Retired Windsurfing Caddy Turned Drone Manufacturer - Boards Windsurfing

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Retired Windsurfing Caddy Turned Drone Manufacturer

Tales from a proud and very supportive father have reached our screens. John Bainbridge is known well amongst the racing scene and has spent years on the UK racing circuit, as the kids grew to a more independent age, John decided to get in touch about a surprisingly interesting new hobby-turned-business, one that we felt was worth sharing as it seems this market is well and truly here.

Over to John…

After more than 10 years of spending most weekends and holidays transporting and supporting Connor and Kai at RYA, Team 15, UKWA, ISAF, NEWS, BWA, coaching, training and ‘just having fun’ windsurfing events across the UK, then I was eventually retired by the boys as my services were no longer required (except maybe sponsorship…).

What to do with all this previously unavailable time? Suggestions abound of what do when you retire (or are retired): ‘Live within your means’, ‘buy a motor home’, ‘get a hobby’, ‘start a business’ etc. Windsurfing was obviously one option, but a move up to Scotland to pursue new career options made this less appealing as age brought with it a strong desire to stay warm and avoid wind-chill at all costs. After investing in a DJI Phantom quadcopter the decision was made – ‘get a hobby’ and this hobby rapidly evolved into a passion. Whilst the DJI Phantom was a competent little machine it soon had too many limitations and the hobby grew to building my own drones and then a business called RNDrones.

Drone technology is evolving very quickly and the capacity to build bespoke multi-copters for different requirements led to the business being developed around an open source flight control system supported by 3DRobotics in California, which allows drones to be flown using a classic RC transmitter, to fly autonomous (autopilot) ‘Missions’ or be flown using a laptop, tablet, smartphone or smartwatch. Using the Arducopter code means the drones are capable a growing list of different flight modes (currently 15), including ‘Follow Me’, circling an object of interest, ‘Guided’ flying from a tablet/smartphone 3D flying as well as various free-fly and GPS based flight modes. Quite a few of the Kickstarter projects circulated on windsurfing social media use the same flight control software.

After about a year of building and testing frames and components it became obvious that the best frames for most types of flying are made from carbon fibre. The frames needed to be repairable at (relatively) low cost and be capable of carrying a range of toys and tools as the customers’ requirements evolve. Most RNDrones are designed around the growing amateur and semi-professional aerial photography market based on using GoPro 3 or 4 action cameras, with or without gimbals, although they also include FPV (First-Person-View) flyers, professional photography rigs and racing drones.

RNDrones prefer to customise each drone for the current and future needs of the customer based on a selected range of drone frames and configurations which can be purchased directly at However, in the first instance it’s a good idea to contact John via the website and discuss what you want and get an idea of the options. He is based just outside Oban, so if you are on your way to Tiree why not call in and check out the range of drones. Lots of videos on YouTube and Facebook– just search RNDrones.


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