Frequently Asked Questions
In this section we'll answer all questions related to the above article:
If you've flown your drone for a while, then you're probably familiar with the dreaded "low signal" prompt on your flight app...
You hate it, I hate it, every pilot hates it. And it seems the consensus is to "just get a better drone"... Luckily for you, however, you don't have to do that.
Because as you're about to see in this article, you can increase your drone's range (and signal) for free, or for dirt cheap.
Before we dive in deep, it makes sense to ask the obvious question: is it even possible? Here are the facts.
Increasing a drone’s range is definitely possible. There are different types of additional equipment, like signal boosters, available on the market for this very purpose. However, not all of them offer the results you may be looking for.
The range can also be increased without spending an extra amount. One way to do this is by modifying the drone itself, which I’ll get on to later in this article.
It’s clear how annoying signal loss can be, but this problem isn’t random in nature. In fact, numerous factors affect how far a drone can fly without issues like flying multiple drones at a time, signal interference etc.
The range of a drone is largely determined by the frequency used and the surroundings. The latter refers to the amount of interference caused by other obstacles and sources. Other factors are to do with the technicalities of the drone itself.
External factors that can interfere with a drone's signal are:
Now, which parts of a drone actually play a role in this? These three technical aspects are always considered when determining the range:
One factor that may seem a little obvious, but is often overlooked, is the battery life. A drone with the technical capability of flying to distant points isn’t uncommon. But if it’s equipped with a small battery, the drone definitely won’t be making the trip back.
If you're having issues connecting the controller to the drone it might mean that there can be a faulty hardware or software issue stopping you from reaching max range, so check out my guide on how to solve the issue of a drone that won't connect to the controller properly.
It’s important to take in most of these factors if you’re a pilot yourself. Having to find a lost drone is a mission in itself, which really isn’t fun to be part of.
When talking about fixing signal-related issues, range extenders are always part of the conversation. But do they deserve the time of your day? More importantly, do they even work?
Drone range extenders, or signal boosters, do work as they’re advertised. They generally increase the range of communication by 15% at the very least. However, the results can vary depending on the drone and the type of range extender used.
These devices are generally pretty cheap and give you a lot of bang for the buck. Users have even reported around 30% more range.
But if you don’t mind getting a little creative, you can also make one yourself for free! This YouTube video does a great job explaining how you could do so.
By the way, it’s still important to properly analyze your situation. You might find other reasons as to why your drone’s range is so short.
We now know that range extenders are worth the money or effort. But if you truly want to maximise your drone’s range potential, you’ll have to focus on the little details.
So, how do you go about doing that? Let’s take a look.
You can increase the range of your drone by modifying it to prioritise distance, reducing overall interference from other frequency sources, and ensuring the surroundings suit a long-range flight. Additionally, investing in a good-quality range extender can always prove to be beneficial.
We’ve already discussed the use of range extenders, but let’s dive a little deeper into the other ways that can boost your drone’s signal. Before we do this, keep in mind that poor drone signal can be a cause for bad drone footage too, so check out my fixes in case your drone footage is choppy.
In this case, interference refers to the disrupting of a drone signal due to other sources of frequency. These sources could be power lines, routers, or even phones.
Fortunately, there’s a one-step solution to this: fly higher.
As a drone gains altitude, the interference is reduced as it moves away from other travelling signals. This strengthens the overall connection and hence, increases the range.
But remember not to get too excited! You still need to keep your drone within the regulations set in your region.
Besides removing frequency sources, it’s important to analyse your surroundings in general.
You’ll have to make sure there are zero hindering obstacles for a drone to fly at its maximum potential. These could include buildings, trees, hills, or crowds of people.
So, if you have a busy setting in mind, you might want to think of an alternative.
An open field is generally considered ideal for drone flight, as there aren’t any obstacles that could block the transmission of a signal.
It may be a bit obvious not to fly a drone in a thunderstorm. But in this case, the weather conditions refer to a bit more than that.
The capability of most drones reduces when they’re used in thick fog or air with high moisture content. This inevitably messes with the connection and reduces the range.
Therefore, checking the weather conditions for your flight date is a good measure to take. Drones generally fly the farthest on a sunny day.
As we mentioned before, antennas play a big part in determining the range. Now, how do you make sure they’re doing their job properly?
Most drone pilots that are new try positioning the remote antenna towards the drone in an attempt to strengthen the signal.
This is a common misconception, and it does not work. Instead, make sure the antenna is pointing directly towards the sky.
Additionally, investing in an antenna extender may also result in an improved range.
Make sure to frequently update your drone and controller's firmware and software. Manufacturers release new updates that can make your drone's signal stronger and more stable, increase its flying range, and enhance its overall performance.
These updates often fix bugs and add new features, helping your drone to fly more efficiently and safely. Keeping your drone's software up-to-date is a simple but effective way to ensure you get the best experience from your device.
This one’s a bit more technical, so it’s naturally geared towards the more experienced pilots who’re serious about their affairs.
You’ll need to make sure the antenna within the drone is positioned under it, so the battery isn’t functioning as a blocker.
And lastly, be on the lookout for a more powerful transmitter. More power will directly result in an amplified range.
To make your drone fly farther, only connect a few things like your phone or tablet to its Wi-Fi. If you connect too many devices, the drone might not be able to go as far. This is because the Wi-Fi gets weaker when it has to work for lots of devices at the same time. It's like trying to talk to someone far away in a noisy room – it's much harder to hear them.
So, if you keep the number of connected devices low, your drone can go further away from you without losing its connection. The Wi-Fi signal stays strong and clear, just for the drone.
This means you can control the drone from a longer distance, and it won't lose touch with you or get stuck. It's a simple way to enjoy flying your drone over a bigger area.
Ensuring a reliable WiFi connection is vital for seamless drone flying. Signal interruptions can impact control and video quality.
Devices are available in the market to enhance WiFi signals. One effective method is using a WiFi repeater system. The primary function of a repeater is to amplify and retransmit the signal, which can considerably increase the drone's range. However, setting up this system might be complex for some pilots.
Benefits for Beginner Drones: WiFi repeaters are especially beneficial for beginner drones, which often have limited range. A YouTube video is available that explains the entire process of setting up and using a WiFi repeater with a drone.
Understanding WiFi Frequencies: It's crucial to consider WiFi frequencies when operating drones. The two main frequencies used are 2.4 GHz and 5.8 GHz. The 2.4 GHz frequency offers longer range, while 5.8 GHz provides faster transmission.
Choosing the Right Frequency: Selecting the appropriate frequency is essential. Use 2.4 GHz for long-range flights, and consider 5.8 GHz for more stable connections in areas with high signal traffic.
Now, things are different if we talk about flying FPV. This is because video signals are evidently more difficult to transmit as compared to the usual one-dimensional signals.
So, how exactly do you improve the connection and establish a longer range?
You can increase your drone’s FPV range by setting up a proper video and control system. This includes using lower frequency options and increasing the battery capacity. You’ll also have to carry with you extra gear and equipment to use for replacements.
Here are a few pointers to get you started:
Once you’re done with your setup, make sure you also have extra replacement parts. These include transmitters, antennas, cameras, batteries, and SD cards.
Let’s talk specifically about DJI. Are things any different when using their drones in particular?
DJI’s OcuSync technology already does a great job at ensuring a strong connection over a super long distance. However, there’s still room for improvement.
You can boost your DJI drone’s signal by using signal boosters especially designed for a DJI drone model. These can, surprisingly, double the range of communication. They are cheap, compact, and easy to use - making them a popular choice.
Some of the top signal boosters for DJI drones include the ones produced by Threeking, Skyreat, and RC Geek.
And if you’re still sceptical about the whole thing, this YouTube video shows an easy-to-follow test that will likely clear up your doubts.
We’ve talked about everything to do with increasing a drone’s range. But to be honest, those were all things you won’t have to worry about if you break the bank for the right drone.
These drones come with an exceptional range straight out of the box. Let’s take a look at which one tops the leaderboard.
The consumer drone with the longest range is the DJI Air 2S, which is capable of a remarkable 12km. On the other hand, the Albatross has a whopping 100 km of range which makes it the longest-ranged fixed-wing drone. Military drones, like HALE, trump both and have an indefinite range.
Drones that use a frequency of 1.2 GHz can fly further than the Air 2s, but those fall under the commercial category and are even illegal in some states.
If you’re interested in more detail, you might want to check out my article on the best long-range drones sorted by their price and max range.
When choosing a long-range drone, consider these key factors:
To wrap it all up, you can easily push your drone a lot further than what is advertised.
You can make your drone fly farther by using a compatible signal booster, modifying its settings, and using the right type of environment for drone flight. Put simply, the goal is to make sure there is no interruption with the signal.
As long as you follow these measures the right way, you’ll end up with a safely upgraded flight experience.
In this section we'll answer all questions related to the above article:
The best position for a drone antenna is upright, away from any metal parts or other electronic components. This helps in getting a clear signal.
To increase your drone's endurance, use a battery with higher capacity, reduce the drone's weight, and ensure efficient propeller design. Also, fly in calm weather to conserve energy.
To increase your drone camera's range, consider using a higher quality camera with better zoom capabilities. Also, ensure a strong and stable connection between the drone and its controller.
To make your drone signal stronger, keep the controller's antenna properly positioned, avoid physical obstructions, and consider using a signal booster or range extender.
If drones go out of range, they may lose connection with the controller. Many drones have a 'return to home' feature that activates automatically. Otherwise, the drone may hover or land if it loses the signal. Always keep your drone within sight to avoid this issue.