So you have decided to be influenced by the rapidly growing drone industry or just out of curiosity you want to buy your first drone. Fear not dear readers, we are here to give you a few tips on how to find yourself the best drone built for you.
This ultimate guide will make you an expert in just a few minutes on drones and how to buy the ones you desire for yourself. You may even give it as a Christmas or New Year gift.
Let us start then:
Obviously, the most important factor to start with will be the amount you want to spend on your best drone deal. The starting point for you can be a budget of 100 dollars or if your purse can afford more, it can be 150 or even 200 dollars.
Your Basic Need for a Drone
So you have set a budget for yourself, now it is time to decide what you want to do with your drone. Are you an enthusiast and want to fly a drone for fun? Do you want to do drone races with your friends and family? Do you want the drone to take photos and videos for you? Are you a farmer and want the drone to help you with your crops?
Drones can do a lot for you. Read our Drone Uses and Applications: Drones in Life article for more on this subject. Our recommendation is to buy one with a camera because modern drones can even broadcast you live footage from the drone aside from taking pictures or recording videos.
Your skill level does matter when you decide to buy yourself a drone. It means how well versed you are in controlling and flying the drone. If you haven’t flown a drone yet, it would be better to opt for a cheaper drone which is specifically built for beginners. Try to master its controllers and avoid crashing it. When you get little experience and know-how of handling drones you may go and buy an advance version. Most drone specifications do list if the drone is meant for beginners or children. It is always best to read those specifications.
Drone Flying Regulations
Yes, you may not know of this but there are a set of detailed regulations for flying drones in different countries. You should try and read on those regulations online, these are available on government department websites. For the US these regulations are set and enforced by the Federal Aviation Administration.
The US regulation allows the hobbyist to fly drones which weigh less than 0.55 pounds (250 grams) for fun, but you will need to register your drone with the FAA if it is heavier than that. You will also need to register your unit if you want to use it for any commercial activity, which means that you plan to earn money using your drone. The FAA registration process is easy and costs 5 dollars only.
Please take note of following common don’ts while flying drones:
- Don’t fly near the airport
- Don’t fly more than 400 feet above the ground level
- Don’t fly over government buildings or private properties
- Don’t fly in public parks or capture photos/videos of people without permission
- Don’t fly over fires or crime scenes
Decide the Drone Type
It is now time to decide what type of drone you will want. This means is if you want one which does not need any prior knowledge of drones and how to assemble them. These are usually referred to as the Ready-to-Fly (RTF) drones. These drones may only need you to insert their batteries in and start flying.
There are other types available too. For people with some experience with drones, Bind-and-Fly (BNF) type is more to their taste, which is good if you already have a transmitter with you to control the drone. In case if you prefer a more customized kind, you may want to opt for the Almost-Ready-to-Fly (ARF) drones. You will need to have some knowledge of drones and how to assemble them if you prefer these.
Aside from this, you may want to decide if you need a drone with a single motor or one with multiple motors for flying. Most popular among young and adults are drones with 4 motors for propellers, usually referred to as the Quadcopters.
You may want to decide if you will need a drone which can be folded. This drone is feasible if you prefer to take your drone on trips or vacation as it will take less space in your luggage.
We have a very detailed blog which can assist you with the various Drone Classifications and Types.
When you decide the type of drone you want, it is now time to decide the specifications of the equipment which comes with the drone. This usually means the camera and GPS the drone has.
Most ready to use drones comes with an integrated camera, which may have the lowest video resolution 360 pixels for recording. Recent drones have cameras which can record high definition video in 720 pixels or even in 1080 pixels.
Some drone will have memory slots in which you can put micro SD card. This enables the drone to record pictures and videos on that micro SD. Some drone models lack this facility, so keep this in mind when you are deciding a drone to buy. There are drones which are more suited for providing a live video stream from the camera of the drone, which is quite a useful ability.
Having a GPS system on board a drone is always helpful in pinpointing it if you lose sight of it. The system enables you to bring the drone back with the Return Home feature available on the controller or transmitter of the drone.
Having a 3-axis gimbal stabilization system on your drone is very beneficial if you plan on capturing high-quality images or videos. Just know that although this will give you much stable visual output, this will incur some additional costs.
Choosing a most suitable transmitter or controller for flying your drone is as important as choosing a drone itself. If you want to have a more enjoyable experience of flying a drone, you should pick a transmitter which will give you that experience. Usually, transmitters come with two analog sticks for controlling the drone’s flight.
There are controllers which will give you a real-time diagnostics about your drone, such as, height, speed, throttle position, etc. Some can even have a small screen to give the exact view of the drone’s camera. A transmitter may come in the same package of the drone or you may need to buy it separately.
You may want to buy a drone which can be kept airborne for as long as possible. But the battery power of the drone does not have an unlimited backup, so when you decide a drone it is advisable to check out the battery specifications the drone supports.
Usually, drones can be flown for 5-10 minutes but there are some models which can give you 25 minutes of flight time or even more. Besides the airtime, you should also note the charging time of the batteries, which can be 60 minutes or twice/thrice this time.
We highly recommend you to buy spare batteries because you will need those. Also note that if you want to opt for drones with many motors and propellers, the battery backup will be that much low for that drone.
Flight range of your drone will have a significant impact on your decision if you plan to use it in an outdoor environment and for photography or cinematography purposes. For indoor drones, it is not that much important as you can easily fly and follow those units.
There are basically two types of ranges we are discussing here. The first range is the maximum radius the drone can fly away to while being controlled by its transmitter. This type of range varies from 150 feet to 300 feet and even till a few miles for a best drone type.
The second range is the ability of the drone to provide a live stream of the view the attached camera of the drone sees. This usually falls in around 30 feet. But you can find drones with better ranges for video streaming as well, of course, its cost will go up.
Stock Up On Spare Parts
Flying drone is not that easy as it seems, and a small tip for beginners, mentally be prepared to have a lot of crashes. And drone crashes may end up in damaging its parts, therefore it is always a good habit to have several of drone parts as spare. These can be propellers, batteries, micro SD, stabilizers, or even a spare camera if the drone provides the facility to detach it.
Check What Others Are Saying
The drone industry is laden with so many different types of drones developed for different purposes, but whenever you want to buy yourself one even if you already own drones, it is always great to read up the reviews of other people. If you plan to buy a drone from an online store such as Amazon, eBay, or Best Buy, people usually leave their reviews of the items they bought. One common strategy is to go for a drone which has more than 80% acceptance rate and with a lot of 4 or 5-star reviews.