Adam Savage’s Custom Quadcopter Gear

Since getting his DJI Inspire 1 quadcopter, Adam has been flying it regularly to learn its abilities as a videography platform. And as he becomes familiar with its operating procedures, Adam can’t help but built custom accessories and gear to optimize his flight setup. From flight log notebooks to battery charging racks, we check out some of Adam’s specialized flight equipment.

Comments (149)

149 thoughts on “Adam Savage’s Custom Quadcopter Gear

  1. That was fantastic. The way Adam channels his obsessive energy is very entertaining. Keep it up. And please more flight videos.

  2. Good stuff. I especially like the case. It may be worth noting that loose Li-Po batteries can’t go in checked luggage. They have to be carry-on. Adam may want to consider that when designing the secondary case.

  3. I agree that DJI needs to start incorporating some of these ideas into their cases. I love that accessory case shaped like the battery.

  4. A sign of the times from my neighborhood on Monday:

    “escaped quadrocopter!” “”On Sunday, my white quatdrocopter escaped. It has a white camera.”

  5. Adam, you continue to amaze me by the diligence you put into everything you do. From the Show, to your one day builds, to your hobbies (which I realize are often the builds). The Pre-flight, Flight, and Post-flight checklist is just another example. I am hopefully going to be getting into more of the UAS flying (just trying to figure out how to fund it for Photography) and I can’t wait to get the files…or one that you made 😉 Norm, great job too, the amount of flying you both do is great…wish Michigan had a longer flying season.

  6. That Field Notes logbook is gorgeous, they really need to make that…

    As for the filters, something like this could do the job really well, Acrylic Coin Case

    and for the viewer maybe something like this?

  7. That Pelican case….. to quote Archer, “Sploosh!!”

    If I win the check list, can I get it signed??

  8. I’m so glad you did an update on the back half of the video. As soon as I saw the pre-flight checklist and Adam mentions check the frequency, I was thinking since it is laminated there can be a blank line for you to write your frequency on the card. This way if you forgot you have a quick reference to check. If someone showed up late to the “party” they just have to check peoples cards and see what’s been taken.

    Re- Field notes: After my thought on the pre-flight checklist Adam showed he was making logs in field notes. Coming from military background, I immediately started designing a printable version. Thank goodness for the update. Now I don’t have to. 5 stars for Adam’s book design. I doubt I would have done any better.

  9. Step one on checklist, make sure you have AMA number with you or printed on your aircraft.

    Not a member? If you are flying one of these, you really should be.
    No matter the reason. AP or Hobby, you guys should join the AMA.

    Modelaircraft.org

  10. you both beat me to saying the same thing 🙂

    Has Adam spoken about that huge pool table light? Is it a movie prop?

  11. I just bought my first quadcopter last Saturday, a $150 starter version to learn how to fly and to get into the hobby. I got inspired (no pun intended) by the last video where Adam and Norm went flying with Adam’s DJI.

    On my second day of flying I decided to try it out outside and after some low flying, parrying the heavy winds, I decided to take it up a bit to get a nice shot with the camera. That was a bad idea…

  12. Imagine combining this with a VR console! I really want to get into this kind of stuff. Do you guys (or anyone else) recommend where I can start? I think about buying a miniature quadcopter or something similar 🙂

  13. Good stuff. I especially like the case. It may be worth noting that loose Li-Po batteries can’t go in checked luggage. They have to be carry-on. Adam may want to consider that when designing the secondary case.

    Quote that! LiPo must be carry-on, Adam you really should consider this.

    Anyway, I’m always amazed on things you put together to be “more yours” and when it’s about cases wow. Love that checklist and the flight logbook is pure awesomeness, and that gave me a nice idea I should really start designing…

  14. Makes me wanna put some similar stuff together for my little micro-quad!

    Also, sign me up for the pre-flight checklist

  15. I love seeing kit videos like this. I’d love to see more of them.

    I’d love to have one of Adam’s pre-flight checklists.

  16. I think Adam has been very smart to make a checklist. Although a small helicopter, this is an aircraft and subject to the same pre-flights that any full-size aircraft would be. Well done. Yes, yes, I would like one of Adam’s check lists too.

  17. Wow love how professional the field notes log book looks!

    I also think it’s an oversight not to make the propeller locks stand out, its such an easy thing to forget and can cause such a devastating failure!

    Also sign me up for one of the pre-flight check lists!

  18. Would love to have a pre-flight check list! If nothing else it would be cool to own something made by adam.

  19. Summer is around the corner so that checklist/Field Notes edition would be awesome! Really, Field Notes ought to put this in (limited) production, it’s amazing.. I seriously appreciate how Tested can motivate anytime. Time to do the dishes and get crackin’!

  20. Good stuff. I especially like the case. It may be worth noting that loose Li-Po batteries can’t go in checked luggage. They have to be carry-on. Adam may want to consider that when designing the secondary case.

    Quote that! LiPo must be carry-on, Adam you really should consider this.

    Anyway, I’m always amazed on things you put together to be “more yours” and when it’s about cases wow. Love that checklist and the flight logbook is pure awesomeness, and that gave me a nice idea I should really start designing…

    Double qoute that and a small (but important) addendum:

    First a bit of background information.

    The UN issues the UN Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods, which are then collated and indexed by IATA (International Air Transport Association) for use by the airlines as guidelines for carriage of dangerous goods.

    This also includes Lithium Ion batteries, specifically one with a rating of 100Wh (Watt-hours) or more. The Inspire’s battery is 129.96 Wh according to the DJI website.

    The recommendations state that for Lithium Ion batteries with a Wh rating of more than 100 Wh, but less than 160 Wh for consumer electronic devices a maximum of 2 spare batteries may be carried in carry-on baggage only and that they must be individually protected to prevent short circuits.

    I wish I could link to the source material, but I haven’t been able to find a free copy of the IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations (IATA DGR if you want to search for it) and my airline sort of frowns upon posting company documents online 🙂

  21. Love this. I made myself a custom little box/kit for my Hubsan x4, and plan on doing the same with my new FPV 250 race quad. I’d love to include adams checklist in my kit!

  22. How do you get people to come out of the woodwork and post a comment here on Tested? Why, just give something away, of course.. 😊

    Yet another awesome video, Guys! 👍

  23. This is great stuff! I ordered a quad recently (haven’t even gotten it yet). Any sort of checklist and day-of tips to get the process more natural is very welcome!

  24. I have been using field notes at work for about 2 years and your field notes booklets are awesome! Love all of the upgrades.

  25. Thanks Adam for the great idea of a flight log I am starting to drive and you have to record your hour of driving, so I just took the idea but am using it for my driving times. And listening to to podcast your sons are about the same age and they should consider doing the same thing if California has the same rules as Washington.

  26. Thanks. Not many people recognize the logo. I marched with them…holy crap…20 years ago! Good times.

    Terry

  27. The more I see this the more I want one. Sadly it’s a little out of my price
    range.

    The modifications like the yellow prop locks and battery shaped case are brilliant.
    Listen up DJI.

  28. ADAM you mentioned adding magnets to the landing pads so that you can land on your table but use caution. Don’t forget about the Inspire’s compass! Magnets attached to the UAS will almost certainly interfere with it.

  29. So awesome! I got my DJI Phantom last year, and have loved taking videos with it. Would love to get the pre-flight checklist – and like many others, would love to have Adam sign it!! Great idea. Also, the Field Notes book is fantastic – I really hope the guys at Field Notes take Note of it….Love their notebooks, would love one like Adam made!

    Keep it up guys! Tested just keeps getting better and better!

  30. Such good stuff! I would love a pre-flight checklist – signed by the whole Tested crew!? 🙂 Awesome videos!

  31. I asked for a copy of Adam’s checklist in a previous comment and guys way exceeded my expectations. Thank you.

  32. The cases are starting to become some of my favorite video’s. A friend and I have been working on Tricopters and all of this is useful, thanks guys!

  33. Absolutely awesome video! I’m watching it for a 3rd time today! I would love a Pre-Flight checklist!

  34. Hi Mr Savage I would love it if you could post the document files for the book and for the checklist i would really appreciate it.

  35. The way you get things done is awsome Adam! I really apreciate to be able to get a glimpse of your brain at work.

  36. The extra additions to the Inspire that adam has done, looks like it drastically improves the experience of preflight checking!

  37. Is there a power strip in the battery charger?

    I’d love to see how this stuff goes together, the blowmolded box, the battery charger, even how you put together the field notes. Maybe you could take some photos along the way and include them in videos like these with some discussion.

  38. The UN issues the UN Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods,..

    I heard that there were some updates made to this in February…at least on the US documents. Do you know the specific deltas? I got up to speed on things for a January trip…and then they changed it…grrr.

  39. I bought a “Syma X5C 2,4G Quad”. No idea if it’s a known brand, it was on sale ^^

    I bought it in Sweden.

  40. Lipo Batteries can explode and cause a serious fire. The gang charger can multiply this effect and should be used cautiously.

    http://flitetest.com/articles/lipo-battery-bunker

    Adam’s enthusiasm is infectious. I would highly recommend Adam and everyone entering the hobby take time to understand the serious dangers of Lipo Batteries.
    A charging bunker like the one in the link above is a must have for anyone serious about this hobby.
    I would love to see a Adam’s own take on this kind of safety device after years of managing explosives on Mythbusters. It would also help spread awareness of the dangers.
    Keep up the great work Tested Team.

  41. Adam’s mentality to go 110% to solve the problem/challenge is the only way. Do it 80% and the result is not satisfying and you have to do it again later. Some say “obsessed”, I’d say “enthusiast”. 🙂

  42. One Day Build! One Day Build! One Day Build! One Day Build! One Day Build! One Day Build! One Day Build! One Day Build! One Day Build! One Day Build! One Day Build! One Day Build! One Day Build!One Day Build!

  43. The check list is cool. I have just started flying and I have a list of procedures I go through before flight but I don´t have them on paper. Nice job, Adam!

  44. The check list is cool. I have just started flying and I have a list of procedures I go through before flight but I don´t have them on paper. Nice job, Adam!

  45. The check list is cool. I have just started flying and I have a list of procedures I go through before flight but I don´t have them on paper. Nice job, Adam!

  46. The check list is cool. I have just started flying and I have a list of procedures I go through before flight but I don´t have them on paper. Nice job, Adam!

  47. The check list is cool. I have just started flying and I have a list of procedures I go through before flight but I don´t have them on paper. Nice job, Adam!

  48. wow that checklist is really indepth …. Ive done model rocketry and some beginner R/C flying (through numerous groups about a decade ago) and coming from an aircraft maintenance background its awesome to see that the same preflight checks work well and should also be heavily used for R/C units.

    It’d be awesome to get a checklist as well.

  49. Adam Savage.

    Use the inside of the lid as a storage for the flat items. Also you can display the check list up there.

  50. The UN issues the UN Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods,..

    I heard that there were some updates made to this in February…at least on the US documents. Do you know the specific deltas? I got up to speed on things for a January trip…and then they changed it…grrr.

    Don’t know about any changes in February, they did bring out the 2015 version of the DGR in January though. Did a bit more searching and found the relevant parts (i.e. limitations for passengers) online:

    http://www.iata.org/whatwedo/cargo/dgr/Documents/passenger-provisions-table-2.3.A-dgr-56-en.pdf

    The lithium batteries are mentioned on the first page, second box, at the bottom (for the spares), in the third box as well for devices with lithium batteries installed in them and on the second page again for batteries with a capacity of less than 100Wh.

    The differences with what I read yesterday is that they now mention a limit on the lithium content of the batteries (8g for 160Wh max and 2g for 100Wh max)

    If you look at the table in the link you will also see that batteries with 100Wh or more require operator approval (with the operator being the airline), so I also suggest checking the airlines website on their rules about batteries. I looked at a few and they all seem to follow the DGR:

    Delta:

    http://www.delta.com/content/www/en_US/traveling-with-us/baggage/before-your-trip/restricted-items.html

    British Airways:

    http://www.britishairways.com/cms/global/pdfs/lithium_battery.pdf

    American Airlines (doesn’t seem to have a limit on number of batteries, which is a bit strange)

    http://www.aa.com/i18n/travelInformation/baggage/restrictedArticles.jsp?anchorLocation=DirectURL&title=restricteditems

    And an information page from the US DOT, but that one is a bit odd as well, since they mention “Larger Li Batteries” as being between 8-25 gr Li content and that they are permitted as carry-on but later state that “Larger Li Batteries are prohibited from flying.

    http://phmsa.dot.gov/safetravel/batteries

    All in all I would think that if you follow the DGR you can’t really go wrong. You could always try calling the airline, but the helpdesk will probably just quote their website. As for the changes in the US documents, I couldn’t really say anything about that since I work for a European airline.

    I hope this helps!

    p.s. I really enjoy your articles on the RC hobby, very informative and I look forward to reading more of them!

  51. I hope this helps!

    p.s. I really enjoy your articles on the RC hobby, very informative and I look forward to reading more of them!

    That’s perfect…thanks for the thorough info.

    Thanks also regarding my articles. I appreciate it. More are on the way. I hope you like racing quads.

  52. FWIW – for my January trip, I read all the rules and packed my RC gear very early. I took it all down to the airport about a week before my flight. I got an approving nod from the Southwest agent, then walked over to the TSA guy and did the same. I was in and out in less than 10 minutes (one of the advantages of living in a smallish city with a relatively big airport). It made me feel much better that I wouldn’t have any last-second issues to deal with on the day of my flight…and I didn’t.

    On the way back, TSA at Midway pulled me aside and opened my carry-on with the Li-Pos and radio transmitter. The guy was familiar with the stuff, so we had a friendly chat about RC and I was on my way.

  53. Just awesome! Love how excited Adam gets and the attention to detail is crazy! Would love to pick his brain on all things nerdy!

  54. Adam, have you tried Moverio BT200 glasses, they work great for lining up camera shots, we have them working with our Inspire1. Thanks for all the great ideas.

  55. All I could think of when I saw that eye piece that Adam had

    Love the content guys keep up the good work. Adam’s videos are always worth the time to watch. The craftsmanship and ingenuity he brings to the table is just incredible.

  56. When Adam makes props or items for his toys even something as simple as a laminated checklist looks absolutely brilliant. Would love to have one.

  57. All I could think of when I saw that eye piece that Adam had

    Love the content guys keep up the good work. Adam’s videos are always worth the time to watch. The craftsmanship and ingenuity he brings to the table is just incredible.

    Spot on, knew it reminded me of something.

  58. I think a project using magnets to help the drone land in precise spot would be something fun.

    How about a beartrap device using magnets instead of cable?

    A beartrap is a naval aviation system that helps helicopters land on smallish desk of destroyers in rough weather. I may miss the details but basically the helicopter lowers a cable from the bottom and the cable is hooked to device on the flight deck of the ship. Once the cable is hooked, the cable is reeled in slowly so that the helicopter is gradually lowered to the pitching desk, which helps for safer landing.

    Adding cable on a drone would be bad due to weight but how about using magnetic landing pad?

    1. Attach lightweight metallic feet on the drone’s landing legs.
    2. Set up a landing pad with small areas (matching landing legs of drone) that turns magnetic when power is turned on.
    3. When drone is about to take off, turn off power.
    4. When drone is ready to land, set it to hover near the top of the landing pad.
    5. When it’s ready, turn on power on the landing pad so that it turns magnetic.
    6. The drone would be pulled down evenly without tipping over.
  59. Those are some awesome ideas! I might make some things to improve my own flights. And a list would be amazing and very helpful!

  60. I just got an Inspire 1 myself and the checklist and log book would be awesome! Tons of great ideas in this video!

  61. Fantastic follow up, Adam and Norm! I finally received my Inspire 1 this week and did my maiden flight yesterday. So much fun. I’ll be replicating many of the things you’re sharing in this video for myself. So far I’ve been staging it out of the back of my truck, but I know that won’t always be an option.

    Adam, one thing to think about with your camping chair: a swivel would be a very good idea. If you can keep yourself and your transmitter pointed more or less in the direction of your aircraft, it will help with signal strength.

  62. Adam great stuff you surely are a big inspiration in many fronts! Cant wait to see some of your videos shot whit the drone

  63. Adam…What an amazing mind you have!! I have a few other things I have done with my Inspire that I would like to share.
    I will post pics as soon as I can but in a nutshell, like painting the proplocks for visual checking i have used hi-vis neon trim tape on the arms which makes seeing the copter’s orientation in flight a breeze. Green on the left and orange on the right. Also, I have painted my prop tips yellow. There’s a reason full size aircraft do this or white or some variation. It makes seeing the prop disk easy when theyre spooled up. Since I have dual transmitters i have marked which is the master and which is slave with the same orange and green tape. On the ipads, i have found a protective case that the edges are bevelled to a point which makes them dig into the rubber of the holder on the transmitter much more securely. Further, I have added a piece of velcro to the back of the ipad case and holder to make sure they do not fall out. I watched as my camera op let his transmitter dangle by the neck strap and the ipad remained secure! I will figure a way to post some pics soon!

  64. I absolutely love all the extras you’ve added!!! Definitely have to start working on some for mine.

    Also love the pre – check list 😉

  65. Thanks for the great ideas. One note of caution and someone may have already mentioned this. Adding magnets to the landing gear is not recommended. The compass used on the Inspire is very sensitive to magnetism and might be compromised by new magnets.

    I need a flight log like the one Adam created. Thanks for sharing.

  66. I see Adam eventually becoming the sponsor for science for this generation and the next, if he already isn’t. Keep it up!

  67. I would like the pre-check list!!! Awesome add-ons btw Adam!

    I’d like a pre fight check list too! That would be so much easier to remember things!

  68. On your battery charger ideal. Expand that. Use the original case that the drone came in and covert it into a charging case. You have Storage, Transport and charging all in one case, plus you have plenty of room to expand and cable organisation.

    Good video.

    Jeff

  69. I may be completely overlooking it but, where are the checklists available for download? In the video it said they would put up the files?

  70. For my filter for my nightvision and video equipment I use a PVC tube cut short and use 2 caps I use one with a screw off clean out style lid. Line with foam to separate filters, if you still have a pre flight list I’d love it, I Fly a RQ-11b Raven in the Army when I am deployed. They are fun but very difficult when you start out, buying an inspire for myself when I have time. Wish they had a Military discount. Lots of money.

  71. Thank you very much for the flight pre-check list. Is there a link for more information on the original black styrene ipad hoods or way for me to get one or make one just like the ones Adam no longer uses?

  72. I am new to your site…where do I locate the checklist download you mentioned would be made available in this video?

  73. That Field Notes logbook is gorgeous, they really need to make that…

    As for the filters, something like this could do the job really well, Acrylic Coin Case

    and for the viewer maybe something like this?

    I thought something similar to this. Or something like the right eye display in a helicopter for the main gun.

    Also looking at the rig Adam has already another thought came to mind.

    Luke is speeding down the trench in Episode 4 with his targeting computer running when he hears the disembodied voice of Obi-won say “use the force Luke.” Then Luke turns off the fancy viewer.

    Just thought I would share.

  74. Hello Jus saw Adams video on his Dji Inspire 1 quadcopter, and would love to get my hands on one of the per flight checklist or download one, I jus got my Dji phantom 2V and learning everything I can and not trying too over think things before take off, I did all my set ups and it’s ready for flight and after watching Adams video it started giving me some ideas love the table.

  75. Hi Adam.

    I am a great fan of yours.

    I have just purchased a DJI Phantom FC40 and i would love to be able to get a hold of a copy of the “log book, Check list and flight log” if they are still available please?

    Regards

    Kiwi Tronics.

  76. Hello, great vid! Can I still get a checklist? I’m buying an Inspire 1 next week.

    Thank you

  77. Here is the list, it was posted in previous threads by the site moderators, just reposting it. Cheers.

  78. Hi all,

    Has Adam or the team shared any details about the plywood drone table top he made? I can have a crack at one of my own design, but sure would love to see the specs / plans of the one he made for reference.

    Thx,

    Jeff

  79. Update – I’ve almost finished my version of the drone table Adam made. Used cork instead of the pool felt….painted squares instead of the circles. I still need to paint the arrows to indicated the propeller direction.

  80. Where can I get the post flight checklist? I managed to find the pre-flight image on another forum. Did you guys post these somewhere that I can find them? thanks

  81. Hey Guys,

    i know im really late to the game but im about to invest in a phantom 3 system and would love a copy of the pre-flight checklist. Im in Australia so happy for just the print out file. Also would love to engage a discussion about whats happening with UAV laws over here. It seems alot more regulated here compared to what you have been talking about on the podcasts and videos.

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