10 Must-Have Accessories for Your Drone
If there’s one thing that fashion and drones have in common, it’s the fact that the right accessories make a good thing even better. Whether you’re in the market for your first drone, or you’re already a proud owner of one, having the right accessories can vastly improve your drone flight experience. Below , we list down the top 10 best accessories that a drone owner could have, with emphasis on drone flight that is safer, more immersive, and more fun. Most of these items are quite affordable so we can assure you that they give really good value for money.
1. Propeller guards
Depending on your perspective, a drone’s propellers can be fragile little things you need to handle delicately or the literal spinning blades of death. Coming into contact with them is a very real danger when flying in close counters, such as when flying indoors or in Tripod mode. The sturdy propellers in the larger drone models can easily break skin at the speeds that they are rotating, causing varying degrees of injury. On the other hand, propellers are also the most common point of breakage in drones whenever they crash.
Propeller guards help reduce the risk of both personal injury or propeller damage. Most propeller guards come with a clip-on mechanism that allows for quick installation and removal. They are designed to be sturdy but lightweight. Propeller guards don’t have to ruin the aesthetic of your drone, as they are available in a variety of colors and designs.
2. Spare propellers
Even propeller guards cannot dispel the certainty of your propellers breaking due to crashes. And yes, you will crash. With all of their sophisticated technology and aerodynamic structures, drones can come crashing down due to a couple of mundane factors such as an errant wind, a lapse of attention of the pilot, or a passing bird. Having a few sets of spare propellers ensures that you can get right back to flying even if you suffer a crash. Spare propellers are very cheap, so there’s really no excuse for not having them.
3. Spare batteries
Even the high-end drones have a flight time of only about 25 minutes, after which the battery will have to be charged for an hour or more. Unless you’re willing to make the trip out to an open field just for a mere 25 minutes of drone flight, then you’re going to have to pack a few spare batteries. If spare batteries are not option for your drone model, then a portable power source is the next best option. There are several good portable power bank options available with greater than 20,000 mAh capacities, sufficient for more than 10 charges of a standard drone Li-Po battery.
Speaking of Li-Po batteries, always remember to practice proper battery storage and transportation. If you’re going to store your Li-Po batteries for a long time without using them, it is recommended that you discharge them to about 50% capacity. Li-Po batteries can also cause fires if they are damaged, so it is recommended that they be stored and transported In fire-proof containers, which brings us to the next item.
4. Li-Po battery bag
Specially-made Li-Po battery bags are designed to contain your drone batteries in a fire-proof enclosure. Having this fireproof container at least gives you peace of mind that should your drone batteries burst into fire, the damage will not spread to its environment.
This is a very cheap item, and is worth it for the sake of safety.
5. A handful of micro SD cards
Capturing HD videos and photos can quickly fill up the onboard micro SD card in most drones, and you would not want to be caught in a situation where you have to delete old content that have not been backed up to make room for your new footage. We recommend going on a drone flight with at least 4 or 5 micro SD cards, with either 32GB or 64GB capacities. Make sure you get a micro SD card that supports 4k video because this often requires a faster speed version.
For larger storage needs, portable hard drives can be purchased with integrated micro SD card slots that enable quick transfer of files even when you’re out in the field. Having a portable hard drive provides another layer of reliability and robustness for your data, as some models are made to survive harsh and rugged conditions. Moreover, you are not as likely to lose a portable hard drive compared to an SD card.
Sunshades provide a cover against the sunlight for the LCD screen on your remote control or your smart phone. This prevents glare on your screen, allowing you to see well.
You can, of course, make your own sunshade out of cardboard but it’s not going to look very stylish. There are a number of generic or device-specific sunshades available, and most of them aren’t very expensive.
A lanyard is a strap that attaches to the remote control which can hang either from the pilot’s neck or shoulders. Anyone who has flown a drone for a long time can attest to the fact that holding up the remote control can get tiring after several minutes. There may also be times when you will need your hands to be free to do other tasks, but you still want to keep an eye on your drone’s display or have your remote control nearby in case of emergencies. Several generic lanyards can be easily purchased, and they are mostly quite affordable.
8. Carrying case or bag
Leveling up your drone photography game means taking it beyond your backyard and into exotic places such as mountaintops, nature trails, or beaches. Going to places like these means that you will need to transport your drone and all of its accessories in an ergonomic and convenient package that will provide ample protection for all the delicate equipment. Specially-made shoulder bags and backpacks with cushioned compartments were designed specifically for drones and drone accessories. If you plan to move your drone through extremely rugged conditions, then it may be worthwhile to invest on an impact-proof, water-proof hard case with an internal foam lining. There are even waterproof and dust-proof versions for those who want extreme protection.
Again, there are generic bags and hard cases available in the market, as well as specially-designed versions made by the drone manufacturers. It is up to you and your budget, but we don’t suggest scrimping on this item, as a high-quality drone carrying case can probably last a few years.
9. GPS tracker
Drone fly-aways and crashes more often than you think, and locating your drone after events like these can be very stressful. Although most drones have onboard GPS technology, these will only function as long as the drone’s battery is still running. To make sure that you can still find your drone wherever it crashes, it is very prudent to invest on an independent GPS tracker. These GPS trackers are very small and lightweight, and are designed to attach to your drone.
You might have a high-quality action camera, but you won’t be able to get very clear and crisp photos and videos without a stabilizing gimbal. Cameras mounted to drones are subject to a great deal of auxiliary motion to the movement and vibrations inherent to the drone. Gimbals cancel these motions using dampeners that neutralize vibrations, avoiding issues in photo and video capture such as the jello effect and rolling shutters.
BONUS Drone Accessories
These accessories are not strictly speaking must-haves but they will still make your drone flying experience that much better.
An FPV system is the next logical step up after you have mastered the skill of flying. With an FPV system, you are given a first person view from the drone, simulating the feeling of flying in an actual cockpit. The live video feed from the drone camera can be broadcast either on your screen or on special FPV goggles. Some goggles even have a head tracking feature, prompting the camera to tilt and rotate with the motions of your head. FPV takes the drone flight experience to the next level.
FPV is the ultimate drone flying experience and you an even use it to race drones on a track with friends. If you plan on doing long distance flights (check area laws), then FPV is mandatory to keep track of your drone past a kilometer or so.
Drone Landing Pad
A drone landing pad is necessary if you want to protect your drone from rocks, dust, or other debris when taking off and landing. This is especially important if you have invested a lot of money in your drone.
Drone landing pads are also a great accessory for people with ultra-compact drones like the Mavic Pro. The Mavic Pro has short legs that make it very hard to take off from tall grass. A drone landing pad will take care of this problem for you.
Landing Gear Extensions: Another alternative to increase your ability to take off from areas with tall grass with portable drones like the Mavic Pro is landing gear extensions. These raise the drone to lift it higher from the ground.
Drone Decals and Stickers
Drone decals can personalize your quadcopter and make it even cooler. You can find dozens of different stickers that range from military camouflage to sharks. There’s something for everyone if you browse around. The best part is that they are extremely cheap.
ND Filter Accessories
ND filters are necessary if you have a high end drone and you want crisp and clear imagery. They reduce the amount of light coming into the camera allowing you to control the frame rate. This is important in sunny or cloudy conditions to get the perfect shot. If you don’t have ND filters your shots may be overexposed. Some people wonder why their drone shots don’t look as good as the ones online. ND filters are often the reason.
Charging Hub Accessory
A charging hub is necessary if you have invested in multiple batteries. Who wants to have just one charger and have to wait to charge each battery individually. Charging hubs will save you a lot of time and give you more flight time. You can also look into getting car charger to be able to charge your batteries on the go.
Tablet Holder for Controller
Some drones have controllers that are not large enough to hold a tablet. If you plan on using your tablet to see from the drone’s camera live, then you will to buy an accessory for it.
There are plenty of options and having a larger screen is nice. They are made to be lightweight so that they do not affect your ability to use the controller as much.
Night LED Accessory
Commercial pilots who plan on flying at night need to have a bright LED light for Part 107. There are rules on the light’s brightness. We recommend picking up an LED that does not draw upon the drone’s battery as this will reduce flight time.
The High Intensity Cree LED is a rechargeable light that last for up to 2 hours. It is extremely small and lightweight and it can attach to almost any drone.
Picking up a few accessories will make your drone flying experience that much better. Luckily, most drone accessories are cheap.