This week a further discussion of using drones around our tree farm.
You will remember last week; I was having an issue with a tree that got in the way of my (out of practice) drone flying skills. So, I dropped the tree, right between a power pole and the greenhouse at the dirt garden.
What I didn’t get into was the whole adventure (once the drone was retrieved) which followed getting it to calibrate and get on to using it as an operating “power tool” around the farm.
Today, we’ll go through a little “amateur logging” to give you a better idea of what goes into being a “landsman” when you have a big property (in land area) here in Texas. Before play, let’s get the tree cleaned up.
Falling a Tree is Easy. Ask about Clean-up!
Even using a couple of battery powered 4-inch chainsaws, it was still two charger visits to get through the job. This is the Before.
The process is you start from the bottom of the tree (the fat part, there Slicker). Then you walk towards the top of the tree. As you go, you will be cutting everything off next to the trunk. The limbs are the next smaller size and then down to branches from there. Following?
As you do this, you will be throwing the cuttings as shown in our (cleverly?) color-coded Junior Drone Logger Planning Diagram. (Which assumes you cut down the tree without smashing the greenhouse, amazing the wife with your skill, frankly.)
As you can see, the uphill side of the tree was thrown into a pile in the garden. And the lower side was simply thrown over an existing fence.
The Big Change is when you get all the limbs off and cut down to 4-6 foot branches, they all pile and draw pretty good with the tractor bucket down and the bucket forks barely touching ground. That gets the garden clean.
You then do a back-draw down out of the garden (close quarters in the fence opening) and keep pulling the pile down in one smooth pull until it’s even with the low wooden fence.
Then the tractor bucket is used to push a single combined pile down to a burn site.
Big Burn Piles
30 Acres is about 12 hectares. And to keep property like this really clean, you need 3-5 burn piles around the property.
Here is the one closest to the house (300 feet?) away.
I know it doesn’t look too impressive from the air, but to put things in perspective let’s go higher.
You can begin to see how big it is from up here. Which is interesting from a land management standpoint because when we go much higher, we will get into high canopy areas:
When I tell you trees down here typically run 100-130 feet, it’s no joke. Logging is still a very big deal in this part of the South.
Oh, and sometimes you will catch a local red tail hawk crossing below the drone (with no encoder on, for shame!):
As you can see, I was maybe 150 feet up (AGL) for this. That tower-looking track is our wooden fence with a 440 V power line up to a pole in our yard. Which will be where the fiber optics will be going (on poles). One of these days…
Drone and Saw Talk
The Potensic Atom SE has been doing fine. They’re running $249 at Amazon when a $40 coupon is applied. Once we got past an initial calibration error. Which Potensic customer support solved. It may have something to do with the cheap $90 class 10-inch Android 13, which was replaced with a 7-inch 400 nit (brightness) phone. Works way better and is fine around sunrise, sunset and cloudy days. But if you plan on sunny day drone flying much, get a high nit phone along the way 800 nits would be peachy.
The Samsung micro SD card was a bust. A smaller 128 GB SanDisk works dandy.
On the saws, the 2 little green 4-inch battery saws did this whole job. But since there is a lot more work coming up this winter, we opted to try one of the slightly longer 6-inch battery saws (same basic concept) but these have added a chain oiler which makes a lot of sense. Just found them this week.
As you can see, it looks like a tiny tank and one of those gas engine primer pumps. Fill with chain oil and pump once in a while. With 30 percent off it was right around $60 with the tax. I don’t see too much difference between these saws, but the interesting part will be seeing if the oiler keeps oiling (when the saw is put away!). Had that problem on an old HF electric.
Measure your saw, too. Very good to know when you are cutting wood for a small stove. Hard to bluff sheet steel sides!
Figure the saw is 13-inches overall and that’s about all the smallest of the wood stoves eats, so a useful number to keep in mind.
We have a larger (electric) Oregon 18-inch electric, but it’s corded. Not a huge fan of corded saws, but they’re going for $101 on sale and we like them for trimming larger trees. The extension cord to use (and via a GFI Outdoor outlet if you can manage it) would be a #12 gauge. Something like the ClearPower cord with adapter here for $80.
Another option is to pick up the generator and use a shorter cord. But then you have issues with power, noise, and in summer risk of sparks. There’s a reason woods get shut down sometimes in late summer.
By the way, the other reason for the drone is for being able to track suspicious vehicles. We will only get the odd car – one every week, or two. The Potensic is fast enough in “sport mode” to keep up for a while. It will do 36 miles per hour.
Adrenaline, anyone? See where the limbs and branches are on the road? And see the two power lines?
The video is 4K-30 FPS so freeze-framed in VLC Media Player and bumped up, it can catch a lot of detail.
Which I’m putting 0ut there because it’s one of the tools we will be going after local poachers with this winter.
Let me think, anything else? Unless you want me to brag about how good the tractor work was with just one pass along that low wooden fence?
Yes sir, it’s ALL about having the right tools.
Elaine and I miss our bigger (sit in and go places airplane). Every once in a while I’ll sneak over onto YouTube and play an old flying video, or into the raw footage of our many flights around the country. Never tire of watching my own landings…
But that was then, and this is now. With the drone, the cost of flying (and you do get some first person views that are better than sit-in flying because you’re not having to manage so many things, is really quite enjoyable.
Next weekend, our ham radio Big Secret Project begins. Using the drone to hang antennas on the beam on the tower and then the new antenna design the week after.
Which, Elaine says, ought to be followed by building a winter shelter for the feral cats in from the woods.
OMG, almost forgot this: Universe seems bound and determined to keep us supplied with black cats! This is one of the feral cats who has been named Zeus2. He wants to be family!
Not a while hair on him. Probably related. The feral Puddy tats seems to only come in 3 varieties here: Pure black, black and white (Sylvester style), and Siamese. Good cat stock here-abouts.
Write when you get rich,