Drones have been a part of the public discourse for some time now. However, there still seems to be some confusion revolving around these nifty machines. Misconceptions can arise from different ideas about how drones are developed (or where they are taking us as a society).
Here are some things that might surprise you about this incredible yet commonly misunderstood innovation.
RTF stands for Ready-To-Fly
RTF is a common acronym that’s used to describe drones that come ready to fly. Camera drones and toy drones are almost always ready for action and tend to not require any additional setup. You might have to charge the batteries or install propellers, but the bulk of the preparation work has been done for you.
BNF stands for Bind-And-Fly
Bind-And-Fly quadcopters come completely assembled but without a controller. In this case, you’ll have to either use a controller that you already own or purchase a separate controller that you can bind the drone to. Take note that transmitters and receivers might not work together even at the same frequency, so check that the controller works with your drone before you buy it off the shelf.
ARF stands for Almost-ready-to-fly
These drone kits will most likely require some form of assembly and don’t usually come with transmitters or receivers. In fact, many ARF drones aren’t immediately equipped with motors, batteries, flight controllers or other components, so they are more for experienced drone owners who know a thing or two. Whenever you find ARF in the title of a product, be sure to read the description thoroughly.
Drones may look very similar beside each other, however, their qualities, features and characteristics can really be determined by their purpose and design. DIY drone hobbyists may build drones that are primarily for flying, whether for racing, acrobatic tricks, or aerial battles. Photographers, on the other hand, may use drones with remarkable camera zoom capabilities. Choose a drone that’s most suitable for your needs specifically, because they aren’t all alike.
They aren’t always very agile
If you’re hunting for a drone that can follow you down a mountain at high speeds while you perform amazing bike tricks, then you better think twice. Drones that an average consumer can afford are still pretty weak when it comes to handling obstacles and manoeuvring through tough terrain. DJI’s new Phantom 4 does have some neat sense-and-avoid capabilities, but don’t expect too much.
Compass interference might often cause drone crashes
Large metal structures like power lines, benches or even metal in the ground can affect your drone and cause it to crash. In fact, it’s one of the biggest reasons why accidents happen. This is because interference from metal can compromise calibration data and cause an offset in mobility. Some advanced drones offer recalibration features for sensors which can lead to less interference and fewer crashes.
Radio interference can also be a problem
Most range specs also don’t take radio interference into account (especially if you consider the fact that most people probably don’t live in areas that are completely free of radio interference). If your drone’s range claims it can span up to “1 mile”, expect that distance to get affected by the interference from radio frequencies. If you fly near radio towers, you might not even get more than a few feet of range!
Some camera drones with GPS capabilities may return home once they lose signal, but it’s best that you avoid losing signal in the first place.
The further the distance, the weaker the signal
This is something that long-distance pilots might often worry about. They have to determine how high they need to fly in order to maintain line-of-sight with their drones. If your drone flies out over 1 mile away, it may be receiving a signal that’s more than 5 times less powerful compared to if you were 1000 feet away. Past this point, the smallest obstacles like trees or power cords can prove problematic. Drones might start experiencing major interference or even a dropout. So, if it’s the distance you’re after, be prepared for worst-case scenarios and try to arm yourself with the best equipment to help ensure that your drone remains safe.
Professional drone operator certification and other training programmes can go a long way towards helping you get ready for the field and can help with getting you prepared for any piloting issues along the way.
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