reasons we come up with. Building a crash kit doesn’t have
to be prohibitively expensive and can prevent your Saturday
morning flying session from being cut tragically short due
to a minor incident.
Extra propellers are a must. When taking off and
landing, it’s all too easy to accidently dig one side of the
drone into the ground and bend or break the propellers.
Replacements are generally not that expensive, and it can
be fun to have a few different sizes and pitches in your bag
for more stable or more acrobatic flights. Balance these at
home before heading to the field.
To do some basic maintenance on your drone in the
field, carry a simple tool kit. Pliers, combination wrenches,
maybe some sockets, and a file should be a good start.
Having the basics with you makes it easy to quickly recover
from a broken part without a trip back to the shop.
Zip ties and string are the basics of all good field kits
(and duct tape too). I use these to strap on instruments to
the airframe, patch together a broken landing gear leg, or
tie that pesky wire out of the way before it gets cut in half.
Pick up the big can of various sized zip ties next time you
go into the hardware store.
It’s also a good idea to have any easily replaceable
parts on hand. This could be a motor mount, extra prop
nuts, extra screw, Loctite, etc. Generally, these items are
not that expensive, plus you will need them eventually
(remember how we started this section).
Where to Buy
Now that you know what you want, what accessories
you’ll need, and have made sure you’re within your set
budget, it’s time to place an order ... but from where?
There are many online marketplaces as well as brick-and-mortar stores that now carry multi-rotor products.
The biggest consideration here is how much support
you want or need. I’ve often found that nothing beats
going into your local hobby store with parts in hand and
asking for help. The workers generally can help you put the
pieces together and suggest products as they themselves
are hobbyists. If you get help there, it’s only right to buy
there as well and support the store. (It’s also a great way to
support local businesses!) Sometimes the prices are a bit
higher than big-box stores or online, but try to get the sales
person at one of those to talk about which battery they like
best on their aircraft.
Amazon is also an obvious contender here. With Prime
members getting free second day air shipping and a huge
variety of products and parts to choose from, it’s certainly
an option. If you don’t need support or are looking for the
largest number of reviews, this is a good place to go.
Hobby King is the other big player in the model aircraft
space. Their prices on imported goods are often
outstanding, but sometimes the quality control can be
lacking. The shipping fees are also quite high, so planning
one large order is best here.
So, in the end, it’s really a matter of tradeoffs. What’s
the value of your time to build and program a fully
customizable drone when all you want to do is take
beautiful aerial video? How much time will you spend
working with the constraints of a commercially available
drone to get it to do exactly what you want?
Hopefully, this guide has led you down some useful
paths and you feel confident in making your leap into the
world of multi-rotors.
I’d also like to thank you for reading this column since
it began in May 2016. Sadly, this will be the last
installment. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed learning about this
emerging area of technology and sharing it with you, but
the time has come to move on to other projects.
Keep innovating and experimenting, and as always, fly
12 SERVO 02.2018