure I could get some nice pictures of a nearby rail yard ... but if I lose control or get caught in the wind or otherwise crash my drone do I just walk away from potentially hundreds of dollars of investment? Or do I trespass just a little to get my drone back? And how far is trespass "just a little"?

There are plenty of pictures I would like to take with a drone but I am not prepared to lose the cost of the quality of drone (aerial camera platform) I would need to get the shot. (I am very good at crashing cheap non-camera drones.)

RussNelson wrote:But "photographing critical infrastructure"? Sorry, but there is no evidence that terrorists do that.


Terrorists can have hobbies. Can't one be a terrorist AND a rail fan?

But on a serious note, while "photographs and diagrams of potential targets" have been found in the possession of suspected terrorists I would not consider "photographing critical infrastructure" to be a primary indicator that a person is a terrorist. Look for the "I {heart} ISIS" bumper sticker.

Backshophoss wrote:The RR PD's are beginning to use drones as part of their security efforts,so here come the "run ins" with railfan owned drones.
It's a matter of time untill a drone gets caught up in the Catenary of the NEC,MN or NJT with some form of unwanted results. :(


Search "youtube drone caught in power wire"
Find: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kebAV_IjiBs (DRONE STUCK IN HIGH VOLTAGE WIRES ABOVE RAILROAD TRACKS)
Last edited by justalurker66 on Fri May 27, 2016 2:27 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Drone Operation - Railroad.net Guidance

Postby SemperFidelis » Fri May 27, 2016 2:26 am

For a clearer understanding as to where it is safe and legal to operate a drone, I wouls recommend going to your local flight school, picking up the sectional chart of your area, and asking a flght instructor to explain the markings and how they pertain to drone operations.

Specific are should be directed at not operating in controlled airspace. There are probably several dozen websites that will explain the markings on sectional charts, but I would recommend getting an instructor to explain it to you.

Most railfans also have a friend who is a priavte pilot (seems to be overlap in the communities), and that person would be an excellent resource for explaining the various types of airspace and where safe areas of operation are within and outside of those specific areas.
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Re: Drone Operation - Railroad.net Guidance

Postby BandA » Fri May 27, 2016 12:32 pm

Ideally, drones should broadcast a serial number which could be traced by law enforcement. There should also be some way for law enforcement to contact the drone, and the drone relays a message back to the operator, such as "hey, stop photographing the train crash so the Lifeflight helicopter can land"
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Re: Drone Operation - Railroad.net Guidance

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Fri May 27, 2016 1:39 pm

Griefus, those things ain't cheap
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Re: Drone Operation - Railroad.net Guidance

Postby mtuandrew » Sat May 28, 2016 8:02 pm

Jeff: Whether on the ground or in the air, I parse your guidance as:

Don't be an obnoxious railfan. :wink:
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Re: Drone Operation - Railroad.net Guidance

Postby Ken W2KB » Sat May 28, 2016 10:55 pm

The FAA defines drones as being aircraft and regulates operations. A good starting point would be to read FAA guidance. https://www.faa.gov/uas/
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Re: Drone Operation - Railroad.net Guidance

Postby justalurker66 » Sun May 29, 2016 2:04 am

mtuandrew wrote:Jeff: Whether on the ground or in the air, I parse your guidance as:

Don't be an obnoxious railfan. :wink:


Good answer.
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Re: Drone Operation - Railroad.net Guidance

Postby kilroy » Tue May 31, 2016 1:15 pm

The RR PD's are beginning to use drones as part of their security efforts,so here come the "run ins" with
railfan owned drones.


So will police drones carry air to air missiles or have dog-fighting capability to deal the railfan drones?
Why do we drive on parkways and park in driveways?
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Re: Drone Operation - Railroad.net Guidance

Postby BandA » Tue May 31, 2016 1:38 pm

Shoot a net or a bag around the railfan's drone.
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Re: Drone Operation - Railroad.net Guidance

Postby alchemist » Wed Jun 01, 2016 1:29 pm

Check this article about an Anti UAV Defense System under development:
http://www.theregister.co.uk/2016/06/01/faa_auds_test/
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Re: Drone Operation - Railroad.net Guidance

Postby charlesriverbranch » Wed Jun 01, 2016 3:56 pm

kilroy wrote:
The RR PD's are beginning to use drones as part of their security efforts,so here come the "run ins" with
railfan owned drones.


So will police drones carry air to air missiles or have dog-fighting capability to deal the railfan drones?


In the Netherlands, they're training eagles to catch drones.
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Re: Drone Operation - Railroad.net Guidance

Postby Backshophoss » Wed Jun 01, 2016 6:33 pm

The June '16 issue of "Railfan and Railroad" has an article on Drone photography starting on pg 54.
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