Looking to Fly a Drone? Here’s What You Need to Know

You must have seen military films and documentaries where soldiers are controlling drones thousands of miles away with a phone or a computer. You must have thought you could do this with a drone. Right?

But is it possible to fly and control a drone with a computer? What challenges may you face doing that? Let’s discuss this. 

Can You Control a Drone with a Computer?

Flying a drone needs a device using which you can respond quickly. Using a computer for controlling your drone may not be as efficient as a phone or a joystick because you don’t have access to all the drone’s features. 

Drones are designed to run with apps built specifically for iOS or Android devices. You will need to download an emulating software, mapping software, or mirroring software.  

How to Fly A Drone With A Laptop?

There are several different ways you can use a computer to fly a drone. All these potential methods are discussed in this section.

Use Emulator Apps

Emulating tools allow you to fly a drone with a computer as the controlling device. The emulator software allows users to emulate the iOS or Android environment on their laptops, making it easier to control the drones. 

One major hindrance that prevents users from flying a drone using their computers is that drone apps are developed keeping in mind Android and iOS devices and not Mac or Windows. 

The drone’s controls are meant for smartphones and tablets instead of laptops and desktops. Emulators enable users to remotely access iPhone that works as the camera of their drone and allow them to control it on the Mac. 

In general, emulator software allows you to download iOS apps on macOS or Android apps on Windows and use them normally as you would do on your mobile phones. 

Use Mirroring Apps 

If you feel that the emulating software is not as efficient, try downloading mirroring apps. These apps allow you to cast your phone’s screen to your laptop. Practically you would need two smartphones to fly a drone from your computer using a mirroring app. 

One smartphone will work as a camera of your drone, via which you will see the surroundings to fly the drone. The other one you will use to cast to your laptop for controlling the drone from a remote place. 

Using a mirroring app may not be an efficient way to fly a drone as there’s a slight lag. It might not be safe to control your drone from your laptop via a mirroring app. However, if you do not face delays, you can try this method. 

Windows 10 also includes a built-in mirroring feature that allows you to mirror your Android phone to your laptop. 

How Far Can You Fly a Drone?

Well, the distance to which you can fly a drone depends on its link to the controlling device. If there are any hindrances or environmental disturbances, you may not be able to fly your drone that far. 

Can You Fly a Drone Without an App?

Yes, it is possible to fly a DJI drone without using any app, but that would restrict the way you fly the drone. Unless your drone has a smartphone screen that works as a camera, or you have a controller with a screen, you won’t be able to view the live footage.  

Without an app, you would not be able to view calibration, altitude settings, camera settings, and other features that the app provides. 

Is WiFi Mandatory to Fly a Drone?

Having WiFi is not necessary to fly a drone whether you are using a phone or laptop. You only need WiFi to download drone management apps, emulating software, or mirroring apps on your controller device. 

In addition, WiFi will allow you to update the firmware or download any extra features. Generally, you would not need a WiFi connection to fly a drone. 

Which Drone Can Fly Without a Phone?

If you only have a single smartphone, you can try flying the DJI Mini SE drone. You would only need a controller to fly the drone but be informed that you can only access basic features. You can fly DJI Mini SE using a joystick as a controller device. 

Push both sticks inward or outward to turn on the drone and then fly it. You can control the pitch, yaw, roll, throttle, or take photos from the drone. If you need access to full-fledged features, you need an app. 

Do You Need GPS to Fly a Drone?

Flying a DJI Drone without a GPS is possible; however, it may pose a risk and your drone may fly away. Not having GPS will restrict the drone’s range to approximately 5 kilometers. 

Most DJI drones are designed to work with GPS, else they will be set to built-in Vision System or ATTI mode that limits its flying range to several kilometers.

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