Ready to Fly or Build your Own?

When you are interested in drones and you do a little research you are presented with two ways of getting a drone. You can either buy a Ready to fly in short RTF Drone or you can venture into the world of building your own drone.

I’m writing this post to help you decide which option is best for you and help you manage your expectations. I’m not trying to tell you one is better then the other, because both options are worth it. But completely different.

There are a couple of things you need to consider when deciding if you are going to build it yourself or if you are going for a Ready to fly drone;

  1. Intentions
  2. Budget
  3. Time
  4. Skill
  5. Patience

Lets break them down one by one.

1. Intentions

What do you ultimately want to do with your drone? This might seem like a weird question but it makes sense. If you want to learn electronics and aviation while making an amazing finished product (your drone) then yes, jump right into building your own. But for most, the intention is to fly, do what so many others have been doing for years now.

In the end 99% just want to take beautiful images and video to share with friends and family. To achieve this you do not need to build your own drone. There are tons of amazing ready to fly drones on the market. This can save you many hours of frustration and will get you up in the air the fastest.

2. Budget

Most drone enthusiasts think the same, bigger is better. But with this comes costs. Ready to fly drones are priced for consumers and generally pretty affordable. But they are limited to what they come with. You can get extra batteries and propellors and maybe a ND filter for your camera.

Building your own drone on the other hand gives you flexibility and freedom and it’s generally cheaper then a Ready to fly drone. But remember, when you build it yourself you are never finished, there is always that extra upgrade, those new props, spare batteries, that new transciever or that amazing new frame. This can slim down your budget pretty fast.

3. Time

Want to build your own drone? Be prepared to put a lot of time into building it. I’m not trying to discourage you from taking this route, because it is amazing when you fly your own build drone for the first time. Just be prepared to do a lot of research before you buy any parts, you will need to know exactly what you want to buy, what parts work well together, why a certain type of motor is better for your drone then another, well.. you get the point.

But go for it, the accomplishment is fantastic and you will learn a lot, which ultimately will make you a far better drone pilot then most.

Building one yourself will also force you to look into how a drone works and operates, this will give you a better idea of it’s flight mechanics and in turn give you more confidence and make you a better pilot that is less likely to crash.

When you take the Ready to fly route all you need to do is find the right drone for you and buy it. But you will learn a lot less. So when you buy a Ready to fly drone take some of the time you ‘saved’ from building your own to educate yourself before hand on how to operate and fly drones so you can get off the ground safely on your first flight.

4. Skill

Besides time and a budget you will need some basic skills in electronics and engineering to build your own drone. This is something many people forget. If you are tech savvy and are good at fixing things around the house you should be alright.In general there is no fixed manual on how to build your own drone.

There are some, but they always tend to be different then your actual build. If you are not savvy around the house and have never held a screwdriver in your life I suggest you look for a Ready to Fly drone.

Unless this is the project you want to learn all those skills in, then go for it but you will need a lot of patience and expect to make many mistakes.

5. Patience

When you are building your own drone you will need a lot of this. At times it can get really really frustrating trying to figure out why only 3 of your 4 motors are spinning or why you can’t seem to get your ESC to work. Building your drone is not something you want to rush. You need to take your time and you will have a lot of setbacks. But these make the end result all the more satisfying.

Obviously you don’t have this problem when you go the Ready to Fly route. Which is good, you can get straight into learning how to fly your drone and get it off the ground quickly. Just make sure you do it safely and somewhere where you can’t hurt anybody.

Conclusion

So I’ve told you some of the things you have to consider when your trying to decide to go the Ready to Fly or Building your own route. Hopefully this has made you realise there is more to building your own drone then just buying the parts and slapping it together.

Time, Skill and patience is what you will need most. If this is not up your alley and you want to fly as soon as possible, be smart buy yourself a Ready to Fly drone like the DJI Phantom 3 or 3DR Solo. These will safe you a big headache and you’ll be on your way in no-time.

Still convinced you want to build your own? Wonderful, head over to DIYDrones.com where you will find all the information you need.

Written by Rik Roukens
Rik created his personal blog to help people prevent the mistakes he made in the 5+ years he has been flying. His other passions are Photography & videography. Email him anytime @ rik[at]sesh[.]tv or tweet him at @rroukens