Whether you're looking for learning the basics of what drones are or if there's any difference between the terms drone, UAV, or quadcopter, this video is the perfect place to start.
If you're instead just looking to buy a drone, you can check my top cheap drones sorted by price .
In aviation and in space, a drone refers to an unpiloted aircraft or spacecraft, another very popular name for it is UAV, also known as "unmanned aerial vehicle".
Other names for the common drone would include RPAS (Remotely Piloted Aircraft System) or SUAS (Small unmanned Aircraft system).
In this section I’m going over the main drone terms you might stumble upon and what you need to know to be a successful pilot. This list will include some FAA terminology that is absolutely necessary for any test anywhere in the world.
After this section, we’ll go more in depth for some of the terms on this list, including some of the drone acronyms and even help you pick the best drone for your money.
V, W, Y
In this section, we’re taking a look at the types of UAV out there and get a bit deeper into drone terminology and acronyms.
You've all heard about military drones that made a bit of a bad reputation for common commercial UAVs in general.
However we're not going to discuss those right now. We’ll only focus on consumer camera drones(even professional ones)e
The most prevalent out of the bunch, and definitely the most popular, Multirotor Drones are the most common types, used by professionals and hobbyists. They are mostly used in aerial photography, video surveillance, inspection and much much more!
As a point of reference, the longest flying multi Rotor Drones can stay for 20-30 minutes in the air at one time.
These multi rotor drones can also be further classified based on how many motors they have into the following categories:
The most frequently used model, being very power efficient and handling great, it's no wonder it's the choice of most manufacturers out there. Having 4 motors, they adjust the speed at which the motors spin thanks to ESC, also known as electronic speed controllers that connect to a main computer board.
There are drones that can indeed fly with less than 4 motors, very rare, as they are prone to a bit more instability. What's even more, there are also bi copters, which reminds me of the really cool new drone called V-copter Falcon that's been recently revealed. I plan to review this one of these days, as it's so damn cool looking And that one flies for 50 minutes which is well above everything we've been used to.
Check out my article on tricopter vs quadcopter and what tricopter kits to buy.
They have 6 rotors are provide a little bit more redundancy and power to the mix. This is what you'll find in drones that are able to carry bigger cameras, maybe DSLRs and such. They are also used for inspection work and even for agriculture use, you can check my guide on the best hexacopters and how they compare to quadcopters or octocopters.
The big boys with 8 rotors included are the top of the game for raw power and redundancy.
Don't think that planes can't be called drones, as you can remember, the only conditions are that it flies and doesn't have an on board pilot.
Some of these fixed-wing drones can fly for 16 hours or more, especially if you have solar panels installed on the wings. If you're curious what the range would be in this case... well.. theoretically infinite.
Drones can use 4G LTE signal to fly, just like your phone gets internet data, for example. There's this YouTuber Dustin Dunhill that tested such a mode with the Parrot Disco to travel from one island to the other and actually succeeded. You can do so much more with the right equipment though.
Also known as VTOL, are a very interesting hybrid between the previous two, as they can take off like regular drones , yet engage into gliding like fixed wing drones while they reach a certain altitude or speed.
This allows for improving battery limits while benefiting from the stillness and stability of standard drones. It's a complicated design mix, so don't expect to see much of these types on the market soon.
As a point of reference, Amazon was planning to make theri drones in a VTOL shape, being able to glide for more efficiency yet still land precisely on a location.
There's also Single-rotor drones that are basically like helicopters, they have a heavier payload capacity and have the ability to hover flight, but come with the disadvantage of being more dangerous and harder to fly.
You can check the article in the description where I have a table with the pros and cons of each type of drone we talked about so far. You can also find out my top quadcopters for each price category, including for beginners.
Let's talk a bit more about Multirotor drones and quadcopters for that matter. Because that's what most people refer to when it comes to a drone and it's the most frequently found in commerce.
A drone can look very different depending on how many motors it has, whether it has a camera or not, how big it is, etc.
There's a recent trend in consumer drones that was started with the DJI Mavic lineup of drones that are called foldable drones, and they're very popular thanks to their portability.
First of all, there are mini drones, that are small in size, made for indoors and beginners mainly. They can be considered toy drones, but some can be quite advanced, despite their size. A drone that's small in size is the Mavic Mini, that also is a great camera drone with an amazing camera... so size is no longer such an important factor.
Hobby drones are mid-sized drones that are popular among beginner hobbyists who want to take flying a drone more seriously. These types of multicopters are ideal for those with some experience in handling drones. Many hobby drones come with cameras or have mechanisms for camera attachments.
One of the most unique ways to use a drone to complement another hobby is by rigging up a fishing drone (simpler than you might thing).
These are usually under $200 or so, and although much progress has been made, they're still not on the professional level required for making money with them.
Professional drones are high-end aircraft with four or more propellers or rotors. Many of these types of drones are used for professional aerial photography and videography. As such, they already have built-in high-definition cameras. They often have a better range and longer flight times.
These drones come with impeccable 3 axis stabilization gimbals, brushless motors and automatic flight modes. The barrier of entry has lowered substantially in the past years, now being able to get such a drone for about $500. But of course there are advantages of paying more for one.
Racing drones are relatively smaller types of quadcopters. These are built to be faster and more agile than the typical hobby or professional drone. They also include a built-in camera that provides first-person view video feeds that provide a cockpit view as the craft flies through courses and obstacles.
This is a more in depth look at some of the terms above as well as some of the questions people usually ask about drones, like: what's the difference between a drone and a quadcopter.
People tend to confuse these two because most drones out there are quadcopters. The difference between a drone and a quadcopter is that the quadcopter HAS to have 4 motors, while “drone” refers mainly to any category of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, even if it has 3, 4, 6 or however many motors.
If we talk about standard motorized drones like quadcopters that you can frequently find in the sky (ex DJI) then what you need to know is that it is propelled by fast spinning rotors that push air under the drone and lift it up.
You require a pilot to fly the drone and control it through a transmitter that sends the signals to a mainboard which in turn controls the speed of each motor.
For example, if the motors in front spin slower than the ones in the back, the quadcopter(in this case) tilts forward and therefore it advances forward.
The more a drone is tilted, the less power is used for helping it stay in the air and the more it is used for propelling it forward (or laterally).
Certain drones come with a camera that can livestream video directly on a controller screen or even your smartphone.
I know I talked about things like Brushless motors and 3 axis what? There's the glossary with the terms in the description, but let's go over quickly.
Brushless motors are superior to Brushed motors in every way, but they're also more expensive.
Brushes inside electric motors are used to deliver current to the motor, brushless motors don't have these commutators. This means that the Brushed motors are in perpetual physical contact with the shaft and brushes and they wear out. This makes them also noisier.
You can find brushed motors in cheaper beginner drones, under $100 usually, and brushless motors are found in more expensive drones.
Gimbals are usually found in professional camera drones and are a series of motors that help stabilize the camera, independent of how the drone moves or vibrates. This is what creates those silky smooth videos you see on youtube.
A 3 axis gimbal has 3 motors that stabilizes the image in all the 3 axis, a 2 axis gimbal doesn't usually have side stabilization and tend to be slightly cheaper.
Because this is quite a sophisticated system, they're not that cheap, so expect adding at least $100 to $200 to the price of a drone if it has one of these (especially good ones).
Electronic image stabilization is an alternative or addition to the 3 axis gimbal stabilization, and means that the image is stabilized through a software inside the drone. This is usually a compromise, as it has to cut down from the final image size, to compensate for all the movement.
Although EIS made huge progress lately, nothing can compare with a good 3 axis gimbal.
Another term that has been used more recently is obstacle avoidance system, thanks to the largest drone manufacturing company, DJI.
They have included cameras on their drones to provide alerts for objects in proximity and even actually calculate a new trajectory for the drone.
These can be found either in front of the drone, or lately in the back, sides and even up or down.
The term Ready To Fly comes from the hobby drone enthusiasts mainly and makes the difference on how a drone can be bought from the store.
You can get it fully functional from the box, like most commercial drones (DJI for example)
A type of battery technology that is favored by many drone manufacturers because of its lightweight and high-capacity charging. While it is generally safe, LiPo’s can burst in flames when overcharged or the polymer case is broken.
I tried to cover as much as possible for the most important aspects of a drone, but there's only as much as I can cover in a video. If you want to check out a few more dozens terms that will make you understand things better, check the description.
You'll learn what things like throttle, jello and Geofencing are and much more
There is a wide range of drones and flight distances depending on price, transmission technology and more.
A drone can fly anywhere between 50m to 10km or more. I have made a list with my top long range drones this year and more about range and what you should know about it.
Keep in mind that you should follow drone regulation in your country and most of the time that means flying line of sight.
My top heavy lift drones, also compared in an infographic to see which ones are the largest. Let's find how much weight can a drone carry!
What is a fixed wing drone and which ones are the best fixed wing UAVs you can buy now? This article will cover every type of drone plane for sale and more.
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