Where to learn drone flying


block306

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Hi all
I am interested to learn to fly a drone and get the necessary certificate so that I can fly it in most countries I visits.
I saw there are drone flying courses but these are more geared towards certified to work in certain industries.

Is there any outfit here that I can learn to do so(preferably using Skillsfuture)?
Thanks
 

As you have pointed out ,drone courses are mostly aimed at people wanting to be certified as professional drone pilot. For your info a drone that is 1.5kg - 15kg requires you to take a course by caas for recreational purpose. That said Singapore like everywhere else allow people who fly for fun provided their drone is less than 250 grams including battery. Meaning you do not need to register your drone but anything above/heavier than 250gm require registration and after that a caas sticker must be affixed on your drone so that if it goes out of control and crashed they know who the drone belongs to. Failure to register and if you are caught penalty is $10k fine and or 6 months jail. Another peculiar regulation spore impose is the height limit of 60 meters instead of 120m /400ft. I guess it makes sense that most areas have tall buildings like HDB.

Before you take your 250gm drone out to a country you want to visit first check the law regarding drone flying and requirements of that country. It is now getting stricter for USA and eu countries.
One requirement you need to know is to take or remove the battery from the drone when you board a plane.

All that said if you still want to fly a drone then the next thing is what drone to buy. It is not cheap to buy DJI and they have so many models plus the cheap ones from china. Most people want to shoot video rather than fly a drone so DJI is the industry standard so to speak. Now this will be another headache if you are a newbie. Most important criteria is range, flight time and quality of camera and the flight app. You pay a premium for DJI.
But should you spend a thousand or more just to learn? Would a cheap China drone do. You can spend less than $50 but may be restricted to 50 meters because it is using Bluetooth or WiFi and a few minutes of flight time. No pain when it crash or destroyed just to practice flying. You can also install propeller guards.

There is a lot to learn and practice but there are tons of video on YouTube. Most people learn by watching videos and practice their skills.

Next question is where can you learn to fly or exactly where can you fly in Singapore. So far I know govt has designated an area at pandan reservoir and only a small area. Also know you are required to fly by line of sight meaning your drone must always be in your visual range so flying long distance like in videos is out of the question. If you check the areas in s'pore at https://flywhere.sg/

Select street level for detail where you can fly, you notice that most of sg is restricted especially around 5km to 10 km of sensitive zones like airport and military installations. Other areas like national parks and nature reserves and hdb blocks are out of bounds but do note pandan reservoir has many visitors daily. The map of flywhere.sg show almost all of s'pore is no fly zone so at best you can take your drone up and down and perhaps fly line of sight at open spaces. 😱 That's why you notice not many locals upload drone video on YouTube.
Plus Singaporeans will report police when they see drone flyers near their residences even when they are not flying at no fly zone.
I hope this will not discourage you from flying a drone. 😁


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As a follow-up I believe TS or other interested and curious newbie would want to get into drone flying on the cheap. Well in Singapore there are sellers on carousell selling toy drones for $38 - under $100 but which one is bang for buck? Nowadays drones come with brushless motors which are more powerful than brush motor but the blades can also cut you if you accidentally try to test the drones's obstacles detection sensors which are infrared or laser but most important is the optical flow sensor at the bottom and can also double as downward looking camera but at lower resolution like 480p and intact tge same is on the forward facing camera but may have software interpolation so manufacturers can claim drone has 4k, 6k,8k camera which there is no way it is possible at this low price. Take note the following drones are under 250 grams so no registration by caas needed.

So here is one drone , please note that there are many brands but the model number tells that it is the same model and price difference.

I choose this reviewer because it is in English and the flying environment is similar to sg, high rise buildings or built-up area. Now it may seem he say this e88 Evo suck but that's him speaking his mind. That's what reviews are for right? 😁 Now newbies watch these videos with learn fast as there is a lot of information to digest like drone setup and calibration and flying speed selection, the why and how.👍



Compare how an experienced professional drone reviewer talk about the same model. Note the prices and sg being the most expensive country. Personally I would not choose this myself as there are more bang for buck drone. 😄

 

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S99 MAX , no GPS mode. I stress that these under 250gm. drones are for training beginners but even experienced pilots have difficulties. 😄 The price again.


Another more comprehensive review.


A local shop is selling s99 max for $80. I have no affiliation with shop but I have bought different drone from them. The company is Helicopter Smartfly. Very helpful service. Shop is in Queensway shopping centre. See details below.

 

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P8 pro with GPS !!! My bang for buck drone. Try to get good price in AliExpress or taobao. The old P8 does not have brushless motor and the carbon fibre topshell of p8 pro differentiate it but there are non carbon fibre models listed as pro so do your own research. Link is here.


This is not p8 PRO but earlier version no GPS , no brushless motor. Overall description.


This is p8 pro but not on English as there is none. Note the stable flight characteristics on WiFi and GPS modes @ 8:00 . Roughly you can understand what he is talking about in Tagalog. 😂👍


 

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P8 night time test.😱 There will be improved cheap drones in 2024. 😃 Technology moves on.
Btw the s99 and p8 pro are technically fail safe drones, not sure about e88 Evo. Both drones have return to home if low power is detected or signal connection is lost ( out of range ) So don't panic but try to raise remote controller above your head and walk towards direction of drone. As always fly in visual sight but people will try to push limits. On paper range is about 80 - 100 meters and height about 30 meters. Drone will default to return home. Wait for drone and controller to connect again. You can see people selling their controller accessories after they lost their drone because of lack of knowledge and practice. Also make sure your home position is refreshed if you are moving like doing special drone tricks not available on DJI entry level models. DJI mini 4 pro costs $1400+. 😱 Forget to mention that all these cheap drones do not have built-in DVR video recorder SD card memory slot but record to phone so video and photo are not the best quality but you know that's not the purpose for it but still better than nothing at all.

Last thing I forgot, take off the clear plastic protection film covering the lens if any as drone mania complained that video and photo not sharp or good. 🤣

 

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Making mistakes , we all do.
Although he talks about DJI some things are common. Oh, Singapore drone law only allow maximum altitude of 60 meters not 120 meters internationally. Set your controller accordingly.
Also note fly app can store your flight information so if authority check and you say drone did not exceed height limit then watch out! 😱😂 💲


 

This is serious stuff. A cautionary tale to newbies, old birds and drone enthusiasts. Don't be yaya papaya or how Lian. This is not a criticism or judgement of the person illustrated. This news report came out in 2023. Still it's happening.😱


This TV program aired 4 years ago.


Reported 3 years ago. Fly bros this is what you are up against.
Changi airport has low level radar to detect drone intrusion.😱 No need to say elsewhere.

 

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I came across his story years ago well not that long. His case was before laws were enhanced like drone registration for drones above 250grams. He was young and was influenced by YouTube drone pilots. It was unfortunate that he used certain words as headlines of his videos. This is his story. He wants to contribute by telling his story and hopefully others can learn from his mistakes. I certainly did. He had 11 charges and each charge had a potential fine of $4000 each. 2 of his charges were serious enough that he decided to plead guilty as this will make the court to take 9 others into consideration. So $8000 fines and $4000 in lawyer's fees. What he lost most were the fpv drones that he paid and DIY. The court decided to confiscate them.


 

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Drone pilot training continues...the dreaded flyaways.😱 Most drones got carried away by the wind. A 250gm. small light drone can only handle a certain speed of wind, anything more it cannot stay/hover or fly in the direction needed. Next reason is terrain or ground it fly's above.

Video is about DJI drone that have GPS and vio ( visual inertial odometry ) or flow sensor technology which doubles as ground looking low resolution camera on toy drones discussed here. Unless you pay more for GPS equipped toy drones now they mostly add only one flow sensor at the bottom while DJI has two sensors for " stereo vision" for better accuracy which is 4 inches, better than GPS which is 20 inches. Flow sensor is efficient indoors than GPS but need sufficient brightness indoors to work mean it does not do well in low light. Bear in mind flow sensor recognises patterns, it take photo to analyse so if ground is plain like snow, grassy fields or clear calm water ..ya the type that most photographers like them this can get into trouble for drone.


Flying over water...do not fly straight away to shoot video but let drone hover about a minute in position to let it lock GPS location so that it can return accurately to you. Of course remember to set return to home and the height but if you get into trouble because of wind and see your drone losing signal stay calm and don't panic. Quickly lower the height/altitude if it is high where wind is strong. Shift to 100% / sport mode it give it more power. If wind is still strong observe where or which direction wind is making drone flying against wind which is the problem flying back or carrying it sideways still let it proceed in your direction when it gets closer to you then change direction towards you and land. Do not depend on return to home function as it may not help. You are the pilot! If you are on a moving vehicle or boat obviously your return home position has changed, update your current position so that drone does not return to position you are not at currently. Remember flying cheap drone has no position so everything is by line of sight. Don't ya ya be hero until you know the performance limitations. I say even 50 meters can lose signal so be aware. I will share how you can extend the range of drone in another post.✌️ PS this is to ensure you have good signal contact with drone and not encourage you to be hero.😂


 

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It's new year's eve so I think you have some time on your hands to learn some antenna theory which is quite important for the flying performance of cheap toy drones. Now if you can understand some of this theory you will be a person of interest to someone...who? Guess..😄 so my personal advice is do not do stupid things, think it over carefully and thoroughly. Then you will enjoy flying drones.


So you know the antenna theory, now you can mod the stock one that comes in the toy drone which works but is not optimal but unfortunately for manufacturers who do not want to run afoul of laws purposely set it up like this or could be ignorant of good antenna practice. There are only 2 types of antennas that are used in toy drone, dipole and monopole. Predominantly 1/4 wave type which is known to be most efficient. Understand you are taking responsibility of modifying your drone and if you screw up hey chalk it up to experience and you can always redo it. Best of luck and enjoy the hobby.

Remember I said the stock drone flying distance by line of sight is if the environment is good ie. not much interference from buildings and trees a range of 50 meters is achievable. Similarly doing the antenna mod will allow you to fly further. ( Taking account of the capacity of the battery, ie. If the total flying time is 8min. then when 50% is used up or 4min. it is time to turn around and fly home. Don't forget the wind conditions. ) But keep it to yourself and don't do stupid things ya. ✌️ The main purpose of mod is to maintain strong signal transmitting from remote controller and recieving antenna of the drone so you should not lose signal contact and lose the drone. 👍


 

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Although there is the Alternative photography section ( Ariel ) here which is not so active I feel this should be given airing here since it may affect people wanting to fly drones.

As you know Sg is pro business so what is happening in USA could one day happen here. Which means total ban of recreational drone flight or something similar. No matter what fly a drone while you still can. 😄


 

I like to give clarity about the range/ distance that a toy grade drone can fly and features that Chinese sellers claim the drones can do as this can cause confusion to newbies venturing into the drone hobby.

1. Said drone can fly distances up to 5000 or 8000 meters or 5km or 8km. 😱
The fact that toy drones typically use WiFi signal like your WiFi in your home. There are radio frequency rules that limit the power of WiFi amplifier transmitter can have so to not cause radio interference to other equipment in physical space indoors as well as outdoors. So in theory WiFi can only transmit signal up to 1000m or 1km. only.
Unless drone has GPS then in theory it can fly further than WiFi type drone depending on the power of the GPS amplifier and quality of GPS and the receiving antenna and transmitting remote controller which typically a toy drone is not supplied .

Pic show typically transmitting antenna of camera for live streaming video image . There is a motor that tilts forward to downward 90 degree view. Drone either have manual adjustment ( you set it before flight or controlled by remote which is better ). There is also the receiving antenna on top internally.

Seller claims of 8k or 4k video is also false as low cost of drone cannot possibly have 4k camera and most likely a 720p or at best 1080p video image. Do note some video recording function may not work due to app issues which the developers do not correct and just bundle with drone.

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My drone receiving antenna. Notice antenna is lying parallel to PCB ground plane and near the power supply and control connectors. The esc ( electronic speed control ) of the motors is nearby which create noise and possibly interfere with the antenna which is why modding it by adjusting it vertically will improve signal reception from the remote controller. That means drilling a hole on the top cover which will affect the look but improve signal reception like in the video up the previous post.
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2. Obstacle avoidance. It can be external on top of drone or internal but external is usually 360 degrees ie. front , back and sides. For internal it can be 720 degrees or 3 sides but not in back of drone when you fly backwards unless it states 360 degrees and you can verify by looking for holes/windows in the body/ airframe. Here is example.
Ps ignore his do not buy comments . @4:00 for camera and obstacle avoidance.



3. Unrealistic claim of large capacity of battery. Also @4:20
Probably it has 6 or 8 minutes of flight time.

4. Other features like 360 degree flips can just be to the left and right only unless full 360 including front and back roll.

5. One button return, some may have it. Because it is not GPS it will return to the area you took off from but you will need to land drone yourself.

6. Because it is not GPS it does not have telemetry information like distance, height ,speed and
battery usage to tell you to fly back safely. On toy drones at best is the lights will blink to tell you it's time to land or it will practically drop out of the sky.

7. One button Emergency stop.
This will stop the motors and drop out of the sky if you think doing this will save the drone from crashing of losing it.

8. Because it is not GPS. You need to trim the flight controls in flight. See user manual. Also calibrate the gyroscope before take off. Most will auto bind the drone ( connect to drone via WiFi ) but you still need to check settings to confirm or drone will not fly or camera work.

That 's it for now. ✌️
 

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More confusion for DJI drone owners. Please don't ask me any questions with regard this report as I assume you are intelligent to understand the video.

DJI has put some self regulating firmware into their DJI mini 4 pro , it being a popular sub 250gm. drone limiting it's maximum height limit of 500 meters but bear in mind the flight rules of air safety actually state a max. of 120 meters. The drone only measure height from take off point but say you hike up a mountain and you are above sea level then you are above 120 meters , what then well DJI has a workaround that you need to apply via their app which involves declassifying the drone according to DJI classification which has nothing to do with the country you go and fly to especially the EU ( read up the term geo fencing ). After that there are some quirk regarding this ,watch the video. So flying drones not so convenient anymore. Also know USA is about to ban DJI products so DJI is trying to protect it's market share as it is a multi billion $$$ business.

Consider yourself lucky living in Singapore where drone rules are more relaxed but take note that height limit is ONLY 60 meters, no if or but. No negotiation.😄
I think the authorities know if you go higher you can see things you are not suppose to see. 🤪

 

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Will delivery companies like food panda or grab food still have a market share in Singapore, the airspace in future will likely get crowded and what will happen to consumer drone flying as a hobby. DJI has started deploying delivery drones in China. Other companies are already competing in the delivery space. It's going to be a hot space in the air.

 

Here is the Singapore official resource with respect to drone laws and flying areas. Technically only one area , Pandan reservoir is designated an allowed place but you can see from the video that you will be flying over water which is not advised for newbie pilots simply because should you lose control of your drone there is no way to retrieve it. Take note the flow sensor on toy drone can only see "patterns" for location positioning so featureless scenes of water and grassy fields will confuse the sensor if you fly too low for that low angle shot and result in erratic flight. How low you have to test it for yourself.🤪 Pandan is still a pilot project so things may change in future. In my opinion it is not an ideal location for learn to fly drones mainly because of flying over water and the limited land space ( for flying close to you it is possible ) as you will be sharing it with other public users like cyclists, walkers and joggers.
It is open daily from 9.00am - 6.00pm. certainly not great for photographers who want to film morning and evening golden hours. The CNA reported that the flying area is 16 hectares ,most over water so you cannot fly to the other end of the reservoir as it is no fly zone. Also it is stated that you can fly outside no fly zones but you can probably guess there is not much space.



Nparks list of no fly zones which is 31 parks including rail corridor you see in some video. So tell me where can you fly a drone? 😂


PLease note LTA does not allow filming in mrt stations.
Yellow arrow show approximate location of take off area
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A look at Pandan reservoir shot in 2017 before drone law was announced (2020 ) and Pandan reservoir allowed flying area in 2022 July. Note your toy drone will not be able to fly as high and far like this DJI drone.🤪
Take note that this video show take off point from look out jetty which is not the official designated uafa site which is further down to the left bottom of the screen.


Screen shot detail of take off point from the water @1:20, notice the 4 picnic tables beside the carpark.

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Another slow panorama of Pandan reservoir when weather and lighting is good. Your toy drone camera cannot capture such HD resolution.

 

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An update... I flew my first drone flight and also with my modified antenna on the drone and controller. For a refresher posts #11 and #13 touch on antenna theory. I link another video to help beginner flyers understand how antenna works.


Now here is what you can expect when you fly a stock cheap toy drone made in china. This is an Indonesian video but I think you can understand the video as English language videos only disparage china drones other than the industry standard DJI drone company which is also Chinese. Note that Z908 is clone of DJI MINI 3 drone under 250 grams that does not need to be registered in sg. Mini 3 is first generation to have obstacle avoidance but only on 3 sides, front and sides only. Whether obstacle avoidance is useful to beginner flyers depends on how much experience you have gained in your flying training which is the subject of this post.
From this video it is apparent that it performed as expected but notice man is flying in a large open field with no buildings and trees around which is typical in Singapore.


Here is my field report of my first ever drone fight and impressions as a newbie beginner after watching many YouTube videos. Yesterday, Sunday I decided to experience what is drone flying. My drone comes with obstacle avoidance unit mounted on top like the Indonesian video but I did not attach it as I modified the drone antenna and the controller. Photo below. Whether obstacle avoidance is useful for beginners
depends on how good the obstacle avoidance software can detect small objects like tree branches. Cheap china drones use infrared so they are not good in daylight. Even DJI is not foolproof but is quite good but be prepared to pay about sgd$1k for a mini 4 pro.




Note the antennas are partially finished as I added 4 more wires 90 degree apart like a folded umbrella slopping downwards which act as reflecting ground. The original attenna was inside the drone and the earth ground you stand on is the reflector. ( Original attennas were removed , both the drone antenna and camera video antenna. )


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I wrote a lengthy report but somehow it got lost in the editing. So here is a short summary. I decided to fly my drone after the antenna mods. If is also my first drone flight. If you live in Queenstown I dare say there is only one place that is suitable as the field is rectangular roughly I estimate to be 70 meters X 60 meters with a few trees. Nparks had recently pruned the trees botak after many years to prevent tree branches breaking from as the tree canopies were large. It had the advantage that there is more space and easy to see where things are. ( Forgot to mention this tract of land will be used to build a flyover connecting Farrer road to Alexandra road to ease traffic congestion in 2 or 3 years time or sooner so fly when you still can!!!! )

I decided to use as take off point further away from the footpath. There was a concrete covered drain which is better than the grass field which is soggy from the rain.

Set up the drone and powered on, powered on the controller to calibrate the drone and also to set WiFi to drone WiFi name. Drone and controller are binded.
Use one button take off. It rose 1 meter plus and I observed how stable drone was maintaining hold it's position via the flow sensor or the 2nd. downward looking camera. Made some fine tuning adjustments for the drift of position.

Pushed the flight stick forward to go higher step by step. If you are beginner this is good way as keeping your fingers on the stick you may end up going higher than you realise and that's where the danger begins! I played with the controls like going up and down, banking left and right , basically going side to side and turning the drone front 360 degrees. You can use "headless mode" so that you do not need to concern yourself which way the drone is facing and just intuitively push forward to move away or backwards towards you. But I did not do this. Anywayas drone got higher but below sg stipulated maximum height the wind got hold of the light weight drone and began to drifted away from me. I panicked as I could not visually see the drone as it was too small and the tall buildings made the drone blend into the scenery. I thought I was going to Lise the drone and the prospect of it fall on someone or car or crashing into a building.

I got my wits about me and tried to bank right as the left is forest and trees. Luckily banking right allowed me to see the drone against the sky between the buildings and flew the drone towards me, thanks to the attenna mods which maintain signal connection. Battery flight time is roughly 8 minutes but in real life it was about 5 minutes. As drone was about few meters from me I could see the flashing lights of the drone that means it is low on power and was dropping in altitude and finally falling to the grass field. I recovered the drone and inserted a 2nd. battery out of the 4 I had.Played around to observe how drone flew .By the 3rd. battery the drone crashed because it was drifting because of wind and watched it come down at a low height. I notice the camera module had dislodge from the underside as I forgot to screw it back. It was intact with no wire breakage. It was getting dark and I decided to pack up and leave. The drone app could not record video either and the live view froze so technically I was flying blind hence the potential flyaway which I recovered.

I now have a good experience after only 1 flight but because I had watch YouTube videos of how not to make beginner mistakes and survived . So the take away from this experience us it is useful to have live video feed but cheap drones have only a short range and the video is choppy and not smooth. You also need to keep the drone in line of sight so cannot pay attention to what's on the phone screen. All in all it was a good first flight.

What advice I would give beginner flyers is buy a drone with extra batteries from AliExpress or taobao or if you can get them cheaply in sg. Prepare yourself thoroughly by learning all the basics of drone flying. Well as proof I only managed to take an aerial photo of the forest to my left, not really forest but vegetation and trees.🤪 I also do not advise beginners to fly at Pandan Reservoir after what I have experienced as more likely to will lose your drone in the water as you don't know how long your battery last !!! So never fly over water or canals.
Until further updates...

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