The Drone Report 2016

Rough Idea of Audience for Web site

In 2012 we wrote an introductory article called Rise of the Drones which predicted the consumer drone industry would grow very quickly starting in 2013. This turned out to be the case and drones have captured the public attention (in both positive and negative ways) and have evolved from a DIY pursuit to one which is just now entering the mass consumer market. In this article we will look at the current state of the industry – how it got here and where we predict it is going. At the end of the article we will present an Executive Summary – a quick read for those who have less need for all the details!

Note: As is our forte, we focus on drones for the consumer and hobbyist – in general those under $2,500 at retail.

A Short Rehash of Consumer Drone History

The first consumer quadcopters appeared in approx. 2009-2010 with the introduction of the AR Drone from Parrot as well as some toy and hobby grade models from various Chinese manufacturers. Very few of these machines were reliable or easy to use – however those who persisted in the hobby were able to take flight and get some idea of what the future might hold. Models such as Hubsan X4 and Syma X1 were introduced in 2012 and provided budding pilots with inexpensive and ready-to-fly machines ($40-$60) to hone their skills.

At the end of 2012 DJI Introduced the Phantom 1 Ready-to-Fly quadcopter which had advanced features such as GPS, larger payload (GoPro holder) and long range. This machine turned out to be quite reliable and capable and kickstarted the consumer camera drone revolution.

2013-2015 saw the introduction and/or announcement of many additional machines…but many manufacturers misjudged the amount of engineering and design time needed to perfect these products. Many models were as much as year late (from original announcement) and turned out to be unreliable. Various kickstarter and other crowdsourced models raised millions of dollars – most have failed to deliver.
[Read more…]

Walkera Runner 250 Review Part I – First Impressions

Walkera Runner 250

Camera drones are a dime a dozen these days. DJI, Blade, Walkera, Cheerson, everybody has an entry in this playing field. There is a new segment of this hobby that’s recently been getting a lot of attention that requires a completely different kind of drone however, and that is the 250 class FPV (First Person View) racing drone. Until recently FPV racing was strictly the domain of the hardcore hobbiest. If you wanted to play on this field, you had to roll up your sleeves and build your own drone, tune it yourself, acquire your own FPV gear and equip it yourself. Needless to say this is all pretty daunting for the uninitiated, but there are a couple of new players in the game that are opening up the FPV racing arena to more casual users. The Walkera Runner 250, the Immersion Vortex, and the Storm Racing Drone are 3 popular entries that have opened up the doors to racers who don’t want to build from scratch. This is a first look at one of them, the Walkera Runner 250.

This review will be an overview of what your options are and what you get in the box. Part 2 will be a more comprehensive review of performance, ease of use, and how suitable it is for the market it’s being targeted at: Drone flyers who want to get into FPV racing without having to build from scratch. [Read more…]

3DR Solo is a NoGo for now

Possible Reasons for Solo poor GPS results?
3DR Solo and Remote

3DR Solo and Remote

3DRobotics Solo is a NoGo – 3DR Solo First Look

At we follow the world of consumer UAV’s (unmanned aerial vehicles) very closely. In fact, we spend many hours each day flying, reading, emailing and otherwise soaking up and disseminating knowledge on this fast growing pursuit.

When 3DRobotics announced their new Solo quadcopter in April 2015, it set the drone world abuzz. The company claimed this model was FAR superior to any other camera/gimbal drone on the market.
The claims include these:
1. The world’s first smart drone
2. Can do anything any other drone does and more
3. Every other drone will be looked at as a toy by the end of the year.
4. Solo does 175 things better than other drones (presumably DJI, the market leader).
5. 3DR (maker of solo) will control the market instead of the current leader (DJI).

With claims like these – and many more, expectations were high for a truly groundbreaking product. The drone world awaited the launch of Solo – which was scheduled to be in stores in time for delivery to Dad by Father’s Day, 2015.

Then it happened… [Read more…]

DJI Announces Phantom 3 Standard at $799 complete

Phantom 3 Standard - DJI

A new low! Or, we could say, a new low price…

DJI has announced a new entry model of the Phantom 3 – at the price of $799 complete with camera, gimbal and battery. This is an unheard-of price for a complete RTF camera unit and should allow many more consumers to buy into this fascinating hobby.

What does it have – and what doesn’t it have?

Things are moving so quickly in this hobby that it’s tough to keep up! With the introduction of the P3 Standard, DJI now have 3 models in the Phantom 3 line. The differences are basically as listed below:

P3 Pro – $1259 – 4K Video, Dual GPS, Lightbridge digital video feed to your device, VPS.
P3 Advanced – $999 – HD video, Dual GPS, Lightbridge digital video feed to your device, VPS.
P3 Standard – $799 – HD video, Single band GPS, wifi video feed to your device.

See full story —- [Read more…]

Blade Chroma Quadcopter – Review


Horizon Hobby recently added the Blade Chroma – a modern quadcopter designed for Aerial Photography and Video. The Chroma is perhaps the closest thing to a friendly “plug-and-play” camera machine you’re likely to find in the current market. Here’s our initial Blade Chroma Review:


In terms of size comparison, it’s bigger than both the Phantom 3 and its “smaller brother” the older Blade 350 QX series. It’s almost “400 (mm) size” and lies between the Blade 350 and the Yuneec Q500. The model pictured (there are four in all) is with the CG02 camera, which supports 1080p at 50 fps. There is also a version with a 4K camera (currently available only for pre-order), a model with a “fixed” GoPro and a gimbal-mounted GoPro version. The model we tested with the 3-axis gimbal mounted 1080p camera is currently retailing for $1,100 USD.

Chroma is sold in various configurations including some which allow use of the Horizon Spektrum line of Remotes. This one was purchased Ready to Fly (RTF) from a retailer and comes with the following remote controller:
[Read more…]

Finding Places to Fly and Photograph with your Drone

This is one reason TO buy a Drone!

Finding Places to Fly and Photograph with your Drone.

For some this is very easy – for others a bit more difficult. Here are some hints and tips which may help you find some safe – and photogenic – places to fly!
Note: most of these suggestions assume you know how to take decent pics and videos which you can share with the owners or overseers of the properties.

Learn to use Google, Apple or Bing Satellite Maps to locate large open areas. During a recent trip to Florida, I noticed that a large fairgrounds was just a few blocks away. This area provided a great view of the city and surrounding area and was very safe for flying.

Walking or Biking around an area can often locate some additional places to fly. I founds some large abandoned areas near some railroad tracks which provided an amazing view of a local park as well as the center of town.

Consider your Contacts [Read more…]

Understanding Brushless Camera Gimbals



At the heart of many modern camera drones is a magical device called a 3-axis Brushless Camera Gimbal. It contains many of the same technologies which are in the drone itself. Here is what they are and how they work – explained in the simplest terms possible.

The word gimbal can be used to describe any adjustable camera or compass holder designed to keep the device level. A more accurate description of the quadcopter gimbal would be a 3 – axis camera stabilization and anti-vibration device. It uses brushless motors (powerful and quiet as well as long lasting) to adjust the position of the camera. 3-axis describes that the camera is adjusted in all directions – up/down, left/right and forward/backward (3 dimensions or, as we call it, the real world).
[Read more…]

New ebook – Buying and Flying the DJI Phantom 3 Quadcopter

(hard copy is never free – this is ebook!)
Please share and tell your friends! Note – if you are already an experienced R/C pilot, we ask that you not review this book on Amazon. The reason is simple – it is for beginners and those contemplating a purchase! We have very good reviews but some experienced pilots have downloaded the books and reviewed as “I already know much of this” or “I found this out in one year of cruising the internet”.

Link to book here.

Note – book is always free to those on Kindle Unlimited and also those who can borrow under their Amazon Prime account.


We released our new eBook:
Buying and Flying the DJI Phantom 3 Quadcopter
Book Cover

Like our other eBooks, this is not for those who are already experts with vast experience in Quadcopters and R/C flight. The book is for beginners and those researching the possible purchase of a Phantom 3.

Non-technical and semi-technical Phantom 3 buyers will also gain an overview of all the technologies involved in this new machine.

Here is a list of the basic subjects covered:
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More Reasons to NOT buy a Drone

This is one reason TO buy a Drone!

Take the Test

Newer drones such as the DJI Phantom 3 or 3DR Solo are truly magical. Their capabilities are way beyond former models and they are effectively “miracle machines”.
However, the question remains – will YOU make a good drone owner, operator and pilot?
In order to test as to whether you are a potential Drone or Quadcopter pilot, we’ve made up the following short test. Consider these 7 statements:

“I spent $1K+ for this Quadcopter and it should just work no matter what.”

“Company X should be available to me by phone 24/7/365 and they should answer the phone with a live person who is capable of answering any question about my drone.”

“If there is any problem or fault with my drone, Company X should replace it – quickly, and with no (or few) questions asked.”

“I crashed (or lost) my Drone and I think it’s the fault of Company X – they should replace it or fix it quickly.”

“I should not have to rely on guesses and other users to provide me with technical support.”

“I use this drone for my work with photography/video and therefore cannot be without it. Lost revenues are the fault of Company X and therefore they should serve me even better and quicker”.

“I consider myself a tough customer and spend a decent amount of time on complaints, calls to manufacturers, lawsuits, etc. to make sure I get what I paid for”.

Think about these statements as a typical survey where you might answer True or False – or even with a 3-way answer such as Strongly Agree/Neutral/Strongly Disagree.
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DJI Phantom 3 Quadcopter – First Look, Review and Rating

Phantom 3 Pro received a new Phantom 3 Quadcopter (Professional 4K model) at the beginning of May and have been flying it regularly since then. With about 20 flights under our belts, it time to do a First Look, Review and Rating on this new quadcopter.

We purchased the Phantom 3 Pro (4K) direct from DJI’s online store for $1259.00 including shipping and a single battery. At the time of our purchase DJI was experiencing a delay in Apple’s approval of the IOS DJI Pilot App, meaning that only those with an Android device could fly the P3. Luckily, a member of the forums on mentioned that BestBuy was selling a Moto-X phone with no (phone) service included for $29.95 – so with a quick trip to the mall I was ready to fly.

DJI’s (too) Early Release

For various reasons, some of them “inside baseball”, DJI decided to release the Phantom 3 a few weeks before they should have. This has resulted in some “burps” such as the delayed released of the IOS Pilot App as well as some other shortcomings. In the month since the release, many of these items have already been fixed or updated, but they are worth mentioning in an early review. Here are some of the issues:
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