Today we set out early in the morning with the aim of using the microdrone UAV to take some Wiltshire White Horse aerial photos. We arrived in location surrounded by thick mist. Not a problem for us, we had a flask of coffee and our mobile office so we could continue to work while waiting for the mist to burn off.

2 1/2 hours later, with he mist gone, we set up the drone and lifted for our first flight of the day. Having only flown 50 m away towards the target, we were given low battery power warnings. I flew the drone back and changed the battery. This happened for all 4 batteries!

Speaking to a fellow operator, he said it might be battery temperature, so I recharged all batteries and used a hand warmer in the battery box.The outside air temperature was not what I would call cold (22 Deg C) but warming them appeared to work.

White Horse

White Horse

We have now added the hand warmers to the growing additional equipment we carry in support of the drone flying.


We have continued to experience wind speeds above the MD4-200 microdrone UAV take off limit. We have however managed snatch a couple short flights but in winds up to 6 m/s.

The good news is that for these very short sessions we have not have MDCockpit or battery issues. We are hoping to attempt to get some better pictures of the Wiltshire White Horse when the wind drops. That will be a longer more representative session to confirm resolution to issues.


I am gradually realising that investing in an equipment that has a wind tolerance of 6 m/s is not one of my better ideas when we operate in the South West of England with an average wind speed between 5 and 7 m/s !!

We took the microdrone UAV to a local farmers field to see if we have finally put the minimising MD Cockpit issue to bed. It was blowing up to 6m/s but the field was open.

Open fields

Open fields

The first two flights were short (3 mins) due to battery power warnings. The battery level appeared to be ok at hover check but soon dropped off after a couple of mins. This happened on the first two batteries, the third battery worked normally.

During a drone battery change with drone over 5 m away from base station –  on powering up the drone and camera, the MDCockpit application minimised to an audio warning of ‘Disconnected’. ARRRRRGGGGGGHHHHH

Set off home in despair!


Today AJS completed another successful contract of equipment support work packages for its MoD and Agency customers. These were completed on time and to budget.  The work covered a number of subject areas over a 2 year period. All are based around the Defence Standards and Guidance policies.


Examples of the work packages are:

  • VfMB– AJS provided work packages for the support and guidance to the development of a fully described and costed Value For Money Benchmarking support solution to compare to an Industry delivered single source bid.
  • TID IPR– We provided work packages for the guidance and documented a proposed approach to the Project Team on the suggested process for ‘In Process Review’ (IPR) of Technical Information and Data (TID) presented to the Team during procurement cycle from Industry. The delivered TID was LSAR, Technical Publications and Initial Provisioning data. Additionally we gave guidance during the initial data deliveries in order to increase the process efficiency for future deliveries.
  • LSAR Analysis Tools– We developed a methodology for, and identified tools to enable the Project Teams Management to assess the population status of the DEF STAN 00-60 (JSP 886) Logistics Support Analysis Record database at a given point. This included the creation of a database based on the customers applications, knowledge and experience.
  • LSAR Through Life– We provided work packages for the guidance and documented a proposed approach to the Project Team on the suggested uses of an LSAR though life for the platform support solution.
  • STEV Task Selection– We provided work packages for the guidance and documented a proposed approach to the Project Team on the suggested method of selection of Supportability Test Evaluation and Verification tasks. This was to enable the team to fine tune their selections as there were very limited boundaries on available time and funds.


Is it Sods Law? There is a much quoted law that says when you need to demonstrate a fault it wont occur! Yes it happened.

I drove all the way up north with the microdrone UAV to the suppliers MW Power Systems Ltd and we could not replicate the fault. They said that it was too windy for flying so we set the kit up in the office.

I mentioned that we had adjusted firewall etc and they suggested that those adjustments must have fixed it. System tested no fault found was the mantra of the day !!

So I returned with the kit !!!


I had time for a quick check flight post yesterdays adjustments. Although we didn’t fly for long, we did actually manage to get in the air without any MDCockpit issues.

I am still going to go to the microdrone UAV suppliers to see if they can spot anything. Chances are that it will work perfectly.


I have been out flying the microdrone UAV on the edge of Salisbury Plains to confirm that the MDCockpit issue is resolved or to isolate it further.

During flight phase the video camera bracket detached from camera front face. Luckily the flight was in open fields without population.

During drone a battery change between 1st and 2nd flights of the day and with drone over 5 m away from base station –  on powering up the drone and camera, the MDCockpit application minimised to an audio warning of ‘Disconnected’. I restarted the laptop with the drone power off, but the laptop powered up in exactly the same layout. MDCockpit running and minimised to system tray.

Switching the base unit power off and disconnecting and reconnecting the downlink USB connection brought the MDCockpit application back up.

Without the MDCockpit application I cannot see the onboard image and more importantly I have no battery power indications.

new-pictureI need to devote more time to understanding the symptoms and isolating the fault. I have contacted the supplier MW Power Systems Ltd who have requested that the system be returned to them for analysis. To be honest I cannot afford to have them fit it in when they can, I need the kit to be flying. I have volunteered to take it up to them.

Out of desperation we have subsequently altered firewall settings and USB setting to remove them from the equation. We will hopefully fly again tomorrow.


We took the microdrone out after suggestions from the supplier that the power settings might need adjustments on the laptop and this might be causing the MDCockpit collapse.

We took the kit out to see if the adjustment made any impact to the issue. The video camera was again found detached from the mount in the case. I will contact the supplier again.

Due to 6 m/s wind speeds we did not fly for long and the MDCockpit issue did not occur. I need to try again tomorrow if the wind speed is lower.


fatsAJS has qualified as an MoD supplier within the terms of MoD’s Framework Agreement for Technical Services (FATS3). This is a 24-month agreement which commences Apr 2009.

FATS3 enables MoD clients to identify appropriate suppliers, who have provided evidence against a broad range of capabilities including: technical studies, research, project management and support as well as engineering support across the land, air, maritime, joint and nuclear domains. FATS3 enables the fast and efficient procurement of Technical Support.

AJS provides support under 5 FATS/3 Broad Areas of Capability including: Battle space Information, Business Processes, Project Management and Acquisition Support functions, Through Life Support.

For more information see – here


I am so pleased that we as a company decided to set aside service development time before attempting to provide a professional service with the microdrone MD4-200 UAV to support a fee paying customer.

I have just had another frustrating trip out with the microdrone MD4-200.

After travelling miles to fly for training, we could not get passed the initial set up of the system. MDCockpit application minimised to tray (3 times) Audio warning stated “Disconnected. Reopening the application was not possible. Selections from the tray menu would not restart the application. Tried to use help on the application. Aborted any training after 5th attempt.

Oh yes and before setting up the drone – The video camera was again found detached from its mounting plate.

This isn’t good!