It continues to be a busy summer, even more so with a bunch of products on the radar to get reviews knocked out as announcements occur coming into the start of the Tour de France next weekend (the weekend after this weekend). So we’ve packed up a crap-ton of gear and I’m making a bit of a mobile office these two weeks. First up has been half of our week in the Netherlands, starting off in The Hague.
1) Riding out in the dunes
First up on my workout list was an evening ride along the coastline and out into the dunes. I just sorta randomly picked a route that was a simple out and back. The first portion would be through the town/city, and then it was into the parkland area where there was cycling track without any cars.
I was testing a bunch of stuff, all cycling related – so this sort of ‘no cars to worry about’ terrain worked well. I didn’t need a super-long workout for this one though, so I kept it a bit shorter at about an hour.
It’s definitely a nice area. I could certainly see the appeal of a summer vacation spot/home/trip to near the beach, with plenty of activities for everyone –and great riding/running (and even swimming) options. Though, I suspect it’s cold as balls in the winter, especially with the wind.
2) DJI Spark Wind Testing
I’m always looking to see what content I generate tends to get the most traction. After all, I don’t want to spend time writing/etc doing something that nobody cares about (with a few exceptions I suppose). One video I did around the DJI Mavic last fall was that of a high-wind test. I found myself a super-windy day and then put the Mavic (and a Phantom 4) up in the air and recorded the results.
Fast forward to a few days ago and it was super windy on Thursday, so I did a bunch of testing then with the new (and tiny) DJI Spark – and then went back out on Friday to double-down on it. More or less the same concept as before, except this time on a mostly empty beach.
Overall things worked pretty well. You can check out the video here, showing how it all works:
And I got a few pictures while I was there:
I’ve gotta say, in general, I’m impressed with the Spark. I wouldn’t have thought it’d be something that really worked for me (since I prefer the higher end footage of the Mavic), but the size and portability is more so than I thought. Sure I wish the props folded up even more, but the whole concept of a quick and simple drone to get in the air without a remote is definitely appealing. I mean, don’t get me wrong – don’t even think of taking away my Mavic…but still, I could see cases where I’d bring this instead on a trip to save weight where my chances of using a drone might be slim, but I still want it in my back pocket (literally) in case I do.
3) Hello, Gouda.
Saturday morning we took a quick train ride down to the town of Gouda. Mainly for the cheese. Ok, actually, entirely for the cheese.
It’s a nice little day-trip type town with an active shopping street, plenty of smaller shops, and then this weekend was also a harbor festival of some sort. So we checked out that as well.
Though I think as good as the cheese was, the highlight was a small gelato shop that we stopped at. Oh, and these fried fish bits were also quite good as well.
After hours of wandering around, we simply jumped on the train back to The Hague. Easy as pie.
4) Back out on the bike
I went out really early Sunday morning to do a combo bike ride and get some shots I needed for the DJI Spark review around automatic tracking and such. Going out early in this vast area was ideal, since there would be nobody around. Plus, the rolling terrain on some of the off-shot paths makes for good footage.
I actually had a fair bit of luck in getting the tracking to work (more than I’ve had with the Mavic), though that may be more the terrain here is easier to track than where I was testing previously in the Canary Islands. Or perhaps there’s been some algorithm improvements. I still wouldn’t recommend it for just going for a ride and having it follow you like the Airdog can, but it seemed improved for shorter clips.
Now I should preface that I do a crap-ton of research on no-fly zones and such before I go places. And the Netherlands has a crap-ton of no-fly zones. However, this massive section of the park isn’t one of those spots. I note this because I got cut-off early by an arm-band wearing volunteer who said the park was a no drone area. While pleasant, best I can tell he was simply making stuff up. There are no rules published on the park’s site, on any national site, or any other publication I can find. Further, it’s funny – because I found a few online drone videos of the park, and a volunteer had posted on a few of them that drones weren’t allowed, yet numerous people responded that simply wasn’t true – along with plenty of links showing it was. Either way – I wasn’t about to get into an argument about it with him, so I packed.
Again – somewhat annoying to go well out of my way to find a quiet spot with almost nobody around early on a Sunday morning, only to have to wrap up without completing. I hate wasting time. Sigh. Off to find another field north of Amsterdam today sometime. Minor rant complete.
5) A Father’s Day Ride with The Peanut
Sunday it was time for a ride with The Peanut and The Girl’s family. Both her parents are in town and we were off for a bike ride for the day. We simply rented more traditional town bikes from a shop at the train station. Said shop has hours that best any bike shop in America: 5AM till 2AM – Daily (with slight variations). Seriously. For a bike shop. Heck, some McDonald’s don’t even have those hours.
Bike rentals for the day were 7EUR, and that even included the baby seat for The Peanut. We had already bought her a helmet back at Sea Otter. Yes, for real, the helmet brand is Nutcase, and it protects The Peanut.
The Peanut seemed to enjoy her first bike ride. She would reach forward and hold onto the back of my running shorts when we went faster or down some hills. And she was also pretty happy about her watch for the day.
Out of all the baby toys one could get her – she’s most content with having a watch to poke at. Go figure.
We rode out into the Dunes a little ways, and then walked to a beach spot. The sand was great there – The Peanut loved looking for things to eat within it.
Afterwards, we headed back towards the boardwalk areas and enjoyed lunch in one of the countless beachside cafes.
And of course, we enjoyed stopping along the way to take some photos too:
As I noted above – it’s definitely a nice area – and certainly one we’ll probably put back on our list of places to come back to.
With that – I’ve gotta get ready for a ride in a bit and wrap up some more review goodness. Have a good week ahead everyone!
Thanks for reading!
Were Peanut’s legs strapped when riding (spoke warning)?
No, they were too short to reach actually. One of the first thing I tested. Also moved her leg rest all the way up, just to further block it out of an abundance of caution. I suspect a month from now though, she’d be too tall for this seat. But we didn’t quite like this seat that much anyway (too much side to side freedom), so not one we’d buy going forward.
about the drone flying. Not sure if you found it, but this is the official map from the ministry.
link to kadata.kadaster.nl.
Most of the coast is not listed as a no-fly zone, unless close to either hospitals with helipads or airports/glider airports (marked with a G).
link to veiligvliegen.nl
This website, although in dutch (google translate works decently enough) provides an overview of the laws and guidelines for drone flying in the Netherlands.
Hope you enjoyed your stay here. Looking forward to the spark review as I am considering getting one myself.
Yup – those exact sites I’ve been using as well. Good stuff there!
You saved the best picture for last. The Peanut is adorable 🙂
Yes, her adorable was really turned up in these shots! She even made you look almost adorable in that last shot.
Yes, finally some pictures you took, and which I recognize. Scheveningen and surroundings are beautiful places!
Gotta love the very Chinese “too much high wind velocity” warning. Reminds me of “we need your most bestest price” I’ve heard so often from Chinese customers…
Yeah, the DJI software has come a long way in clearing out these sorts of bad translations. Though you find little nuggets here and again.
I love/ am slightly creeped out by the DJI emails that start out “Dear Creator”
Hi, the Peanut looks adorable. My daughter turned 17 today so that brings back some memories of taking her out on the bike (I settled on a trailer but the seat choices were limited then).
You mentioned the follow mode on the Mavic Pro wasn’t great.
Have you tried using AutoPilot linked to an iPhone for following? The Autopilot app is supposed to use the barometric altimeter in the iPhone and change elevation as well as heading.
I haven’t had a chance to test with mine yet as I want to set up an Airspace and follow my daughter on the Mountain Bike so I can override the Autopilot app if necessary.
I spent three batteries worth of time today on Active Tracking with Spark (+ some yesterday). I’d actually say it seems to have improved some.
But there’s new limitations with Spark that weren’t there with Mavic on Active Tracking. I hit up my DJI contact a moment ago to get clarifications and validations on those.
Autopilot is cool stuff. I’m on their beta program, but the current beta release (two days ago), doesn’t mention anything about Spark. I’ll hit them up to see what the status is.
I am curious why DJI hasn’t done something with a dedicated device (or even the controller) for tracking like the AirLeash with AirDog instead of the much more difficult and finicky recogntion software approach. Software will always lose the connection when visibility is impaired. It would seem to be a relatively inexpensive addition and could really create the “killer” app/usage for a small portable drone with good object avoidance. Have you ever asked them about that?
Yeah, never understood it either. Such a trivially easy device to make, and they’ve already got all the brains (code) from their other scenarios (such as follow-me for the remote). Plus, they’d be able to pitch it more GoPro style to the sports crowd.
Look like a great weekend (and great cheese, i miss that here in hong kong). So you outsourced the polar M430 in-depth interview to The Peanut? Looking forward to it!
Good to see that on her first ride, the Peanut is already practising her finishing line victory salute…
Good to see you have been spending time in the flat lands. And very good the little peanut is wearing a helmet. You would rarely see dutch children wearing a helmet but if you drop the bike. It is a death drop height for a kid.
However you should still visit the back lands, like Deventer (best cheese shop in NL), Arnhem.
Good luck and all the best.
Liked this blog, especially since I’m born and raised in Gouda. Nice to hear to like the cheese…. something very few people know is that “Gouda” is just a name. The cheese is actually produced in little villages around the city. In the old days, the cheese was sold in city in a building called “De kaaswaag”. The building is still there, right at the central square, next to Hotel The Zalm, which happens to be the oldest hotel of The Netherlands.
I wanted to ask what mounting you are using at the moment for all your gadgets on the bike. I see 3 times the same mechanism on one of the pictures but just not able to read or get an idea what it is?
Are you using the quad locks or something else now ?
Those are just standard Garmin quarter-turn rubber mounts: link to amzn.to
I’ve probably got 30-50 of them floating around. While the cheapest possible mount, it’s how I generally mount a bunch of bike computers to the bike. I often also put them on the top-tube of the bike when I want to be less obvious.
The very front mount however is the Stages Dash mount (off the front). Normally, I’d have a K-Edge or Barfly mount there instead, but since I was testing the Dash – that’s where it is.
thanks for the quick reply 🙂
Next time tyou go biking in Netherlands, you may want to ask for a front seat for The Peanut.
This allows you to have much more contact with her while riding the bike
Front seat are allowed to a certain weights, approx up to 2 yo (check that your bike steering bar can carry the weight. Normal dutch uprights bikes with steel steering bars should be fine.
I loved biking with my 2 kids, one in front and one in back.
Yes, riding with my father in front of him on the bike is, as far as I can remember, my oldest memory (I must have been 2 years old). I loved it. It’s often done here in the Netherlands.
Nice! The first picture “riding in the dunes” is immediately recognisable as Dutch dunes. Did you know that there are long cycleroutes which follow almost the entire coastline of the Netherlands? See it here:link to nederlandfietsland.nl.
As for the bicycle rental at the central station: Apart from renting bikes you can also store your bike in a guarded storage, while you are traveling by train or going to work by train. So the opening hours are from a little before the first train of the day until the last one.
Why am I not surprised to see Peanut with the watch? Will her first bike have a Power Meter, will do you do a industry review for the options? Must be a huge market… 🙂
Ahhh Scheveningen!!!!, don’t call it The Hague though 🙂 I live near it. In spring i bike alot there, in the summer it’s too crowdy with people. And you are spot on when you say in winters it’s cold as hell 🙂
The fish is called “Kibbeling” 🙂
o and as mentioned before you can cycle from Scheveningen via Katwijk, Noordwijk all up to Bloemendaal. That’s like the beach of Amsterdam.
Hi Ray. What kind of battery life/endurance/range do those drones have? Thanx.
It depends. The Mavic for example has about 25-30 minutes of battery life in real-world usage. The Spark I’m finding is matching it’s battery life claims at about 15-16 mins (I’ve done a bunch of tests down to almost 0%).
Airdog, is about 14-15 minutes (it’s the one that does a better job tracking you, but lacks other more general flying/viewing features on the remote). Staaker I think is in the same range (off the top of my head).
Most of the remotes last 4-8 flights before recharging is needed.
I was wondering if you would mind sharing what kind of computer setup you use for all of your video and photo editing. I apologize if this was covered before. I did a quick search and couldn’t find anything.
For photo editing I use Lightroom on a Lenovo T440s (though in the process of moving over to a new T470s). For video editing I use Final Cut Pro X on a new 2016 MacBook Pro. It’s really the only thing I use the MacBook for.
I have the garmin Vector 2 pedal power meters. I have had this system since Jan 2017, and have broken two of the pods. The weak link is the cable that goes from the pod to the pedal. I’m not 100% sure how the first one broke, but the second broke this weekend. I got caught in a wrong gear pushing up a steep hill after a sharp turn. I didn’t get my foot clicked in and I pushed the pedal in a way that moved the pod breaking the cable. These pods retail for $100, so I was wondering if Garmin realizes that their design of the wire is a weak point in their system. A more flexible wire or cable, or a breakaway cable would be nice.
Have you tried giving Garmin support a ring? They tend to be pretty forgiving for any sort of issues…
Yes, I sent them an email today. I will follow up with them and post what they tell me. I was also wondering if other people have had this problem.
I guess the “no fly zone” that the guy mentioned, may be related to birds in the Park