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Getting Started with Drones as a Hobby

There has been an explosion in the drone industry. With the advancement in technology, these machines have transformed from an interesting toy to a popular hobby and a full-fledged new sport – racing drones. Drones or UAV are growing in popularity.However, you don’t have to wait until they take over the skies before you can plunge yourself intothe airborne gizmos world. Drones can add a whole new dimension to your life in a fun and surprising way.

Here are the basics you need to know to help you kick off your drone hobby.

What exactly is a drone?

People could be talking about different things when they talk about drones. Technically, a drone is an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) capable of autonomous navigation with the aid of GPS tracking systems. But generally speaking, a drone is any UAV with or without autonomous flying capabilities. Those without autonomous flying capabilities are simply referred to as “smart” Aerial Vehicles e.g. RC helicopters or airplanes. Most drones have crash-avoidance systems, onboard cameras, and other high-tech settings not available on conventional RC flying vehicles, which makes them a sort of a hybrid between true drones and conventional RC fliers. The drones we are all familiar with in terms of hobby use are quadcopters.

Different kinds of drones –

Based on number of propellers:

  • Tricopter – these are drones with three propellers
  • Quadcopter – these are drones with four propellers (the most common type)
  • Hexacopter – these are drones with six propellers
  • Octocopter – these are drones with eight propellers

Based on Size:

  • Nano drones
  • Mini drones
  • Regular size drones
  • Larges drones

Based on Range:

  • Close range drones
  • Short range drones
  • Mid-range drones
  • Endurance drones

Based on Equipment:

  • Drones with camera
  • Drones with FPV
  • Drones GPS
  • Drones with stabilizers

When picking a drone, some of the features to look out for are battery life, camera, and GPS integration. Below are some solid quadcopters to help you kick off your drone hobby.

 

Product

Visual

Where to Buy

Parrot AR Drone v2.0

DJI Phantom 2 Vision Quadcopter

Altair Aerial AA108

Hubsan X4

Altair 818 Hornet

 

Parrot AR Drone v2.0

Parrot AR is a typical starter drone, it comes with all the features you can ever desire in a casual drone. You can use your iOS or Android device to control the drone via the free AR app, which includes “Absolute Control” mode that offers the easiest flying. It is also packed with sensors and chips that monitor and record its altitude. With its 720p front-facing high-definition camera, you can record or stream live videos during your flight, and the lower-resolution down facing camera allows you to get a drone’s eye view.

DJI Phantom 2 Vision Quadcopter

The high-resolution camera in Phantom 2 Vision is one of the features that set it apart. It is capable of snapping 14MP resolution photos or shooting up to 1080p HD video. The drone’s camera can also provide POV while you are flying the craft by streaming video to your smartphone through the free app. You can also snap pictures with the app and post them on social media while the drone is still in the air. Other features that come with this drone include a battery that provides up to 25 minutes flight time, which is one of the longest in the industry, a GPS navigation system that guides the drone automatically to the last take-off point, and a flight range of 300 meters.

Altair Aerial AA108

The Altair Aerial AA108 is another great choice for beginners because of its toughness and beginner-oriented equipped features, which makes it very easy to fly. It is a versatile option that gets more difficult as you get better with it due to its multiple flight patterns and speed modes.

Hubsan X4

The Hubsan X4 is sturdy and it is a perfect choice for those who are just starting out with drone and also convenient for those improving their skills. Each battery will get you about 5 minutes of flight time, so you will need some extra batteries to get some meaningful flights.

The drone has two flight modes, which are Normal and Expert. If you are just getting started with flying drones, use the Normal Mode and try to get used to flying around obstacles without crashing. Once you’re ready to advance, switch to Expert Mode, this increases the controller sensitivity and angle the drone can tilt. When you go into Expert Mode, ensure you are in an area with open space and also have some spare parts handy.

Altair 818 Hornet

This is another good choice for those interested in aerial photography and videography. It is very stable because of its heavy built and shape, so it takes excellent photos. The Altair 818 Hornet have 15 minutes of flight time for a single batter, which is fair enough for a longer photo and video shoots.

Other options include:

How to Fly a Drone and Rules

  • Pick a day with fair weather condition and no wind
  • Go to an open place without obstacles, such as power lines or buildings
  • Reduce distractions to the barest minimum
  • Avoid flying around people or properties
  • Now fly your drone. Take off and reach a couple of meters, hovering, fly from point A to B, and then land the drone.

Drone Dos and Don’ts

Please note that the Federal Aviation Administration rules prevent you from flying your drone above 400 feet in the air and from flying it out of the line of sight – even if being guided with the help ofa camera.

Also note that the Federal Aviation Administration also placed a ban on all “commercial drone” purposes, except you have a special permission from the agency and that is not even easy to do. So before you include “Aerial photographer” on your business cards, think twice.

Flying drone as a hobby can be fun, but always take things slowly when starting out. You will have enough time to showcase your skills once you hone your drone flying skills.