Playing With Drones

A couple of months ago, we ventured to a ‘surplus store’ where they sell returned products at dramatically reduced prices. It was a lot of fun to peruse the aisles and see the random items that were available; a lot of the items may have come from WalMart or other similar stores. 

I was pretty intrigued by the drones they had. There were several different models, and the prices ranged from about $20 to $80. These were NOT DJI or other professional type drones. But rather that more toy style streaming drones. 

 Since I am interested in technology, and drones I thought it would be fun to pick one up. I made sure to get one that had its own controller because I knew that those are generally more responsive and capable. 

The one I got had decent flight and control capabilities: GPS for auto-takeoff and landing, along with telemetry in the remote control to provide back information about altitude, speed, compass heading and battery levels. 

The flight time on this drone was roughly 6-7 minutes, which is not great compared to most mid-level drones, but adequate for learning. Removing the video module saved on battery life enough to make it worth it – especially since the streaming video was very poor quality. Video is streamed over a WiFi connection to a smartphone app, and while the range was good the quality was just very poor. 

My first flight wasn’t so hot, as you can see. Never launch under a tree! Gradually, I got better at it., even flying one handed while I shot a video on my phone.

I really feel like this has been a great entry point into the exciting world of drones. They are so fun to fly, and terribly easy to crash – if you haven’t got a huge amount of money invested, then you can afford to be fearless. Graduate to something better when you’ve outgrown the cheap one, and have no regrets if you destroy it. 

My little drone currently needs a new propeller shaft, but it’s ready to fly again once I order it!