Hamilton Purchases Mini-Copter - Hamilton College
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A screenshot from a video taken from the DJI Phantom 2.
A screenshot from a video taken from the DJI Phantom 2.

Hamilton Purchases Mini-Copter

By TC Topp '16  |  Contact Holly Foster 315-859-4068
Posted July 15, 2014
Tags Hamilton Headlines Information Technology Services

Watch a video of the Hamilton Quadcopter

Hamilton is now the proud home of a DJI Phantom 2. The device is a “high performance, reliable, and easy to use small unmanned aerial system (UAS), [designed] for commercial and recreational use,” as the product’s website states.

The drone, which was purchased by Library and Information Technology Services, is an impressive example of quickly developing intelligent technology. Although it can be controlled manually, the pilot is also able to use the iPad to set GPS waypoints that the drone can navigate to unsupervised before returning home. It is also equipped with an intelligent battery system that monitors power levels and returns the drone to the take-off location when energy gets low.

Throughout its flights, the quadcopter records the surroundings with a GoPro HD camera supported by a gyroscopically stabilized gimbal arm. The camera’s direction can be controlled independently of the quadcopter itself, and the feed can be watched in real-time on a handheld monitor. The drone is equipped with a quad-rotor system that allows for “precision flight and stable hovering,” allowing for smooth, sweeping footage. 

Multimedia Systems Technician Graham Espe revealed that apart from capturing stunning aerial shots of campus and the surrounding landscape, Audiovisual Services will also be able to record events like sporting competitions and the annual Class & Charter Day concert. The driving force behind purchasing the drone, which was acquired at the end of June, was Multimedia Systems Technician Forrest Warner, who is “enthusiastic about the future of audiovisual technology” and is excited to have this technology at Hamilton.

The Library Information Technology Services (LITS) is not the only department that plans to utilize the drone, however. Admissions has already approached AV about creating a promotional video, while Physical Plant hopes to inspect roofs and buildings for needed maintenance and repair. The office has been using the drone as regularly as the weather has allowed; Molly Root ’15, an audiovisual technical assistant, said that she’s enjoyed watching the construction progress on the Kennedy Center for Theatre and the Studio Arts, which will open this month.

AV offers classroom and conference room technical support, as well as video and audio recording of lectures, presentations and performances. Hamilton’s LITS department is continuously updating and expanding and is excited to have yet another service to offer to the campus community.

Editor's note: This story has been edited for clarity and accuracy.


Will Tim get to play with this?

Yes - the drone is adorable and seems suited to the bucolic nature of College Hill, but, I hate supporting a technology which really acts as a device for war and strife. yes , so do words and books, but I have to make a statement somewhere. Couldn't we get a fabulous baloon, colored, tethered , maybe a profit center??? my best to those on the Hill- enjoy the world there as opposed to the rest of the world.

Inevitably this piece of equipment will be abused. I'm sure your campus 'security' people will be clamoring to use it. Who else will be allowed access and what controls are in place?

SUPER!!! Now let's have a four-year, hour-a-week course in Public Sneaking (hey, I needed the rhyme). I think this is terrrrrIFic, Froggie. Though I really do think a Public Speaking-style core requirement on multi-media fluency (audio, video, verbal web production) is essential for the completely literate Hamilton Alumna or -nus. Other comments: Where's the Audio? Would copter sound disturb events it's taping? (cf. domestic intimidation machines (hovering choppers), named by Webster SWILLIAMISM on YouTube (a Brit). You will surely integrate this with the Virtual Campus Tour, right? And don't crop the FeatherVane atop the chapel cupola; a small band of folks from 1963 and 1966 have a special attachment for the inSpiring dome--see Sean K. Fitzpatrick's 1963 Class Analyst's Ltr. This is so totally cool! I've mounted a goPro on a home-made "Snurri-Cam"--the fish-eye effect is a bit extreme close up--for my congressional campaign "Walkabout Essays" inspired by Sam William (see above). WIP: Now that "corporations are people, too," I thought I'd interview one or two of them, to get their viewpoint on events past, current and future. If you have suggestions for questions, do please lemme know. It's such a fertile ground, sadly, for massive mockery. "When you were a toddler, did it frighten you when they put you into a Pendaflex with all those older corporations and hung you in a cold, Steelcase® filing cabinet and turned out the lights?" "Were you bullied by the older corporations in your folder?" "What's your favorite beverage?" "Which of your opposable corners do you use for writing and signing campaign checks?" "I'm sorry, but can you speak up? I suffer from tinnitus I picked up in Vietnam." "Did you join in the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations? What did you think of them?" "Do you think drones should be used inside the NY or Mass. Secretary of State's Corporations office to surveil you and your fellow corporations' night-time activities?" "If a corporation can wield a pencil to mark a ballot, should corporations be allowed to vote?" "Do we need to add paper ramps to all buildings to comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act?" "If a corporation must take a road-test before getting a driver's license, does the state have to provide a paper-enabled test car or truck or semi for the corporation to use?" (As the so-called "corporate charter" is the only objective correlative to "corporation" as a person, we obviously face some interesting issues in dealing with this Gang-of-Five-enanimated creature. It'd make a nice Moot Court case--a suit brought against Clinton Town Hall to provide "pathways for paper" to accommodate corporations who wish to attend council meetings, say. Or get to the clerk's office to register to vote.

PS to Michael Murphy's comment--It is my hope that, just as A.J. Liebling's formulation "freedom of the press belongs to he who owns one" has been somewhat modified by the very much cheaper (except for the infrastructure that we paid for w/ tax money (the interest on which gets paid to the Private Banksters who own the 12 fed. res. banks), so too will these inexpensive and up-hanced drones add the power to surveil Big Brother to him who can play Nintendo (with dual joystick controllers). We won't have to be wealthy enough to need a UH-1B (Huey) military chopper. (But see my "We are hosed" essay at ThePreambleProject.com)