Unmanned Air Vehicle drones come in various shapes and sizes, some of them are suitable for indoors only, they are small in size and light weight. Other models can be used both indoors and outdoors; they are bigger size and have more powerful motors and batteries that can cover a greater distance.
The application for most is for recreation purpose, they are a bit like the radio controlled model airplanes, the only difference is that the model U.A.V is powered by electric motors, and the fly time per battery charge is about 10 minutes. They are basic three options in design of the vehicle for the beginner; a helicopter, symmetrical multi propeller copter, a model airplane style or a single wing style model airplane.
The design also determines the physics of the flight path and the control of the vehicle. If it is a helicopter design that gets the lift from the lateral propeller/s, there the flight is more stationary, it is not depended on the aero dynamics of the wing design to give the air lift to the vehicle, but rather the rotor engines with propellers do the hard work and keep it airborne.
The modern innovative digital technology has enabled cameras both with the still image and video to be made small and light, this has caught on with hobbyist and action sports enthusiasts to attach a video camera to the vehicle, whether it is a bike helmet, a skateboard, snowboard, surfboard, motor cross bike helmet or a remotely radio controlled vehicle like a U.A.V. The most popular action sport camera is the Go-Pro Camera that also has a water proof casing down to 60 meters. The camera with aW.I.F.I is the feature that makes remotely controlled radio vehicles popular, the ability to view live video streaming of the environment from above in the sky; it is the bird eye view of the world.
Learning and mastering the modern high technology of computer software, robotics, aero dynamics, G.P.S positioning, satellites and Google maps grid, is a new modern day frontier for the hobbyist to conquer. The price range can slot into 4 groups: 1. Basic, under $500. 2. Moderate price, under $1000. 3. Middle range hobbyist, under $5000. 4. Professional business, more than $10 000.
The more sophisticated U.A.V have a G.P.S onboard and a Flight control software where the flight plan can be pre planned with what is called the WAYPOINT system. The G.P.S system uses number of satellites to determine its position. The WAYPOINT navigation systems use these coordinates longitude, latitude, and altitude, this system is used on U.A.V’s that are more powerful and able to travel out of visible sight, for a long time. If the G.P.S receiver has a track-logging feature and capability, it can define waypoints from the fly path it has travelled afterwards. The fly path coordinates can be pre-planned using Google maps, and locating with the distinctive land marks and features that are visible on the map, they could be such things as a sports field, a building, a path way, a street, etc, depending on the landscape where the U.A.V is being flown.
The new innovative technology for the hobbyist radio controlled U.A.V, have a built in software program that flies the U.A.V on autopilot. One example is the DJI Phantom a multi-directional, symmetrical-bodied Quadcopter that is radio controlled. It sits at the moderate price range (under $1000). It is a very clever piece of computer engineering, and a great place to start for a new U.A.V hobbyist. It does have a G.P.S guiding system that works off the satellites. It can fly on autopilot and return to the location of departure, e.g. if it flies out of line of vision or flies too far (beyond 300 meters), or if the monitor is switched off. It climbs up to a preset altitude, and returns back to the point of departure. Governance can be preset for this U.A.V also, constraining it to preset coordinates, whether latitude, longitude or altitude. It also has a; #1. Home Lock, and #2. Course lock Modes: Intelligent Orientation Control modes, translated; 1. Left means, to fly left command at a particular distance, which becomes a fly around circle around the pilot if flight continued in that direction. 2. Fly left command, on the control panel (when flying away), and left is left when flying towards the pilot, this mode removes any interpretation errors for beginners.
Other unique features in some U.A.V drone’s are the “Follow me mode”, it will follow the person or vehicle carrying the monitor at a specific distance and specific altitude. This feature can be used for a live video stream, recording the mobile pilot from the above hovering U.A.V, e.g. cycling, skateboarding, jogging, skiing, snowboarding or whatever else imaginable.
Safety should always come first, before emotional enthusiasm and physical excitement, the young children should always have parental guidance, a U.A.V. is not a toy for unsupervised children. The worst scenario is damage to an eye, a fast rotating rotor propeller can easily take out an eye of a person or a pet animal. With excited children at the wrong place at the wrong time, an injury is inevitable. But there are propeller safety guards available for the DJI Phantom, which is recommended even for sake of the vehicle to stop the propellers hitting obstacles.
The basic price and the moderate price U.A.V are light weight U.A.V’s, remotely radio controlled airborne vehicles, they have clever high tech computer software and G.P.S systems, the flight time is short around 10 minutes per battery charge, they can carry a light weight action camera like the Go-Pro 3. The most attractive feature of these model size vehicles in my opinion is in the modern high tech smart technology, the ability to fly off the guidance of G.P.S satellites, map grids and WAYPOINT flight plans, it is a precise hobby which the inquisitive mind can learn new skills of discipline and technological discovery, and also be creatively rewarding.