Decreased cost and easier control mean that drones have become mainstream- they have become the latest craze! Over the Christmas period of 2015 more than 1 million drones were sold– representing an unprecedented increase in the number of unmanned model aircraft taking to our skies!
This is super exciting phenomena and so too should the drone-buying experience because let’s face it- drones are super cool.
But deciding which drone to buy is not as easy as you might think. There are hundreds of different models to choose from- each with different features and costs. Looking at product reviews often doesn’t help either because they are so often conflicting. So how can you decide which one to buy?
What is a Drone?
So, before we go any further, it is important to clarify what a drone is! A drone, or more formally, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), is pretty much a flying robot that can be remotely controlled, like a remote control car, or it can fly on its own- autonomously, as a result of specialised managed flight plans that the drones are programmed with.
These flight plans work alongside GPS. Most first time buyers will opt for a remotely controlled drone as not only are they easier to control, but they are also far cheaper.
Why Buy a Drone?
There are so many reasons why you should consider buying a drone! Here are two of the most frequent: Firstly- photography. Everyone and anyone can take a selfie- but few could take a drone- a photo from over 100 feet overhead.
The views you can get with a drone are incredible- and likely the only reason that many have for buying one. I mean can you imagine the wedding or race photo’s you could get with a drone? Secondly, and more traditionally, you could consider buying a drone for fun!
Flying a drone is an exciting experience, allowing you to explore the skies. If your drone also has a camera then not only can you have fun controlling your drone, but you can watch back the video footage after! Super cool- just imagine how close up and personal you could get with the Statue of Liberty for example!
Please note that if you decide to go ahead and buy a drone- make sure to educate yourself first! There are strict rules and regulations on airspace use that are in place to ensure safe flying for you and other aircraft users. With the explosion of drone purchases over the past few months, there are now more aircraft in the sky than ever before, and, as a result, being aware of the rules that are in place is more important than ever.
Some countries, including the US, are even considering making drone owners register their aircraft before they can fly them to ensure that if rules are broken, the offenders can be identified.
Don’t let these rules put you off- you should just be aware of them, and ensure that you are a responsible flyer. If you want to learn more then have a search on the web for the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA)- they have loads of helpful information that can allow you to get the most from your drone flying experience.
Here are five things to consider when buying a drone that can help you make the important decision about which one is right for you!
Drones Are Not at All Easy To Fly
Drones may sound cool, and reminiscent of your childhood days playing with remote control cars, but most drones are pretty tricky to master! Before you even consider buying a drone, the first thing you need to realise is that flying a drone is hard.
Even the simplest quadcopter drones, although can’t be flown in the truest sense of the word, do rely on computer flight controlled systems and a remote control– and therefore as each drone is programmed slightly differently, it means that each quadcopter will respond differently to your remote actions. Then, when you move up to the more complex drones that do require flying and skill, there is a pretty steep price curve to consider- with the easier to use drones often costing far more thanks to added sensors, etc.
So, if you are first time buyer of a drone and your budget is small, you should realise that you may need quite a lot practise before you can use your drone safely outdoors.
1. How Will You Use Your Drone?
How you are going to use your drone should be the next thing you consider when you start your buying process. Each drone is different, with individual features that make some better suited to certain tasks than others. As a result, of this, you need to consider what you will use your drone for for example if you want a drone solely for leisure flying, do you need the latest built-in camera technology?
Asking yourself some questions about your drone and what you are hoping to use it for can help you to make your mind up. Some good questions to start with are:
2. What Do You Want To Fly the Drone For?
If you are just going to fly your drone as a hobby, then do you need that super expensive built in camera? Or would a camera add-on, or even no camera at all be more suitable for your purposes?
Whereas if you want to use your camera for aerial photography, or video, then you should make the camera quality of the drone a top priority in your search.
How Important Are the Picture and Video Quality?
If the quality of the image you take is super important to you, then you should consider looking for a drone with the ability to support an add-on camera, but if the quality is not of such import, then you could save yourself a little money by looking for drones that lack this capability.
Does It Matter How Your Drone Fly?
Is flying in a straight line at speed important to you? If so, you should consider looking into a fixed-wing drone as they are great at this! However, if you are more interested in your drone being able to hover, move side to side, and take off and land vertically, then you should look into getting the multi-copter.
How Long and Far Are You Going to Fly Your Drone For?
- The distance of flight affects communications between your drone and your controller- so if you want to be able to fly your drone far and wide, then you must consider the range and communication methods that are available.
- Having the right balance of motor power and battery life is essential if you are going to want to fly for a long time.
3. What Is Your Budget?
Money is never a fun topic, but in the case of buying a drone, money matters. The range of drone pricing is extreme! You could spend less than $50 on a pretty basic indoor quadcopter drone, or you could fork out on a top of the range model with all the top notch accessories like wireless aerial imaging monitors, which costs thousands. Deciding what your budget is can help to reduce your expensive drone options, and make the decision of which is right for you that little easier.
When you consider your budget, it is not only the cost of the drone itself that you should think about but also how much you are willing to spend on repairs.
Because let’s face it, at one point or another, your drone will crash and it’s propeller or another essential part will need replacing. This exercise can be pretty pricey- especially if you opted for one of the more expensive models.
Drones are available from a range of shops, and online stores. A great place to start is on Amazon.com where you will be able to view a large number of drones, and you will be able to compare their credentials. If you prefer going into a shop, then have a browse on the internet for drone stockists close to you.
4. What Features Are You After?
As every drone has a different set of features- with a correlation between price and what is available, you must consider what features are important to you when deciding how much you are willing to spend. If you want a drone with all the mod cons, and a list of features as long as your arm, then you need to be prepared to pay top dollar for them.
Of course, there are hundreds of different elements to consider with each drone buyer wanting different things.
But, here are three critical factors that first-time buyers should consider:
The drones flying package
Do it yourself, or ready to fly? – Now that is the question! Most manufacturers offer drones in either a ready to fly package- i.e. the drone comes with everything you need to get started. Alternatively, you can get a bind and fly package, whereby the drone is sold on its own- with no controller. This option is suitable for advanced flyers that have their remotes, but would prove tricky for beginner drone flyers! Understanding the difference between the packages will save you time and effort- especially if you are a first-time buyer.
Some drones have the capability of ‘knowing’ where they started from, and if something goes wrong during the flight, like communication is lost between the drone and the controller, then the drone can make an attempt to head for home. However, this feature is still in its infancy in many drones, and, therefore, should not be relied upon.
Another GPS function that some drones have is the ability to be programmed with set routes. This programmable feature is great if you want to track your drone during its flight.
Many current drone buyers are keen to be able to stream video so that the ‘drones eye view’ can be watched back post-flight. This feature although a popular one is only available in a select few models. As a result, if this is important to you, ensure that the models you are looking at have video streaming capabilities.
5. Join a Drone Community
If you are considering buying a drone or have already bought one, then one of the best things you can do is to participate in a drone community. This community is a group of people, either virtual or a physical group, who all love drones- and know a lot about them. As a result of this, the group can be a great way of getting any final questions that you might have about which drone is right for you answered.
Additionally, this drone community is great to be a part of when you have your drone as they can help you with repairs, flying rules and even suggest routes to take.
To conclude, with these five considerations in mind you are now equipped to start your drone-buying adventure. Have fun, and enjoy the ride. It is inevitably difficult and can be a lengthy process, but the result of owning your drone- is entirely worth it.
How to Fly a Drone – Step by Step Guide
Whether you intend to do it for fun or professional purposes, leaning how to fly a Drone can always be a fun affair. Drones or quadcopters are also known as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and are made to serve various purposes, some of which include their use in some areas such as military combat, survey, real estate marketing, Geo-mapping and scaling, forestry, cinematography, photography and much more.
However, it is important to know the limitations your particular region or country has regarding flying of drones, just so you be safe and on the right side of the law. This article seeks to provide a guide, in summary, the basic techniques involved in flying a Quadcopter.
Common Types of Drones According By Use, Brands, and Features
Different Drone models have differences in structure, design and features. Some drone models are strictly developed for use in aerial photography, whereas some others are used in police, military or fire brigade rescue missions. Others are best designed for military combat, whereas some other models are strictly for surveillance purposes.
In this day and age, however, there are also new advanced models that are developed with the primary purpose of having fun with, just like the case is with car toys. With most recreational drones, the operator can perform a variety of stunts and moves to suit their interests. Some can even fly indoors while others are purposely created for outdoor flying, including racing.
Drones by Features and Controls
Quads can also be categorised regarding features and control mechanisms. In the case of controls, there are those types of drones that are controlled using what is called transmitters, remote control devices that resemble a computer game Joysticks or gaming consoles. This gadget controls the flight and may have various settings depending on the particular brand.
However, other advanced models can be monitored from a smartphone application or tablet. While some types have inbuilt HD cameras for video and photo shooting, others come without this feature, but allow for camera attachments and real wireless video and image recording technology.
There are also some drone manufacturers in today’s technology in the market. This means that the drone controls, settings or even tricks for flying may be slightly different depending on the brand and specific version or type. This being the case; start by choosing a good drone model from the internet.
You can get reliable material from reputable sites online, say from e-commerce sites, review articles and blogs. By reading through this guide, you can get a clearer picture of exactly which type of drone you want, after which you can proceed and download the respective instruction manuals. In essence, you don’t have to be a pro in aeronautics or a genius to learn how to fly a drone fast. It is, however, important that you start by learning the basic moves as below.
Basic Controls Skills You Need To Fly a Drone – The Easy-to-Learn Prerequisites
This control moves your gadget sideways, right or left. It applies on quadcopters that are operated using a transmitter device, making the device roll towards that direction when the right stick is appropriately pushed. When the right stick is pressed to the left, propellers spin air towards the right (opposite) direction, making the device tilt and fly to the left.
You can also push the transmitter’s right stick to forward and backwards. Just like one can predict, the Drone moves forward and back respectively as the device tilts appropriately, pushing air to the opposite direction. This is known as pitching.
The drone can also rotate around its axis, perhaps when turning to follow a moving object in cinematography or just spinning, this is known as yawing, and refers to the clockwise or anticlockwise rotation of the machine. The left stick on the transmitter is used to do a yaw, where it is continuously pushed either to the left or the right.
When airlifting, the throttle is the move or action that powers the propellers to uplift the device into the air using the left stick. A forward push engages a throttle whereas a backwards push disengages it. The backwards pull should be done smoothly as the Drone gets off the ground completely.
In summary, the left stick on your transmitter can rotate the Drone clockwise or anticlockwise along its approximate axis and is also used to raise or lower the machine. In short, it controls throttles and yaws. On the other hand, the right stick on your transmitter moves the Drone right or left (sideways) as well as backward and forwards when tilted right or left, and back or forth respectively.
Essential Navigating Tips When Learning
1. Take caution and consider any hazards or obstacles that might cause Drone damage in your zone of flight.
2. Since most basic quadcopters run on lithium ion batteries, be sure to have extra power with you, as most will have from 15-45 minutes of flight depending on some factors including the device model.
3. There are slight differences between models, so be sure to study the manual provided along with the device upon purchase. Apart from learning the specific drone, the manual helps in troubleshooting just in case a difficulty arises when flying the quad.
4. Be sure to get the right quad, precisely an RTF which is an acronym for “ready-to-fly”. Especially for a beginner, you should understand that most on-RTFs are mostly old separately with their transmitter devices.
5. There are set rules and regulations concerning flying of quadcopters. Be sure you familiarise with this regulation.
Things To Observe Before You Start Practicing
Practising how to fly the Drone can be a fun experience. However, there are a few things you should be sure to see if at all you want to learn faster, have a better experience and do it safely. Below are the few key pointers.
- A distraction-free area is safer when flying so that you concentrate better and learn quicker.
- Choose a park or a big grassy field with a good open space for practicing in.
- The wind may obstruct your learning process. For this reason, practicing during the morning hours can be more advisable.
- It can be safer to practice away from animals and people.
- Take one step at a time; be sure to stay within your limits.
With these tips and knowledge, you should be able to complete your first phase of learning, and of course, the rest will follow.