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5 Things You Must Know Before You Buy a Drone

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1. Buying a drone is just the tip of the iceberg

As it turns out, the overall experience of flying a drone requires a lot more than just buying a drone.

This applies in every scenario – even for the cheaper quadcopters, just because there are some must-have accessories that you probably didn’t think about beforehand, such as extra propellers and batteries. Those come super handy in the beginner stages of your flying, as that’s the time you’ll probably crash the most and try to learn the basics of flying quickly (so more flight time is crucial).

However, the more expensive your drone is, the more neccessary its accessories become. For example, say you plan to buy a DJI Phantom 4 Pro – a perfect quadcopter with camera, which is one of the most popular prosumer drones at the moment. It’s a great buying option among both hobbyists and professionals and even among the beginner drone pilots, mainly because it’s quite easy to fly because of its intelligent modes.
And since this drone costs just over a thousand bucks, you’d probably want to protect your investment. So you start with buying a backpack or a carrying case that fits this specific model, you throw in a set of extra propellers and/or propeller guards, then you get a few extra batteries (this is especially valid if you plan to use your quadcopter for more than 30 minutes at a time), then you’ll need another SD-card for more storage, quick charger or a car charger for all of your batteries, ND filters, the lists goes on forever, and so does the cost.

When you decide to buy a drone, make sure you check if it’s easy to find replacement parts or accessories, because not all models have those. Last but not least, beware of knock-offs and third-party parts who sell parts for your aircraft, as often they are not the same quality as the original ones provided by the manufacturer.

To quickly sum up: you should not underestimate the extra costs for drone accessories, as some of them really are a must-have. So before buying your first quadcopter, think about what are you going to use it for and how much money you can set aside for the hobby and then act accordingly.
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2. Not all drones are ready to fly from the get-go

Buy a Drone RTF

When you’re looking to purchase a drone, you’ll see that some models feature some of the following acronyms: RTF, BNF and ARF.

  • RTF – Ready to fly. This means your unit comes with everything necessary to get it in the air within minutes from opening the package (only after your batteries are charged 🙂 )
  • BNF – Bind-N-Fly. BNF products come with everything you need except for a transmitter. With BNF products you can use a compatible transmitter of your choice and bind it to the receiver included with the model. However, please note that even if your transmitter and receiver are on the same channel and frequency, they must use the same manufacture protocol in order to connect to each other. That’s why it’s important to make sure that your transmitter will work with your specific aircraft before buying it.
  • ARF – Almost Ready to Fly. This would appeal more to the hobbyists and the DIY-lovers out there. An ARF drone does not come in one piece, and often requires a good level of assembly on your end to make it ready to fly. Most commonly the drone doesn’t come with a transmitter or a receiver and might require partial assembly. An ARF drone kit might also leave out components like motors, ESCs, or even the flight controller and battery.

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3. You will crash, so go slow (and low)

I can’t stress this enough. If you fly your drone on a regular basis crashing is unavoidable, even if you’re careful. Make sure you purchase a training drone first, to get you going. Learn the basics, spend a dozen of hours on the sticks and only then focus on bigger and better aircrafts.

Talking from personal experience, it’s much better to learn the basics of flying and crash a cheaper quadcopter such as the Syma X5 or the Hubsan H4 than having to deal with beginner issues on a $1000+ drone.

Once you have your drone up in the air, it’s a good idea to fly slow and low (at least in the beginning). By doing that, you are allowing yourself to see your aircraft better, protect it from wind gusts and generally keeping it closer to the ground means less damage in case of a sudden crash.

You can start by practicing with those 5 basic movements:


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4. You need to think about the rules & safety

As more and more people are obtaining drones, the rules are becoming more strict and it’s more important than ever to follow them for your and other people’s safety. The media doesn’t help either, as drone are often portrayed as dangerous spying tools, and there are plenty of people just looking to get offended by a drone flying nearby.

It’s important to know the rules, and UAV Coach has listed all of the country-specific rules for drone flying, so you don’t have an excuse not to follow them by the letter.

If you plan to fly a drone in the USA, you need to register your aircraft if it’s heavier than 0.55 pounds. It costs just $5 and you’ll be good to go. You can learn more about registering your aircraft here.

In addition, if you’re paid for the photos/videos you create from your drone, you have to register yourself as a pilot and take the FAA Part 107 Test. Learn more about how to earn money with your drone.

Last but not least, it’s never a good idea to fly near/over people. Especially if you still don’t know how to operate your drone, you should always find large open fields and practice your skills there.

You can get more detailed information about the rules and regulations at the FAA’s official website.
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5. Joining a community of like-minded people could be very beneficial

This is actually one of the best tips I can give you – go and join a few drone-related groups or forums! I promise you’ll find it very useful, as those are the people that share the same interest as you and have been in your position before. I highly recommend to find the groups about the specific drone model you own, but also join a few of the more general ones as well.

Very often you can find some useful information, news or just tons of discussions about all the things that are drone-related.

I personally love hanging out at some of the DJI-owners Facebook groups, as people are quite nice and share many of their tips and great photos/videos which you can learn from.

On top of that, there’s always somebody that can answer the questions that you might have – whether it’s more general or tech-related – you’ll probably get an answer within minutes.

To finish this off, here are some good examples of nice drone communities:

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