Anatomy of a Drone

March 2017- Drones are popular these days, but could you name the parts?  If not, here’s some diagrammed charts that might help.  Some drones will have more or less, but most will have these or similar features.  Please feel free to comment, or email me with any questions or comments.


anatomy_bottom anatomy_top anatomy_front anatomy_controller


Drone Buying Guide for the beginner

February 2017- I get asked quite frequently which drone would I recommend for the beginner.  Many times it’s a parent asking for a teenager, or a woman asking as a gift for her husband.  Here’s my advice, broken down by price, because obviously, the higher the price, the better the drone.  But I’ve seen drones purchased for $200, that were pretty lame, and a little bit of guidance would have saved the person some money, or gotten them a much better drone.  So here goes.

Just FYI, these all have links to eBay, because eBay is by far the cheapest place to purchase them, cheaper than Amazon, or Gearbest.  Also, if you want to get more information, or detailed reviews, just type the model number into YouTube.  There’s a great reviewer on YouTube too, his channel is:  Quadcopter101, you can’t go wrong with his advice.

$50 range:

Syma X5HW:  At this price range, and as a starter, I highly recommend the Syma X5HW, has altitude hold, FPV (first person video), great durability, good controller and more.

Syma X5HC:  Same as the Syma X5HW (above) minus the FPV (first person video), and it’s a little cheaper.  I personally own this one, and love it for just having fun!  And FYI, the FPV (first person video) on the X5HW is pretty cool, but it cuts way down on the quadcopters range and speed.

$100 range:

Syma X8SW:  Bigger model, the size of a DJI Phantom, with Altitude Hold, One Key Liftoff, 720p video, and more.

Hubsan X4 Desire H502E:  Altitude hold, GPS (yes, GPS hold), one button return to home, 720p HD camera, and more.

Coming Soon:  Hubsan X4 STAR PRO H507A, this is possibly going to blow away ALL other $100 quadcopters, here’s a link to a preview.

$200-400 range:

This gets tougher here, because if I’m going to spend $200 or $300, I’d probably go with the DJI Phantom (see below).  But to give you something around $200-400, here you go…

Hubsan X4 H502S:  Similar to the X4 H502E, but BETTER.  This has FPV (that works great according to reviews), longer range, good video and picture quality.  For this price (around $175 actually), you can’t beat this model.

DJI Phantom 3 Standard:  Now we’re getting into the real deal, the semi-pro models.  The best deal (with a warranty) is to purchase a refurbished model from the manufacturer DJI.  This has all the features you want, one key return, GPS, FPV, good range, one key take-off, 20-25 minute flight time, pretty fast speed (maybe 30mph), and more.

So there you go, these are my quick picks based upon what your budget will allow.  Please email me if you have any other questions, and go have some fun flying your own drone!


Drones For Human Transportation?

Nov. 2016- The drone phenomenon crept up on us pretty quickly, and now it seems everyone is all abuzz about drones.  Today we’re using them to shoot high def video and photos like never before, but what about a year from now, or five years, or ten?  Well, only God knows the future, but if I were to guess, I’d say the diversity of drone usage has only just begun.  Here is one area I think we’ll begin seeing drones used widely in the future: human transportation.

Transportation?  Yup, transportation.  I believe that drones will be method that the general public finally takes to the skies.  Why?  Because drones can be mass produced fairly cheaply, and they can be extremely safe with the way the motors are configured redundantly.  For an example, let’s say you have a personal two-seater drone, it’s all charged up, and you want to use it to go pick up a few groceries from Krogers.  You jump in, strap on your seatbelt, hit a few buttons, the arms extend out, the propellers start to spin up, you lift off, and bam, you’re on your way.  Now let’s say you’re up about 150-200 feet, and suddenly an engine goes out.  Well, since you have six to eight engines, no biggie, the other motors compensate, and when you get home swap out the bad motor for a new one, test it out, and bam, you’re done.  Worst case scenario, hit a button for parachute deployment.  Safe, redundant, rechargeable, and very convenient.  I really do believe this could be the way to alleviate traffic congestion, emissions, collisions, and other issues automobiles present, and in a safe, fun manner!

Here’s a link showing a prototype:

What do you think?

Update 02/14/17:  Dubai Airport is now using a drone as a taxi, here’s the link:

No Drone Zones?

Shiny new drone? Ready for takeoff? Not so fast buckaroo. 😉

Sorry to put a damper on your enthusiasm, but the FAA (you know that little government agency), has some recommendations as to where they do and don’t want you to fly.

Here’s they are…basically:

  • Not over people (generally), unless they are part of the shoot and are well aware of your presence.
  • Not in National Parks.  Sad but true, can’t fly in and video Smoky the Bear, bummer.
  • No where near any airport (2-5 miles depending on the size, the bigger, stay further away).
  • No Major sporting events (think NFL, MLB, Nascar, etc.).
  • Nowhere in Washington, DC (yea, that guy that flew his drone onto the White House lawn pretty much blew that for us).
  • Fly below 400 feet.
  • Fly with a visual line of sight of your drone.  Yes, with drones flying 1-3 miles now with FPV on a phone or tablet makes this one hard, but alas, the FAA hath spoken.

So that’s pretty much it, generally.  Why?  Well, we don’t want to hurt people with our drone, right?  Right.  These rules may, or better will change with time, so keep it tuned here for the latest.


Drone Aviation officially “takes off” today!

August 29, 2016, a day that will go down in infamy!  Well, let’s hope not, but it is a landmark day for drone aviation.  Today FAA rule 107 goes into effect, thereby opening the door for a new era in aerial photography and video (among other uses) using drones, or UAV’s (unmanned aerial vehicles).  Today there are over 3000 individuals scheduled to take their exam, thereby qualifying them (as long as they pass their exam) to use drones for commercial use.

Using drones for aerial video and photography will substantially reduce the costs for those that have need of such services.  Previously using airplanes or helicopters to shoot video or photography was very expensive.  Now the pricing should drop considerably, as new businesses (such as us, Tennessee Drone Video & Photography) begin reaching out to the people, offering much lower costs, woo-hoo!

Stay tuned as we bring you more updates on the world of drones, and offer specials that will make your next project really “Take Off”.


The Process of Perfection

A lot of folks look at aerial pictures and videos and think, “Wow, that’s nice.”, and then think one of two things:

  1. “I could never do that.” or
  2. “Anyone could do that.”

Well, neither of those thoughts are true.  Could you ever do it?  Yes!  Can anyone do it?  No.  Let me explain.

In order to do what we do, requires both technical skill, and creative skill.  The technical side must have and understand how to best use the correct equipment.  You must also know how to best set up that equipment in advance of your shoot.  This includes physical inspection of equipment, and all settings properly checked, and double checked.  Different environments require different settings also.  Is it overcast, sunny, dark?  These situations require different filters, settings, accessories, etc.

Once the technical side is complete and in order, then we have the creative side of things.  Some of this is planning, some is skill, and some is just intuitive.  What is the main subject?  What do I want to communicate to my audience?  And of course post-production.  Learning to effectively, efficiently, and creatively use the software that will make both photos and video shine.

So can you do it?  Yes, with the right equipment and practice, sure.  Can anyone do it?  No, because not everyone is going to be willing to sacrifice the time and effort to hone the skill of what it takes to become a aerial photographer and videographer.

– Steve

The Amazing View From Above

Until recently, viewing the world from above was only able to be accomplished with a plane, or helicopter fly over.  Now, with the advent of the quadcopter, or drone as some refer to them, aerial video and photographs are available to everyone, everywhere, at all times of the day or night.  To view things from above gives a fresh new perspective.  It will not be long that the entire world will be able to be stitched together with high definition images captured with drones.  My how amazing Google Earth will look then.

If you have an event, construction project, or real estate that you would like to have viewed from an angels perspective, please give me a call.  I promise you will be amazed at the results.

 – Steve