Ever since my first experience with flying a drone, I’ve been fascinated by the advancements in drone technology. Since the day I dipped my toes in the water, I’ve been looking forward ot upgrading from my current drone setup, such as switching to more powerful motors and going for larger props. In fact, I recently
Ever since my first experience with flying a drone, I’ve been fascinated by the advancements in drone technology. Since the day I dipped my toes in the water, I’ve been looking forward ot upgrading from my current drone setup, such as switching to more powerful motors and going for larger props. In fact, I recently decided to make a major leap of faith by getting an upgrade that will be leaps and bounds above my current setup.
I started off with a ZMR250 quadcopter with RCX 1804 motors and 10A Turnigy Multistar ESCs. The setup was powered by a 1500mAH Zippy Compact Lipo battery and used 5030 Gemfan props. This setup was quite good for a beginner as the ZMR250 is made from carbon fiber and is damn near unbreakable. This was very helpful to me as being a beginner, crashes were aplenty. The main problem I faced while learning to fly on this drone was the sheer number of props I destroyed while practicing. I was in no way prepared for this and hence was always running out of props.
What’s more, because I used a Naze32 Acro board, I didn’t have additional helpful features such as altitude hold or head-free mode. This meant that I needed more skill in order to control my drone, especially given the fact that a 250-sized quad is much more unstable than larger ones. The smallest of stick movements I made would cause my drone to speed forward. Reducing the gains helped in this regard, but the 250-sized racer was still not an ideal platform to get started with learning to fly.
Looking back, had I started off with a smaller mini drone, such as a basic Hubscan or a Syma, it would have been easier to get the hang of flying without damaging a ton of props and a couple of motors in the process. Also, these smaller mini drones are extremely cheap and I believe I would have learned more quickly with them as I would have been tempted to take more risks when I was learning yaw-control.
Nevertheless, I’ve had a lot of fun with this setup . Once I understood the basic controls, I started practicing more difficult moves and was able to perfect skills such as flips and rolls. Such maneuvers are mostly unique to the smaller drones as it takes a lot of effort to flip a larger drone and because the likelihood of a larger unit being damaged in a crash is much higher. That said, I want more. I yearn for a good platform to record HD video, something I cannot do with my current setup.
So, after a long period of deliberation and searching around on the web, I have decided to upgrade my setup to a DJI Phantom 2. I know some people may find it sacrilegious that I am moving on from a custom to a ready-made platform, but the truth of the matter is that although I have enjoyed building a custom drone, I now also desire a plug-and-play machine which will help me in my aerial video ambitions.
All of this to say that I find the decision somewhat conflicting. It would be awesome if a manufacturer could come up with an upgradable GPS-enabled airframe which would have allowed me to start off with a basic setup and then upgrade the same frame to better drone technology such as bigger batteries, gimbals and top quality cameras such as a Go-Pro or an AEE. Perhaps that’ll be in the works in the near future.
In the meantime, I know the Phantom will be used extensively in my video ambitions, but also that I will periodically return to my ZMR250 to provide me with a burst of adrenaline.
Image via Flickr: Stephan Ridgway