Don’t Be A Drone Noob This Christmas

Traditionally, getting into the hobby of flying model aircraft required spending some serious coin, not to mention hours and hours of building and learning. All of that leading up to a white-knuckled, hair raising maiden flight. If you were extremely lucky, you’d head home with only a slightly damaged plane – but many of us did a nice death spiral straight into the ground – all just so we could go home, and then start all over. Perhaps one of the reasons we’re seeing so many (negative) drone related news stories recently is that the price of admission to join the club of flying machines has never been so low. That, and there always seems to be one kid in the class that wants to ruin it for the rest of us.

This year the FAA expects about a million people to wake up Christmas morning with a drone under the tree.  And that’s a lot of chances for people to mess up. So if you’re planning on taking a drone up this year, you might want to watch the video after the break; Or just forward it to those that you think need to see it. If you’re into any sort of flying models you should already have [FliteTest] in your YouTube subscriptions – they have some really informative video, especially for the beginner wanting to get into the hobby.

This video guide is meant to be just a short introduction of what not to do. Obviously it doesn’t cover everything.  And we wouldn’t be looking out for our readers if we didn’t say that your local laws may vary – so do your homework, stay safe, and don’t be a drone noob.

23 thoughts on “Don’t Be A Drone Noob This Christmas

  1. I also very much recommend that you learn to fly in stabilize mode. For this mode you don’t need GPS and the compass is only used as a YAW reference. If the compass calibration went wrong or the GPS suddenly losses signal you can almost always land safely in this mode.

    Depending on whether you get the drone for photography or just playing it may also be nicer to fly in stabilize (or even acro, if you can learn it)

    1. Exactly!

      In fact, I usually recommend people start with the old school SYMA X5C. It’s the Cessna of quadcopters. Cheap, simple and durable. There is no fancy GPS or compass, but you learn to fly and learn orientations. It’s also built stronger than the really cheap stuff so it survives the beginner crashes. You can also get basically every replacement part for it too.

      Once you can fly, then get something fancier. The X5 will be worth it (even if your totally destory one and replace it) over the damage you can do to larger UAVs. Plus, you still have an X5C that you can teach others with (so that you can avoid letting them touch your pride and joy) and you can still have fun while batteries are charging or when you just want to fly in a small space.

      GPS and compass inputs are great in an advance quad, but they can and do have glitches. Also, thing can break. If a motor or ESC dies, you are going to crash, but if you have enough experience, you might be able to either attempt a controlled crash. More likely, when navigational aids fail and the craft starts flying away, you will be able to flip to manual and regain control.

  2. A million ‘drones’ my ass, maybe 999,000 toy helicopters and 1000 or so actual DJI phantom style ‘drones’ Or are they continuing to lower the weight class talks to include paper airplanes as well?

    1. I suppose we can argue about the definition of a drone. There are plenty of quadcopters that stream live video and can be fly past line of sight. Those start at $66.99, Like the “CHEERSON 2.4G 4CH 6Axis RC Quadcopter Heli Drone with FPV Wifi Camera Live Video“. Toy quadcopters with no live feed start at 20 bucks.

      1. I believe it starts getting into ‘drone’ territory when there are features such as GPS and waypoint navigation along with decent run times. I have a similar $70 range quad , a syma x5c clone which I fitted with a boscam fpv camera. It /can/ be flown out of line of sight, but that’s a quick way to end up in a tree and the range is at most 300 ft line of sight in practice. I have flown mine up quite high directly above my property and got some decent low res pictures in that whopping 7-10min flight time. But its hardly a matter the FAA needs to give a crap about.

    2. The ship has long since sailed on the popular, if not technically correct, nomenclature. The fight is over, accept it like an adult and move on. Or I suppose be ‘that’ guy I was expecting when I read the title.

  3. Some of the penalties aren’t handed out by law enforcement, although others are. For graphic detail.s of one example, see [sic] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/12022429/Toddler-loses-eye-after-drone-propeller-sliced-through-it.html

    Note that in such circumstances electric motors are more damaging than petrol motors: petrol motors lose torque and stall, whereas electric motors draw more current and the torque increases. With unpleasant results.

  4. Do buy a tripod or three.
    Stop rezooming every 750 milli seconds.
    Learn to focus faster. Its not effective, its annoying.
    Stop constantly moving the camera.
    So dizzy now. What was that clip about? I didnt see sipowitz, because it’s not nypd blue!
    And dont put full sandwitches in a toaster, thats what a sandwitch press is for!

    1. Holy shit! I live only a couple of miles away from where they were flying!

      How spooky is that…

      It’ll be a great wide open space to fly mine, when the weather eventually clears up :(

  5. A few weeks ago I received my very first quadcopter, a Cheerson CX-10A, hella fun indoors, hella tiny, but hella short range so when flying outside it can’t go too far before it just drops out of the sky.

    I got it because it was so cheap and I’m using it to learn to fly these things because a week ago I received a Cheerson CX-20, a whole different kettle of fish compared to the CX-10’s, but still works on the same basic flight principal. I’ve only managed a few minutes fly time (well, hovvering in the same spot) with it outside in manual mode due to the crappy weather here in the UK, and a few minutes indoors.
    My intention is to fit a 3-axis gimbal on it for my Mobius camera, along with a wireless CCD camera for FPV, but it’s really frustrating how the weather is preventing me from properly flying it :(

    Still, I have my CX-10A and 35 spare blades… :)

    If I get good enough at flying them, then my next quadcopter may be something like a QAV250. Why? because this:

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