The Beginners Guide to Drones
So all the drone hype has got you excited, huh? Well, you should be. Owning a drone is a lot of fun. The options are endless.
Whether you want to be a drone photographer, get a new toy, go drone fishing, or because you want to try something new; there's a drone out there would best fit your needs.
There's a lot to know about drones and the industry constantly changes, as it progresses with new technologies and new drones. However, this introductory guide to drones should serve as an excellent first step in learning the essentials.
Drones, quadcopters and other aircraft that flies without humans on board are also known as a UAV, or unmanned aerial vehicle. This is one of several important terms you should learn before attempting to buy a drone.
Accelerometer: An electrical device that measures acceleration for specific direction of flight
Almost Ready to Fly: Drone comes with everything needed to fly. but usually requires some assembly
Gimbal: The device that holds the camera. Contains small motors to make for video stabilization when flying
FPV: A camera mounted on a drone that allows the pilot real-time viewing of the drone camera's POV
Gyroscope: On high-level drones, there is a device that measures angular velocity for the purpose of stabilizing your drone.
Multi-rotor: A vehicle with multiple rotors used in flight.
Hexacopter: A multi-rotor vehicle with six rotors.
Payload: How much your UAV can lift (in addition to its own weight)
Quadcopter: A multi-rotor UAV with four rotors for flight.
RTF: Ready to fly. This requires no assembly at all.
Making Sense of Drones
Drones come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, making it likely that the perfect drone is out there for you. It boils down to what you want to get a drone for specifically.
The UAV industry has really taken off (pun not intended) since the introduction of quadcopters, which are now the most common type of drone.
Multi-rotors have motors and propellers on the ends of each arm. The two propellers are parallel to each other, spinning clockwise, while the other two spin counter-clockwise.
This adds stability during flight.
The propellers are not very large, as you can see below.
But this doesn't mean they're not dangerous. Remember to be careful when flying your drone. You shouldn't do it indoors if it's near someone else, as it could get ugly.
If you don't believe me, just take a look for yourself...
picture courtesy of dronefriend.com
Large drones are designed to carry heavier loads, such as video cameras. Copters with more rotors, such as octocopters, can carry a heavier payload and therefore make a good option for this type of use.
An alternative to this is medium-sized drones, which often have cameras built in. These first person view (FPV) drones are compatible with Android and IOS and allow the pilot to see a first person perspective of what the drone sees, in real time.
image courtesy of wired
Other things to consider are flight time and range.
How long do you need to fly your drone in one shot?
How far away from you do you want it to be able to go?
If you are looking to record something upwards of ten minutes, you'll want to make sure that your drone is capable of this duration.
Drone batteries are purposely made as small as possible so that the extra weight doesn't hinder them. Most are capable of around ten to fifteen minutes. There are drones that can fly for up to twenty-five minutes, but this feature is something you'll have to pay extra for.
Cameras and camera holders also differentiate in quality. Many drones have swiveling camera holders, which are capable of 360 degrees of viewing from hundreds of feet in the air (aka gimbals).
image courtesy of rcdronearena
There are also smaller drone models that have cameras, yet aren't able to record from distances as long as the former.
One last thing before you go get yourself that drone you've been itching for; know the local laws. Before flying your drone, it's important to be armed with the information needed to keep you and others safe.