Camera Drones

What exactly are drones used for? What are they capable of? Can Camera Drone be used anywhere? If so, why do we not see drones more frequently in the air. Below, we explain it all.

Due to advancements in technology, drones are growing in popularity with its ease of use. Many of the drones today can be flown by a remote controller or from a smartphone App which can be downloaded from Google Play or the Apple Store. The App allows for full control of the drone. With increased convenience, drones are now becoming an integral part of events, adding an extra dimension to them. The aerial photography and video captured by these drones in the sky create a spectacle and feeling unlike any experienced before, thus getting the name Camera Drones.

Camera Drone Components

Camera Drone: Camera

Resolution and frame rate differ from low to high-range models. Resolution can start with 700×560 pixels and go up to 4k. Frame-rates of the current models are usually 30 FPS.

Camera Drone: Flight Time

The average flight times with standard batteries range from 15-28 minutes while the low-end models have an estimated 7-9 minutes.

Camera Drone: Remote Control

UAV Remote Control System

This is the wireless communication device using the 5.8 GHz frequency band. The drone and the remote control system should already be paired when it leaves the factory.

UAV Remote Control Receiver

The location of the 5.8 GHz receiver technology link button is under the UAV

Range Extender UAV Technology

This is a wireless communication device which operates within the 2.4 GHz frequency. It is used to extend the range of communication between the smartphone or tablet and the drone in an open unobstructed area.

Transmission distance can reach up to 700 meters. Each range extender has a unique MAC address and network name (SSID).

Some of the latest drones out of the box can fly using range to a distance of up to 4.3 miles (7km).  Products such as FPV range extenders are very popular which can push the distance even further.

Camera Drone Weight

Ultra-Lightweight

The lightest drones available in the market. These drones weigh less than 5kg. Naturally, ultra-lightweight drones are not able to do much beyond flying. Typically, these are usually recreational toys or for racing. The lightweight nature allows the drone to fly with great speed and agility, but is also usually easily damaged.

Light-to-middle weight

This category refers to drones that are between 5 to 200kg. The light weight drones range from 5 to 50kg while the middle weight drones weigh between 50 to 200kg. These drones are capable of bearing the weight of small objects such as cameras or recorders, and can also fly at comparably high speeds. Therefore, it is ideal for photography and filmmaking.

Heavy Weight

The heaviest type of drones which typically weigh between 200 and 2000kg. The extra weight is a result of much tougher drone body which helps protect the drone from damages. The materials used are much tougher and reliable as compared to those of the light-middle weight drones. Furthermore, these drones have more powerful set of motors but also require proportionally larger or stronger set of batteries. These drones are used by companies across a range of industrial and transport work. They are more durable and can handle heavy lifting despite its reduced agility and speed.

Super Heavy-weight

This category of drones can weigh as much as 2 tonne. These drones usually carry out their activities in the upper limits of the atmosphere where they do not encounter as much wind resistance. High up in the sky, these drones are used for monitoring and surveillance purposes. They keep an eye on large-scale movement of people, animals as well as the weather. They also occasionally help carry out various science experiments by recording changes in atmospheric content and interaction between Earth and other space bodies.

Camera Drone Technology

Many of the latest drones have dual Global Navigational Satellite Systems (GNSS) such as GPS.  Drones can fly in both GNSS and non-satellite modes. Highly accurate drone navigation is very important when flying and in drone applications such as to build 3D maps, surveying landscape and SAR (Search & Rescue) missions.

When the drone is switched on, it searches an detects GNSS satellites. These high end systems use Satellite Constellation technology to pin-point certain location commands with a large degree of accuracy. Basically, a satellite constellation is a group of satellites working together giving coordinated coverage and synchronized so that they overlap well in coverage.  Pass or coverage is the period in which a satellite is visible above the local horizon.

The radar technology in the drone will signal the following on the remote controller display;

  • signal that enough drone GNSS satellites have been detected and the drone is ready to fly
  • display the current position and location  of the drone in relation to the pilot
  • record the home point for ‘Return To Home’ safety feature

Most of the latest drone has 3 types of Return to Home drone technology as follows;

  • Pilot initiated return to home by pressing button on Remote Controller or in an app.
  • Low battery level where the UAV will fly back automatically back to home point.
  • Loss of transmission between the UAV and Remote Controller with the UAV flying back automatically to its home point.

Camera Drone Technology Components

Camera Drone Electronic Speed Controllers (ESC)

The ESC is an electronic circuit that serves the purpose of varying the speed of the electric motor. This essentially controls the speed, direction and brake systems of the drone via its motors. ESC are essential in almost every drone and required high amount of power, frequency and AC power, often compacted into a miniature package.

A massive leap in ESC innovation came on the DJI Inspire 1, which uses new sinusoidal drive ESC to replace the squarer wave drive of traditional ESCs. The Inspire 1 goes further by using closed loop torque control and distinct functional redundancy, which adds extra efficiency and reliability to the motors.

The ESC is inside the main frame of the drone and most drone owners won’t need to do anything with these. However, companies such as DJI, Yuneec and Parrot develop drones which can be customized. If you want to customize a drone, then it possible if the manufacturer has Special Development Kit (SDK) for that model.  With the SDK, then you could re-program the electronic speed controllers and many other drone components.

Camera Drone Flight Controller

The flight controller interprets input from the receiver, GPS module, battery monitor, IMU and other onboard sensors. It allows the regulation of motor speeds, direction as well as triggering cameras/recorders. Essentially, the flight controller is central to the whole functioning of your UAV.

Most owners won’t need to do anything or modify the flight controller by reprogramming. If you needed to create a customized solution then a drone with SDK as mentioned about would allow this.

Camera Drone GPS Module/Fail-safe Homepoint

GPS stands for Global Positioning System. It provides information such as time and location in all weather conditions, anywhere on Earth where there is unobstructed sight to GPS satellites.

The GPS module often combines GPS receiver and magnetometer to provide latitude, longitude, elevation, and compass heading from a single device. GPS is an important requirement for waypoint navigation and many other autonomous flight modes. Without GPS, drones would have very limited uses.  Along with FPV (First Person View), drones can navigate long distances and be used for exciting applications such as creating 3D images using photogrammetry sensors.

Most drones are equip with a fail-safe home point. This ensures that your drone flies back to a point if it ever loses connection to your remote controller. Most drones have a minimum requirement of satellites before the home point can be set.

Camera Drone: Receiver

Often a standard r/c radio receiver unit. The minimum number of channels needed to control a quad is 4, but 5 is usually recommended. There are many manufacturers of receivers on the market if you are building your own drone.

Camera Drone: Antenna

Depending on your receiver, it may be a loose wire whip or helical “rubber ducky” type.

Antennas are pretty easy to upgrade. Circularly polarized cloverleaf antenna give you further video signal distance and improves the video stability. A very good antenna stops the problem of the multi-path effect and also blind angle.

Camera Drone Laws/Legislation

The standard example of national drone regulation tends to have the following four elements:
1. Pilot’s license
2. Aircraft registration
3. Restricted zones
4. Insurance

The requirements of these four elements vary based on drone mass, drone altitude, drone use, and pilot license level. Licensing, registration, and insurance requirements are often nonexistent for recreational small drones; however, for commercial drone usage, a sporting pilot license has become the standard for countries without drone-specific licensing procedures. Airspace is typically restricted around airports or other sites of national importance, and the use of drones over heavily populated areas is often either forbidden or severely restricted. Visual line of sight (VLOS) is often required for all users, restricting the horizontal and vertical distance of drone operation, as well as meteorological and lighting conditions for operation. Liability insurance is required across much of Europe but is not a requirement in the United States. In looking at the variation in these four components of regulations across countries, six broad approaches to national commercial drone regulation become apparent:

  1. Outright ban: Countries do not allow drones at all for commercial use.

Countries Include:

  • Argentina
  • Barbados
  • Cuba
  • India
  • Morocco
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Slovenia
  • Uzbekistan
  1. Effective ban: Countries have a formal process for commercial drone licensing, but requirements are either impossible to meet or licenses do not appear to have
    been approved.

Countries Include:

  • Algeria
  • Belarus
  • Chile
  • Colombia
  • Egypt
  • Kenya
  • Nicaragua
  • Nigeria
  1. Requirement for constant VLOS: A drone must be operated within the pilot’s VLOS, thus limiting potential range.

Countries Include:

  • Belgium
  • Bermuda
  • Bhutan
  • Botswana
  • Croatia
  • Ecuador
  • Jamaica
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Mexico
  • Nepal
  • Netherlands
  • Slovakia
  • South Africa
  • South Korea
  • Switzerland
  • Thailand
  1. Experimental uses of beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS): With certain restrictions and pilot ratings, exceptions to the constant VLOS requirement are possible.

Countries Include:

  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Brazil
  • Canada
  • China
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Guyana
  • Ireland
  • Japan
  • New Zealand
  • Panama
  • Poland
  • Rwanda
  • Singapore
  • South Africa
  • Sri Lanka
  • Russia
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • Uganda
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
  1. Permissive: Countries have enacted relatively unrestricted legislation in commercial drone use. These countries have a body of regulation that may give operational guidelines or require licensing, registration, and insurance, but upon
    following proper procedures it is straightforward to operate a commercial delivery drone.

Countries Include:

  • Costa Rica
  • Iceland
  • Italy
  • Norway
  • Sweden
  • United Arab Emirates
  1. Wait-and-see: Countries have enacted little, if any, drone-related legislation and monitor the outcomes of other countries’ regulations.

Fly at or below 400 feet up until a few weeks ago, pilots flying for fun were required to register any drone weighing more than 8 ounces with the FAA before taking it outdoors. Even without the need to register with the FAA, there are still guidelines that apply.

  • Keep your UAS within sight
  • Never fly near other aircraft, especially near airports
  • Never fly over groups of people
  • Never fly over stadiums or sports events
  • Never fly near emergency response efforts such as fires
  • Never fly under the influence
  • Be aware of airspace requirements

For more detailed information, you can bisit the following pages:

Click for more information regarding drone regulations:

PCMag Asia

International Commercial Drone Regulation and Drone Delivery Services

Camera Drone Piloting & Safety

If you fly drones for

  • Work
  • Business
  • Any non-recreational reason—even when there is no compensation offered. This set of operations requires that you have an FAA Remote Pilot Certificate.

Qualifications for flying of drone

  • Be at least 16 years old
  • Be able to read, speak, write, and understand English (exceptions may be made if the person is unable to meet one of these requirements for a medical reason, such as hearing impairment)
  • Have the physical and mental abilities to safely operate a small UAS
  • Pass the initial aeronautical knowledge exam at an FAA-approved testing center

You may also be required to acquire a license if If you fly drones for

  • Local government agencies
  • State government agencies
  • Federal government agencies
  • Public Utilities

The FAA has rules that apply to those who are employed by these entities or are hired by these entities to operate drones.

Government agencies may obtain a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA) from the FAA that outlines the specific conditions that they must follow to fly a drone including pilot certification. In many cases, a COA will authorize operations that are outside of Part 107 rules. Alternatively, they may simply choose to operate under Part 107 regulations.

This set of rules is for people who fly drones for government entities (local, state and federal government agencies) regardless if they are employees or contractors.

Click Here for more information

Camera Drone Manufacturers

DJI

DJI Innovations is headquartered out of Shenzhen, China and they are the most popular Drone Makers in the industry. They produce the phantom series quadcopters with GPS First Person View. Their products are aimed at both hobbyists and professionals.

Current models include the upgraded DJI Phantom 4 Pro, along with the foldable DJI Mavic Pro and the compact DJI Spark.

Yuneec

Yuneec is the world leader in electric aviation. Headquarters are in Kunshan, Jiangsu, China. With offices in North America, Europe and Asia, Yuneec manufactures over 1 million units a year that are sold under OEM/ODM brands. In 2014, Yuneec introduced the world’s first ready-to-fly, out-of-the-box drone. The Typhoon Q500 quadcopter.

In 2015, Yuneec improved the Typhoon by adding a 4K camera and introducing a SteadyGrip that turns the Typhoon into an “Air and Ground Imaging Solution.” Innovative features such as Watch Me, Follow Me, and Dynamic Return Home make capturing the perfect video easier than ever before.

Current models include the Typhoon H 4k , a Hexacopter with Collision Avoidance and the New Yuneec Breeze, a small compact Smart Drone.

Parrot

Parrot a French company, Headquartered in Paris, is a new entrant into the UAV/ quadcopter market, its main specialty is wireless devices for mobile phones and automobiles (i.e. Bluetooth hands free kits). Surprisingly, it has seized a large part of the consumer UAV/ quadcopter market with the AR.Drone and its successor the AR.Drone 2.0 a mid- range hobby drone with integrated FPV system, controlled by a smartphone app.

New models include the Bebop 2 Drone, an advanced quadcopter with lots of features, the Parrot Disco FPV, a fixed wing drone that has 45 min battery life and FPV goggles. The Parrot Mambo mini drone that comes with a cannon that fires miniature balls and a Grabber claw to move objects through the air.

Autel

Autel Robotics has U. S. headquarters in Bothell WA and is a subsidiary of Autel Intelligent Technology Company Ltd. Founded back in 2004 and based in Shenzhen, China. Autel is a company known for producing award winning automotive diagnostic tools and equipment.

Seeing the explosive growth of the drone market worldwide, Autel Robotics was founded in 2014, whose main goal is to research and develop easy-to-use aerial drones for aerial photography and other industries.

They currently offer the X-Star Premium Drone with a 4K Camera, A orange color drone that is in line to compete with the popular Phantom 4 from DJI.

Autel has introduce their first small portable aircraft, The EVO, a compact aircraft packed full of intelligent flight features, equipped with a top quality camera, and foldable for maximum portability.

The Evo isn’t yet available for purchase, but Autel says that it will be priced at about $1,000, which is around what the Mavic Pro is currently going for.

Hubsan

Hubsan is based out of Dong, China and has become well known with its Hubsan X4 models, including the popular entry level Hubsan X4 H107C and the Hubsan H107D FPV X4 Mini RTF Quadcopter,

They also have 2 popular FPV models the H501S with brushless motors and the H502S, both have GPS Positioning, Follow Me, Headless and Altitude hold modes, they also feature a LED display built into the controller.

Popular models and reasonable prices have helped make it a household name in the drone hobbyist market.

Blade

Blade a hobby product distributor based out of Champaign, Illinois and is owned by Horizon Hobby, they manufacture the Blade range of Quadcopters. They offer some enhanced features such as SAFE to make flying their craft easier and safer. From helicopters to multi-prop drones, Blade has many options available, its most popular model is the Blade Nano QX, a great beginner quadcopter. For photography check out the Blade CHROMA Drone. A new model the Blade ZEYROK Drone now available.

The Blade Inductrix FPV is a popular model based on the Tiny Whoop racing craze, Now available in PRO and PLUS models. It is the perfect beginner FPV drone designed for indoor flying.

JJRC

JJRC (JJRC Toy Co. Ltd) is another Chinese toy manufacturer making robots, toy guns and remote-controlled vehicles of all types. They really have a very extensive collection of toys, the majority are remote-controlled kid and hobby drones.

The JJRC H36 Mini Quadcopter and the JJRC H20 Nano Hexacopter are some of the most popular. They are one company constantly presenting new models such as the JJR/C H47 Elfie a Foldable Selfie Drone with a unique one hand G-sensor remote control and the JJRC H31 Waterproof Drone.

Syma

Syma Toys is located in Shantou, China. This drone maker is best known for its remote controlled helicopters, though they have recently broken into the drone market with the highly popular X5C. The Upgraded version X5C-1 Explorer is one of Amazons best selling quadcopters. Other popular models include the small Syma X11 mini-quadcopter and the Syma X5SW Plus Quadcopter Drone with WiFi FPV Camera.

UDI

UDI RC Toys is a manufacturer receiving good reviews for their products. Also based in China, they make an entire line of radio controlled craft from cars and boats to helicopters and quadcopters.

Popular models include the UDI U818A RC Quadcopter and the new UDI U818A WiFi FPV RC Quadcopter Drone with HD Camera. The latest upgrade is the U818PLUS WIFI FPV Drone, which offers a Wide-Angle HD 2MP Camera and a 15 Min Flight Time. Also has Altitude Hold, Headless Mode, along with One-Button Take-off And Landing.

Walkera

Walkera has a drone factory located in Guangzhou City, China. Walkera is a drone manufacturer that offers a range of drone models, originally selling quadcopters like the QR LadyBird V2 Mini Quadcopter and Walkera QRX 350, but now seem to be concentrating more on Racing Drones.

Cheerson

Cheerson Hobby Technology Company Limited was established in 2003. They are based in China in the Guangdong province. Cheerson Hobby specialize in the design and manufacture of many kinds of remote-controlled toys, in particular, the Cheerson CX-20 Drone, which is a mid-level GPS drone with Camera Gimbal support for semi-professional aerial video production.