We rely on wireless internet connections so much these days, but when it comes to our new favorite hobby of flying drones, is it really necessary to have Wi-Fi to make them work?
Drones use many different types of technology to operate and with thousands of different manufacturers and thousands of models out there, no two are the same.
So, can you fly a drone without Wi-Fi or is it an absolute necessity to be connected?
The short answer is yes, you can absolutely fly a drone without Wi-Fi, but it does offer some benefits that might make it a more attractive option. Drones and their controllers communicate using radio waves, so a wireless connection doesn’t need to be present, but some drones transmit these waves using Wi-Fi.
How you connect the controller to the drone will be especially important in the grand scheme of things, so it’s essential to know the options and what’s actually required to get them off the ground.
Your controller will help you take off, land, and guide your copter through the air, so this communication is key to a successful flight.
Does Drone Work Without Wifi?
Modern drones come in all shapes and sizes with different specifications and capabilities, so you have plenty of options when shopping around.
There are many drones that operate without Wi-Fi, so it’s not always necessary to have a connection present, but it does offer some other benefits.
Most drones will come with a dedicated app that lets you set them up and sometimes offers a way to view the camera or alternative to using the controller.
When you purchase a drone, it will tell you exactly what’s required to get it flying, and you may need an internet connection just for the initial setup stage.
However, when it comes to flying the drone out in the field, this is done with radio waves and therefore no internet connection is needed.
Smartphone apps that are used with drones don’t connect to the drone themselves during a flight, but instead to the controller.
If you have a camera connected to the drone and are using your phone as the FPV viewer, you might need a wireless connection to make this happen.
Otherwise, you can be completely offline and away from the internet to fly a drone, so it’s not required.
Do Drones Need An Internet Connection To Fly?
Drones don’t need an internet connection to fly but they must be able to send a signal from the controller to the copter in order to operate.
These signals are sent wireless using radio waves and the capacity to do so will be built into the system controller that comes with your drone, as well as the drone itself.
The transmitter or controller must be able to send messages to the drone, and this allows you to control steering, altitude, and all other features that the copter is capable of.
Radio waves can’t be seen but are sent through an electromagnetic spectrum. These waves are measured in hertz (Hz) and you’ll probably notice when you purchase a drone what frequency it works on.
The two most common frequency is 2.4 GHz or 5.8 GHz, and the transmitter and drone both need to be tuned to the same frequency.
To prevent your drone being controlled by someone else, these copters usually come with their own identification code that is unique to just that device and what transmission they’ll receive.
This means you’ll only ever be in control of your drone and the signals from two drones that are flying close to each other won’t be mixed up.
Working on lower frequencies usually gives you a further range and they work better in dense areas where they might be trees or other obstacles.
For this reason, most drones operate on a lower frequency when being operated by radio waves. When looking at Wi-Fi controlled devices, they tend to work better on higher frequencies, but the range will be limited when compared to the radio.
Can You Fly A Drone Without A Smartphone?
When you open up your brand new drone and take a look at all the gear that comes with it, you might notice one thing missing.
A smartphone can be a valuable tool when it comes to piloting a drone and acting as a display center, but it can absolutely be done without it.
Your smartphone should only be seen as an additional accessory to use with a drone, and it’s by no means a necessity.
You’ll get everything you need to fly with the drone but could be given the option to download an app to your tablet or smartphone that can make the experience a lot more enjoyable.
A smartphone is usually used as a viewing platform for the drone which means if there’s a camera attached to your copter, you’ll get a first-person view by looking at the dedicated smartphone app that it was synced with.
Some drones also allow for remote control through the app itself, so there’s no need to use the controller if you don’t wish.
Do All Drones Work Have GPS?
Flying a drone isn’t always as predictable as we’d like, and things can occur that send your copter off course.
GPS was introduced as a feature on some modern drones as a way to keep a track of your craft in the air, and to help you locate it if it flies off course, crashes, or needs to be remotely controlled without your assistance.
Cheaper models won’t usually have GPS but will rely on the pilot to keep a visual check on the drone and navigate using that method.
The more expensive models that have GPS receivers included come with additional features that some people might find worth spending the extra money on.
- Return to Home: With the push of a button, your drone can return back to the home base where you’re standing and does so automatically without your help.
- Position Hold: This button will cause your drone to stop and hover in its exact position, maintaining location and altitude.
- Autonomous Flight: Just like autopilot, a drone with this feature will be able to go to a specific location set on a map without you having to direct it.
The technical aspects of drones can make them seem overwhelming, but getting a basic understanding of how they’re controlled and how messages are sent and received will make you a better pilot.
Here are some frequently asked questions about drones and how they operate, to give you some basic knowledge of their design:
Can Drones Be Hacked?
Some models of drone have been found to have issues where control can be taken over by a third party or hacker, usually in the case of a Wi-Fi controlled device.
This isn’t a security concern that most hobby pilots have to be concerned about though, but it is something that manufacturers are working to prevent in the future.
How Do I Attach A Camera To My Drone?
If you want to see what the drone is seeing, you can either purchase a drone with a camera attached or the capabilities to attach one.
These can be view with FPV (first person view) goggles made specifically for drones, or with the help of a smartphone app.
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