We all come to this point at some time or another, which drone do I decide upon? How can I spend just enough and get a drone that will do the job without breaking the bank?
How Do I Choose The Right Drone?
This is a great question with a thousand different answers. You already know that the answer is going to be “It depends on many things”. Let’s try to get to the bottom of how you can choose your first drone.
Start by deciding the kind of business you are going to be getting involved in and look at drone capability. How long will the drone need to stay airborne? Will it need to be stable in high wind speeds? What sensors does it need to carry? Will the aircraft need to be easy to fly so that it can fly in built up areas? Are you going to perform survey work or support agricultural organisations. The answers to these questions will help you decide whether you need to go down the fixed-wing or multi-rotor route. It could mean you need to operate both.
Airworthiness and Build Quality
Your drone will have to be fit for purpose and safe to operate near the public. Home-built drones allow you to customise the capability of the drone but it can be difficult to find a drone built to a competent standard. Many drone building companies allow you to test fly the drone at the end of the build. We see this as an essential stage of the purchase. Test every aspect of the drone including failsafe and return to home facilities. Buying from a well known brand or supplier will be an easier route to getting airborne, but may not incorporate all of the capability you need. The compromises may require the purchase of 2 drones to cover the capability gaps.
Flying Qualities and Performance
Most modern drones are extremely easy to fly. With GPS stabilisation the drone will remain stationary or "on plan" if you take your hands off the controls. Many drones have a height stabilisation mode called ATTI or something similar. In this mode the drone no longer keeps station and will drift with the wind. This mode is important as a mode to use when there may be reduced or no GPS signal. The GPS unit will look for satellites on the horizon and not overhead, which is a common misconception. You might wish to have some form of redundancy, in which case you should look for a drone that can lose a motor and still be guided to a landing. Modern flight controllers will soon have this as a standard feature.
That Old Devil, Cost
The main thing you should spend your money on in the early days of your career is choosing a top quality training organisation. Invest properly in this aspect and the amount you will have to spend later on will be dramatically reduced. Your reputation will be automatically established if you can show good training credentials, not just the cheapest on the market. Clients do actually know who the good ones are. Depending on what you may wish to do once qualified will drive the requirements that govern your choice of drone. You must also put yourself in the shoes of a customer. If you are being hired to perform top end videography on a TV production you may wish to have something different to a DJI Phantom. If you are looking to do stills and standard resolution video for an outside broadcast company or newspaper then a DJI Phantom could be perfect for your needs. The bottom line is that you get what you pay for. Be sure you understand that you may need to buy better and more capable drones as your business matures. We can help you find them at the price that suits, just ask us.
Make a Decision!
Well we believe that the sensor is as important as the drone. If we were going out to buy a first drone we would pick the DJI Inspire Raw with X5R camera or the Yuneec Tornado H920 CG04. We can find these for you at a very nice discount but the important thing is that they are at the affordable end of the professional grade equipment. This is the place to start and then as your income increases, invest in more top-of-the-range drones. We all had to start somewhere, but we advise that you start some way up from the bottom. These 2 drones are a great offering and will be a tremendous back-up should you make other investments in the future.
We hope this blog has been of some use, we can tailor a package to your needs that includes the gold standard in UK drone training. Get off to a flying start.