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How Low-Cost-Drones Can Be Used For Off-Grid Survival

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The reliance of our US government on drone programs overseas has brought the reality of unmanned warfare to battlefields across the world. If these drones had stayed on battlefields, than most people wouldn’t have an issue with them.

But now, the government has found a way to use drones in day-to-day life here in America, and many constitutionally minded people are rightly fearful.

Even with the fear and suspicion of the government’s use of drones, one of last year’s hottest-selling Christmas presents was drones. More appropriately known as quadcopters, these drones range from toy-grade quadcopters to racing drones and photography-grade drones. The price: anywhere from $15 to several thousand dollars. None of these drones are close to what the military and the government has, and, of course, none of them are armed.

After seeing a drone that was purchased for a coworker for Christmas, I was instantly hooked on the idea of having one myself. I never had a previous interest in anything remote-controlled, but something about the quadcopter drew me to the hobby. Upon purchasing my own drone, and learning to fly the device, I began to see the potential of the little guy for survivalists.

I purchased the Dromida Ominus FPV, which retails for around $150. FPV stands for “first-person view,” as it includes a camera which is capable of relaying information back to the user as the drone flies.

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This allows a real-time feed from the drone’s camera, which gives users the ability to fly the drone through the use of this camera. It was in this camera’s ability to relay real-time information that I could see the tactical advantage of an FPV-equipped quadcopter for survivalists.

Drone Survival Advantages

How Low-Cost, Camera-Equipped Drones Can Be Used For Survival

Dromida Ominus FPV

First off, the ability to have an eagle-eyed view of your surroundings is an incredible advantage. You can send the basic drone up to around 50 feet with ease and gather information. Stronger and larger drones can fly higher. The feed can be recorded and saved onto a memory card. Most of these drones broadcast their footage to a smartphone for FPV flying.

Some drones have cameras that do not have FPV functions. These cheaper drones allow users to take photographs and video, and the photos and videos have to be removed and placed on a computer.

The tactical advantage of having an eye in the sky would allow users to spot trouble long before it gets to you. You also can conduct recon in certain environments, mainly urban, without having to expose yourself to potential threats. The recon and scouting ability of an FPV drone is quite incredible, even if it was just used as an eye in the sky.

The camera system on my $150 drone allows me to see an impressive distance. The cameras on more advanced models, like the DJI Phantom, are even more capable and can fly further and in more adverse conditions.

The DJI models range from $500 to $1,200 and are the superior model. The DJI standard, which is the $500 model, is completely sufficient for reconnaissance and scouting operations. The DJI is probably the best choice, and will be the next model I buy. With a half-mile range and the ability to fly in excess of 400 feet high, and its crystal-clear camera quality, the DJI is one of the best models available.

Drone Survival Disadvantages

First off, drones have pretty lousy battery life. My drone has a battery life of about 12 minutes while filming. The battery takes roughly an hour to charge, so multiple batteries are a must. Other larger drones, like the DJI model, can fly for around 25 minutes, but take around 90 minutes for a complete charge.

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This also means that in a grid-down scenario you’ll need some form of power to continue charging them — be it a generator, solar panels or other tertiary sources. This is an immediate disadvantage and can ultimately make a drone a deadweight.

Things to Know About Drones

DJI Phantom

DJI Phantom

Anyone looking to fly a drone over a half a pound will have to register with the FAA. Brushed motors will require replacements over a few hours of flight. These are the type found on cheaper quadcopters.

Lighter, smaller drones can be heavily affected by the wind, and you cannot fly a drone legally within five miles of an airport. Obviously, you should always respect property and privacy when flying drones during non-emergency situations.

Drone Scenarios

Imagine you own several acres of rural land – miles from the city and police — and begin hearing vehicles approaching. Or imagine hearing sounds in the woods, such as talking or even shooting. Instead of having to check out the situation by yourself, you can simply throw a drone in the air for a bird’s eye view. You can observe the party and decide if they are a danger.

In situations where a natural disaster has occurred, a drone can be used to scout for escape routes, look at washed-out roads, and avoid the massive amount of potential obstacles that could halt or delay an evacuation. You could use the footage recorded by the drone to brief your family, team and others on the plan, the route and other information.

A drone requires some time to learn to pilot, but it is fun. You’ll need to take the time to learn the skills to pilot the drone to be effective, and you’ll need to decide the level of investment you are willing to make. For the cost of a Glock, you can have a powerful, capable and ready-to-recon drone. You’ll have to make the decision if this system can work for you, but it can be a valuable tool to have in the survival box.

What advice would you add on using drones for survival? What other situations do you think they could be used? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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