Today, Drones are used in a variety of activities such as aerial photography, surveillance, in construction, mining sector, and agricultural sector. In addition to commercial use, Drones are also used as a personal toy. If you are also thinking about buying a Drone for yourself for personal use or even for commercial use you are at right place. In this article, I am going to go over 6 things you should know before buying a drone for the first time.
1) You need to register your Drone.
a) In USA
If you want to fly your Drone in US, the first thing you should do is register your Drone with US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The Federation Aviation Administration (FAA) requires every drone weighing more than 0.55 pounds and less than 55 pounds to be registered. You can register your Drone for just $5 on registermyuas.faa.gov in a matter of minutes. After registering, you will receive a unique ID which must be displayed on your drone.
b) What if I am buying a toy Drone?
One common misconception among the users is that they do not need to register their toy drone or mini quadcopter. However, FAA guidelines clearly state that any drone that weighs more than 0.55 pounds (even if it is from toys category) needs to be registered. If you are not sure about how much your drone weigh. Contact the manufacturer or measure the weight on weighing scale by yourself.
c) In UK
There is no registration required in UK as long as you’re not using your drone for commercial use. Rules and regulation related to flying drones in UK are still evolving. At the moment there is no clear guideline to that. As long as your drone weighs less than 20kg and you are not flying above 400ft you are good to go. However, you should also avoid flying it within 50m of a person and 150m from government buildings, airport, and other sensitive areas.
2) Educate yourself on the Flying guidelines of your country.
There is a different set of flying guidelines issued by different countries. Educate yourself according to that to stay out of trouble. Here are best practices you should follow that applies to most countries.
a) Stay away from sensitive areas.
Stay at least 5 miles away from Government buildings, airports, national parks, schools, prison, stadium and other sensitive areas. Select a wide open field to thoroughly enjoy your drone flying session.
b) Don’t go over 400 feet.
FAA guidelines clearly state that people should not fly drones more than 400 feet above the ground.
c) Take others safety and privacy into consideration.
Speaking from my personal experience, never try to intrude on someone’s personal property even if he is your friend. When I bought my first camera drone, the first thing that came to my mind was to record my friend’s (Daniel) activity without letting him know (I was planning to show him footage later that evening giving him surprise). To my bad luck Daniel parents saw that drone hovering over their house and they called the police. It was the worst day of my life, long story short being a friend of their son they withdrew their complaint after giving a serious lecture about respecting others privacy. In addition to privacy concern, you must look for others safety also. Do not fly your drone too close to anyone. No matter how expert you are in flying drone, do not forget it’s an electronic device with fast rotating plastic blades attached to it. Any unpredictable movement or system failure can result in malfunctioning of the device and can seriously hurt someone.
3) Be prepared to spend extra on attachments.
Even if you have purchased the best and most expensive drone but your expenses are not over yet. Battery life in drones sucks, even the most expensive drones are not going to give more than 25 minutes of flight time whereas in cheaper mini-drones don’t expect that to be more than 5-7 minutes. That is the reason why I suggest my readers carry a couple of extra batteries and also a quick charger with you so that you do not have to wait longer to fly again.
In addition to batteries, extra set of propellers are also important. Drones are easy to fly but simultaneously they are easy to crash. There may be many reasons for the crash, such as sensors malfunction, poor calibration, and even GPS failure. And in any crash first thing that gets damaged is drone propellers.
Most camera drones make use of your smartphone as a viewing monitor. Although most of the latest smartphones are compatible with your drone but some older model smartphone (3-4 years old) may find it difficult to connect with your drone. Try updating them with their latest operating system (Android or IOS) and if the problem still persists You may have to buy a new smartphone.
4) To keep your drone safe, look for ideal flying conditions.
These are the ideal flying condition recommended by every drone manufacturer.
- Clear days
- Little to no breeze.
- Away from extreme low and extremely high temperature.
Always refer to owner manual to find out the device’s ideal operating temperature range. Extreme temperature can damage the batteries and gears.
- Away from the metallic structure. (They can cause interference with drones compass.)
- Away from radio towers.
Radio towers create a disturbance in receiving GPS signal from satellite.
5) Understand the lingo and abbreviations.
When you start shopping for the drone, you’ll come across many words or lingo. Here are some of the important ones you’ll come across. Understanding these will help you to choose the right Drone for you.
RTF → RTF stands for Ready-to-Fly, which means that there is no need to purchase any additional components with your drone. Everything is included (even controller) into the package and is ready to fly out of the box. If you are new in the field of drones, it is the RTF version of drones you need to get yourself.
BNF → BNF stands for Bind ‘n Fly. This means that you need to purchase/bind a separate controller with your drone. One thing you should know that any OEM controller will not work with your drone. So check description or contact manufacturer to make sure that your controller is compatible with your drone. BNF drones are most suitable for professional who already owns a high-quality expensive controller and does not want to waste money on controllers with every drone they purchase.
ARF → ARF stands for Almost-ready-to-fly. ARF kits include all the necessary parts (except they usually don’t come with a transmitter or receiver) required to fly a drone but everything is unassembled. User needs to assemble all these parts by himself. ARF kits are best DIY enthusiasts who want to build their own drone.
RTH → RTH stands for Return to home. A feature which allows the drone to autonomously return back to the takeoff position safely. Let’s say you somehow lost your control with your drone and you don’t know where your drone is just pressed the RTH button. Now instead of going further in any direction it will automatically track your GPS location and will come back to you.
Gimbal → Mechanical camera stabilization system that allows to keep your camera stable and fixed even in poor flying conditions. A very important feature to look for in your drone if you intend to use it for professional video recordings or capturing images.
Headless mode → Headless mode or head free mode enable the drone to move in the same direction you move your controller irrespective of the fact where its head is pointing. Let’s say you have a drone pointing its head/front towards you, without headless mode if you push your controller forward your drone will move towards you (its head is pointing toward you) and vice versa. Now in headless mode flight controller (CPU of Drone) inside the drone will automatically align its movement relative to the computer. So, no matter where the front or head of the drone is facing it will always move in that direction where you push your controller.
6) Best online store to buy a drone.
There are a lot of stores available online selling the drones but when it comes to customer satisfaction Amazon is the store we always recommend. Their excellent no return policy, customer support and free shipping for prime members are the few reason for my recommendation (No, Amazon has not paid me anything to say all this). Other than that if you are interested in DJI drones there is no place better than DJI store official website. You can also purchase variety of accessories with your drones from there.