So you think you can pilot a drone?

So you think you can pilot a drone?

Drones are in right now. They’re new and exciting and as a result there are a lot of options out there. Hobby-grade drones can range from as little as $30 to as much as $2000, so it’s safe to assume there is an array of options to choose from.

So many that it may be a little daunting for first-time drone pilots. The chances of crashing your very first drone are high… So you don’t want to rush out and spend top dollar for something that you’re probably going to break. Down the cheaper end of the scale, there are still many do’s-and-don’ts.

Here are a few handy hints when deciding which craft to purchase:

  • Go small. Mini quadcopters don’t fly for long or fair well outside, but they are an inexpensive way to learn how to control a four-propeller craft remotely and they won’t do much damage to your belongings when you inevitably fly one into your TV.
  • Shop online. Hobby stores aren’t yet stocking a wide range of $30-$100 drones, which is the margin you want to stick to for your first time.
  • Look for propeller guards. These will minimise damage to the drone and the things it crashes into.

Here are a few options that come highly recommended by beginner-consumers:

1. Air Hog Helix X4 Stunt

Price: $65
Why buy? The Air Hog Helix is covered in Styrofoam armour. A very safe bet for a first-time user. 70% of consumers rate this craft between 4 and 5 stars and say it is a great beginner drone, handy for practising control and orientation. The armour absorbs impact well and it takes a lot damage. It can withstand a light breeze, but keep it inside in anything gustier as its light design can be easily picked up in heavier wind.

2. UDI RC U839

Price: $30
Why buy? This miniature drone is super easy to fly. Unlike most miniatures, it has propeller guards, which make it a great beginner-proof craft that even kids can have fun with. Again, 70% of consumers rate the UDI RC U839 between 4 and 5 stars. Most reviews are from beginners, who say this was their first drone purchase and has taught them the basics of control. Small enough to fly indoors, but slightly more powerful than most small drones, this craft can withstand a light breeze if you feel like taking it outside.


Price: $63
Why buy? The main reason for this drone’s popularity is simple; it has a camera. The quality of footage is about what you’d expect for the price, but for amateur aerial cinematographers it is a great inexpensive place to start. 80% of consumers rate this craft between 4 and 5 stars, saying it’s easy to fly and fun to use. It’s bigger than the other crafts, so outside only. It fairs well in medium wind, but the materials are inexpensive (hence the price), so keep it grounded in heavier gusts. It comes with removable propeller guards, which are recommended for beginners but as your skills grow, you can ditch the guards to offload some weight.

Already have a mini quad and looking to upgrade to something bigger? Make sure to check out I-Drone’s range of hobby and professional drones –

I-Drone announces “Projector Drone” Concept

I-Drone today is proud to announce a projector drone concept, developed by the team in Melbourne & Brisbane, Australia.

Press Release:

World first: ‘Projector Drone’ shows sky no longer the limit for video projection.

It sounds futuristic but a flying projector drone is now very much a reality. This exciting world first is being developed by the team at Melbourne-based company, I-Drone.

The ‘Projector Drone’ is capable of beaming news, games and advertising over the walls of a city near you.

The proof of concept vehicle is able to fly for 12 minutes at a time, features its own on-board data storage and a 500 lumens projector. The company is already working on more sophisticated features, including live streaming data, pan and tilt projector controls and ultrasonic sound capabilities. 

Ryan Hamlet, the company’s Project Manager, has said “We are dedicated to pushing the boundaries of what drones can do. We want to go beyond ‘eye-in the sky’ applications. Our ‘Projector Drone’ does not record the world around it. It broadcasts onto it.” 

“The ‘Projector Drone’ is one of our favourite projects and has been developed in partnership with the team at Mini”

Since early 2013 I-Drone has explored remotely piloted aircraft systems for a range of uses, from farming, photography, creative, emergency response, industrial applications and sports coaching. 

I-Drone are now in the process of looking for commercial and educational partners to continue this project with them.

DJI has released the Ground Station function for Phantom 2 Vision and Phantom 2 Vision+

DJI has released the Ground Station function for Phantom 2 Vision and Phantom 2 Vision+ users. This function will be available within the updated DJI Vision app for iOS and Android.


The DJI Vision app is being updated to iOS v1.0.41 and Android v1.0.50.
Major New Features

Ground Station support with:
Planned flight missions of up to 16 custom waypoints.
One-touch “Go Home” function.
Flight safety protection:
3.1 miles (5km) flight distance limit.
Ground station is automatically disabled when the Phantom battery level falls below 30%.
1640ft (500m) maximum flight radius from HOME point, 656ft (200m) altitude limit.

Important: Ensure that your Phantom is running the latest firmware v3.04.

CASA to move on from Small RPA’s

There is a solid basis for Australia’s aviation regulator proposing those operating remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) weighing less than two kilograms under specific conditions will not require a licence, experts say.

The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) says unmanned aerial vehicles two kilograms or less represent only a small risk to safety.

In issuing a notice of proposed rule making (NPRM) for amendments to CASR Part 101 it is seeking comment on allowing these vehicles to be flown without a licence under certain conditions.

Under the proposed CASA changes, these smaller RPA’s can be flown without an unmanned aircraft system operator’s certificate or remote pilot certificate, under a number of specific conditions.

The RPAs have to be less than 400ft above the ground; flown in daylight conditions; be flown outside of controlled airspace; more than 30m away from people; more than 5km from an aerodrome; and a line of sight has to maintained with the vehicle.

CASA’s recommendations came after it conducted a risk assessment for small RPA of two kilograms and below to investigate the potential harm to people, property and other airspace users.

“The general consensus is that RPA with a gross weight of two kilograms and below have a very low kinetic energy, pose very little risk to aviation and have a low potential for harm to people and property on the ground and other airspace users,” CASA said.

Deputy director of the Sir Lawrence Wackett Aerospace Research Centre at RMIT University, Reece Clothier, said CASA was the first to regulate unmanned aircraft more than a decade ago and welcomed the latest proposal.

“Looking at all the considerations, most importantly safety but also the practicality and the economic argument, they have actually done that class of the industry a positive thing in reducing the regulatory burden,” Dr Clothier said in an interview.

“The approach they are using is justifiable, it is risk based so is defensible from that respect and for that I think what they are doing is really good.

“The Australian industry is very well placed and actually owes a lot of where it is today because of those proactive measures that have been taken by CASA.”

The editor of industry website UAS News Gary Mortimer said CASA’s proposal was a sensible move.

“Putting in place clear guidelines for sub two kilogam use gets rid of all grey areas and that is the right thing to do,” Mortimer said via email from South Africa.

“Australia and the UK did the right thing starting with strict rules and relaxing them as operational experience is gained.”

Regulations of these sorts of vehicles is a growing concern in the aviation industry, given their rising popularity and increasing affordability.

And approaches vary among different countries. For example the United States has banned almost all non-government use of remotely piloted aircraft, commonly referred to as drones.

There have also been some near misses and accidents in recent times.

In 2010, a RPA came within 30 metres of a Virgin Australia 737 on approach to Perth airport.

“Fortunately the RPA was caught in the jetwash (or more commonly known as wake turbulence) which in turn caused it to spiral towards the ground,” CASA deputy director of aviation safety Terry Farquharson told a Canberra seminar in July 2013.

“This incident could have been lot worse that it appears to be.”

Farquharson said the rapid growth of the RPA sector represented one of CASA’s key challenges, given a study in 2013 by the US-based aerospace and consulting firm Teal Group forecast RPA spending to double from $5.2 billion to $11.6 billion over the next decade.

“These are big numbers,” Farquharson said.

“This sector has emerged as the most dynamic growth sector of the world aerospace industry this decade.”

The deputy director said the increasing numbers and of small RPAs and their varied capabilities in Australia meant it was “impossible for CASA to effectively regulate all of them”.

“We have to address the current reality. There is no point in CASA writing regulations that can’t be enforced,” Farquharson said.

Submissions to CASA’s Notice of Proposed Rule Making to part 101 of the regulations are due by June 16.

Phantom 2 Vision Firmware v1.1.9 Released

DJI have just launched v1.1.9 firmware for the FC200 camera, adding long awaited Adobe DNG RAW support! Metadata for Adobe DNG RAW files will also include GPS location and relative altitude. Please follow update procedures carefully. DJI will keep working to further improve the quality of the RAW file and providing the best aerial photography solutions to our customers.

1. The latest version of the DJI Vision app can now be downloaded. (iOS: v1.0.32; Android: v1.0.38)
2. Firmware for the Phantom 2 Vision FC200 camera has been updated to v1.1.9. Please download through our website.

Update Procedures:
1. Download the latest camera firmware and unzip it.
2. Copy the “firmware.bin” file to the root folder of an empty Micro-SD card (32gb or lower).
3. Make sure the camera is turned off, then insert the Micro-SD card.
4. Turn on the camera.
5. Firmware update will begin automatically. A yellow flashing LED on the camera indicates that the camera is updating.
6. When the flashing stops, the update is finished. After a successful update, the “firmware.bin” file name will change to “firmware.bin.bak00”. This file can then be deleted.

Special Notes:
1. During the update, do not turn off the camera or take out the Micro-SD card. This may prevent your camera from switching on and will need a factory reset.
2. A fast red flashing LED on the camera after the update means the update has failed. Please try again.
3. You must use the latest DJI Vision App (iOS App: v1.0.32; Android App: v1.0.38).