Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), otherwise known as drones, have become very popular in the last few years. UAVs are used in a wide range of activities, such as surveillance, research, commercial photography, and recreation. Due to technological advancement and a consequent drop in price, this smashing piece of kit makes an ideal Christmas gift for that special person in your life.
From experience days to budget presents, here are some ways you can treat and impress your partner this Christmas.
1) For the beginner: An exciting new way to take photographs
There are lots of amazing ready-to-fly (RTF) drones available from around £20. But it’s probably fair to say that the most thrilling – and popular – use for a drone is aerial photography, and if this is what you’re looking for, there are plenty of models out there, at prices ranging from £50 to more than £1,000. Flying at a height of up to 120m, and fitted with the latest gyro-stabilisation technology, a drone offers a fresh view of your environment, as live images are streamed to your smart phone or first-person-view (FPV) goggles.
Many models have a hover mode, so when there’s an image you really want to capture, you can settle your craft into a stable hover, take off your pilot’s cap for a moment, and don your photographer’s cloak. Be aware, though, of the rules and regulations governing the use of drones. Flying a camera-equipped drone to within 50m of a person or a vehicle is prohibited, and in crowded areas, the minimum distance is 150m.
The Recon Observation Drone is a good choice for a first-time drone owner. With a control range of up to 50m, a three-speed flight toggle, and the means of performing stunts, you get a chance to develop your UAV skills whilst harvesting some stunning photographs and videos from the sky. In dwindling light, you can keep track of your drone and determine its orientation by means of the green (right) and red (left) lights on its underside.
The Recon Observation Drone has a high resilience to signal interference, allowing it to operate, unhindered, among other RC vehicles, and it comes with an SD card reader, so you can view your footage straight away. The drone has eight minutes’ battery life, so flights have to be short, and it takes a full hour for the battery to recharge. Although this sounds like a bit of a drag, it’s typical of a UAV, and when you own one, you get used to it.
2) For the keen hobbyist: Experience days and UAV training
If you’re new to UAVs, it’s probably a good idea to get a bit of tuition. For one thing, your drone isn’t cheap, and it could be damaged if you don’t know what you’re doing; secondly, you’ll get much more fun out of your drone if you know how to fly it. It’s important to remember, too, that even though you are not required to possess an RC pilot’s licence or a driver’s licence, there are rules and regulations governing the use of drones, which you must be familiar with.
Experience sessions and UAV training come in all shapes and sizes, from three-hour taster sessions, to two-day training courses. If your partner is serious about this new hobby, then a day’s break away, dedicated to learning about drones and all the possibilities they offer, could possibly be the best gift you ever give. It might also be the most expensive, because these sessions are certainly not cheap. Shop around, though, and you’re bound to find something that suits your location, availability, and budget.
3) For the drone-mad: Accessories and equipment
Maybe your drone-mad partner is a seasoned UAV pilot, in which case they have no need for a training session – in fact it would be an insult to suggest it. And taking upon yourself the task of choosing a new drone for a drone enthusiast/fanatic/anorak is little short of reckless. Don’t worry, though – there are lots of useful pieces of kit, as well as drone-related trivia, that will put a smile on the face of any drone-crazy pilot.
On the light-hearted side, there are hoodies, T-shirts, baseball caps, and mugs featuring drone images and witty captions, such as “Build. Crash. Repeat.” or “Trust me, I’m a drone pilot”. Alternatively, for a more down-to-earth gift, why not go for a drone-repair tool kit, which can be bought for around the £10 mark. One of these might possibly be given alongside the “Build. Crash. Repeat.” T-shirt!
Cases and backpacks, designed for specific UAV equipment, are available from under £20 to more than £150, depending on the manufacturer and requirements of the drone it’s intended for. But if you’re planning to splash out this year on a seriously special Christmas present, you might be tempted by a pair of FPV goggles – a cheeky little gift that sports a whopping £400 to £500 price tag.
To complete our selection of super Christmas gifts for your drone-mad partner, we suggest two paperback books by drone expert, Adam Jupiter: The Complete Guide to Drones (published 2015) and The Drone Pilot’s Handbook (published 2016). Full of valuable information about the world of UAV, these books are suitable for beginners, old hands, and everyone in between.
Allow us to be the first to wish you and your drone-mad partner a very merry Christmas!