Choosing Your Drone
Choosing Your Drone
Want to buy a drone but don't know where to start? Then you've come to the right place.
There is a bewildering array of drones on the market, so how do you choose?
BEFORE YOU START TAKE THE TIME TO READ THIS LEAFLET FIRST TO FIND OUT WHAT YOU CAN AND CAN'T DO.
Flying with Control - CAA brochure
First thing to think about is where you are going to start flying. Indoors is out of the wind so removing one complication for a beginner, but do you have an open space and do you have fragile items that could be damaged? You will crash, so keep that in mind. If you are going to start off indoors, you probably want a small drone unless you happen to have a large indoor space.
Some drones come with speed settings so you can start off on a low speed but increase as you get more confident.
On the question of size, you may hear the terms Mini, Micro, etc. used. There is no official standard used to define these but this is what we are using at The Drone Warehouse, which is in line with most organisations. Frame size is the distance between opposite motors or the diameter of the circle the motors are on. See diagram below.
We call drones under a 300mm frame size Mini Quadcopters
The next thing to think about is do you want a camera? There are different options depending on what you want to do.
The usual requirement is video, particularly for FPV (First Person View). FPV provides video allowing you to see what the drone sees as if you were sitting in it, i.e. a pilot's eye view. The usual way to view the video is via your smartphone, either iPhone or Android. The connection to the camera uses a Wi-Fi network, not your smartphone's cellular network, so you aren't using your data allowance and you can use it when you don't have cell service. You need to install an app on your smartphone. Information for this is provided with the drone. The app usually also allows you to record the video and to take photos. Some also allow you to fly the drone using touch controls on the smartphone.
There are other camera options allowing you to record video on a standard memory card on the drone without having to use a smartphone. You can then copy the video to your PC, etc.
Another item to think about is batteries. Drones come with a rechargeable battery which will give you anything from five minutes flying time upwards depending on the drone and battery. Most smaller drones will only take one-size battery so if you want longer flying time, you will need spare batteries as they can take anything from 20-120 minutes to charge. Also note that almost every drone uses a different size battery and different connectors, so make sure you only use the correct battery with the correct drone. A word of warning about batteries. They are Li-Poly batteries which can tend to get warm, and in the case of a fault, hot enough to create a fire, as you may have seen in the news. They are used everywhere from phones to laptops, tablets and drones; almost everything that uses a rechargeable battery as they are a very efficient technology. Do not continuously use and charge the same battery as it may overheat. Allow it to cool between use. Controllers use AA or AAA batteries, which are not included.
Other features to think about are:-
- Range. How far away do you want to be able to fly the drone? Remember the further away the harder to see, unless you have FPV.
- One Key Return. Allows you to press a button and the drone will return to you. Not always 100%.
- Altitude Hold. Flies the drone at a fixed height to give you one less thing to think about.
- Headless Mode. Allows you to control the drone irrespective of the direction it is pointing in. If the drone is pointing toward you and you push the stick away, the drone will fly away from you, i.e. backward. Some people think this is good for beginners but others think it just confuses them when they try to move to more advanced flying without Headless Mode.
- Controller Mode. Can be either Mode 1 or Mode 2. Most drones are either Mode 2 or have both. The difference is what the two joysticks control forward and backwards. In Mode 1, the left controls pitch and the right controls throttle. In Mode 2, the opposite. Side to side control of the two joysticks doesn't change.
When you get your drone make sure you check out our video on trimming your drone. If you do this first it will make your drone much easier to fly and more enjoyable.
These are the main points, so go out and have fun.
Any questions, send us a message via the "Contact Us" and we'll try to answer.