The 7 things you need to do before flying drone
Taking your first steps into the world of drones can be quite daunting at first.
If you a bit overwhelmed and confused about where to start or what to do in general worry not, check out our guide on the 7 things you need to do before flying your drone in the link below to find your bearings and get to flying as soon as you can!
A drone buyer's guide: What to look for when buying a drone
We’ve gone a long way from the “dark ages” where Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, or drones as it’s more commonly referred to, were mostly associated with the military. Nowadays you can find someone flying a drone just about anywhere. From scenic travel destinations to frolicking music festivals, to beautiful weddings and even your local park, drones are starting to be a ubiquitous part of our daily life.
Making that first leap into the world of drones can be quite harrowing. Is it worth it? Will I even use it? Won’t I just lose or wreck it after a few days? Isn’t flying a drone a bit too complicated for me?
All of these and a whole host of other things might pop up in your head before you even consider buying a UAV. Like most things, though things are always more complicated then they seem.Here’s a quick and handy guide to getting the right drone for you.
On the level
You’ve got to crawl before you walk and walk before you fly. Even with technology how it is now, there’s still a learning curve with flying drones. There are varying degrees of difficulty depending on the drone’s features and use. It’s always good to start with the smaller, simpler drones before you move on to the more premium, advanced ones.
These are the beginner drones, usually the micro drones. They don’t cost as much and don’t have much in terms of features. You can liken them to driving with a manual transmission, not too much on the bells and whistles but the perfect piece to for your first time flying. It might be a bit difficult at first to fly a micro drone, but once you get the hang of it, moving over to the bigger drones will be much easier.
These are more of your hobby drones. A mixture of toy drones and mid-level video
drones. They hold a variety of fixtures and gimmicks, albeit not the top of the line, these are sure to hold any enthusiasts interest.
These are your heavy duty drones The quality of these products is only matched by their price tag. Most of these drones are for commercial use. These are your drones that have a number of different features and accessories. A good investment for any experienced pilot or those who would like to make a bit of profit from their drone. Part of the fun of it all is the learning how to fly. Don’t rush and enjoy the ride.
Drone’s come in all shapes and sizes as well as varying price points. Figuring out how much you are willing to shell out would be important in getting the most bang for your buck. It can be broken down mostly by:
These are the drones that cost upwards of 500 dollars, some even costing more than a grand. These may cost a pretty penny but you can really feel the difference in the quality of these drones compared to the others in the market.
You can get these drones for a little more than a 100 dollars. You won’t break the bank for these drones while still getting a variety of different features to make use of.
These are your basic drones. These are what you usually start flying with as a beginner and would only set you back about less than 50 dollars.With the array of drones out in the market, you don’t have to worry, you're bound to find a drone that fits your budget. The right tool for the job
Are you in the market for the latest video drone that you’d like to use for your business or are you just looking to mess around and impress your friends with the number of tricks and stunts you can pull off? You have to ask yourself what is my goal? What do I want to get out of this experience? These questions can be answered by,
Knowing what you want out of your drone
These are, so far, a Propel specific type of drones. Beginning with their Star Wars line, these are every kid, and kids at heart, dream drone.
These are what most drones are known for these days. Be it used for films, events, or simply a different perspective, these are the drones you’ll need to get the perfect shot.
(Photo Courtesy: Pixabay)
With the Drone Racing League getting some air time on ESPN, there’s been a surge of popularity on these type of races as of late. Though most of these drones are of the build it yourself variety, you can still find a number of off the shelf racing drones if you don’t have the patience to work on one your own.
Figuring out what do you really want to do with your drone is paramount deciding what the right drone is for you. Propel RC, one of the emerging players in the drones game, has drones that would fit anyone’s budget, level, and use.
What is Headless mode?
There are a number of terminologies that you’ll encounter as you read the manual or talk to other drone pilots that you might not be familiar with, one of those terms could be headless mode.
Headless mode is a feature of some drones wherein where you can control your drones flight, not by the drones orientation but rather yours. This means moving forward, backward, left, and right would be dependent on the direction in which in where you, or to be more accurate your controller, are relative to the drone.
This is useful when you’re still confused between which is the front or the back of the drone, or you’d like to simplify your drones controls this is an easy way to enjoy the basics of flying.
A guide to drone safety and regulations- GERMANY
The drone laws of Germany are a bit more strict compared to the other countries. For any drones or model air crafts that weight more than 0.25 kg would require a fireproof label with the name and address of the owner.
You’ll also need a pilot license or any similar certificate from any agency recognized by the Federal Aviation's office which would be valid for 5 years. A certificate will not be necessary if you plan to fly your drone in a model airplane airfield.
You will also need authorization to fly which is granted by the relevant state aviation authority and usually valid for two years for:
- Drones or model aircraft weighing more than five kilograms;
- Rocket-powered drones and model air crafts whose propellant mass exceeds 20 grams;
- Drones and model aircraft with a combustion engine, if they are flown within 1.5 kilometers of a residential area;
- Drones and model aircraft of all kinds if they are flown within 1.5 kilometers of an airport (flight at airports requires an additional clearance from German Aviation Control); and
- Drones and model aircraft of all kinds if flown at “night,”
- Within 100 meters of or above people and public gatherings, the scene of an accident, disaster zones, other sites of operation of police or other organizations with security-related duties, and military drill sites;
- Within 100 meters of or above correctional facilities, military complexes, industrial complexes, power plants, and power generation and distribution facilities;
- Within 100 meters of or above the property of federal or state governments, diplomatic or consular missions, international organizations, and law enforcement and security agencies;
- Within 100 meters of or above federal highways, federal waterways, and railway systems;
- Above nature reserves;
- Above 100 meters;
- Above residential property if the drone or model aircraft weighs more than 0.25 kilograms or if it is able to receive, transmit, or record optical, acoustic, or radio signals;
- In controlled airspace;
- To transport explosives, pyrotechnic articles, radioactive materials, or hazardous materials; or
- Within 100 meters of or above hospitals.
A guide to drone safety and regulations- SPAIN
Spain has the some of the strictest drone laws in the world. Though the standard considerations for drone flight are still upheld, you may see yourself getting a hefty fine (€225,000) for any breach of the following restrictions:
- It is prohibited to fly drones in urban areas and crowds of people, which include beaches, concerts, parks, demonstrations, processions, etc.
- You cannot fly drones at night
- It is forbidden to fly drones near airports, airfields and other controlled airspace and endanger others
- You must fly the drone within the visual range of the pilot, at a distance of no more than 500 m and at a height no more than 400 feet above the ground
With commercial use being regulated being restricted to:
- Research and development activities
- Air, pesticides and other treatments involving spreading substances in the soil or the atmosphere, including product launch activities for firefighting
- Aerial surveys
- Observation and aerial surveillance activities including filming and monitoring of forest fires
- Aerial advertising, radio and TV
- Emergency operations, search and rescue
- Other special works not included in the above list
For the use of a drone for recreational use, no authorization from the AESA is needed. You still have to follow the basic guidelines for flying which are:
- Before using a drone, it must always be visible and must not exceed 120 meters high.
- While it is not necessary to be a pilot, you should be able to fly with some confidence
The same restrictions applicable to commercial flying drones are applicable to recreational drones:
- You cannot fly in urban areas or crowds of people
- You cannot fly at night
It is forbidden to fly drones near airports or airfields as well as flying drones in areas where other flights are operating at a low altitude and endangering others.
A guide to drone safety and regulations - ITALY
Italy drone laws are fairly standard. The general rules mostly apply for drone flying. These are:
- You may not fly your drone over 230 feet
- You may not fly your drone further than 490 feet horizontally or out of visual line of sight
- You may not carry dangerous goods on your drone
- You may not fly your drone over populated areas, gatherings, beaches, national parks, urban areas, infrastructures, railways, highways and industrial plants
- You must stay at least 8 km away from aerodromes
- You must only fly your drone during daylight
- Your drone must weigh under 25 kg
- You must keep your drone 50 m away from persons/property not under control of the drone operator
- You must carry third party insurance
If you are looking to fly commercially though all you need is:
Special permission if you’re drone weights more than 25 kg, otherwise standard rules apply.
Operators must attend a Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) training program. A pilots license that you may get through Italian Civil Aviation Authority (ENAC).
A guide to drone safety and regulations - UNITED KINGDOM
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) takes a very simple approach when it comes to their laws regarding the use of UAV’s, which can be defined as an unmanned aircraft that have a mass of 20 kg, recreationally and commercially.
When it comes to recreational use the key points to follow are:
- You are responsible for flying your drone in a safe manner
- You must keep the drone in your direct sight at all times while it is flying, so that you can ensure that it does not collide with anything, especially other aircraft
- You must not endanger anyone, or any thing with your drone, including any articles that you drop from it
- If your drone weighs more than 7 kg, additional rules apply if you fly in certain types of airspace and you must not fly above 400 ft above the surface
- If your drone is fitted with a camera, there are also a number of additional limitations surrounding where you can fly it, and how close you can fly it to other not involved people or objects. In order to be able to fly within these areas, or closer than the minimum distances that are in the regulations, you must obtain prior Permission from the CAA to do so.
Note though that drones that make use of FPV (First Person View) whether it’s via live feed through a screen or through the use of FPV googles, is not an acceptable mitigation for Beyond Visual Line of Sight flight unless the relevant operator has received a specific approval to do so from the CAA.
For commercial use, a permission is required from the CAA. This is so wish to conduct a commercial operation with your aircraft, or if you wish to fly your aircraft:
- Within 150 m of either a congested area or an organised open air crowd or more than 1000 persons
- Within 50 m of people or properties/objects that are not under your control
A guide to drone safety and regulations- USA
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
United States of America has pretty strict laws regarding the usage of drones for commercial shoots. With strict licensing and heavy restrictions imposed by the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA). Commercial restrictions on drones cover a lot but for the important points to remember:
Unmanned aircraft must weigh less than 55 lbs. (25 kg)
Drones have to remain in visual line of sight of the pilot and of observers
Pilots must be at least 16 years old
Operation is only allowed during daylight hours or twilight with appropriate anti collision lighting
Maximum ground speed of 100 mph (87 knots) and maximum altitude of 400 feet above ground level
Minimum weather visibility of 3 miles from control station
Pilots must hold a "remote pilot airman certificate" issued by the FAA
Another problem too is that the laws may vary from state to state as some states have their own rules and regulations with the scope of drone use.
For those flying for recreational use though, the laws are much more relaxed. There’s no need for any pilot license and only has to be registered if your drone weights 0.55 lbs. You are also not allowed to fly drone’s above 55 lbs, which is a stretch for any casual flyer.
A guide to drone safety and regulations - AUSTRALIA
Flying your drone in land down under follows the same basic rules like any where else in the world. The Civil Aviation Safety Association (CASA) implementing rules aimed and designed to safeguard other people in the air and on the ground. For recreational drone users, the basics of those rules can be summarized as:
- You must not fly above 120 meters in all locations
- You must not fly your drone in the area of a public safety or emergency operation, for example a bush fire, police, or search and rescue operation
- You must not fly within 30 meters of people, unless the other person is essential to controlling or navigating the drone
- You must operate only one drone at a time
If your drone weighs more than 100 grams:
- You must not fly within 5.5 kilometers of a controlled aerodrome (usually those that have a control tower) at any time
- You must not begin flying within 5.5 kilometers of a non-controlled aerodrome if there is a manned aircraft operating to, or from, the aerodrome
- You must safely maneuver your drone away from the path of a manned aircraft and
- land as soon as safely possible if you become aware that a manned aircraft is operating to or from the non-controlled aerodrome or helicopter landing site
- You must not fly at night or through cloud or fog
- When flying you must be able to see your drone with your own eyes (not just on your app screen, first person view goggles or binoculars)
- You must not fly over people
- You must not fly in designated restricted areas.
You must also make sure to respect the privacy of other people by not flying near homes and backyards. You must also be not fly a drone during any emergency situations, such as brush fires, police investigations or accidents as you might be a hindrance or detriment to their current operation.
Fines usually go for about $8500 per offence with possibility of incurring heftier fines depending on the case and if you’ve caused any bodily injuries to anyone.
If you’re flying your drone for commercial use then you must acquire a Remote Pilot License for CASA. This usually costs about $5,000 to $10,000.
You may fly your drone without a license though if private landholder flying in your property. If this is the case allowed to carry out "a range of activities" on your own land without the need for approvals or licenses from CASA as long as the UAV does not exceed 25 kg and your are not monetarily compensated.
How to replace a motor
There comes a point in every drone pilots life wherein they experience some engine problems. You’ll notice that one side could be weaker than the other or one propeller not spinning at all, if this is the case then your motor could be weak or worse, dead. Worry not though, all hope is not lost, a quick motor change is all you need.
What you’ll need:
1. You will need a small screwdriver for disassembly.
2. Make sure to remove the battery and the camera before starting disassembly.
3. Get a small container for the screws to be put in.
4. Remove all the propellers. Some drones have their propellers screwed in, if this is the case, take out the screws first then pull out the propellers.
5. After removing the propellers, turn the drone upside down and remove all the screws. Set aside the screws in a small container so as not to lose them.
6. At the end of each arm, there’s a small hole that also has a screw in it. Remove the screws using a small screwdriver.
7. After taking out all the screws, remove the upper shell. Remember to take note of the motor position and which motor is motor A or B. Refer to your manual to know which motor you will be needing to replace.
8. Detach the motor that you need to replace, from the main board. If you have one of our micro drones you’ll need to solder the motors out and the replacement motors in.
9. Once you detach the motor, next is to remove the whole motor-shaft mechanism at the end of the drone’s arm. You can either press the locks or give a gentle squeeze in the bottom part that will pop the mechanism out.
10. After removing the whole motor mechanism, take it out of the arm.
11. Detach motor from its plastic case.
12. Insert the motor and lock into the mechanism by sliding the locks in place. Make sure to place the holes of the locks into the mechanisms locks.
13. After that, return the whole motor mechanism into the end of the arm.
14.Next step is to insert the end of the motor’s wire into place at the main circuit board.
15. After inserting the motor mechanisms into the end of each arm and plugging them into the main circuit board, next is to put the top shell into place and turn the drone upside down. Screw it back in.
Disclaimer: Trouble shooting steps are similar for drones that plug and play outlets. Some drones may require soldering. Please take note that before dismantling your drone make sure you are knowledgeable and seek advise first and assistance from our customer service team to prevent warranty void.
How to replace your propellers
The lifespan of propellers varies from user to user with some lasting months, even years, while others barely lasting a day. Most drone companies provide extra propellers when you purchase their drones, while Propel provides unlimited propellers replacements, all you have to pay for is shipping, as one of their many perks. This would be all for naught though if you don’t know how to replace or attach your propellers in the first place.
Worry not though as we’ll be giving you a step by step guide as to how to do a propeller change.
Determine which of the propellers needs replacement.
Apply pressure on the blades and pull out the malfunctioning blade.
Identify which of the spare blades are the A Blades and the B Blades. You can find designation underneath the propeller. Match the blade to it’s the corresponding area.
Be sure to check out our videos for more help in regards to changing blades.
Spyder XL/ Tilt
How to do a Stunt Roll
Flying a drone is already a thrill in itself, but after a while, you might find yourself looking for something else to do with your drone. Though their numerous things you can do with your drone besides flying it, the stunt 360 roll is probably the easiest. Though it might sound like a complicated procedure, it’s easily achievable with literally a push of the button.
Hover your drone at a steady position while making sure you have at least 5ft of space above and below your drone. Make sure the speed setting is in mode 2 or 3.
Press the stunt button till you hear a rapid beeping. This would indicate that you’re in stunt roll mode.
Push the right control stick in the direction you’d like your drone to roll. You can roll forward, backward, left, or right.
Check out the Video Below:
Spyder XL/ Tilt
Beginners guide to flying drones
You’ve bought your drone, now what? Getting your new drone to fly might seem like the most difficult thing to do at first but once you get the hang of it opens you up to the many joys of flying.
Check out our quick and helpful guide on how to start of flying your drone.
Intermediate guide to flying drones
You know the basics of flying your drone but what else can you do with it? There’s still a lot to learn and do with your drone. Getting the hang of just flying your drone is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what your drone can do.
Check out our guide on how to take your drone flying to the next level.
How to deal with Flyaways
Flyaways are one of the most prevalent issues that people deal with when it comes to their drones are flyaways. This is when your drone fails to respond to your commands for one reason or another, and it drifts where you can no longer control it, losing your drone in the process.
To know how best to avoid a “flyway” happening to you, check out our article.
Multiple Language Support- Speeder Bike
Multiple Language Support- Tie Fighter
Multiple Language Support- X-Wing
How do I unlock Training and Battle Mode?
How do I register my drone?
How do I get live battle mode to work?
I've filled out the form but I can't create an account
Where can I download the app?
Where can i find quick start guide videos?
Why doesn’t my camera work?
First, insert the battery and/or turn on the drone. Second, make sure that there is a red or green light at the bottom of the camera if it is removable. If there's no light, remove the camera and reattach it to the body. The lens should be pointing towards the same direction as the front of the drone.
Make sure to use a 16GB Micro SD Card or lower. Format first before use.
If this does not solve the issue, please contact customer service.
Why does my drone fly or move without me inputting anything?
Calibrate the drone on a flat surface, following the instructions in the User Manual. (Please be aware this may vary depending on the unit). Once calibrated, trim your unit. Trim slowly, one click at a time, because over-trimming can cause unneeded drifting.
If this does not solve the issue, please contact customer service.
Why does my drone not take off or flip over?
Check propeller placement according to the User Manual. If the propellers are not placed in their designated spots, this will cause the drone to flip over, fly incorrectly, or not fly at all.
Make sure that there's no hair or thread or any other object preventing the propeller from turning. If so, ensure that the unit is completely removed and the unit is turned OFF. Recalibrate the drone afterwards.
Check if propellers are no longer spinning. If a propeller has stopped turning, pull propeller pin slightly up, to ease the pressure, as it may have become compressed. Reset gyros and calibrate.
If this does not solve the issue, please contact customer service.
Why isn’t my drone syncing?
Check if the batteries in the Controller and unit are fully charged? (Follow Recommended charging times in charging manual and walk customer through the proper light sequencing for their unit).
Try turning on the unit and then controller. After controller is on, try syncing the drone by moving the left joystick up (you hear a beep) and then down (you hear another beep). From blinking lights, the lights on the drone should become solid. Once the lights are solid the drone is synced.
If this does not solve the issue, please contact customer service.
My drone keeps flipping over. How do I fix it?
Aside from checking if there are any obstructions that might cause propeller/s to spin incorrectly, you should calibrate the drone by pressing the Calibrate button, which is the upper right arch button, to ensure that the gyros are balanced. Lastly, double check the correct propeller placements, which can be found on page 13 of your manual.
How do I fix unstable flight? How do I trim?
Whenever flight is unstable, check for any obstructions in between the propellers and shaft. If none, then press the Calibrate button, which is the upper right arch button on remote. For trimming, press and hold the right triangular-like button at the top side of the remote. While holding that button down, use the right joystick to trim the drone to the required direction for it to be back to its center axis.
How do I enter Music Mode?
To enter music mode, hold down button 2 and button 4 (both of the bottom arch buttons) for two seconds. The Life LEDs will glow blue. Push both buttons again for two seconds to exit music mode.
What are the three LED light bars at the center of the remote control for?
These three LED light bars are for IR/Laser Battling. It serves as the ‘Life’ of the drone and it indicates that a unit can be hit 3 times before it goes down.
How can I do stunts with the drone? And can I control which way it stunts to?
You can activate the stunt feature by pressing the rectangular-like buttons at the top side of the remote control. The right rectangular-like button is for a Clockwise roll and the left rectangular-like button is for a Counter-clockwise roll.
How do I activate the T-Mode (Training Mode)?
To change the Speed Mode, you need to press and hold the Speed Select button, which is the left triangular-like button at the top side of the remote control, for 3 seconds. Once you see that all lights around the Power button lights up, that indicates that the Training Mode is activated. This will enable an invisible ceiling at approximately 2 meters and an invisible floor that prevents the drone from touching the ground. This mode creates a safe area to fly.
Can I change the flight control from 4-Channel to 3-Channel mode and vice versa?
All Star Wars drones are on 4-Channel mode and cannot be changed to 3-Channel mode.
How do I change the Speed Modes of my drone?
To change the Speed Mode, you need to press the Speed Select button, which is the left triangular-like button at the top side of the remote control. The default Speed Mode upon start-up (including restarting the drone) is Speed 1. Press once to change from one speed to another. To determine which Speed Mode the drone is on, look at the lights around the Power Button. One light is for Speed 1, two lights are for Speed 2, and three lights for Speed 3.
How do I deactivate the motors when the Barometric Pressure Sensor is on? And how do I use the Auto-Land feature?
To deactivate the motors when the Barometric Pressure Sensor is on, simultaneously push both joysticks down and inwards (pointing to the power button). This will cut all power to the motors and the ship will fall to the ground if it’s still in the air. It is advisable to first have the drone descend to the ground before deactivating the motors. Alternatively, if the drone is in the air while the Barometric Pressure Sensor is on, you can press the bottom left arch button (also the Auto-Start button) for 2-3 seconds to activate the Auto-Land feature. When pressed, the drone will slowly descend to the ground. You can still use directional commands to control where the drone will land.
How do I know if the Barometric Pressure Sensor is active or inactive?
The Barometric Pressure Sensor (or Altitude Lock) switch is located at the left side of the left joystick. It is turned off when the switch is rolled and locked upwards. This should disable the left joystick’s up-down motion being spring-loaded, giving it a loose feel. On the other hand, the Barometric Pressure Sensor is turned on when the switch is rolled downwards. This enables the left joystick’s up-down motion being spring-loaded so it will always return to the center.
My drone’s motors are not working or not activating even though both the drone and remote lights are solid. How do I fix this?
First is to determine if the Barometric Pressure Sensor (or Altitude Lock) is activated or not. If it is on, which can also be determined if the left joystick’s up-down motion is spring-loaded, then you need to press and hold the Auto-Start button for 2-3 seconds until the drone lifts 2-3 feet from the ground. The Auto-Start button is the bottom left arch button of the four arch buttons at the center of the remote control. If the Barometric Pressure Sensor is off, then the motors should automatically spin when the left joystick is slowly pushed upwards.
How do I sync or pair my drone and remote properly?
Once the drone and controller have fresh batteries installed, both should show blinking lights. Push the left stick of the controller all the way up and all the way back down again. You should hear two beeps and the lights on both the drone and the remote should have solid lights indicating that the sync process is complete.
I see that there's a hidden cellphone holder inside the remote. Does it have an app in the Playstore/Appstore I can download?
The application is being developed as we speak. It will be announced once the final tests are done. You can also visit parts.propelrc.com and sign up for an account to get newsletters and updates regarding your Star Wars drone.
How do I replace the batteries of the Remote Control?
On the back of the controller, unscrew and slide off the battery cover using the Lightsaber screwdriver hidden in the right side arm of the controller. Install 4 AA alkaline batteries into the controller (1.5v rechargeable batteries are preferred). There are indications located at the opening of the battery compartment to guide you with correctly placing each battery. Replace the battery cover and secure it with the screws.
I've run out of spare parts, where can I get more?
Just visit our website, parts.propelrc.com, and register there so you can purchase spare parts directly easily. Just select the part that you need after registration and you'll be good to go.
The display case is not lighting up and not giving out sounds anymore. Does it have batteries that need to be replaced?
The display case has a built-in rechargeable battery. You can use the USB charging cord of your Star Wars unit to charge the display case. The charging port is located at the back side of the display case. When the display case is charging, the lights and sounds will turn off. Fully charging it takes approximately 40-60 minutes under normal conditions. Once the display case is fully charged, the lights will turn on again.
Does the drone have an On/Off Switch?
The unit does not have an on/off switch. It automatically turns on when the Li-Poly battery is connected. To switch it off, simply unlock and remove the battery.
Most of the times, a wall socket is not available at where I fly the drone. Can I plug the charger into a USB port of my laptop?
Yes, but charging time may vary depending on the power output of the USB port. Please monitor the indicator light of the charging adapter.
On page 27 of the manual, it says that there's an upgrade for Laser Battling. How do I activate it?
It can be activated by pressing the number 4 button around the power button. However, you will need to purchase a Laser Upgrade Kit. Details of which will be announced when it becomes available. You can also visit parts.propelrc.com and sign up for an account to get newsletters including the update on Star Wars add-ons.
What's the charging time? And how do I know when it's charging and when it's fully charged?
Approximate charging time is 30-40 minutes. The charging adapter will show a steady red indicator light when plugged in, and a blinking red light when charging is in progress. It will show a blue light when 90% charged and a green light once it is fully charged.