The consumer drone market is growing at an incredible rate. Falling prices, new technology and widespread availability means that drones, also known as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), are becoming a common sight in skies around the world. As well as being used for aerial photography, racing of drones is becoming a popular pastime.
UAVs contain advanced technology and are easy to fly, but it’s still possible to crash one if the pilot doesn’t understand how they work. Repairs are possible sometimes, but a serious accident with a drone may mean replacement is necessary. Accidents involving drones can result in legal action against the pilot in some cases, so it’s important to understand the rules of the air and how they affect UAVs.
The following tips will help to ensure new drone pilots make safe and enjoyable flights as they gain experience.
1) Never take off before reading the manual.
The excitement of getting a drone means some people make their first flight without reading the instruction manual. This is one of the most common causes of accidents. Always read the manual and understand the key facts about a UAV before taking off. Important points include how to set the drone up, the average battery life and what to do in an emergency. More advanced drones work in conjunction with apps, so you’ll need to download and set one of these up on your smartphone before flying. If the instruction manual isn’t clear, there are hundreds of drone tutorial videos on YouTube.
2) Check the aircraft before takeoff.
Most drones are packed with the propeller blades removed, so these need to be attached before takeoff. Follow the instructions carefully, as there is usually a specific configuration. Ensure the propeller blades are tightened before switching the aircraft on. If the drone has a camera, the gimbal may need to be unlocked before take off.
3) Understand how sensors protect a drone.
Advanced UAVs have sensors to prevent collisions. It’s important that the pilot understands how sensors make the aircraft react and the directions they operate in. Professional drones have forward, rear and downward facing sensors, and they can be adjusted to operate at different distances from objects in their paths. More basic drones only have forward facing sensors, so they will crash into obstacles if flown in reverse.
4) Check the weather before flying.
Small UAVs don’t fly well in adverse weather. Gusts of wind make it hard to control drones, and the battery life drains quickly as the rotors fight to stay on course. Water can cause serious damage to the sensitive electronics inside UAVs, so they should never be flown in the rain.
5) Maintain line of sight.
Flying a drone beyond line of sight is another common cause of accidents. The controller’s screen may give a clear first-person view from the aircraft’s camera, but this doesn’t tell the pilot everything he needs to know. For example, a helicopter approaching from the side of the drone won’t appear on the screen. It’s illegal to fly an unmanned aircraft beyond line of sight in many countries.
6) Take extra care flying indoors.
Flying drones indoors increases the risk of accidents. UAVs operate using GPS, and this may be weak if walls obstruct the satellite signal. Controlling a drone in a restricted space takes great skill, and it’s something only experienced pilots should undertake.
7) Learn to use the ‘Return to Home’ (RTH) function.
Sophisticated drones like DJI’s Phantom and Mavic offer a failsafe RTH function. If the GPS signal is lost, battery power is low or if there is a technical problem, the aircraft returns to the point of takeoff. This is a fantastic safety feature, but the pilot needs to set the RTH correctly and know how the aircraft will respond when it enters this flight mode. A drone will automatically fly to a set altitude in RTH, and this must take account of the surroundings. For example, if there are tall trees around the RTH height must be set to fly over these.
Owning your first drone is the start of an exciting new hobby, and it could even lead to a career as a UAV pilot. If a new pilot focuses on safe and responsible flying, there is very little risk of anything going wrong.
8) PCB Assembly
It can be a good idea to look up online alternative circuit boards when you are replacing your drone hardware, or if you wish to upgrade it down the line. There are many companies offering custom print solutions, one such is PCB Assembly China that has a large number of possibilities for their customers at affordable prices.