Thursday, 4 December 2014

The Twelve Drones of Christmas

On the First day of Christmas my true love sent to me a … the best products on the planet from 2014!

Twelve Drones of Christmas
The personal drones industry is supersonic and have picked their favorites for the holiday season

1. Quadcopter Q4 Nano

Probably the smallest you can buy ready to fly with flight times around 5 mins. Has 3 flight sensitivity settings: low, medium and high for doing aerial and side flips. Recommend flying in the dark as the bright LEDs light up the room like a Christmas Tree!
Quadcopter Q4 Nano

2. Hubsan X4 HD

A great low cost robust little starter drone quadcopter with HD 2MP Camera
Hubsan X4  HD

3. Hubsan X4 H107D FPV

Affordable unit, providing out of the box basic first person view (FPV) starter drone where you can see what your drone sees using the all-in-one controller
Hubsan X4 H107D FPV

4. Blade 180 QX HD ready to fly (RTF)

Recommended by Award-Winning Aerial Photographer as a low cost starter drone for Aerial photography the Blade 180 QX HD RTF - a great drone to fly!
Blade 180 QX HD ready to fly (RTF)

5. Parrot AR Drone 2.0 Elite

Control using your smartphone or tablet, full feature set including required software a great safe way to step up to the next level. Company Parrot offers a range of next generation drones targeting the general consumer market.
Parrot AR Drone 2.0 Elite

6. Quanum Nova

re-branded by Hobby King originally CX-20 Auto-Pathfinder by Cheerson
A fantastic drone quadcopter providing basic to advanced features and outperforms any drone for the price. Note will require some detailed expert knowledge to use advanced features (see links)
 Quanum Nova

7. walkera QR X350 PRO

The Walkera QR X350 PRO with DEVO F7 FPV Quadcopter offers complete out of the box solution without having to buy separate parts and generally costs less than most DJI drones offering similar product features.
walkera QR X350 PRO

8. dji phantom vision 2 plus

The ultimate all-in-one consumer drone with advanced software, easy to fly and comes with a price tag to match
dji phantom vision 2 plus

9. 3DR IRIS+

The Iris+ personal drone by 3D Robotics (CEO Chris Anderson) is all you need to start seeing and sharing your world from above. Designed with the experience and knowledge of and now the financial backing of Richard Branson there is no better platform on the market to fulfil real drone application for consumer and professional

10. X8+ Drone 3DR's Power House Octocopte

3DR's X8+ drone, a powerful aerial workhorse built with quality components, modular design with payload capacity and autonomous delivery capabilities at an affordable price.
X8+ Drone 3DR's Power House Octocopter

11. walkera Scout X4 Drone

Scout X4 drone quadcopter by walkera packed with features including changing from quadcopter 4 motors to octocopter 8 motors, real time telemetry and flight times up to 25 mins
walkera Scout X4 Drone

12. dji inspire 1

DJI’s latest advanced drone, carbon fiber arms lift out of sight, 360 degress view, 4K video and capture 12 megapixel photos, full-featured App, optional Dual-Operator Control, and Vision Positioning technology.
dji inspire 1

Monday, 17 November 2014

3 Compelling Reasons to Buy a Drone


Has the ever-increasing coverage on personal drones started you thinking “Why should I buy a drone?”
It is an understandable question.
This article is designed to give you a brief outline of three of the best reasons for deciding to buy and use a drone.

Make your recreation time fun with remote flying

The most popular reason for buying a personal drone, is for hobby flying.
Imagine taking your new drone into the countryside, and controlling its’ flight at high-speed and incredible altitude. Watching from the ground, you are amazed at the drone’s dexterity and responsiveness.
As you gain more experience and skills at flying your drone, you find that this is a hobby that increases your concentration, gives you a release of adrenaline, and also provides you with immense self-satisfaction.

Drone flying really is fun, and it is no wonder that it is a rapidly-expanding hobby around the world.
You may also want to join one of the many drone flying clubs. Becoming a member of one of these groups, means that your hobby can also connect you to new, like-minded friends.
Whatever your budget, there is an ideal drone for you. For your first purchase, we recommend checking out the Amazon Drone Store.

Take your photography to fresh and exciting heights
Are you a keen photographer? If yes, drones could be a great new tool for you.
Many drones (including the A.R. Parrot 2.0 and the DJI Inspire 1) come with onboard cameras. These cameras enable you to take both aerial still shots and video footage.
If you haven’t yet seen a video filmed from a drone, then you are likely to be amazed. It can be dramatic, epic or simply beautiful.
While we certainly wouldn’t expect you to start filming to this standard, the below video will give you an idea of what is possible:

For most photographers, drones are likely to be the next obvious step forward. They provide unique perspectives and infinite possibilities.
GoPro, are world famous for their action cameras, and it is no surprise that they are already in the drone market. One popular combination, is the DJI Phantom 2 Vision+ Quadcopter, twinned with a GoPro camera.

Launch your career into the hottest new tech industry

Virgin’s Richard Branson recently invested in drone company 3D Robotics.
He said at the time:
“When you say the word ‘drone’, most people will think about military drones, which are used for surveillance and warfare. But this increasingly affordable, easy to use technology is starting to be used around the world in many positive ways. Like to monitor endangered species, deliver healthcare to remote areas, and help manage natural disasters.”

Branson was right. Drones are set to transform our industries, environment and lifestyles.
Already, high-profile companies such as Amazon, Facebook and Google are spending big dollars on developing drone technologies.

In Amazon’s case, they wish to use drones for order delivery purposes. Facebook and Google, have set their sights on solar-powered drones that provide internet access for hard-to-reach areas.
These three examples, are just a small fraction of the potential market that drones are likely to create in the coming years.

After buying and learning to fly a drone, you may find yourself drawn to a career in this exciting new industry.
There can be no doubt, that thousands of new jobs will be produced. If you learn drone flying and filming skills now, you could give yourself the chance to join this infant, but booming enterprise.
Whether it is engineering, software development, piloting, or even drone maintenance - your skills could well be in demand.

To give you an idea, Amazon has recently started recruiting staff in the UK for their Air Prime delivery service. Advertised roles include Flight Operations Engineer and Senior Research Scientist.
If flying as a hobby leads you to consider a career in drones, then we would recommend taking a look at qualified training. In the U.S., we suggest the Unmanned Vehicle University. - The Home of Friendly Drones

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Write For Us


Passionate about friendly drones? Interested in writing?

If yes, we may be able to offer you a great opportunity.

We’re on the look out for guest writers who are also drone enthusiasts. Topics we would be especially interested in are: How to fly drones, drone reviews and industry news.

To submit a guest post to this site, please follow the instructions below. Only guest posts that meet these criteria will be considered for publishing.

  • The post must be useful to the readers of this site.
  • The post must be grammatically correct and well-written.
  • The post must be between 400 to 1000 words in length.
  • The post must not include marketing links and must not be entirely self-promotional.
  • The post may include a link to your website/blog in a brief author’s bio (approximately three sentences), which will be published at the end of the post.
  • Guest posts must be original and may not have been published elsewhere online already. All submissions will be verified for originality.

We can accept posts in either Microsoft Word, Google Docs or plain text formats.

If you’ve got what it takes to engage and inform our readers - then we’d love to hear from you!

Send your submissions to: - The Home of Friendly Drones

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

How To Fly Your Drone Safely - Part 2

If you have read Part 1 of our drone safety series, then you will know that before flying a drone, we recommend first becoming familiar with the basic operations via a flight simulator.

Assuming you are now able to successfully control a virtual drone, let’s get you prepared to fly your real drone.

No doubt you are itching to do so.

The Boring but Essential Stuff

Before flying your drone outside, you must familiarise yourself with your country’s current regulations (you should be able to find these via Google).

Typical rules include:

  • Maximum altitude of 120 metres (approx. 400 feet).
  • Maximum distance from the operator of 500 metres (approx. 1600 feet).
  • Drones should be flown at all times in the sight of the operator.
  • Drones must not be flown within 8 kilometres (5 miles) of an airport.
  • Drones must not be flown within 50 metres (approx. 160 feet) of structures, vehicles or people not under the control of the aircraft operator.

These rules are actually very sensible. You DO NOT want to lose control of your drone and be the cause of an accident.

Please always keep safety at the front of your mind.

Getting Off The Ground Safely

Just as with commercial airplanes, accidents are most likely to occur with drones on takeoff and landing.

The secret to a successful takeoff?

Firstly, make sure your drone is on a level flat surface. This is very important.

Next, ensure that your drone and transmitter batteries are fully charged. Additionally, check that the blades are able to spin freely.

Once you are satisfied that the equipment is operational, you can sync the drone and transmitter. Be sure to keep a good distance away from the drone before starting the motors.

You’re ready to fly!

If you have practised sufficiently on the flight simulator, then you should be able to get your drone up and flying without too much difficulty. The key thing is to start off slowly (no sudden movements) and to keep your drone at a low altitude until you are confident with controlling it.

Realistically, you are going to need many hours of flying your drone before you can reach a competent standard. It is quite possible you will crash your drone. This is why it makes sense to be outside in a field or park - well away from people and buildings.

With practice, you will also be able to land your drone softly and precisely.

Top Tips for Flying Safely at All Times

We’ve had our share of challenging drone experiences.

For example, we own a number of drones from large to small, including a Cheerson CX-20/Quanum Nova and a Hubsan X4. The Hubsan X4 is a great low cost entry drone, but as we discovered in the first few flights - it can quickly go out of control!

Despite taking all precautions, we crash-landed the unfortunate little drone a number of times, including into a wall and a tree. On one occasion, we even managed to smash all the propellers. However, the Hubsan X4 is very robust, and 9 times out of 10 it was just a case of adding replacement propeller blades and popping the frame back into place.

To save you money, avoid accidents and heartache, we strongly suggest the following:

  • READ YOUR DRONE INSTRUCTIONS - and if lost, or if you have difficulty understanding them, find the information on the Internet (for example: visit the manufacturer’s website, look for advice in forums, view tutorials on YouTube).
  • If you have self-assembled any part of your drone, triple-check the setup configuration.
  • Although drone/quadcopter propeller blades look the same, they are different and must be installed in the correct configuration to create the required lift and control. If installed incorrectly (round the wrong way) your drone will fly out of control and smash into the ground.
  • Don’t try to show off with your drone.
  • Always have spare blades available.
  • Find an outdoor area with more space than you think you will need.
  • To avoid damaging your blades (or yourself), fit blades protection guards.
  • If automated stability controls such as GPS fail, be ready to take manual control and land.
  • Time your flights and be alert to the battery alarm or light signal. If alerted, return your drone immediately to your position to avoid any possibility of a crash.
  • Be wary of flying your drone when the wind speed is more than 10 mph. Sudden gusts can cause you to lose control of your drone.
  • NEVER leave the batteries charging unattended. Most drones and radio-controlled aircraft use Lithium Polymer batteries (LiPo) because they offer excellent high-energy storage, and are lighter than equivalent batteries. However, LiPo batteries if not charged correctly, can become faulty, catch fire, and even explode.

Drones are not toys, and should only be operated in most cases by responsible adults. If you really want a child (recommended 14 years old and up) to fly your drone, at least make sure they are fully trained, and you supervise their flying at all times.

If you are ever in any doubt - please put safety first.

Oh, one more thing…

Enjoy your flying!

Helpful links

Academy of Model Aeronautics
Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International
Federal Aviation Administration
Amazon Drone Store
Click here
The Leading Community for Personal UAVs

Selection of Drones

Cheerson CX20/Quanum Nova (similar to the DJI Phantom) 
DJI (ref Cheerson CX20/Quanum Nova)
Hubsan Q4 nano
Hubsan X4 H107C with HD 2MP Camera
Blade 180 QX HD from Horizon Hobby
IRIS+ from 3D Robotics - The Home of Friendly Drones

Thursday, 25 September 2014

How To Fly Your Drone Safely - Part 1

Let's face it, learning to fly a drone/quadcopter is not the easiest thing in the world.

When first starting out, you quickly realise how keeping control of a quadcopter can be a nightmare. It can also be dangerous. Furiously spinning blades can suddenly be coming towards you seconds. It happens. And it is scary!

On top of the safety risks, there is the more common issue of crashing and damaging your brand-new flying machine. It is almost inevitable that when starting out you will crash a quadcopter in the first few hours of flying. This is the reason that most manufacturers include replacement blades with their quadcopters.

Wouldn't it be great if there was a way to learn the basics of quadcopter flying without the safety and hardware risks?

Well luckily there is.

The solution comes in the form of a quadcopter flight simulator app.

Available for both Android and Apple iOS, we found what we think is the best of this genre: The Quadcopter FX Simulator Pro by 3D Creative World.

Retailing on the Google Play Store or iTunes for around 3 to 4 USD, this fantastic little piece of software will help you quickly learn the basics of quadcopter lift-off, in-air control and safe landing. And you can do all this while having great fun!

Take a look at their demo video to get an idea of exactly what the app offers:

From our own experience we wish that we had found this software earlier. It would have enabled us to be up and flying much quicker than when learning directly with quadcopters. Critically it would also have saved us some hair-raising moments when control was lost - and later when damage was done to our quadcopters.

If you are planning on purchasing a quadcopter, we would highly recommend starting out on a flight simulator like this one. It will save you time, hassle and cash!

The app includes lots of features to help you practice in a lively and enjoyable way: First Person View, Heads-up Display, Control sensitivity, Auto-stabilisation, Altitude hold and much more.

Quadcopter FX Simulator Pro is available to purchase here:

Apple iTunes Store

Google Play Store

Part 2 of our 'How To Fly Your Drone Safely' series coming soon... - The Home of Friendly Drones

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

22 Fascinating Ways Drones Will Change Our World

Friendly drones are innovative, cutting-edge and afforded with life changing technology.

Just to give you an idea of how they can be of assistance to us, we have listed 22 of their most compelling applications:

  1. News Gathering. Imagine journalists being able to capture bird’s-eye views of breaking news such as national elections, disaster zones and war zones. Aerial coverage of events like these are set to revolutionise news gathering. Example: UK Company AerialVue

  1. Energy Conservation. Drones fitted with infrared sensors are able to scan buildings to detect heat losses. The reported data can then be used to implement energy and money saving building enhancements.

  1. Protecting Endangered Wildlife. Poaching of endangered wildlife such as rhinos and tigers is a major problem. Park Rangers around the world have already begun to successfully use drones to help monitor wildlife habitats. This is proving to be effective at deterring poachers.

  1. Aerial Photography. This is already a booming sector. We all love to see aerial images, and many companies are willing to pay generously for the privilege of having aerial footage of their products and buildings. Aerial photography is also the number one reason why people buy their first drone. It is a great hobby! Example: FosterVisuals

  1. Search and Rescue Assistance. A drone really could save your life. Search and Rescue teams around the globe are starting to discover how helpful drones can be. Search times can be massively reduced, and difficult ground conditions can be circumvented. Read more about a pioneering search and rescue trial by the research team at the University of Central Lancashire

  1. Wildfire Mapping. Forest fires are tragic, and anything that can help reduce them is sure to be readily accepted. Drones fit this category. They are able to fly over wildfires and provide real-time mapping that can allow firefighters to make critical decisions.

  1. Providing Internet Access. Google and Facebook are already moving into this space. Using giant solar-powered drones it appears that in the near future isolated areas will have high-speed internet coverage for the first time. A very promising technology. Example: Solar drone Titan Aerospace Solara 50

  1. Relieving Traffic Congestion. Roads in towns and cities get more crowded and dangerous everyday. Picture a team of lightweight camera drones that fly high above the congested areas at peak times and relay what they see back to traffic controllers. Faster flowing and safer roads are the likely outcome.
9.  Humanitarian Assistance in Disaster Zones. We’ve all seen how nature can suddenly wreak havoc on a place. Tsunamis, storms and earthquakes are often devastating and deadly. Drones could be used to fly into the affected areas to provide mapping, to deliver food and aid, and to go where roads may no longer exist. Example: Company Matternet
10.  Measuring Environmental Pollutants. Are you really sure what factories, farms and other industrial sites are releasing into the atmosphere? Drones designed to measure environmental pollutants could tell you exactly this information. They could also help ensure that companies are not breaching environmental regulations.
  1. Tracking Hurricanes and Tropical Storms. Knowing in advance when and where a storm or hurricane is likely to hit can be a major advantage. Buildings can be protected and people moved out of harm’s way. Unmanned aerial vehicles can fly safely near and above storms to provide vital tracking and monitoring. Example: NASA ERAST Program on Wikipedia
  1. Air Delivery. Yes, Amazon and Jeff Bezos have made delivery by drones a very well known and highly-anticipated development. But it not just Amazon who want to fly things to you. Other companies already experimenting with this new technology include Dominos and DHL. Expect many more. Example: Amazon Prime Air

  1. Geophysical Surveys for Oil, Gas and Minerals. These commodities are becoming increasingly harder to find. Drones make it cheaper and easier for exploration companies to assess suitable areas for test drilling. 
  1. Aerial Footage in Filmmaking. What used to be the domain of big-budget Hollywood blockbusters is now within range of even the smallest film production. Drones are rapidly replacing manned planes and helicopters to provide cheap, safe and stunning aerial footage.

  1. Livestock Monitoring. Farmers often leave their livestock unattended for long periods of time. Animals can be stolen, injured or lost without warning. A video drone can provide constant monitoring of livestock, and even track wandering animals. Examples available on FlightBots YouTube Channel

  1. Pipeline Security. Much of the world’s oil and gas is located in politically unstable and often dangerous regions. Attacks on pipelines are common. Drones can help monitor pipelines and help deter attackers. They can also be used to pinpoint maintenance issues.

  1. Delivering Medical Supplies to Hard-to-Reach Areas. There are many places in the world where roads are either in disrepair or don’t exist at all. People living in remote villages are often cut-off from access to emergency medical care. Drones could prove to be lifesavers. They are able to fly essential medical aid direct to communities who otherwise would be unreachable by land.

  1. Event Coverage. The Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics gave us a glimpse into the near future. Video drones were skillfully deployed to capture unique and breathtaking footage of various Olympic events. Other sporting and cultural events are also likely to soon see the benefits of drones and aerial photography. The viewer is the real winner.

  1. Urban Planning. Property developers and planning approvers have a new tool. Drones can take detailed images, surveys and maps of prospective sites. Significant time and effort can be saved by capturing aerial imagery of areas marked for development.

  1. Exploring the Undersea World. Humans are restricted in the depth they can travel in the seas and oceans. Drones are not. Detailed 3D imaging of the ocean depths for monitoring and research are possible with undersea drones. Sea-life can also be safely studied with drones, as in the recent example of Great White Sharks being filmed by scientists off the western coast of Mexico. Example: BBC's Newsround

  1. Surveying and Spraying of Crops. Farmers and drones are already proving to be a winning combination. Using drones over their agricultural land, farmers are able to assess the condition and development of their crops. They can also use the drones for safe and cost-saving crop spraying.

22.  Selling Homes. An aerial video of a home can be both beautiful and a very effective sales tool. The last few years have seen Real Estate agents begin to utilise the power of this new perspective. Buyers love it too, as they can see clearly what is on offer. Example: MailOnline article Shop for your multimillion dollar mansion by drone

All of the above applications are possible right now. However, in many countries regulations still need to catch-up with the technology.

One thing you can be absolutely sure of though: Friendly drones have arrived and they are here to stay. They represent a tremendous technological step-forward.

Expect many of the physical challenges of our world to be addressed by these hi-tech flying robots.

For more information and advice on friendly drones please see our exciting new eBook: The Amazing Potential of Friendly Drones

Additional Information:

Online Drone Community
DIY Drones

Drones you can buy on Amazon
Drones with Camera
Low cost Drones
DHI Phantom Drones
Parrot AR Drones

For the latest news on Drones:

Twitter FlightBots

Magazine Friendly Drones - The Home of Friendly Drones