Tag Archives: featured

What is the best drone to film my marching band?

Next up in our “Ask Drone Girl” series is about drones and marching bands! If you have a question for Drone Girl, contact her here.

I’m looking for a drone that will auto hover and film. I will be using it primarily to record our high school marching band from directly above to assist with formations. There are just SO MANY makes and models, I end up overwhelmed and lost in details from one to another. I’m hoping to stay around $400.

Hey there,

This is my favorite question ever, and not because I know exactly what to recommend to you! I was in orchestra in high school (I played the viola) so I can appreciate the marching band too.

How cool! An aerial video of the formations will definitely help out your students — and you. What an excellent use case for a drone.

I recommend you get the DJI Phantom 3 Standard. At $499, it’s a bit over your budget, but it’s totally worth it. It’s also currently on sale on Amazon for just $439!

The DJI Phantom 3 Standard is definitely my favorite drone for under $500. (DJI already has a Phantom 4 drone, so you’re essentially getting last year’s model at a discount.)

GPS assisted flight means the drone can hover in its place for a flight time of up to 25 minutes. (However, just because the drone can hover, I always recommend someone has their hand on the controls just in case). Continue reading What is the best drone to film my marching band?

This might be the tiniest camera drone you can buy

Scroll to the bottom of this post for a 10% off special offer!

Looking for an ultra-miniature FPV drone?

The Skeye Nano 2 FPV drone, made by TRND Labs, weighs about a half an ounce and is just slightly larger than a paperclip. It’s fun to fly, but the neatest thing about it is that it also records video and live streams  it via Wifi to your phone so you can get a first person view of what the drone’s camera is seeing.

At $129, the Skeye Nano 2 FPV is an awesome solution for someone who wants a super tiny drone that shoots video but won’t burn a hole in your wallet.skeye nano 2 fpv review

Inside the box:

  • A charger (which charges through your computer; battery life is about 10 minutes)
  • The controller (which requires AAA batteries, not included)
  • A set of replacement blades
  • A crash cage (definitely use this to protect your blades!)

Continue reading This might be the tiniest camera drone you can buy

Verizon acquires drone operations management company Skyward for undisclosed sum

Verizon on Thursday announced that it has acquired Skyward, a Portland, Oregon-based drone fleet management company for an undisclosed sum of money.

Skyward integrates and manages drone operations into one workflow.

Verizon will use Skyward’s technology to streamline the management of drone operations through one platform designed to handle end-to-end activities such as mission planning, complex workflow, FAA compliance support, supplying information about restricted airspace and pilot credentialing, drone registration and provisioning rate plans for drones on Verizon’s network.

The move plays into future plans for drone traffic management. NASA has been working on a plan for unmanned drone traffic management (UTM) that could be adopted by the Federal Aviation Administration, where multiple service providers would allow drone operators to connect with each other through a common application interface. Users would digitally  send information about their flight destination and receive data of other drone’s flight information.

“What that does is gives the operator and support services complete awareness of all the other operations going on in the airspace at the same time,” said Parimal Kopardekar, manager of NASA’s Safe Autonomous Systems Operations project. Continue reading Verizon acquires drone operations management company Skyward for undisclosed sum

Drone Racing League announces its title sponsor is…an insurance company?

The Drone Racing League (DRL) today announced a multi-year partnership with insurance brand Allianz, which includes a new 2017 championship race called the Allianz World Championship series.

The race will consists of six elimination-style, FPV (first person view races) with 16 pilots, airing in more than 75 countries in June 2017.

The pilots in the race will fly through race courses around the U.S. and Europe using DRL’s custom-designed racing drones, which can fly at up to 90 mph. The courses will be located in Miami, New Orleans, Atlanta, Boston, Munich and London.

“To DRL, Allianz is bringing world-renowned brand credibility and a proud history of innovative sports partnerships, including an extensive tradition in auto racing, and an undeniable proof point that the sport of the future has arrived,” said DRL CEO and Founder, Nicholas Horbaczewski in a news release. “The scale and long-term nature of the deal shows Allianz’s genuine commitment to advancing the sport and will accelerate the introduction of drone racing to audiences around the world.”

It may seem like an odd partnership to match an insurance company with a drone racing company, but Allianz has a history of similar (though non-drone related) partnerships, including the Saracens rugby club and Lang Lang, one of my favorite pianists (One of Drone Girl’s other hobbies is playing piano!).

The partnership with Allianz also means races will be held at official Allianz venues, including Allianz branded stadiums and corporate facilities. It also means broadcast time, as the Allianz World Championship will air as 12 hour-long episodes.

Continue reading Drone Racing League announces its title sponsor is…an insurance company?

Want a drone for Christmas? These drones cost under $200

** WIN THIS DRONE! Scroll down to the bottom of this post for details on how to enter.**

Looking for a drone for Christmas and looking to spend between $100 and $200? The drones on the market this year are better than ever — and they keep getting cheaper.

If you can’t have the new Phantom 4 Pro, and even want something cheaper than the $450 Phantom 3 Standard, there are great options out there that still shoot video!

UDI RC has a solid lineup of drones that let you see what the drone sees through your smartphone or tablet while recording video. I tested out the UDI Blue Jay and the WiFi FPV drone with VR headset, and here’s how they stack up:udi rc blue jay
U45 Blue Jay WiFi FPV drone

The Blue Jay drone costs $129.99 and is incredibly light and easy to fly. You charge the drone’s battery via USB, insert your own AA batteries into the controller, and download the UDI app for smartphone. You also have to screw on the legs and propeller guards, but it’s very minimal assembly.

The drone has an altitude hold function, which makes it very easy to fly at first try (and gather some decent footage). There’s also a takeoff and landing button, so the drone will automatically hover at a preset altitude after you press the takeoff button.

As far as video quality, the Blue Jay captures 720p high definition photos and videos with a 2MP camera. While it IS “high definition” (this is a criteria many people have when asking me for drone recommendations), keep in mind it is often the megapixels that matter. I’ll let you be the judge — check out my YouTube video! — on whether that is sufficient quality. For context, the significantly more expensive, $450 Phantom 3 Standard shoots 12 megapixel video.

The smartphone app lets you see what your drone sees.
The smartphone app lets you see what your drone sees.

The video records to your phone and a micro SD card, which comes with the drone.

It also can do flips, which is a pretty fun party trick. The drone’s battery life is only about 8 minutes so hopefully your party doesn’t last too long — but the really great thing is it comes with 2 batteries (nice touch!) and a portable USB charging bank, so technically you have more flight time than just the 8 minutes.

I absolutely loved playing with the Blue Jay, and for $129 it’s a perfect gift for someone getting into drones!udi rc discovery fpv

U818A Wifi FPV Drone 

The U818A Wifi FPV drone is the slightly more advanced version of the Blue Jay.

In many ways, it is quite similar. It has all the features I love about the Blue Jay, including the altitude hold, FPV view through the smartphone app, and an extra battery and power bank.

It also shoots the same video quality — 720p high definition photos and videos with a 2MP camera.

You don’t have to screw on any prop guards or legs with this one — the drone already comes with them built in. Other than that, both drones really fly the same.

This drone comes with VR goggles!
This drone comes with VR goggles!

The main difference with this drone is that it comes with a VR headset, so you can fly like you have FPV goggles on — like the drone racers do.

It was pretty nifty, and a cool experience for people who wouldn’t have the opportunity to try the “real deal” that drone racers use such as Fatshark goggles. However, I felt like the VR headset was cheap — it’s basically goggles with a mount for your iPhone — and thus a little difficult to see clearly and use. I gave up pretty quickly and reverted to flying line of sight with the drone, while referencing my smartphone to occasionally see what the drone’s camera sees.

fpv headset
Insert your smartphone in the mount of the VR goggles to fly with a first person view.

Both drones have the ability to fly in headless mode (basically a flight mode where you don’t have to worry about which way the drone is facing in order to maneuver the direction of it). While I don’t condone headless mode as a means of learning how to be a better drone operator, it is very handy to shoot selfie videos — I used it myself when shooting this YouTube video.udi rc blue jay

The verdict?

The main difference between the two drones is the VR Headset. If you have an interest in getting into FPV drone racing, it would be worth paying the extra $30 for the U818 and getting the more expensive drone with goggles. However, if you are looking for a cool party trick and some basic aerial images, I would save the $30 and get the Blue Jay, since the FPV goggles felt cheap.

But on that note, this drone is low cost, but an incredible value for what you get. The FPV goggles were the only item that felt a little cheap, and the rest of the drone was truly fantastic for just about $150.

The main factor to consider when investing in one of these two drones is they won’t be of the video quality you can expect to get from a significantly more expensive drone — hence why they are so much more expensive! But as far as the experience of drone flying goes, both of the UDI drones were incredible easy to setup, use, light, portable and fun. Happy flying!


UDI has partnered up with me to do a FREE DRONE GIVEAWAY! To win one of these two drones, simply subscribe to my YouTube channel and comment on my UDI Video with your favorite place to fly a drone. You must have set your YouTube settings to allow users to contact you via YouTube. I will randomly select the winner on Friday, 12/2 at 9 a.m. PT. The winner will have 72 hours to respond before another winner is contacted.



DJI Phantom 4 Pro and Pro+ can sense obstacles on four sides

DJI on Tuesday announced the Phantom 4 Pro and Pro+.

Its an improvement from its predecessor, the Phantom 4, which had a sensor on the front that could detect and navigate around obstacles.

While DJI’s drones can fly on their own based on pre-programmed GPS coordinates, if the person did not account for a building or tree in the way, previous models of the Phantom would crash into the building on its way to that coordinate. Adding a sensor on the drone gave the drones the ability to sense a building in the way, and instead hover in front of it and, if possible, navigate around it. But since the sensor was just on the front of the drone, the obstacle avoidance function would not work if the drone was flying sideways or backwards.dji phantom 4 pro Continue reading DJI Phantom 4 Pro and Pro+ can sense obstacles on four sides

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

DJI shows drones are 80% faster than traditional search and rescue efforts

Drone maker DJI says its drones are 80% faster in search and rescue missions than traditional methods, according to research done by DJI in conjunction with the European Emergency Number Association.

The study found that while a five-person rescue team needs two hours on average to find a victim in one square kilometer, a drone can find that victim in 20 minutes. 

And anecdotes to back that data up are not uncommon. In 2014, an amateur drone pilot located an 82-year-old man who had gone missing in Wisconsin in 20 minutes. Authorities had previously been searching for him for three days. Continue reading DJI shows drones are 80% faster than traditional search and rescue efforts