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Like many other drones in the market, the Skydio drones come equipped with a great camera capable of capturing 4K video at 60 frames per second and a flight time of over 20 minutes.
All of that data needs to be stored somewhere, and like most drones, that data is stored on an SD card onboard the drone. This article covers everything you need to know about SD cards for Skydio drones.
Drones are a blast to fly, and some are quite capable of reaching break-neck speeds and even performing acrobatic maneuvers. Most drones also have high-tech cameras that capture gorgeous footage and photos from their flights. All of that footage needs to be stored somewhere.
An SD card, or more specifically, a microSD card, is where the ****data is stored for the Skydio drone. Most drones use a combination of built-in storage ****and a microSD card to record all the data captured. Skydio drones do not have ****internal storage, so a microSD card is required to fly the drone.
The data recorded includes both the photos and video footage captured during a flight and the flight logs. Think of your drone as having a little black box, like manned aircraft have, that captures all the performance data from the drone during flight.
This data can identify issues or malfunctions a drone might experience. It can also highlight battery efficiency, wind resistance factors, speed of each of the rotors spinning, and a load of other information helpful to pilots.
DJI drones send this information to internal storage. The data can then be transferred online to sites like AirData and translated into maps, charts, graphs, or sent to DJI in the case of an issue for them to determine the root cause.
Where is the microSD card slot located on the Skydio drone? #
The SD card slot for the Skydio drone is located on its belly, where the battery is attached. The battery is attached magnetically to the bottom of the drone. It also acts as the landing gear for the drone, raising it off the ground enough for the propellers to clear.
Here you’ll also find the tiny slot to insert the microSD card. It may take a moment to find, at least it did for me, and a few seconds of fumbling with it to properly seat it.
The Skydio drone requires a UHS Speed Class 3 (U3) (or faster) microSD card to ****record 4k video at 60 frames per second. So, while any microSD card brand is compatible with your Skydio drone, it needs to meet those minimum technical requirements.
A slower card would not be able to keep up with the data recording, so you would most likely end up with choppy footage or dropped video frames.
» MORE: SD Cards for DJI Drones
How much capacity does an SD card need for a Skydio drone? #
There is a lot of discussion around the optimal capacity of microSD cards for use in drones. There are pros and cons to be considered. As far as official guidelines from ****Skydio, there is no limit on card capacity as long as there is enough space to capture **footage from your flight. **
If you purchase the Skydio 2 Starter Kit, the microSD card needs to be purchased separately. You can buy the SanDisk 128 Extreme microSD card directly from Skydio, so if there is a recommendation, that would be it.
Your needs and preferences may vary. Make your own decision on which card to purchase based on pricing, brand preference, or storage capacity needs. Some discussions around maximum capacity cite potential issues with the larger capacity cards available, including up to 1TB!
I have spent an entire day in the field capturing 4K video and RAW photos and I have ****never really needed more than 128GB of storage before transferring files and ****reformatting for the next day.
I typically run out of batteries or daylight before maxing out my cards. Another argument for smaller files is not putting all your eggs in one basket, as the saying goes. If you are flying multiple locations, possibly shooting real estate properties commercially for clients, you might want to have each property on a different, smaller card like 64GB.
That way, if you run into an issue, you have potentially saved some of your data from loss. Likewise, you could opt to back up your data after each location you shoot and reformat the card before the next one. Again, base your decision on your personal needs. The Skydio drone system is flexible enough to accommodate.
How do you prepare the SD cards for flight? #
The Skydio app has functions to format the MicroSD card before your first flight and use. As a matter of good file management and care, consider formatting your card before every flight to ensure you have enough capacity to capture all your new data.
Doing this also means you need to ensure you have backed up or transferred all the content and data from your previous flight before the next.
The Skydio drone creates an ExFAT file system so that any other file format will not work in the drone. The card will need reformatting before the next flight. I recommend using the in-app formatting function to ensure a clean start before each flight.
The process to format your microSD card is straightforward:
- Turn on your Skydio Drone
- Connect to it via WIFI
- Open the Skydio Flight App on your mobile device.
- Once connected, tap on the Info tab and select your Skydio device from the list.
- Tap on Manage Data to see a list of options.
- Choose Format Media Card.
Something to keep in mind, if you have shared photos and videos to your mobile device that you operate the Skydio with, formatting the microSD card will also delete those files from your mobile device.
Again, make sure you back up or transfer any files you want to keep before performing this format.
Can you fly a Skydio without an SD card? #
Since the Skydio drone does not have internal storage to capture data and video footage, you must install a microSD card to fly your drone. When purchasing your Skydio drone Starter Kit, you will need to purchase the microSD card that meets the minimum requirements stated above.
The one sold by Skydio is a solid choice. If you select one of the other accessory kits, they come with the microSD card required, so you have everything needed to charge up and get to flying.
Great, but what do I do with all my flight footage now? #
So, you took advantage of Skydio’s unparalleled tracking capabilities, its near-faultless, 360-degree obstacle avoidance system, and captured hours of exciting 4K video footage of your adventures hiking, biking, and exploring the great outdoors. What now?
You can access your footage in a few ways, the simplest being to view it within the Skydio app by accessing the Media tab. This method allows you to transfer and save all or selected files directly to your photo album on your mobile device.
Like the microSD card, make sure you have enough storage on your phone or tablet. The app works similarly to the photo viewing and editing functions on your device, so a long-click and ****hold will bring up a menu for a specific file where you can choose to Save to Phone.
Depending on the types of footage or photos you have captured, you may notice some differences in how they are organized and sorted, but all the content is available.
You have the option to edit down longer video clips, making shorter clips before saving them to your phone. Doing this is handy for quickly creating content to share on social media or to send to a friend or family member via SMS or email.
The Skydio uses standard compression codecs of H.264 or H.265, so you can select the optimal one for your device. If you are not sure which one to use, choose H.264. It has been in use longer and is a solid standard these days.
Photo capture options include saving in JPG or DNG (RAW) formats. Note that when reviewing photos on your mobile device, only the JPGs will be available, so you will need to transfer or download the DNG files to a laptop or computer to view and edit them.
Of course, you can also remove the microSD card from the Skydio drone and access and edit all your files directly through a card reader on your laptop or computer.
Similarly, you can connect the Skydio drone to your computer with the USB-C cable that comes with it and access the files that way. Be sure the USB-C port you are connecting to can supply enough power to the drone. Otherwise, you risk draining the battery rather than charging it.
The microSD card is essential to successfully flying your Skydio drone and it’s the only way you will be able to enjoy each and every flight.