Learn­ing how to use your first drone

Outer Edge - - Contents -

Drones are one of the bet­ter tech­nolo­gies to hit the global mar­ket in the last few years, but there are a num­ber of rookie er­rors that can see your mul­ti­ple thou­sand dol­lar in­vest­ment smashed into pieces in a heap at the bot­tom of the ocean. Know­ing a few things about how to fly a drone is one of the most im­por­tant as­pects of buy­ing one.

For a be­gin­ner drone pi­lot, the best way to make a start with drone fly­ing, is to start with some­thing cheap, and some­thing you can learn with that won’t break the bank when it in­evitably crashes into the ground or a tree, or flies out of range, never to be seen again.

If there is one thing that is in­evitable when fly­ing drones, it is that you will crash…a lot. The most com­mon thing you will strug­gle with when learn­ing to fly drones is learn­ing to fly “nose in”. Fly­ing with the drone point­ing away from you is like driv­ing a car, and feels nor­mal, but as soon as you turn it around to come back to you (nose in), that’s when prob­lems arise, be­cause the con­trols are sud­denly re­versed.

Be­fore you spend thou­sands of dol­lars on a cam­era drone, get your­self a small in­door drone and learn to fly it. Mi­cro drones and Nano drones are per­fect for teach­ing your­self how to ma­noeu­vre, take off and land. They can han­dle be­ing crashed be­cause of their lighter body­weight and smaller size. If you can, buy a drone one with pro­pel­ler guards that is ready-to-fly.

Just re­mem­ber this fun fact – It costs the same amount of money to crash one hun­dred $50 drones as it does to wreck a brand new $5000 pro­fes­sional quad­copter – so when you con­sider those num­bers, it should be an easy learn­ing curve for you, to start small, and once you have the skills to fly your small, cheaper craft, you can then up­grade.

When it comes to in­door drones and learn­ing to fly, Par­rot Mini Drones have a great (and af­ford­able) range of bat­tery pow­ered craft that can be op­er­ated by your tablet or smart­phone. The best fea­ture of the Par­rot Drones is that they have a set of sen­sors that al­lows them to hover unas­sisted. Some of the lower end priced drones have foam con­struc­tion and pro­pel­lers that are sur­rounded and guarded by the drone body, mean­ing there is less like­li­ness of dam­age. For a price tag around $100.00 you can’t re­ally go wrong with th­ese for hon­ing your skills.

From that be­gin­ner stage to the next there can be sig­nif­i­cant jumps in price, de­pend­ing on how your skills im­prove, and which path you would like to lead with drones. Rac­ing drones are fast be­com­ing a spe­cialised sport around the world, and it’s by far one of the most ex­cit­ing things to watch. If you want to par­tic­i­pate, it can be quite costly if you don’t know what you are do­ing, so it isn’t rec­om­mended for be­gin­ner drone pi­lots.

Rac­ing Drones: Race drone prices start around $300.00 but you re­ally need to know what you are do­ing to fly one, so be­ware. Re­pair costs can far out­weigh the orig­i­nal cost of the drone if you don’t know how to use it prop­erly. When it comes to drone rac­ing, most peo­ple build their own craft, but there are a few new RTF drones be­ing re­leased. If you are pretty handy with tools and sol­der­ing, you might ben­e­fit from hav­ing a go at build­ing your own.

Videog­ra­phy/pho­tog­ra­phy Drones: If you are head­ing down the path of pho­tog­ra­phy or videog­ra­phy with your drone fly­ing, then there are also a num­ber of costs in­volved that you should know about.

DJI is the leader in fly­ing cam­era drones, and Mongrel Gear has an ex­cel­lent range of their craft avail­able. For those look­ing to get started in aerial pho­tos and video, the more money you spend the bet­ter op­tions you get. Some of the newer mod­els are able to evade ob­sta­cles by stop­ping or go­ing around, and the ac­ces­sories that are avail­able are end­less. As a side note, DJI also of­fers crash in­sur­ance for your drone, so when buy­ing, be sure to ask about that.

One thing to con­sider when choos­ing a drone is how long you get for your flight time (based on the life of your bat­tery) and you’ll ben­e­fit from buy­ing a cou­ple of ex­tra bat­ter­ies, and a quick charger. It will also be a good idea to buy some spare pro­pel­lers and pro­pel­ler guards, and fi­nally; find out how easy it is to get re­place­ment parts for your drone be­fore you buy.

Reg­u­la­tions and Le­gal­i­ties: Once you have the phys­i­cal side of fly­ing sorted, you need to also look at the reg­u­la­tion side of things. There are laws and reg­u­la­tions that must be fol­lowed; and if you aren’t 100% knowl­edge­able about th­ese laws and reg­u­la­tions, you can end up be­ing very out of pocket, in the way of fines, or even more deep in trou­ble and end up in jail.

From the Civil Avi­a­tion Safety Au­thor­ity (CASA) Fly­ing drones/re­motely pi­loted air­craft in Aus­tralia: Aus­tralia’s safety laws for drones, or more tech­ni­cally cor­rect, re­motely pi­loted air­craft (RPA), as de­fined in the Civil Avi­a­tion Safety Reg­u­la­tions Part 101, vary whether you are fly­ing com­mer­cially or recre­ation­ally/for fun.

From 29 Septem­ber 2016, if you are fly­ing for fun and not com­mer­cially, or for any form of eco­nomic gain, then the reg­u­la­tions are less re­stric­tive and al­low you to fly an RPA with­out need­ing to be cer­ti­fied, pro­vid­ing you fol­low some sim­ple safety rules. Hold­ers of UAV op­er­a­tor’s cer­tifi­cate (UOC) can con­tinue to op­er­ate as per their cer­tifi­cate and will only be is­sued a REOC from 29 Septem­ber 2016 if the cer­tifi­cate is varied or re­newed.

Know­ing your laws and your rights as a drone pi­lot is as im­por­tant as know­ing the laws while driv­ing a car, and can save you a lot of trou­ble. Not only are there laws cov­er­ing where and how you can fly (with or with­out a li­cence) but there are laws cov­er­ing the fre­quen­cies that your drone uses for both ra­dio con­trol and video. If you are us­ing your drone over­seas, it is very im­por­tant to know their lo­cal laws, as some video fre­quen­cies are com­pletely banned in some coun­tries.

Video Con­trol: There are quite a few dif­fer­ent video fre­quen­cies that are used by pi­lots, in­clud­ing 2.4GHZ, 5.8GHZ and 1,2GHZ Many fac­tors should be con­sid­ered when se­lect­ing a video fre­quency in­clud­ing the type of fly­ing that will be done, along with the rules and reg­u­la­tions sur­round­ing th­ese fre­quen­cies in the coun­try you are fly­ing in. Some coun­tries don’t al­low some of the fre­quen­cies to trans­mit video at all, and some re­quire a li­cense. The ACMA web­site should be sought out for rules and reg­u­la­tions re­gard­ing fre­quen­cies in Aus­tralia.

Ra­dio Con­trol: There are also a few dif­fer­ent choices when it comes to the fre­quency used to con­trol the air­craft in­clud­ing 36MHZ, 72MHZ, 433MHZ, 900MHZ and 2.4GHZ. 36MHZ sys­tems work re­ally well as an old ana­logue fre­quency but they don’t of­fer as ro­bust a so­lu­tion as the new dig­i­tal 2.4GHZ sys­tems. The UHF 433MHZ Fre­quency Hop­ping Sys­tems pro­vide the most ro­bust and re­li­able sys­tems, and also pro­vide long dis­tance fly­ing us­ing higher power out­puts than stan­dard RC ra­dio units. Please en­sure you con­firm the le­gal re­quire­ments when op­er­at­ing in th­ese fre­quen­cies. Com­mon com­bi­na­tions are UHF for RC con­trol, and 5.8GHZ Video trans­mis­sion.

The best piece of ad­vice for new drone pi­lots we can give, are to speak to the pro­fes­sion­als to give you ad­vice, tips and even lessons; don’t waste your money on ex­pen­sive drones when you are learn­ing to fly; and prac­tise, prac­tise, prac­tise, be­fore you up­grade!!

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