Z-RID Broadcast Module review: Zing’s lightweight add-on for Remote ID compliance

The Federal Aviation Administration is set to enforce Remote ID rules for drone pilots come March 16, 2024. And when that time comes — you’ll more than likely have to fly drones that are Remote ID compliant. For drone pilots whose drones don’t already have built-in Remote ID, you might consider the Z-RID broadcast module from Zing.

Zing is one of the newer players on the market of drone remote ID modules — filling a much-needed void in the drone industry of simply not enough Remote ID modules for sale. Its flagship product is the Z-RID broadcast module, which in October 2023 received its Declaration of Compliance (DOC) approval from the Federal Aviation Administration.

That means — when the Z-RID broadcast module is properly installed on your drone — your drone flight is compliant under FAA regulation 14 CFR Part 89, which requires that drones broadcast a few pieces of information, including:

  • Identity of the drone (serial number and session ID)
  • Coordinates of the control station, as well as geometric altitude
  • Coordinates of the drone, as well as geometric altitude
  • Velocity of the drone
  • Time of the drone’s position source output
  • Emergency status of the drone

The requirement applies to most types of drone flights, but there are a few exceptions such as drones flying in designated areas called FRIAs, or drones that weigh 250 grams or less. (Learn more about the four types of remote id-compliant drone flights).

Among the most critical differentiators with Zing is that it is an American drone company. Based in Miami, Florida, Zing actually makes the modules themselves from a factory in San Jose, California. And those modules which were designed by engineers from MIT, are a proprietary piece of technology that you’d mount on top of your drone to ensure FAA compliance in a made-in-USA product, no less.

About Zing’s Z-RID Broadcast Module

The Z-RID Broadcast Module is a small, lightweight device that attaches to your drone and broadcasts its identification and location information to nearby ground stations and aircraft. That’s to fulfill a requirement under the FAA’s Remote ID rule, which took effect in September 2023 and will be enforced come March 2024.

The module can easily mount anywhere on your drone (but you’d likely put it on top of the body) using a 3M dual-lock dual fastener, which is considered 3x stronger than Velcro hook and loop strips. Since it weighs just 35 grams, it has minimal impact on the drone’s flight time.

Since it’s just an external device that you mount somewhere on your drone, it means that the Z-RID is compatible with a wide range of drones, including both fixed-wing and quadcopter drones. 

It costs $199, though you can enter discount code DRONEGIRL for $20 off your purchase and bring down the price to $179.

Some other key specs f Zing’s Z-RID Broadcast Module

Here are a few other important specs:

Zing’s Z-RID Broadcast Module: why we love it

There are plenty of reasons to love Zing’s Z-RID Broadcast Module. They include: 

Ease of use

A big reason to love the Z-RID Broadcast Module is simply given how easy it is to use.

To charge it, you simply plug the included USB-C cable into any 5V power source (which is pretty much any computer, or adapter you’d use for a smartphone). When the LED turns gree, charging is complete.

To mount it to your drone, you simply use the 3M Dual Lock velcro, which can be easily removed and reattached, should you want to take it off for reasons including easier recharging or to use it on multiple drones.

(Note that if you’re flying drones commercially under Part 107, you’ll need to buy a separate Remote ID module for each drone. But if you’re just a hobby pilot, you only need one module that can be swapped between drones.)

Once you’re ready to fly, you’ll turn on the module separately from the drone itself, given that the two aren’t actually integrated — other than the velcro lock connecting them. There’s a button you’ll turn on, which illuminates with a status indicator.

Ease to install (and compatible with almost all drones)

Beyond being easy to use, it’s practically zero headache to connect the module to your drone. If you can use a sticker and turn on a button, you can use this remote ID module. There’s no fancy tools like a soldering iron required.

A 3M velcro lock is all you need to securely mount this to your drone.

In a similar vein, it’s fair to say that Zing’s Z-RID broadcast module is compatible with just about any drone (the only requirement is that the drone can carry an additional 35 grams, which is hardly anything).

This is far from a comprehensive list, but here are some drones Zing’s module is compatible with:

Reasonable price tag compared to similar products

Zing’s module is also among the most affordable out there. At $199 (or $179 with my coupon code), it’s more than $100 cheaper than the $329 Dronetag Mini, which is one of the most advanced type of modules on the market and has advanced Remote ID as well as full-featured, unlimited range (for what it’s worth, the Dronetag Mini has more advanced features than the Zing module). Perhaps a more fair comparison, then, is that it’s roughly the same price as (albeit still cheaper than) Dronetag’s cheaper alternative, the $219 Dronetag Beacon Broadcast Remote ID Module.

Another reason to love the Zing module is that made in America component. For example, Dronetag is a European company based in the Czech Republic.

Zing’s Z-RID Broadcast Module: flaws but not dealbreakers

The only real flaw with Zing’s Z-RID Broadcast Module is that it won’t offer the advanced version of Remote ID that you’d get with the $329 Dronetag Mini. For what it’s worth, the Zing module is more than $100 cheaper, so perhaps it’s not a fair comparison.

If you want more integrations, such as the ability to deconflict with other drones flying in close proximity or to see historical flight logs, you’ll have to purchase a subscription. That does put Zing more on par with what Dronetag offers, and more.

Zing has a partnership with California-based software company Skyway, which offers a subscription service for you to track your data in the cloud via their online portal. That effectively unlocks a UTM-like component, where you can detect other nearby drones. Skyway will also be able to provide information from other SDSP (Supplemental Data Service Providers) that could be valuable to the pilot, such as micro-weather data.

Yet there’s still another problem if you seek those things. The subscription isn’t even available yet. Skyway said this functionality is still in development and will likely be available as a firmware update to the pilots who purchase a Z-RID broadcast module in the near term.

How to get your hands on Zing’s Z-RID Broadcast Module

The biggest challenge in the Remote ID rollout to date has been supply chain shortages leading to lack of availability for Remote ID modules. Given Zing’s location in the U.S. (including manufacturing in California), that’s far less of a problem.

While Zing CEO Ian Annase told the Drone Girl that units are made to order, he said that because the manufacturer is in the U.S., it only takes a couple weeks from the order date to get to your doorstep — as opposed to tech products made overseas that can take months to ship.

Even still, it would be wise to order soon. The FAA is set to start enforcing Remote ID rules early next year after extending the enforcement deadline. You don’t want to be left at the last minute scrambling to order modules that were sold out because everyone else did the same.

Purchase the Zing’s Z-RID Broadcast Module here, and enter discount code DRONEGIRL for $20 off your purchase.

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