The modern drone is quickly becoming one of the best all-purpose devices out there. While we as consumers often think of drones as fun devices to kill a few hours in the park or take wide-eyed shots of our area around us, they are quickly showing practical uses too. In my profession, I’ve seen a growing number of realtors using drones to capture flyovers of homes they’re selling and recently, a drone helped firefighters with a riverside rescue in the US. You may not be setting out to save the world with your drone, but whether you’re using it for work or play, make sure that you outfit yourself with some of the best accessories available.
For recording drones, a trusty gimbal is an absolute must and is just as important as the hardware keeping it flying in the air. A steady and reliable gimbal will prevent shaky footage and help maintain the direction you are shooting in. Nothing is worse than having the perfect angle and then having it all ruined because of a sudden change in air pressure or an accidental jerk in steering. A good gimbal will provide you good aerial stability and excellent video footage.
For the best recording results possible, be sure to purchase a gimbal compatible with your devices. There are gimbals out there specializing in specific camera types and with the best fit for your drone. Take the Smart Zone gimbal for the 3DR Solo for example. These are fine tuned for GoPro cameras and will stabilize video to 0.1 degrees while charging your device and providing a virtual control panel for you on the ground. For more professional applications and film work, you may want to invest in the DJI Ronin (4 hour additional performance batteries are also available) which is one of the most amazing professional experiences you’ll have out there right now, but may be out of reach for most hobbyists.
Batteries and Chargers
While some of the smaller quadcopter and ground drones may have enough battery life for you to be out and about for the day, you tend not to get much out of the larger ones. You’d be lucky to get 20 minutes out of some of them and that’s being generous. Needless to say, it’s less than ideal if you’re planning an entire day of filming in the air and having to stay grounded while the batteries charge. Thankfully, you can get additional batteries and chargers for just about all of your drones regardless of shape or size.
If you’ve got some of the smaller, more casual drones (like Parrot’s Jumping Sumo or Rolling Spider) you can easily get a replacement (or additional) battery for them. A replacement battery would be a good idea for Jumping Sumo owners especially, since it has an onboard camera to go with its other features. For the more serious drone owners, DJI has the well-meaning traveler in mind, offering the car charger for the Phantom 2 Drone as well as this additional battery.
Cases and Bags
While you can probably get away with slipping a smaller rough and tumble ground drone into a backpack to take to the park, I wouldn’t dare think about carrying a higher end drone from place to place without a proper case. There are so many small components and breakable pieces that you really can’t risk breaking something and wrecking your plans for the day. If you’ve invested heavily in a drone, it’s worth seeing if you can find yourself a specialty case for it. Branded specialty cases are custom made for your specific drone and often feature foam inserts that hold your drone snugly and keep all those little pieces safe. They’re going to cost a little bit more than a generic case, but when you’ve already gone to the lengths of investing the way you have, consider those extra few bucks a good accompanying investment.
B&W International has one of the best branded cases on the market for Phantom drones. Even better, this case fits any of the Phantoms, so if you have a 2 and are upgrading to a 3 soon, you already have the case for it. The Phantom’s shape doesn’t really make it very conducive to a backpack style case, but the 3DR Solo’s does and you may be interested in this easy to carry case with foam inserts. If your specific drone doesn’t have its own case, not to worry. B&W International has a universal drone case ready to go and they even have a strap system ready to turn your carrying cases into a backpack style for you to take on those long walks or hikes up the mountain.
The last thing to think about in your accessory pack is the one thing you don’t want to think about: Breakages. Thankfully, a lot of spare parts for drones aren’t really that expensive to replace. One wrong move might leave you with a couple broken parts and a small repair bill. Be ready for this by picking up a few spare parts for your drone. You never know when you may need a new set of propellers or may need to replace mounting brackets that you’ve bent or damaged from a rough landing or accidental encounter with nature. While you probably didn’t mean to have your drone carve your initials into that tree, that’s all you’ll be doing without a backup. It’s best to be familiarized with your drone to understand which parts are likely to break first and which you’ll need to carry spares for. With so many parts to choose from, your best bet is to visit the drones category (or search for your drone model) at BestBuy.ca to get started.
With your new set of accessories, you and your drone are now ready for whatever the day brings! Just be sure to play within Transport Canada’s rules.