I remember when the first commercial drones appeared. I was a lot into RC helicopters and thought that drones wouldn’t make it far. The thing is that I was not considering that not everybody is like me, I like challenges, and if you’ve flown an RC helicopter in the past you know there is a forward learning curve to these.
On the other hand, drones are a bit different, they have what I call, a backwards learning curve. This concept means that the more complex the drone is, the easiest it is to fly, while with RC helis, the more complex the heli the hardest it gets to operate it.
This is because unlike RC helis, drones have a lot of embedded electronics and circuitry that makes flight possible. In fact, by design, drones are harder to fly than RC helis, but thanks to all the sensors and electronics they have, flight is not just possible but also easy to achieve, even for the non-experienced pilot.
By no means I’m saying that RC helis are better than drones or vice versa, because I think each gadget has its own beauty, and it is more a thing of preference and intention. If you ask me, I have found a great deal of fun with drones, because of its aerial capabilities, however, RC helicopters got me started with aviation gadgets, but, in my heart, I will always be a passionate airplane flyer.
Let’s get back to the drones’ world
Today I want to talk more about drones, and how the market has evolved and boomed to bring some of the best cheap drones for beginners, and, how these are making a difference for the hobby as well.
Now, even with these cheap options, not all is said and done. There is a bit of difficulty to select a drone, associated with the fact that lots of options are available. And you should know that not all options are good.
Back in the day, you could differentiate very clearly that a DJI Phantom drone was a good choice, but the budget required to get one of those devices was huge. And if you saw a drone for less than $100 USD, it was easy to know that quality was not that good.
Today however, the game has changed, because some of the best drones you can get, are in fact under $100 USD.
And in order to know how to differentiate the good and bad ones, there are a series of steps that I like to recommend to those enthusiast pilots who are new to the world of drones.
In order to simplify the process for the reader, I have put together these steps in the form of a friendly and easy to use infographic that I’m sure will help you with the selection process.
The 9 steps to select the best drone for you
- Predefine a budget:Start with a round number that will fit your wallet. During this process, you’ll find a great deal of information that will help you finalize the amount you’ll need to spend if you choose a certain model. If you are a beginner, $100 USD is a great start.
- Define your needs:It is very important to determine what you want this drone for. There is a huge variety of applications and drones keep expanding their abilities. If you are a beginner and just want to start honing your piloting skills, then a basic drone with a camera is what you need.
- Regulations:Certain Countries around the world regulate the use of drones, this because since these devices can carry a camera and some weight, authorities want to prevent them being used for unethical or illegal activities. If you live in the US, then take a look at the FAA regulations for drones and make sure you follow their guidelines.
- The Camera:Depending on your needs, the drone you get will have or not a camera, and it is important to select the most appropriate one given your purpose with it. Again, if you are a beginner pilot looking to start with drones, and want to have a camera attached to your aircraft, you’ll be glad to know that the best cheap drones for beginners come with a built-in HD (720p) camera.
- Flight time:You have to know that most basic models will fly only during 6 – 9 minutes, and will need anything between 60 – 120 minutes to recharge (the battery). Fortunately, batteries are not that expensive and you can buy some extra packs to keep the fun going. Most manufacturers recommend waiting 10 minutes between flights to cool down the parts and extend the life of your gadget.
- Crashes will occur:Don’t sweat this too much, it is normal, crashes are part of life, but let’s not get that philosophic and focus on what matters here. When you buy your drone, make sure there are spare parts available, and actually buy a set, you’ll be glad you did so. If you notice no spare parts are available, get out of there, it is a trap. If the drone needs spare parts to fly again and these are not available, you’ll have to buy a whole new unit (spend more) to fly again.
- RTF, ARF, or BNF:These are the main classifications for drones. Ready To Fly drones are the best for beginners, no assembly required and can start operating out of the box. Almost Ready to Fly may need a bit of assembly, so if you’re not into building things and stuff, these may not be the best choice for you. Bind aNd Fly drones will pair with an existing transmitter you have to be able to fly, so make sure to check the type you’ll get.
- Reviews:I can’t stress this enough. When buying a drone, only buy those with at least 80% acceptance rate from at least 20 real customers or owners. Read through comments and find out if the drone you want is actually a good choice.
- Finalize your budget:At this point it is time to compare prices, make sure you consider the cost of extra batteries, spare parts, registration fees, and anything else you found interesting or useful during your research of the specific models you are targeting. Once you have all this, is time to push the buy now button and start having fun with your new drone.
Final comments from the author
I hope you have fun with this process and actually find it helpful to guide you in the drone selection process. I want to disclose that in order to come up with these steps, I considered not just my personal experiences, but also the comments from other industry experts, and that is why I have great confidence that this is in fact a great resource.
But things are not always perfect, and I may have forgotten to mention something. That is why if you have any questions or comments, I want to invite you to join the conversation and add to the topic. Is there anything else you think should be mentioned here? Drop us a line in the comments area to know more about you.
One last thing, push the social buttons on this page to share this infographic with all your friends, so they know as well how to select the best drone for them. I’m sure they’ll have a blast of fun with it too.
About the author
Jose Lozano is the owner and chief editor at https://www.rchobbiesonair.com. He enjoys learning and sharing insight about RC gadgets to help others make informed decisions when buying drones, RC helicopters and RC airplanes.