The popularity of drones continues to rise. We recently published whether you should buy or build a drone, and the popularity of that post has led us to think about some of other important considerations before you make your purchase. We buy, fly, and test a lot of different drones and we want your first drone experience to be fun, safe, and leave you wanting more. So here’s 5 more things we think you should think about before buying your first drone.
It is important to set your expectations and understand the limitations of the technology so that you aren’t let down when a feature doesn’t deliver quite as promised. New drones feature improvements such as “Follow Me” technology, as well as increased flight times. However, this doesn’t mean you’ll launch your drone and get an entire day of footage. Flight times are still quite limited by batteries, averaging between 10-20 minutes.
This one goes back to our early advice about getting involved with the local pilots community. They will undoubtedly know the best places to fly your new drone, even if it is a gas powered drone. This is an important step not to overlook so that your first flight goes smoothly. If your local park is covered in trees, or constantly has children’s soccer matches, it isn’t a good place to fly. Similarly, you’ll get the best flights in minimal wind, so if your hometown gets major wind in the afternoons, you’ll want to limit your flights to the mornings.
You should expect to crash. A lot. We’ve talked about accepting the fact that you’ll crash because it happens to all of us. So when the inevitable happens, it’s best to have spare propellers on hand. They are fairly cheap, but if you’re breaking a few each time you go out (depending on how aggressively you fly), the cost can really add up. That’s why we’d suggest investing in a set of propeller guards, they are cheap aftermarket accessories that can absorb most of the impact when you crash, potentially saving your propellers for another flight!
YouTube will be your best friend when learning how to fly or fix your drone. You can videos specific to nearly any model, ranging from reviews, to flight tips, to fixing issues. Another great resource is following drone related hashtags on Instagram. You can find many knowledgable people to help answer any questions you may have, as well as see the awesome things people in the community are doing.
Drones, much like any other high tech hobby such as 3D printing, can require a lot of time to calibrate and tune and get going perfectly. So in addition to knowing how much money you’re willing to spend, you’ll have to take into account how much you want to spend as well.
There are many great off the shelf drones that require little to no tinkering at all. The DJI Phantom is an example of one of these. There are kits that require assembly before flying, and there are people who will want to sell you individual components. So if you don’t want to flash the firmware on your ESCs and flight controller and tune your gains, we suggest sticking to a RTF model.
Additionally, when something goes wrong you’ll need to think about if you want to diagnose and fix the problem, or if you’d rather take it or send it somewhere and have them fix it. If you do want to do it on your own, there are some great resources, which is a great lead-in to 5.