Category Archives: Reader Submissions

How to get the longest FPV range on your drone

The following piece was written by Jack Brown, is the Chief Pilot at MyDroneLab.com.

How far can a drone go without losing the video signal when flying FPV?

When it comes to the ideal frequency for mini-quads — that’s the famous 5.8 GHz — the best you can expect is 500 meters. But, that means you’re flying in ideal conditions where nothing stands between you and your drone. The moment your drone goes behind a tree, a hill or building, the range will drop significantly and you even might lose your signal completely.

The bottom line is, if you want to do some long range FPV flying, the 5.8 GHz frequency should be avoided.  But what if you want to fly beyond 500 meters?

Change the System

For long range FPV flying, you need more than yourself and the drone — you’re going to need a ground station that works on a different frequency. (And bring a spotter with a pair of binoculars.)

The most popular frequencies for long range flying are 1.2 GHz and 2.4 GHz. Personally, I prefer using the first one because it offers you 10km of range. It’s worth noting that 1.2 GHz is generally not recommended because in case the drone goes down and you don’t have a beacon, you’ll easily lose your drone. It is also much more effective when it comes to flying through abandoned buildings as this signal easily penetrates the walls. Continue reading How to get the longest FPV range on your drone

Drone mapping: what’s the difference between drone spatial resolution vs. accuracy?

“We can get 1cm with our drone!”

Have you heard someone in the drone industry say something similar to this?  For drone mapping professional Jon Ellinger, the creator of TLT Photography, which specializes in aerial surveys, geospatial data processing and fine photography, he gets it a lot.

So much so, that Ellinger wrote up a great guide to what spatial resolution really means, as well as understanding the difference between spatial resolution vs. accuracy. Here goes:

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With affordable drones such as the GoPro Karma, and DJI Mavic and Spark becoming accessible to people of all educational backgrounds it makes sense that there is sometimes confusion about what the specifications of the drone really mean.  Unless you have a geography background, are an avid photographer, or someone who works with geospatial data regularly you may not realize what a vague statement that is.  Grab a coffee and let me explain… Continue reading Drone mapping: what’s the difference between drone spatial resolution vs. accuracy?

How “Book of Hours” author Janet Pywell used a drone to write her newest book

The following piece is a guest post by Janet Pywell, author of the book “Book of Hours,” a crime thriller in which one of the ‘characters’ is a drone.

I knew nothing about drones until I was walking on the beach near my home and a man was using a drone to photograph the coast. As a writer, I’m naturally curious and I stopped to speak to him. I was surprised when he told me you don’t need a license to fly a drone, that they weren’t expensive and that they were pretty easy to use.

book of hoursI came across drones again after watching Helen Mirren’s film, “Eye in the Sky.” It’s contemporary, controversial and exciting. I thought they would add a thrilling dimension to my novel but I needed to understand their capabilities in order to work them into my narrative – and find out how and where I could use them in the relative scenes.

My latest crime thriller, “Book of Hours,” follows the protagonist Mikky dos Santos. In the novel, Mikky uses a Phantom 4 to help her navigate a pathway through a web of lies and deceit. Continue reading How “Book of Hours” author Janet Pywell used a drone to write her newest book

Connectivity issues and the concerns no one is talking about around drone delivery

The following piece is a guest post by telecommunications specialist George Smith.

By now it’s pretty clear that Amazon’s master plan to take their delivery services to the skies via drone isn’t going to be easy. There are issues around flying beyond line of site, implementing obstacle sensors to avoid collisions, and getting regulatory approval. But there’s a completely different issue that no one is talking about: connectivity.

Maintaining a strong and stable internet connection

Since delivery drones would fly autonomously rather than have a designated pilot, each drone needs to have the ability to send and receive information to air traffic control instantaneously so they know which parts of the air to avoid. To do that, Amazon’s drones will likely utilize a mixture of Wi-Fi and cellular connectivity.

Cellular connectivity will likely be delivered using roaming M2M SIM cards. M2M (machine to machine) means the communication between two or more devices without need for human interaction; in most cases this communication is in the form of data exchanges over a cellular network. These SIM cards allow technologies like drones to monitor networks for the best connection wherever they are in the country.

Battery life of drones

But with M2M SIM cards comes another obstacle: battery power. Although M2M can provide drones with connectivity, they can also be power-thirsty if exchanging large amounts of data. A potential solution? Low-powered wide-area networks, also known as LPWAN. LPWAN is a type of wireless telecommunication network designed to allow long range communications at a low bit rate, meaning they are extremely power efficient.

Although LPWAN services such as SigFox and LoRa are becoming more widely available, they aren’t yet being implemented in technology that flies — but that doesn’t mean they never will.

Managing drone GPS connections

As well as a strong internet connection, delivery drones require GPS signals to pinpoint their location and allow the companies to monitor the locations of their drones. But as drones fly farther away, with ‘beyond the line of sight’ comes greater risk of a dropped GPS signal. Continue reading Connectivity issues and the concerns no one is talking about around drone delivery

What is FPV freestyle, and how is it different than drone racing?

The following piece is a guest post by FPV drone pilot BMac. Check out his YouTube Channel BMac FPV or his website FPV Drone Pro.

FPV drone racing is blazing a path to becoming the next big E-sport of the world.

While drone racing has been happening for years, some say drone racing became an official sport in 2016 when the Drone Racing League pitted the world’s best drone pilots against each other in high speed obstacle courses and hosted a Drone Nationals event. DRL recently received sponsorship from Allianz insurance to solidify a new 6 race series in major venues across the globe called “The Allianz World Championships.”

But before flying through extravagant obstacle courses, the people who are now professional drone racing pilots started out doing tricks and maneuvers in places they thought looked cool or offered challenging architecture.  This is the heart and soul of FPV Freestyle.

What is FPV Freestyle?

While drone racing simply involves completing an obstacle race course in the fastest possible time, FPV freestyle involves navigating tight corners, under trees, around obstacles and through small openings all while doing tricks. Pilots must do all that while having an understanding of their spatial positioning to avoid hitting the ground while doing a power loop or clip a race gate.

Below is a list of the suggested trick difficulties from the drone national championships official rules.  Each trick is awarded points based on difficulty. Continue reading What is FPV freestyle, and how is it different than drone racing?

The complete starter’s guide to FPV flying

The following is a guest post by David over at SkilledFlyer.com. He’s got tons of drone news, tutorials and reviews. Check out his site!

FPV flying — you may have seen it at a MakerFaire, at a drone conference, or perhaps even on ESPN.

FPV stands for “First Person Flying,” which is when you see what your drone’s camera sees in real time. Imagine it like a first-person video game, except you’re interacting with the real world.

What Are the Benefits to FPV Flying?

Traditionally, people would fly drones by line-of-sight. But this has some drawbacks. First, you’re limited to flying within a relatively short distance. When you fly via FPV, you can fly very far away (sometimes up to several miles). With a model like the Syma X8C, you can only fly as far as your eyes will let you.

A post shared by Zoe FPV (@zoefpv) on

Secondly, FPV flying is much more immersive. It’s a great feeling being able to see what your drone’s camera sees as you fly. For maximum impressiveness, it’s recommended that you go with FPV goggles over a standard FPV transmitter display. Trust me- it’s way better. Continue reading The complete starter’s guide to FPV flying

Drones will now keep your home safe

The following guest post was submitted by Chris Schneider of Awesome-Drones.com. Check out his site here.

At January’s Consumer Electronics Show, interactive home security company “Alarm” announced it is working on a smart drone that monitors your house. No, it’s not something straight out of the movie flubber where that little yellow flying drone called “ weebo “ flies around and monitors the house.

The idea behind this smart drone is that if an indoor motion sensor picks up movement while the homeowner is sleeping, the drone takes off and flies to that location, while you stay in bed and monitor the whole thing from your smartphone.

Alarm is not alone in using drones for home security. Other startups including Sunflower Labs, Secom Co and Eighty Nine Robotics from Chicago are starting to develop these automated security drones, though none of those are able to function indoors.

Alarm’s system is tailored to both indoors and outdoors, according to Dan Kerzner which is the Chief Product Officer. The drone is based on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Flight platform.  The drone also doesn’t fly around the property 24/7 (as that would be costly and potentially dangerous and annoying), but instead is only enabled to fly after the hours the user designates.

Once triggered, it flies to the location and starts recording and live streaming back to your phone. Of course, the sight of a loud, flying object coming closer might be enough to scare off intruders.

The following guest post was submitted by Chris Schneider of Awesome-Drones.com.

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