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droners ultimate drone survival guide

The Droners Ultimate Survival Guide 101

Whether you’ve been feverishly reading reviews and watching YouTube videos or have no desire to do research, we’ll touch upon all the information you need to make the right decision. Everything you need to know before buying a drone and all the best drones available in 2017 is right here!

Think about what you want to do with your new drone. Do you want to fly at high speeds as fast as possible, or even race? What about photography or videography? Many drones come with deeply integrated equipment that’s difficult or impossible to change. It’s important to take some time and carefully consider everything you’ll want to do with your new drone. Another thing to consider if you’re taking any imagery is whether or not you want to share it on social media. Some drones now come with software packages that allows instant editing and smartphone connectivity. This feature makes it easy and straightforward to upload to standard sites like Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and others. Currently, FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) regulations require you to monitor your drone and fly within their specific guidelines. That said, you can still get pretty far and see the aircraft in a large field (line of sight). Multi rotor style drones such as quadcopters are limited in flight time. If you want extended endurance and flight times, you might consider a fixed wing aircraft. There is such a large number of remotely controlled aircraft available it’s critical to evaluate which model or drone type will fulfill your needs. For further information on drones see our drone definition post here. Already decided how you want to use your new drone? Take a quick moment to pinpoint your budget and let’s get down to business!

Key points to consider when researching your options

GPS
Before you decide you don’t need this, you need to consider how useful the “return home” feature will be in your situation. New and experienced pilots both can accidentally lose connection with their drone. For example, the remote control battery might die. Typically, if a drone has a “return home” feature, it will activate after the aircraft reaches a certain battery life. This feature means your drone that’s hovering in the air where you can’t get to it to re-establish a connection will, after a reasonable number of minutes waiting, come back to you without your intervention. If this feature isn’t available, you’ll need to wait until the drone runs out of battery and crashes into the ground. If that sounds expensive, that’s because it probably will be.
Other useful features requiring GPS include setting waypoints and tracking a target. Waypoints allow you to sent the drone multiple places without needing someone to pilot the aircraft actively. Target tracking obtains GPS data from a tracker and uses the tracker’s location to follow the desired target. If you don’t have GPS, it won’t be the end of the world. It’s just a feature that’s nice to have and becomes critical in certain applications.

Sporty Handling or Smooth Imagery
Do you want to go fast, take smooth video, or both? You don’t necessary have to choose between one or the other but getting both tends to come with a higher price tag. Most aerial photographers and videographers go with a system that’s smooth and stable in flight. These aircraft tend to be copters of one kind or another. Quadcopters are popular for this purpose. If you want to zoom around and have no plan to take pictures or don’t care about the  image quality, pay closer attention to the top speed, 3d functions (flips and rolls), and other performance specifications. DJI’s recent consumer drones have sport modes built in where the drones agility and speed is increased. This feature can be found in the Mavic, and Phantom 4. For a balance of image quality and performance we would recommend these two systems.

Image Quality
There is a large range of drones with imaging equipment out there and an even more extensive range of imaging capabilities and accessories. If you want to take photos, videos, or both you’ll need to put careful consideration into what camera is on the drone you choose. Don’t assume cameras can be swapped out or upgraded later unless explicitly stated by the manufacturer. Look for 1080p or 4K in the specifications if you want to take HD (high definition) or 4K images and video. Why care about HD quality imagery? They provide a significantly more lifelike appearance. When you look at an HD picture of a tree, you see a tree that looks like it’s right in front of you. Imagery in lower quality look more like close approximates of whatever you photographed. Keep in mind when acquiring 4K footage you may need a powerful computer to edit the footage in post. If you want a smaller sized drone, you may end up settling for lower quality pictures and video.Traditionally the drones need to be a little on the larger side to carry the extra weight necessary to support quality HD cameras. More recently, technological innovation has brought higher quality imagery in a very small size. The Phantom 4 PRO and Inspire 2 shoot amazing DSLR quality footage in a very small package.
For videography, you’ll take similar things into account with two additional points. First, recording video introduces another specification called FPS (Frames Per Second). The higher the frames per second, the slower you can run the video without distortion. A good rate for typical videography is around 30 fps. If you need slow motion, you’ll want a higher number. Anything over 120 fps is probably overkill but may be essential for action or sport videography. Second, you want your video to be as RAW as possible. RAW video may also be called uncompressed video. A lossless compression is similarly capable. Most compression algorithms for video are lossy, meaning the video won’t look nearly as nice when it’s decompressed and played as it did before the compression occurred. RAW footage will however come at a cost. High file sizes and time consuming colour correcting in post. Not all compressed footage is bad. Look for high bitrate codecs such as ProRes.
For high-end imagery work, you might consider drones with a larger gimbal and cinema camera such as the RED Epic, Arri, or Canon C500.

Assembly Effort
Do you have the patience, experience, and motivation to assemble your drone? It can be a fun project, especially once you see the result of your hard work zip through the air. If you’ve never put one together before, it takes a while to complete. We wouldn’t recommend assembling your drone if you’ve never owned one before. Otherwise, just be aware that there is a learning curve and can be a lot of work, and it’s not going to give you instant gratification.
Three levels of product assembly might be required even if you don’t need to assemble your drone from scratch. There are ARF (Almost Ready to Fly), BNF (Bind and Fly), and RTF (Ready to Fly) drones. ARF is popular because the drone’s pieces can be broken down for shipping. Selling ARF drones provides tremendous cost savings to the entire shipping and storage process and as a result keeps prices lower in general. Usually these is minimal assembly required with a ARF kit. BNF is an attractive option for hobby and toy drones. The aircraft is pre-assembled and tested but requires the purchase of another item such as a radio controller or battery. RTF means the aircraft is either completely assembled or needs minor assembly such as locking in propellers.
An important thing to note with the higher end drones. Some of them may require additional equipment such as a viewing device. The device can usually be a phone or tablet with either the Android or Apple operating system. Some systems although not as common now may need a full FPV set-up to broadcast the live video feed to your ground station. It’s especially important to read the product specifications carefully in this case. Otherwise, you might need to invest in  new additional equipment to use your drone to its full capabilities.

Customer Support and Part Availability
Purchasing a drone can be an expensive proposition. You want to make sure whatever you buy will function as intended and the company will support the system for at least a few years. The best way to make an educated guess about support and part availability is to look at the company’s history. Search for answers to the following questions:
1. Is this the company’s first drone, or are they an established manufacturer?
2. Are there any existing complaints that repeatedly appear on forums about the product or business?
3. Look for the customer support contact information. Is there a phone number or do they only take questions by email? If you call the number, how long is the wait time?

The existence of bugs or problems are more common on new and pre-release drones. As manufactures receive feedback, issues are usually promptly addressed with software updates when discovered. Most recent drones are firmware undateable. Updating software is usually as easy as plugging the device into your computer or loading a file onto the drones removable media. In some cases the drone connects to its manufacturer’s network and updates itself. Although less common, mechanical issues or manufacturing flaws are a possibility and are tougher to resolve. If a manufacturer has developed a reputation for having mechanical failures, we wouldn’t recommend purchasing until they have issued a recall.

Practical drone applications for different vehicle types

Until recently the only use of drone technology you heard about regularly was associated closely with government and the military. Another word for these aircraft is UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle). Drones like the Predator have been used extensively to conduct military surveillance and as a weapon to conduct remote warfare. The practice has been extremely controversial but continues nonetheless.
The popularity of drone photography and videography has brought this technology to the forefront of the drone marketplace. Multirotor UAV are much more flexible and are usable in a wide variety of circumstances including package delivery, surveillance, search and rescue, damage assessment, and mapping. Why might an individual make use of a drone? Photography of architecture, real estate, land surveys, and thermal imaging for agriculture are just a handful of examples. There’s a whole drone service sector that’s come into being branching into many industries. Here’s a list of the major drone categories and their typical use case. See also our drone types post here.
Fixed Wing
Fixed wing aircraft specialize in efficiently traveling long distances. All of their power drives them forward, and the wings on each side use a specialized aerodynamic design to generate lift. Applications that require long distance travel, like creating a map of an area, commonly employ fixed-wing drones.
Multirotor
Multirotor aircraft are your “copters.” The most common available variation is the quadcopter. These aircraft specialize in mobility. They can go backward, forward, sideways, and nearly any angle in between. With the right design, they are capable of hovering for extended periods of time and performing automated tasks. This drone type is perfect for landing and taking off on challenging terrain.
Land Vehicles
Using ground vehicles is ideal in places where it’s safer to drive than fly. Also performing ground based tasks and missions. These can vary in size from tiny robots to full sized rovers used by NASA for space exploration. Advanced GPS and sensors allow these land drones to autonomously roam and conduct automated missions. The electronics found in these vehicles are similar to those found in aerial drones.
Water Vehicles
These vary from submarines to fully autonomous boats. Drones perform underwater imagery, sample retrieval, and many other tasks in water environments that are hazardous to humans. Common reasons for people being unable to do the work include depth and dangerous conditions. The most famous high-depth project is the exploration of the Titanic’s wreckage. Self deployed boats can be send out by the coast guard for un-manned rescue missions or to conduct environmental research.

Primary categories of airborne drones

Aerial Imagery Drones
The vast majority of industry focus within the consumer drone market is on aircraft specializing in video broadcasting and photography. With the advancements in technology including nanotechnology, drones have more features than ever for less money than they cost before. The trend started as a home built copter based on hobby parts and DIY (Do-it-Yourself) airframes.
The DJI Phantom 1 was the first RTF drone with GPS functionality. With no complicated assembly process, the average consumer could finally break into the drone aerial photography scene. The first drones to market were set up to carry a GoPro camera hard mounted onto the belly of the aircraft. This solution was effective, but it was nowhere near an elegant one. The drones vibrations caused distortion in the video, and the camera was unable to be controlled from the ground and offered no form of stabilization.
The gimbal emerged as the best solution to prevent the drone’s vibrations from impacting the imagery. This new mechanism isolated the drone and camera while maintaining a level and stationary camera. The initial models were 2-axis servos. They provided improved results but were still not ideal. Using reverse engineered brushless motors and advanced micro controllers engineers were able to produce a highly accurate computer controlled gimbal. These were still 2-axis and large, requiring the platform to account for the extra weight at the expense of thrust and flight times.
Soon after, manufactures such as DJI introduced pre-programmed plug-and-play brushless camera gimbals. These were what finally stabilized the camera completely. They’re the key to the stunning cinematic footage you see from most high-end camera drones today.

When you purchase your new camera drone pay careful attention to these three features.
Gimbal:
3-axis stabilized is best. As long as it has a brushless gimbal the footage should be watchable. Check youtube videos from the model you want to buy to make sure it’s stable enough for you if you’re not sure.
Videography and Live Streaming:
4K RAW (uncompressed) recording is best for footage you plan to edit. You’ll want 30 fps for a smooth video. If you’re doing slow motion shots, you’ll need over cranking capabilities 60-120 fps. Some camera drones can achieve 1080p HD or even 5K.
Self-Navigation:
Point of Interest, cable cam, active tracking are a just a few powerful features that will help get you amazing aerial shots. These features are especially necessary for beginners who haven’t quite nailed the full manual piloting. As drones evolve these automated features will become more advanced in time.

Racing Drones
Racing drones are relatively new to the drone scene. They have gained some serious traction in past couple years. Drone Racing is a new industry in itself. Drone leagues and teams are popping up around the word. Large, extravagant drone race events occur in places like Dubai. Drone makers have been scrambling to create the best racing drones, so there are ample options available.
Many racers bring a bag filled with tools and spare parts.Most FPV racing drones now have quick part change capabilities built-in for little down time at the races. The most common size for racing drones is the 250mm quadcopter. If you plan to get serious, check with your local drone racing league to find our what drone classes they compete in.
We recommend buying an assembly kit or an ARF drone. In the event of a crash (it will happen) you’ll know exactly how to repair it. Many racers bring a mechanic’s bag with back up racers, arms, motors, and most importantly propellers . Many FPV drone racers have quick part change capabilities built-in. They vary significantly in size and form factor. The 250mm quadcopters are most common. If you plan to get serious, you should check with your local drone racing league to find our what drone classes they race in. There is typically three categories of racing drone.
1. 150mm micro
2. 250mm mini
3. “Open” class. The “open” class can vary from race to race, but they usually don’t exceed 400mm.

A unique part of drone racing is FPV. FPV allows the pilot to see what camera-mounted drone sees. The video feed is broadcasted wirelessly through a video transmitter and sent to the pilot’s monitor or goggles. Most of these FPV setups use 5.8Ghz analog bands.  These broadcasting bands are further broken down into channels. Before an event, organizers will provide racers with a list of available channels. The most common standard for separating out the analog channels is RaceBand. Getting your first racing machine together can be overwhelming. Be sure to check out our complete “How to Get Started in Drone Racing” guide here. When you purchase your new racing drone pay careful attention to these features.
Amount of Assembly Required:
You’ll need to decide whether or not to buy a fully do-it-yourself assembly kit or an ARF drone. We recommend doing one or the other. The more familiar you are with the inner workings of the drone, the easier it will be to repair.
Top Speed and Performance:
We are racing, after all, so make sure it can do everything required to compete (like go super fast)! You’ll want to learn a little programming as well to tweak the drone’s performance parameters.

Flying a Racing Drone takes practice:

Racing drones are small, light, and fast. All unnecessary equipment has been removed such as GPS autopilots or obstacle avoidance features. Flying a race drone is full manual and takes a bit of skill. This is all part of the fun. Be sure to purchase extra parts for race drone as you will be needing them.

Personal Drones
Personal drones are hot in 2017. With the announcement of ZEROTECH’s Dobby drone, they’ve set the standard feature for personal drones to come. These drones are designed to be super small and ultra portable. The Dobby’s footprint is close to the size of a smartphone. These personal drones will feature similar powerful functions to their big brothers. Because of their size, they have a limited flight time.
Their micro size will also have limitations in image quality. Although, very soon they could cross paths with the larger camera drones in functionality. Another drawback is the fact that they don’t feature mechanical camera stabilization. They do however have stabilization on a digital level. This process usually degrades the image quality as it has to crop images on the fly. As the camera moves the onboard image processor zooms in on the picture to remove dead image space created by eliminating the vibrations.
All things considered, you can’t help but acknowledge the coolness factor of these tiny drones. Take it on you next holiday hiking in the mountains. Shoot photos at your friend’s wedding or your next family reunion. Take a close look at these specifications for your personal drone.
Battery Life:
You don’t want to have to spend most of your time charging your drone. Short flight times are standard so you’re unlikely to find anything that can fly an extended period. Many drones, including personal drones, offer second and third batteries to prolong your flight time significantly.
Size:
Personal drones are smaller in size, but there is still a range of size options available. You’ll want to think carefully about where you’re going to take your aircraft. For example, hiking in the mountains might necessitate a lighter and smaller aircraft to leave room for food, water, and other essential equipment. If you’re driving and have plenty of room in the trunk, maybe it’s irrelevant.

Hobby Toy Drones
Most drone pilots dabble with a toy drone at some point. They are great fun and a small investment. Most fly full manual with no position hold or other autonomous functions. They usually come in a small size perfectly suited to the park or indoors. Toy drones or toy quadcopters cost as little as $20. They are an excellent way to get started in the drone scene.
Be warned, most of these toy drones are much harder to operate than the more advanced camera drones. Those guys in the mall that fly them around as if it’s no big deal? They’ve had a lot of time to practice. These little toys make excellent gifts. Just make sure there’s nothing expensive and breakable in the room where your kids or spouse are learning the ropes. These come in various formats including quadcopters and helicopters. Check out these features before buying.
Battery Life:
Make sure it’ll fly long enough to be enjoyable. These little drones are small allowing them to recharge quickly. Some only fly for 3-5 min.
Remote Control Style:
If you have the option to do so, try it out in the store before bringing it home. If the controller isn’t comfortable in your hand, it won’t be nearly as fun to fly. Some of the included remote controllers are really tiny and cumbersome to operate.

3D Features:

Some toy drones have cool functions that allow you to do flips. When you master basic flight these 3D functions will provide an additional level of flight and operator challenge.

Mini-Drones
These are a lot like toy drones but in miniature. These little drones are perfect for flying around the house. Also, they make great pet toys. Cats and dogs love to chase them around. They’re also an excellent way to hone your flying skills on rainy, windy days. These are another great gift idea for your kids or spouse. Their smaller size makes them extremely unlikely to knock anything important over, but maybe move the precious stuff just in case!
There are a lot of cool features out there for mini-drones. Parrot offers one they call HYDROFOIL which races across the water on pontoons. There are also little racing air /land vehicles. This option is, of course, in addition to the quadcopters that are plentiful in the market. Take your time and look through all of the available options. You’re likely to find something you didn’t know existed either because you haven’t run into it, or it’s a brand new concept. You can also view our best drones of 2017 here as well have a host of listed mini drones you can buy on Amazon.
Battery Life:

Make sure it’ll fly long enough to be enjoyable. These little drones are small allowing them to recharge quickly.

Remote Control Style:

If you have the option to do so, try it out in the store before bringing it home. If the controller isn’t comfortable in your hand, it won’t be nearly as fun to fly.

Professional Drones
Professional drones are what you need if you’re serious about putting your UAV to work. They are, in most cases, much larger and built using industrial grade components such as carbon fiber and aluminum. The larger footprint allows for larger propellers and beefier motors. The added power is what’s needed to lift heavy payloads such as Cinema cameras, DSLR cameras, LiDar scanners, crop chemicals and more.
The drones that aren’t large compensate for it in other ways. Many manufacturers are designing small, portable, industrial grade platforms to perform a multitude of commercial tasks. Companies like Autel Robotics have released industrial UAV planes for long missions. This design is popular for surveillance and mapping jobs as it has the best endurance of all platforms.
The biggest drawback to professional drones is price and size. You can easily expect to pay $10,000+ for a commercial drone of this type. Chinese manufacturers like DJI tend to have more affordable options for carrying larger payloads and spraying crops. Look for the following features in your professional drone.
Max Payload Weight:
Whatever the drone has to store to do its job, make sure the weight will be supported to keep it running until it has to return home and re-fuel.
Sensors for Mapping:
Verify that the drone has the mapping sensors required or that you can add them on after-market.
Data Storage:
On long missions, there’s a possibility you’ll have either no connection to home base or an unreliable one. You need enough memory on board to prevent data loss if your connection is lost or slow.
Other Application Specific Needs:
Don’t forget to consider the environment where your drone will be operating. High heat, intense cold, and humidity are all factors in how long your drone will work before breaking down.

Safety and Redundancy:

With commercial UAV rules and regulations evolving, you will want to take safety seriously. Some commercial systems are now including redundant systems where if one component fails the other will take over and allow for a safe landing.

Selecting the best drone for you and your application

Once you have decided what type of drone you want to buy, you’ll want to perform further research to find the best model for the money. Thankfully we have done most of the research for you and provided you with a comprehensive list of our top picks in each drone category. See Our Best drones of 2017 guide. We have also provided links to the best store to buy them.
Once you have narrowed your choices, we recommend checking out forums where real owners have provided their experiences. Current owners are an excellent source of information and tend to provide genuine and honest feedback. If you hear about the same issue from multiple owners, it’s likely a widespread problem across the drone model. You can contact the manufacturer to see if they resolved the issue in the latest production run.
If you find yourself looking at drones that are way out of your price range, make a list of desperately needed features. Then, make a separate list of those that are nice to have but you don’t desperately need. If the necessary features alone are breaking the bank, consider buying a drone used or looking at a previous version of the drone you want. For example, DJI is still selling the Phantom 3 Professional. It costs less than the new Phantom 4, and they’re including an extra free accessories and discounted prices. Also be sure to check out our quick drone comparison guide here.

before you buy a drone

What you need to know before you buy a drone

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 here). 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 TechnicalitiesNot 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 our top drones you can buy online.

types of drones

Types of Drones – What are the different variations and how do they work

Drones at this point in time have passed the test of time. The technology that goes into their development is limitless, and their performance is seamless. There currently exists countless different types of drones on the market, and they come with any feature imaginable. However, the following four types of drones are the primary designs under which all drones are developed from.

MULTI-ROTOR

Description

These copters are the most common drones by manufacture and commercial use. There is not much technicality in operating them as their structure and configuration make them easy to handle, which is not a common phenomenon to the other drone types. They have multiple propeller blades that spin in apposing directions. There are 4 primary configurations: Tri-Copter (3 Blades), Quadcopter (4 Blades), Hexacopter (6 Blades), Octacopter (8 Blades). Within these configurations there are also deviations. Such as the X8 for example. Where it is a 8 rotor craft by nature, configured as a quadcopter where each boom has 2 propellers (one on top and one on bottom).

Pros

Of the four drone types, this one is perfect for an eagle eye experience, making it ideal for photography, doing aerial inspections and leisure. They are less expensive, convenient, and perfect for amateurs since controlling them is generally easy. They also deserve credit for their speed and high precision during in-flight placement. The stability and ease of flight can be accredited to the advancements in flight control technology.

Cons

They have a limited battery life, translating to an inadequate flight time. They are restricted to electric motors as their source of power since gas engines are unsuitable for powering such kind of equipment. Although recent innovations have gas powered multi-rotors in the works.

Multi-rotors have a price range of $300 for the basic ones and can go for high as $65,000+ for professional ones.

FIXED WING DRONES

Description

When you hear of a fixed-wing drone, think of a very tiny a commercial jet. They are designed to work with the same concept as airplanes. The wings provide lift against the wind just like regular planes and they only move forward. Fixed wing drones are well known in the military scene where the term drone was founded. These military drones such as the famous predator are capable of long range flights at hight altitudes. Small commercial UAV fixed wing drones are becoming popular due to their long endurance capabilities.

Pros

They center their energy to aiding them in advancing thus being more efficient. For this reason, they can stay up in the air for a longer period (some up to 16 hours or more). These drone types can also use gas engines making them ideal for long distance gliding.

Cons

One of their biggest disadvantages is its incapability to hover in the spot. They are thus not suitable for such work as aerial photography or applications where portability is a necessity. The commercial variants can be very expensive owing to their complexity in structure and technology.  They are not convenient for use in confined areas. Some need either a runway or a catapult for both lift off and landing.

To get one commercial fixed wing drone off the ground can set you back $5,000 to $120,000+

SINGLE ROTOR HELICOPTER

As the name suggests, this drone has one rotor to hold it up, plus a tail rotor to govern its heading. They can be powered by gas motors. They have enough strength to hover around carrying heavy stuff for an extended period.

Pros

These drones are built to endure. They have a heavier payload capacity than any other drone and have great hover flight capabilities. It is perfect for Aerial LIDAR laser scanning.

Cons

These drone types are very expensive regarding acquisition and maintenance costs; it is considerably hard to master how to fly it and very dangerous. The structural integrity does not justify its pricing.

To acquire one will set you back $25,000 for a low-cost option and up to $120,000 for a high-end product.

 

FIND ALL THE BEST DRONES FOR SALE 2017 

 

FIXED WING HYBRID

Features

Unlike the single and multiple rotor UAVs. This drone can hover, is capable of vertical take off and landing yet has almost the same endurance as a fixed wing craft.  There are various kinds of this drone. The core ones being VTOL that uses fixed wings with vertical lift motors to fly. The VTOL can lift off vertically. Once airborne the rotors can tilt horizontal propelling the craft into forward flight.

Pros

They can stay up for an extended period and have VTOL capabilities. Even though these drone types are still under development, recent advancement in the field has probed an attention shift to them. A good example of this drone is Amazon’s Prime Air.

Cons

This UAV is neither perfect at hovering nor forward flight. Most of its stand-out features are still under development, and it is still early to tell its success potential.

Perfect for making drone deliveries, this UAV has not yet been widely inherited for commercial purposes.

You may also be interested in our Drone Definition post here

drone definition - what's a drone

Drone Definition – What exactly is a drone and what are they used for

You hear about them on the news a lot. You might’ve seen them flying around your local mall. Drones came onto the world stage quickly and almost immediately they were everywhere. On one hand, the news goes on about how deadly they are. On the other, some kid in the mall is using them to do back flips and other silly tricks. Maybe you’ve seen pictures taken by drones from all sorts of impossible angles. What is a drone, and how can they be both deadly and a toy? Read on as we cover the basics in this drone definition.

A drone, also known as a unmanned vehicle comes in many forms. From land to air to sea, there is a drone capable of completing almost any task. Our drone definition will focus on airborne drones, or UAV unmanned aerial vehicles. There are many different types of UAV drones out there in use over several broad categories:
1. Deliveries including commercial and otherwise.
2. Imaging including video and photography.
3. Search, rescue, and medical aid.
4. Entertainment such as stunts and pranks.

Drones come in all types and sizes. Various fuels power drones including electricity, gasoline, jet fuel, and more. Drones have a pilot or driver. However, this is not necessary in all cases. Unmanned vehicles with established jobs whose error is unlikely and mistakes are unlikely to cause harm to people or property may run their route with no human assistance whatsoever. When most people think of drones they think of the QuadCopters (4 rotors), but there are others as well including but not limited to:
– TriCopters (3 rotors)
– HexaCopters (6 rotors)
– OctaCopters (8 rotors)
– Fixed Wing Airplanes

You may also want to check out our post on different drone types here

Deliveries Including Commercial and Otherwise:
Deliveries include products purchased online, food and other essentials sent to hostile areas, and munitions (things that explode). For more details on military applications, the BBC has a quality article on both the U.S. and U.K.’s drones and military capabilities (BBC Article can be viewed here). The application you’re most likely to see in your lifetime is something similar to Amazon Prime Air .
The FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) rules have been the biggest hurdle to deliveries by drones due to their regulations. The summary of the Small Unmanned Aircraft Pule part 107 describes the problem best. “Visual line-of-sight (VLOS) only; the unmanned aircraft must remain within VLOS of the remote pilot in command and the person manipulating the flight controls of the small UAS. Alternatively, the unmanned aircraft must remain within VLOS of the visual observer,” . In other words, you have to keep a close eye on it. This rule creates a severe problem if they’re swarming out to deliver packages.

Imaging Including Video and Photography:
Cameras are light weight and drones can fly. This combination is a formula for excellent unique pictures and videos you can’t get any other way. Drone photography is so unique, and frankly amazing at times, an app and website are dedicated solely to uploading the images called Dronestagram . The announcement of winners of their yearly contest happened only recently. The pictures are well worth your time if you get a chance to take a look.

Search, Rescue, and Medical Aid:
Unfortunately, it’s not always safe to go everywhere. Drones are an excellent way to scout out disaster areas and combat zones to rescue victims and civilians. They are also able to scout large areas and carry light-weight medical aid. Medical supplies we take for granted can quickly become scarce when a large number of people are hurt.

Entertainment Such as Stunts and Pranks:
Go to Youtube.com and search for “drone tricks.” You won’t be disappointed. “Drone pranks” is also a good search term, but I prefer “drone pranks gone wrong” myself. I would say don’t try this at home, but that’s the point, isn’t it? If you’re under 18 or too inebriated to drive yourself to the emergency room please, I beg you, don’t try any of these things without adult supervision. I mean a sober adult. Another drunk adult doesn’t count.

Whether you need entertainment, delivery, assistance, or want to take, photos drones are extremely helpful. They come in many shapes and sizes. They have a lot of military applications, but the ways you’re most likely to interact with them are much more fun and less complicated. I can’t wait to get Amazon Prime Air deliveries! For further reading and more drone definition guides follow the links listed below.

Drone Definition Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unmanned_aerial_vehicle

Drone Definition Scientific America: http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/what-is-a-drone-anyway/

Turn your drone into a creepy flying Halloween prop

Halloween is a fun time of the year as people get creative and transform themselves into creatures of all shapes and sizes. Dressing up is fun but what about dressing you drone for Halloween? Check out how we made our spider drone halloween prop.

If you have a old dusty drone sitting around, this may be the time to pull it out. The perfect platform for our drone spider build was a old DJI Phantom 1 we have had sitting in storage for some time. We needed a small drone but with enough power to lift the final drone costume. There are a few challenges to consider, of course. #1 Keeping the weight down. After the battery and prop guards, the max payload of the phantom 1 is really only about 350grams. We needed to retain the propeller guards as it provided a point of attachment for our costume as well as keeping loose materials away from the propellers. #2 Balancing the drone is important. With the added weight it’s critical to keep the quadcopter as balanced as possible. Unbalancing the Phantom could render it too unstable to fly. Materials for this build we readily sourced from our local dollar store as well as a few items from the home depot. Although the project looks straight forward it was a little more involved than we expected. After dabbling with a few different concepts we found a flying spider would be perfect as it’s symmetrical shape would keep the drone balanced and the legs would cover the body. The legs worked well as we could hang them over the propeller guards and keep them rigid as to not impede on the spinning propellers. Using this tutorial as a guide, you can also turn your drone into a creepy halloween prop that will be sure to draw attention form your neighbours and trick-or-treaters alike. Here are the steps we took to build our spider drone.

Materials:

  • Drone ( Phantom sized is fine)
  • Hot Glue
  • Black spray paint
  • Plastic cup
  • 2 party balloons (One big and small)
  • Stick on jewels for the eyes
  • Light weight bendable wire (for legs)
  • Large pipe cleaner (for legs)
  • Black feathers

 

STEP 1 – Selecting the best halloween drone

We started out with a version 1 Phantom we had sitting in storage. The phantom has prop guards which will serve as a point of attachment for the legs. We will be painting the quadcopter so the cheaper the drone the better. As long as it has a 300+ gram payload capability any drone this size will work well.

halloween phantom drone

 

STEP 2 – Lets get it painted

We are going to paint our spider drone black. We will be attaching our costume to the top portion but the under side will still be visible. Before spraying we need to mask all the components we don’t want painted. On the phantom 1 we need to mask off the navigation lights, Naza LED dome and motors.

masking the spider drone

All masked up set up outside for a quick spray. Any cheep spray paint will work. We recommend Krylon Plastic paint. It is best for bonding to plastics. We went cheep and used a generic spray paint. We got the best results using lots of light coats. There are many crevices and different angles. Make sure you don’t miss any spots. The plastic cup, balloons and props will need to be painted at this time too.

painting drone

 

STEP 4 – Start building the spider drone costume

After letting the paint dry we will start attaching all our components that will ultimately become the spider drone. First off we need to create a body stand off. This will give us the height and base for our legs and balloons. Most everything will be attached using a hot melt glue gun. The plastic cup needed to be modified to contour to the Phantoms top shell as seen below.

 

spider drone cup attached

 

This will be the foundation in which all the materials will attach. The hot glue works well but we need to use just enough as the weight quickly adds up. At this point we can start planning on attaching the spider legs. We want to ensure the legs stay clear of the propellers. Using hot glue we start to attach our legs to the top of the cup. You can see as pictured we attached 4 legs to the prop guards and the middle 2 will just hang. This will give the legs movement in flight.

 

spider drone legs

 

There are no rules, you can make it your own. Whatever works and looks good. This is the spider drone with legs attached. We added an additional pice of cardboard centred on the cup. This will be our point of attachment for the black balloons. The small balloon attaches to the larger balloon. The large ballon than gets attached to the top of the cup. We also used hot glue for this but first applied masking tape to the balloon to prevent it from popping. After the balloons are secured we can finish our halloween drone off with feathers, eyes, and fangs. This is where you can get creative and customize your spider quadcopter.

 

Spider

 

Here is our final spider drone. If initial test flights go well you can further accessorize your costume. Your drone costume will be sure to attract a crowd this halloween and halloweens to come. Let us know what you turned your drone into this halloween in the comments below.