Table of Contents Drones Under $150 FAQ Best Drones Under $150 #1 Altair Aerial AA108 Force1 U45W Blue Jay Force1 Headless 360 Flip Mode FPV Drone UDI U818A Wifi FPV Drone DROCON Blue Bugs 3 Holy Stone F181W Conclusion about Drones Under 150
There’s never been a better time to get into drones. Not long ago, unmanned aerial vehicles were prohibitively expensive, requiring thousands of dollars and an FAA registration just to get started. But then the market exploded, making consumer-affordable quadcopters widely available. Now all you need to learn how to fly is $150 and some spare time.
Many beginners try to jump into the deep end before they know how to swim, purchasing something like the DJI Phantom 4 because they read online that it’s the best consumer drone on the market. I mean, it probably is – lord knows we can’t stop singing its praises on this website. But it’s also a giant, unwieldy piece of complex machinery that will crash almost immediately in inexperienced hands. Next thing you know, you’ve just paid a thousand dollars for an ugly paperweight. Better to start with something lightweight and durable – and, preferably, cheap, just in case something does go wrong.
Maybe you’re looking for the perfect gift as we approach the 2017 holiday season. Or maybe you’ve always been interested in drones but never knew how to get started. In any case, this list is for you. Dronethusiast has tested every vehicle on this list and can vouch for the quality of the product and – at least in most cases – the manufacturers. So keep reading, soon-to-be dronethusiast, and learn everything you need to know about buying drones for under $150.
Drones Under $150 FAQ
What are drones?
A drone is simply an unmanned aerial vehicle. The most common drones are quadcopters, which simply means that they have four propellers. Drones are usually controlled with a radio transmitter (just like an RC car), but more recently may also be controlled with a mobvile device via WiFi.
Are cheap drones any good?
Absolutely! Once upon a time, any drone worth its salt would run you at least $1,000, but that’s no longer the case. The drone market has exploded in recent years with lots of great options at every price range. That’s why we had to narrow this list down to the six best!
Can I get a professional drone for $150?
Not really. The drones in this article are best for first-time fliers and hobbyists who are interested in using drones mostly for recreational purposes. If you’re looking for something that you can use for professional photography/videography, or something with more than 15 or so minutes of battery life, you’ll have to be prepared to spend a lot more. If that’s what you want, we wrote an article here that will help you get started.
Do I need to register my drone?
It depends. If you’re in England, yes. In America (as of 2017) you only have to register your drone if you’re using it commercially – that is, if you’re using it in some capacity that makes money. If you’re selling the pictures, for example. This rule varies in some states. In short, it’s worth doing some research to find out what the law is where you live and to make sure you’re flying in accordance with all local regulations.
Best Drones Under $150
If you’re looking to get into quadcopters but you’re really just a hobbyist, the $150 price point is pretty much the perfect place to start. You’ll get a wide array of features to keep you interested, and you can even find some solid camera drones if you’re interested in amateur photography. Plus, all these drones make great gifts for the upcoming holidays – no matter the recipients’ level of experience.
#1 – Altair Aerial AA108
See it on Amazon USA or Canada, UK, Australia & Other International Shoppers click here, see their International Shipping rates here.
You can read our full review of the AA108 here, but the bottom line is that this is a great drone for beginners and more advanced fliers alike. If you’ve never flown before, there’s a wide array of features like headless mode and one-touch takeoff that make it easy to control, and it’s durable enough to take a few hits. If you’re an experienced pilot, this drone has a fast yaw and can really let loose at the higher speed settings. Plus, it has a high definition camera perfect for aerial photography and videography.
Tech Specs: Altitude Hold Function – saves so many crashes and makes it easy to fly! 1 Touch Take Off and Landing 8 Minute Flight Time 300 ft range Uses a 6-axis gyro stability for maneuverability and ultimate wind resistance 720p HD camera that takes video and photos Heading Hold (Headless) Mode (Great beginner drone function) 3 speed levels – beginner, medium, and advanced
Altair also prides itself on providing good customer service – you can call them day or night and you’ll get a real human being, not a phone tree. This makes this drone especially good for those who are looking for a low-stress hobby – unlike some of the other entries on this list, it’s really easy to get replacement parts or after-sale service if something goes wrong.
Visit the Altair Aerial Website.
#2 – Force1 U45W Blue Jay
The Force1 U45W Blue Jay is an excellent choice if you’re a hobbyist looking to get involved with aerial photography – the bird name refers to the fact that it promises “a bionic bird’s-eye view.” It has a very long battery life for the price range and comes with an extra battery and a power pack, which makes it perfect for longer shoots, and it comes with a built-in 720p HD camera that works in VR and specializes in 360 degree shots.
Tech Specs: 2 3.7 500 mAh batteries 1 Touch Take Off and Landing 360 degree flip Can be flown with an app that streams a 720p live feed and works in VR Headless and altitude hold modes Power bank for longer battery life
Fair warning – this drone is a little less beginner-friendly than the AA108. It doesn’t have quite as many stability features and it may crack easily if it crashes. However, this is still an easy-to-use and exceptional drone for any user, and the gorgeous images it produces speak for themselves.
Click To Shop or Read Reviews #2 – Force1 U45W Blue Jay
This drone – also produced by Force1 – is similar to the Blue Jay in terms of its specs and in that it’s a photography-focused camera drone. But for a little extra cash, it comes with a lot of features that make it a great starting point for amateur videographers. For one thing, you no longer need a smart phone – there’s a live video feed built right into the controller, complete with adjustable screen brightness settings. It also comes with an SD card and a reader right out of the box, which most camera drones don’t provide. All you have to do is open the box and you’re all set to take beautiful photos and video.
Tech Specs: 2 3.7 500 mAh batteries Live video feed built into the controller 1-touch landing 360 degree flip 720p wide-angle HD camera Headless Mode Extra durable body with LED lights for nighttime flight
The Flip Mode FPV also comes with a much more durable body – those prop guards may look a little silly, but they do a great job of protecting delicate parts during a crash. And as the name implies, it’s great for stunts – it can flip 360 degrees in 3D, which looks really cool when you’re taking video! All in all, an excellent $150 drone.
Click To Shop or Read Reviews #4 – UDI U818A Wifi FPV Drone
The UDI U818A is a staple of intermediate drone ownership, and it’s not hard to see why. It takes videos in 1080×720 HD and professional color and white balancing and still has four times the battery life of the AA108 thanks to its new batteries and power pack. It also has many of the beginner-friendly settings shared by other drones on this list, including Headless mode.
Tech Specs: 2 3.7 500 mAh batteries and power pack 7-9 minutes of flight time per battery Requires the free UDIRc app for Android or iOS 1-touch landing 360 degree flip Video taken in 1080x720p HD at 30 FPS Headless Mode Comes with a 4GB Micro SD card (but no card reader)
Though it’s got some incredibly features, this is another drone that’s ideal for those at a non-beginner level of experience. The drone’s reasonably durable but the prop guards are made of a light plastic, and it doesn’t control as smoothly as the AA108. It can also be difficult to take photos since that involves taking your hands off the controls and pushing a button on your smartphone. But if you’ve got what it takes, this drone has the best camera available for under $150.
Click To Shop or Read Reviews #5 – DROCON Blue Bugs 3
All right, enough of the cameras. If you just want to fly, look no further than the DROCON Blue Bugs 3. This handsome devil has a seriously impressive range of 500 m and a battery that can last up to 20 minutes in the right conditions thanks to its brushless metal motors. It’s two-way signal also means that it controls extremely well with no lag.
Tech Specs: Brushless metal motors that don’t melt, ensuring a longer flight time 15-20 minutes of flight time per battery Action camera mount Super bright LED light 300-500m control range Two-way communication between drone and remote
It doesn’t have a lot of fancy features – if you want to take photos or video you actually have to buy a GoPro seperately and mount it to the frame. But at this price, it’s hard to beat the Bugs 3 for a long-lasting, stable flight that remains steady even at ridiculously long range.
Click To Shop or Read Reviews #6 – Holy Stone F181W
The F181W should look pretty familiar by now – it has all the functions you’d expect, like altitude hold and headless mode, one-touch takeoff, and the ability to flip a full 360 degrees. But Holy Stone has a great reputation for customer service, and the F181W is a great drone for beginners or intermediate users. It flies well, it’s easy to use, and it’s very durable. Plus, we found the app a lot easier to use than some of its competition – you can actually take photos without moving your hands completely off the controller.
Tech Specs: Altitude hold function and headless mode function 120° FOV HD Wifi CAMERA 6-axis gyro flight control 7-10 minute flight time 50-100 m flight range One-touch takeoff and landing 3D flips
This drone’s not necessarily going to set the world on fire, but for a mere $120 you get a very high-quality product from a company you can reasonably trust. And it doesn’t get much better than that!
Click To Shop or Read Reviews Conclusion about Drones Under 150
2017 – Best Drones Under $150 was originally posted at https://www.dronethusiast.com/best-drones-under-150/ by
8 tips for flying a drone in cold weather
Drones whiz and whip through the air at breakneck speeds. Unfortunately, these cool machines weren’t designed for cold weather. It’s not the friendliest condition for them, but with some preparation beforehand, you can capture the beauty of rolling winter landscapes from a bird’s-eye perspective.
Before flying, read your drone’s user manual. Most quadcopters are designed to fly in a temperature range of 32 degrees Fahrenheit to 104 degrees Fahrenheit. Flying outside that range may put your drone at risk. But if your drone can handle the cold conditions, then read on — then get flying!
1. Beware of ice
The arch-nemesis of all helicopters and planes, ice endangers drones too. Ice accumulating on the propeller blades, alters the weight distribution, hurting the drone’s ultimate aerodynamics. Cold air over warm water causes evaporation, and this evaporative fog will refreeze on surrounding surfaces, including on the drone’s surface.
2. Know how cold affects battery life and sensors
Colder temperatures shorten the flight time of your drone by slowing the chemical reaction with the LiPo batteries and lowering the battery capacity. A fully charged drone that typically will last between 20 to 25 minutes in flight, could fly for just 10-15 minutes in colder weather. Extreme cold weather can cause an unexpected power drop, and while it’s rare, there have been cases where batteries fail completely.
Cold weather dulls the drone’s sensors which can cause the drone to drift or have less response from the control input. In addition, cold fingers or gloves make controlling the input more difficult.
3. Practice good battery health
When flying in cold weather, understanding how to make your battery go further can be to your advantage.
Keep your batteries warm. Hover after the takeoff. Maintain a full charge on your batteries. Go light on the throttle. Bring a portable charger for the mobile device.
After takeoff, hover between 10 to 12 feet for 30 to 60 seconds to bring up the battery temperature, giving the motors and batteries a chance to warm up. The ideal battery temperature for a drone is about 59 degrees Fahrenheit. Most drones provide you with a method to check the temperature of your batteries.
Related read: How to care for your LiPo batteries
Be aware of how heavy control inputs will tax the battery life of your drone. Full throttle demands a heavy battery current, which can cause a drop in voltage. In general, don’t tap the full throttle button until the first few minutes of flight have passed. In addition, lower the heavy control inputs because this extends your flight time. Finally, never drain the battery. Normal weather conditions mean you try to maximize your flight time. When it’s biting cold, however, this practice risks your drone. You will want to fly it until the battery has dropped 30 or 40 percent. After that, you will want to bring the drone back to earth. If you want more air time, pack a couple spare batteries.
4. Watch out for precipitation
Most drones cannot withstand precipitation, and the moisture can damage or short out the motor, gimbal, or camera. If rain or snow occurs while your drone is in flight, land as quickly as possible, then dry the propellers and the body.
5. It’s not just cold — it’s climate too
It’s not just about cold — but climate too. Flying in Vermont where the winters are cold but “dry” means you don’t have to worry as much as if you were in a cold and wet climate with more humidity, like Minnesota. If that’s the case, check for icing regularly and try not to fly through winter fog.
Moisture within the gimbal becomes problematic when you add ice and snow and melting. As the props start to spin and blow slush and snow, launch the drone from a sheet of plastic or from the carrying case.
Also, condensation can arise when you take your drone from the outside to the inside. To alleviate that problem, let it warm up slowly in the basement or in the trunk of the car.
6. Use hand warmers on your drone
To keep the drone’s batteries warm, consider putting hand warmers on them. NEVER put them directly against the battery as it lets off heat. Instead, wrap the batteries in a scarf or a glove and put the hand warmers around the batteries.
7. Understand altitude
In areas of increased altitude, propellers have to spin faster to keep flight, which means the battery will drain itself faster — also contributing to shorter flights.
8. Don’t forget about you!
While it’s important to keep the drone safe from the cold, don’t forget yourself too!
Buy specialized gloves for flying in the winter to keep your movements with the controls limber. Spyder gloves are consistently ranked among the best gloves designed with conductive material for handheld touch screen devices.
-By Jake Carter
8 tips for flying a drone in cold weather was originally posted at http://thedronegirl.com/2018/01/02/drone-cold-weather-tips/ by Guest Post
How fire departments are using drones to save time and money
The following piece is a guest post from Dronefly’s Alex Netto.
From burning buildings to brushfires, firefighting drones equipped with thermal cameras can see through smoke and darkness to identify where the hotspots are and where the crew is.
With a drone, a Battalion Chief can quickly make an assessment of a situation from all angles with optical and thermal cameras from which the best decision on how to proceed can be made. Drones are the future of assisting public safety officials do their job more efficiently and more cost effectively.
Drone site Dronefly has put together an infographic highlighting the top firefighting drone use cases.
Here are some of the use cases for drones in fire departments:So what do fire departments or other public safety agencies need to do to operate a drone? Here is some of the most popular gear used by fire departments:
-By Alex Netto
Alex Netto works on the marketing team for Dronefly.com located in Los Angeles, California he enjoys drone photography (instagram @bradthedrone) and running marathons. He hopes to see the fast adoption of drones into industries ranging from public safety, inspection, agriculture, surveying, and mapping.
How fire departments are using drones to save time and money was originally posted at http://thedronegirl.com/2017/12/28/fire-departments-using-drones-save-time-money/ by Sally French
Drone Laws in Colorado
Paying attention to everything the FAA has put forth since their rules and regulations were initially put into full effect is crucial for all drone fliers. Are you aware of the laws and regulations related to drones in your state, as well?
Flying Over Colorado
Unfortunately, it would seem that the only areas drone users in Colorado are able to fly legally are up in the mountains and smaller areas. A lot of areas are unclear as to whether or not drones are allowed.
Thankfully for drone enthusiasts living in Colorado, it’s legal to fly your drone in the Colorado Rockies, specifically in the highest point. Mount Evans is a whopping 14,240 feet in the air and one of the best places in the entire state to get some footage.
White River National Forest’s own Hanging Lake area is legal, apparently, as well! It’s a beautiful mountain lake that offers crystal clear waters flowing from the incredible waterfalls. Perfect for quick shots!
The Registering Process in Colorado
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires that all Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) owners follow strict regulations and laws. You will need to file your name, home address and your email address as a start.
From there, you will receive a Certificate of Aircraft Registration and Proof of Ownership. These will include an identification number for your aircraft. You must have this number displayed on your drone at all times. The number will be valid for up to 3 years.
All aircraft that weighs more than 0.55 pounds, or 250 grams, and less than 55 pounds, or 25 kilograms, must be registered. This also includes any added payloads, such as an onboard camera.
You must be at least 13-years-old in order to register and, effective December 21st, 2015, all newly purchased or made drones must be registered before their first flight. You are able to register through a paper-based process, but you can also do so online by clicking here.
Proximity to Airports in Colorado
As a general rule of thumb, and in accordance with the law from the FAA, you may not fly within a 5-mile radius of any airport. In 2012 the FAA enacted the Modernization and Reauthorization Act which requires hobbyist drone operators, meaning residential, to contact air traffic control and/or airport management if they are operating within a 5-mile radius of any local airport.
This is enacted nationwide, not only in Colorado, under Part 101 of the Act, being Special Rule for Model Aircraft, to ensure that drone operations under unsafe conditions are disapproved before the drone can be launched.
Regardless of the local airport you will be flying near, and possibly breaching airspace, you will need to contact either the airport air traffic control tower or the airport operator.
You will need to establish an agreed-upon operating procedure with airport air traffic or the airport operator and answer a couple of questions. For example, questions relating to how long you are going to be flying for.
Unique Drone Laws in Colorado
At this time of writing, all of the legal information listed below is deemed as accurate as possible and fully in effect.
Code of Colorado Regulations 406-0 #004 – AIDS IN TAKING WILDLIFE
C. It shall be unlawful to use a drone to look for, scout, or detect wildlife as an aid in the hunting or taking of wildlife.
For the purposes of this regulation, drone shall be defined as including, without limitation, any contrivance invented, used or designed for navigation of, or flight in the air that is unmanned or guided remotely. A drone may also be referred to as “Unmanned Aerial Vehicle” (UAV) or “Unmanned Aerial Vehicle System” (UAVS).
Municipal Law – Town of Telluride
During a recent council meeting, the Town of Telluride adopted multiple regulations regarding drone use. As of April 18th, 2017, the proposed ordinance has been put into place as a law.
Any drone users looking to fly must first have approval from owners of private property where the flight will take place or from the town itself. Endangering both people and wildlife and operating a drone in a reckless manner is strictly prohibited. They must also keep their distance from any wildlife or people who are not involved in the flight operation directly.
Drone users must also ensure that they are not under the influence of marijuana, alcohol, or any controlled substance in general. They must also not have any preexisting physical or mental conditions that may interfere with flying safely.
Municipal Law – Cherry Hills Village
Cherry Hills Village has enacted a law that requires all drone users to follow guidelines and regulations set in place by the FAA and by registered with the FAA.
Drones are prohibited from flying over public buildings, trails, public parks, public streets, and any area that is deemed to be city property.
Drone Ban in Local Ski Resorts
There are a number of ski resorts located across Colorado that have placed a ban on drone use, which you can inquire further on by clicking here.
Other Legal Issues With Drones in Colorado
At this time of writing, there are currently a number of bills in circulation within the state of Colorado surrounding drones.
Municipal Regulations – Town of Breckenridge
The proposed ordinance would allow local authorities to enforce FAA regulations and address interference with firefighters and local law enforcement, voyeurism and reckless operation. It also includes having a deadly weapon or firearm equipped on the drone, interfering with any government emergency operations whatsoever, and using a drone for surveillance that has not been permitted by law.
Drone users will be unable to takeoff, land, or operate in general on any property owned by the town. Prohibited by law, if approved, annoying or harassing wildlife, in general, will also be included.
Further, it would also ban drone flight over restricted areas, such as the Carter Park Dog Park, Cucumber Gulch Preserve, the local golf course and the Nordic center if golfers and/or skiers are present.
HB 15-555 Trespassing & Harassment
A BILL FOR AN ACT
CONCERNING PRIVACY IN REGARD TO EMERGING TECHNOLOGIES.
(Note: This summary applies to this bill as introduced and does not reflect any amendments that may be subsequently adopted. If this bill passes third reading in the house of introduction, a bill summary that applies to the reengrossed version of this bill will be available at http://www.leg.state.co.us/billsummaries.)
A person commits the crime of first degree criminal trespass if he or she is not a peace officer or other agent of a state or local government agency acting in his or her official capacity and he or she knowingly and intentionally uses an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to observe, record, transmit, or capture images of another person when the other person has a reasonable expectation of privacy.
A person commits harassment if he or she is not a peace officer or other agent of a state or local government agency acting in his or her official capacity and, with intent to harass, annoy, or alarm another person, he or she uses a UAV to track a person’s movements in or about a public place without the person’s authorization.
The bill amends existing law concerning the retention of passive surveillance records by government agencies to contemplate the retention of records that are obtained through the use of UAVs.
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Colorado:
SECTION 1. In Colorado Revised Statutes, add 18-7-802 as follows:
18-7-802. Criminal invasion of privacy by the use of a device – penalty.
EXCEPT AS DESCRIBED IN SUBSECTION (2) OF THIS SECTION, CRIMINAL INVASION OF PRIVACY BY USE OF A DEVICE OCCURS WHEN A PERSON KNOWINGLY AND INTENTIONALLY CAPTURES ANY PHOTOGRAPH, SOUND RECORDING, OR OTHER PHYSICAL IMPRESSION OR DIGITAL IMAGE OF ANOTHER PERSON, WITHOUT THAT PERSON’S CONSENT, IN A SITUATION WHERE THAT PERSON HAS A REASONABLE EXPECTATION OF PRIVACY, THROUGH THE USE OF ANY DEVICE REGARDLESS OF WHETHER THERE IS A TRESPASS, IF THE PHOTOGRAPH, SOUND RECORDING, OR OTHER PHYSICAL IMPRESSION OR DIGITAL IMAGE COULD NOT HAVE BEEN ACHIEVED WITHOUT A TRESPASS UNLESS THE DEVICE OR ANOTHER DEVICE WAS USED.
SUBSECTION (1) OF THIS SECTION DOES NOT APPLY TO A PEACE OFFICER OR AN EMPLOYEE OR OTHER AGENT OF A FEDERAL, STATE, OR LOCAL GOVERNMENT AGENCY ACTING IN HIS OR HER OFFICIAL CAPACITY.
CRIMINAL INVASION OF PRIVACY BY USE OF A DEVICE IS A CLASS 3 MISDEMEANOR.
SECTION 2. Act subject to petition – effective date. This act takes effect at 12:01 a.m. on the day following the expiration of the ninety-day period after final adjournment of the general assembly (August 5, 2015, if adjournment sine die is on May 6, 2015); except that, if a referendum petition is filed pursuant to section 1 (3) of article V of the state constitution against this act or an item, section, or part of this act within such period, then the act, item, section, or part will not take effect unless approved by the people at the general election to be held in November 2016 and, in such case, will take effect on the date of the of the official declaration of the vote thereon by the governor.
At this time of writing, this bill is still up for enforcement.
HB 16-1020 No Drones Near Airports or Jails
A person commits introducing contraband in the first degree if he or she knowingly and unlawfully operates any unmanned aircraft system (UAS) within 5 miles of a detention facility with the intent to introduce or attempt to introduce a dangerous instrument, alcohol or an alcoholic beverage, a controlled substance, or marijuana or marijuana concentrate into the detention facility.
A person shall not operate a UAS:
Within 5 miles of an airport unless the person is authorized by the airport’s air traffic control tower;
In a manner that interferes with the operation of manned aircraft;
More than 400 feet above the earth’s surface;
In a manner that is prohibited by any federal law or rule;
In violation of any temporary flight restriction (TFR) or notice to airmen (NOTAM) issued by the federal aviation administration (FAA); or
In the airspace directly above any detention facility.
A person who violates any of these prohibitions commits a class 1 misdemeanor. These prohibitions do not apply to the operation of a public UAS operated in compliance with any current and enforceable authorization granted by the FAA.
(Note: This summary applies to this bill as introduced.)
FAQ on Colorado Law and Drones
If you do not see your question, or an answer to it, listed below, feel free to get in touch with us and we’ll gladly give you one.
Is a drone/UAS considered the same as a model aircraft?
The United States Congress has defined and concluded that a model aircraft is only considered a drone or a UAS when the following points are met:
It’s flown for recreational purposes or as a hobby and not for any business or commercial reasons
It’s flown within visible distance, meaning being able to see it at all times, of the individual operating it
It’s capable of sustaining flight within the atmosphere, meaning that it can fly
If your model aircraft, regardless of whether or not you acquired it pre-built or built it yourself, meets the above points to your knowledge, it’s considered a drone/UAS.
What is the Small UAS Rule?
The Small UAS Rule requires those who have unmanned aircraft systems, or UAS, that weigh less than 55 pounds, payload included, to register their aircraft with the FAA. This only applies to recreational or hobby fliers and not commercial drone use, however.
Is the FAA’s Small UAS Rule still in effect?
Yes, it has been in effect from August 29th of 2016 and is still in effect at this time of writing.
Do I have to carry my Certificate of Aircraft Registration while flying my UAS at all times?
Yes, you must have the registration certificate from the FAA at all times during flight operation. In accordance with federal law,
Drone Laws in Colorado was originally posted at https://www.dronethusiast.com/drone-laws-colorado/ by