Drones in the Post-Apocalyptic World – Do you see what I see?
When Prepping, most people usually focus on 19th century technology (with the notable exception of guns). I am thinking that you might want to add a surveillance/camera drone to your tool bag of things to have in place after TSHTF.
We have already discussed upgrading your home defense but it has been proven time and time again throughout history that a determined attacker will be able to breach any fortifications, particularly if you cannot observe their actions and permit them freedom to act without interference.
In most cases, you have to expose yourself to observation by a target in order to observe someone else. While you can limit your exposure through use of camouflage (they wouldn’t even know your facility is there) or placing protected observation ports in a door, wall or guard tower (think of the peep hole in your front door), a surveillance drone offers you the ability to observe visitors/intruders without their knowledge. Even if they see the drone, they won’t necessarily know where you are.
So these devices provide several advantages to the Prepper.
► These small devices which are relatively quiet and hard to see (or “acquire” if you want to use the military term). We tend to think in two dimensions (front to rear, left to right along the horizontal plain) when we move about. If you are a scuba diver or a pilot, you may have had the opportunity to work in three dimensions incorporating your depth or altitude into your movements. Most people will not look above them when moving through the woods or cross country or coming upon your safe haven. So you potentially have an advantage that your drone will observe the intruder(s) from above without their knowledge. Even if they do see the drone above them, you have not exposed your position (and cannot be taken under direct fire by them).
► Drones expand the area you can observe quickly, extend your ability to observe beyond a perimeter that you can patrol (on horseback or on foot) and give you a bird’s eye view of the area around you that you want to put under observation.
Let’s say you have arrived at your bug out destination and are ready to wait out the crisis. Instead of patrolling around the perimeter of your home or manning an observation tower or deer stand on an avenue of approach, (exposing yourself and leaving tracks and other sign that you are in the area) you can quickly send a drone out to scout out the entire perimeter (not just what you can see from your porch). You can look for any movement or indications that someone is approaching your area, ideally without being observed and not leaving any spore that someone can follow back to your safe haven.
► If your drone is observed, I can tell you from my air defense training in the military, flying objects are hard to hit (not impossible), particularly if they are moving fast and changing direction and/or altitude. If your enemy only has firearms, they will have to expend a lot of ammo to bring down your surveillance drone, even more so if it is moving fast. The more ammo they expend on your drone, the less they have for an attack on your stronghold.
► As of this writing, it looks like most surveillance drones that are available to the public have limited flight time; about 30 minutes is the maximum. So you would have to establish a plan to send your drone out, travel to the observation points that you want or scan the entire perimeter and then return to base (RTB). Just incase your drone has been observed, you need to avoid routines and patterns that might either lead them back to your launch point/recovery pad or allow them to avoid being observed and move/relocate between your regularly scheduled drone patrols.
► recharging: you should insure that you have the ability to recharge your drone after TSHTF, otherwise it will make a great paperweight or coffee table ornament but not much else. When I first started prepping, I always shied away from technology. I wanted analog devices that operated by mechanically, not using batteries or wall-socket delivered electricity or even small gas engines. Now that I have seen what options there are to enjoy and use technology, even when the grid has failed, you just have to plan for the contingency of being able to use rechargeable batteries and have an off grid means of recharging (such as a solar panel).
► weather dependent: the small size and weight of your drone is an advantage for maximizing operation (range and flight time) but conversely it means that your tiny drone is not all-weather. High winds may limit or preclude flight operations; check the owner’s manual. You don’t want to lose this thing due to weather if you can help it, especially if you can’t go to the store and get a new one.
Cost of units can vary from very affordable (under $100) to pretty expensive (see picture at right for an example). Features to look for:
→ Maximum flight time – trust me you want more air time as it permits you to cover more area.
→ Ready to fly or headless flying – you don’t want to have to spend a lot of time learning to operate the device. These features are for simplified operation right out of the box.
→ Intelligent flight modes – There are several available such as waypoints (distance and direction to the next turn) and home lock. GPS positioning may continue to work for a period after TSHTF. Home lock – this feature automatically returns the drone to the launch point if the signal from the controller is lost.
→ Obstacle avoidance – sensors keep the drone from hitting an object (tree, cliff face etc).
→ Integrated controller and camera view – being able to fly your drone and react to what it sees is crucial.
You might need spare batteries with your drone and spare rotors. See the manufacturers recommended parts package.
Here is a link with a review of the “best” camera drones as of Winter 2017: http://uavcoach.com/drone-with-camera/
Counter measures: as with any technology there will be a never-ending cycle of defenses and counter measures. I am not sure that you want to keep up with the Jones' on this one. You should look for models whose signal cannot be easily co-opted by another operator. There are some drone catchers on the market, but I cannot be sure of their effectiveness at this point.
Final note: this is probably one device that you will keep in a Faraday Cage to protect it from an EMP burst. Most models are compact enough to fit in a backpack pocket (including the controller) so they don’t take up a lot of space. Having a surveillance/camera drone is a serious piece of kit you should consider as part of your home defense augmentation plan.
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