There will be no escaping drones this holiday season. Amazon is not yet able to deliver presents on Christmas morning with their drone-based courier service. But, there are still plenty of commercial drones and quadcopters on the shelves. These UAVs come in all shapes and sizes, and there is something out there for all drone pilots.
There are two options for drone enthusiasts this Christmas – a new model that’s ready to fly, or a kit.
The idea of a DIY drone kit may have passed some consumers buy. This alternative product is an excellent idea for drone enthusiasts that want to learn, build and maybe race their very own drone.
There are lots of brands with fully-assembled drones with lots of extras – all packaged in a neat box. Users can take it out on Christmas morning and start learning the controls. Here the appeal largely comes down to the desire to fly.
Those that have aspirations to create aerial films or learn tricks are less concerned with the components of the drone itself. They will prefer models with cameras, long-life batteries and high-end controllers. However, FPV systems and smart image capturing aren’t as important to those after DIY kits. Here it is all about building a working, reliable drone with their own two hands. Many that race drones are the ones that like to build their own, so they can tweak it just right, to fly better and faster.
Why Buy A DIY Kits Vs. Fully Assembled Drones?
The appeal of these DIY kits comes in many forms:
- The joy of building a new UAV from scratch
- The joy of learning more about the mechanics of these machines
- The sense of accomplishment on creating a working drone
- The thrill of racing a drone against other enthusiasts.
A Sense Of Accomplishment Brings Joy
There are plenty of kids that ask Santa for LEGO Sets for Christmas. They love the chance to collect new figures and models in a popular theme. Still, it is about much more the building process than the final model.
There is great joy in the building process – from taking inventory of all the interesting pieces to the final details. They can show off an architectural wonder they build with their own two hands.
Some take this construction further with robotic kits and other builds. This passion for building things doesn’t always disappear. Teens and adults need a way to unleash that desire to build and learn. Drone kits are a great opportunity to continue that.
On that note, parents should be aware that there is a LEGO-based drone project for kids that perhaps aren’t ready for the real thing. The new Flybrix is a starting point for young beginners. It provides the bare minimum in electronics, bricks and basic parts for use in small machines. Kids can build the device, fly it with the phone app and land – or crash.
Here crashes aren’t a problem as the bricks go together again with ease. In fact, some may not master a skillful landing when they have the option of a movie-ready stunt drone for creative play. Either way, this is a nice starting point for youngsters.
This Building Project Then Becomes A Family Affair
These kid-friendly kits and LEGO sets place the build, and responsibility, firmly in the child’s hands. They are a developer, pilot and crash site coordinator all in one. More complex, and more expensive, drone kits require some supervision and co-operation.
This is a great way to engage children with mechanics and drone tech, without it becoming too technical. They can help with instructions and ask questions, while parents handle the tricky connections and complex parts.
Building Your Own Is A Learning Process For All Involved
DIY drone kits are also appealing because fans can learn and increase knowledge on a subject close to their hearts. For example, operators know that they can achieve a level flight with the right approach to the controls. But, how much do they know about the finer details of the propellers and the inner workings?
An increased understanding of a basic kit and its components also allows for upgrades in the future. A starter DIY drone kit may have basic elements, to begin with. With time and further knowledge, operators can tweak the components. This allows for a more responsive, customized machine.
Understanding The Components Translates To Better Understanding Of Flying
On one side we have a fully formed machine. Users turn it on, play with the controls to enjoy a flight, recharge the battery and start again. They see the device in action, but don’t always understand how it works. With the drone kit, there is a different approach. Users have multiple components to bring together to create this functional drone. They include the following:
- The motherboard and computerized elements
- The battery pack and charger
- the rotors for a strong, smooth flight
- Extras like the guards, lights or even gimbals for the camera.
- There are some parts that no kit is complete without.
There are some necessities to keep a drone airborne. A good quadcopter needs the right amount of propellers in a balanced alignment. Builders will also soon learn that the wiring and electronics are important here too.
This is where they will learn more about the motherboard and channels. Everything must connect nicely and communicate with the receiver. No communication means no takeoff. This is frustrating after a long session of wiring and soldering. But, every mistake is a lesson learned
Drone Extra Options To Consider
Some of the best kits will have all the necessary lights included in the box. There may also be some unnecessary ones too for visual appeal. These lights all need to wire in and work correctly. Those LEDs are important for maintaining a line of sight. Then there are the crash guard, gimbals, and other extras.
Some kits are all-inclusive, but the quality may suffer to cut costs. Other kits are more basic, so builders must source these pieces from elsewhere for a custom build.
Accomplishment Of Creating A Working Drone
Everything is a little more fulfilling when flying a DIY drone. The takeoff, landing and a steady flight are more of an achievement because of the effort involved. With a fully-assembled drone, the accomplishment comes from learning the controls. Here users must learn the controls but also hope that they build everything correctly.
If the flight isn’t level, it could be down to the incorrect placement of the rotors. If there is a malfunction, the wiring might be wrong. There could be trial and error here. But, this journey adds to the level of satisfaction.
The Bonus That Comes With Racing Drones
There are lots of different kits in all different shapes and sizes. Many will go for something familiar in a quadcopter where they can play with the flight controls. Others will start off with a more basic model to practice building. Then there are those that like the idea of a racing drone.
Racing drones need the best components for streamlined flight, agile handling, and a competitive edge. They also require a skilled hand – both in the building and the operation. This is one for true enthusiasts after a challenge. They also open the door to FPV systems. Many racers turn to this first-person viewpoint for a more exciting race.
The challenge of racing drones brings us back to that idea of upgrades and improvements to drone kits. There is always room to tweak a design and improve performance on a racing drone. Drone enthusiasts that like to race will analyze the performance and make changes.
What can they change with the body and shape to decrease wind resistance? What can they do to the controls and channels for faster responses? How can they reduce the weight a little?
This means that the initial DIY drone kit from their Christmas present isn’t a short-term project. Instead, it can spark something more involved, with even more opportunities to learn and achieve.
Building A Racing Drone Can Also Enjoy Social Benefits
Racing drones aren’t able to meet their potential without another drone to race against. There are two options here.
There is the more casual approach to friends and family. Perhaps other friends or cousins also received a kit over the holidays. This may spark some friendly competition to build the best looking, fastest and smartest drone in the family. The race will soon put everyone’s flight and building skills to the test.
The other option is to join a local racing drones club. There are plenty of organizations that will welcome new drone fans. That is as long as they meet the requirements and are responsible pilots. This membership could open new doors for competitions and building projects. What starts as a simple Christmas building project could become a whole new way of life.
What Can Buyers Get For Their Money?
There are plenty of different routes to take when choosing a drone kit for a loved one this Christmas. The choice will depend on the purpose of the gift: short-term, easy building project or complex racing drone?
It will also depend on the budget available. Buyers should take the time to figure out the best product for the recipient. It helps if they provide a clear guide to precisely the model they want. This won’t be possible for those after the perfect surprise gift.
Basic Kits To Get Drone Lovers Started
There are plenty of small-scale DIY models out there for a bit of fun. This is a great starting point for those that don’t want to waste money on an ill-considered option. A mini-drone or small quadcopter is a beginning point with the basic tools and components. Those that enjoy this project can progress to bigger things.
Those that don’t now know that drones aren’t for them and didn’t waste much effort. There are some neat starter kits for $100 or less. Some have a basic frame ready for customization. Others include the battery, lights and extra, but they aren’t the best quality.
More Expensive Kits For Those With A Passion For Mechanics
Buyers that increase their budget to the $500 mark can find some impressive kits with better components. The only risk comes in making sure that it is money well spent. This is for the drone lover that specifically asked for one for Christmas.
This isn’t something to buy on a whim. Some come with better electronics, durable components and great potential for upgrades. Be aware that many at this price point still won’t include a controller or battery. This will add to the final cost.
Racing Drone Kits For Competitive Pilots
When it comes to racing drones, there are different options across the price scale. There are basic models under $100 that might compete with some upgrades. Then there are those over $300 or more with more components and potential.
One aspect to consider here is the ability to link the model up to an FPV system. This is unlikely to come in the package without paying a lot more. But, many pilots will want the chance to upgrade to this system.
Drone Kits Are A Great Gift This Holiday Season
The choice here is simple. It all comes down to the difference between buying for those that like flying drones, and buying for those fascinated by drones. There are lots of kids and adults that like the idea of flying a drone but aren’t so interesting in how it works.
Then there are those intrigued by the mechanics and physics of it all. These DIY drone kits unlock those mysteries. Anyone with a drone fanatic in their lives should reconsider that plug-n-play model and look at a kit instead. It could bring loved ones hours of enjoyment and spark a passion. What starts with a few instructions and a small building project could evolve into a fun educational hobby.