There are almost 1.5 million drones, and 160,000 drone pilots registered with the FAA. If you’re thinking about becoming a drone pilot yourself, you’ve come to the right place!
It can be daunting trying to find the perfect drone to buy as a beginner. Luckily, we’ve created a short but complete guide to help future drone owners, just like you.
Read on to learn how to buy a drone for the first time.
How to Buy a Drone
The first step in learning how to buy a drone is to determine your drone buying budget. The drone industry has a ton of unmanned aircrafts for you to choose from. Ground yourself now by setting a strict budget.
Once you know the type of budget you’re working with, you can clearly define your purpose. Ask yourself, why are you buying a drone?
Do you think they’re cool looking and want to give it a try? Or do you have specific goals in mind, like capturing images with your drone?
Knowing your purpose makes it easier to avoid wasting money on unnecessary features. After all, the drone you’ll need for backyard fun will be different than a drone that streams live video.
Understand Drone Regulations
Before you fall in love with a certain drone type, make sure you’ll be able to legally fly it where you live. State legislatures, the FAA, and other government agencies will have drone regulations.
In some cases, registering your drone with the FAA or obtaining a drone license, will be necessary. Understanding the legal landscape will help you avoid wasting money. There’s nothing worse than buying a drone that doesn’t comply with your local laws.
Research Drone Flying Techniques
Once you know what you want your drone to do, you can begin researching drone skills. Take a moment to familiarize yourself with different drone flying techniques.
We suggest you try speaking with an experienced drone hobbyist too. Ask them for any first time flying or buying advice.
Soon you’ll become more familiar with the different drone flying techniques. Next, you’ll begin to notice features you never thought about before. For instance, certain drones are easy to hover, while others go faster.
Take a moment to jot down any drone features you’d like your drone to have. Are you looking for a model that’s easy to maneuver for midair tricks and flips? Will you want a model that provides the most stable image for your photographs?
The more specific you can get about the drone you want, the easier it’ll be to find the perfect model for you.
Different Types of Drone Features
As you begin to get specific about the specs you want for your drone, you’ll begin to realize just how many options are out there! To help you narrow down your choices, we’ll break down the different drone features.
Here are a few drone features to look out for:
- Battery life
- Brushless motors
- Headless mode
- Integrated GPS
- Follow-me mode
- Obstacle avoidance
A drone that uses brushless motors will cost more than a drone that uses brushed motors. The advantage of using brushless motors however is that your drone will operate more quietly. Brushless motors also last longer so you’ll be able to save money in the long run.
If your new to flying drones, than headless mode can be incredibly beneficial. You’ll only need to press the controller in one direction. The drone will then move in that direction while staying relative to you.
Beginner Drones Flight Time
It’s typical for beginner drones to have shorter flight times. However, a great workaround for this is to buy multiple batteries. It’s typically inexpensive to buy more than 1 battery for your drone, and you can easily swap them out. If long flight times are your main goal, we suggest you buy at least 3-4 extra batteries.
Advanced Drones Flight Time
You’ll be happy to know that more advanced drones tend to have longer flight times. However, the more expensive your drone, the more expensive your accessories (like batteries), will be too. That’s why we suggest you save by just buying 1 spare battery for your advanced drone model.
Learn Drone Abbreviations
Did you know that not every drone is ready to fly after you buy it? As you begin shopping for drones, you’ll begin to notice different abbreviations. Certain abbreviations are there to let you know that the drone isn’t ready for flight.
Here’s a break down of what the abbreviations mean:
- RTF: Ready to fly
- ARF: Almost ready to fly
- BNF: Bind and fly
A ready to fly drone is one that’s already fully assembled. After opening the box and charging the batteries, you’ll be ready to fly!
An almost ready to fly drone is the perfect option for people who love a hands-on project. You can expect to spend at least a day, as you assemble the different parts.
Finally, a bind n’ fly drone will have everything you need, except for the transmitter. This is a unique option that gives you the chance to use a transmitter of your choice. Once you have your transmitter, you can bind it to the receiver that’s included in your package.
In the future, you may be able to build your drone. However, for now, it’s a good idea to stick to prebuilt or ready to fly (RTF) quadcopters. An RTF will help you master the basics, while still being able to perform complex tasks.
Learning Quadcopter Basics
The next step in learning how to buy a drone is to understand the drone body types. If you’re new to the drone world, it’s a good idea to stick to buying quadcopters. It’s likely you’ve seen a quadcopter in action at least once before.
When you see a drone with an X or H shaped square frame, it’s likely a quadcopter. These frames allow the drone to be more stable, and easier to maneuver.
A quadcopter has 4 motors, a gyroscope, and of course propeller blades. The propellers are what help the drone generate lift to fluidly fly through the sky.
Certain styles will include an accelerometer instead of a gyroscope. Nevertheless, gyroscopes and accelerometers are there to serve the same purpose.
The accelerometer or gyroscopes job is to control the quadcopters roll, yaw, and pitch. In other words, they help you position your drone in space while it’s in flight.
Quadcopters are great for beginners. They can use the information from the accelerometer or gyroscope to adjust each of the 4 motors. As a result, your drone will be able to efficiently hover in place.
You’ll be happy to know that the majority of quadcopters are drones that you can operate using a single controller. The controller lets you decide what direction you’ll take the drone in. You can fly left, right, horizontally, vertically, or spin around in circles.
Simple Hobby Drones
Moving on, you’ll want to figure out what your main purpose is for buying a drone. Are you looking to learn complex flying skills that you can build on overtime? Or are you more focused on having fun right away?
If your goal is to have fun, then why not consider buying an easy to learn toy drone? Simple, inexpensive drones, are great when you’re just looking to have a good time. However, you’ll also get the added benefit of familiarizing yourself with how it feels to operate a drone.
Toy drones typically have controls that are user friendly and easy to master. Holding the remote control in your hands, you’ll know what everything does in a matter of minutes. Certain simple drones will also allow you to use a smartphone app to control the drone.
We suggest you look for models made to perform simple tricks. Flipping the drone in mid-air, or learning other maneuvers, is one of the best parts of owning a drone!
Since you’ll be using an inexpensive drone, you won’t have to worry about anything breaking. If something goes awry, you’ll be able to buy affordable replacement parts. Whenever you buy a toy drone, it’s a smart idea to go ahead and stock up on spare parts.
While toy drones are easy to figure out, they aren’t the best for long flight times. After a few minutes of flying around, your toy drone will need a new battery. They also aren’t great for capturing video or taking photos.
When you get a toy drone, if it has a camera, you can expect the image quality to be poor. However, as we mentioned earlier, they’re the perfect model for a beginner looking to learn to fly.
Buying a Drone With a Camera
Are you looking for a higher quality drone? One that can capture stunning images and perform midair tricks? If yes, then you’ll need to learn how to buy a drone that’s made to use as a camera.
Camera drones are incredible image capturing devices. Their steady platform allows for the lens to capture high-quality videos and images. Your camera drone will also likely have a gimbal installed.
What exactly does a gimbal do? A gimbal works by supporting your camera as it pivots around an axis.
The gimbal makes it possible to move the camera in unique ways, without compromising the image’s stability. The gimbal will either be electronically built into the camera, or it’ll be physically attached. Both designs, make it possible for you to move the camera at whatever angle you’d like.
Another convenient feature is that camera drones usually have bigger batteries. Having a bigger battery is great news if you’re looking forward to having long flight times.
You’ll be happy to know, that similar to toy drones, it’s fairly easy to repair camera drones. Manufacturers understand that drones often sustain damage, and will need to have parts replaced. To keep up with consumer demand, there are plenty of spare parts you can find for camera drones, at fairly reasonable prices.
When it comes to finding the perfect camera drone for you, you’ll want to avoid buying the cheapest model. Instead, you should invest in more advanced DJI Drones to get the best quality experience.
If you’re having difficulty finding a camera drone that uses the right camera, you can look for options to mount your own. Certain drone models will give you the option to exchange or replace the drone camera altogether.
Buying a Drone for Racing
Did you know that there are competitions for drones? Drone racing is one of the most exciting competitions you can participate in!
If you’re getting a drone for racing purposes, the model you get is likely to be smaller than other types of drones. The smaller design will give you the advantage you need to win the race with speed and agility.
You’ll need to buy a racing drone that’s made to compete in first-person view (FPV) racing events. FPV means you’ll be wearing a headset that allows you to see through the lens of the drone. Navigating the racecourse, you’ll see everything your drone sees as you compete with other fliers.
As with all drone types, you can choose to purchase a ready to fly racing drone or one you have to build. However, once again, if you’re new to the drone world, start by getting one that’s fully assembled.
Take to the Skies
Now you know how to buy a drone for the first time! It’s exciting to think about all of the different features your new drone will be able to bring to the table.
We hope that our article will inspire you to take the time to find a drone that meets all of your heart’s desires. For more tips on getting what you want, check out the rest of our site today.