Drones are becoming more and more popular as the prices keep dropping and the features keep going up. You get what you pay for. You can buy some cheaper models that can take photos and videos, which may be great for most people. Or you can buy something a little better with more features.


After looking online and talking to some other drone owners, we decided on the DJI Phantom 3 Advanced. It’s more of a middle of the pack priced drone that should be good for what most people need. It comes in 4 models. Prices listed are for Amazon.com

Here’s a screen shot of the comparison of the 4 models

Screen Shot 2016-08-09 at 3.13.00 PM


The professional and advanced have more range and a better transmission system. The Lightbridge Video Downlink allows you to connect to Facebook live and YouTube. It takes great videos and photos. It comes with a receiver that you can attach your phone or tablet to and use as the screen. A tablet works best because of the size.


You can do the basic things and just fly it around or you can get more advanced and plot a course for it to fly. One of things we like is the “points of interest”. You can hover over something and choose the radius and have it fly continuous circles. You can choose the speed of it. A good example of this is the video we took for a roundabout in Elk Grove.



If you’ve ever flown a toy helicopter or a cheaper drone, then you know that you have to keep flying it or else it will drop down. With the this drone you don’t have to. Once it is up in the air, it will hover at the same spot and you don’t need to do anything. That allows you to work the video, take photos and do other things.


Some other features are “follow me” and “waypoints”. Follow me does just that. You can ride your bike, run, walk or even drive your car and the drone will follow you at the altitude and distance you set. Waypoints is a way to plot a course for the drone. You can fly it to different spots and record the points and then save that as a course. Say if you want it to fly around your block. The first time you have to manually input the points to fly to by having the drone fly to them. After that it will do it automatically.


One of the best features is “return to home”.  Any time you take off, it records that as the home point, so if something goes wrong, it will return to home. If the drone loses a connection to the receiver it will fly home. Once the battery level gets below 25%, it will fly home. If at any time you want the drone to return, you press a button and it will return home. It will land within about a 10 foot radius of where it took off.


The only drawback is battery life. The battery lasts about 23 minutes. You won’t get that much out of it. Once the battery is at 30% it beeps to warn you of a low battery. I would suggest getting at least one back up battery, maybe two. 20 minutes is not very long. It does charge fast. Typically full charged in less than one hour. Batteries cost about $120 for factory battery and $80 for a 3rd party battery.


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