Yes I am. I came into possession of a previously loved unit from a gent who I trust to not have abused it, and suddenly I’m in the game. I’ve got maybe eight minutes of flying in, as it’s been a fairly brutal Central New York winter and there haven’t been any decent opportunities to get out and exercise my newfound droneness.
So how is this blogworthy?
I’ll tell you, I’ve learned (and realized) a lot just getting ready to get into the drone thing, and I want to share that with others who may be contemplating following the same path. But first, let me explain why even though I’m new to FLYING drones, I’m not a complete babe in the woods when it comes to the bigger drone story.
Drone Stuff I’ve Written About
For the past few years, I’ve been following commercial drone goings on as they make my radar. Here are are a couple of examples
- The Wirednot Year-Ending Drone Blog
- A Company Called Measure Shows Just How Versatile Commercial Drones Can Be
Countermeasures Against Drones
I spent over ten years in the US Air Force in a career field broadly referred to as Electronic Warfare. The short version is that it’s a discipline that seeks to leverage the electromagnetic spectrum to our advantage, while doing nasty things with it to ruin the bad guys’ day. Fast forward to here and now, and the Drone Countermeasures industry has a lot in common with my old line of work. Take a look at:
There are others, and I have no doubt that anti-drone countermeasures are now part of my old military job as well. Fascinating stuff, no?
But Back To Me, the Drone Guy
As I get ready to be one of the bazillion people out there posting cool and/or utterly-boring-to-other people footage and pictures taken from my own drone, here’s what I’ve picked up about the whole thing in the last couple of weeks.
- The FAA’s drone registry is back. Just do it and stop whining.
- If you fly a drone, you are either a hobbyist (Section 366) or making money with it (Part 107). Don’t game the system and sell your drone services without meeting all of the Part 107 requirements/qualifications. It’s just not worth the likely fines.
(Scraped from FAA’s drone registry pages)
- There are a universal set of rules for recreational use of drones. I recommend learning them, and maybe printing out a copy to have in your drone kit to help keep you on the straight and narrow.
- There are sooooooooooo many places you might like to fly, but probably can’t- at least without getting explicit permission. Like state parks and such… it is what it is. Look into the rules, make some calls, etc before you drive all day to get somewhere that won’t welcome your awesome quad.
- There are a ridiculous amount of “airports” out there. I live out in the sticks, and my home address is within 5 miles (a magic number for drone operators) of a handful of “airports”. Each is a 1500-foot grass strip that may see one small aircraft a year, if that. But they are registered, active operational entities that I’m not supposed to fly a drone within 5 miles of without tracking down the owner/manager and notifying them before every flight. I’m guessing this is one of the more frequently ignored rules. (There are many apps that show this airport/contact information, designed just for drone folks.)
- Anyone who’s into photography will understand this: it doesn’t take long before you start looking at the terrain around you a little differently as a drone person… how might I fly to that pond? I wonder if I could get over those trees, etc.
- Like many hobbies, the drone thing takes time but can easily become a mania. Make sure you balance it with other responsibilities and family time.
- A lot more laws concerning drones are pending at many levels of government, most at local/state levels- despite the FAA being the law of the land. It’s gonna get messy.
And on the Technical Side
Paging my wireless networking homies!
- Most drones operate in 2.4 GHz and need line of sight between the controller and the drone.
- Yes, the satellites likely come into play, but that 2.4 GHz link is critical
- We all know how crappy 2.4 GHz can be in congested areas. Keep that in mind, lest you make poor choices about where to fly and find it hard to maintain control.
- It’s still Wi-Fi, at least between the controller and your smartphone/tablet used for many drone apps. (Between controller and drone it may be different modulation that normal Wi-Fi.)
- As with Wi-Fi, you can get jiggy with higher-gain antennas and experimentation with better signal capabilities.
- Regardless of what model drone you choose, there are likely active forums with lots of participation by fellow owners. And in these forums you’ll find a mix of decent people out to both learn from and to help their fellow man, and some individuals who seem to measure their own self-worth by how condescending they can be to others. Ignore the dicks.
- Regardless of what drone you choose, there will ALWAYS be a better, fancier, more expensive one right around the corner. You can covet these things like the next iPhone and spend endless dollars, or just enjoy what you have until the motors wear out (then replace the motors). Just know that you’ll always have new ones hitting the market that can make yours look stale.
In closing, I’m really looking forward to the drone thing for one more reason: way back when, I finished a BS degree in Aeronautics. I’ll probably get the Part 107 qualifications in case I choose to add professional drone services to my skills docket, and I’m looking forward to getting back in touch (even if just a little bit) with all things aeronautical via the drone lifestyle.
I am a drone guy now, after all.