There are a number of different types of drones, from the tradition drone, to the quad-copters to the multi-rotor helicopters, which are the big thing right now. While most drones fall under the quadcopter or hexacopter or multi-rotor craft style, the biggest differences come from their size, price and features. Most come with four rotors for stability and a similar body layout.
With the smallest, entry level drones in the UK starting around £10 anyone can get started in the hobby without a big investment. If you are looking to use a camera with the drone, expect at least £40 as the starting price, you can get the fantastic Syma X5C drone for around that price. Prices can move up to several hundred if you wish to use the drone to see live video on your smartphone with professional capabilities.
Find the Right Drone
There isn’t one particular drone that is perfect for everyone. It comes down to your particular needs. As you now know, not all drones include a camera. If you are looking for something that will be fun to simply fly around the yard or park then a standard quadcopter drone or mini drone will do the trick.
If you are looking to fly the drone a bit more out of your line of site, you will want to find a slightly higher end model that includes video of some sort. Generally 720p video will do the trick, but bear in mind that the quality of the camera will vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. When it comes to top end drones the two main manufacturers are DJI and Parrot. The DJI Inspire 1 is one of best available on the market while the Phantom series is not far behind.
Once you start getting to the higher end of the price spectrum you are likely looking for a drone that can shoot video of the highest quality a GoPro camera. In this case, make sure you find a drone that includes a gimbal. Essentially, a gimbal is a mount for a camera which is gyro-stabilised to allow for steady shots as the drone flies. Just be prepared to make a bit more of an investment here.
Drone Battery Life
There is one particular issue that most UK drones face currently, which is battery life. The type that you are likely going to be considering should get between 5 to 15 minutes of flight time before another hour long charge is required. So budget for additional batteries if you wish to get more time in the air, just understand that you are going to have to constantly switch the batteries out and look for a drone body style that makes that easy to do.
Where to Fly a Drone
UK Drone law requires that an unmanned aircraft is always within the controller’s line of site. So claims of drones reaching 100m range don’t really have much of an impact on your purchase. The big consideration is where you expect to spend most of your time flying the quadcopter. For me, personally, there is a large park across the street from my neighbourhood which is perfect for flying as it is basically a huge open field.
If you plan to only fly in your yard or garden, you have to consider the amount of space you have. You likely won’t be an expert pilot the first time you send your drone up, so expect to have to retrieve it a few times as you get your bearings. Flying in a fenced back garden may not be the best idea – unless you are fond of jumping fences to pick up futuristic looking pieces of technology in front of your neighbours.
Generally a field, like a local pitch, is perfect for flying as you are able to safely keep the drone away from others and not risk crash landing into others if things go out on you. Wind will also be a factor and needs to be carefully researched. Don’t fly in areas that create wind tunnels, even if the ground gets very little wind as your chance to lose control is much higher. Keep all of this in mind as you start to narrow down your potential purchases.