Flying My Drone or Quadcopter.
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In this post, I will be giving pointers and suggestions on preparing to fly your new, undamaged 😉 Drone.
Being Organized. Where’s the Instruction Manual?
Firstly lets clear up some confusion about the terms “Drone” and “Quadcopter“. For the ordinary person, both terms refer to the same thing – a flying machine that does not have fixed wings to let it fly, instead it uses a number of horizontal propellers, in the case of a quadricopter (Quadcopter) 4, to provide lift similar to a helicopter’s rotor blades. Now you have finally got your Drone home and are excited to get and launch it onto the unsuspecting neighbours. But, a few things to do first.
Open the box and remove the contents (it’s like Xmas again when you were younger) and look at the Drones instruction manual. I know that’s not what you want to do. Think of this as a baby, learning to stop crawling and trying to walk. They don’t have an instruction book to go by, so they keep falling down, lotsa times and sometimes get hurt. You don’t want to keep crashing your new Drone and possibly breaking it, DO you??. You will now be learning how to fly a drone. Real pilots have to read the manual on the plane they are going to fly, what makes you think you are any different huh? you are going to fly a real aircraft as well, OK it might be small but it can still cause damage and injury if you can’t control it. From now on, you will be learning to fly a Drone.
I’ve Got The Power. I Feel Flat no Energy.
Like any vehicle your aircraft engines require fuel to do their job, which is to spin fast to provide lift from the propellers or rotors. “But my aircraft doesn’t have engines” you say. Of course it does, those engines are small electric powered motors, the electric power is “fuel”, that fuel is stored in the battery to be progressively released when the motor requires it. So, do you have new batteries for the controller ready to install, is the battery for the Drone fully charged and ready to be fitted?
Of course, you read the instructions about charging the rechargeable battery, usually fitted to the Drone, didn’t you, and you learned the type of battery and number required for the remote controller?, the correct answer is YES. While the Drone battery is charging now’s the time to go to the store and buy some batteries for the control unit, better get some extras in case you run out of power mid-flight. A little tip here, most rechargeable batteries need to be recharged from flat several times to extend their usable life. That’s because a lot of times the battery does not go completely flat before you charge it up again. Think of it as running a marathon, you need to train building up your stamina to go the distance, by fully discharging then recharging the battery several times you are building up its stamina to give power for the longest possible time that it can.
I’m in Control. Where’s the Controller?
Now comes the (for some people) the most taxing part of learning to fly a radio-controlled aircraft, remembering what the various buttons/switches and sticks do when they are moved or pressed. All of these items are collectively
called controls, they are grouped together on a handheld (usually) construct and called a controller.
The Drone instructions manual, that was also in the box, will explain what the function of each item does, each of them, except for the joysticks, will perform 2 actions of equal and opposite effects on the Drone. The joysticks are able to perform a variety of movements in any direction and degree. If you have ever played computer games or video games with a joystick, you will be familiar with the movements it is capable of. Here comes a history lesson.
A joystick, is the control device in the cockpit of many aircraft, either in the center or to the side. It is used to control the way an aircraft climbs, dives and banks when turning. In 1908 Louis Bleriot, a French Aircraft maker, used one on his Bleriot VII aircraft. The name is generally credited to an early aviator, Robert Loraine, in his diary of 1909 when he was learning to fly at Bleriot’s aviation school, he used the term joystick for the control column. End of history lesson!
I’ve read the Manual I can Fly This. What do I do Now?
Well done, you know it all now do you?, let’s see if you do. You’ve put the batteries in the controller, you fully charged the Drone battery and installed it, what’s next, hmm? Oh right, I must switch the Drone on and switch the controller on. The book says to do this and that until the Drone talks to the controller, its called arming, – done it. Now I can fly it, OK so I just move this stick and it should go, woooo its gone up too quick, better move that stick back, ouch its crashed, what happened?
Using the controls to fly an aircraft of any sort has been likened to handling the reins of a horse, do it gently with no harsh movements. The same is true for the controls of a model aircraft. The other reason for an uncontrolled action is the way the system has been set up. It might need resetting to factory default before you can easily control it.
Most instructions provided with the Drone will give basic help in learning to fly it.
To Recap. Or What to Remember.
There’s more to flying a model aircraft of any sort than what you think. Like a real aircraft, it must be properly set up ready to fly, that means it has fuel – the battery is fully charged, it is in good condition – no loose screws or parts. The control unit has fresh batteries or a spare set on standby, it has been armed together with the Done and will answer the control commands. Last of all, but most importantly, has the pilot – you, practiced with all the different flight control sticks and buttons and knows what each one does and has memorized their position on the control unit. All this is known as preflight checks, and is performed by every safe and responsible pilot of any sort of aircraft both real and model.