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5 Tips for Drone Noobs

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#1
5 Tips for Drone Noobs


Many of you will probably be receiving some type of multi-rotor this holiday season. They are becoming more and more common in stores like Best Buy, Target, Toys-R-Us, and don't forget about our Flite Test Store too! That’s great, because they are definitely a lot of fun to fly. Just keep in mind that multi-rotor ownership also comes with some pretty big responsibilities. In all the excitement of the holidays, it’s easy to overlook things…especially if you’re new to the RC world. So, we’ve compiled a handful of tips to help keep you and your drone off of the 6 o’clock news and out of the emergency room!




Many multi-rotors come equipped with some pretty high-tech gizmos such as a GPS receiver, compass, magnetometer, barometer, accelerometers, and gyros. All of those electronic widgets work together to make your drone easy to fly. Yet, they will only work the way they’re supposed to if the compass and magnetometer are properly calibrated BEFORE your first flight. In fact, you might need to repeat those calibration steps any time that you fly at a new location.


  • Depending on your specific multi-rotor, it may necessitate more than just the calibration steps. The best way to find out what’s required is to read the manual.

The manufacturer provided those instructions for a good reason. Take the time to not only read the manual, but understand what it’s telling you to do. All of those beeps and flashing lights can be confusing if you don’t make an effort to learn what they mean. We know you’re anxious to get your new toy in the air, but trust us on this. Your excitement will turn to despair if you break your new multi-rotor, or…gulp…it flies away because you overlooked a simple calibration step.



Why does it seem that the weather is always crummy on the day that you get a new outdoor toy? It can be a real bummer, but don’t let being stuck indoors affect your good judgement. Just as you wouldn’t ride a new bike in the hallway or toss a new football in the kitchen, you shouldn’t try to fly your new multi-rotor in the living room…or any room for that matter.


  • Although multi-rotors are generally very easy to fly, they do require a good bit of space to be safe.

If you’re a new pilot, it will take you a little while to get used to the controls. Being confined by walls and a ceiling is no way to learn. Even if you’re an ace pilot, the wind storm that a medium-sized multi-rotor can whip up will send pet hair, dust, and loose papers flying…possibly fouling a prop and causing a crash. Indoor flying risks damage to your drone and your house, as well as the fragile things found inside it (both living and non-living).

The obvious exception here is when you’re flying small indoor-friendly micro drones. Flying those ships indoors is actually a great, low-risk way to learn the basics of multi-rotor piloting. Once you’re at the controls of a multi-rotor bigger than about 5 inches in diameter (the distance between diagonally opposite motor shafts), it’s time to move outdoors.



Propellers may seem like harmless little chunks of plastic but they are capable of inflicting a lot of damage. Don’t believe me? Just ask anyone who has ever been bitten by one. If you’re still not convinced, google “RC prop injury” and try to keep your lunch down.


  • The bottom line is that you should remove the props anytime that you connect a battery to your multi-rotor, but you don’t intend to fly.

When it comes to multi-rotors, more props equals more risk. The best way to make your props benign is to remove them whenever you’re working on your flying machine. Tweaking your Flight Controller settings? Remove the props. Testing out a new voltage regulator for your FPV camera? Remove the props. Removing the props only takes a few seconds, and it’s the best way to mitigate damage and injury.



We understand how excited you are to explore all the capabilities of your new drone, but you can’t expect the rest of the world to share your enthusiasm. You will probably find that most people won’t even take notice of your multi-rotor. Some will react with genuine interest and curiosity. There is also a third group that, rightly or wrongly, will see you and your multi-rotor as a direct threat to their safety and privacy. The best thing you can do to avoid any confrontations is to always be mindful and respectful of those around you.


  • Flying over people is dangerous and rude.

A variety of things can happen that would cause your drone to stop flying without warning. ESCs fail, batteries die, props come off. While rare, these things are accepted risks of the hobby. If you happen to be flying above people when your bird goes down, it could be a very bad day for them and for you. The same is true of flying over cars and houses. You should always choose your flying location as if the multi-rotor could plummet to the ground at any time…because it could.

Crashes aside, you must also recognize that multi-rotors are usually a bit noisy. People enjoying a day at the park don’t want to hear your drone chopping up the air overhead. The sound can be annoying for many people.

Whether you’ve attached a camera to you multi-rotor or not, most people will assume that you have super fancy, uber-zoom, equipment that would make James Bond jealous…and it’s recording them. For that reason, it’s very important to avoid even suspicion that you are filming people or things on private property. There are also situations in public areas where filming could be perceived as threatening (a kid’s outdoor birthday party, or a little league game). It’s much easier to just avoid the accusation than it is to prove innocence.

While we’re on the subject of flying locations to avoid, let’s talk about airports. You are required to notify the control tower anytime that you fly within 5 miles of an airport. If an airport does not have a tower, you should talk to the airport manager. This is an important step to ensure that your multi-rotor is not interfering with full-scale traffic at the airport. If you’re not sure whether there are airports close by, you can use Airmap to find out. Airmap also provides the phone numbers for airports within your search.



Just because you can fly your multi-rotor really high, doesn’t mean that you should. In fact, flying above 400 feet is a horrible idea…don’t do it. We have to share the sky with a lot of other vehicles…vehicles with people in them. In most areas, those people-carriers fly above 500 feet. Keeping our drones below 400 feet helps to avoid any conflict and gives both sides a little buffer zone.


  • When multi-rotor pilots exceed 400 feet, they brazenly put the lives of people in aircraft at risk. There’s just no excuse for it.

The good news is that our little slice of sky still offers great camera views. With the wide-angle lenses found on many action cameras, you’ll probably even want to stay much lower than 400 feet for filming. Really, if you can’t have fun with your drone below 400 feet, then you’re just not trying.

Go Forth and Represent

The tips shown here are a small part of a good multi-rotor pilot’s knowledge base. There’s a lot to learn in order to get the most out of these awesome little machines. But don’t let that intimidate you. As long as you keep safety in mind and fly respectfully, learning is half the fun. We’ll be here to help guide you through!

 
#3
No offense intended but Safety should be #1 aka remove props should be #1!
I believe all of these points are relevant to safety. They're all pretty much equally important and yet they had to start somewhere.

I liked the video, liked the concept of it, too.
This is a serious matter and yet the ft crew managed to translate it into a fun to watch video without making light of the underlying issue.
 
#4
I always wanted to try a drone for myself but from the state i am from, i don't think it will be safe to fly one around as fire arms have been allowed here by anyone for protection and they won't hesitate to shoot a drone down when spotted near their property.
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