10 Tips For Getting Started With Your Drone

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1. The Laws and Regulations of Drone Flying

Here are the top ten recommendations for getting started with your drone and some valuable tips and tricks for handling the most typical scenarios.

Drone laws vary significantly from country to country and are constantly changing. In some countries, strict regulations are limiting the use of drones. According to the U.S. national aviation authority and the U.S. Federal Aviation Authority (FAA), flying a drone is legal. Still, you need to be aware and compliant with drone regulations. Drone rules are divided into two categories: Recreational & Commercial.

Recreational: This category includes flights solely for recreation or personal enjoyment. By taking the Recreational UAS Safety Test or TRUST, you must demonstrate you have a basic understanding of drone laws and safety procedures. The test is free online at one of the official test sites. The FAA's website has a list of them. More information here. After completing the TRUST, you will be given a certificate of completion, which never expires. Be sure to keep it saved in a safe place. The good news is that you can’t fail the test.

Commercial: You must obtain a Remote Pilot Certificate from the FAA in order to operate your drone under the FAA's Small UAS Rule (Part 107). More info here.

Classes of airspace and flying restrictions can be found on our B4UFLY app or the UAS Facility Maps webpage.

Basic rules of Recreational flying:

  • Always keep your drone within the VLOS (visual line of sight).
  • Fly at or below 400 feet in Class G (uncontrolled) airspace.
  • Do not interfere with emergency response or law enforcement activities.
  • Do not fly under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
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2. Understanding Propeller Maintenance for Drone Flight Safety

Propellers are often underestimated in their importance to drone operation. They are, in fact, a critical component that demands regular inspection and careful handling. Before each flight, it's essential to visually check the propellers for any signs of damage or loose connections. Damaged propellers can pose a significant risk, as they might fail mid-flight due to centrifugal force, leading to potential crashes. It's advisable to discard any propellers that show physical damage immediately. Furthermore, ensuring propellers are not under pressure during transit is crucial, as bent propellers can adversely affect the drone's performance. Keeping spare propellers on hand is a wise practice for any drone enthusiast, ensuring readiness for any situation.

3. Battery Management Tips for Extended Drone Lifespan

Battery care is paramount for drone enthusiasts. Prioritizing a full charge before each flight and adhering to official chargers, such as those from DJI, can prevent over-discharging and subsequent damage. To maximize battery life, it's recommended to land the drone when the battery level is above 15 percent. After flight, allow the battery to cool before charging, and avoid using or charging batteries in extreme temperatures to prevent performance degradation. Keeping batteries warm in cold conditions, such as storing them close to your body, can also enhance performance. Additionally, always have a minimum of three batteries on hand, and consider investing in Fly More combo packages for an optimal flying experience.

4. The Role of a Reliable Landing Pad in Drone Operations

A reliable landing pad offers significant benefits for both drone flight takeoff and landing phases. While some drone operators prefer hand-catching for landing, a drone pad is crucial for safe takeoffs, especially from uneven surfaces like long grass or rough terrain. The Rugged Drone landing pad is highly recommended due to its thin, foldable design that is easily portable and provides a clean, flat surface for takeoff, protecting the drone from dust, snow, dirt, or debris. This simple accessory can significantly reduce the risk of damage and ensure a smoother flight experience.

5. The Importance of GPS and Return to Home Functions

A strong GPS signal and the Return to Home (RTH) feature are indispensable for safe and reliable drone flight. Ensuring your drone is connected to at least 8 satellites upon startup enhances its navigational capabilities. The RTH function is particularly valuable in emergency situations, allowing the drone to return to its last recorded home point with the push of a button. This feature is crucial for recovering the drone if you lose the video feed or visual contact. Setting the RTH altitude through the DJI app (Fly Go4) to a minimum of 50m is recommended to avoid any potential obstacles during the return flight, providing an additional layer of safety for your drone operations.

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6. When Not to Fly Your Drone

Weather conditions play a significant role in the safe operation of drones. Due to their non-waterproof nature, drones can only withstand light rain and snow to a limited degree. However, these are far from ideal conditions for flying. A particularly perilous situation arises with propeller icing in cold, foggy weather, where high humidity and sub-freezing temperatures create a hazardous environment. Ice formation on the propellers during flight places additional strain on the motors, potentially leading to a drone crash. Understanding and respecting weather limitations is crucial for the safety and longevity of your drone.

7. Maintaining Visual Line of Sight (VLOS) for Safe Drone Operation

Keeping your drone within a visual line of sight (VLOS) is fundamental for safe flight. This practice ensures you can navigate your drone's path effectively, avoiding potential collisions with other aircraft, people, and obstacles. Flying beyond visual range, such as behind trees or buildings, can lead to signal loss and loss of control over the drone. Employing a Visual Observer (VO) can provide an additional perspective, enhancing situational awareness and peace of mind during flight operations.

8. Protecting Your Drone

Bird attacks on drones are common, often happening in areas where birds are breeding, hunting, or defending their territory. A rapid increase in altitude can be effective to avoid harm to both the bird and your drone. This maneuver, exceptionally when executed in Sports mode for maximum speed, can signal to the bird that the drone is not a rival or prey, potentially averting the attack. Landing as soon as possible after evading the bird is advisable to ensure safety.

9. The Importance of a Quality Carrying Case for Drone Transportation

Protecting your drone during transportation is essential, and a quality carrying case is a must-have for any drone enthusiast. Placing a drone in a bag without proper protection is risky, especially for sensitive components like the gimbal. Our shop offers various carrying options, including the Rugged Sling in 6L and 10L sizes, designed to safeguard your drone, remote controller, batteries, and other accessories. For those seeking a more straightforward solution, the rugged accessories case offers a compact and efficient protection option.

10. Avoiding Direct Sunlight During Flights

Filming in direct sunlight can pose significant challenges for your drone and your control interface, such as a smartphone. Overheating from direct sun exposure can trigger thermal cooling measures, dimming your screen and compromising visibility. Utilizing a sunshade can significantly improve your flight experience by mitigating these effects. For an optimal flying experience, investing in a DJI Smart Controller is highly recommended. Compatible with several DJI drone models, it offers enhanced visibility and control, free from the constraints of smartphone-based operations.

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I hope you found our tips helpful, and remember that we are available to book a Zoom call with you to go through setup, tips & tricks, general maintenance, and any other recommendations relevant to your gear. Drop us a line at hello@shopmoment.com and our Gear Guides will get in touch.

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