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The best drones in construction: the ultimate guide to use cases and how to make money

The use of drones in construction has demonstrated a key example of how drones make industrial applications more efficient, safe and cost-effective. So what is the best drone for construction?

Once you consider price versus specs, the DJI Mavic 3E comes out on top. But there are tons of other players in the growing segment.

And yes, the construction segment is still growing strong. According to fresh data from German-based analytics group Drone Industry Insights (DII), construction ranks second among all industry verticals that use drones. That’s according to the group’s Drones in Construction Market Report, which was released in June 2024.

While the market for drones in construction is worth an estimated $4.8 billion currently, indicators suggest it could grow to $6.2 billion by 2024. That makes for a compound average growth rate (CAGR) of 4.5%. That’s just ahead of the agricultural drone industry, which is worth $3.6 billion in 2024.

Interestingly, that’s actually lower than the estimated CAGR for the drone market as a whole, which is expect to grow at a CAGR of 7.1% to be worth $54.6 billion by 2030. But it’s not for lack of interest in using drones for construction. Rather, it’s that interest is already high, that there isn’t much room to grow, DII’s data suggests.

DII shared a neat graphic about drones in construction, that goes a long way to sum up the industry highlights in one chart:

Drone Industry Insights drones in construction 2024
Graphic courtesy of Drone Industry Insights

The top benefits of using drones in construction

Improved Site Planning and Surveying: Drones equipped with high-resolution cameras and LiDAR technology can rapidly capture detailed aerial imagery and topographical data. The growth of reality capture software from companies like DroneDeploy and Pix4D has made these use cases even more prevalent.

Data generated via drones in tandem with such software can then build survey-grade accurate and geo-referenced orthomosaics, points clouds, 2D maps, and 3D models for analysis, inspections, and measurements. These images, maps and measurements aid in accurate site surveying, helping construction teams to plan effectively and identify potential issues early on.

In fact, the top reason people used drones in 2023 was for mapping and surveying, according to a separate DII survey.

Image courtesy of DII

Enhanced Safety Monitoring: Drones enable construction managers to remotely monitor job site safety, assess hazardous conditions, and ensure compliance with safety regulations without risking human lives.

Progress Tracking and Reporting: Real-time aerial data allows for better project tracking and reporting. Construction progress can be monitored regularly, reducing delays and optimizing resource allocation.

Cost Efficiency: By reducing the need for manual inspections and surveying, drones lower operational costs while increasing overall project efficiency. This cost-effectiveness extends to maintenance inspections, where drones can swiftly inspect hard-to-reach areas like rooftops and bridges.

Marketing and Stakeholder Engagement: Aerial photography and videography captured by drones provide compelling visual content for project marketing and stakeholder presentations, enhancing client engagement and investor confidence. For example, did you see that Apple Campus 2 drone footage? And what about that preview of Hong Kong Disney’s Frozen land? Aerial construction videos definitely help build hype.

The best drones for construction in 2024

Choosing the right drone depends on specific project requirements, budget considerations, and the desired functionality. Here are some of the top drones favored in the construction industry:

DJI Mavic 3E: best overall for mapping and modeling

DJI Mavic 3 Enterprise drones in construction
Drone makers are leaning into enterprise drones, such as DJI’s Mavic 3 Enterprise, to hedge against the hobby drone market shrinking.

The DJI Mavic 3E stands out as a runaway leader in a ranking of the best drones specifically for mapping and modeling. In fact, drone mapping software company DroneDeploy said that the roughly-$4,000 DJI Mavic 3E is easily the No. 1 used drone for reality capture.

When you factor in the features relative to the price tag, it’s easy to see why this one comes in as best overall.

Key Features of the DJI Mavic 3E:

Launched in October 2022, the DJI Mavic 3 Enterprise took the shell of the existing Mavic 3 drone, but leveled it up with way fancier tech, including:

  • 56× zoom camera
  • 45 minute flight time
  • Mechanical shutter
  • 100W fast charging and a three-battery 100W charging station
  • RTK module
  • Advanced obstacle avoidance (APAS 5.0 enables automatic rerouting around obstacles)

What is the DJI Mavic 3E best for?

Large-scale construction projects requiring precise aerial inspections and mapping. That’s all due to the drone’s RTK module. Short for Real-Time Kinematic, RTK is critical for building models with centimeter-level precision — which is almost always a critical component of any construction project.

With the Mavic 3E’s RTK module comes support for network RTK, custom network RTK services, and D-RTK 2 Mobile Station (that’s DJI’s upgraded high-precision GNSS receiver that supports all major global satellite navigation systems, providing real-time differential corrections).

It also has basically the best of what every other drone in this guide promotes as their standout feature. Like the Phantom 4, it’s got a mechanical shutter. At 45 minutes of flight time, it’s not the longest, but it’s still pretty long.

Consider it a combination of the best features of every other drone here — hence it’s the winner of best overall drone for construction.

Drawbacks of the DJI Mavic 3E

The big drawback here is the name tied to it — DJI. DJI has been facing an uphill battle lately primarily among Republican politicians who are seeking to ban Chinese-made drones through legislation like the American Security Drone Act of 2023, which would prohibit federal agencies from purchasing drones made by Chinese government-linked countries. Even more strict is the proposed Countering CCP Drones Act, which could ban DJI drones if passed. But hey, maybe that just means you should buy a DJI drone now, before they potentially become incredibly tough to come by in the U.S.

You also have to consider that we factored price into our calculations. At about $4,000, the DJI Mavic 3E is affordable to a small startup or sole proprietor. Do realize though that other drones in this guide are more advanced, with features like thermal applications that the Mavic 3E can’t do (there is a roughly-$6,000 Mavic 3T, with T for thermal, though if that’s the specific feature you need). If you’re picking a drone for a larger company — or just generally have a bigger budget — you can afford to do better.

DJI Matrice 300 RTK: best for thermal applications

drones in construction DJI Matrice 300 RTK

Equipped with the Zenmuse H20/H20T camera options, the DJI Matrice 300 RTK stands out not just for its visual cameras (offered as both zoom and wide-angle cameras) but also for its thermal imaging capabilities.

It costs nearly $14,000, but even still the demand is far higher than the supply. At most drone dealers, it’s still on backorder and won’t be available for sometimes close to a month after placing your order.

Key Features of the DJI Matrice 300 RTK:

  • Dual-camera system (Zenmuse H20/H20T)
  • Up to 55 minutes of flight time
  • Advanced AI capabilities for automated inspections and intelligent flight planning
  • Robust weather resistance in harsh conditions

What is the DJI Matrice 300 RTK best for?

They call it “the cyber workhorse” — and the name is fitting. With up to 55 minutes of flight time, advanced AI capabilities and multi-directional obstacle sensing, the M300 RTK is an incredible combination of strong and smart. This drone is basically the perfect peak of both brains and brawn.

Especially given the powerful transmission system that transmits up to 15 km away, the Matrice 300 RTK is best suited for large-scale construction projects requiring precise aerial inspections and mapping.

Drawbacks of the DJI Matrice 300 RTK

Much like the concerns about Chinese government ties that the DJI Mavic 3E contends with, the DJI Matrice 300 RTK grappes with those same, aforementioned challenges.

Plus given that the Matrice 300 RTK costs $14,000 but the Mavic 3E is only about $4,000, there’s a huge price difference to contend with.

And finally, you might also consider the DJI Matrice 350 RTK, which is a slightly newer model to the beloved Matrice 300 RTK. Debating between the DJI Matrice 350 RTK vs Matrice 300 RTK? Check out my comparison guide.

DJI Phantom 4: best budget pick

dji phantom 4 review

It’s true: the DJI Phantom 4 is still the reigning king in photogrammetry. And it stands out for a few reasons, which are:

  • Cost: this powerhouse is the cheapest of any drone in this guide at just about $2,000
  • Mechanical shutter (better for overcast days)
  • DJI Terra and DJI Modify software

Read on for a deep dive into the DJI Phantom 4’s best specs:

DJI Modify
A screenshot shows how 3D models can be edited in DJI Modify. Image courtesy of DJI.

Key Features of the DJI Phantom 4:

  • Camera with 1-inch 20MP sensor
  • Five-directions of obstacle sensing
  • Video processing support for H.264 4K videos at 60fps or H.265 4K at 30fps, both with a 100Mbps bitrate
  • 30 minutes flight time

What is the DJI Phantom 4 best for?

Even though this drone came out in 2016 (which is ancient in drone years), it’s tech is in some ways better than more modern drone technology. That in large part has to do with the Phantom 4’s mechanical shutter, which is critical in reducing motion blur (a problem especially pronounced on overcast days).

It’s your best bet if you want to use DJI Terra, which is a DJI-made software designed to take existing 3D models and repair minor defects in them. And even though the DJI Phantom 4 is an older drone, DJI has been constantly improving on the Terra software. In fact, at the beginning of the year, DJI launched an enhanced software called DJI Modify, which brings an intelligent 3D model editing component into DJI Terra.

Drawbacks of the DJI Phantom 4:

The drone is so old, that you might find it out of stock. It’s out of stock on DJI’s own story, though you can find it through major retailers like Amazon.

The aircraft itself is also not as powerful as other picks in this guide. For example, it offers a relatively-low 30 minutes of flight time. And as far as obstacle sensing goes, it was a huge leap when the Phantom 4 launched back in 2016. In fact, it was the first drone I ever flew with obstacle sensing; this tech was unheard of in consumer drones. But these days, the tech is way better, with full, omnidirectional sensors that can intelligently navigate around obstacles much better than the Phantom 4 can.

And once again, don’t forget about those anti-China, anti-DJI concerns that keep bubbling up.

Sony Airpeak S1: best for carrying Sony Alpha cameras

drones in construction sony airpeak s1

Sony originally made the Sony Airpeak S1 drone to carry its Alpha series of cameras, which largely appeal to high-level cinematograpers. But while Sony initially envisioned its drone as appealing to Hollywood, the drone has turned heads in the industrial side. So much so, that in April 2023 Sony launched critical updates to its drone that were all enterprise oriented, including the addition of an RTK GNSS system for the Airpeak S1.

Key Features of the Sony Airpeak S1:

  • Customizable in allowing you to pick the Sony Alpha camera you want
  • Might be more affordable if you already own a Sony Alpha camera for other use cases
  • Wind Resistance up to 44.7 mph
  • RTK GNSS system
  • Obstacle avoidance and braking
  • Up to 55.9 mph Maximum Flight Speed, plus wind resistance up to 44.7 mph

What is the Sony Airpeak S1 best for?

Even though it was originally marketed toward cinematagraphers, the Sony Airpeak S1 has become a dream for precision mapping.

It’s especially great for people who already own any Sonya Alpha cameras, as you can potentially save money by not having to buy a separate sensor just for a drone. Plus, you can use that Alpha camera for more than just aerial photos — which isn’t the case across drones that have built-in cameras. Among those include the beloved ILCE-7C (Sony Alpha 7C Full-Frame Mirrorless Camera).

The drone is also super powerful, capable of flying at high speeds and in high winds. Just spend the day flying with Sony test pilot Craig Coker as proof.

For mission planning, Sony’s drone best works with AirData UAV. AirData’s software generates drone data analytics and executes UAV fleet management for mission planning.

Drawbacks of the Sony Airpeak S1

Price is a huge factor here. On the surface, the Airpeak drone itself costs $9,000, but it’ll end up costing you more like $20,000. That’s because you’ll still need your own camera and lenses. And should you need a gimbal, that’s also not included. Budget an additional $2,000+ for the gimbal, between $1,800 and $6,500 for the camera body, and at least $1,000 for the lens.

Another big bummer with this is the weak battery life. Even though Sony followed up its initial launch with a far more powerful 3,938mAh Enhanced Battery, that still only increased the battery life from 22 minutes to just 30 minutes — and that’s without a payload. If you’re using a standard payload kit, say, the RTK Kit, PX1 gimbal, an A7RIV, and the Zeiss 35mm F2.8, then expect average flight times to drop down to 20 minutes.

SenseFly eBee X: best for long flight times

drones in construction sensefly ebee mapping fixed wing

While more 80% of the drones used in construction are multirotor drones, according to DII’s reporting, some fixed-wing drones serve a powerful niche for massive sites. That’s all due to their inherent power in executing longer flight times. And with that, SenseFly’s eBee X ranks among the best fixed wing drones in construction if you demand long flying times.

Key Features of the SenseFly eBee X:

  • 90 minutes maximum flight time
  • Interchangeable payloads (RGB, multispectral, thermal)
  • On-demand RTK for highly accurate survey-grade mapping capabilities (1.5 cm / 0.6 in absolute accuracy)

What is the SenseFly eBee X best for?

For pilots seeking a lightweight, long-range drone, the eBee X is your pick. And yes, light weights make the drone able to fly longer and more portable, but it also comes with regulatory advantages. In fact, the eBee X is approved to run Operations Over People (OOP) in both Canada and the U.S., which is critical for urban construction sites.

This drone is actually surprisingly easy to fly, so it could cater well to people who aren’t drone pilots at heart. It takes off via an easy hand-launch, and it flies in an automated path using the eMotion mission planning software, which is included. And though that software does have advanced features, it’s actually quite beginner-friendly.

Drawbacks of the SenseFly eBee X

As is the case with most fixed wing drones, it can be difficult to make a precise landing — and even the beginner-throw is only possible if you throw it right. The eBee X often can be difficult to launch without wind. As far as landing, the drone often ends up skidding if landing on gravel or brush, which can damage the drone. You’ll also need a long landing area, which likely won’t work in urban areas.

Additionally, the sensors just aren’t as powerful as most of the other drones in this guide — especially relatively to the flexibility of powerful sensors you could opt for in something like the Sony Airpeak X1 drone.

One more note: Though we’re calling out the eBee X here , you also shouldn’t overlook another solid pick, the Sensefly SODA. Made in Switzerland, the SODA drone is known for its rugged design, long flight times, and compatibility with various sensors, making it ideal for large-scale mapping projects.

Skydio X10: best for navigating complex environments autonomously

drones in construction Skydio X10
Photo courtesy of Skydio

The Skydio X10 makes use of advanced AI technology to navigate complex environments — all without a pilot (and generally better in terms of flight path optimization than what most human pilots would do anyway).

Launched in late 2023, the Skydio X10 also stands out for its high-resolution cameras, lightweight portability and powerful airframe. Plus, it’s the only pick in this guide that’s made in America

Key Features of the Skydio X10:

Among the key Skydio X10 features include:

  • Multiple cameras: 48 MP Zoom Camera, 50 MP Wide Field of View Camera and 640×512 FLIR Boson+ Radiometric Thermal Camera
  • NightSense: software designed to enable autonomous flight even in zero-light environments
  • Durable airframe: IP54 weather resistance rating, modular and open style with four payload bays
  • Safety features to prevent drone jamming: It’s called Skydio Connect, and it’s a connectivity system with a redesigned point-to-point link. The system uses a multi-band radio which is critical for flying in contested and jammed environments.

What is the Skydio X2 best for?

At more than $10,000, this is going to be an ultra-high end drone for someone with deep pockets. Simple mapping projects don’t need something this robust, but this drone stands out if you’re seeking something more versatile for perhaps even other applications like first response, critical infrastructure inspections or even military applications.

If you’re solely committing to using it purely for construction, it’ll best stand out in complex construction sites with dynamic obstacles, dark lighting conditions, and/or tight spaces.

And of course, if you require an American-made drone for construction, this is your best pick.

Drawbacks of the Skydio X2

Cost is a big one, necessitating a higher initial investment compared to consumer-grade drones. In fact, many critiques say it’s overpriced relative to its capabilities.

There are also a few weaknesses compared to other picks here such as flight times. This one’s maximum flight time is a moderate, 40 minutes.

Comparing the best drones for construction

Here’s how the best drones for construction compare:

Best for pilots who prioritize… Estimated price Standout features Flight time (minutes)
DJI Mavic 3E Overall quality of mapping and modeling features relative to the price $3,600 Versatility with a mechanical shutter, 56× zoom camera, and an RTK module for centimeter-level precision 45
DJI Matrice 300 RTK Thermal applications $13,000 Dual-camera system (Zenmuse H20/H20T) 55
DJI Phantom 4 Budget $2,000 Affordability and a mechanical shutter 28
Sony Airpeak S1 Flying the Sony Alpha camera series $16,000 Ability to carry and interchange any camera from the Alpha series, as well as other payloads 22 (without payload, or more like 12 with payload)
SenseFly eBee X Long flight times $11,000 Ultra-long flights and lightweight design 90
Skydio X10 Navigating complex environments $16,000 American-made, excellent obstacle avoidance 40

How to learn more about drone mapping

Mapping and drones in construction go hand-in-hand. To learn more about whether it’s worth getting into drones in construction, start off with a drone mapping course.

These can be a low-commitment, affordable way to dip your toes in. For example,  Drone Launch Academy’s Drone Mapping And Modeling Fundamentals course costs just $400. The course teaches you how to collect and process data using easy-to-fly (and easy-to acquire) drones like a DJI Mavic 2 Pro or a DJI Phantom 4 Pro V2.0, which is called out in this guide as one of the best drones in construction.

The post The best drones in construction: the ultimate guide to use cases and how to make money appeared first on The Drone Girl.

How to make a drone light show with your students

Drone light shows are becoming more popular and offer a great career path for drone fans. And as it turns out, you could put on a drone light show in your own high school drone program.

That’s via the Drone Blocks light show drone kit, which costs about $7,500. Though that might be pricey for a high school to invest in, it’s reusable year after year. As long as your school can swallow the budget, this kit is the perfect way for STEM teachers and drone enthusiasts who want to create a drone light show. The kit includes everything you need to put on a successful show.

Just imagine the recognition a teacher would get for teaching students how to put on a drone light show and then actually making it happen. Consider it a guaranteed way to be named “Teacher of the Year.”

DroneBlocks light show kit: what’s included 

The DroneBlock drone light show kit comes with all the hardware and the proprietary software any STEM instructor needs to put on a successful mini drone light show.

The kit includes 10 swarm drones, 3 4-channel chargers, 30 batteries, 12 propeller sets, and a handful of repair tools (screwdrivers, propeller guards, etc.). The kits also include a base station setup including 5 tripods, 4 base stations, 1 relay station, and more.

The kit costs $7,495, which includes 10 drones. But of course, more drones make your shows more dynamic and interesting. You can buy your drones in increments of 10. A 20 drone kit costs $14,240 and a 70 drone kit costs $45,490. 

Unlike the impressive drone shows at Disney World, these drones are specifically designed for indoor use and engineered to perform in low-altitude light shows. While it’s technically possible to set up a drone light show outdoors, such as on a school’s football field, less-than-ideal weather conditions could jeopardize your event. (Any winds exceeding 7 mph can affect their flight paths).

To set up, place the base stations in the corners of the area. These stations triangulate the drones’ locations in real time, eliminating the need for GPS.

STEM educators should ensure they have a space large enough indoors to put on the show (and for an audience).

A High School Robotics Program Elective prepares for its drone light show in the gym. Photo Courtesy of DroneBlocks

How to put on a drone light show

Purchasing the kit grants you access to user-friendly software, a drone light show curriculum, and technical support from the DroneBlocks team. 

The included software features an intuitive interface, allowing future drone designers to visualize and edit drone formations in real time. With its drag-and-drop functionality, students can arrange the drones into intricate patterns and shapes.

Students can show off their artistic side as well, but creating fun drone designs and matching up the patterns to music. This is a fun and different way to add the A into STEAM. 

The software also includes a real-time simulation feature, enabling users to preview their shows before the actual performance. Additionally, a mini quick-start guide is available for all kit purchasers. The guide features two 10-15 minute videos: a 10-minute setup guide and an in-depth design module. After watching these setup videos, you’ll be ready to create endless drone light shows.

Who is DroneBlocks drone light show for?

If you run a small after-school STEM program and have access to funding or grant opportunities, the drone light show kit could be a solid choice. 

This kit is ideal for a fun, after-school project rather than a full-blown STEM curriculum. Note that it doesn’t include lesson plans or a structured curriculum. Lack of curriculum isn’t a bad thing though. Instead, classrooms are encouraged to lean into the creative aspects of editing and designing drone shows through the software. And for what it’s worth, DroneBlocks promises to be available with customer support for purchasers.

Still note, this isn’t for a teacher seeking a cookie-cutter project where they can kick back and let the students go. Consider this more well-suited for a small group of high-achieving students, such as those enrolled in a STEM-focused after-school program.

Classrooms with a robust budget

Starting at $7,500, the drone light show kit is a significant investment and may not be suitable for every educator. The kit doesn’t include lesson plans, a scope and sequence, or a structured curriculum. Given that, it’s generally better for a small number of students in specialized programs.

If you’re looking to start a STEM program, the drone light show kit might not be the best option. Instead, consider purchasing a single educational drone, such as the DroneBlocks Crazyflie drone or the Raspberry Pi drone kit. These options come at a much lower price point and are better suited for larger groups of students.

For educators seeking a more comprehensive computer science-based curriculum centered around drones and suitable for larger groups of students, consider the DroneBlocks curriculum paired with the educational Crazyflie drones. This comprehensive drone curriculum costs $495 per year and includes software access for unlimited students, offering the opportunity to explore DroneBlocks coding with or without drones.

Is DroneBlocks a worthwhile investment to make a drone light show?

While the initial investment is substantial, the drone light show kit from DroneBlocks can be used repeatedly, providing year-after-year and show-after-show value. Considering the average cost of a professional drone light show, the DroneBlocks kit is one of the most cost-effective ways to put on a drone light show.

Moreover, many grants are specifically written for STEM opportunities, offering various ways to secure funding. The DroneBlocks drone light show kit introduces students to career opportunities in the drone industry. Plus, it allows them to showcase their learning to friends and family with an unforgettable drone light show.

The post How to make a drone light show with your students appeared first on The Drone Girl.

The best drone mapping classes to level up your skills (and make more money in your drone business)

There are a lot of people trying to make money in drones. You’re a competent, talented pilot. You’re free to fly drones for work on the side. And most pilots start with standard, visual images. But the real money is in enterprise and commercial work, like modeling and mapping. So how do you learn how to do that? Consider a drone mapping class.

The best online drone mapping classes cost less than $500, meaning a relatively small investment can pay huge dividends in the kind of work you’re able to do with your drone. Even in-person training can cost less than $2,000. Such an investment can pay dividends in the type of drone work you’re able to do for clients. And having higher-level skills simply means you can charge more money.

Yes, doing more with your drone than taking simple photos can translate to a huge pay bump for your business. What’s great about learning drone mapping is that you don’t even need a full college degree. A low-cost course like the ones named here can give you a huge amount of knowledge — in way less time and for way less money than going to college.

Certainly many people who work in mapping and modeling and who use drones have advanced degrees in fields such as GIS, surveying and mapping. But you don’t necessarily need a college education to land jobs, and plenty of the most successful drone pilots in mapping space are self-taught.

That said, drone mapping and modeling isn’t typically something a novice can just dive into without training. Typically, these types of operations involve flying around expensive infrastructure and equipment, which you don’t want to risk damaging should you not be certain in the flight controls. And the data is not valuable if you don’t know how to actually collect it.

That’s where drone mapping courses come in.

The best drone mapping courses of 2024

Ahead of enrolling in a drone mapping course, consider a few factors, including:

Experience level: Are you a complete beginner, or do you have some drone flying experience? Beginner courses will focus on fundamentals, while advanced courses will delve into specific software and techniques.

In-person versus online: How do you learn best? Some people prefer online self-paced learning. Others like the convenience of an online course that they can participate in from home, but like the real-time feedback that comes from a live event — in which case a live virtual workshop might be best. And then there’s the folks who value that in-person touch. In-person drone mapping courses are out there, too.

Budget: Drone mapping courses range in price, so factor in your budget when making your decision. This guide focuses on online courses that cost less than $500, as well as in-person courses that at least cost less than $2000.

UAV Coach’s Drone Mapping Essentials (online: $499)

The Drone Mapping Essentials online course was created by drone training leader UAV Coach in partnership with PilotByte. Led by industry expert Dylan Gorman (who happens to be Pilotbyte’s founder), the course consists of more than 100 hours of instructional videos, netting more than 10 hours of learning modules.

There are also quizzes, plus downloadable resources like checklists that make executing real-world flights easier.

UAV Coach’s program also includes real world, downloadable data sets so you can practice your skills on actual projects. Modules include:

  • Equipment and Software Overview
  • How to Generate Accurate Maps
  • Methodology for Data Acquisition
  • Software for Data Processing and Visualization
  • Ground Control Point Utilization & Workflows
  • Post-Processed & Real-Time Kinematic Data Capture
  • How to Create Professional Data Deliverables

The course culminates with a final exam. Upon passing that exam, you will receive a certificate of completion, which can be useful in showing off to clients.

What’s nice about the course is it doesn’t force you to pay extra for drone mapping software, as this course specifically teaches to free software for mapping and data processing.

Register for the UAV Coach mapping course for $499 here.

UAV Coach’s Drone Mapping Essentials 2-Day Workshop (in-person: $1,999)

If in-person is more your thing (it’s certainly my thing), then UAV Coach also offers a 2-day workshop.

The in-person workshops present an opportunity for pilots to develop their drone mapping skills even further, taking the knowledge learned in the course and putting it to use in the field with the guidance of a master instructor.

You’ll learn some of the same topics that are taught in the online course, such as photogrammetry basics, mission planning, RTK and PPK concepts. But, this adds in the extra component of hands-on activities such as actually capturing 3D and manual map data out in the field, as well as going back to the computer to learn how to process RTK and PPK data using Pix4D Mapper and other software tools like Emlid Studio.

Courses are offered periodically in major cities around the country, such as Atlanta, Chicago, Denver and Houston. Check out the list of upcoming workshops here.

It costs $1,999. Sure, it’s far more expensive than the online courses, but the real-time feedback, in-person networking and higher potential for learning retention by being engaged and there might be worth it. And yes, it includes lunch too.

For what it’s worth, the $1,999 also includes complete access to the company’s online drone mapping course ($499 value) as described above.

Drone Launch Academy’s ‘Mapping and Modeling Fundamentals’ (online: $399)

drone mapping class
A screenshot from the Drone Mapping And Modeling Fundamentals course by Drone Launch Academy.

The folks over at Drone Launch Academy, which is primarily known for its Part 107 test prep course, also run a mapping class dubbed “Drone Mapping And Modeling Fundamentals.” Among the things you’ll learn in the Drone Launch Academy course:

  • What data is important to clients, and what data you’d need to collect.
  • How to collect and process data.
  • How to land government contracts.
  • What equipment you need (and it’s not necessarily out of your budget).

Typically, you’ll just need a drone with a quality camera, like a DJI Mavic 2 Pro or a DJI Phantom 4 Pro V2.0. You’ll also need drone mapping and modeling software. While some of these softwares can be expensive, many offer free versions with limited capabilities.

Drone Launch Academy’s Drone Mapping And Modeling Fundamentals course is divided into sections that include:

  • An intro to Photogrammetry
  • Data acquisition fundaments
  • Nadir vs. oblique imagery
  • GSD
  • Absolute versus relative accuracy
  • Automated flight plans
  • Front and side overlap settings
  • Common GIS files and software outputs
  • Manual georeferencing
  • Annotating marker maps
  • GeoTIFF files and .SHIP files
  • Creating reports

It’s extensive, and it’s thorough. And while the course is normally a still pretty affordable $399, Drone Launch Academy is offering Drone Girl readers an exclusive, $150 discount. Enter coupon code DRONEGIRLMAPS at checkout to get $150 off. That brings the $399 down to $249, and the discount should automatically apply with this link.

With the $399 course fee (or $249, with my promo code), you’ll get:

  • Lifetime access to the complete drone mapping class, which will teach you exactly how to create maps and 2D models with your drone.
  • The option to join a cohort of other students who work alongside as you go through the course (that option is designed for people who want help staying accountable and on track to finish the course in just 6 weeks).
  • Access to Drone Launch Academy’s community of fellow drone mapping students, where you can ask questions, share your work, and network.

Drone Launch Academy has historically had a solid, consumer-first business outlook in all aspects of drone training.  For example, when it comes to the Part 107 class, Drone Launch Academy is so confident in its product that — if you fail your in-person exam — Drone Launch Academy will pay for you to retake it. That’s an $150 value in itself, on top of a course refund (an additional $199 value). Drone Launch Academy also has a prominent spot with the FAA as one of just a handful of TRUST administrators.

If you want to get more advanced, you might also consider enrolling in Drone Launch Academy’s Drone Mapping and Modeling Pro, which dives deeper into mapping and modeling software, as well as how to create detailed reports for your clients. Though, that course costs $599, which didn’t meet my threshold for recommended online drone mapping courses. There are just so many good budget-friendly options under $500.

Pilot Institute’s Drone Mapping, Modeling & Surveying Bundle (online: $299)

This course bundles together three separate but related topics: mapping, modeling and surveying. With about 10 hours of combined video instruction across all the topic areas, this is a better course for someone who wants a broad overview of lots of areas rather than a deep dive into one.

That’s not to say you won’t still get in the weeds. You’ll learn how to create models with drone mapping software such as Bently ContextCapture, and Pix4D.

The mapping specific portion spans 3.5 hours and includes practical flight planning strategies, while also teaching you how to process your imagery and create high-quality maps using Drone Deploy, Metashape, and Pix4D.

Sign up for the Pilot Institute course for $299.

Aerial Mapping and Modeling Live Virtual Workshop from DARTdrones (live, virtual: $750)

For the best of both worlds between in-person and online, you might consider the DARTdrones Aerial Mapping and Modeling Live Virtual Workshop.

It’s a live course, with a real instructor who talks to you and can answer your questions in real-time. Thus, it offers all the benefits of an in-person course. That includes the ability to ask the instructor on-the-spot questions with instant responses, more customization and higher engagement. And then there’s the added benefits of an at-home training course: no commute to the classroom (instead you get to stay on your couch). You don’t have to wear pants if you don’t want to.

Register for the DARTdrones live virtual workshop for $750 here.

Why drone mapping is a natural next step in your drone business

When most people initially launch their drone business, it’s fairly common to start by using drones to photograph standard visual images, like real estate photography, art or architecture photography, or event photography. In short, all things you can photograph with a standard visual camera.

But as drones get cheaper and more ubiquitous, the market has become somewhat saturated. Many drone photographers report losing real estate jobs to the 15-year-old kid with a drone willing to work for $15 an hour.

Perhaps more surprisingly though is, despite a “saturated market,” there’s still a shortage of drone pilots. But the shortage is in pilots who are capable of serious, enterprise drone flights, and who have dedicated knowledge that runs deeper than simply knowing how to take off and land a drone, and take some pictures with it.

DroneAnalyst, which is an independent consulting group covering the drone industry, found in its annual report that most drone service providers say they can’t hire qualified pilots fast enough. In fact, 10% of drone service providers in 2021 said that “difficulty finding pilots” is one of their top issues, up from just 6% who reported that in 2018.

And with that skillset, you could make serious money. In 2021, nearly half (46%) of providers made more than $50,000 annually, according to DroneAnalyst’s report. Most of the companies in DroneAnalyst’s survey are sole proprietors and teams smaller than five. For sole proprietors, $50,000 annually is pretty serious side hustle income.

Free ways to learn about drone mapping and modeling

Though the courses above are affordable, free is still better than paid. Here’s a few recommendations of ways you can learn drone mapping and modeling for free.

Sample Drone Launch Academy lessons

Drone Launch Academy is offering Drone Girl readers with a few freebie lessons from its drone mapping class. This not only gives you a sense of what the rest of the course is like, but it also serves as a great, free class to watch anyway — even if you don’t go through with the rest of the course. Free learning!

The three free lessons are (watch them at the link below):

Sign up for the Drone Mapping And Modeling Fundamentals course here. Enter promo code DRONEGIRLMAPS at checkout to save $150 and bring your price down to just $249.

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Turn to books

There are also books out there that teach content similar to what’s taught online, albeit in paper format. Books aren’t for everyone, and they won’t give you some of the key learning tools these classes can offer, like downloadable datasets to try your hand at real-world work. There also won’t be the practice quizzes or certificates of completion.

But, some people like that written word they can break out on the train, on the beach or wherever else books are read.

One of my favorite books about drone mapping was written back in 2015 but is still highly relevant today. That’s “So You Want to Create Maps Using Drones?,” written by National Geographic photographer Kike Calvo. Written in the form of a field guide, this book explains, in easy-to-understand language, basic concepts of photogrammetry and spatial data, and techniques for mosaicking drone photos.

DroneDeploy Insider

DroneDeploy Insider free video streaming service

DroneDeploy Insider is a streaming service owned and operated by drone mapping software company DroneDeploy. The service primarily airs past DroneDeploy Conference talks, plus videos made specifically for the service. Considering how expensive it is to attend a DroneDeploy conference, this offers an excellent opportunity to get the same content at no cost — all from the comfort of your living room. Visit DroneDeploy Insider here.

The post The best drone mapping classes to level up your skills (and make more money in your drone business) appeared first on The Drone Girl.

The best, paid drone membership programs and communities for pilots and industry experts

In the ever-evolving world of drone technology, staying ahead of the curve is crucial. To stay competitive, maximize your connections and push your skills to the next level, you would be wise to join a drone membership program or community.

And sure, there are plenty of great, free online drone communities, which I’ve outlined previously on The Drone Girl (and participate in myself). But it’s often the paid drone pilot communities that tend to offer a more robust trove of resources and expert insights.

Free is good, and always preferred. But in my more-than-10 years reporting on the drone industry, I’ve often found that sometimes the drone membership programs that mandate recurring dues inevitably have higher levels of engagement and more quality discussion. Plus, the best drone membership programs often include more than just a place to chit chat with others, but can also entail member-exclusive discounts on drone-related products, free resources (such as access to exclusive libraries of videos, webinars and PDFs), job boards and sometimes freebies, like swag or invitations to IRL events.

Yes, I know having to pay for one more subscription service can be annoying. But drone pilots who own small businesses might be able to make their drone membership community does a tax write-off (do check with your accountant first). And pilots who work for companies with learning stipends might be able to make their drone membership count as a qualifying expense.

With that in mind, here’s a guide to some of the best drone membership programs and communities to join (broken down by type of group, but listed in alphabetical order):

AUVSI: best for policy makers and established businesses

For pilots especially interested in drone industry advocacy, AUVSI likely fits the bill. As the world’s largest non-profit organization dedicated to unmanned systems (including drones), AUVSI has been seen as a source for championing the safe and beneficial integration of drones into society.

The group represents corporations and professionals across more than 60 countries — most of whom work in either government, academia or the actual industry (whether that’s defense, civil or commercial markets).

AUVSI is behind one of the world’s biggest, annual drone events: the XPONENTIAL conference. XPONENTIAL 2024, held in April 2024 in San Diego, stood out this year for its new Cyber City area that focused specifically on digital defense.

AUVSI membership benefits include:

  • An invitation to join a local AUVSI chapter (which entails IRL meetups)
  • An exclusive career center
  • Access to annual, in-depth industry reports
  • Discounts to events, including the aforementioned XPONENTIAL conference

AUVSI is best geared towards drone pilots who want to:

  • Contributing to the responsible development and use of drone technology.
  • Staying ahead of the curve on industry trends and regulations.
  • Networking with key decision-makers in the drone space.

Membership fee: $150 annually, though there are plenty of discounts, including if you commit to more than a year, or if you’re an active or retired military member.

Drone Dojo: best for tinkerers and DIY drone builders

Drone Dojo gets a shoutout in my guide to the best free online drone communities given its free-to-join forum, but there’s another, more-hidden community that’s far more vibrant: the Drone Dojo Discord.

The company first rose to prominence in the drone industry when it launched its Raspberry Pi drone kits. These kits were revolutionary in taking the guesswork out of what types of pieces you need to make your own drone, instead shipping it to you in a $1,000 Raspberry Pi drone kit (with a corresponding / taking you through the process, step-by-step).

Since then, Drone Dojo has expanded its offerings with far more courses and kits, including:

You get access to the Drone Dojo Discord by joining its $27-per-month Blue Belt community (but use this link to get your first month for just $1). This hobby-oriented community targets DIY-drone builders who like to tinker with drones on their own. Its also valuable for people who want to learn more about how to code drones — or even make their own drone light show.

Beyond access to that exclusive Discord community, Drone Dojo membership benefits include:

  • Github code access
  • A t-shirt
  • $30 discounts on drone and rover kits
  • Access to all the Drone Dojo courses

Drone Dojo is best geared towards drone pilots who want to:

  • Tinker, hobby, and generally turn a dream for a drone project into reality.
  • Learn through a range of styles, from structured video courses to vibrant online communities.
  • Actually build physical stuff, including drones and light shows.

Membership fee: Starts at $27 per month, but use my discount link to get your first month for just $1. High tiers unlock more benefits like deeper discounts, custom zoom call consultations and free rental kits.

Drone Launch Connect: best for pilots looking to launch a drone business

Aspiring to transform your drone passion into a profitable venture? Drone Launch Connect is a community that caters specifically to commercial drone pilots — and in particular those who want to make money in drones.

It’s also a super compelling drone membership program because members get access to many of the classes within Drone Launch Academy’s robust offering of courses, which cover topics ranging from getting your drone pilot’s license, to leveling up your drone company’s social media presence.

For people who were going to sign up for something like Drone Launch Academy’s $199 Part 107 Remote Pilot Exam Prep Course anyway, then joining for just a quarter at least is a no-brainer.

Membership benefits include:

  • Access to roughly two-dozen online workshops, including Drone Launch Academy’s Part 107 course, courses that cover the basics on flying DJI drones, guides to getting airspace authorization and more.
  • Invitation to live, bi-weekly expert Q&A sessions.
  • Additional discounts on pricier Drone Launch Academy courses not included in the Drone Launch Connect package, such as their $799 Drones to $1k course.
  • An invitation to Drone Launch Live, which is an in-person drone event happening later in 2024 in Florida (exact date tbd)

Drone Launch Connect is best geared towards drone pilots who want to:

  • Launch a business in the commercial drone industry.
  • Secure high-paying freelance or full-time drone pilot positions.
  • Network with other commercial drone businesses and industry professionals.

Membership fee: $87 quarterly or $290 annually (annual subscription is effectively two months free).

Though if you want to join Drone Launch Connect, you’ll want to jump on this now. Come Friday, June 28, Drone Launch Academy is putting a temporary halt on accepting new members. So get in on this killer membership deal before they put a cap on the community size.

EAA: best for pilots interested in unique aircraft beyond just drones

True to its name, the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) fosters a vibrant community for all things aviation, including drones. While not solely focused on drones, the EAA offers valuable resources and networking opportunities for drone pilots.

Its signature event, EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, is one not to be missed. Held annually in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, it’s world’s largest airshow and features amazing aerial acrobatics, all sorts of aircraft on display (ranging from fancy private jets to fun, experimental planes), and great entertainment. I went to EAA in 2016, and I can’t wait to go back.

Annual membership dues starts at $48, and gets you discounts to EAA AirVenture Oshkosh (which alone can pay for itself), alongside other benefits such as:

  • A monthly subscription to Sport Aviation magazine
  • Invitation to local EAA chapter events and meetings
  • Free admission to nearly 400 museums, including the EAA Aviation Museum in Oshkosh

EAA is best geared toward drone pilots who:

  • Have a broader interest in aviation beyond just drones.
  • Seek a supportive network of pilots and aviation enthusiasts.
  • Want to access member benefits and discounts on all sorts of aviation-related products and events.

Or, you could pay $1,495 for lifetime EAA membership. It technically pays for itself after about 31 years, but that doesn’t account for inevitable, inflation-related increases in annual dues. Plus, lifetime EAA members get bonuses goodies that money can’t buy, like a personalized lifetime member jacket, as well as a lifetime member personalized ID card, patch, pin, plaque and decals.

Membership fee: $48 per year (individual) or $60 per year for a family membership (includes a spouse and any children under the age of 18).

Choosing the right drone community

The best paid drone pilot community for you hinges on your specific goals and interests. Are you chasing breathtaking aerial visuals or aiming to build a commercial drone business? Do you crave industry advocacy or simply want to stay informed on regulations? By carefully considering your needs, you’ll find the perfect community to propel you forward in your drone pilot journey.

What drone membership programs do you belong to? Was it worth it to pay to join? Tell me about them in the comments!

And speaking of paid communities, The Drone Girl community is — and always will be — free to participate in. I want to make my content free to provide access to information for everyone. That said, I make money purely off sidebar ads, affiliate links and donations like yours. I know the ads are annoying, but I must pay my staff! If you want to keep content like this going and minimize the irritating ads, please consider making a donation today!

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The post The best, paid drone membership programs and communities for pilots and industry experts appeared first on The Drone Girl.

The best places to learn to fly a drone online in 2024

Interested in mastering drone flight? While there are plenty of in-person drone courses, the convenience and affordability of online learning are hard to beat. Many online drone flying courses are available at a fraction of the cost of traditional in-person sessions, with some even being free.

These online drone flying courses are not only affordable but also flexible, allowing you to easily fit learning into your busy schedule.

Whether you’re seeking a structured program led by professional instructors or self-paced videos, online platforms offer a variety of options to suit your timetable and budget.

We’ve compiled a list of the best places to learn how to fly a drone online in 2024:

Drone Launch Academy

Drone Launch Academy, known for its Part 107 course (and flashcards!) for drone pilots seeking commercial licenses, also offers a Drones 101 course.

In this course, you’ll learn about the basic components of drones, current drone applications, and eight practical flight exercises you can practice at home.

The course is divided into 9 lessons, each containing multiple videos and a quiz at the end. With video durations ranging from 2 to 7 minutes, it’s easy to fit into your busy schedule.

The self-paced course costs $49 for lifetime access, or you can join the Drone Launch Connect community for $29 per month to access all 19 workshops. There’s even a promotional offer—your first month is just $1 with coupon code ONEDOLLAR.

DARTdrones

Prefer structured group learning but struggle to find in-person options? DARTdrones offers a live 4-hour virtual course covering safe drone operation and flight practice assignments.

You’ll have access to an instructor to address any questions, as well as a 1-hour self-paced course and a recording of the workshop after completion. However, these virtual courses are infrequent, with only one scheduled in the next 3 months.

The course costs $220, significantly cheaper than attending an in-person DARTdrones course.

Pilot Institute

Pilot Institute, known for its ‘Private Pilot Made Easy‘ online flight course, also offers a Drone Flying 101 course.

The course provides 2 hours of video content covering drone legality, basic flight maneuvers, weather considerations, how to become Part 107 certified, and more. Additionally, it includes basic and advanced photography lessons, distinguishing it from other online courses. 

Taught by drone and airplane pilot Greg Reverdiau, the course aims to enhance safety in both manned and unmanned aircraft industries.

Enrollment in the Drone Flying 101 course costs $99 for lifetime access.

UAV Coach

UAV Coach, creator of Drone Girl’s top-recommended Part 107 course, offers a drone pilot skill builder course.

Designed for both new and experienced drone pilots, the course consists of 6 lessons covering drone flight training and FAA airspace authorization application. Taught by UAV Coach founder Alan Perlman, the self-paced online course costs $99 and includes a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Fearless Drone Academy

drone online Fearless Drone Academy

Feeling nervous about your inaugural flight? Fearless Drone Academy is designed for novice drone pilots experiencing fear and overwhelm.

The course includes video tutorials, guidance from a drone expert, a pre-flight checklist, and access to exclusive events. 

Throughout the course, you’ll be guided by Australian drone expert and YouTuber, Dan Davis from DansTube.TV, addressing common beginner queries like flying over water or selecting appropriate apps.

The self-paced course comprises 15 sessions, ranging from 3 to 20 minutes each, and also includes a learning app and regular giveaways for students. The course fee is $100.

Use the code SALLY20 at checkout for 20% off Fearless Drone Academy’s drone course.

Free drone flying courses

Drone Launch Academy pay retake fail part 107

For those on a tight budget, several free online options are available. UAV Coach’s YouTube channel offers a wealth of free information for beginners. This video on flying a drone for the first time is a great place to start.

Additionally, the FAA’s TRUST test, a prerequisite for all novice drone pilots, is free after completing a short online course.

Pilot Institute also provides a free course covering drone regulations and flight safety. You’ll get considerably fewer video lessons than the Drone Flying 101 course, but it’s an excellent way to test out Pilot Institute’s courses.  

For those seeking specialized knowledge, such as DJI Mini 4 Pro or Autel Evo Max 4T, Pilot Institute offers courses tailored to specific drone models.

Where do you recommend as the best places to learn how to fly a drone online in 2024? Share your secrets in the comments section for fellow Drone Girl readers!

The post The best places to learn to fly a drone online in 2024 appeared first on The Drone Girl.

How to charge drones on the go using DJI Power (and other portable charging stations)

Looking for an efficient way to charge drones out in the field? Pilots traveling between jobs might have to rely on weak car chargers or coffee shop pit stops to recharge. For pilots literally out in the field, there might be no way to recharge, period.

That’s where portable power stations come in. Portable powerful stations have become easier to come buy, cheaper to buy, and, well, more powerful in recent years.

Among the most notable picks you’ll find in this guide? Two products made from the world’s largest drone maker itself: DJI. That’s because, in April 2024, DJI just unveiled two impressive options of its own. Those are the DJI Power 1000 and DJI Power 500, both designed to keep your drone soaring on the go.

The more established names in portable power stations include Jackery, which also stands as one of the leading manufacturers of efficient solar generators. There’s also Bluetti, which even scored a CES 2023 Innovation Product Award for its solar power system.

But it’s perhaps most difficult to take our eyes off of DJI’s offerings, which are newest to market of any picks in this guide. Despite being known for drones, DJI’s portable power stations are a logical fit. After all, the company has more than a decade’s worth of battery research and development.

So with that, here’s your ultimate guide to the best portable power stations on the market today.

The best portable power stations to charge drones with

Traditionally, drone pilots have relied on car chargers or bulky generators to recharge in the field. Car chargers offer limited power and slow charging times, while generators can be noisy, fumey, and bulky to transport.

Portable power stations offer a sleek, silent, and powerful solution. For example, DJI’s Power 1000 generates just 23 dB, which is quieter than most household refrigerators.

And you don’t necessarily need to be a drone pilot to benefit from portable power stations. These products appeal to campers, who want to keep phones and lights recharged without the blaring noise of a generator disrupting their peace out in nature.

Even if you’re not camping, these products are great to have on hand at home in case the power goes out and in other emergency situations — especially if storms put out the power for extended periods of time.

So with that, here’s a guide to some of the best options, specifically chosen for the needs of drone pilots (but great picks all around for anyone):

DJI Power 1000

charge drones portable charging station DJI Power 1000

Perhaps unsurprisingly that one of the best portable power stations for charging drones comes from the world’s largest drone maker itself, DJI.

DJI launched the Power 1000 in April 2024 as the ultimate accessory for drone pilots flying out in the field. This powerhouse offers exceptionally high capacity and is perfect for extended trips or multiple drone batteries. It boasts fast charging, capable of itself being fully charged in just 70 minutes. It can be charged to 80% in just 50 minutes.

Here are some other key specs on the DJI Power 1000:

  • Battery capacity of 1024 Wh
  • Weighs 13 kg
  • Maximum power output of 2200W

When you pair this charging station with separately-sold charging cables that integrate with certain DJI drone batteries, a 10%-charged battery can get to 95% within about 30 minutes. That’s via the DJI Power SDC super-fast charge function, which works with most of DJI’s newer drones.

It has two 140W USB-C output ports, with a total power output of up to 280W. Additionally, it supports both 1200W Fast Recharge Mode and 600W Standard Recharge Mode. And, it pairs with the Zignes 100W Solar Panel for solar charing, too.

Though the sticker price is $999, we’ve seen it as low as $699 on third-party retailers such as B&H Photo.

charge drones portable charging station DJI Power 500

DJI Power 500

More portable than its bigger sibling, the Power 500 is ideal for shorter adventures and fits well in a backpack. It prioritizes fast charging as well; again, it can be fully charged in 70 minutes.

Here are some other key specs on the DJI Power 500:

  • Battery capacity of 512 Wh
  • Weighs 7.3 kg
  • Maximum power output of 1000W

That same DJI Power SDC super-fast charge function found in the 1000 also functions here, too. It has two 100W USB-C output ports, with a total power output of up to 200W. Additionally, it supports both 5400W Fast Recharge Mode and 270W Standard Recharge Mode.

It’s basically half as powerful as the DJI Power 1000. But, it’s also delightfully half the price. It comes in at just $499 (though there tend to be frequent sales on this product. I’d consider $379 to be a really great price).

EcoFlow River 2 Pro (768 Wh)

At just $429, this is the most affordable portable charging station in this guide. Sure, you’re not using this to power an RV, but it’s still certainly more than enough for drone pilots on the go. It can charge a 40WH drone 15 times in one charge.

The station itself can fully recharge in just 70 minutes. And, it’s rated for 3000 full charge cycles. That means you could recharge it every day for more than 8 years.

Not only is it affordable, but its also lightweight, too, coming in at 17.2 lbs. A built-in handle also makes it extra portable.

It’s actually more powerful than the DJI Power 500, yet it’s about $70 cheaper. So what’s the drawback? One big one: no USB-A. USB-A is the most commonly known USB type, which is a real letdown to not have it.

Jackery E2000 Plus Kit (4kWh) Portable Power Station

charge drones portable charging station Jackery

This high-end option is among the most powerful (and expensive) stations in this guide. Don’t settle for just charging consumer drones. This would power up high-end drones, as well as even more robust objects needing power such as RVs and large appliances. It costs $1,999.

Here’s where this product gets extra compelling: the potential for a 30% tax credit. This purchase makes you eligible to claim the residential clean energy credit. Though, contact your utility provider to confirm eligibility and find out more about the requirements for Residential Clean Energy Credit programs.

With 10 total ports, options include AC, USB-A, and USB-C. It has a rated max output of 1,800 W and a rated capacity of 3,000 Wh. It takes 2 hours to get back to a full AC recharge (though it can get to 80% in 1.3 hours). The unit itself is rated for 4000 full charge cycles.

It also supports capacity expansion, as the Explorer 2000 Plus can be expanded up to 12 kWh. What’s more, it can be expanded up to 24 kWh when paired with a parallel drain plug.

charge drones portable charging station Bluetti

Bluetti AC200MAX (2048Wh)

The king of capacity in this group, the AC200MAX can handle the most demanding drone shoots and power your entire campsite. Yes, that NEMA TT-30 and 12V/30A DC port are perfect for RV dwellers.

It boasts various ports and supports solar panel charging (at an additional cost) for extended use. Wireless charging adds even more convenience. Consider it capable of powering most appliances less than 2200W.

Just how powerful is it? You could charge a 50Wh drone 34 times. Or, you could charge a 10 Wh phone 170 times. You might use it to power a 60W fridge for 28 hours straight.

At $1,699, it’s slightly less expensive than the $1,999 Jackery 32000 Plus Kit named above, despite being more powerful by some metrics? Why, it promises just 3,500 charge cycles versus the Jackery’s 4,000. But, you might never even hit 3,500. 4,000 charge cycles means a recharge every day for nearly 11 years.

And though you can charge AC200MAX with solar panels and wall outlet simultaneously, you will need a second Bluetti AC adapter for dual AC charging.

Drone Girl’s picks, compared

Those are quite a few options. So how do they really stack up against each other? Here’s a look at some of their key features, compared:

Feature DJI Power 1000 DJI Power 500 EcoFlow River 2 Pro Jackery Explorer 2000 Plus Bluetti AC200MAX
Capacity (Wh) 1024 512 768 2042 2048
Weight (lbs) 28.6 16.06 17.2 61.5 61.9
Price (USD) $999 $499 $429 $1,999 $1,699
Ideal For Extended trips, multiple batteries Shorter trips, backpacking Weekend trips, fast charging Heavy load devices (like huge drones and RVs) High-demand shoots, camping
Standout Features High Capacity, Fast Charging Portable, fast charging, lightweight Fast charging, Compact 30% tax credit eligible Massive capacity, solar panel compatible
Ports USB-C, AC, Car port USB-C, AC, Car port USB-C, AC, Car port 2 USB-A, 2 USB-C, 5 AC Outlets, 1 Car Port 16 ports total: AC/USB/Car port/100W PD/NEMA TT-30/12V/30A DC port

Choosing the best portable power station for your specific needs

The best overall portable power stations I’d recommend in some capacity are named above. But how do you pick the best one specific to you? Consider some of the following factors:

Your own drone’s battery requirements: How many watt-hours (Wh) does your drone battery consume? A station’s capacity (Wh) should be high enough to recharge your battery multiple times.

Mobile app integration: One of the best, nice-to-have-features you’ll find on a portable power station? Smartphone app integration. With this, stations give you the ability to execute tasks like monitoring battery life and controlling power output.

The number of devices you need to charge at once: Are you just charging your drone, or do you need to power laptops, cameras, and other gadgets? The number and type of ports (USB-A, USB-C, AC outlets) will determine how many devices you can charge simultaneously.

The ability to recharge your portable charger: What if your portable power station runs out of power? That might very well be the case for, well, power uses. If so, consider prioritizing power stations with built-in solar panel compatibility. For example, DJI sells a Zignes 100W Solar Panel designed to integrate with the DJI Power 1000/500 using the DJI Power Solar Panel Adapter Module.

That makes not just for eco-friendly recharging, but recharging specifically on the go.

Portability: Do you prioritize a lightweight option for easy backpacking, or can you handle a heavier station with a larger capacity?

Budget: And of course, portable power stations range in price depending on capacity, features, and brand. These picks suit a range of budgets — which might ultimately be the final determining factor.

Safety: Last but not least is safety. Look for stations with built-in protections against overcharging, short circuits, and overheating. Make sure the station’s output wattage is compatible with your devices to avoid damage.

And don’t overlook other safety standards. For example, both the DJI Power 1000/500 have passed 26 product test certifications from the Swiss third-party testing authority, SGS. Meanwhile it’s built with fuses and flame-retardant, high strength material.

The post How to charge drones on the go using DJI Power (and other portable charging stations) appeared first on The Drone Girl.

The best drones for kids in 2024

Looking to get an awesome gift for a child? Maybe you’re an educator looking to get a drone to facilitate a child’s learning about STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and math).

Whether you’re looking into the best drones for kids for their education or for their entertainment (or ahem, both!), drones are a fantastic tool to enrich a kid’s life.

Looking for more guides around drones and kids?

free Tello drone DJI Tello review Ryze drone best overall drone for kids under $100

The best drone for kids overall of 2024: Tello

The best drone for kids by a long shot is  Tello, a $159 kid-friendly drone that combines DJI flight technology and an Intel processor to create a budget camera drone that also can be used to teach newbies the basics of programming. It’s a great little drone for people looking for a low-cost introduction to stunt flying and shooting videos, as well as people looking to learn how to use drones and how to code, making it one of my favorite educational tools, too. The Tello drone, which weighs just 80 grams, can fly for 13 minutes and shoot 5-megapixel photos.

Price: $159

Flight time: 13 minutes

Read my full review of the Tello drone here.

Was the Tello drone discontinued?

Now if that all sounds too good to be true, sadly it might be. It appears that Tello might be discontinued. As of mid-to-late 2024, the $99 Tello drone appears as sold out on DJI’s stop. Third parties such as Amazon still sell Tello. But even there, quantities are limited (mostly to used versions only).

The Drone Girl reached out to DJI for official comment and only got a vague answer.

“Currently, the Tello series is still being sold in the United States, and we will continue to provide technical and after-sales support to the customers,” a DJI spokesperson told The Drone Girl. “We have been working hard to provide global users with drone products that meet different needs. We will continue to launch new products that are accessible, easier to use, and meet entry-level or educational needs, so stay tuned.”

As for you, jump on this one now if you want a Tello drone. Otherwise, it’s potentially gone for good.

The best if you want to quickly get in the air and learn how to fly: Tomzon Mini Drone

The Tomzon Mini Drone ($32.99) is very similar. We’ve grouped them because they almost seem like the same drone. Go for the former as it’s typically cheaper. But if it’s sold out – or you find the latter on sale — which it frequently is — then it might end up working out.

Both are super simple to get flying. There’s no app to connect with or no fiddling with syncing it to your phone. But while that’s a blessing, it’s also a curse. With this drone, there’s no smartphone connection to see what the drone’s camera could be seeing. Well, this drone doesn’t even have a camera to begin with. These drones are strictly for flying (and are capable of some stunts like “3D rollover”). They have a few modes including high and low-speed modes or headless and compass modes. Thus both are great if your primary goal is learning how to fly.

Price: $32.99

Flight time: 8 minutes

Read my full review of the Tomzon Mini Drone here.

The best if you want to build your drone: Techvio Mini Drone

This DIY Drone Build Kit comes with 159 easy-build pieces, so kids can build their drones and different styles and colors. The body is made out of Lego-like blocks for an easy build process for all ages.

Once flying, the drone has several features that make it easy to fly for kids and beginners like altitude hold and one key take off/land. Kids can learn the basics of building drones, while also having fun flying their custom-built drone.

Price: $62.99

Flight Time: about 10-15 minutes

The best toy drone for dinosaur lovers: Pterosaur Drone

This mini drone dinosaur toy comes with a simulated look and a pterodactyl shape. For $39.99, you can have a fun, easy to fly drone that is perfect for any dinosaur lover. The drone even roars like a dinosaur at the press of a button.

This drone comes equipped with many of the beginner toy drone features that make it ideal for kids and first-time flyers, like one key takeoff/landing, headless mode, speed setting and more.

Price: $45 (on sale for $39.99)

Flight time: 14 minutes

The post The best drones for kids in 2024 appeared first on The Drone Girl.

The best indoor drones of 2024

A lot of people fly drones outside, but what about inside? Whether the weather is rough outside, or just the airspace is too chaotic to operate in, flying indoors is often a preferred solution. But drones don’t always perform well inside. Some drones are BETTER when flown indoors. So with that, here are the best indoor drones of 2024:

Many of the drones in this guide are on the cheaper end, which sadly means they don’t hold up well in the slightest breeze. But many also work great outside, providing you with the most options. Our top pick among the best indoor drones out there has an incredible Level 5 Wind resistance.

Oh, and by the way, if you’re seeking advice and legal guidance around flying drones indoors, I’ve got you covered right here.

So without further adieu, here are the best indoor drones of 2024:

The best indoor drone: DJI Avata

To fly Avata, you’ll need a controller, goggles and the drone itself. Pictured here are the DJI Goggles 2, DJI Motion Controller and Avata drone.

Price: Starts at $579

Flight time: 18 minutes per battery

Camera? Yes; 1/1.7” CMOS sensor with 48 million effective pixels. Films at 4K/60fps and slow-motion footage at 2.7K/50/60/100/120fps.

DJI released its Avata drone in the summer of 2022 as a Cinewhoop-style FPV drone, made with indoor drone flights in mind. At just 180×180 mm in width and length, it’s ideal in tight spaces. Plus, it weighs just 405 grams. Built-in propeller guards eliminate the risk of scratching walls or other items inside, should you crash.

The Avata drone is a bit different from all the others in this list in that it’s an FPV drone (thus is designed to be flown with FPV goggles). It was also designed to be flown with what DJI calls a Motion Controller, differentiating itself from standard controllers with sticks. However, if you prefer flying line of sight and want to use a standard controller, you can do that too, by way of the DJI FPV Remote Controller 2, which you can buy for less than $230.

This drone wins as the best indoor drone not just for its ease of use, small size, and beginner-friendly modes, but comes out on top for its camera. Some DJI Avata camera specs:

  • 1/1.7” CMOS sensor
  • 48 million effective pixels
  • Films at 4K/60fps and slow-motion footage at 2.7K/50/60/100/120fps.
  • f/2.8 aperture
  • An ultra-wide-angle lens with a viewing angle of up to 155°
  • D-Cinelike color mode for a broader color palette that enables detailed chromatic adjustments

DJI Avata is the best indoor drone, but it also holds up incredibly well outside thanks to Level 5 max wind resistance. That means it can fly at wind speeds ranging from 19 to 24 miles per hour (which is about the equivalent of winds that generate moderate waves at the beach). 

Avata is absolutely amazing for so many use cases, indoors and out. Here’s an example of how the Avata effortlessly executed an incredible real estate tour:

The standalone Avata goes for $579, though it can run upwards of $1,398 for the Pro-View Combo with DJI Goggles 2. The Fly More Kit goes for $279.

The best indoor drone if you’re on a budget: Tello (as long as you can find it)

DJI Tello drone review Ryze drone

Price: $159

Flight time: 13 minutes per battery

Camera? Yes; 5-megapixel camera and shoots 720p video

The Tello is an all-around awesome drone. It does it all, and it does it all well.

It’s great indoors, but it still flies well in most conditions outdoors. It’s got a camera that takes decently great photos. It can perform stunts like flips to make the act of flying a bit more fun. It can even teach you how to code.

While it’s technically made by a company called Ryze, the drone often gets put under the DJI umbrella of drones because it was built using DJI flight technology— and an Intel processor.

The drone doesn’t come with an RC transmitter. Instead, it’s controlled via a mobile app (or an external one can be purchased separately). You can also control it via hand gestures. Video quality is decent for a $159 drone, but it doesn’t compare to DJI’s camera drones like the Mavic 3 Pro, or even the $399 Mavic Mini.

One standout feature is how the Tello can teach you how to code, making it an excellent STEM drone. The drone pairs integrate with a programming language called Scratch. With it, you can program the drone to fly in certain directions based on the “code” you have written.

All that for under $200 is a pretty good deal.

Best place to buy: Amazon ($159)

Was the Tello drone discontinued?

Now if that all sounds too good to be true, sadly it might be. It appears that Tello might be discontinued. As of mid-to-late 2024, the $99 Tello drone appears as sold out on DJI’s stop. Third-parties such as Amazon still sell Tello. But even there, quantities are limited (mostly to used versions only).

The Drone Girl reached out to DJI for official comment, and only got a vague answer.

“Currently, the Tello series is still being sold in the United States, and we will continue to provide technical and after-sales support to the customers,” a DJI spokesperson told The Drone Girl. “We have been working hard to provide global users with drone products that meet different needs. We will continue to launch new products that are accessible, easier to use and meet entry-level or educational needs, so stay tuned.”

As for you, jump on this one now if you want a Tello drone. Otherwise, it’s potentially gone for good.

The best indoor drone if you also want to fly outdoors: DJI Mini 4

DJI Mini 4 Pro

Price: $769

Flight time: 34 minutes per battery

Camera? Yes; 1/1.3-inch CMOS camera; shoots images at up to 48MP and video up to 4k/60fps

The DJI Mini 4 Pro is designed as an outdoor drone, and I recommend mostly using it for outdoor flying. However, it stands out for its omnidirectional obstacle avoidance. While DJI won’t outright call it crash-proof, this is pretty much as close as you can get.

Here are some DJI Mini 4 camera specs:

  • A 1/1.3-inch CMOS camera sensor with dual native ISO: This means footage from either camera can be packed with rich coloring and natural lighting transitions.
  • Aperture: f/1.7, which is ideal for low-light and nighttime performance 
  • High-quality capture: It shoots images at up to 48MP and video at up to 4k/60fps 
  • Digital video zoom: It’s available up to 2x in 4k, up to 4x
  • HDR Video recording: Available in 4k/60fps 
  • Night Shots video: Delivers clear, cleaner footage in low-light conditions  

Additionally, the DJI Mini 4 Pro is under 249g, films high-quality photos and videos, and is the best drone option if you are looking for a drone that gives you the versatility of flying indoors and out.

Best place to buy: Amazon ($769)

Best indoor drones for Star Wars fanatics: Propel Star Wars High-Performance Battle Drone (with collectors edition box!)

star wars propel drone tie fighter best indoor drones

Price: $140

Flight time: 5 minutes per battery

Camera? No

Star Wars nerds! Whether you love Baby Yoda, Kylo Ren, Ewoks, or all of the above (that would be me!), the Propel Star Wars Battle Drones are incredible. No other drones in this guide have the combination of aesthetically stunning AND truly fun to fly.

They’re hand-painted and highly realistic drones, arriving in all sorts of various designs like a tie fighter, speeder bike, or X-Wing. Not only do the Propel drones fly, but they can also actually battle. That’s possible due to eye-safe lasers that can be fired at other Star Wars drones. You can pair drones together to turn them into a battle game, where the drone wobbles and the controller vibrates in your hand if hit. After three hits, the drone will crash land.

Also, you can either play with a buddy. Or, if you’re truly in single isolation, you can battle against others via a system that records, combines, and compares your performance against virtual players in the world.

Now at $140, this one is not cheap. Consider it more of a collector’s item or an amazing gift for a diehard Star Wars fan. It’s listed at $140, though you can often find it for far less. Set a price alert or browse many websites for the best deal.

Best place to buy: Amazon ($140)

If you’re curious about drone racing: the Fat Shark 101 Training system

Fat Shark FPV drone racing thedronegirl best indoor drones

Price: $250

Camera? FPV camera

Fat Shark’s FPV (first-person view) headsets are the gold standard among drone racing pros. But even if you’re not a pro, there’s great news. Also, Fat Shark makes a kit with everything you need to get started drone racing.

However, with the Fat Shark 101 Training system, you get a radio, goggles and tiny quadcopter all in one kit. The RC transmitter has two modes for beginners and more advanced pilots, giving you an opportunity to improve your skills as you’re at home self-quarantining.

I love how easy this kit is to upgrade. While the quality of each individual piece is good, should you decide to step it up, you can swap out individual pieces (ie. just the goggles, or just the drone) and incorporate them into the kit.

Best place to buy: Get FPV ($249)

Now for the bad news. As of publication, this drone is out of stock. However, GetFPV’s product page allows you to subscribe to alerts where the company will notify you when the product is back in stock, which you can do via this webpage.

Read my full FatShark FPV drone kit here.

Best true FPV drone: the Flywoo Explorer with Naked GoPro 10

Price: Naked camera ($689) and drone itself costs ($489), putting this total kit at just over $1,100.

Camera? Flywoo Naked GoPro 10 Action Camera

For a true FPV drone, there’s no better bet than the Flywoo Explorer LR 4″ Quadcopter HD w/ DJI O3. Fly it with the Flywoo Naked GoPro 10 Action Camera w/ Touchscreen + Filter Set mounted on top, and you’re looking at incredibly high-quality footage.

This one stands out as an especially great indoor drone for its 4″ size, enabling it to better fit through tight spaces. Plus, that help it makes a lot less noise than a 6-7″ drone.

This drone is best when used in tandem with the the Flywoo Naked GoPro 10 Action Camera w/ Touchscreen + Filter Set, which is effectively a GoPro Hero 10. Flywoo took it and stripped out all the unnecessary features beyond what you need for FPV flying to make it weigh just 44 grams (critical in your FPV flight).

I especially love this pick if you’re looking for an indoor drone for real estate agents.

The best indoor drone if you want to record sound: HoverAir X1 

Price: $439 (frequently on sale for $399)

Flight Time: 11 minutes per battery 

Camera? Yes; 12-megapixel camera and shoots 2.7k video 

The HoverAir X1 does not come with a controller. Instead, it flies with a selection of pre-programmed paths, including Hover, Follow, Zoom Out, Orbit, and Bird’s Eye. If flying indoors, I recommend flying with manual control mode ensuring total control. 

The stand-out feature of the HoverAir X1 is its ability to record sound. The drone records sound from your phone (the controller). While the sound quality itself is pretty solid, the sound does not always match up to the video recording. HoverAir X1 recommends downloading a third-party app to edit the sound to fix this issue. 

The HoverAir X1 can do all the same features outdoors, has a level 4 wind resistance, and reaches a maximum height of 15m. You can read an in-depth review of the HoverAir X1 here.

Best place to buy: Directly from the HoverAir website for $439

A cheaper alternative to the Mini 4 Pro: DJI Mini 2

Price: $379

Flight time: 31 minutes per battery (or about 20 with the propeller guards)

Camera? Yes; 5-megapixel camera and shoots 720p video

The DJI Mini 2 was designed for outdoor flight, and should primarily be flown outdoors. That said, it’s surprisingly well-suited for indoor flying. Given that it’s just 11.3 inches wide when unfolded (including the propellers) and the average interior doorway is about 30 inches, it has more than enough clearance to fly through doorways. The Mini 2 also comes with lightweight propeller guards to keep your walls and indoor objects safe. Plus, it made the list of the best DJI drones under $500.

With the Mini 2, you will lose out on video and photo quality compared to the Mini 4 Pro, but you will certainly save in price.

Best place to buy: Amazon for $379

What are the best indoor drones in your opinion? Leave a comment below!

The post The best indoor drones of 2024 appeared first on The Drone Girl.

The best exterior building cleaning drones of 2024

Washing building exteriors can be a tedious and time-consuming task, especially for multi-story buildings or hard-to-reach areas. Some homeowners might do it themselves, while others might outsource to a pressure washing company. But even for professionals, human labor is not necessarily the most effective way to wash buildings. That’s where window and building cleaning drones come in.

Building cleaning drones can take the wash tools out of your hands and clean away dirt, grime, and mildew from even the most challenging spots. They eliminate the need for scaffolding or swing stage window washing platforms, which can be expensive and annoying to set up (and still somewhat dangerous for humans to board).

And while building cleaning drones today aren’t exactly ‘cheap,’ they’re getting cheaper. Plus, they’re saving exterior building washing businesses money in plenty of other ways. In being more efficient (no scaffolding necessary), they can get the same work done in less time than it’d take a human. From there, you could take on more jobs — or just bask in free time. Without sending humans up on scaffolding, there’s likely no need for as comprehensive an insurance policy. After all, drone insurance is a lot cheaper than human insurance.

What might normally be a cleaning job requiring eight works and, say, a cost of $150,000, could be brought down to a job requiring just one person (plus a drone). The cost would amount to the roughly $35,000 drone plus one person’s salary for the day.

So you’re intrigued to pick up your own exterior and building cleaning drone? Here’s your guide to the best power washing drones, window washing drones and overall building cleaning drones on the market today:

building cleaning drones
Skip this scenario and use a drone instead.

Best overall building cleaning drone: Lucid Sherpa drone

Lucid Sherpa drone. Photo courtesy of Lucid Bots.

There’s so much to like about the Lucid Sherpa drone. It’s relatively easy to fly. An add-on payload unlocks window cleaning on top of general building cleaning. Plus, it’s made by an American drone company.

Lucid’s Sherpa drone is a exterior building washing drone that can cover more than 300 square feet a minute. It can fly up to 19 minutes at a time. That means you could, in theory, cover more than 5,000 square feet in a single flight.

The Sherpa Drone can hook into any soft-wash system. Lucid Bots recommends using soft-wash methods of 300 psi.  Though it can fly over 400 feet above ground level (AGL) untethered, the Federal Aviation Administration restricts its height to just 140 feet AGL if tethered.

It’s also safe to fly, thanks to 6 anti-collision lights. Perhaps more importantly is the radar collision prevention system with an obstacle sensing range of 0.5-50m.

Upgrading to the Sherpa window cleaning payload

Lucid Sherpa drone with window cleaning payload. Photo courtesy of Lucid Bots.

If you want to clean not just walls but windows too, you can purchase an additional payload called the Sherpa Window Cleaning payload. With it, you’ll get an onboard chemical tank. Given its variable mix ratio, it leaves the cleaning solution to the drone, while separating it from your water supply which in theory you’d have set to a drone hookup (LucidBots recommends deionized water).

Simply mount it to your Lucid Sherpa drone and press a single button. That initiates on-demand washing, rinsing, and repetition. Its makers are so confident in its power that Lucid Bots “guarantees a flawless, streak-free brilliance on every occasion.”

Sherpa drone: is it worth it?

The Lucid Sherpa C1 Cleaning Drone starts at $35,000. Throw in the window cleaning payload, and the price increases to $45,000.

Of course, that price tag doesn’t get you just the drone. You also get four batteries, a repair kit, a case, online training, a one-year warranty and more.

For what it’s worth, Lucid estimates its Sherpa drone can net 80% cost savings compared to traditional cleaning methods. It also claims to offer 400% increased ROI for businesses that use them. In fact, despite the steep cost, Lucid claims most users see a return on their investment after just two jobs.

Lucid Bots is based in Charlotte, North Carolina. In fact, according to the Charlotte Business Journal, it’s one of the top three fastest-growing companies in the city.

Best power washing drone: Apellix Power Wash drone

Photo courtesy of Apellix

For something more powerful, check out the Apellix Power Wash drone. Their patented drone makes way for an industrial-strength system of not just any washing, but power washing.

Whereas the Sherpa drone is best for soft-wash methods of 300 psi., this drone can pressure wash at 3,500 psi (240 bar) with 8-10 gpm (30 lpm +) flow to blast away dirt, grease, and debris. 

With this drone, you can choose between either a purely battery-powered model, or one that uses both a battery while also generating ground power via tether for even more power.

The Apellix Power Wash Drones can be used for surface washing and cleaning, but that’s not all. It’s capable of removing oil, grease and other visible and non-visible contaminatio. It can also apply a surface passivator for flash rust prevention or to remove soluble salts. Or, use it to apply biological surface cleaning compounds, and more. 

And like Lucid Bots, this company is also U.S.-based. Apellix is headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida.

Apellix Power Wash drone: is it worth it?

All that extra power comes at a cost. Whereas the Lucid Sherpa C1 starts at $35,000 (and runs up to $45,000 for the window cleaning add-on), this one can run nearly double that. While there are some versions that cost roughly the same at $34,000, more upgrades and power more will inflate the price tag as high as $69,000.

That said, Apellix has had some serious endorsements. Among the biggest? The U.S. Army. Apellix is in the developmental stage of a project with the U.S. Army’s chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) response operations to use Apellix tether-controlled drones to decontaminate vehicles on a battlefield.

Photo courtesy of Flying Eye

Budget pick: Spraying kit for DJI Matrice 300 RTK

Here’s your best budget option — particularly if you already own the DJI Matrice 300 RTK drone anyway.

For just about $8,000, you can buy the Spraying kit for DJI Matrice 300 RTK. It comes from French drone hardware accessory maker Flying Eye. Compatible with the DJI Matrice 300 RTK, this spraying kit consists of a boom fitted with 3 standard Teejet nozzles, a pump trolley, adjustable in-pressure meters, and a 30-meter hose. The 50-liter tank has a motor pump available with either a combustion engine or a 230V electric version.

You’d likely use this for situations where you need to treat building exteriors or do light cleaning of areas like roofs or facades.

Since the Matrice 300 RTK isn’t necessarily designed as a spraying drone, it doesn’t have the power to withstand pressure spraying the way our other two picks do. That said, it’s still a pretty compelling proposition, especially given the price. Check it out in action, here.

DJI Matrice 300 RTK with spraying kit: is it worth it?

This is definitely your budget option — and the lower price means you’re making tradeoffs.

For starters, though the kit comes from French company Flying Eye, the drone you’ll fly does not. The Matrice 300 RTK comes from Chinese drone maker DJI. And there’s been quite a bit of controversy as of late around DJI drones, which might be a turnoff to you.

Secondly, the Matrice 300 RTK – though powerful — wasn’t necessarily designed as a spraying drone, so it won’t be able to compensate thrust as well as the other drones here.

But for what it’s worth, the Matrice 300 RTK is still the king of DJI’s Matrice lineup. This powerhouse offers a long flight time of up to 55 minutes (assuming no spraying kit payload) and a 15km transmission range. If you decide you want to get out of the spraying business and into other drone businesses, the Matrice 300 RTK is quite versatile too. With the ability to carry hefty payloads like LiDAR sensors and zoom cameras, you could use this drone for other applications such as search and rescue, infrastructure inspection, and precision agriculture.

And compared to the other drones in this guide, it’s not a bad deal. The drone itself costs a hair more than $10,000. Fly Eye’s spraying kit costs about $8,000, meaning you could get the whole rig for less than $20,000.

What to know about starting a drone building cleaning businesses

Do I need a drone pilot’s license to start a building cleaning business using drones?

Beyond any other business licenses you may need, the Federal Aviation Administration also requires you hold a drone pilot’s license.

Under FAA regulation Part 107, anyone using drones commercially needs a drone pilot license. Formerly referred to as a “remote pilot certificate with a small UAS rating,” you earn that certificate by passing an in-person written exam. Many people refer to this as the “Part 107 test.”

Luckily, it’s not that difficult to pass the test (check out my blog post and video explaining what my test experience was like). Most people learn how to pass this test by enrolling in an online Part 107 course.

You’ll also need to register your drone and ensure it’s Remote ID compliant.

Do I need drone-specific insurance for my building cleaning business?

At least in the eyes of the FAA, no. The FAA has no legal requirements around holding drone insurance (though aviation authorities in other countries sometimes do, so check with your country’s laws if flying outside the U.S.). However, you’ll likely still need small business insurance, which can protect your company and its assets when you face property damage, injuries, lawsuits or other claims that could potentially arise from putting a drone that sprays water and chemicals into the air.

How precise are building cleaning drones?

Unlike, say, photogrammetry drones that rely on mapping software to generate highly precise flight paths, building cleaning drones generally fly manually. Thus, their flight paths are about as precise as the pilot allows them to be.

How do power washing drones work?

Most power washing drones are tethered drones. Demanding such high pressure can otherwise take a toll on the battery life.

All that pressure might also presumably just push the relatively small drone back as the water and cleaning solutions spray out at a powerful clip onto a building. Thus these drones picked in this guide aren’t just any drone with a hose strapped to it. They’re specifically designed to be able to counter the thrust from the power washer while in flight.

The post The best exterior building cleaning drones of 2024 appeared first on The Drone Girl.

11 hot FPV products you need for 2024

GetFPV, which is among the leading independent online retailers for FPV products, shared a list of its best-selling FPV products with The Drone Girl over the past year. 

We found the 11 hottest FPV products from that list to share with you. 

Since DJI announced its first-ever FPV drone back in March 2021, the world of FPV flying and racing continues to grow. And with growth, comes specialization and more products to choose from. Before searching for the right FPV product, determine what you value in your FPV drone. 

Whether you value speed, high-quality images, or are price conscious, GetFPV has FPV products in every category. Below are the 11 hottest for 2024. 

1. DJI Goggles Integra

FPV drone DJI Goggles Integra

DJI Goggles Integra allows you to turn a DJI camera drone like your DJI Mavic 3 or Mini 4 Pro into a FPV drone. This means drone users who value DJI’s best consumer camera drones have the aesthetic and freedom of FPV drone flying.  

They launched in March 2023 as a complement to DJI’s Avata drone. For starters, they made flying the Avata drone more immersive and, in theory, easier. More importantly though is that they solved one major problems with the initial Avata launch: clunky goggles with a dangling battery pack.

The DJI Goggles Integra fixed that annoyance by adding an integrated battery headband, making it convenient to wear, and the touch panel has been replaced with a physical button. If you are looking for FPV goggles with a bit more power and upgraded features, try checking out the DJI Goggles 2 combo for $959. 

Purchase on GetFPv for:  $499

2. DJI O3 Air Unit 

The DJI O3 Air Unit boasts DJI’s advanced video transmission technology and is a perfect companion to enhance your FPV flying experience. The compact and lightweight camera won’t significantly add to the weight of the drone, allowing for more agile and longer flights. 

Plus, the DJI 03 Air Unit has a 1/1.7-inch sensor and a 155-degree super-field field of view. The camera with module weighs an impressive 36.4 grams, which is roughly the size of an AA battery! 

Purchase on GetFPV for:  $229

3. RunCam 5 Orange 4k Action Camera

The RunCam Orange camera isn’t quite as powerful as the DJI O3 Air Unit, but it is over 50% cheaper.  The camera can shoot 2.7K at 60fps and support for 4K video. The lens is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 3, making it more durable when exposed to crashes or collisions. 

Its 38x38x36mm form factor means it can fit into many existing TPU mounts, making it easy to attach to a variety of FPV drones without the need for custom cases. 

Purchase on GetFPV for:  $109.99

4. Gemfan Hurricane Durable 51477 3-Blade Propeller (Set of 4)

FPV drone propellers

If you are more focused on speed over high-quality images then the Gemgan Hurricane Durable 51477 3-Blade Propeller set is for you. The propellers are designed for high-speed performance with a 3-blade design that offers a balance between thrust, efficiency, and noise reduction. 

Weighing only 4.15 grams (that’s approximately the weight of a nickel!), these propellers add minimal weight to the drone. Plus, starting at $2.99, this is a FPV drone accessory that won’t break the bank. 

Purchase on GetFPV for:  $2.99

5. TBS Crossfire Nano Rx Pro

The TBS Crossfire Nano RX Pro is an incredibly small full-range receiver. Its compact size is beneficial for FPV flying, as it allows for more space-saving installations in drones, especially in smaller or tightly built FPV racers and long-range drones. 

Its small size doesn’t lead to compromising on range or performance, making it ideal for FPV pilots who need reliable long-distance control for exploring vast areas or racing at high speeds with precise maneuvering.

Purchase on GetFPV for:  $34.99 

6. EMAX ECO II Series 2207 Motor

The ECO II Series motors from EMAX offer several features that make it a strong addition to your FPV drone flying kit, particularly for those seeking high performance in their flight activities. 

EMAX updated the ECO II to use N52SH arc magnets, providing a more powerful throttle response and the capabilities to achieve high RPMs. Also included in the redesign was a more rounded design and thicker reinforcements to ensure maximum durability. 

Purchase on GetFPV for:  $15.99 

7. CNHL Speedy Pizza Drones 100C XT60 LiPo Battery -1200mAh 6s 

FPV drone pizza battery

It may be time to change out your old LiPo battery, and the Speedy Pizza Drone LiPo battery is a great choice. With a 1200mAh capacity and 6S configuration, this LiPo battery provides a substantial amount of power to support longer flights and more demanding power needs, which is essential in FPV flying. All of that, plus, a fun pizza box design on the battery!

LiPo batteries have become the most common high performance R/C battery, however, if used, stored, or charged improperly they can become extremely dangerous. Before purchasing any LiPo battery, be sure to check out Drone Girl’s simple guide for safe LiPo battery ownership and use. 

Purchase on GetFPV for:  $21.99 

8. Lumenier AXII HD 2 5.8GHz Patch Visor Antennas

If you own the DJI FPV drone with DJI goggles, the Lumenier AXII HD 2 5.8GHz Patch Visor Antennas might be for you. They are designed specifically to fit DJI FPV goggles. They provide an efficient and durable antenna solution that enhances video reception quality. 

The antennas are circular polarized and directional, optimized for long-range 5.8GHz video reception. A helpful feature of FPV flying, as a clear video feed is essential for navigation and overall flight experience. Also, they come in fun colors so you can choose the visor that matches your style.  

Purchase on GetFPV for:  $49.99 

9. Caddx Ratel Micro Starlight 1200TVL FPV Camera 

The 1/1.8” inch starlight HDR sensor on the Caddx Ratel Micro Starlight FPV Camera is capable of providing excellent night vision. This is a great product for FPV pilots who fly in low light conditions or at night, where standard cameras might struggle. 

The WDR feature ensures that the camera can handle a wide range of lighting conditions effectively, providing clear images even in scenarios with a mix of dark and bright areas. The 165-degrees FOV provides a broad view of the surroundings, allowing FPV pilots to have better situational awareness during flight. 

Purchase on GetFPV for:  $30.99 

10. Lumenier AXII Quadro 5.8GHz Patch Antenna

FPV pilots who fly over long distances should check out the Lumenier AXII Quadro 5.8GHz Patch Antenna. It has a 14.7 dBiC gain, extending the range at which a FPV pilot can control and receive video feeds from their drone.

The antenna allows pilots to work with video goggles and ground stations, depending on how you fly. Plus, the 40-degree FOV both horizontally and vertically is pretty wide for a high gain antenna. 

Purchase on GetFPV for:  $89.99 

11. Lumenier ZIP V2 3115 Cinematic Motor – 900KV/1050KV

The Lumenier ZIP V2 3115 Motor is designed to meet the high demands of FPV drone flying, offering accommodation of power, durability, and versatility, making it an excellent choice for both competitive FPV pilots and professional drone cinematographers. 

The size combined with the weight of 98 grams make it suitable for larger propellers. Make sure you check the size of your motor before purchasing.

Purchase on GetFPV for:  $39.99 

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