1846: Drone Problems

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Drone Problems
On the other hand, as far as they know, my system is working perfectly.
Title text: On the other hand, as far as they know, my system is working perfectly.


Megan is frustrated because people are flying drones too close to her, so she builds a system to shoot them down. She shows it to Cueball, who is also excited about the idea and helps spot the drones. However, each of the drones gets accidentally destroyed by its pilot because of their inability to fly the drones before Megan can destroy them herself. After three hours of unsuccessful drone hunting, a frustrated Megan complains about people unable to fly the drones, which prevents her (and Cueball) from having fun shooting them down. The joke is that she created the system to get rid of the drones, so the lack of drones should be the desired output - and now she wants the drones nearby (even if only temporarily).

This comic is a follow up on 1842: Anti-Drone Eagles, and confirms that Cueball prefers technological air-defense systems to biological measures.

The title text refers to the fact that from the pilots' perspective, the system is successful at keeping all the drones away from the house, even though in reality the system has not had a chance to be successful yet.

While Megan attributes the repeated drone crashes to poor pilot skill, a possible source for the drones' sudden loss of control is hinted at in panel two, in which the target drone crashes immediately after Megan's device (equipped with a miniature parabolic dish) attempts to "lock on" to the drone in question. While a small and fast-moving drone may be difficult to hit, the control system that directs its movements is easily interfered with (either by overwhelming the RF signal controlling it or by using microwaves to induce short circuits in sensitive electronics). The irony here is that the targeting system for Megan's anti-drone device unintentionally appears to be more effective than the actual weapon it is designed to guide, disabling the drones so quickly that the "real" weapon is unable to be tested.

It may also be a reference to the May 30, 2017 FTG-15 test of the United States GMD missile defense system, where an interceptor kill vehicle destroyed a test ICBM. From the perspective of a US adversary, such as North Korea (whose missiles the system is allegedly targeted at), "as far as they know, the system is working perfectly," as the test was declared to be a success. But substantial controversy has dogged the missile defense system for decades, as critics have alleged it is vulnerable to trivial countermeasures. But "as far as they know" strongly implies that the text following it is not true, i.e. the system does not work perfectly.

Another possible secondary joke is that the drones were flying near her because the pilots can't fly properly. Yet another possible take on the joke is that Megan's system is actually effective, but Megan is not aware it's been activated.

Megan had previously suggested in 1586: Keyboard Problems, that robots (and thus also drones) getting near Cueball's house (and possibly Cueball's general vicinity) would unexpectedly crash.

Megan previously had a laser cannon to shoot down squirrels in 382: Trebuchet, so this is not the first time she has built a device for shooting things down.


[Megan is sitting on her knees at the porch in front of a house with a smartphone in one hand and operating with her other hand a dish-antenna pointing into the sky. Cueball comes walking up towards the stairs up to the porch while he is looking back and up over his shoulder and pointing into the air.]
Megan: People in the park keep flying drones near me, so I've built a system to shoot them down.
Cueball: Cool! Oh yeah, there's one now.
Megan: Time for a test!
[Zoom in on Megan with the device on the porch with Cueball still at the bottom of the stairs leading down. She is operating her phone, which can be seen to be connected with a wire to the dish-antenna device. Cueball is looking away from her and down.]
Megan: Okay, locking on…
Cueball: Wait, it just crashed.
Megan: Damn.
[Cueball has walked up the stairs and are standing behind Megan at the door. Megan is now looking up into the sky while still sitting with her phone in front of the device.]
Cueball: Here comes another one! Aim for… nope, it got stuck in a tree.
[Cueball is now sitting on the porch with a half-full drinking glass in one hand leaning back on the other hand. Megan is gesturing at her device while holding her phone down. Above the top part of the frame, there is another smaller frame overlaid with a caption:]
Three hours later…
Cueball: Finally, two more just— no, one crashed and the other is hurtling sideways toward the lake.
Megan: Will you people learn to fly these things?!

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It will work for this, though. She might finally get some use out of it. Mulan15262 (talk) 04:21, 6 June 2017 (UTC)

I wrote a short little explanation that needs a lot more. Maybe I'll add more after school. LordFlashmeow (talk) 15:56, 5 June 2017 (UTC)LordFlashmeow

There's a much simpler, if less elegant, solution in buying a Mossberg 500. OldCorps (talk) 16:20, 5 June 2017 (UTC)

As I read it, the drones were flying around her, in the first place, because people can't control them properly. I find the comic even funnier, reading this way. (New here. Is the below signature the right way to sign?) <saim> -- Saim (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

No. you type ~~~~ and it gives you something like this: (mine is customized) That's right, Jacky720 just signed this (talk | contribs) 23:22, 5 June 2017 (UTC)
I might be more useful, as I'm also anonymous/lacking an account. :) I like to manually include a nickname, like you did, so I end with " - NiceGuy1 ~~~~", and the bots turn those tildes into garabbing a timestamp and capturing my IP address to use as my real "signature". Yours would then be "<saim> ~~~~" (Please note that to get the tildes to actually appear this time, Jacky and I had to encase them in "nowiki" tags to force the bots to ignore them, for actually signing you would need to not include those tags) - NiceGuy1 04:46, 9 June 2017 (UTC) I finally signed up! This comment is mine. NiceGuy1 (talk) 06:31, 13 June 2017 (UTC)

Wasn't there another comic where black hat builds something similar that shoots birds or squirrels or something? I can't find it now —Artyer (talk|ctb) 19:36, 5 June 2017 (UTC)

I think you mean this one 382: Trebuchet, where Megan has a laser canon to shoot squirrels from the bird feeder... ;-) So in that way it fits here, as it is again Megan and Cueball. I'll link it in the description. I found it by looking at the Category:Squirrels. --Kynde (talk) 19:05, 6 June 2017 (UTC)

Maybe Cueball's problems came with him from here? That's right, Jacky720 just signed this (talk | contribs) 23:20, 5 June 2017 (UTC)

Something like the old riddle: Why do elephants paint their toenails red? To hide in cherry trees. Have you ever seen an elephant in a cherry tree? See? It works. 04:32, 6 June 2017 (UTC)

Ah, the classic solution in search of a problem. -- 12:34, 6 June 2017 (UTC)

I'm having a geekgasm that I was talking about the concept of an anti-drone turret in the Comment section of the Eagle comic, now here Randall does one, LOL! Synergy! Though I was talking about an automated one, :) Next step. - NiceGuy1 04:48, 7 June 2017 (UTC) I finally signed up! This comment is mine. NiceGuy1 (talk) 06:31, 13 June 2017 (UTC)

Missile Defense[edit]

I thought this was a parallel to North Korean ICBMs and US anti-missle technology... (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

I also got the impression that this was an ICBM metaphor. Note the news in recent days: North Korea missile launch Anti-missile Launch-- 22:12, 5 June 2017 (UTC)

I added some text about missile defense (several hours ago). I'm not sure how far to take this, but if the note about "Megan previously had a laser canon to shoot down squirrels in 382: Trebuchet, so this is not the first time she has build a device for shooting annoying things down..." is taken as canonical, then that's another missile defense reference, this time to the now-cancelled Airborne laser project that, err, never got off the ground. JohnHawkinson (talk) 11:34, 7 June 2017 (UTC)

Some drones have security bugs that allow anyone within WiFi range to shut off the motors. I couldn't figure out how to crash mine, but I can get a root shell. It's certainly feasible to cut the motors, because you can fly the drone over wifi. Add a directional 2.4 GHz antenna to a handheld device for exploiting the bug, and you have a gun that shoots a particular model of drone out of the air but is harmless to any{thing|one} else. 21:07, 7 June 2022 (UTC)

... unless the drone falls on someone's head, or crashes into their windshield while they're driving. This is not necessarily harmless. Nitpicking (talk) 18:44, 25 December 2022 (UTC)