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What You Need To Know Before Flying A Drone In The UK

What You Need To Know Before Flying A Drone In The UK

Over the last few years, drones have taken off (no pun intended) in a big way. Once used only by the military, these unmanned aerial vehicles are now being used in a vast array of industries. Search and rescue operations, crop surveillance, and delivering medical supplies to inaccessible regions are just a few of the many applications of drones.

The use of drones by civilians has grown, as these devices are being produced for consumers for an affordable price. A lot of persons use them as toys, while others may attach a camera and use the drone for taking photos and videos from the sky.

Defining a Drone

If living in the United Kingdom and wish to fly a drone, there are rules that govern all aspects. A drone would be specified as any small unmanned aircraft that weighs less than 20 kilograms.

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It is Not Easy to Control a Drone

The first thing that you should know about flying a drone, is that it is not always going to be easy to control. In reality, quadcopters are impossible to fly – they are kept stable by a computer that is inside of the body. This part of the drone is generally called the flight controller. Depending on how the flight controller is set up, each drone will fly just a little bit different than another. In some drones, the flight controller is set up for providing stability, while another flight controller may be set up for agility.

When shopping for a drone, it is important to know how the price is related to the level of difficulty for use. When looking at radio controlled cars, helicopters, or planes, as the price goes up the level of difficulty will go up as well. This is not the case for drones. As the price of a drone goes up, this means that there are added sensors and functionalities to the product, actually making it easier for a novice drone pilot to fly. In relation to the price versus difficulty level, the drones that are easiest to fly can be found for around £530.

Currently, some of the easiest drones to fly are the Q500 4K, Inspire 1, 3DR SOLO and the Phantom 3. The Syma X5C and Hubsan X4 are on the cheaper end of the spectrum, but they are a little bit harder to control by someone with only a little bit of experience.

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Brand New Drones Are Not Always Ready to Fly

There are a few common acronyms that you will see when you are looking for a drone to purchase. There are RTF, ARF, and BNF.

RTF is short for ready-to-fly. In general, an RTF quadcopter will not need any additional assembly or setup, but you will need to do a few simple things like charge the battery, bind the controller to the quadcopter, or install the propellers.

ARF is short for almost-ready-to-fly. An ARF quadcopter is more like a drone kit. Normally they will not come with a receiver or transmitter and could require some assembly. This type of quadcopter kit would also leave it up to you to get some of the components like the battery, flight controller, motor, or ESCs. There is a very broad definition of ARF drone kits, so just know that no two are alike and the description and contents should be read thoroughly.

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BNF is short for bind-and-fly. This type of drone normally comes totally assembled but lacks a controller. With this type of model, you will need to either use a compatible controller that you already have, or purchase one separately.

It should be noted that simply because a transmitter is on the same frequency as a receiver, it is not guaranteed that they will work together. They must also have the same manufacture protocol to be able to communicate. This is why it is so important to check that a controller will work with a drone prior to purchasing.

Rules for Flying a Drone

Due to the risk that drones pose to individuals, establishments, and even airports, there are a strict set of rules in place.

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  • First and foremost, when operating a drone, it must not endanger anything or anyone and the “remote pilot” is responsible for satisfying themselves that the flight will be conducted safely.
  • The drone cannot be flown over or within 150 metres of an area that is congested.
  • The drone cannot be flown within the confines of 50 metres of any vehicle, vessel, or anything that is not controlled by the person that is flying the drone.
  • When the drone is in the air, it must stay in the visual line of sight of the remote pilot. This is generally 400 feet vertically and 500 metres horizontally.
  • The drone cannot be flown within the confines of 150 metres of an open-air organized assembly made up of over 1000 people.
  • The drone cannot be flown within 30 metres of any individual except for the individual that is in charge of the drone.
  • If the drone is being operated outside of these distances, the remote pilot must seek approval from the CAA. The remote pilot must then prove that they can operate the drone safely outside of those distances.
  • The drone cannot be flown within 50 metres of any individual—except when it is taking off or landing.

Surveillance and Work Drones

  • Any small unmanned aircraft that is being used for the purposes of surveillance is subject to tighter restrictions regarding the minimum distance that is able to fly near people or properties.
  • The remote pilot must seek permission from the CAA before these operations are commenced.
  • When using a drone for paid aerial work, the remote pilot must get permission from the CAA before commencing work.

The Data Protection Act comes into action when flying a drone for surveillance purposes. This is because the camera on the drone will be collecting images of individuals that may be able to be identified, even if the images that were collected were not intentional. The Data Protection Act outlines how the images should be collected and stored. Be sure that you are in compliance with this Act when flying a drone with camera capabilities.

Safety Risks

When a drone is being used for commercial purposes, the remote pilot must get permission from the CAA, and when the drone weighs over 20 kilograms, then it is only lawful to use it in a certified “danger area”.

The enforcement of the CAA is focused on ensuring that those who are not properly licensed are not using any drones for commercial purposes, but there have been a few instances in which the CAA imposed themselves and took action against a remote pilot, even when the person in question was using the drone for private (domestic) purposes.

The implications come when the drone poses a safety risk to a person or another aircraft of some sort, or when the drones with cameras pose a privacy risk to individuals that may be recorded. This is the reason that the CAA calls for permission.

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Last Updated on March 24, 2021

8 Smart Home Gadgets You Need in Your House

8 Smart Home Gadgets You Need in Your House

We’ve all done it. We’ve gone out and bought useless gadgets that we don’t really need, just because they seemed really cool at the time. Then, we are stuck with a bunch of junk, and end up tossing it or trying to sell it on Ebay.

On the other hand, there are some pretty awesome tech inventions that are actually useful. For instance, many of the latest home gadgets do some of your work for you, from adjusting the home thermostat to locking your front door. And, if used as designed, these tools should really help to make your life a lot easier—and that’s not just a claim from some infomercial trying to sell you yet another useless gadget.

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Take a look at some of the most popular “smart gadgets” on the market:

1. Smart Door Locks

A smart lock lets you lock and unlock your doors by using your smartphone, a special key fob, or biometrics. These locks are keyless, and much more difficult for intruders to break into, making your home a lot safer. You can even use a special app to let people into your home if you are not there to greet them.

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2. Smart Kitchen Tools

Wouldn’t you just love to have a pot of coffee waiting for you when you get home from work? What about a “smart pan” that tells you exactly when you need to flip that omelet? From meat thermometers to kitchen scales, you’ll find a variety of “smart” gadgets designed to make culinary geeks salivate.

3. Mini Home Speaker Play:1

If you love big sound, but hate how much space big speakers take up, and if you want a stereo system that is no bigger than your fist, check out the Play:1 mini speaker. All you have to do is plug it in, connect, and then you can stream without worrying about any interruptions or interface. You can even add onto it, and have different music playing in different rooms.

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4. Wi-Fi Security Cameras

These are the latest in home security, and they connect to the Wi-Fi in your home. You can use your mobile devices to monitor what is going on in your home at all times, no matter where you are. Options include motion sensors, two-way audio, and different recording options.

5. Nest Thermostat

This is a thermostat that lives with you. It can sense seasonal changes, temperature changes, etc., and it will adjust itself automatically. You will never have to fiddle with a thermostat dial or keypad again, because this one basically does all of the work for you. It can also help you to save as much as 12% on heating bills, and 15% on cooling bills.

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6. Smart Lighting

Control your home lighting from your remote device. This is great if you are out and want to make sure that there are some lights on. It is designed to be energy efficient, so it will pay for itself over time because you won’t have to spend so much on your monthly energy bills.

7. Google Chromecast Ultra

Whether you love movies, television shows, music, etc., you can stream it all using Google Chromecast Ultra. Stream all of the entertainment you love in up to 4K UHD and HDR, for just $69 monthly.

8. Canary

This home security system will automatically contact emergency services when they are needed. This system offers both video and audio surveillance, so there will be evidence if there are any break-ins on your property. You can also use it to check up on what’s happening at home when you are not there, including to make sure the kids are doing their homework.

Featured photo credit: Karolina via kaboompics.com

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