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Guide To What Happens When A Drone Is Out Of Range

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Okay, you just purchased your first drone, and now you want to fly it. I know you want to take your drone outside, have some fun, explore, and see what kind of pictures and videos you can get. You want to see how high you can fly it.

Not only that, but you would like to see how far you can fly your new drone, and still have enough power for it to come back to you. You fly your drone several times over the weeks and months ahead.

However, sooner or later you may take it a bit too far, and you might accidentally (or on purpose) fly your drone a little too far. You wanted to see how far it could fly. Then the next thing you know you have flown out of range. Now what?

Guide To What Happens When A Drone Is Out Of Range. You lose the signal you need to control the drone. It will either crash, land safely, or return to the pilot of the drone.

Guide To What Happens When A Drone Is Out Of Range

Written By: AJ Keil

There are a few scenarios of what could happen to your drone when you fly it out of range. In all honesty, there are several things that can contribute to your drone flying out of range.

Like the following:

  • What mode was the drone in?
  • What was the weather like?
  • A lot of it depends on the drone you have.
  • It could depend on your controller.
  • What happens when a “cheap” drone goes out of range?
  • What will occur when your “expensive” drone gets out of range?
  • Did the camera just get out of range? (loss of video) Or just the drone?

Guide To What Happens When A Drone Is Out Of Range

I am going to cover all of these possible situations in detail in this article. I will also have a list of some of the drones that have the longest flight range near the end of this article. I am talking about quadcopter drones here.

In addition, I will also give you a secret to test your drone so you can find out what will happen when your drone gets out of range. So stay right here, gather all your friends and family, share this article with everyone you know. And… Read on, here at All Drone School!

Mavic Pro – LOST CONTROL – Signal loss Return To Home at 1350 meters – What happens? I tried to reposition myself – It did not work, the APP crashed, I had to reboot things to find out what was happening. Another very nervous flight.

What happens when a drone flies out of its range?

Drones have a limited range. When the drone is flying out of that range, then the signal you need to control the drone is lost. Therefore you can no longer control the drone. Now of course you know, not all drones are the same.

If you have an older drone, or you just picked one up from the dollar store, the drone will probably simply drop from the sky, or crash into something. The older drones, and cheaper ones have less technology for safeguards that the newer and more expensive drones have.

The newer and more expensive drones won’t simply drop from the sky, or crash, if the drone is flown out of range of the controller like the less expensive drones. This is the case with DJI drones, that has 85% of the market share incidentally. DJI drones have features that will prevent this from happening.

Most drones have memory for home with GPS

Most of the newer quality drones have a memory with GPS, this is how they store the home position. What this means is: When the drone takes off, it records the position as its home. Then it will return to the same place (or close proximity) where it took off from in the first place.

When the drone flies off course, getting outside the the wi-fi zone of the controller. The pilot will receive an alert on their remote, smart phone, or tablet. And at the same time, the drone will be attempting to get back on course. The drone does this by retracing its flight path back until it can regain the signal again.

Most drones have the feature “Return To Home” (RTH). The drone pilot can activate this manually from the controller. Hence, it will return to where it took off from (from its memory). When there is a signal loss, or if the battery power is getting down too low, and there may not be enough time or power to return back to you, your drone could be lost somewhere in the distance.

Make sure you know the approximate location (from GPS or video feed), so you can retrieve your drone without taking a loss.

Do you want to take a course on flying drones?  –  From beginner to advanced, you’ll find it here at ABJ DroneAcademy

What If I Am In “SPORT” Mode?

The previous method of RTH will only work in the “Standard mode” when flying your drone. If you are in the “Sport mode”, you are totally in manual control. However, the controller will still have a message that the drone is out of range. This must be a correction by the pilot.

Most of the newer drones of today aren’t going to just drop dead out of the sky. If something goes wrong, or you lose the signal, the drone will simply land wherever it happens to be. (Hopefully not in a swamp, lake, or river!)

Just remember to fly safely, especially if you are flying in “sports” mode. Make sure to check that your drone has these extra safety features so it doesn’t crash or fly away into the wild blue yonder! (Far away to be lost forever!)

Mavic AIR *SIGNAL LOST during mid-flight* All Drone School

What about losing the remote signal for your drone?

Also you should be aware that your remote could lose the signal from the drone. Not only this, but your drone could still be receiving the signal from the remote. When this occurs the Return To Home (RTH) feature will not be automatic. If there is a connection problem, it is a good idea, and I recommend to toggle the RTH switch just in case, to be on the safe side. At least this is the case with the DJI Phantom 3 drones.

Additionally, if you are below the RTH altitude, the drone will then proceed to rise to the height. On the other hand, if it is higher than that altitude, it will remain at that height. It will then fly back to  where it took off from (RTH) It will then hover there until the battery power gets critical, then proceed to land. nevertheless, you can then take control of the Phantom 3 when you are within range by switching to the Atti mode, and then back to GPS.

The Weather can play a part in losing the signal

Bad or unusual weather can definitely be the cause of your drone losing the signal. A sudden burst of wind, or even a steady heavy wind can cause your drone to get out of control and lose the signal and be out of range.

Even sudden downpours of rain or snow can weaken the signal. Not to mention throw it off course or take it out of flight all together. As soon as your signal is lost, your drone may be lost as well. One of the main reasons for transmitter or controller weakening signals is ominous weather.

Make sure you have a range alert on your drone.

Many of the drone models today have a range alert on them. What could happen when your drone gets out of range depends widely on the brand of your drone. It also depends on the model and the company your drone comes from.

The worst that could happen is:

  1. The drone would lose the signal, then crash, or drop out of the sky. (Possibly landing in a lake, river, forest, swamp or field).
  2. The drone would begin to lag, lose the signal, then hover until it is found, or the battery is drained.
  3. The drone would stop moving forward and travel back to regain the signal to return to the pilot (RTH). GPS or gyroscope is in use to go back to where its last known signal location was.

Return to Home Test DJI MAVIC PRO| Simulated out of line of Sight Lost Connection -Loss of Signal. In this return to home test, I simulate what happens if the Mavic Pro lost connection in forward flight, out of the line of sight connectivity loss, and a tutorial of DJI Mavic Pro settings for return to home that is helpful to prevent losing your drone.

Let’s Do That Experimental Test Now!

If you don’t know what happens when you lose the signal to your drone, and (or) you fly out of range, then try this test.

  • First take a look at the manual you got with your drone. Find the “Return To Home” (RTH) section, and read the failsafe section.
  • Then proceed to go out to an open field, or just an open area. Then you will need to fly your drone out about 100 feet.
  • After this, to simulate a lost signal, or being out of range, simply turn your controller off.
  • Then just sit back (or stand back) and watch what happens to your drone.
  • If the app tells you that the home point has been recorded, then you can believe that it indeed has. If you feel the need to double check, take a look on the map. I have never seen the home point wrong. It waits for a good GPS reading before it records home.

The video signal is gone, but not the drone signal?

If you have a wi-fi camera drone, and wi-fi is now out of range, will just the camera lose the signal, or the whole drone? Most drones use a radio transmitter to communicate. You could get a mismatched range between your controller and camera. On many occasions the camera range is shorter than the range of the drone. However, this can be the opposite as well.

If you lose the camera range first, then of course you will lose that video feed. Therefore, you will not be able to see where the drone is at. However, the drone can continue to fly. If you can still see your drone, you will need to fly it back into video (camera) range. This could be a problem though, if you are wearing FPV (First Person View) goggles.

What to do if you lose video signal with your drone – The Drone Trainer. In this video we show you how to bring it back safely!

Check Your Drone Before Purchase

There are times when there could be a faulty mechanism in the controller that could make the drone not perform as it should. Something faulty that makes shifting, lifting, and (or) landing difficult. It might not be your fault, but something wrong with a certain mechanism, or the design of it.

With this in mind, it is always a good idea to have the drone thoroughly checked before you purchase it.

What happens when AR.Drone 2.0 goes out of WiFi Range. Luckily I had it set to record to USB memory stick so it kept recording after loosing connection.

Some drones that have a long distance range:

DJI Mavic Pro 2 & Mavic 2 Zoom have a range of nearly 5 miles (8 km) and that should be more than enough for everyone. After all, you should keep the drone in line of sight, or someone you are in direct contact with that has it in sight. (I know my vision isn’t THAT good!)

Other drones don’t have a range as good as the Mavics. Some can only go as far as a few hundred feet before you lose the signal completely.

Here is that list that I promised you. I have the top 8 quadcopter drones that can fly the farthest, along with their flight time.

……… Drone………………………. Distance can fly…………Flight time

  1. DJI Mavic Pro 2..………4.97 miles/8 km………. 30 minutes
  2. Autel EVO………………..4.35 miles/7 km………. 30 minutes
  3. DJI Inspire 2..……………4.35 miles/7 km………. 27 minutes
  4. DJI Phantom 4 Pro….4.35 miles/7 km………. 27 minutes
  5. DJI Mavic Mini.…………2.48 miles/4 km……… .30 minutes
  6. Parrot Anafi………………2.48 miles/4 km……….25 minutes
  7. Hubsan Zino……………..2.48 miles/4 km……….20 minutes
  8. DJI Mavic Air.…………….1.86 miles/3 km……….20 minutes

As you may have noticed, this list is dominated by DJI with 5 of the top 8 drones that can travel at great distances. And rightly so, as they are the leader in drone technology, and currently holding 85% of the market share. They produce some very high quality and innovative products. Take a look at the DJI STORE HERE.

Now there are other drones that can fly farther, but they are mainly the winged type and military drones. We are strictly covering consumer quadcopters here.

Guide To What Happens When A Drone Is Out Of Range – Conclusion:

Remember keep your drone within its range. As long as you can see and control your drone, you should be able to keep your drone in good condition. There are many different kinds of drones, and they all have different kinds of ranges for the distances they are able to fly. As long as you keep your drone in its safe range, and within eyesight, it should be safe to fly your drone.

Thanks for taking the time to read “Guide To What Happens When A Drone Is Out Of Range” I hope it helps you to better understand! My name is AJ, here at AllDroneSchool …Be sure to share this article with someone, and be sure to take a look at my other articles here as well… at  ALLDRONESCHOOL.COM Thanks again! 🙂  AJ

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