A camera drone – or plane, as it should be thought – brings together successes in many technical fields; shrinking cameras, faster electronic control systems and more accurate GPS and accelerometers. We can also thank the huge volumes of the telephone industry, which not only provided control and display devices, but also did a lot to make the prices of these components acceptable.

Either way, here’s a list of things to do with your brand new drone – one you can even get started with while the batteries are still charging …

1: Find the rules (and register if necessary)

Killjoys? We? Not even a little. It is much better to check the weight and, if necessary, register through the simple online forms set up by the FAA (in US), CAA (UK) or equivalent bodies than to end up in much more serious problems later. There are, of course, very few rules in place to prevent people sale from drones to people – so don’t assume that just because you have the device in hand you’re legally allowed to fly it (you can buy a car without a license too – you just can’t drive it off the field).

(Image credit: Adam Juniper)

2: Stick it to them

Flying a drone won’t be unfamiliar to you if you’ve ever played a game using a console joypad; it’s kind of like acclimating to the user interface of a new game. In all other cases (serious non-gamers or those who use other platforms) a remote control can be quite strange at first so take some time to get used to it.

Even if you are instinctively able to adapt to new technologies, look on the shoulders for additional buttons or control wheels and remember that this might just be the tip of the iceberg; the app will likely offer many additional functions (including the ability to reuse some of these buttons).

3 practice take-off and landing

(Image credit: Adam Juniper)

From a distance, the easiest way to take off is to have the drone on the ground (ideally a carpet) in front of you, facing you. This way the controls work naturally – left is left, right is right and pushing the left stick forward will push the drone away from you once in the air. Once you take off, move around a bit and see how far from the same spot you can land without the help of Return to Home (RTH); the better off you are. The benefit of incorporating this skill into the brain pathways is that you will gain confidence which will effectively allow you to purchase a longer flight because you will know what you can do with the last few minutes of battery life.

On what subject – and it is often said – to get a drone landing strip. Drones tend not to hold the lens too far above blades of grass or dust and sand (which will move quickly on takeoff), so an unfolding landing pad is more useful than you. imagine it. It can also provide a handy reminder of where you took off from, should you need to resort to RTH.

4: Find a flying ground

(Image credit: Adam Juniper)

If you live in a busy urban area and have found yourself with something on top of a toy class drone, you will likely find that the possibilities of using it are limited by disappointing but understandable safety rules (without talk about many other boring nimby campaigns). Despite all this, some authorities have been sufficiently forward looking to delimit the territories where theft is permitted. In London, for example, there is a signposted airfield in the famous Richmond Park and another near Wormwood Scrubs. Places like these can also be a great place to meet other pilots and share piloting tips.

5: Home inspection

(Image credit: Adam Juniper)

Okay, that’s not the most exciting thing to do, but once you’re familiar with the controls, most homeowners could benefit – but never get – from a quick gutter and roof check. Hopefully there won’t be anything to worry about, but if you catch something early on, maybe this drone will have paid for itself!

6: Look around you

(Image credit: Adam Juniper)

First time with a flying camera? Familiarize yourself with the gimbal control which probably lets you look down as well as forward. A fun angle is the downward view similar to a satellite, but don’t overlook the possibilities of tilting the lens to your preferred angle.

In some cases the camera can even be rotated independently of the drone (on the DJI Mavic 2 – but not on the Mavic 3 – try swiping the screen), although rotating the aircraft is usually a better and less solution. confusing.

7: 3D mapping

One of the most amazing things you can do with aerial imagery is generate a digital model, known as photogrammetry. You can use it as a 3D map, or maybe as the basis for an amazing visual effects sequence. There are many tools that can examine the metadata of your drone images, which include the camera angle and the drone’s GPS position, and stitch them together to create a cloud of pixels (like the rough 3D sketch of the computer). ). This can be filled in to make a model. You can experiment with some for free, like Pix4D, while others like OpenDroneMap are free for those who know GitHub. . Others offer software that can take over piloting your drone to get all the shots they need.

8: Beach art

(Image credit: Adam Juniper)

Now you can capture images from above, why not shoot them from below (or also encourage the children)? We could talk at length about the possibilities of social media marketing or even how it will help your kids see the world from different angles, but it’s really a lot of fun!

9: Do you (or someone) follow

(Image credit: Adam Juniper)

Have you always wondered what it is like to run or ride a bike? Now is the time to find out if your new drone has person tracking. Get out in a place far enough away (partly to help the AI, mainly because you don’t want to disturb others) and crank up the speed. Not only will this produce images that make you feel like you are the star of a televised sporting event, but it will also be a useful way to understand the limits of the drone’s AI. Of course, he might be a little more responsible to follow another topic.

10: FPV speed

Sometimes going fast is the only way to go, so once you’ve done a few practice flights, get ready to let go of the horses and see how fast things can go. If you have the chance, try Normal mode first, then Sport mode. DJI drones offer an FPV mode in their camera settings that prevents the camera from trying to maintain a horizontal image when making sharper turns and lets you shoot a more dramatic racing video that puts the spotlight on it. emphasis on movement. This is a reference to the fixed cameras in FPV racing drones, rather than the more general use of the term to describe all drones with cameras feeding the displays.

And… DO NOT test the quoted range

(Image credit: Adam Juniper)

Truly. The first time can be the last. It’s not worth the shot. Just because the drone’s specs mention a range of five or ten miles from where you take off doesn’t mean it can or should. For one thing, few countries allow you to fly beyond what is known as visual line of sight (VLoS), which means you need to be able to see your drone at all times, which is generally considered to be within 500 m (one third of a mile).

More importantly, this is invariably a perfect condition figure, giving an indication of the radio signal strength without interference. In reality, things will be an order of magnitude below, and if you find that you have flown past the point, you can see what the drone can see – and by extension not even know if you still have control – things are pretty worrying to say the least. Imagery stabbing the RTH button on a blank or glitchy screen, the breeze taking your drone ever deeper knowing you might be in trouble with the Feds too …

Read more:
The best camera drones
Best drones for beginners
The best cheap drones
Drone Rules: US, UK and Beyond
The best underwater drones
The best drone accessories
The best drones for kids
Best FPV drones
The best indoor drones for fun


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