I want to say Hi to all new pilots!
I hope you had a great drone for Christmas, or maybe even your birthday, or whatever occasion.
Welcome in the great world of model flying, and in this case droning.
No matter what kind of drone you’ve bought yourself, or got as a present, flying them is great fun when done properly.
You have been charging batteries, and I bet you’re very keen to get out and fly the drone.
First check if you are not in a No-Fly zone! This is the most important bit to know, even before considering venturing out for a flight.
Now you think, “how do I know?” check here! for a complete map of no fly zones around the world!
Next, read a bit about your new batteries.
The normal AA and AA batteries won’t be a problem, but the LiPo that is used to power your drone is another kind of battery and should be taken care of! please read this article before you continue, make sure you are aware of the dangers that come with LiPo batteries.
Not it is time to fly… put the batteries in, let’s head out!
I would suggest not just yet…
We don’t want to end up like this won’t we?
Or like this….
Before you get out and start your maiden flight read this.
Flying drones is more than just putting batteries in and take it to the skies.
Drone flying comes with regulations that are different in every country.
Some drones need to be registered, some not. some can fly everywhere they want, some can hardly fly at all like in Belgium.
Even Though rules are different in every country, one rule applies everywhere.. fly RESPONSIBLE!
Once you are aware of the regulations it’s time to prepare your flying machine for it’s flight.
In this post I will mainly use a cheap toy grade drone, as it is the most common kind of drone there is for little money, and these ones are all the same, based on the great Syma X5C.
This LiDI R/C drone I will be using here is available at Gearbest and I have reviewed it as well.
It comes with a WiFi FPV (first person view) camera, and you can record video and photo directly to your telephone.
If you are completely new, and never flown a drone before it’s important to get hold of the controls.
Controllers come is many different sizes and shapes.
But whatever done you have, the basics are all the same.
The right stick controls the movement of the drone. up is forward, down is backwards, left is left, right is right.
The left stick is used to control the drone up and down.
Putting the left stick up lifts the drone, pulling it down lowers it.
When you move the left stick to either left or right, the drone turns around it’s center.
Stick to the left makes a CCW turn, to the right a CW turn.
These controls are the same for every drone, cheap or expensive.
Now that you know what the controls do it’s time to power up the drone and have a look at the lights.
These lights are called navigation lights, and should help you navigate the drone when it is above you.
But with all these different makes and models come a lot of different sorts of navigation lights.
Here are some examples:
This little Hexacopter has red lights as rear, green on the sides and white in the front
This UpAir One has red lights in the rear, green lights in the front.
The drone we are mainly using for this post has green lights in the back, orange ones in the front
This little one has blue ones in the rear, and red ones in the front
These are just a few examples, and the color of lights can be different on your drone, but the point I want to make is that you are aware of the front and the back. this will help you out when you are flying a bit higher and lost sight of the front/back
A little tip would be, if you have them, to mount different color propellers to help, these are very visible in the air as well.
Here you can see the RED propellers mark the back, green is the front.
Here RED is rear, but WHITE is front.
And on this one I have Blue at the rear, and Black in the front
So, now you know the basic controls, and you know how to recognise the front and back.. let’s head out to fly….
Maybe not yet…
Before you head out it is advisable to do a preflight check.
it might sound boring, and useless.. but you don’t want to lose your drone won’t you?
First, check that all you batteries are charged, and check the weather if you want to fly outside.
There is a great app for that. the UAV forecast app. this will show you if flying is possible or not.
I have written a post about the app, and you can find that here.
Back to the drone,
You have mounted your propellers, but was that it?
Some smaller drones don’t require any mounting, and the propellers just pop on the motors.
Others have self tightening propellers, they will tighten themselves with movement of the motors. these are commonly found on DJI drones, but also other makes have them like Hubsan and UpAir
The drone I use here uses small screws to mount the propellers, again, this way of mounting is very common on toy grade drones, also Hubsan uses this kind of mounting on some of the drones they sell (H502)
Drones use 2 kinds of propellers.. CW (clockwise) and CCW (counterclockwise)
Some drones have the direction of the motor printed on the arm, but not all.
On this leg you can see the rotation of the motor, in this case CCW
Hubsan uses A and B marking on the legs to show the rotation, the corresponding propellers should go there (a on a and b on b) The rotation it printed on the propellers, in this case CW
And on this arm a CCW propeller.
With self tightening propellers you can’t go wrong, these will only fit in one way, but on other drones it is possible to mount the propellers the wrong way round. in this case the drone will not fly, and might even tip over.
Anyway, before you fly off, make sure the propellers are seated and mounted properly
Make sure they cannot come off, tighten self tightening propellers by hand, and screwable propellers should be tightened with the screwdriver that came with your drone.
Now you know the controls, you have secured your propellers, and you know front and back… let’s head out!
Well, I would suggest not to do that just yet.
You know how to control the drone, but have you done some practising yet?
Most drones come with propeller guards only for this reason.
With these guards you should be able to fly the drone indoor without hurting anything, or anyone.
Now power on the drone and remote and try to get familiar with the controls by sliding the drone over the ground.
No need to take off, just enough thrust to be able to move the drone around is enough.
Play with the sticks, and apply gentle movements to them to see how the drone reacts on the input.
Here is a short video to show you.
Take your time doing this, this will help you out a lot.
Once you think you know how it works, take it up a bit higher and try to make movements around the house, front, back, left right… no need to do it fast, gentle is the right word.
Also try to see what happens when the drone is facing the other way around. because when the front is facing the other way, controlling it is a bit harder.. controls look to be the other way around for you!
As with everything….practising is the best way to learn.
When you are able to fly indoor without crashing too much you could try to go outside.
Please be aware of the regulations, not every country allows drones to be flown in built up areas.
If that is the case in your country, take it to a field to fly. I would recommend it as well, when you lose the controls the drone will fall on the field, and it is easy to recover it, in fact, the space you have on a field is great way to master the drone.
If your drone has a camera, don’t forget to add an SD-Card, or when your drone has a WiFi camera connect to the drone and make sure the connection works so that you can record your flight.
Don’t go high up straight away, that is the fault most people make.
When you go up higher the wind could aso change, you could be surprised by that and lose control.
Going up high is nice, but always comes with a risk, especially with cheaper drones that don’t have GPS and such things.
When you take care of your drone, and always do your preflight checks, and don’t take risks, you can have hours and hours of fun with your drone. you might even consider upgrading when you have learnt the basics with your great new drone. Bigger drones come with bigger prices, but they only add fun as the camera is better and flying it is easier.
One thing that is for sure is that you have just started the best hobby ever, and that there is a lot of fun to be had with it.
I would HIGHLY recommend to start with a cheap small drone to get the basic skills of flying.
One is these would be great:
With these drone you are getting the best of learning without breaking the bank.
These drones can take impact several times, and are therefore the best things to learn it with.
I think these basics are needed to get the most out of this hobby.
There are several groups on Facebook for drone pilots, and there’s also many that are just for one kind of drone like DJI, Hubsan, UpAir, etc… These groups are a great help, and can help you to get even better in flying.
This is what I want to learn you for now, thee rest is up to you.
Be responsible, and take care when flying…
Happy flying! and enjoy the best hobby… ever!