Posts tagged "How to"

By Paul Archer, Dronesgator.com

Considering the range of prices for a drone these days, the decision is sometimes as hard as buying a car.

However, quadcopters can also get cheap and still deliver what you’re looking for at most. Here’s a list of the best drones under $200 where you can learn more about potential choices.

Just as with most technology equipment, after a certain price, the additional functions get more expensive and become more of a gimmick than real useful things.

This is why we’re going to do an overview on what are the most important aspects you should look for in a drone.

Camera

You might think a camera is totally necessary to have on a drone, but you might be wrong.
There are many situations where a camera on the drone will just drain the battery faster and increase the price a lot without serving the original purpose.

dji spark

Does a beginner drone need a camera?

If you want to learn how to fly a drone for the first time and want something to play around and maybe break without a sweat, you might not want a camera.

There are quite a few drones around $20 that are so cheap you can buy a bunch of them and become an expert at drone flying.

There’s also the fact that a cheap drone camera will suck big time. Most cameras on drones under $100 are low quality, usually under 720p and definitely not stabilized by a gimbal.

Can I get a good go pro drone for under $100?

It’s 2017 and yes, you can! There is a specific drone I’m thinking about. It’s called MJX Bugs 3 and not only can it carry a go pro, but also has very good battery life and powerful motors.

Using your action camera along with a drone will be the cheapest way to go, provided you already have an action camera beforehand.

How much does a gimbal stabilized camera drone cost?

Usually the cost of a motorized gimbal that can hold your action camera and can be mounted on a drone is over $70 by itself. But make no mistake, by having a gimbal stabilized camera you’ll get way better footage.

So if you’re a professional trying to shoot smooth cinematic video, you better buy something well done and spend more. But I don’t see the point of getting more than a DJI Mavic or Phantom 4 Pro. The new DJI Spark also has a very good gimbal for $500.
Motors

There’s two types of motors that are VERY different from each other.
Well… they both do the same thing but in different ways.

Brushless motors vs Brushed motors

Brushless motors are pretty much the better ones, by far. However, they are considerably more expensive than brushed ones. This makes the drone price raise a lot.

Why would you want brushless?
• they last longer in time (at least 10 times as long)
• they are more powerful (you’ll be able to fly faster and carry more weight)

Why would you want brushed motors?
• makes the drone price go down (you’ll only find these on cheap beginner drones under $100)
• because they are cheap, they are also easy to replace, so if you buy a few spare ones you’ll be able to prolong the drone life more.

GPS and sensors

As you may know, some drones have GPS inside them that allow these quadcopters to fly very precisely and maintain a certain fixed spot.
Not only that, more expensive drones also have return to home technology. There are drones like the Hubsan 501s and Bugs 2 that have both GPS and return to home for around $200.

How about other functions?

DJI is the biggest drone company on the market and there’s no denying the fact that their drones are very advanced.

Most of their quadcopters have forward facing sensors that can detect obstacles and make the drone stop in time. They also have bottom sonar and cameras to be able to fly inside and land in proper places. The bottom sensors are also found in very good drones like the Xiaomi 4k drone and Phantom 3 series.

bugs drone

If you consider these sensors to be gimmicks to you, then stick to the points I made before and you’ll still have a rock solid drone.

Most drones that are over $500 tend to have different modes that will make life easier for you. Before buying a drone you should first think if setting waypoints ahead of time and planning your flight is of any help, and also if other modes like automatic circle flight around objects can be used to improve the quality of your videos.

Range and battery life

This is pretty straight forward.
If you’re getting a drone camera over $200 you should have at least over 500m range, and it goes up to 7 km for drones like Mavic Pro from DJI.

If you want to just play around, do some tricks and maybe get some video in a park, then a standard 100 m range should be good.
Battery life is more important than you may think, but the thing is that even if you’re low on it you can compensate by getting additional spare batteries.

I like to usually have over 10 minutes at drones that are over $60 and more on more expensive ones.

There are many things you can nitpick for drones in general, but we’ll cover that in another article.

So stay tuned for more.

Stay tuned on the Personal Drones Blog for the latest quadcopter and multirotor news!

We are glad to publish the following informative guest article by Admir Tulic from dronepedia which may help beginner drone pilots to select a quality camera drone to get started with the hobby.

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By Admir Tulic

Getting started with aerial photography has never been easier and there are drones to fit every budget. Many drones that are currently available feature 4k video recording, and 3-axis gimbal stabilization. When you look for a drone, you will notice a significant range of prices, and in general, you will get what you pay for.

Features

 Every drone is going to have different capabilities, and these specs are going to make a big difference when it comes to the price of your drone. Lets have a look at what is available, and you can decide what is important to you.

Sky Viper Video DroneThe Sky Viper Video Drone

Battery Life

This is how long the battery in your drone will last in minutes, on average. The longer the battery life is, the better. Also, some drones will allow you to mount an extra battery, so if you need to extend the battery life, this is a good option.

Maximum Speed

 This is how fast your drone can fly, measured in miles per hour. Pretty simple, no? 

Signal Range

 If you want to be able to tell your drone how to fly, you have to maintain contact. This is what signal range refers to, and it is measured in feet, kilometers or miles.

Return To Home

 This feature gives your drone the ability to return to a previously designated GPS coordinate, or the last place it took off from. It is a really handy feature to have, and can make your piloting a lot easier. When you are done flying, just send your drone “home” with the push of a button.

Controller Type

 Some drones come with controllers that were built for them, and others rely on an app that you use with your smartphone or a tablet. Generally the more inexpensive models will require that you use an app, and this helps them keep costs down.

3-Axis Gimbal

 Many of the more advanced drones will have the ability to move the camera on a 3D pivot. The technical name for this device is a gimbal, and a single “gimbal” is capable of movement in one direction. SO if you want 3D movement, you need a 3-axis gimbal.

Not all gimbals will be of the same quality, and it is a good idea to read reviews from users before you buy a drone if perfect gimbal functioning is important for you. Like more things in life, the more you pay, the better the quality will be.

The 3D gimbal will also help to stabilize the camera, and again, some work better then others. 

Some Models To Look At

 There are a lot of choices when it comes to drones that will help you to capture dynamic video, and some of the most expensive drone models offer features like tracking and GPS pathing. If you are just getting into drones, there is no need to break the bank. You can always upgrade later, and with the speed that drone technology is advancing, you will probably get a lot of drone for your money in two years time.

Hubsan X4

The Hubsan X4 droneThe Hubsan X4 drone

This tiny drone is really made more as a toy than anything else, but the price is irresistible and it does have an on-board camera. The first thing to know about the Hubsan X4 is that it is very small. If you are an adult, it will fit in the palm of your hand, and weighs a little bit more than a smartphone. Because of its small stature, it is very susceptible to wind and other atmospheric factors. If it is not nice outside, don’t bother trying to get it off the ground.

 On the plus side, it is a great drone to practice your flying skills indoors. It is so small and light that there is little chance of it doing damage to anything, and you can really have a lot of fun flying it around the house. The video sensor is just 0.3MP, so don’t have high hopes for the quality. For a $50 dollar micro drone, you are easily getting your monies worth and then some. 

  • 240 line Video Recording, uses 4GB micro SD card
  • 0.3 Megapixel Sensor
  • Still Photos Possible
  • Controlled via Included Controller with LCD screen
  • 40 minute Flight Time
  • Maximum Range 320 Feet
  • USB charger

If you are considering this as a video drone, know that it records at 240 lines, which means that you will need to convert to once it has been shot. Overall this is an amazing little drone for the money, and will offer you a lot of functionality for a small price. One of the most interesting features is the streaming video to the controller, which displays a real-time view from the camera.

Syma X5C-1

The Syma X5C-1 quadcopter modelThe Syma X5C-1 quadcopter model

 The X5C-1 is a great entry level drone that you can use to practice your skills, and even shoot some decent video with. It is famously rugged and comes with removable prop guards, which make it ideal for first time pilots. For a hair under $100 usd you get a simple drone that has everything you need to start practicing. While not huge it is large enough to stand up to some breeze and still be manageable, and it comes with a very well made hand-held controller.

One of the small problems that the design of this drone has is that the video camera is connected to the battery door. While not a design flaw, it is something that people report having to get used to, and would be worth looking into if you are considering this drone for purchase.

  • 720p HD Video Recording, uses micro SD card
  • 2 Megapixel Sensor
  • Still Photos Possible
  • Controlled via Included Controller
  • 20 minute Flight Time / 5 minute Flight Time if using Camera
  • Maximum Range 160 Feet
  • Low / High Speed Selector Switch

Clearly at this price point there is no kind of motion dampening for the camera, but users report that the images are very good considering the price-point. One thing that is really nice about a drone like the X5C-1 is that it can function as a practice drone. Even advanced pilots need to keep up their skills, and there is no need to use an expensive drone to do it. Down the life if you decide to upgrade, the X5C-1 will still be useful to you as a warm-up drone.

Syma X8V Venture

Syma X8V VentureSyma X8V Venture

 This drone looks a lot like a much more expensive model made by DJI, and is the largest offering from Syma. It is inexpensive and has everything you need to start piloting drones. It is as large as a more expensive drone, so if you want to get used to the feel of piloting a bigger drone and don’t want to risk the money, this model makes a lot of sense.

 It does have a few interesting features, including “headless” mode, which allows you to move the drone in any direction you want regardless of where the front of the drone is facing. There is no GPS or return to home feature, but for a drone in the $100 dollar range it is very capable.

  • 720p HD Video Recording, uses micro SD card
  • 2 Megapixel Sensor
  • Still Photos Possible
  • Manual Tilt Gimbal For Camera
  • Controlled via Included Controller
  • 10 minute Flight Time
  • Maximum Range 160 Feet
  • Low / High Speed Selector Switc

This is a great starter drone for anyone who wants to practice flying a larger bodied drone and doesn’t want to risk much money. The camera would also be very useful for simple tasks like checking crops or looking at out of the way places. The X8V is a great stating point for anyone who wants to learn how to pilot a drone, and it is easily affordable to most people.

Sky Viper Video Drone

This is nice budget offering, and is shares many of the features with the rest of the drones on the list. For example, the controller does not have any sort of screen to stream video, and it has a one touch barrel roll button. For less than $100 you can get a drone that will shoot 20 minutes of panoramic video in 720p HD resolution which is not too shabby.

  • 720p Video Recording, includes 4GB micro SD card, up to 32GB can be used
  • Still Photos Possible
  • Controlled via Included Controller
  • 25 minute Flight Time
  • Maximum Range 200 Feet
  • One Touch Barrel Roll

So just keep in mind that is is not a competitor in any sense of the word for the rest of the drones on the list. The Sky Viper is really aimed young pilots, or people who want to play with a drone on the weekend. On the upside, this drone is seriously durable and will take a lot of abuse and keep on flying.

Parrot Bebop

Parrot Bebop droneParrot Bebop drone

 This is a great video drone for those of you that want to get into drone video capture and don’t mind spending a little bit more on a starter drone. Compared to the rest of the drones on the list the Bebop is a little bit more advanced, and a lot more expensive.

Those extra features include a much higher resolution camera and longer flight time, as well as a GPS enabled return to point of last take off feature.

  • 14 Megapixel Sensor
  • 180 degree Fisheye Lens (with rectilinear correction)
  • 1080p On-board Video Recording 8GB storage
  • Streaming Video to Smartphone
  • Controlled via app on Smartphone
  • 25 Minute Flight Time
  • 37 mph Top Speed
  • Maximum Range 984 feet
  • Return to Home (place of last take-off)

For around $500 this drone offers you a lot of value for your money, but it is lacking a few things that you will find on more expensive models. You also have own an apple or android smartphone, but most people have one these days.

One of the really cool things that this drone does is take the fisheye image that the camera creates and by using an algorithm in the processor, makes the image rectilinear, or normal looking. The reviews it gets are mixed, and don’t buy this drone if you are expecting top of the line performance.

Growing All The Time

 There are a variety of video drones available, and you are sure to find something that fits your needs and budget. The technology is improving all the time, but don’t wait to start learning. As the drones improve, so will you.

Don’t be afraid to do a lot of reading, and check out resources online before you buy. If you have a good idea of what you are looking to do with your drone it is really going to help you make up your mind, and not be disappointed with what you decide on.

Admir is a pharmacist by profession and hobby dronist by passion. He runs a review/news website on drones – https://dronepedia.xyz and 2 big Instagram community pages. You can find him on Twitter  @derAdmir.

Camera drones come in all shapes and sizes. These days, you can get cameras on extremely small micro drones, racing drones, and all the way up to expensive octocopters.

But when you’re looking for quality, there are a few attributes you should pay attention to. These attributes define the difference between a quality camera drone and one that’s simply for recreation.

Let’s break them down:

Camera Quality

When you’re researching camera drones, pay attention to the camera’s quality.

Many camera drones come with a camera that shoots video in 4K resolution. This is more than good enough. You will also find a lot of cameras that can take 10-12 megapixel still photos.

These two features are quickly becoming a staple in the drone world, but if the camera shoots video in a little less than 4K and/or takes a little less than 10-12MP stills, you still have a pretty good camera on your hands.

Next, find out if the camera built-in, if can you switch it out, or if you need to buy one separately.

What you want will depend on your goals and the equipment you already have. Most camera drones come with a built-in camera that’s pretty powerful, but some photographers and videographers like to use their own equipment.

Finally, figure out if you can attach filters to the camera. This could drastically broaden the type of shots you can get.

In-Flight Camera Adjustment

It’s a big plus if the drone allows you to adjust your camera’s setting mid-flight. This can save you a lot of time, because you won’t need to land every time you want to change settings or re-adjust the camera.

Look for drones that allow you to adjust the camera’s angle and basic settings, at a minimum. Then see if you can adjust exposure, focus, and other more advanced settings from the ground, as well.

Reviewing Footage

When camera drones first came out, you had to shoot all of your footage and download it to a computer before you could review it and see what types of shots you were getting.

Today, you can find models that allow you to review your footage directly from the controller or a mobile device.  This is a huge time-saver, and it lets you get the shots you’re looking for faster.

Flight Time

Drone flight times typically range from 8 minutes up to 30 minutes.

Flight time on the lower-end drones (like the models under $100) isn’t crucially important. These models are more for having fun, and their batteries usually recharge in 30-45 minutes and you’re back in the air again.

For professional pilots and more serious photographers/videographers, flight time is a big deal. It means you have more time in the air to get your shots, and you need less replacement batteries to extend your sessions.

Go for a drone with a flight time of at least 18 minutes. If you can get into the 22+ minute range, you should be golden.

Autonomous Flight Modes

Autonomous flight modes are excellent features to have at your disposal. They allow you to get expert quality shots without having to control the drone manually.

Here are a few examples:

Follow Me – The drone automatically follows you and captures what you’re doing.

Course Lock – Lets you fly in a set direction.

Waypoints – Let’ you set multiple GPS points for the drone to fly between, while you control the camera.

Home Lock – Fix your controls to be relative to the Home Point.

Point of Interest – Set a specific point for the drone to orbit around.

Journey Mode – The drone flies out away from you to capture a selfie.

Return Home – With push of a button, the drone returns to you.

These types of flight modes can make it a lot easier to maneuver your drone and get amazing aerial shots.

Control Distance

Control distance refers to the distance between your controller and the drone before it loses signal.

It’s an important characteristic, because it tells you how far away you can fly your drone before losing control of it.

You want this distance to be as long as possible (to be safe), but anything around 1500 meters or more should be fine. Most higher-end camera drones have a more than long enough control distance.

FPV Capability

Next, FPV (first person view) capability is a huge advantage when taking aerial photos and videos. You can see what your camera sees in real time, so you can make sure you’re getting the most accurate shots possible.

Find a camera drone that can relay a live FPV feed to a screen on the controller or to a mobile device.

Obstacle Avoidance

Finally, this isn’t a must-have, but it’s definitely helpful:

Obstacle avoidance.

This feature gives your drone the ability to bounce away from any object that comes in its path. This includes both manual flight and automated flight.

If you tend to fly in obstacle-rich areas (lots of trees or buildings) obstacle avoidance can come in handy.

Over to You

As long as you keep these attributes in mind, you should be able to find a quality camera drone to meet your needs.

What drone are you flying right now? How do you like it? Let me know in the comments below.

I am glad to publish the following guest post by Tushar Grover, webmaster of the MiniDroneReview web site, which addresses some basic considerations to be made while selecting a drone model to buy.

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By Tushar Grover

As we move forward in this fast paced technology innovation era where lots of new gadgets are being developed and build from scratch in front of our eyes, drones technology has not being left behind in the race of powerful R&D, which have led to innovation of some powerful drones equipped with best technology that are being used in various work industries and by common people too for betterment of our society.

different drone models

So come on folks let’s take a look at some of the tips which you must keep in mind while on a lookout for new drone to get a good drone buying experience with awesome drone to fulfil your desire to fly a great drone .

  1. Camera Quality

Camera quality is an important factor for all the photography enthusiast and other people who buy camera drones to take some jaw dropping pictures from different angels in the sky while they are performing adventure sports like sky diving, water sports or just rock climbing, so that they can cherish those moments later in life .

Generally you may find that while buying a camera drone, it comes under 2 categories i.e with attached camera and other without camera which gives you choice and freedom to attach a sports action camera of your choice to captures awesome pics like gopro action camera or any other similar one .

Choosing drone with attached camera would come at little bit extra cost when compared to one without camera, so if you already have gopro then you buy one without camera to save some bucks. It all depends on your personal choice for which one to choose as there is not much difference between both of them and both are equally good.

  1. Price Point

Price point is a factor which could bring smile on your face or burn hole in pocket if you don’t choose a good drone at reasonable price after discount according to your budget.

When you head out to buy a drone make sure that you have already made up your mind about the budget, as it could help you choose the best drone in market which seems to be filled with lot of choices of drones ranging from $40 to $3000 approx.

Moreover if you choose to buy your new drone while the retailers are throwing discounts and online stores are also having clearance sale in holidays then you could easily get a good drones with all the features of your choice without spending an exorbitant amount of money, which would make you feel happy besides saving some money for party with your friends and family, even you can buy some extra nano drones from left over money for your kids to make them happy too.

  1. Features

While planning to buy a new drone don’t forget to take a look at some cool drone video and drone reviews on internet to know about all the drone features and then make a lists of all the essential features which would require in your drones according to your budget.

Some of the cool features which should be there in your new drones are good GPS and WIFI signal range, way appoint and orbital modes, start point landing, RTF and FPV modes and many more

  1. Flight Time

Flight time is one of the important factors that is being overlooked by new drone buyers while on a new drone shopping spree.

As per current market standard all good consumer drones generally have around 20-30 minutes of flight time which I think is decent, although researchers in various big companies like DJI, Gopro etc are working to increase it without compromising on battery size which could make drone heavy.

Generally you may find that drones with higher battery life which gives longer flight time comes at an expensive price point which may be unaffordable for some, so if you can’t buy a high priced drone due to budget constraints then you should atleast buy couple of extra battery to keep the fun going while you are in jovial mood of drone flying to capture some cool photos on your holiday vacations

Verdict

Buying a good drone which could fulfil all your requirements of having a good quadcopter is not an easy task, so I hope you got some good insight from the above tips which would help you choose good personal drone to capture some cool pics with your friends with your new drones this holidays.

Share this with your friends and family to spread the knowledge about drones.

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Stay tuned on the Personal Drones Blog for the latest quadcopter and multirotor news!

Thank you to David Gonzalez, founder of SkilledFlyer.com, for contributing this nice article that covers the basics of FPV flying. Enjoy the read!

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By David Gonzalez

FPV flying is arguably the most exciting part of owning a drone. Imagine being able to see what your drone is seeing in real time- that’s the magic of FPV flight. In this article, we’re going to talk about what FPV flying is, the rules you’ll need to follow, and how you can get started.

FPV Flying – Overview

So, what does the acronym “FPV” even mean? It stands for First Person View, which basically means that you get to see exactly what your drone’s camera is seeing, without lag. Flying this way is a lot of fun, and allows you to fly your drone further and more aggressively than you normally would. FPV technology is pretty much the heart and soul of drone racing, a revolutionary sport that’s taking the world by storm.

Two Display Options

With FPV flights, you’ll have two options to choose from with regards to how you want to view the flight. These include:

  • FPV Goggles
  • Standard FPV Display

The FPV goggles are more expensive, but they’re also way more fun. The goggles are worn in the same way as you’d wear a VR (virtual reality) headset. The only difference is that the video feed is coming from the drone’s camera. There are many different FPV goggle companies out there, each with their own benefits and drawback. That, however, is beyond the scope of this article.

Your other option is a standard FPV display. This type of display is usually built directly into the transmitter itself (as in the Hubsan X4 H107D). However, sometimes you can use your iPad or smartphone as the display. Which option do we recommend? If you’ve got the funds, the FPV goggles are always the better option in my opinion.

The Benefits of FPV Flight

So, what are the benefits to being able to fly via FPV? The first benefit is that you’ll be able to fly further than normal. When you’re flying by site, you’re limited by how visible your drone is. If you lose sight of your drone, you may lose it forever. With FPV technology, you can fly your drone much further without having to worry about losing it. While many new flyers like to buy RTF drones that come with FPV technology, experienced flyers prefer to build them. It’s really a matter of preference and how much control you want over your drone.

Basic FPV Setup

As we mentioned, you can either buy an FPV drone or build one yourself. Beginners like to take the first option since it’s more convenient. But if you’re an experienced flyer who wants more flexibility, you’ll probably choose to build one. Here are the basic components of a proper FPV setup:

  • Display: We already spoke about this, but I’ll summarize again: you can either go with FPV goggles (the recommended option) or you can go with a standard FPV display. The goggles are more fun and immersive, but both work just as effectively.
  • Camera: The camera will sit on your drone and capture the world around you. You’ll want to buy a camera that’s capable of high-quality recording. The clearer the image, the easier it will be to fly via a FPV display.
  • Transmitter and Receiver: These two parts work together and will be the primary components of the setup. The transmitter will send video signals from the drone to your display, while the receiver will be the thing that accepts these signals.

How much will it cost for a basic FPV setup? There’s no way to answer this in one sentence. It really depends on the quality of the FPV system you’re buying. As a rule of thumb, expect to pay between $500 and $1,000 for a quality FPV system. In some cases, you may be able to find it cheaper.

How Far Can You Fly with a FPV Setup?

The distance that you’re able to fly with your FPV setup is dependent on one thing: your antenna. If you’ve got a subpar antenna, then you won’t be able to fly very far. To make your flights worthwhile, I recommend investing in a quality antenna (even if it means paying a little extra). The best setups will allow you to fly more than a mile away! Something as simple as an antenna upgrade can literally double your FPV range.

Wait – But Isn’t FPV Flying Illegal?

It’s correct that the laws state that you must keep your drone within normal viewing distance. What does this mean for the average FPV flyer? Obviously, it means one thing: fly your drone within normal limits. You can still fly via FPV, but don’t fly it so far out of sight that you can’t see it without the display. To be honest, the drone laws are relatively new and different cities/states enforce this law differently. With that said, I must be responsible and recommend that you follow the rules as closely as possible. Otherwise, you could get your drone confiscated, get fined, or both!

The Importance of Having a Spotter

The final tip we want to give you is to bring a spotter. A spotter is basically any person who can watch your drone while you’re flying via the display. You might be wondering why a spotter is required. After all, you’re flying in first person viewing mode. The thing about FPV flying is that it dramatically lessens your peripheral vision. This means that it’s easier to hit objects that are just outside of the view of your drone’s camera. A spotter can watch for the objects that you can’t see and warn you whenever you’re about to hit them. Just make sure that you return the favor for them, too.

Good Luck and Fly Smart!

That’s about it on FPV flying. If you have any questions about FPV flying, then leave a comment or send us a message. We’ll be happy to answer them for you. The biggest takeaway is to fly smart. The consumer drone industry has had a bad rep in recent years due to people being irresponsible with their drones. Don’t hurt the movement by doing something crazy. Good luck and fly safe everyone!

David Gonzalez is the founder of SkilledFlyer.com, a website dedicated to teaching people about RC drones. You can check out his latest articles by visiting his website.

Stay tuned on the Personal Drones Blog for the latest quadcopter and multirotor news!

All you really need to fly is a drone and an RC remote. However, experience teaches that there are a number of accessories that will make your life as a drone pilot much easier and more enjoyable. This is the topic of the following article by Michael Karp. Make sure you visit Michael’s  Drone Business Marketer blog for more great info on drones!

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By Michael Karp

Drones are amazing feats of technology in and of themselves, but it’s the different accessories and add-ons that can really enhance your flights.

In this article, I’m going to break down 10 accessories that can make your flying life a lot easier.

Let’s get to it:

1. Propeller Guards

image08

You can get propeller guards for beginner RC drones all the way up to advanced models. They’re are one of the most convenient types of accessories to have.

Propeller guards attach to the base of your drone and wrap themselves around the outside of each propeller. They’re usually a couple centimeters away farther than the propellers’ reach (so they never touch) and they help to protect each prop from hitting other objects.

They can drastically reduce the number of extra propellers you need in case of crashes.

Check out propeller guards on Amazon.

That being said, you still need some extra props…

2. Spare Propellers

Spare propellers

Spare propellers are a must-have for every pilot.

No matter how good you are, the odds of you crashing or at least bumping into something are pretty high. Even if you have propeller guards, they’re sometimes not enough to stop the impact.

And you never want to be stuck in the field without a propeller or multiple. Spare propellers helps to prepare you for this and gives you peace of mind, knowing that you have replacements if something happens.

Check out extra propellers on Amazon.

3. Spare Batteries

Spare betteries

Just like propellers, you never want to be stuck with a flat battery and nothing to replace it with.

Spare batteries (as long as they’re charged when you head out) help you extend your flight sessions. When one runs out, you simply land, replace it, and you’re back in the air again.

Every serious pilot carries spare batteries for this reason.

Check out extra batteries on Amazon.

4. Landing Pad

Drone landing pad

Landing pads are sneakily convenient.

Not all surfaces are optimal for landing on. You want to land on a flat surface that’s free of anything that could damage your drone.

A landing pad provides a clean, flat surface you can bring with you anywhere.

Check out UAV Bits’ landing pads.

5. Landing Gear

Drone landing gear

If your drone doesn’t come with landing gear (or skids) or its skids aren’t adequate enough, landing gear can be a great accessory to have.

High, sturdy landing gear allow you to land on less-than-desirable surface without risking damage to your drone.

Check out landing gear on Amazon.

6. An FPV System

Drone FPV system

What if you could see what your drone is seeing in real time?

An FPV (first person view) system allows you to do just that.

FPV systems involve the use of a transmitter that attaches to your drone/camera, a receiver to relay the signal, and a monitor or FPV goggles to accept that signal and display the camera’s view.

Flying in FPV removes any guess work about where your drone is facing and what you’re looking at. It makes maneuvering easier, and it makes it a lot easier to get accurate aerial photos and videos.

Many of the top drones these days come with FPV capabilities, but if yours doesn’t, try out a kit like this.

7. Telemetry System

RC remote with telemetry

Telemetry data includes battery life, altitude, speed, and other aeronautical measurements. A flight telemetry system allows you to see all of this data on an LCD screen as you’re flying.

You can image how useful this can be. You will always know when you’re battery is about to run out, how fast you’re going, whether you’re flying at an altitude compliant with regulations, and more.

It’s a huge advantage to have this data at your fingertips.

Check out telemetry systems on Amazon.

8. Carrying Case

Drone case

Drone portability is an important characteristic. There’s no point in having a drone that’s a pain to take where you want to fly it.

A carrying case solve this problem. Not only does it carry your drone neatly and safely, but it can carry a host of spare accessories, parts, and tools.

Check out carrying cases on Amazon.

9) Neck Strap

Neck strap

A neck strap wraps around your neck and gets attached to your controller.

It makes the controller easier to hold, especially during long flight sessions, and it reduces the likelihood of you dropping the controller and causing your drone to make radical movements.

It’s a simple safety precaution that can improve your flights.

Check this neck strap from Turnigy.

10) Screen Hood (For An FPV Monitor)

Screen hood

Nothing is worse than glare causing you to not be able to see anything on your FPV monitor.

To reduce this glare, you can use a simple hood that surrounds the monitor.

Check out this FPV hood.

Over to You

These are some the accessories that I feel can make any pilot’s life easier. What accessories do you use?

About the Author

Stay tuned on the Personal Drones Blog for the latest quadcopter and multirotor news!

With so many available models and an increasingly expanding market, knowing what to look for in order to select the best drone model for you can indeed be challenging.

This nice article by our regular contributor Michael Karp could be very helpful in making an informed decision. Also make sure you check out Michael’s  Drone Business Marketer blog for more great info on dronesHere we go!

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By Michael Karp

The camera drone market is saturated with options. No matter what application you need it for, you likely have many different choices to choose from.

This can leave many pilots in a bind. How do you choose between this drone with a camera or that one?

In this article, I’m going to break down some distinguishing factors that can help you make different purchasing decisions based on your needs.

3D Robotics Iris+ drone3D Robotics Iris+ drone

Let’s get to it:

Price-to-Features Ratio

The first overall metric you want to look at is the price-to-features ratio. This ratio simply tells you how many features (and what quality of features) you’re getting for the price.
Now, you can’t put an exact number on this ratio, so you have to eyeball it. For example, if you’re looking at one drone that comes with a 4K camera for $800 and another that shoots in 720p for $750, the price-to-features ratio of the 4K camera is better.
Jot down all of the features for each drone you’re looking at. Then compare the features you’re getting for the price you would pay for each one. This will help you decide which is the better deal, in general.

Flight Time

Flight time is important for many camera drone operators. The longer you’re in the air, the more opportunity you have to get the desired shots.

A flight time difference of two or less minutes won’t have a big impact on your sessions.

But a flight time difference of three or more will. If the difference is five or more, that’s going to make a major impact it should influence your decision heavily.

If you’re a recreational photographer or videographer, you can probably afford to choose a drone with less flight time, if that’s where your budget lies. However, if you’re a professional pilot, additional flight time could have a big impact in your work.

First Person View

Does the drone come with first person view (FPV) capabilities?

First person view allows you to see what your camera is seeing in real time, and it drastically improves your ability to get quality shots.

FPV capability on a camera drone is a huge advantage, so if you’re looking at a drone that offers it and one that doesn’t, I would strongly consider leaning towards the drone that does.

Camera Capabilities

Make sure you compare the strength and capabilities of each camera:

In what resolution does it shoot video?
In how many megapixels does it take still photos?
Can you adjust settings mid-flight, or do you have to land first?
Can you attach filters to the camera?

All of these aspects affect the quality of your shots and the usability of the camera mid-flight. Choose features that fit your goals.

Support

These days, the support for different drone models is astounding. For the most popular models, there are hundreds of articles and forum posts that can help you with many issues previous owners have faced.

Even for the less popular models, you can find information online or contact the manufacturer for support.

If you’re choosing between two models, try searching for different issues online and see what kind of support is out there for each, just in case you run into trouble and need some help down the line.

Accessories Available

Accessories can really help enhance your flights. However, some models are compatible with a lot of accessories and some aren’t.

Check to see if accessories like these are compatible with the drones you’re looking at:

  • Extra propellers
  • Extra batteries
  • Landing gear
  • Camera filters
  • Drone trackers
  • Dual operator control (two controllers)
  • FPV goggles

This could help you decide between one model or the other.

Intelligent Flight Modes

Many of the latest camera drones are coming standard with intelligent flight modes.

These flight modes allow you to pilot the drone autonomously, such as setting a flight path for your drone to fly or having it orbit around a point of interest.

They can help you get smooth, expert quality shots without needing to pilot the drone manually. For pro and recreational pilots alike, this can save you a ton of time and headache.

If the models you’re looking at both come with intelligent flight modes, check out which flight modes each comes with to see which model has the flight modes you would prefer.

Over to You

Now you should be well-equipped to choose between multiple camera drones if you’re in a bind.

What drones do you fly? Have you had any tough buying decisions recently? Let me know in the comments below.

About the Author

Stay tuned on the Personal Drones Blog for the latest quadcopter and multirotor news!

While flying or even just handling a drone, a mistake can lead to quite serious consequences.

For this reason I suggest you read with care this insightful article by Aaron Colley, owner of getadrone, as it could save you time, money and some serious trouble in the future. Thank you Aaron for this great contribution!

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by Aaron Colley

It goes without saying that jumping into the expansive and complex world of drones, is no easy task. For novices, the drone world can be overwhelmingly complicated, and at times seem impossible to figure out. With that said, we can all agree that it’s highly probable that mistakes will be made, it’s just a matter of “when” and not “If”. So that’s why we’ve decided it would be a great idea to expose the top 5 mistakes made by drone pilots, and hopefully prevent anyone else from making the mistakes themselves.

Mistake #1

Over Estimating Your Flying Skills

A drone that crashed during a flightA drone that crashed during a flight

One of the most common mistakes for both beginners and advanced pilots alike, is overestimating their own piloting ability. For beginners, the case is usually moving onto bigger more expensive drones far too quickly. They figure if they can fly their micro drone in the bedroom without injuring their pet cat, naturally it must be time to buy an Inspire Pro and fly over New York City! No, please DO NOT do this! This has led to so many accidents, fly-always, and horrifying stories. Take your time when starting out, starting from a micro drone, move to a smaller toy drone, then to cheap camera drone, then maybe to a phantom, and possibly after a year or so flying the Phantom you can progress to something a little larger and more expensive. This will help you avoid a ton of headaches, believe me, you’ll thank us later.

Now for all of you advanced pilots out there, as good as you might think you are, you’re not exempt from this all too common mistake. Advanced pilots have a tendency of becoming way too confident in their own abilities. It’s not a bad thing, everyone does it at one point or another but it really can be a costly mistake. What tends to happen is you’re out flying your shiny new DJI Mavic with some friends, and you’ve got a point to prove. You bet 100 bucks that you can fly over that 500 foot bridge, and back under the other side… while blindfolded! Okay well it’s not always that extreme, but you get my point. Soon after making that bet, you proceed to fly over the bridge only to fly straight into a support cable. Not only did you lose the bet, but you also lost your shiny new drone, along with most of your dignity. Don’t do it! Respect the drone, respect others safety, and respect your own capabilities as a pilot.

Mistake #2

Choosing the Wrong Drone

Hi-tech multicopter with camera in brushless gimbal and autopilotHi-tech multicopter with camera in brushless gimbal and autopilot

Another all too common mistake is drone pilots purchasing a new drone only to find out it’s missing a certain feature they wanted, or it flies terribly, or they’ve crashed it and can’t find parts anywhere! This is mostly due in part to shopping for your drone in the wrong places. You want to shop with a trusted retailer, someone who has dedicated the majority of their efforts specializing in drones. They will have a far greater knowledge base and a greater passion to assist you when you run into issues as opposed to buying your drone at Walmart where they likely won’t know the difference between a drone and a lawnmower.

I won’t spend any more time on this one, just do yourself a favor and read our guide on choosing the right drone here: https://getadrone.com/drone-buying-guide-choose-right-drone/

Mistake #3

Powering-On Your Drone While Moving

This is such a common mistake that it’s almost frustrating. Your drone is equipped with all kinds of sensitive sensors and flight instruments, one of them being the gyro. The gyro is responsible for telling your drone which way is up and which way is down, and every other orientation in between. Think of it as how humans use our inner ear for balance. The gyro has an incredibly high rate of malfunctioning if not initialized properly. The most common way drone pilots fail to initialize the gyro correctly, is by powering on their drone while walking around with it in their hands. Every time I see this I just cringe, and proceed to watch their drone flip and twirl through the air as they try to maintain control. Take the time to set your drone on the flattest surface available, plug it in, and let it sit until all the systems are fully initialized. Once everything has been initialized you can move it wherever you want without a problem.

Mistake #4

Not doing a Pre-Flight Check

Man using drone RC remoteMan using drone RC remote

More often than not, drone pilots unpack their drone, power it up, and take off. This really is a terrible practice. A pre-flight check can literally save you thousands of dollars in the long run. I have been flying RC aircraft for 8 years, and I’ve prevented over a dozen catastrophic failures by discovering an issue on my pre-flight check. Pre-flight checks are so important that commercial drone pilots are mandated by law to conduct pre-flight checks before every single flight. Yet, the average joe drone pilot seems to ignore this practice completely, and it results in countless avoidable accidents. The reason pre-flight checklists are so important, is because things happen. A prop might be loose or cracked, your landing gear might be hanging by a thread, a motor mount might even be coming apart. Any of those things can be avoided and discovered on the ground before you take off. Simply get into the habit of checking every single propeller, give the motors a shake, pull on the landing gear, and just visually inspect the aircraft for cracks and/or damage. Believe me, at some point in time you will find something, and you’ll thank us for getting you into the habit of checking your drone before each and every flight.

Mistake #5

Not Understanding Drone Laws

This is a big one, and of all the other mistakes on the list, this one can potentially result in the largest financial dent. The penalty for breaking drone laws range from fines, to jail time. Of course, don’t expect jail time unless you’re seriously pushing the limits… Unless you’re following the president out of the White House with your Phantom 4, you’ll probably be okay. But none the less, fines for not complying with drone regulations can be upwards of a few thousand dollars. Way too many recreational done pilots simply think that because they’re flying for fun, no rules apply to them. That is definitely not the case, take the time to research drone regulations in your Country & State, it’s extremely important to do this not only as a beginner, but also do so on an ongoing basis. Regulations are constantly changing, and you’ll need constantly keep an eye out for any new rules or regulations in your region.

Going Forward

Hopefully you’ve taken this article to heart. If you implement the strategies mentioned above, you’ll be doing yourself, and everyone around you a huge favor. If you’re just getting started in the drone world the first step before you can implant any of our tips, is purchasing the right camera drone. We’ve compiled a list of the top 5 drones of 2016. You can take a look at that here: https://getadrone.com/top-drones-2016/

As always, thanks for reading and happy flying!

Written by Aaron Colley of www.getadrone.com

Stay tuned on the Personal Drones Blog for the latest quadcopter and multirotor news!