So you’ve viewed countless aerial shots on Youtube, have researched different drone manufacturers and know you want to buy a drone, you’ve even purchased a small toy practice drone to get the feel of it. But how much do you actually know about drones? Are you familiar with pricing, laws, features and the public reception? Let’s take a moment to talk about a few things you need to know before buying a drone.
Not All Drones Are Created Equal. Every drone has features that are best suited for certain applications. This means that the best drone for you will depend on want you plan to use it for. If you’re a professional photographer or videographer, then you’ll need a drone that features a high-quality stabilized camera or mount. However, if this is simple a hobby, then you may not need a camera at all. Ask yourself how long you intend to fly the drone, because this will affect your choice of aerial platform (see our guide on different drone types). Think about if you plan on flying in a smooth controlled manner, because you may need a more professional drone. Consider how far you want to fly, because you may need to purchase a drone with a solid, long range communication link. You should also consider your budget as drones come in a vast price range.
A Quality Drone Is Going To Cost You
To the surprise of many, costs associated with your drone go far beyond your initial purchase. You’ll need to be prepared to purchase a couple of extra batteries, spare prop guard, propellers and a quick charger. Be prepared to spend extra on repair costs when you crash. Be mindful of who sells replacement parts as well as their prices. Try to avoid third parties and deal directly with manufacturers when possible. Keeping a keen eye for sales and promos before you buy a drone can yield substantial cost savings.
The bottom line is, if you want a good drone, then you’re going to need to be willing to invest upfront. Spend your money on a good controller–ideally something that will last a couple of years. This way you’ll always be able to remove your transmitter and make it work with the newest technologies. Also, invest in a great charger because they charge quickly and last the longest.
It’s Not As Easy As They Make It Look
You may assume that when you get your drone, you’ll simply remove it from the box, insert the battery and then flip a switch. However, it’s not always that simple. Each and every drone operates and flies differently. And many are often hard to control. Some are more agile. Some offer more stability. Keep in mind that you get what you pay for.
If you’re new to drones, then pay attention to the acronyms; RTF, BNF and ARF. RTF means Ready-To-Fly and that there is not assembly or setup necessary. All you’ll have to do is charge up the battery, install your propellers or bind your controller to your quadcopter. BNF means Bind-And-Fly and completely assembled, but has no controller. You’ll need to find a controller that’s sold separately. Just because transmitters and receivers are on the same frequency, it doesn’t mean that they will work together so do thorough research before purchasing the controller. ARF means Almost-ready-to-fly and they require partial assembly. They may lack the motors, ESCs, and even the controller and battery.
You’ll Have To Deal With A Bunch Of Legal Stuff and Technicalities. Not many people would assume that this remote controlled device would need FAA clearance–but it does. In fact, all RC aircraft between 0.55 to 55 pounds, with the exception of children’t toys, must have FAA registration. Flying without may lead to fines and even imprisonment. The cost of registration is $5 and can easily be taken care of online. You will be given a number so that you can attach it to whatever devices you choose to fly. This is the FAA’s way of ensuring that you are familiar with all safety guidelines.
Once you’re all set up, you’ll notice that it can be hard to find a location to fly your drone.For instance, state parks are off limits, municipal parks have different regulations and areas that have a lot of buildings, people and cars are often no fly zones. So before you buy a drone, check out AirMap or Mapbox to find the no-fly zones.
They Make Some People Uncomfortable
Believe it or not, not everyone thinks drones are cool. In fact, some people are downright uncomfortable with them. The whole drone craze has brought about concerns when it comes to the issue of privacy. It’s easy for people to assume that you’re spying on them, even if you’re flying in your own backyard. So be prepared to be confronted with questions about what and whom you’re filming.
Not only that, but some people feel that they are dangerous. And to be quite honest, high speed, plastic blades can be somewhat intimidating–especially if your drone is moving in unpredictable patterns and experiencing technical difficulties. However, you can buy a drone which features props that instantly stop if they hit something. You may also getting an Academy of Model Aeronautics membership which gives you access to liability insurance, medical coverage and much more in case of an accident.
You’re Apart Of A Community Now
That’s right, you’ve just been inducted into a community of drone pilots. There are an endless amount of drone forums that you can join. These online communities can help you out with products line and parts. Before you start asking your questions, make sure you’re familiar with the proper terminologies as these forums are for the well-educated. If you want respect and answers, it’s best to observe the forum activity before diving in head first.
In short, there’s a lot that people don’t know about owning a drone. You need to know what you plan on using it for, be prepared to make several investments, have realistic expectations, be familiar with FAA regulations, be sensitive to those around you and be prepared to join the community. All of this helps to enhance your flight experience.
If you are ready to make your investment and buy a drone. Be sure to take a look at all out extensive Drone Buying Guides. We cover this years Top Camera Drones, Mini Drones, FPV Drones, Cheap Affordable drones and more!