Drones 101

June 03, 2015

  Drones 101


If you are new to the drone world, there is much you need to know. Welcome to drones 101.


First, what is a drone? A drone is an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that can be autonomous or controlled remotely. It is a very broad term describing several different types of UAVs that span a variety of uses, features, and models. A lot of people are most familiar with the military drones that accomplish missions too dangerous or remote for people to do on foot. But the most common drones are for commercial and recreational use.


To use a drone commercially, you first need permission from the FAA. Commercial drones are exactly the same as recreational drones. The only difference is whether or not you are making money off of your drone. Recreational drones are the most common and are affordable enough for the average person to purchase in the U.S.


The second important thing to know is how a drone operates. The most common drones you will find on the market will have a quadcopter design. This means they will have four separate propellers, which makes for easy maneuverability and firm stability. The standard drone includes a central body, propellers, a battery, and a remote control. Some drones even come with a camera or have a camera attachment installed so you can take aerial photo and video. With the controller, you will be able to control every movement your drone makes. And, with some drones, you will even be able to control all camera functions while the drone is in the air.


The third important thing to know is what makes a drone high-quality. The main features you want to pay attention to are flight time, communication system, stabilization, GPS, ease of use, and prop guards. This is just for the standard drones. For camera drones, you also want to look at what the camera offers so you don’t end up with poor video quality.


Now, with these basic features, you want to look for the best quality. For example, flight time above 15 minutes is fairly good while anything flying 10 minutes at a time or less is probably not worth it. With the other features, you really just want to make sure they are included. After trying out your first drone, you can then worry about what the best stabilization system is.


The last essential thing you need to know is how to fly your drone. Every drone operates a little differently so I can’t give a comprehensive tutorial here. But many drones—especially the more advanced ones—will have online video tutorials that guide you through every step of the flight process. Every first-time flyer should look at one of these tutorials before flying as this will save a lot of time, frustration, and possibly even money. The Inspire 1 (and possibly some other drones as well) actually includes a flight simulator in its app. Although it might not be a good idea to start off with the Inspire 1 of all drones, this feature is particularly helpful as it will allow you to practice any maneuver on a screen before trying them on the real thing.


Once you’ve mastered all of these points, you may be ready to take your first drone to the skies.


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