Two decades ago, only the military was familiar with the term ‘drone’. If you still remember, back in 2001, the US military used drone technology to bomb an innocent man thought to be Osama Bin Laden. Only around 2006 people began to see how the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV, the technical abbreviation used in that time) technology could benefit industrial sectors. By then, FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) issued the first permits for commercial drones, and drone use became popular among civilians.
Another factor that explains why drones today have become affordable is that we’ve arrived at an industrial level that allows us to mass-produce electronic components. According to a BBC report in 2015, commercial drones were previously enormous, weighed up to 8 kg, and cost around 2,000 USD to build. But now, you can get drones for $500 or less.
However, before you go straight to Amazon to buy your first drone, read this guide first.
Know the Types
There are many ways to classify drones. But here, we’ll make it into three categories: toy drones, video drones, and racing drones. As those names suggest, you may already have guessed the functions of each drone type. Toy drones are the cheapest one because you don’t use them for any professional purpose. With only two hundred dollars, you can play with a drone already! But don’t expect much performance as most toy drones can only last 10 minutes mid-air, and they won’t give you pristinely recorded videos.
If you want to capture the aerial scenery, you need a video drone. But there is a catch. Video drones are more fragile than the toy drones. If the camera components are broken, the repair can be expensive.
In the third category, there is the racing drone. It sacrifices the video quality for maneuvrability and speed. It is also very common to find custom drones with custom parts and design made specifically for the race.
Learn to Control Your Drone with a Simulator
Although it looks easy because you are experienced with other remote control toys, flying a drone is very different, even from flying a remote-controlled helicopter. You have to adjust what you see on the FPV (First-Person View) with your fingers. In fact, you should not fly a drone if you have not tried the simulator. If you crash the drone, you may break it. With a simulator, you can learn to adapt to the interface without having to risk your drone.
Know Your Drone’s Limit
The low-end drones can last up to 10 minutes, while the high-end ones can fly for 20 minutes at maximum. After some time, the battery quality will also degrade, and your drone may not last as long as the first time you fly it.
Another limit of drones is the range of the remote control. Currently, the longest control distance is 10 km. But that drone will cost you around $1,200. You’d better save your money if you want one.