Software & Hardware Reviews

Software Reviews: August to November 2023

Software and hardware reviews since 1995


FAA Drones

November 2023

Be Aware of the New FAA Drone/UAS Regulations

by Howard Berenbon

If you own a drone but haven’t been following the new FAA drone rules and requirements, then you need to wake up and pay attention. Because if you don’t know what’s been happening at the FAA regarding unmanned UAS rules you are now fore warned. The new drone rules are for both recreational flyers and Part 107 pilots. And the new rules for recreational flyers are defined by 49 USC 44809.

New Recreational Rules

You can’t legally fly your drone even if it’s registered. All drones weighing 0.55 lbs and up to 55 lbs must be registered with the FAA. However, as a recreational flyer you will need to take and pass a free course they call TRUST before you can fly your drone. The TRUST test can be taken online through authorized providers, which is what I just completed after about an hour and a half through 4 parts each with several multiple choice quiz questions to answer. My test was authorized by Pilot Institute and it was clear and easy to follow. And because of their TRUST test, I decided to buy their Part 107 Pilot’s course. Trust emphasizes drone safety, which is the utmost importance when flying your small aircraft, the FAA’s definition of your drone. The reality is that a drone has the potential to injure people or damage property if the pilot-in-command, that’s you, doesn’t follow the laws precisely. But let’s hope no problems occurs.

Okay, let’s assume you passed this test with flying colors and printed your certificate. Now you can fly, following all the rules you’ve relearned. However, you can’t legally fly unless you carry both your TRUST certificate and your registration. And if approached by the FAA or law enforcement, you’ll need to display both certificates. Also, don’t forget to add your drone registration number to the outside of your drone. That’s a must! You need to be identified if you crash into someone or something, but let’s hope you don’t.

Surprise! Remote ID Has Arrived

Just when you thought you were free to fly for fun or work, the FAA has another surprise. It’s Remote ID. What is it? Glad you asked. The FAA has been planning Remote ID for years. It’s like an electronic license plate for your drone. Well, for most drones. The device is an electronic module that the FAA requires on all drones 0.55 lbs or higher that transmits the location, and registration number while flying. The catch is, if you bought your drone before 2022, it won’t have that module, so you’ll need to add it to be in compliance when you fly. But the module is not inexpensive. The lowest price (as I speak) is around $100 but varies up to $300. The starting date for remote ID was originally September 16, 2023. But that date was extended 6 months to March 16, 2024. When the drone takes off, the module transmits its location and registration number for the world to see. Well, to be precise, just in your vicinity from 300 feet to around a third of a mile from tests I’ve seen. You can see the remote ID in action using an app on your smart phone. I found Drone Scanner for my iPhone and it displays all drones detected and flying moving as they fly in real time in your area.

I have an older DJI Phantom 4 purchased in 2016, and I’ll need that module to legally fly. I might just buy a new DJI Mavic Mini to postpone my Phantom 4 modification, or at least wait until the price drops on the modules, or someone offers a do-it-yourself kit. If you have your Part 107 license, you will need a remote ID for each of your drones. If you’re just a recreational flyer and have other drones, you can move the module from drone to drone.

Recommended Part 107 Pilot Course

If you decide to go for your Part 107 pilot’s license, a number of courses are offered online, some free and some have a cost. After studying using a number of free online resources including video and text, I was having problems scoring high marks on the practice tests. So I decided to go for one of the courses that guarantees you’ll pass or they’ll refund the course cost and the $175 test fee. I chose the Pilot Institute Part 107 course mainly because my experience with their TRUST drone course, which I found very well designed. It’s a 15 hour online course with over 20,000 plus successful new licensed drone pilots. Cost was $159.95 for lifetime use with periodic updates. When you pass the test, the FAA will issue your certificate, which is permanent, but you will have to update your aeronautical knowledge every two years by completing their online training course. And you can use the Pilot Institute course to refresh your memory. I plan on taking the exam in early 2024 and I’ll get back with you with my experiences.

For more information on the free TRUST training course, please use the link in the description. And also, if you like our content at Cyber Times LLC, please subscribe.

Resource Links

Blender Open Source 3D Graphics Program

Meshroom Open Source 3D Photogrammetry Program from Alicevision


Casinos in Space

by Howard Berenbon

A novel about a group of scientists who travel with their wives on a starship to a distant planet for gambling and relaxation. While on the ship, they spend their time in a replica of the Las Vegas Strip for gambling, and eat at Las Vegas style buffets and fine restaurants. Paul Erickson, one of the members, reluctantly goes on the vacation because he is grieving the death of his brother from brain cancer. Right from the start, Paul was acting erratic and his friends were concerned. And to their surprise, Paul went missing, nowhere to be found.

Casinos in Space Cover