Quadcopter drones have become highly appealing to hobbyist flyers because of their mechanics and the potential of their video and camera systems, but it is easy for newcomers to underestimate the power and complexity of these drones.
The development of smartphone controls and additional technical advances makes these devices seem deceptively simple to operate when they could be difficult to master and potentially dangerous. This RC quadcopters buying guide will look at key considerations when making that first purchase and some of the top brands.
Things To Consider Before Buying Your First Drone
1. Don’t Bite Off More That You Can Chew
There is always the temptation to push your limits with a drone flying, both regarding the model you choose and your test flights. Drone flying is a difficult skill to master with a lot of variables and potential problems.
If you are a newcomer with an expensive, top-of-the-line model, and you try and do too much too soon, it is sure to end in disaster. Familiarize yourself with all the features and controlled and work in a safe, controlled environment until you can build on your abilities and confidence.
2. Get To Know The Flight Functions
There are significant differences between a drone and a toy helicopter regarding the way that they fly – especially if you have chosen a quadcopter.
Here you have four rotors determining the direction, altitude, and speed and they require careful controls via the transmitter. A master will be able to make sharp turns and careful, precise climbs but it is also too easy to veer off course and underestimate the complexity of the mechanics. These are fast, smart devices.
3. Fly Safely And Responsibly
In respecting the capabilities of these drones, you must also recognize that they are potentially dangerous devices that should be handled with care.
Many options are lightweight and built to bounce off of walls, but you don’t want to risk colliding with property or other people because these devices can still cause a lot of damage. If your drone weighs more that 0.55 pounds, then it needs to be registered with the FAA.
4. Carry Out Plenty Of Test Flights First
Because of these complex controls and safety considerations, test flights are vital before heading out to public areas with potential hazards. If you are new to the hobby, start with an inexpensive model for indoor use or in the garden and then work up to something more substantial.
Start with small goals and distances to get used to the controls, never fly it towards anyone and keep an eye on the device, and spectators at all times. The last thing you want is it disappearing out of sight and kids touching the rotating blades.
5. Think About The Type Of Camera That You Want
Most drones and UAVs have some form of camera option now, but the style and function can vary depending on the purpose and price point. A low-grade toy may have a gimbal system, either with a camera included or the option to add something like a GoPro, or an inbuilt camera for some basic shot.
A high-grade hobbyist UAV will have a much more intelligent system and mounting option for improved image quality and filming options. It all depends on what you want to film and why.
Here Are Some Of The Top Brands To Consider When Getting Your Dirst Drone.
This company has been operating out of California for a few years now and has steadily been building upon its
product range to produce faster, smarter models with some great designs and camera features.
The latest – the Solo – is a prime example of a model that appeals to the newcomer looking for a fun toy, particularly with the new “selfie” mode, smartphone controls and compatibility with GoPro cameras. The $799 list price means it may not be a great starting model, however.
Yuneec has created some striking looking models that seem as though they would suit the military, as well as hobbyists. They have a range of aptly named Typhoon drones for different functions and price ranges.
The current star is the $1,199 Q500 with its 4K video option and SteadyGrip, but this is soon to be overshadowed by the Typhoon H with its six rotors, 360-degree gimbal, and ultrasonic sensors.
DJI is perhaps the most well-known company when it comes to drones because there are so many models in the range, and they often offer a more affordable approach for first timers.
The sleek, white Phantom 1 was a favorite product, and now the 4th generation model impresses users with its long flight time, 4k video and simple touchscreen controls. The Phantom 4 is not cheap at $1229, but it is pushing the boundaries.
Much like the DJI models, the Parrot Bebop range is seen as a popular, attractive option for buyers that want user-friendly controls and great camera choices in a fun model.
Parrot have used wireless connections to ensure that the drone can be flown with a mobile device or controller, and the capabilities are growing. There may only be two Bebops to choose from, but the second is a more affordable option at $499.
Horizon Hobby is a name that is perhaps seen less of often when talking about high-end drones, but that doesn’t mean that it should be overlooked.
The company have taken their skill with radio-controlled planes and boats and used it their BLADE Chroma series of quadcopters. There is the cheaper GoPro-friendly model or the upgraded 4K model for $710. These drones are appreciated for their simple control and focus on user safety.
The final company in this RC quadcopters buying guide is ProDrone. They may not have the brand awareness and range of other providers, but they do have an attractive model in their Byrd drone.
The Byrd can be folded up for transportation and comes in Standard, Advanced, and Premium. The higher up the range you go, the better the drone gets regarding flight time, distance and camera options. At just $259 for the advanced model, it is also much more affordable.