How Do Drones Work?

Featured Drone on grass

Drones or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) are not that new of a concept. They have always been quite popular with the military, scientists and hobbyists.

However, it’s only now that anyone can fly them for recreational or commercial uses.

Here we will gain a simple understanding of drone technologies and the most basic version you can use – “quad-copters.”

What Is a Drone?

A drone is an unmanned flying object which is operated using a flight controller (present in the drone) and a ground-based controller. The communication (video/data) takes place over radio waves and LTE cellular networks.

You don’t need any specialized skills to fly drones. With practice, they can be easily maneuvered using smartphone apps such as Drone Deploy. You can also use a cheap game controller to encase the phone.

Components of a Drone (Quadcopter)

Today, most drones for recreation can be easily assembled after purchasing a DIY kit that’s available online.

The below figure illustrates the components of one such drone kit, also known as a “quad-copter,” which basically consists of four pairs of propellers.

  • Chassis/Frame: Consists of four legs (“quad-copter”) and made of carbon fibers or durable synthetic materials.
  • Drone transmitter: FPV drone radio transmitters to transmit signals wirelessly to the ground.
  • Propellers: They provide the drone with the lift, thrust and angular momentum needed to fly in the sky.
  • PV Antenna: Mushroom or Pagoda antennas rated in GHz (2.4~5.8) and used to receive the signals from drones.
  • Flight controller: This is the “brain” of the drone and consists of a microprocessor and sensors, including accelerators and gyroscopes.
  • Electronic speed controllers: Connect to motors, battery and flight controller to maneuver the drone. Rated in Amperes (19A, etc.).
  • Motors: Brushless DC motors, which may be rated as 1900 KV or above. Controls the speed of propellers and in turn the drone.
  • Battery: This provides the power for a drone flight which may last anywhere between five and thirty minutes before discharging.
  • Payload section: A mini camera usually. You can use a GoPro 4K camera if you have the budget.

Additionally, some drones may come with collision sensors to automatically slow down in the presence of birds, other drones, etc.

How Does a Drone Fly?

The simple quad-copter shown in the above example, once assembled, can easily fly as long as the battery power is available.

During flight, the drone’s flight controller sends a signal to the motors via their electronic speed control circuits (ESC). The ESC manages thrust, RPM, (revolutions per minute) and general direction. 


The flight controller is also designed to interact with ground GPS and drone app data to perform the signalling, which will help the drone navigate successfully.

Of course, advanced drones can use anything from satellite beams to precision coordinate geometry to reach the destination. They are as good as an airplane in terms of controls, but that is a separate focus.

Buying Drones Online

The good thing for drone enthusiasts is that they can now order their drones online.

Later, feel free to fly them as long as you comply with governmental rules. These include registering the drone and flying it under certain conditions.

  • Flying as far as the visual line of sight
  • Registering IDs for drones
  • Height (400 ft) and weight (55lb) restrictions
  • Not flying directly over people (of course!)
  • Staying away from no-go zones – for example, airports

Amazon, Best Buy, Ebay and other eCommerce websites have drones for every budget. A good purchase will be in the range of $200. (You can even go with drones for $50 and less, but we don’t recommend those basic toys.)



Getting yourself a drone is now just one click away. However, if you have pets or infants in your home, they can feel seriously disturbed.

In fact, the cheaper quad-copters are very noisy. Don’t fly them inside the home unless everyone is okay with it.

Also, if you live in residential surroundings, the neighbors might complain to the police about your droning. Try to fly these things in open spaces only.

Do you plan on purchasing a drone? Do let us know in the comments.

Sayak Boral Sayak Boral

IoT-addicted since early 2016. Love to explore the challenges, opportunities and trend insights into what is becoming the third wave of Internet.

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