So how did we go about deciding which drone to buy?
It is very tempting to make your first drone purchase a very, very inexpensive one - let’s say less than
$150 or so. I went down this path for a while and read the reviews and watched all the videos. The
consensus seemed to be that you were getting what you paid for, and many reviewers had the sad
experience of losing control of their drone on either the first or second flight, and then crashing and burning, with the obvious result that they were both pissed off and felt that they had wasted their money. So how did this happen?
I think a lot of it goes into the technology of the drone itself. My research indicated that the better
manufacturers of drones built into their machines the software and firmware that would do brilliant
things like returning to its home base (where the flight originated) when it sensed that its battery power was running low. They also had obstacle avoidance technology built in, which would keep someone like me from planting my first drone into an oak tree somewhere. This type of technology simply is not often (at least as of this writing) built into the cheaper drones, with the end result that a lot of them fell out of the sky due to lack of power or else they crashed into a tree whenever a strong wind came along.
I therefore decided to lean forward a bit and pay for some better technology while not, at the same
time, breaking the bank.
There are several really good drone manufacturers out there, among them are DJI, Yuneec, Parrot and
UDI. This is only a partial listing, and if you are reading this you can certainly do your own research and see what you think of the choices for yourself.
My priorities in making this purchase included:
- Advanced technology – To keep me from doing something stupid (if that’s possible!)
- Cost – Although I could have sprung for a $2000 aircraft, I really did not want to do that until I felt capable of safely flying one.
- Size – I wanted my first drone to be compact so that I could easily transport it if need be in a backpack or carry on. I was also concerned about how some drones reacted in windier conditions, and I thought that a compact design would be best for a novice like myself.
- Camera – Our drone is basically going to be used for aerial photography, and although I eventually want a drone with a great camera, I mainly wanted my first drone to be a “practice” bird that would allow me to learn and improve on the craft.
We bought a red DJI Spark!!
This is a very small drone from DJI and will literally fit into the palm of your hand. Yet, it has built-in all of the signature technology that allows for safe flying, such as was mentioned earlier. You can read about all its features here.
We bought the so-called “fly more” package, which includes a controller and some other extras that
we figured would make our new drone much more user-friendly and basically just more fun to fly.
This drone has recently been reduced in price, so it is a really good buy right now. And fortunately, I received a 10% off coupon through the mail, so we truly lucked out on this purchase.
So as we await our drone’s arrival, I will return to studying for the sUAV test, which I intend on taking in the very near future!!