How to Choose the Perfect Drone?
There’s no denying that drones are the latest tech trend to take the world by storm. Over the last few years we’ve seen commercial drones become more affordable and accessible to us average Joe’s. A drone costing less than $500 can come packed with features that a few years ago, wouldn’t have even been heard of.
With this massive rise in drone popularity, the market has become flooded with a whole range of drones costing as little as $20 to well over $1000. So, which drones is right for you?
Admittedly, it can be pretty hard to decide. By asking yourself the following 6 questions, you’ll be able to identify what to look for in a drone, what drone is right for you and what to expect from your soon to be UAV.
1. What Is Your Budget?
This could well be the most crucial aspect of your purchasing process, for the amount you’re willing to spend will directly correlate to the quality of your drone. If this is your first drone, it’s worth considering that you could end up crashing your UAV at some point during the learning process. As such, make sure you’re willing to risk losing that investment if the worst comes to worst.
Having said that, the higher your budget, the likelier the drone will come with some form of safety features such as obstacle avoidance sensors. If you’re not willing to take the risk, a popular choice is to buy a cheap quad that you can learn to fly. That way you won’t waste a tonne of money if you do accidentally break the drone.
2. What Are Your Needs?
What do you plan on using your drone for? Are you simply looking to have a new toy to fly in the back garden? Or are you looking for a high quality camera drone that’s capable of shooting 4k video?
There’s a huge variety of drones out there, from FPV (first person view) racing drones, to fixed wing aircrafts that require some form of runway.
By knowing exactly what you plan to use your drone for, you can massively narrow down the type of drone you need.
3. What Is Your Skill Level?
Are you a complete beginner pilot? Or are you a long term drone enthusiast?
It’s worth noting that some drones require far more skill than others to fly. For example, drones often come with altitude hold mode that means you don’t have to control the throttle for the aircraft to stay airborne. These are much more suited to beginner pilots, where as more advanced drones will require you to always control the throttle to keep the UAV in the air.
These days however most drones come with a number of features that make piloting very easy to pick up and allows almost anyone to fly a drone.
4. Should You Build Your Own Drone?
There are a number of different terms used to describe the state that a drone can come in. When you’re shopping around for a drone you’ll probably notice these acronyms next to the UAV’s name.
I’ll quickly run over what each one means and who they are designed for.
RTF: Ready-To-Fly. This is the most common way that people tend to buy their drones. This means that the drone comes fully built (perhaps with the exception of the propellers), and comes alongside everything you need to fly, such as a battery and transmitter.
Most of the time ready to fly drones will come full set up right out of the box. This is great for first time pilots as it means that they don’t need to worry about buying any other parts and saves them constructing the drone.
BNF: Bind-And-Fly. This is where the drone comes constructed and with everything that is needed to get airborne, minus the transmitter.
When you connect a transmitter to a drone, it is known as ‘binding’. With a bind and fly model, you’ll be required to connect your own transmitter to your new drone.
These are ideal for hobbyist’s who already have a fair amount of equipment and do not need to get another transmitter.
ARF: This is a broad term used to describe a drone model that requires additional pieces before it can be flown. People sometimes refer to this as a DIY drone, because it often means building the drone from a kit.
This is ideal for drone pilots who get like to construct their own UAV and enjoy the doing it yourself aspect of the drone hobby.
5. What Features & Specifications Do You Need the Most?
Depending on how you’re planning on using your drone will determine which specifications are most important and what features are needed.
If you’re wanting to explore the area from the sky, then perhaps a drone with a long range is what you’re looking for. If you want to shoot high quality aerial video, a drone with a camera and gimbal is going to be your requirement.By understanding exactly what aspect of the drone is most important to you, you can quickly rule out drones that don’t match your criteria.
6. Does The Drone Have Good Reviews?
This may sound kind of obvious but it is always worth checking the review on the product page itself, and on reviews on websites such as this (check out our reviews here).
Another great way to find out the nitty-gritty details about your potential drones is by checking forums. A lot of hobbyist will go to forums to post in-depth reviews, un-boxing’s and videos of their drones being flown.This is a great way to get a down to earth review, as well as to communicate with people who have similar interests, which is always fun.
Buying a drone is an incredibly fun, and maybe slight nerve-wracking experience. You won’t know that you’ve made the right decision until you’ve got your new drone up in the air.
What ever happens, make sure you fly safe and have a great time
If you want anymore information on buying a drone, I’ve also got an in-depth guide on my personal blog. Or, if you’ve got any questions at all, feel free to drop them in the comment section below.About the author: James is a passionate drone enthusiast, jury member of the Drone Film Festival Australia & New Zealand, and the founder of DroneRiot.com.