Thursday, October 06, 2016


Back in the day, remote controlled vehicles (i.e., “R/C”) was a lot of fun to have — cars and military vehicles and even planes could be controlled from a distance. Today it’s all about Unmanned Aircraft Systems — or as they are more commonly known, drones. Drones take the idea of having a flying machine and ups it to the nth degree in a way that R/C never could. Plus unlike R/C vehicles, drone’s are able to do a lot more than just fly. So it makes sense to break a drone down into its basic components in order to decide which drone is best for you.

Drone Specifications

A drone at its heart is a flying machine. This means it has to have a means to propel itself aloft (propellers) and stay there. The battery powering the drone determines how long a flight can be, and must be charged after each flight before another can take place. Also built into the drone is acceptance of commands from a remote controller. Sensors to keep an eye on altitude and stabilize the flight can be included as well as the ability to build in GPS, crash avoidance and other more exotic systems.

Drone Video

A “birds-eye view” is custom made for a drone. But since the person is earthbound, it’s up to a camera lens to be the one seeing what the drone is flying over. A high-resolution camera in a drone is becoming commonplace (for example, 720p or 1080p or even 4K resolution) and videos can alternated with HD resolution pictures. Memory cards store what the camera sees, although it is also possible on some drones to stream the video to the owner’s smartphone running a special app. 

Drone Control

Wireless control is the basis for flying a drone, and the most obvious kind of controller is one that you hold in your hand and which is automatically linked to the drone. Learning to flying a drone does take some practice, but the learning curve is not onerous at all, especially in the case of a drone that is controlled through a smartphone app. There’s also another advantage of smartphone control — in some cases the phone’s screen becomes a view screen that works with the controller to show you what the drone is seeing (through streaming video).

Drone Registration

The final thing to know about owning and operating a drone is that it must now be registered with the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration). This applies to pretty much anyone buying a drone for recreation purposes  to fly outdoors (i.e., non-commercial) but is a lot easier than that of going to the DMV for a driver’s license. A drone registration can be done online ( and is good for three years, providing you’ve paid the minor fee. This doesn’t give you carte blanche to fly your drone anyway you’d like because — just as in having a car — there are rules that apply. Most of these are common sense, like not flying a drone near an airport or where airplanes might be found over a fire or near a military installation or in a crowd. But as there are some serious rules in place, and to avoid causing a hazardous situation to exist, check out the information found on the FAA’s website (

Drones can come as simple or sophisticated, small or large. Choosing the right type of drone is a personal thing, especially since they are not made a la carte at this time — what the drone comes with is what you get.  But for anyone looking to fly the skies, nothing beats watching your own drone flying amidst the clouds, under your control.


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