Category Archives: Tips

7 steps every beginner drone pilot should take to become a pro

The following is a guest post by Michael Karp, author of the blog Drone Business Marketer.

The FAA predicts that hobbyist drone sales will increase from 1.9 million in 2016 to 4.3 million in 2020. With that many novice pilots flying around, it’s imperative they learn how to fly safely.

Here are the 7 steps new pilots should follow in order to become a proficient drone flyer: Continue reading 7 steps every beginner drone pilot should take to become a pro

How to operate a drone commercially in United Arab Emirates

Want to fly drones commercially in United Arab Emirates?

It’s not exactly the easiest task. Applying is costly  (more than $1,000), and time-consuming.

Rules also very by where in UAE you’re flying.

In Dubai, you will have to pay a location fee of AED 3,300 (or more depending on filming location) — that’s $899. Then, you’ll have to pay additional online fees of AED 5,100 ($1,388) to DCAA and expect 5 working days of processing time. Continue reading How to operate a drone commercially in United Arab Emirates

Why your Blade Nano QX won’t lift off the ground

So your Blade Nano QX won’t lift off the ground?

  • You tried replacing the propellers
  • The battery is charged
  • The motors appear to be working
  • Your transmitter is bound correctly with the drone

This happened to me too, and let me make sure it doesn’t happen to you. The reason your drone likely won’t lift is because you have a “clockwise” propeller on a “counterclockwise” motor. Fix it! Here’s how:

 

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The thing most people forget when putting on new propellers is that they are pitched differently. If the propeller you replaced it with is the same color but different pitch, it still don’t fly correctly. Make sure that each propeller is mounted exactly on the motor whether it spins clockwise or counterclockwise.

All quadcopters have two motors that spin clockwise placed diagonally from each other, and two that spin counterclockwise on the other sides. It matters what propeller you use for each motor. If a “counterclockwise” propeller is placed on a clockwise spinning motor, your drone won’t lift.my blade nano won't lift
It’s not a matter of “two blue propellers in front” and “two black propellers in back.”  Even still, you won’t get lift if you don’t place each propeller properly. Use this diagram from the manual to ensure it’s clear which propeller to put on each motor. Always read the manual!

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Pro tip! Having trouble removing the propellers? Placing them firmly on the drone is great to ensure they won’t pop off mid flight or in a crash, but placing them on too firmly can make them hard to remove. Use a credit card to wedge between the propeller and the motor to gently leverage the propeller off the drone.

Happy flying!

P.S. Check out my review of the Blade Nano QX2 —  a great introduction to drone racing for FPV beginners.blade nano fat shark

How to apply for a waiver under the new Part 107 rules

So you’re a commercial business wanting to use drones, but you’re going to have to fly at night, beyond line of sight, or in a situation otherwise illegal under the FAA’s drone regulations?

You more than likely can still operate — but you’re going to have to get a waiver from the Federal Aviation Adminstration in order to operate your drone even if those operations don’t fit under the Part 107 rules.

Here are some commonly asked questions about the Part 107 waiver process:

What are some of the situations in which I might need a waiver for my business? Continue reading How to apply for a waiver under the new Part 107 rules

How to study for Part 107: training courses for FAA’s aeronautical knowledge test

Testing for the FAA’s Aeronautical Knowledge Test for remote pilots (known as Part 107) will be released on August 29, 2016.

Anyone wanting to operate a drone commercially without an existing manned pilot’s license will need to pass an in-person written exam. (People with an existing Part 61 manned pilot’s license do not need to take the written exam. They simply need to complete an online course).

See also: Frequently asked questions about taking the Part 107 test

How are you studying? A good friend of mine told me, “I’m going to just study the night before — college style.” Wait, what?! No! Don’t do that!

It’s important that you know the information not to simply pass, but to really know the airspace so you can be a safe pilot. If you’re like me and struggle to absorb information simply by reading, and prefer to take a course — in-person or online — then here’s how I recommend you study for the Part 107 test.

 study for part 107 Drone Pilot Ground School FAA Drone Certification Test Prep UAV CoachDrone Pilot Ground School:

This is an online test prep course for commercial drone pilots, led by Alan Perlman.

At the end of each lecture you’ll get a 10-question practice quiz, plus a 25 question quiz at the end of each module AND 5 full-length practice tests. Continue reading How to study for Part 107: training courses for FAA’s aeronautical knowledge test

How to care for your LiPo batteries

LiPo batteries can be highly dangerous, and many people have no idea!

For years, lithium polymer batteries (LiPos) have been known to be dangerous and unpredictable. Dropping, denting or crushing can shorten the life of the battery and even cause an internal short — a recipe for fire. There are a myriad of guidelines for storing, charging and transporting them. Even among experienced RC users, they have led to fires.

Related reads:

I chatted with Toppilot, the creators of a brand-new battery line specifically designed to sponsor FPV racing competitions. The professional battery manufacturer knows what it means to need a good battery for competition — not only so it works properly but so it stays safe.

Of course, the #1 tip is to never leave a LiPo battery unattended during the charging or discharging process.

Beyond that, here are Toppilot’s tips for taking care of your batteries:

Before Charging LiPo Batteries

  • The #1 tip here is: RTFM (Read the Freaking Manual!)
  • Always check the voltage of batteries before each charge session in order to ensure they are at or above the minimum safe starting voltage. If their starting voltage is below recommended levels then your batteries have been over-discharged or have experienced a failure and should NOT be charged.
  • Always check the battery before charging for any type of damage. Check the battery packaging, wires and connectors for defects, which may cause a short circuit and eventual battery failure.

Continue reading How to care for your LiPo batteries

How to ‘get out of jail free’ from the FAA using ASRS

Did you know that there’s a “get out of jail free” card from the FAA? Commercial drone pilots can access a little-known FAA program called ASRS (Aviation Safety Reporting System) that can be used to help get out of trouble when operating your drone commercially.

A new podcast, CommercialDrones.FM discusses everything you need to know about the program in a recent episode. The podcast is hosted by Ian Smith, has been working in the commercial drone industry since 2013 and currently works for cloud-based drone data and mapping software company DroneDeploy. He is an FAA-certified commercial helicopter pilot and flight instructor, and he uses his personal experience to explain just how a drone operator could benefit from ASRS. Continue reading How to ‘get out of jail free’ from the FAA using ASRS