The best RC quadcopter
A drone is a sizeable investment. Though it is not as costly as a car, you will need to plan your budget before buying one.
Whether you are an enthusiastic pilot or a researcher who needs to take aerial photographs, you will want a reliable quadcopter. All companies market their quadcopters as either with the best flight capabilities, or with the best cameras. Choosing one may make you scratch your head in confusion.
Reviews and comparisons of a few well-known drones will help you. Pointers on choosing a Remote Control (RC) quadcopter will prove invaluable as well.
Qualities of a good RC quadcopter
The first drone you see may not suit you. Take note of these pointers when making a choice. Rein yourself in, lest you buy one impulsively.
All machines need power to move, so make this your first consideration when choosing the best RC quadcopter. Think about where its power comes from. Most drones are electric and powered by a rechargeable battery. Some batteries keep quadcopters in the air for a longer time than others. If you need to record extensive aerial footage, choose a drone with a battery that lasts.
Drones run on brushed or brushless motors. While drones with brushed motors employ brushes to transfer current, drones with brushless motors use magnets. Brushless motors, of course, last longer. They make a quadcopter more durable.
Consider the number of poles and torque a quadcopter has. A drone’s pole count determines its torque, or how well it turns. It also decides the motors’ rpm (revolutions per minute) or how fast it turns. A motor with a higher pole count will have better torque, but lower rpm. One with a lower pole count will have lower torque, but more rpm. It will also use less electricity. If you want a quadcopter that is more mobile and does better aerobatics, choose one with a higher pole count. However, It may not move as fast. it will also consume more power.
Note that brushless motors that use disc-shaped magnets generally produce better torque than those that use barrel-shaped magnets.
The motors thrust, or force, decides the type of activity it is suitable for. If you want a quadcopter that does fanciful aerobatics, you will need one with more thrust. Choose one with less thrust if you only need it to travel from one place to another.
Pitch is another consideration when choosing a quadcopter. With Fixed Pitch quadcopters, you cannot change the angles of rotor blades. These drones suit beginning pilots, as they keep a craft steady. However, they allow less movement.
Collective pitch quadcopters suit drone pilots with experience. They can change the angle of the rotor blades on these drones, and show off their piloting skills.
Each channel on a drone’s transmitter controls one of its functions. As a rule of thumb, the more channels a quadcopter has, the more functions it has.
4. User readiness
Quadcopters are either ready to fly, or bind and fly. Ready-to-fly drones come already assembled, while you need to put bind-and-fly drones together. If you are a novice pilot with no experience assembling a quadcopter, choose one that is ready to fly.
5. Clockwise and anticlockwise rotation
When motors rotate, they do so either clockwise or anti-clockwise. The motors of a drone should move in an anti-clockwise direction, as does the Earth. This would align it with the wind’s force. The craft would have better movement.
Size is a matter of preference. You may want a small quadcopter that you can fly indoors, or display on your desk. It may do aerial acrobatics more efficiently.
Conversely, you may want a larger drone that can travel over long distances. However, it may not do fancy back flips so well. Larger drones are less suitable for indoor flight.
A drone should come equipped with technology that keeps it stable in the air. DJI Phantom quadcopters come with Vision Positioning Systems, ultrasonic systems which allow them to track where they are. Blade quadcopters, by Horizon Hobby, use SAFE ((Sensor Assisted Flight Envelope) technology. This technology gives drones altitude awareness, allowing them to know how high they fly.
Most quadcopters come with extra propellers, lest the original set breaks. Check if the drone you are considering comes with an extra set of blades.
Quadcopters come with attached cameras, or camera mounts for you to put your camera on. If the drone you want has a camera, find out how many pixels it has. If it only has a mount, you may use your own camera. Most of these mounts are compatible with Go Pro cameras.
The camera’s settings are an important consideration as well. Go through the settings of a quadcopter’s camera before buying it. Cameras use digital settings. Find out how user-friendly these settings are. The camera should, ideally, offer real-time telemetry. Real-time telemetry gives you a first-hand view of footage being captured.
9. Location features
Most drones return to their take off points should they become lost. They come with GPS ( Global Positioning System) features. Check reviews of quadcopters and find out how well these features work.
The best remote controlled quadcopters
Knowing what makes a reliable drone is not enough. The choices available on the market are overwhelming. Introductions to outstanding ones will clear some of your confusion.
1. DJI Phantom aerial UAV for GoPro
Chinese drone manufacturer DJI has cornered a reasonably large share of the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) market since its beginnings in Shenzhen, China, in 2006. It seldom disappoints its die-hard fans.
The DJI Phantom for GoPro quadcopter is one of its delightful drones. It comes completely ready to fly, and there is no need to tune it. There is little fear of losing communication with it, because its transmitter has a powerful range of 380 feet. It flies for a long 15 minutes when completely charged.
One of the best features of this quadcopter is its ability to capture images. It comes with a GoPro mount, which you can attach your own GoPro camera to. The vehicle can capture images on its own, and you can use both cameras at once. You will always have an extra set of images, lest you accidentally erase one. This drone captures footage with utmost precision.
It comes with advanced GPS features, which allow you to track it wherever it goes. This drone’s fail safe features ease the fears of beginning pilots. It will return to its take-off point should it run out of battery in mid-air. Intelligence Orientation Control allows you to fly it in a specific direction. These settings are adjustable even while the drone is in the air, so you need not land it to make changes.
2. Parrot Bebop drone
By Parrot, the Bebop drone is a small quadcopter in a class of its own.
Parrot built this little machine with safety in mind. Never trifle with this drone. Though it is featherweight at 14.1 oz ( 400 g), its ABS-reinforced structure allows it to survive harsh bumps.
The Bebop comes armed with more advanced technology than other Parrot vehicles. With a Parrot dual-core CPU,a quad-core GPU and 8GB of memory, it is a first class computer that flies.
There is no fear of signal losses, because this marvelous drone generates its own network with 2 dual band antennas. You can run the drone at 2.4 or 5 MHz frequencies.
The Bebop is a drone for those who are too busy to put one together. It is easy to assemble and take apart as well. Stable, it comes with a magnetometer, accelerometer, gyroscope and ultrasound sensors. The intuitive Freeflight application allows you to control these functions from your tablet or smart phone. You can manage its speed and keep it in the air without difficulty.
Its 14 megapixel camera is a photographer’s dream. It offers a panoramic 180 degree, “fisheye” views without distortion.
3. Parrot AR Drone 2.0 Power Edition
Parrot’s Bebop drone will thrill you, and its AR 2.0 Power Edition quadcopter will astound you. It is a quadcopter that is a few cuts above its competition.
For a start, it comes with two 1500 mAh batteries which give it a long, 18 minutes of flight time in the air. The drone has enough time to capture all the aerial photographs you need.
It also comes with a 720 pixel camera which captures high-definition images. The drone stores videos as its flies. It streams live footage to your transmitter or tablet instantly.
Its structure, like the Bebop’s, is resilient. Its Expanded Polypropylene (EPP) hulls withstand crashes easily. This will relieve many novice pilots. This machine has ultrasound sensors, with nano-coating, which give it altitude awareness.
Parrot has equipped the AR drone with advanced technology. With a 1GHz Cortex AB processor and 1 GB of RAM, it is a flying computer. As with the Bebop, it has a gyroscope, accelerometer and pressure sensors that keep it stable. The drone’s software brings it to a complete stop easily.
This drone uses 4 durable brushless motors that turn at an amazing 28500 rpm. The motor is lasting, with reinforced steel propeller shafts, micro ball bearings and earth magnets that are not commonly found. The motor controller is programmable and water-resistant.
With all these features, you may have a cumbersome, massive machine in mind. The AR is featherweight, like its Bebop cousin. At only 14.1 oz ( 400 g), you can display it on your bookshelf.
4. AEE AP10 quadcopter drone
Shenzhen-based recording equipment manufacturer AEE has made waves in the drone market. The UAVs it produces are outstanding.
AEE is well-known for creating high-definition cameras. To the delight of photographers, it has integrated them with quadcopters. The AP!0 is a top-of-the-line device with a 1080p, high-definition camera. It has a 144 degree lens that can capture clear, well-defined images.
AEE AP10 drone has a low cruising speed of 65.6 ft/s (20 m/s), and stays in the air for about 25 minutes. It has the time to survey vast areas and capture sharp images. This makes it an ideal device for researchers, who need aerial footage to conduct studies. Real estate developers, who need to survey property developments from the air, will find this drone useful as well. At 3.52 lbs (1.6 kg), it is sturdy and durable.
This is a drone that flies to a high altitude. It takes off to a height of 13 123 feet (4000 meters), so it can take photographs with stellar, panoramic views. There is no need to worry about losing communication with it, even if it cruises at this great height. It comes with a WIFI repeater, which allows it to send captured footage from a great distance.
This is, without a doubt, one of the most secure drones available. It returns to its take off point if it runs out of power. With its GPS pneumatic tracking system, you can keep tabs on where it is.
5. 3D Robotics Iris+ multicopter
3D Robotics is a company that places great emphasis on innovation. Chris Anderson established the company in 2007, with a mission to create devices using military grade technology.
He is well on the way to achieving this aim, if the drones his company produces are anything to go by. The Iris Plus is one of these fine devices. This dynamic drone comes ready to fly. All you have to do is to take it out of the box, charge its battery, attach the accompanying propellers and it is ready to take off.
This incredible device follows you from the air. A draw for selfie fans, it captures pictures of them as they go about outdoor activities. Real-time viewing lets you edit images and videos as the camera captures them. The Iris Plus multicopter allows you to plan flight routes. Do this using its Automatic Planning feature. All you need to do is trace your desired route with your finger. Include all the locations you want. You will have no stress flying the craft, as it can navigate these locations on its own.
With flight protection, this drone is highly durable. It returns to its take off point and lands itself should it run out of power or go out of range.
Tips and tricks
If you are a researcher or land surveyor who needs to capture extensive footage, consider the DJI Phantom quadcopter with a GoPro mount. You can use your own camera, though the device comes with its own. This allows you to capture two sets of images. One serves as a spare should you lose the other.
If you want a smaller, durable quadcopter that will give you a thrilling flight experience both indoors and outdoors, try Parrot’s Bebop or AR 2.0 drone. Both weigh merely 14.1 oz (200g). They have reinforced structures, so you will not have to worry about them crashing. They serve as unique display items as well.
The AEE AP10 drone is for surveying vast areas. This drone travels relatively slowly at 65.6 ft/s (20m/s), allowing it to capture all the images you need.
You may want to fly along a route less traveled, so you will need a drone that has a flexible flight program. The Iris Plus will suit your needs. Tap on its Automatic Mission Planning feature. If you are a Selfie fan, this drone is the one for you. Use its Follow Me feature to take stunning aerial photographs of yourself.
Each of these drones has strengths that you can draw on. Think about what your needs are, and choose the one that best fulfils them.