Almost every­one who has just bought or is look­ing for a suit­able quad­copter asks a lot of ques­tions: how to con­trol it, what flight rules are in force in Rus­sia, how to take care of the device, and so on. Even if you have expe­ri­ence oper­at­ing such air­craft, we rec­om­mend that you study our guide. Per­haps there is some­thing use­ful in it. For exam­ple, in 2019, new rules for the oper­a­tion of drones on the ter­ri­to­ry of the Russ­ian Fed­er­a­tion appeared. Vio­la­tion of the law threat­ens with seri­ous fines, so it is bet­ter to fig­ure every­thing out in advance.

DJI Mav­ic Air 2 Fly More Com­bo is one of the best ama­teur drones. Pho­to: dji-blog.ru

Explore the capabilities of a quadcopter

Before launch­ing the device into the air, famil­iar­ize your­self with the char­ac­ter­is­tics of the device and under­stand the con­trols. Pay spe­cial atten­tion to the flight range and pow­er source, so as not to find your­self in a sit­u­a­tion where you do not have time to return and land the drone due to a dead bat­tery.

Large man­u­fac­tur­ers have vir­tu­al sim­u­la­tors for con­trol pan­els con­nect­ed to smart­phones or tablets. They allow you to safe­ly learn to fly with­out using a drone. Some mod­els have modes for begin­ners with alti­tude and air­speed restric­tions. So you can quick­ly learn new skills. How to con­trol a quad­copter, video tuto­ri­als, avail­able in large num­bers on YouTube, also help to fig­ure it out.

DJI drone flight sim­u­la­tor. Pho­to: dji-blog.ru

Master the control panel

Con­trollers from dif­fer­ent man­u­fac­tur­ers dif­fer in appear­ance, but the basic con­trols are sim­i­lar. Con­sid­er them on the exam­ple of drones of the famous DJI brand.

  • The left stick allows you to raise and low­er the quad­copter, as well as rotate it left and right.
  • The right stick is need­ed to con­trol the move­ment of the drone for­ward, back­ward and side­ways.
  • The con­troller but­tons con­trol the cam­era, allow­ing you to take pic­tures, record videos, tilt and rotate the lens.

Before tak­ing off for the first time, learn all these con­trols and try to remem­ber them. If you are a begin­ner, first prac­tice the pilot­ing com­mands and then move on to mas­ter­ing all the cam­era func­tions.

Con­troller for DJI quad­copters. Pho­to: newsshooter.com

Choose the time and place for flights

Begin­ners can­not always ade­quate­ly assess the envi­ron­ment and poten­tial dan­gers that can become fatal with insuf­fi­cient pilot­ing skills. Dense archi­tec­ture, tall trees, pow­er lines and oth­er wires will all inter­fere with fly­ing. Near heli­pads and run­ways, launch­ing drones is com­plete­ly pro­hib­it­ed at the leg­isla­tive lev­el.

Be care­ful: the drone can get stuck in a tree. Pho­to: www.aivanet.com

It is more dif­fi­cult to fly at night due to the more dif­fi­cult ori­en­ta­tion in space. It is also nec­es­sary to assess the weath­er con­di­tions. Rain, wind, snow, and fog can inter­fere with engines, obscure sen­sors, dis­rupt trans­mis­sion sig­nals, and even destroy elec­tron­ics. Even in the absence of such weath­er effects in the cold sea­son, you need to care­ful­ly mon­i­tor the con­di­tion of the bat­tery. We will dis­cuss this in more detail below.

Get ready to launch

Before launch­ing the drone into the air, take some time to pre­pare for the flight. A kind of check­list includes the fol­low­ing items:

  • Inspect the air­craft, make sure it is intact. If the air­craft has been dam­aged in tran­sit, it may behave unex­pect­ed­ly when start­ing the engines. At best, it will not even take off, at worst, you will lose con­trol over it.
  • Make sure the bat­tery is suf­fi­cient­ly charged.
  • Con­nect the remote con­trol and cal­i­brate it if nec­es­sary.
  • Pre­pare the take­off and land­ing area.
  • Check how the stock cam­era works.
  • Insert a mem­o­ry card if you plan to shoot video or take a few shots from the air.
Mat for take­off and land­ing quadro­copter. Pho­to: idaptweb.com

Calibrate your drone

If the drone starts to roll to the side or rotate around its axis, it needs to be cal­i­brat­ed. Its process varies depend­ing on the mod­el, but the basic prin­ci­ples are about the same. You should start with auto­mat­ic cal­i­bra­tion — you will find instruc­tions in the man­u­al for your device.

If the device flies with minor devi­a­tions from the giv­en axis, it is pos­si­ble to per­form a mechan­i­cal cal­i­bra­tion, that is, tight­en the device’s thrust reg­u­la­tor. Pro­fes­sion­als also car­ry out soft­ware set­tings for which you need to use the appro­pri­ate soft­ware. Begin­ners are advised to lim­it them­selves to auto­mat­ic cal­i­bra­tion.

Learn to charge your quadcopter

All drones are equipped with charg­ers that work in auto­mat­ic mode. Despite this, we rec­om­mend that you famil­iar­ize your­self with the sim­ple rules for charg­ing bat­ter­ies:

  • Use only spe­cial­ized LiPo charg­ers or pro­gram­ma­ble devices con­fig­ured for this type of bat­tery.
  • Do not leave a run­ning charg­er unat­tend­ed as LiPo bat­ter­ies can ignite if over­heat­ed.
  • Do not charge mul­ti-cell lithi­um bat­ter­ies with­out a bal­ance con­nec­tor.
  • If there is an over­volt­age pro­tec­tion func­tion, always use it.
  • If there is an over­heat pro­tec­tion func­tion, be sure to use it as well. Set the max­i­mum tem­per­a­ture (it should be spec­i­fied in the man­u­al).

How to con­nect the quad­copter to the stan­dard charg­er, you can always read in the man­u­al from the man­u­fac­tur­er.

Charg­ing a drone with a Pow­er Bank. Pho­to: outsidematerial.com

Learn the rules of winter piloting

With the onset of cold weath­er, many leave their drones until spring, and some con­tin­ue to oper­ate them, but not every­one does it right. Win­ter fly­ing has sev­er­al risks:

  • Rapid bat­tery drain in the drone and remote con­trol. With­out the bat­tery heat­ing func­tion, which is not avail­able in every drone, the flight time is reduced by 2–3 times.
  • Neg­a­tive tem­per­a­tures harm the plas­tic of which the body, pro­pellers and oth­er ele­ments are made. If an acci­dent occurs, plas­tic that has become brit­tle due to frost is high­ly like­ly to burst.
  • Icing is the biggest dan­ger to mech­a­nisms and elec­tron­ics.

Usu­al­ly, man­u­fac­tur­ers do not set strict restric­tions on the oper­a­tion of drones in win­ter, and some only indi­cate the min­i­mum allow­able tem­per­a­tures. Some­times even ama­teur mod­els can be oper­at­ed down to ‑10 ° C.

It’s fun­ny, but there are even design­er sweaters for quad­copters. For exam­ple, they are made by Daniel Baskin, a design­er from Cal­i­for­nia. She sells them for almost $200 each, guar­an­tee­ing frost pro­tec­tion and bet­ter bat­tery life.

Design­er sweater for quad­copter. Pho­to: thegadgetflow.com

Take good care of your quadcopter

All drones need reg­u­lar clean­ing, but not all clean­ing prod­ucts are suit­able for this. For­get about harsh house­hold chem­i­cals — you will need the fol­low­ing:

  • soft brush to remove dust and debris deposit­ed on sur­faces;
  • a com­pressed air cylin­der or a com­pres­sor to purge the engine in hard-to-reach places;
  • liq­uid agent. Instead of a spe­cial­ized one, you can use a mon­i­tor clean­ing spray. It will help remove var­i­ous stains, traces of grass and oth­er con­t­a­m­i­nants;
  • microfiber or oth­er soft cloth for fin­ish­ing wip­ing sur­faces.

Clean­ing is desir­able to car­ry out after each flight or at least every oth­er time. How­ev­er, much depends on the oper­at­ing con­di­tions.

Comply with the law

In the spring of 2019, Rus­sia approved Decree No. 658, which reg­u­lates the rules for reg­is­ter­ing drones. All devices weigh­ing more than 250 grams are sub­ject to reg­is­tra­tion. This applies even to toy drones with­out a cam­era if their weight is high­er than this val­ue.

At the moment, reg­is­tra­tion is free — the own­er only pays for send­ing the appli­ca­tion by Russ­ian Post. A let­ter request­ing reg­is­tra­tion of the drone must be sent to the Fed­er­al Air Trans­port Agency. It is also pos­si­ble to sub­mit an elec­tron­ic appli­ca­tion through the State Ser­vices por­tal.

The appli­ca­tion must be accom­pa­nied by a pho­to of the quad­copter, indi­cate its char­ac­ter­is­tics and full name. If it is a pre­fab­ri­cat­ed device, the details of the design­er who owns the struc­ture will be required. Also, the own­er of the drone must pro­vide per­son­al data.

The use of unreg­is­tered drones threat­ens with a fine of 2,000 rubles. Fly­ing over the restrict­ed area is pun­ished even more severe­ly — from 20 to 300 thou­sand rubles. By law, drones can be launched out­side pop­u­lat­ed areas, away from mil­i­tary air­fields, air­ports and oth­er facil­i­ties with a spe­cial air­space con­trol regime.

Up-to-date infor­ma­tion for June 2021: now you can reg­is­ter a drone (and the eas­i­est way) through the Unmanned Air­craft Reg­is­tra­tion Por­tal.