Hiya John! Welcome to the forum/hobby, I don't think we have any beginners guide here really since everyone comes at it from various levels and with various desires out of it there isn't really a one size fits all way to bring people up to speed. There are broadly speaking 3 or 4 "classes" of quadcopters:
1. toy grade (generally under $100). Usually little or no actual fpv view or video recording quality is limited. WalMart banggood any big box retailer or online retailer will sell these, they have them at bookstores (parrot, holystone, airhogs etc.)
2. Hobby grade generally between $300-1000 used for racing and manual acrobatic flight (steep learning curve but mostly flying for the fun of flying and learning to avoid crashes). Getfpv.com or racedayquads.com for this type of gear.
3. Commercial grade, usually at least $600-$5k. These are stable gps controlled video platforms for carrying relatively high end video gear more safely (dji products basically)
4. Industrial grade, for monitoring or chemical distribution type jobs. Gather data with high end sensors like high res FLIR or LIDAR can be used for mapping or facility management tasks equipment monitoring etc, usually $10k+ hardware+software+support solutions.
Most of us land somewhere in the 1-3 occasionally someone will drop through here talking about 4
In category 2 there are a few popular open source software platforms namely betaflight, emuflight, and iNav that can be flashed onto most of the modern flight controllers. Flight controller is brains of the operation with inertial measurement/gyro/accelerometers to track motion and sends out all the control signals to escs that control motors.
Hey I appreciate the input. I have entertained the idea of building one but believe I’ll hold off on that, at least for awhile. Only problem is finding one with at least some of the features I want. Seems I could do better building one but would prefer not to destroy it on its maiden flight.
Yea as a matter of fact I was looking at a few of the dji units. The mavic air 2 “flight time” is what’s selling me at this point. Only thing it doesn’t appear any of them are capable of true waypoint support, versus virtual sticks, which is a must have. More autonomous features the better. Water resistant/proof would be nice as well which had me looking at the splash drone 3+ but the dji care refresh is appealing.
Gotcha, yup from what I hear dji is a pretty solid choice if want stable camera platform in the air, I believe it can do some basic waypoint stuff though I may be wrong likely someone with dji experience will chime in on that.
Regarding waypoint or autonomous flight, for automatic obstacle avoidance skydio is the most advanced system I've seen and is almost at an accessible price depending on how deep your pockets are and how much you need the follow features and obstacle avoidance.
If just concerned with waypoint missions then iNav is really focused on delivering that on any sort of RC craft so I would suggest checking that out, I haven't personally looked for prebuilt or "ready to fly" or "bind and fly" options for running iNav but have seen all sorts of iNav based waypoint missions done on YouTube with planes, boats, trucks, and quads. iNav assumes you tell it a flight path that is clear of obstacles or fly above the tree line and below any legal limits though. Speaking of legal limits good to check for restricted air space or what the rules are wherever you are, not likely to be an issue but with autonomous flight or any flight always good to be aware of the restrictions.
If you have strong hands-on ability, you can assemble and make it yourself. On the contrary, if you want to buy a good UAV to satisfy your hobby, you can choose consumer grade DJI. However, DJI is not cheap. However, different models and functions bring great experience to players, which is introduced on the official website. Everything depends on whether your wallet can support you.
I checked out that Skydio. That X2 is some serious hardware. Quite a bit out of my price range and doesn’t look like they’d even sell that model to the general public but impressive nonetheless. Very unfortunate.
The Skydio 2 is a very impressive craft as well but was concerned with manual flight. Seems people were having issues with low light coupled with the lack of manual control. I was not aware of that model prior and it was one of the top contenders. Also led me to look at Autel’s Evo ll (didn’t even know they made drones) and various Parrot models.
Yea I went the DJI route. Landed on the mavic air 2, no pun intended. Messing around with it earlier today and it’s meeting expectations thus far.
I appreciate all the input and I’ll check into flight restrictions and whatnot. Seems some need to be registered with the FAA. Even though it sounds like a money grab it is what it is. One thing I did notice on the map within the fly app all the restrictions were already in place. I live fairly close to an airport and saw the different zones show up. I’m technically in a flight path apparently that limited altitude to 200 feet. Does seem a little on the unnecessarily strict side as it barley clears some of the trees.
Nice thanks for the update and ya I know skydio is pricey stuff at least the first release was way out of range for me, but I thought worth considering and maybe they had worked the price down some since know that was a goal when I was looking into them. DJI is mostly solid choice from what I've heard for this type of thing but the region restrictions or whatever they call it (geofencing I think) is part of the reason I'm not a giant fan of them personally but I also like to tinker and build/bash things so not really aimed at me anyhow . For the uninitiated or anyone not aware of flight restrictions I think it is good but also I think ultimately people should be free to make good judgements so I land somewhere in the middle on all the legal matters.
For the price and what it’s capable of that Skydio 2 wasn’t all that bad. It was at the top of the list because of the superior autonomous support but seems to lack manual control which was kinda off putting.
Geofencing sounds right. Whatever it is they need to loosen the reins a little. I was prepared however with the shortcomings that come with a prebuilt unit. I’ll more than likely end up building one at some point. Thanks again!