Aerial drone recommendations

I’ve been thinking about getting a drone for some time. Looking at what’s being advertised, it looks as if the prices are about as low as they can get. Can anyone recommend a brand that’s more than a toy without getting into professional units and where the video can be downloaded to a PC without complicated software.

DJI Phantom

Looked for a locally made (US) but four years ago could not beat the price and functionaility. $1500.00. Would be considered a professional setup but many sold to
amateurs. 2 hours to become functional flyer, 4-6 almost expert. 4K video. Not difficult to master. Upload videos to Youtube not difficult. Missing from images is the viewer which is about same size as Ipad mini. The whole process (learning, flying, uploading) is rather fun. There are also automatic functions (come home, hover in place- functions, etc.).

I saw the review of DJI drones in a tech mag and I’ve been looking them up starting with the beginner models in the toy category. One of the models higher up on the scale is reputed to crash and sink if it flies over water. Good to know since the drone I get will spend a lot of time over water. Working my way up to the Phantom in the reviews.

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I don’t see a Phantom model advertised on DJI’s website but based on its price tag and position in the ranks, the Mavic 2 Pro is at least an equivalent if not improved version. The specs for all the models say an app is required which is only available more recent t iPhones. Do you know if using previous iPhone software affects one of the system functions or all of them? Mavic looks similar quality. Previous phone- no I do not but that is one important question to sort out. I tried using an android phone with the software it came with (not hard to install and use) but using the phone size just made it a bit impractical. So I loaded program on an older ipad and had no worries. But it is well worth getting into the weeds re compatibility.

I’ve not had problems over water at all other than my own pucker factor. Have used it a bit on the beach and a bunch over a freshwater lake with no problems (other than operator problems).

There are so many models to sort through and a lot have similar or same features. Good luck! Use the auto functions! And experiment over grass, but most models have a stuctural frame for hard landings.

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I have the original Mavic. Love it.

I’ve launched it from a number of boats and it’s spent a lot of time over the water. I looked into adding a float or something to it but what’s the point? If it drops out of the sky, the impact will kill it regardless of if it’s over land or water.

The most important thing about operating it over the water is knowing your battery levels and giving yourself plenty of reserve to flight home.

Also know that it calculates return flight time and energy consumption based on the current wind speed… so if the wind picks up you may not have enough energy to get home.

What I have done more times than I’d like to admit is mess up the landing. Those things are dangerous to land on a rolling sailboat with little deck space. Would be easier on the ship but it’s only a matter time before someone has a drone hovering, slips on a wet deck into the blades, and the HSE weenies at all the shipping companies start sending each other emails about how dangerous these things are.


I have a Phantom 4. Great fun. If it gets out of range it warns me and then comes home. Lands exactly where it took off from and avoids obstacles along the way. Once you learn to set them up they are almost stupid proof which to me is invaluable. Before learning to set mine up I crashed it a few times. Got some more props and away we went again. :grinning:

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The first thing is to decide if you want an autonomous vehicle, or a quad-copter. Something like a mini-quad or race quad.

I have one little quad that’s purely manually controlled.

Definitely one with GPS and camera. I’ve started looking at ones where the camera sends the signal to goggles.

I have a DJI Mavic Air and I would recommend it as easy to use for someone that’s computer literate, and at a reasonable price point of not being a toy but not being full blown professional. My only complaint is that I don’t use it as often as I should to justify the original purchase of it.

I have all the time in the world but I worry a bit that after plunking down a couple of grand for a more recent iPhone model, (SEs aren’t compatible for some reason) drone and goggle system, the novelty will wear off and it’ll end up on top of the heap of other “toys” in a closet.

The phone compatible issue is irrelevant with a FPV type system which as a former aircraft pilot appeals to me more anyway.

There are cheaper DJI knock-offs you can get, but they aren’t that much cheaper than just getting a DJI which are more tried and tested, so it’s probably better just getting a DJI, there are sometimes some good deals for them.

GoPro tried to enter the drone market with their Karma drone but couldn’t compete with DJI so don’t make drones anymore.

As long as it’s FPV, I’m willing to spend to get a good system and DJI does seem to have the best features.

I saw the below video recently about a guy showing his 90 year old father FPV for the first time, the kit he uses looks pretty good, he lists it in the description below the video, some of it isn’t cheap.


I purchased a Sharper Image DX 5 streaming drone for my first. Ollies (good stuff cheap store) $30 bucks. With the app downloaded to my cell I can view the drone’s view in real time.

What do I use mine for? My house is 2 floors high and it is handy to fly the rain gutters to see if they are full of leaves etc and fly around the chimney & ridge vent to inspect it as I live in a storm belt area. So rather than to set up the extension ladder and climb up there and take chances like that, I can stand on the ground and have my recon within a couple of minutes. I can use my VR goggles and have a friend of mine spot for me as I fly it should I get too close to
an obstruction

But it’s all I need a Drone for…