At the beginnings of drones, only military personnel had access to them. However, today you can get your very own personal drone for both fun and work. Simply put, a personal drone is a small device that you can fly around in different areas.
Each drone is moved with the help of a controller and, as long as the device is in range, the user can perform a series of impressive acrobatics, which is quite great. Actually, you can think of a drone like it as a personal remote-controlled plane but with a stronger body.
The most noteworthy part of a drone is that it can come with a camera on the inside or you can use a mounting feature to fit a camera onto its body. This camera will be used to record all sorts of things that you might want to shoot. You can use this to get birds-eye views over areas like construction sites, roads and other properties of interest to you.
Best of all, it can all work in HD quality so you will end up with great footage that can be used in presentations and other activities.
Even more, drones have long been used by professional entities for surveillance and monitoring use. For instance, they have been used for identifying land plots that may be used for future building or park projects. They have been used to help with taking topographic images of different surfaces and some drones are even made to work as cameras for film shoots.
Today you can get your own personal flying device to work for you. Whether you want to use it for your own professional needs or just as a recreational item to have fun with, there are plenty of great drones that you can look forward to.
Best of all, these drones aren’t too tough to control as you can use a simple controller mechanism on one of these to get it going in the air. Still, you must be aware of the laws that come with using such a device. The five options you will read about in just a moment are legal to operate based on the US laws but you will need to especially ensure you’re not flying your drone in an interdicted area.
Five personal options to choose
Yuneec Q500 Typhoon Quadcopter
The Yuneec Q500 Typhoon is a well-built option that makes for one of the best personal flying devices you can get in that it features a 1080p 60 FPS HD camera. This works with its own gimbal to help with rotating the camera around in a variety of positions. The three-axis gimbal is located in the middle and houses the camera lens in a strong body.
This also comes with an ST10 personal ground station, a controller that allows you to carefully control the drone and make it work properly. It even comes with a link to the camera to help you see where the personal drone is. Everything is carefully organized to where you don’t have to assemble far too many items beforehand to make the drone work and fly.
The Q500 uses a ten-channel 2.4GHz transmitter that also works with a 5.6GHz video downlink. This will move the streaming video that is being recorded on the quadcopter camera into the ST10 transmitter.
The quad works with a series of evenly-spaced rotors placed on the body and the arrangement especially ensures that the drone will be balanced properly. The landing gears on the side are also equipped with reinforced materials to ensure that the quadcopter will land properly and not experience any sudden jolts or other impacts as it gets on the ground.
The quad can work for about ten to twenty minutes at a time. It can work a little longer if it moves slowly. A separate battery is included with the drone alongside a charging station that helps to get all of one’s batteries up and running as quickly as possible.
If you think that this model could be useful for you, then make sure you also read our Yuneec Q500 Typhoon in-depth review.
DJI Phantom Aerial UAV Drone
DJI made this drone with GoPro camera technology in mind to make it easier for you to take HD-quality images in the air. Specifically, it has a holder in the middle to allow you to fit a standard GoPro camera into the unit without being at risk of the camera falling out.
This drone works with a quadcopter arrangement that produces horizontal speeds of up to 22 miles per hour. It runs quickly so you can capture any fast-moving scene from the air.
The device uses an advanced GPS positioning feature that will identify light winds and will adjust the flight pattern based on the controller’s commands. This ensures that the drone will move properly without being influenced far too much by the wind.
A fail-safe feature is also included on the Phantom. This will identify the position where it took off from thanks to its GPS positioning feature. If the connection to the transmitter is ever lost, the Phantom will fly and land back at the starting point.
This safely allows the drone to return and not be at risk of being lost if you end up losing control for whatever reason. The GPS feature uses the Naza-M autopilot system which allows you to adjust the direction. You can use software (that can be downloaded) to link up directly to the drone and guide it.
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Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 Quadcopter
The Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 is a unique-looking drone that uses a series of rotors evenly placed apart from each other to create a strong sense of balance. The quad runs with four 15W electric brushless motors and works with up to twelve minutes of flight time. To do that, it needs a three-cell lithium polymer battery that can be charged up in about ninety minutes.
The most noteworthy part of this cute quad is the on-board Wi-Fi system. This means that the drone can be controlled by a variety of Android and iOS devices and you can use the accelerometer feature on a typical Android or iOS item to move the device around while the camera feed can be reviewed right off of your device in real-time.
Several gyroscopes are included alongside a three-axis accelerometer and are used to keep the drone stable while in the air. It will also adjust its rotors when it identifies small wind gusts, thus ensuring that it will not be influenced by the wind far too much. For a much better insight on this model’s characteristics and features, we suggest checking out our Parrot AR. Drone 2.0 review.
3D Robotics IRIS+ Plus
The IRIS+ Plus from 3D Robotics features the Tarot 2 Axis Brushless Gimbal to link up to a GoPro camera. You will have to supply this camera on your own but the design of the quadcopter makes it so you can easily hook it up to its body.
The gimbal feature allows you to position the body of the camera as you hook it up so it can be moved around by your wireless controller that comes with the drone kit.
This operates with a rechargeable battery that can handle about 15 to 20 minutes of flight time on a single charge and can be recharged in a little over an hour.
A voltage checker is even included with the battery to help you test it to ensure that it is getting a full charge. This will also tell you if you need to go out and get a new battery to replace the old one.
The Pixhawk Autopilot feature is a popular part of this personal drone. This uses a series of redundant power supply inputs to ensure that enough energy can move into the drone and that the connection between the drone and the controller can be maintained. This works with a 915 MHz frequency to ensure an added range and to keep a strong connection running at all times.
The drone weighs about ten pounds on a reinforced frame and the rotors are evenly placed on the corners to create a balanced look. You can find out much more about this interesting model by reading our 3DR Iris+ in-depth review.
Dromida Kodo UAV Quadcopter
Those who are looking for a more basic model can use the Dromida Kodo UAV quadcopter for their personal drone needs. This is an RTF model that uses a small embedded camera in the middle of its body.
This can work with 720×480 video files but it can also take 1280×960 still JPEG images that are stored on an SD card. These features make this quad a better fit for beginners who are looking to learn how to get drones to work for them. A USB port is also included to power up the battery.
The 3.7V Li-Po battery will last for about 10 to 20 minutes at a time before it has to be recharged through a USB port. The four separate rotors are split between black and white colors to make it easier for people to distinguish what particular blades need to be added onto the drone, thus ensuring that you can get the drone to fly properly.
This is also a very lightweight model. It weighs a little less than a pound and is about 9 inches in length at its longest side. The 2.4GHz radio will allow for a careful link to make it easier for the drone to be controlled without the connection being lost at any time.
This drone is clearly best for those who are relatively new to the field and want something to try out when seeing how the field works.
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Who should buy this?
Drones for personal use are an ideal product for those who want to take videos or still images, for either amateur or professional use. Also, a drone will be perfect for people who want to review different sites for all sorts of purposes.
Maybe you want to review a large park site as a means of planning an event or you want to look at a massive plot to see if you can complete a particular construction project out there. No matter what your demands might be, you can use a drone to review items from up in the air.
Of course, drones may also be used for surveillance purposes as a mean of identifying items in your area and looking to see if there are any security risks close by. You should ask for permission if you plant to use this device in a public, populated area. However, if you use it on your own property, no permission is required.
You don’t need to get a camera added to the drone if you don’t have an interest in doing so. Therefore, you could always buy one of these if you just want to fly something a hobby. Still, this is a great option for those who want an aerial vehicle that can be used for practice or commercial purposes.
How old should you be?
It is true that a drone is like a traditional remote controlled vehicle in that it can work with a simple controller mechanism that you can hold in your hands. However, a drone may be a little more complicated, what with all those added control features all around the place. These additional features include controls relating to getting a camera to run.
With that in mind, drones for personal use are best suited for older kids. Kids who are about 14 years of age or older can use these drones for their own interests. As a responsible parent, you need to make sure they are aware of the legal considerations that come with getting such a toy.
What are the rules?
A drone for personal use will be subjected to a number of regulations that must always be followed. First, you have to ensure that you register a drone (if necessary). Keep in mind that small drones are not required to be registered so check the conditions before filling out the form.
In addition, you must make sure your drone can be flown within a proper distance. It needs to be flown below 400 feet in the air and should be clear of all sorts of obstacles. You must also avoid flying this near an airport; specifically, you have to avoid using it within five to ten miles of an airport.
You can contact an airport and its control tower beforehand if you plan on operating one nearby but you have to ensure the airport is aware of this every time you plan on using it.
The aircraft must also be lightweight so it will not pose a threat to other people. The FAA states that your drone has to be less than 55 pounds in weight. Fortunately, the drones that were listed here are all below that total and in some cases a little less than ten pounds each.
What will it cost?
Such a drone could end up being rather expensive and the final cost depends on the types of activity you want to perform. The cost ranges from just about $30 to a few hundred dollars or even more. It’s all up to you. For instance, the Yuneec Q500 Typhoon will cost close to $700 while the Parrot will cost closer to $1,000.
Also, the camera that is built into some of these drones will add to the overall value. The cheapest drones tend to be ones that don’t have cameras, but you can always add a GoPro to your drone to create an HD-ready display. However, this means extra money for the camera. GoPro cameras can cost about $120 or more on average, with the more powerful ones costing more money.
Buying guide: Features you need to consider
As entertaining a drone can be, you need to look carefully as each individual option comes with different specs. You must look around carefully to see what you can get when looking for a drone that is effective and unique.
How is the controller?
The controller for your personal drone should be easy to use and manage. Your controller has to be one that uses a series of carefully organized controls that aren’t too complicated to understand. A controller may come with a video link that will show you what the camera on your drone sees.
For instance, the Q500 Typhoon will particularly show you how the camera on your device is working.
What does the camera offer?
If applicable, the camera on your drone should be checked to see how well it can work. The less expensive drones like the Dromida Kodo will come with smaller non-HD camera features that aren’t all that strong. Meanwhile, the more valuable options will certainly work with HD-ready setups that are easy to use.
In some cases you won’t have a built-in camera. The 3D Robotics drone is a vivid example, but it does come equipped with a mounting feature that allows you to secure an external camera. This could prove to be effective but you must make sure the camera is mounted properly and that it will not become loose as you are in the air.
General body design & connection
The body is one of the most important pieces of a drone and it should be sturdy and easy to maneuver. Make sure the materials used are durable and that your drone’s body won’t come apart at the first bump it has with the walls.
Be sure to also look and see if there are any special connection features on your drone. You might come across a great GPS feature like what the DJI Phantom uses.
The Phantom uses a GPS connection that identifies where the drone took off from so it can move there if the drone’s overall connection with the controller is lost. Be sure to check carefully to see that the connection is strong enough so it won’t get lost a few meters away from the base.
Can it carry anything?
There’s always the potential for you to use a mounting feature on one of these drones to carry items around. However, these mounting features are typically limited to where you can only use a drone to carry a small camera. Considering how lightweight GoPro cameras are, it is best to stick with just using one of these cameras on a drone.
Still, it does help to at least look to see what the overall weight capacity of your drone might be so you can determine if it will be safe to carry something around on it. Remember, there is a weight limit of 55 pounds on these drones no matter where you fly it.
Not sure which model to buy?
After we discussed the best models on the market and their most important features, the conclusion is quite clear: drones designed for personal use must be easy to handle and should work with great cameras, whether they are built-in or external.
You must make sure you know how to control a drone as well. The simple control mechanism that can come with a drone must be checked based on not only how you can move it but also how well the drone can compensate for any slight gusts of wind that might be felt.
The strength of the drone is just as important. You need to find something with a strong battery while also using a secure connection between the drone and your controller. Anything that works with an easy to handle frame helps too as the frame needs to be sturdy enough so it won’t crack apart easily.
With all these points in mind, there are a few pros and cons that you need to look into when finding a drone for your personal use:
- A drone is easy to transport as it is small and nimble.
- These devices can be piloted to all sorts of places.
- The control features make it easier for you to keep the device in the air as you can quickly move one up and down.
- A camera can be added to your drone provided that there it didn’t came with a built-in camera
- There are plenty of restrictions out there for flying drones including limits on where it can be flown, how high up it can go and how much it can weigh.
- It might be a challenge to control a camera and the drone itself at the same time.
- You must keep the drone within eyesight and that you shouldn’t have anything getting in the way of your connection. This is to ensure that it will not be at risk of flying away from you without control.
- Some drones might be quite expensive
A personal drone can be an entertaining product to have as you can use it to take pictures, record events and aerial videos, or just have a bit of fun with flying it. Be sure you look around to see what types of drones are available and that you can find something that suits your needs and budget.