4G Drones vs Radio Controlled Drones

With the rapid advancement of technology, drones have been increasingly popular these days and they are not only used for business and commercial purposes. At Dronesinsite we are taking a closer look at 4G LTE drones. 4G LTE drones are now used as personal gadgets for aerial photography or for simply playing with them as a toy. The technology in drones is gaining popularity not only in China and the US but all over the world.

A drone is an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that has a camera or a sensor attached to it and is controlled autonomously by a person on the ground or through a computer program. It is made of light composite materials to be able to increase its maneuverability while flying and also decrease its weight. It can come with additional equipment such as a camera, GPS, GPS guided missiles, navigation systems, and a whole lot more.

Several drone companies have made it possible for individuals to own personal drones. Drones are used for military operations, for research purposes, for locating valuable resources and a whole lot more. Individuals use drones to capture breathtaking landscape photos or film unforgettable adventures or complex scenes for a movie.

If you are planning to fly a drone, it is important to know and understand how a drone is controlled. For an object that is heavier than air to fly, there must be a force that would push the object upward in the air. This force is created by varying the air pressure below and above the aircraft. Drones have different parts. Drones are composed of rotors with propellers on it. Drones nowadays are multi-rotors with varying number of propellers (3,4,6, or 8). It is easier to control a multicopter when it has more rotors. Multi-rotors are able to maintain the stability of the drone by varying the speeds of each propeller.

If you have been doing some research on drones, you might have come across the term FPV. FPV or First-Person View, also known as RPV or Remote Person View, is a method used in controlling a remote-controlled vehicle, from a pilot’s or driver’s point of view. The sudden spike in the use of UAVs or drones has increased the use of FPVs which are frequently used to pilot them.

A drone is piloted or driven by using a remote from the first person perspective that is delivered to the pilot’s goggles or monitor through a wireless technology.

Radio Controlled Drones

To be able to control a drone remotely, one must be able to communicate with the drone wirelessly. Almost all drones or UAV are radio-controlled aircraft. Radio waves are an invisible wave form on the electromagnetic spectrum. Radio can be measured in hertz. For radio to work, a transmitter is needed to send the messages and a receiver is needed to receive the messages. This is how a remote-controlled vehicle is controlled, be it a remote-control toy or a UAV. It is important for the transmitter and the receiver to be tuned to the same frequency.

Drones are controlled remotely by someone or a computer on the ground using a hand-held radio transmitter. The radio transmitter communicates with a receiver in the UAV which in turn sends signals to servomechanisms that move the control surfaces depending on the joysticks’ position on the transmitter.

The most common radio frequencies used by FPV quadcopter drones are 2.4 GHz and 5.8 GHz. 2.4 GHz is usually the radio frequency used by quadcopters to connect the ground transmitter to the drone. Wireless computer networks work with the same frequency of 2.4 GHz that’s why there have been several incidences that have reported the loss of control over the drones in populated residential areas where there are too many wireless signals.

Quadcopter technologies also use 5.8 GHz to avoid the problem with the 2.4 GHz where frequencies are entangled in the same band. DJI Phantom models mostly use 5.8 GHz radio frequency.

Examples of Radio Controlled Drones

DJI Phantom 1 operates using 2.4 GHz but you can add an FPV and use the 5.8 GHz in order to avoid the entanglement of frequencies.

DJI Phantom FC40 uses 5.8 GHz radio frequency to fly. It has a separate 3.4 GHz system in order to transmit photos and videos to the pilot.

  • DJI Phantom 2 uses 2.4 GHz radio frequency for its control set. To be able to control it using the 5.8 GHz radio frequency, you need to use an add-on kit that uses a 5.8 GHz frequency to transmit signals of FPV.
  • DJI Phantom 2 Vision and Vision+ both use the radio frequency of 2.4 GHz for control and the radio frequency of 5.8 GHz for control.

Pros of Radio Controlled Drones

Most drones that come in at a cheaper price use radio controlled FPVs because they are affordable.

Cons of Radio Controlled Drones

The video may have a lot of noise and be blurry. There is a high signal to noise ratio.

The old technologies of radio-controlled drones need a separate hardware to be able to control the drone.

The range or the distance of the drone is not that great. There is a maximum limit for the distance in flying a drone. Most radio-controlled drones fly with a maximum of 5 miles.

The feed may suffer from interference. They interfere with their onboard systems because two transmitters are involved: the transmitter that transfers the signals of the pilot to the UAV and the transmitter that transfers the video signals back to the pilot.

There may be a delay between what the drone actually sees and what you currently see.

4G Drones

4G LTE drones have now entered the market. They are the solution to the main problem of having a maximum distance for radio-controlled drones. Drones using a 4G connection are an alternative to radio-controlled drones in eliminating the problem of distance. A drone running on a 4G connection can fly several miles away from the operator or from the controller’s location.

Flight plans are created through the 4G LTE control system by setting the altitude of each flight point on an online map. The control instructions depending on the flight plane are transmitted to the drone during flight through the LTE network.

Examples of 4G Drones

The Ambar Group and Walkera Technology Co. Ltd. have teamed up to come up with LTE Drones Series using the LTE Drone Management Software. The 4G drones are controlled and operated by transmitting images from two separate locations that have mobile internet with 4G connections.

Terra Drone and KDDI, a telecommunications operator, have also come up with a 4G LTE control system that lets operators control drones through an LTE network.

Pros of 4G Drones

4G operated drones have a very strong availability of signal even at higher altitudes. The signal strength is significantly and statistically stronger for drones at an altitude compared to ground mobile devices because of the free space propagation conditions.

Drones can fly at a longer distance without losing sight of them.

4G drones allow its operators to control drones remotely by sight and watch real time flight images.

Cons of 4G Drones

There can still be interference problems but not as much interference as the ones caused by radio-controlled drones.

4G drones tend to sub-optimally choose a serving cell which still needs to be improved to ensure that drones choose the strongest serving cell in order to have an optimized network capacity and an improved signal to noise ratio.

Justin Germino
I have been obsessed with computers, tech, gadgets and games since the early 1980's having grown up on the Commodore 64 and Amiga computers. By day I work in the IT Security Industry and have been in IT for over 20 years. On my spare time I am a Vlogger, Blogger, Streamer, Gadget Reviewer, affiliate marketer, influencer and entertainer. I am also an avid movie fan, TV Show fan, Anime fan, video game fan and fan of trying anything and everything new.
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