Are you new to the world of UAVs? Or just new to piloting drones? If yes, there’s a good chance of trying to figure out how far you can fly your drone. Well, the very first thing you should know is that there’s no straight answer to this question. There are quite a few factors that come into play here and of course, you won’t be wrong to check them out before your first flight.
First Things First — What Is the Legal Range?
Before going a bit deeper into the two factors, it’s important to note that the law or better still, the FAA has something to say about your drone’s flight. Essentially, they require you to always keep your drone within visual range at all times. In other words, you must be able to see your UAV while its flying, hovering or dancing in the air.
So What is The Actual Range of Your Drone?
As mentioned earlier, the range is determined by the type of drone you buy as well as the manner in which it is controlled. Right now we’re going to go into more detail about these factors, and we hope the information come in handy.
Let’s get to it!
Type of Drone
For starters, you should be aware the maximum distance of a controlled UAV is not limited to its maximum range. Why? Well, it’s only because the highest distance traveled regardless of the drone’s controller range will be determined by its speed and flight time. For the most part, a consumer-grade drone typically comes with an average flight time of 15 minutes; the good thing is, the time is actually higher in premium quality quadcopters. For example, the DJI Mavic Pro can stay airborne for up to 27 minutes and has a flight range of 7 km in ideal conditions. What’s more, the drone’s top speed is 45 mph.
Another good example is that DJI Phantom 4 Pro; this model comes with about 30 minutes of flight time coupled with an impressive 7 km flight range. Its top speed is same as the Mavic Pro — which is 45 mph.
For the most part, consumer-grade multi rotors are not built to be aerodynamic for long — in essence; they don’t have long flight times. It’s however good to point out that several different technologies are undergoing tests to extend drone flight times. Two good examples are hydrogen powered and solar powered systems — the former can extend flight time to over 4 hours, and the latter could have an uninterrupted flight time of more than 20 hours.
Range of Your Controller
As mentioned earlier, the manner in which you control your drone can affect its range. First off, the transmitter that come along with hobbyist drones typically have a maximum range of one mile and of course, operate in the 2.4 GHz frequency band. It’s however important to note that the range could be influenced by noise and obstacles — think trees and the likes.
It’s good to know that there are a few things you can do to extend the range of your radio controller. Essentially, you’ll want to stick with lower frequency radio waves; they’re more likely to travel through objects and even cover larger distances being attenuated. Today, there are quite a number of UHF devices that can be linked to RC transmitters to modify their frequency. For example, reducing the frequency to 1.2 GHz can extend your control range to as far as 10 km.
Any other method to improve radio communication range of your controller?
Well, you could actually replace the stock antennas with those that operate with more power. For example, upgrading a 2dB stock antenna to one that has 4dB will deliver twice the power and eventually increase the controller’s range by 30% to 50%. It’s also good to know that power boosters can be connected to your RC controller to give a boost to its range.
Now, if you’re really going to increase the range of your controller, we’ll recommend you get a reliable FPV technology. As you probably guessed, FPV technology allows you to watch and control your bird even when it’s out of plain sight.
Wrapping it Up
So there you have it! With all that has been said, you can see that the range of your drone is determined by a number of factors. At this point, you won’t be wrong to do your homework and of course, learn more about laws that guide flying drones over long distances. For the most part, we’ll recommend you pay special attention to your surrounding regardless of whether you’re flying within 100m or 10km. Essentially, you shouldn’t fly your drone in an area where the drone will hurt someone peradventure it crashes and of course, avoid flying in prohibited areas and the likes.
What’s more, it’s in your best interest to get a drone that comes with RTH (Return to Home) feature. As you probably guessed, this system is sure to come in handy when flying long distances — in essence; you won’t have to worry about losing your drone!