Get the most out of your drone

Drones, or UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles), are one of the most exciting new innovations in the tech world right now, and it seems like everyone wants one. If you’re on the hunt for a drone, you can use this handy guide to choose the best one for your budget, skill level and intended use cases. And once you’ve got your UAV, here are some great tips on how to get the most out of it! So what are you waiting for? Get started here!

Think and Plan – The Absolute Basics

READ THE MANUAL – do not skip this step. Typically there will be all the information and more you need to get the best from your UAV.

Practice flying indoors first (if the drone is suitable and you have space indoors without people or objects you could hurt/damage). Indoor flying is a good way to learn how to control your drone and where its capabilities are limited.

Fly in safe, open areas as much as possible, not near buildings or power lines. Always respect local laws and guidance. When outdoors make sure the wind resistance is low!

Bring back the craft when you see it getting too far away or when it encounters any obstacles that could result in an accident or collision.

Keep close tabs on battery life and signal strength. Return to home if these are getting low.

To help you get the most use out of your drone, create a checklist for every outing so you don’t forget anything.

It is also important to take care of your battery by fully charging it before each flight and only using it once per day.

Get Comfortable with the Drone Controller

The controller is where you’ll do all your flying. The layout for these have similarities but as always, check the manual. Though controls depend on the brand typically the left stick will control altitude and horizontal movement, while your right stick will control tilt and rotation. On some drones you can set a home point by pressing down on both sticks at the same time, which will allow you to return to that location if you lose signal or fly off course. To take off, press down on both sticks and then release them, then hold both sticks up until it starts hovering.

Most controllers are now complimented with a smartphone app where you can see realtime data about the device and FPV. The apps typically make it easy to do automated functions such as return home, circle a point, follow me and waypoints to plot out a course.

Use a Drone Landing Pad
If you don’t have a landing pad, consider getting one. Landing pads are not only fun for a backyard or indoor use, but can also make for safer flights since they offer more room for the drone to land and less chance of injury if it crashes.

Look after your Drone and Keep It Maintained

Transport Your Drone Safely & Get a good, sturdy case.
It’s important to transport your drone in a safe manner, whether you’re driving or flying. If you’re flying, it’s recommended that you have some sort of container or bag with a strap for easy carrying. When transporting via automobile, be sure not to place any sharp objects on top of the drone where they might puncture the battery.

Check the drone’s propellers/battery and other features. Make sure they are not damaged and performing as expected. Referring back to the manual make sure you do any ongoing maintenance and calibration suggested.

Follow the Rules

  1. Make sure you have FAA / CAA registration or other registration/certification dependent on your region.
  2. Be aware of what’s happening on the ground below and in the air above you at all times.
  3. Keep the drone in sight at all times.
  4. Know where you are, pay attention to location and altitude, and be aware of airspace restrictions in the area before takeoff.

Get to Know Your Drone’s Camera

This is a guide for those who are just getting started with drones and would like to understand their drone’s camera more. We will explore what you should know about before flying, how to set up your camera and flight modes, as well as some tips and tricks you can use once you’re in the air.

Keep Your Lens Clean
Image quality is one of the most important aspects when it comes to aerial photography and videography. You don’t want anything obstructing your view, so make sure you keep your lens clean. When cleaning your lens, make sure that you are using a dry cloth or napkin and not wetting it with water because this can cause more damage than good. Make sure that you remove any dust particles as well before wiping down with soap and water.

Respect the Gimble
A gimbal is a stabilizer that helps keep the camera steady. Most drones come with one, and they are usually attached to the base of the drone itself. A good gimbal can help you take better pictures, but it’s not always necessary for beginners. Typically there is a gimble cover, non only will this help keep the gimble clean, but it will also stop it getting knocked about and upset the mechanism when retrieving or returning to the drone’s case.

Compose Your Shots
The first thing you want to do is think about how you want to compose your shots. Do you want a high-angle shot? Would an aerial shot be better? Do you want to focus on a specific detail? There are so many different options, but it’s really up to what kind of content you plan on shooting and what style suits that.

Headline image by Karl Greif on Unsplash

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Brian Edwards. DJI Mavic Pro Enthusiast, Web Developer and Professional Geek Flying drones since circa 2018, but doesn't always have his head in the clouds