Alright, folks, Remote ID is here, and I know you have many questions. The first might be: What happens if you have an older drone? What if you build your own drone? When do you need a Remote ID module, and how many of these modules will you need? How can you verify that the module is actually transmitting? And lastly, which module should you purchase? We're here to address these questions and more.
But first, let's review the modules currently available. We've discovered nine of them – that's right, nine Remote ID modules that we've tested. However, before we delve into the details, remember that you only need a module if your drone isn't currently Remote ID compliant.
To check, visit the link provided. Filter by ‘Remote ID,' and if your drone is listed there, you don't need a module unless you possess an older drone model. All the modules we discuss are FAA-approved at the moment.
For recreational operators, you only need ONE module. It can be used for all your recreationally registered drones and swapped between flights. This ensures that either your DJI Mavic Pro or your foamie (RC model airplane) is compliant.
Alright, let's get started with approved stand-alone broadcast modules. These have internal batteries, can be turned on and off via a button or switch. These are useful to those who don't want to wire anything up, or have an older consumer drone. For our tests, these are straight out of the box, no settings were changed.
First up is the Blue Mark DB120, which is the cheapest in this category at $140, weighs 24g, uses Bluetooth and WLAN, 0runs for 3 hours, and looks like this. It uses a USB-C charger in the back and is turned on and off via the red switch. Next to this switch is the charging status. While it's turned on, the DB120 shows battery percentage on one side using 4 lights. On the other side, you can see the status light next to the configuration switch. For usage here in the US, no configuration is required, you'll use the serial number from the DB120's label on the bottom of the module.
Now, let's address the question many folks are likely to ask: “How far away can someone detect this module?“.
Utilizing our BVLOS waiver, we tested 5 different apps on both Android and Apple, and a UAS Sentry receiver. This module's longest range was 2935 feet with the Air Sentinel app on Android. We'll talk more about app performance towards the end of the video.
Next let's take a look at the Pierce Aerospace B1, coming in at $264, weighing 30g, uses 2.4 GHz Wifi, 6 hour run time, and it looks like this. The B1 operates using an on/off switch in the back, is charged by USB-C, and has a status light on top.
The B1 comes with a laminated reference card for status lights and with the serial number. Our tested range of the B1 was 5,000 feet with the Drone scanner app on Android. This was by far the further that we picked up an RID signal for any of the modules.
Continuing to the next module, we have the DroneTag Mini, which costs $327, and uses Bluetooth was the heaviest at 32 grams, operates for 8-14 hours, and looks like this. Like the others, the DroneTag mini has a USB-C for charging along with Mavlink support and LTE compatibility.
The Mini's serial number is on the side of the module, and a button is used to turn it on. Click once for battery indication, long press to turn the device on and off. In addition, once ON, a short press starts or ends tracking of the flight. In our testing, the DroneTag mini's range was 1640 feet with the Open Drone ID app.
And now, the final module in the stand-alone beacon category: the DroneTag Beacon. This is a smaller and cheaper version of the Mini that cuts out many features the average pilot won't use. The Beacon comes in at $229, uses Bluetooth, runs for 6 to 18 hours, weighs 16g, and looks like this.
Like the Mini, the Beacon has both a flight controller extension port and a bluetooth antenna extension. Charging is done via a Micro USB connector. The device is powered ON and OFF with long presses of the button. Short presses also start the tracking function. The Beacon's tested range was only 341 feet with the Drone Scanner App, this was by far the shortest distance we recorded.
Alright, that wraps up stand alone modules. Next up, we'll cover the add-on modules. These are modules that require power to operate, but contain everything else – GPS, broadcast system, etc – needed to be compliant. This is best for the folks who are flying foamies or FPV and just want to plug in the device to comply. Unfortunately due to the lack of availability of parts, we were not able to test the range for these 4 modules.
First up in this category is the BlueMark DB121. This module requires power in the form of 5-14V DC (2S to 3S). The module costs $119, uses Bluetooth and WLAN, weighs 11g, and looks like this. Similar to the DB120, this module has a configuration button and a status light to show the module is operating correctly.
The Flite Test EZID is currently priced at $109, weighs 10g, uses Bluetooth, and looks like this. This module takes 7.4 to 30.4V (2S to 8S). This module comes without a case, and can be purchased with or without a connector. This module connects to the Android and Apple FliteTest app for additional functionalities, such as FindMyDrone, logbook and flight tracking.
Let's move on to the DroneTag BS. Yes, it means exactly what you think it means. This ultralight module comes in at $89, the cheapest in the category, and weighs only 1.5 grams and uses Bluetooth. The BS takes 3.3 to 17V DC (1S to 4S), and has a tiny footprint.
Last up in this category, the Spektrum SkyID. This module uses Bluetooth technology to transmit the RID message, and comes in at 14g. Input voltage ranges between 3.3 and 9V (1S to 2S) and it looks like this. The SkyID is compatible with existing Spektrum receivers and comes with 4 cables to power it.
And last up we have the most complicated RID module to hook up, which is the drone tag DRI. The DRI doesn't come with an internal GPS, so it requires an external one to operate.
The DRI can be operated in two ways, one as a UART passthrough for a module system and one as standard remote ID. I recommend checking the documentation for this one because it's pretty complex. We hooked it up to our Octozilla but the range was no more than 50 feet.
At just 1.5g at $55, if you build autopilot drones using ardupilot, this could be a good choice for you. However set up can be a little painful. Even for those who have the experience with ardupilot.
You might be wondering, which app was better at detecting drones. We tested 6 methods: the DroneTag and DroneScanner apps on iPhone, and the Drone Scanner, Air Sentinel, and Open Drone ID apps on Android. We also used a UAS Sentry receiver, which is a standalone device designed to verify that a drone is indeed compliant.
The DroneScanner app, both on Android and iPhone, consistently detected longer ranges. The Air Sentinel app (Android only) was a close second to the Drone Scanner app. The OpenDrone ID app on Android was third with similar results to the Sentry unit. The DroneTag app on iPhone was the most inconsistent, and failed to pick up the Pierce Aerospace module and the DroneTag Mini (which was surprising).
Alright, here's our final table comparison so you can see everything in one place, you'll find the modules in order of what we tested with the endurance, weight, size, cost and type all in one place. You can download a PDF version of this information in the description below.
We hope this helps you make an informed decision about which you should get! A big thank you to all the manufacturers who sent us these units, without you we wouldn't have been able to make this video! Which one will you pick?
Before making a purchase, consider these critical factors:
- Weight: The module's weight impacts flight time. Lighter modules are generally better for smaller drones.
- Runtime: Ensure the module has enough battery life to last for your expected flight time.
- Cost: Don't overspend if you don't need all the advanced features. Identify the features that are vital for you and make a decision accordingly.
- Range: If you fly in an area with dense traffic, a longer range may be necessary for safety and compliance.
In conclusion, the Drone Industry is adapting rapidly to changing regulations, and Remote ID is the future. Equip your drones with the right modules, ensuring safety and compliance. As always, fly responsibly, and keep pushing the boundaries of the skies!
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