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Best micro drone 2018 – [Buyer’s Guide]Last Updated January 1, 2019
Best micro drone of 2018
You can make a choice based on the my list as you shop. I have taken the initiative to educate you on the top three best micro drone that you can buy this year.
I make the search easier for you, by reviewing the best micro drone on the market. Customers need to be careful on how they spend their money on these products.
Test Results and Ratings
|Ease of use||
Why did this micro drone win the first place?
I really enjoy the design. It is compact, comfortable and reliable. And it looks amazing! I don’t know anything about other models from this brand, but I am fully satisfied with this product. The material is stylish, but it smells for the first couple of days. I am very happy with the purchase. It is definitely worth its money. The product is top-notch!
№2 – Syma X20 RC Drone Mini Pocket Drone LED RC Quadcopter Micro Quads Altitude Hold Headless RC Quad Copter
Why did this micro drone come in second place?
Managers explained me all the details about the product range, price, and delivery. The material is pretty strong and easy to wash if needed. The design quality is top notch and the color is nice. I like this product. For such a low price, I didn’t even hope it to be any better. It’s decently made.
Why did this micro drone take third place?
This price is appropriate since the product is very well built. I liked the design. We’ve been using it for 2 months and it still looks like brand new. I hope that the good reputation of the manufacturer will guarantee a long-term work. It doesn’t squeaks nor bents. Looks great in my apartment.
micro drone Buyer’s Guide
The Holy Stone HS170 Predator
It has decent-looking rotor guards, LED lighting, and color-coded front and rear rotors, so orientation should not be an issue. In case it is, though, there is a headless flight mode available, which can be very useful for beginners or if the drone gets so far away you can’t tell which end is which.
A big plus is that this quad has a removable battery, which is excellent and means you can fly as much as you’re willing to spend on batteries. Just let the motors cool for a few minutes between flights. The claimed flight time is 6-minutes and the charging time can be as much as 40 minutes if you use the USB charger. It should be possible to get a higher mAh battery for very little money, should you want to.
EACHINE E0Mini UFO Quad
Before knowing anything about the EACHINE E0Mini UFO, I knew that I really loved the way that it looks. It’s got a fuselage with a little mock cockpit, giving it the appearance of a futuristic flying sportscar. I mean, functionally it really doesn’t matter what it looks like, but it’s just a cool little design. In fact, this would inspire me to buy a few of these little guys and then race my friends. In which case it’s a good thing the E0comes in both red and green. This way as you and your buddy chase each other around there’s no confusion about who’s who.
Unlike some of those aforementioned models, you’ll find some shoulder buttons on the E0The left shoulder switch changes input speed modes between low and high. The right one is the auto flip.
Incredibly for a tiny drone in this price range, there’s also headless mode and one key return. Just make sure you’re in an open space, because it’s not an intelligent function. Still, pretty good for this tiny toy.
People who’ve bought the E0report that it’s a solid little flyer that will give you five minute of flight on a 30 minute charge. All in all, it’s a neat little machine.
As a weird added bonus, it seems that EACHINE offers a crude looking FPV upgrade module, which is insane, pointless and I’m sort of in love with it. I couldn’t find where to buy one though or how much it costs. Such is life.
Syma X5C Quadcopter
Price-wise the X5C is no more expensive than a decent drone of a smaller size, so it’s still “nano” in the price category. Design-wise the X5C is pretty conventional, with a plain X-shaped frame and no clear nose or tail. Even the camera blister is pretty conservative.
Thanks to its slightly greater size, the X5C gives longer flight time than the typical nano drone. The claimed number is seven minutes rather than five, but it also takes 100 minutes to fully charge the battery. Which means an extra 40 minutes of charging for two extra minutes of flight.
The X5C is equipped with an HD-resolution camera. This 720p 30fps camera isn’t capable of live FPV broadcast though, so if you have your heart set on an FPV drone in this price range you’ll have to look elsewhere.
Because this is not a true nano, it means you can exactly replace parts and do better maintenance. It also makes the X5C quite moddable, which might include replacing the camera with an FPV-capable module.
In terms of flight, people seem to love the X5C. It’s quick, stable and easy to fly. I think it’s size is in a sweet spot just above that of the typical nano, which means you can also use it for outdoor flight if it isn’t too windy.
The Hubsan XH107C Micro Quadcopter
Hail to the king, baby! The legendary Hubsan Xprobably needs no introduction, but in case you’re completely new here this is the quadcopter that gets listed time and time again as the best quad to use for learning your piloting skills.
It probably isn’t necessarily the best in every regard, at least not anymore, but it’s just an all-round, solid product that’s friendly to beginners but really lets you rip as your skill level grows.
The Xis also known for it’s above-average power level, with those tiny motors giving a surprising level of acceleration and speed.
This particular model comes with a camera, although you need to provide the SD card for it.
Here you can see the results of the 0.MP camera and really, for such a cheap little thing this is just a fun extra. It allows you to record your flights and get a little more entertainment while you wait to charge your battery.
The design of the Xis by now instantly recognizable and the radio transmitter is functional and pretty comfortable, by all accounts. The Xis priced at the higher end of our budget in this category, but I think it’s easily worth it, considering how well it performs.
Syma X20 Mini Pocket Drone
Even though it doesn’t actually look at all like it, the Syma X20 still reminds me a lot of the original DJI Phantom. Syma has developed quite the reputation for making good quality, yet affordable toy-grade drones. The original X20 was well-received and they’ve decided to update the winning formula to keep up with how fast nano-drones are advancing.
It’s a good thing too, because the competition is packing in as many features as possible. So the headless mode support is pretty much par for the course at this point. One feature that does stand out however is the one-touch takeoff and landing. For beginner pilots one of the hardest things to learn is taking off and landing again. I know it took me a week just to lift off and shakily hover with an RC helicopter back in the day. Sure, it might seem like “cheating”, but I think a feature like this makes the hobby much more accessible and will ease new pilots in without having them quit from frustration.
The X20 gives you about minutes of flight time off a 50-minute charge via USB. That’s not too bad, but it does suck that the battery is built-in and therefore you can charge up a bunch. The X20 is however so cheap that I guess you could buy more than one.
I might not recommend it though, since it seems that people are being too enthusiastic when putting in the charging cable. Syma has posted warnings about it in a bid, I guess, to indemnify themselves. So while it seems to be a good little drone in general, if you’re a butter-fingers maybe buy something else.
EACHINE E5FPV Selfie Drone
Wait a second here EACHINE. This drone of yours looks suspiciously like the DJI Spark which is taking the world by storm. I’m sure it’s a total coincidence and it’s not an exact likeness, but at a glance a lot of people would do a double take.
To be honest, the E5drone looks like someone made a fuselage out of spare vacuum cleaner casings, but it’s not exactly ugly. It looks sort of retro-modern in a way.
So this is an FPV drone which uses your phone as the video receiver. The phone simply slots into the clip on the radio transmitter and you’re good to go. Of course you need the right app, but once you’ve got the setup locked down it’s straightforward.
Since this drone is marketed as a selfie/video drone, it’s a good thing it has an altitude hold function, which keeps the drone flying at the same height when you let go of the stick.
The charging time is rather long at about an hour and that only gives you about eight minutes of flight. The maximum range on the transmitter is 100 meters and the camera is a paltry 0.3MP unit, so as you can imagine the photos and videos are hardly usable.
However let’s be realistic about our expectations for a drone at this price range. Just a year or two ago you would have no hope of picking up an FPV unit at this price. Now you can have fun looking around the neighbourhood with a live video feed without having to drop hundreds of dollars. If you want to capture footage to reuse then this was never going to work, but as a fun machine to explore your environment with it’s a great entry into the world of FPV flying.
The Cheerson CX-Mini
You get a tiny little transmitter, which is the same one bundled with some other nano drones like the ones from Revell. I have actually used this transmitter personally, and I have huge hands so I can attest to how comfortable it is.
You also get the quad itself at just over an an inch in diameter, a spare set of rotors, and a USB charger. Like most nanos the battery is not removable, but with these teeny, tiny motors it probably isn’t a good idea to have lots of consecutive flights anyway. The charge time is about 30 to 40 minutes and that gives you a good reason to buy a couple if you don’t want your fun interrupted.
The transmitter is good for about 120 feet, although you need the eyes of an eagle to even spot the CX-at half that range.
There are three control rates and a flip function, each activated with a click of the left and right sticks, respectively.
The only real gripe I have is that all four rotors are the same color in the marketing pictures and in the YouTube videos I’ve seen. Not that great when trying to figure out your orientation, and the CX-doesn’t have a headless mode.
The tiny CX-is a great little quad even before you take the silly low price into account; given that it is so cheap I can’t recommend it enough. Buy a handful and just go out and have fun.
The Syma XQuadcopter Car
As an RC car it even looks pretty good, especially the all-black version. According to buyers it both drives and flies well. Although, it could fly like a brick and I’d still want one.
The total battery life is about minutes, although they don’t say how much of this is in the air and how much on land. Luckily there are two batteries included as standard, so you can get 1minutes out of it before heading to recharge.
In car mode it has two speeds and it also has two control rate modes when flying. It also has a flip function, which is cool and probably extra ridiculous given that this is a flying car.
The Syma X11C Mini Drone
Heavy sits the crown, eh Hubsan X4? The Syma X11C is aimed squarely at the Hubsan XH107C. It’s a little more expensive than the X4, but boasts a 2MP camera instead of the X4’s 0.MP job. It has an easily-removable battery, included rotor guard frame, and a 4GB SD card. It can basically do everything the Xcan, but trumps it in some areas.
It’s a pretty tough choice, but on paper the X11C is clearly the one to go for. People have differing opinions between the two, but unless you buy both (and why not?) and fly them head to head I’d doubt anyone would care.
Still, the Xis a tried and tested little monster. You should probably buy the X11C; I would buy the X4.
Flight time and range
Cheap drones tend to fly for about five- to minutes before they need recharging, and USB chargers tend to take 30- to 60 minutes to recharge the batteries. Try to get a drone with replaceable batteries and buy a couple of spares.
Although some manufacturers claim a range of over 100m for cheap drones, it’s best to assume you’ll never get more than about 50m. By law in the UK, you must keep drone in your line of sight at all times, anyway.
Small and light drones will be blown around in the wind, so warm, windless days are the best times to fly, although the smallest micro drones can be flown indoors.
For bigger drones, such as DJI’s Phantoms, expect flight times around 20-2minutes and a range measured in miles, not metres. These use big batteries but are of course bigger and heavier than toy drones. Even the most expensive consumer drones (and we’re talking £2,000) don’t fly for longer than 30 minutes.
You will crash your drone and you will break things, usually propellers. Almost all drones come with a full set of spare rotors, but as two rotate anti-clockwise and the other pair clockwise, you’ve got only two spares for each pair of spindles.
Check first if spare parts are easy to obtain for a particular drone, and also their prices.
At the cheaper end of the price scale you’ll be lucky to get even 720p (1280×720) video, but if you want a drone for aerial video go for at least 1080p (1920×1080). Bear in mind that – as ever – you can’t trust specs alone. Read our reviews to find out how good each drone’s camera is.
However, you’ll only get great quality footage if you buy a drone with a gimbal. This is a stabilised mount for the camera which keeps it steady when the drone tilts or moves around.
Gimbals don’t come cheap, though. If you have a limited budget and have a GoPro (or other action camera) already, consider a drone with a GoPro or gimbal mount. Two-axis gimbals can be bought for around £60. The WLToys V30and Flying 3D Xare capable of carrying a GoPro-style camera.
The Spark is even tinier than the Mavic Pro, so you can take it just about everywhere with you. And you can control it with just your hands, taking selfies and recording video without a controller.
It even has the Mavic Pro’s obstacle avoidance and brilliant new Quick Shot modes which create handy processed clips you can share to Facebook.
DJI Phantom 4
The Phantom Advanced replaced the Phantom It’s even more expensive but has the Pro model’s 20Mp camera which can shoots 4K video at 60 frames per second and is very easy to control.
Batteries are very expensive and the intelligent modes, although catching up, don’t quite match those you’ll get with a 3DR Solo which, in our opinion, is still the better choice if you need to capture complex cinematic aerial shots.
The Solo, though, doesn’t come with a camera and lacks obstacle avoidance, so the Phantom Advanced is a great choice if you can afford it.
The Karma is another folding drone, though it’s much bigger than DJI’s Mavic Pro. It isn’t as smart, either, with no obstacle avoidance.
And because it uses a GoPro camera, it also means it should be upgradeable in the future.
The R220 is a ready-to-fly FPV racing drone that’s well designed and well built. It’s very fast and manoeuvrable, and comes with an on-board video transmitter: you need only add your own FPV goggles (with appropriate video receiver) to get a first person view while flying.
If you’re not the type to want to build your own racing drone, it’s remarkably good value and saves a lot of time and research.
Hubsan H501S X4
Hubsan’s H501S comes with a built-in camera, and a remote control with a handy 3.7in screen. This means you can see a first person view as if you were on board – indeed, the remote also has an analogue video output for use with matching FPV goggles.
It also has GPS and lasts around 20 minutes from a single charge, although it does take hours to recharge, so buy a spare battery or two – they’re cheap enough.
The XFPV isn’t meant for recording amazing aerial video.
Instead it’s intended as a starter drone with first-person view. There’s a screen built into the controller and it’s ready to fly.
If you invest in some extra batteries and time in learning to fly it properly (it’s completely manual with no auto-hovering), the H107D can be a rewarding and fun drone. But, compared to the others here, it is much more of a toy.
Cheerwing Syma X5SW-V3
The palm-sized DJI Spark can be flown using nothing but hand gestures, and is made for those who want to quickly and easily capture video at the spur of the moment. An optional controller extends its range to 1.miles, and the drone will fly for up…
How We Test Drones
Design: How well is the drone built, and does it look good? If it comes with a controller, we take a look at its ergonomics.
Flight time: How long can the drone stay in the air before its battery runs out? This varies a lot based on the size of the drone, but the best drones have batteries that last up to 25-30 minutes.
FAA has rules you have to follow. The most important two: Never fly around or above people, and always keep your drone in sight. The FAA has a full list of safety guidelines for model aircraft that you should check before you take off. There are also restrictions on where you can fly: For example, within miles of an airport is off limits. Mapbox provides a great interactive map of no-fly areas, and local RC (Remote Control) aircraft clubs may list fields that they use.
Most drones use a remote control with two joysticks — a bit like an Xbox or PlayStation controller. One stick controls what’s called the attitude of the quadcopter, including roll (tilting left and right) and pitch (tilting up and down). The other stick controls throttle and the rotation of the quadcopter. A good remote control should fit well in the hand, with sticks resting comfortably under your thumbs and providing a smooth, responsive feel that allows you to guide the quadcopter by touch.
Some models skip the remote control, or offer it as an extra-cost feature, and instead use a smartphone connected via Wi-Fi and a flying app. These apps often provide a live video view from the quadcopter camera. However, apps don’t allow the precision of real controllers: It is easier for your thumbs to slip, possibly causing a crash.
Construction and Repair
Regardless, things still get broken sometimes, particularly racing drones. A good model will offer a ready supply of cheap parts like rotors and struts to replace the broken ones, and will make it easy to swap these parts out when required. The same is true of batteries.
Want to show off your aerial exploits? A camera, either built-in or add-on, can capture those dramatic vistas for posterity. Most budget models use the equivalent of a cheap webcam, capturing low-resolution video (usually 640 x 480-pixel resolution) to an internal memory card for later viewing.
More sophisticated models offer high-definition video capture or the ability to connect an HD action camera such as a GoPro. Some drones also offer first-person view (FPV), sending a pilot’s-eye view from the drone itself to a phone or tablet. Some models offer video goggles for the ultimate pilot-seat flying experience.
Eachine E10C Nano Quadcopter with 2.0MP Camera
Looking to buy a camera micro drone? Have a look at the Eachine E10C.
This guy comes with a megapixel camera, one of the most powerful cameras on any micro quadcopter. The drone also comes with different speed modes, allowing you to increase speed and turn radius as your pilot skills improve.
The E10C can do 360-degree flips in any direction. It comes with LED lights for flying in low light conditions, and the drone has a built-in 6-axis gyro for more stable flying.
This is the most useful feature new pilots can have. It helps protect your drone and the objects around it from braking, and it reduces the number of replacement propellers you might need.
Coolmade FY60Quadcopter with Wifi Camera FPV
We had never seen a drone like this before when we first laid eyes on it.
The quadcopter also comes with altitude hold mode (the drone will hold its altitude so you can focus on the camera), hand launching, and multiple speed modes.
For a drone of this size, the FY603 offers a ton of great features.
The EACHINE E010 is a fun little drone.
The E0comes with One Key Course Reversal — the push of a button causes the quadcopter to return back to you. But our favorite feature is Compass Mode. In this mode, the drone will change directions as you change the direction of the remote control.
For such an inexpensive flying drone, the E0comes with a nice set of features.
Cheerson CX-10C with Camera
The Cheerson CX-10C is the upgraded version of the CX-This version comes with a built-in camera that can take both photos and videos.
The quadcopter comes with speed modes, so as your skills improve you can bump up the speed and turn radius for more acrobatic flying.
The CX-10C is a nice little micro drone (and one of the cheapest options with a camera).
A Good Drone’s Going to Cost You
Even if you have no good reason to justify buying one, you have to admit that drones are cool. Some models out there are glorified tech toys, but the ones we highlight here are fit for use in imaging and cinematic applications small and large. If you think you can use a flying camera in your next project, there’s some good news—the tech has come a long way in a very short time. There are models on the market now that put earlier copters to shame in terms of video quality and stabilization.
And now the bad news. You get what you pay for, and if you want an aerial video platform that can capture stunning footage, you need to be ready to spend some cash. Because drones are such pricey propositions, it pays to do your research before buying one. We’ve tested many of the ready-to-fly models on the market to determine what’s important to look for, and the best models available.
The drones we review are ready-to-fly models, so you can use them right out of the box. In most cases you’ll need to bring your own Android or iOS device to view the camera feed in real-time, but we’ve reviewed a few models that have an Android tablet built into the remote control. We haven’t delved into covering true pro models, which require you to get out a soldering iron and install flight control systems and custom gimbals that can accommodate an SLR or mirrorless camera.
Racing and Toy Drones
There are a number of products on the market that are sold as drones, but don’t quite fit the bill. Remote-controlled aircraft have been around for ages. (Check out this clip from Magnum, P.I. if you don’t believe me, or just want to see Tom Selleck in a bathrobe.) But with the recent surge in popularity, quadcopters that would simply be sold as RC products are now being tagged as drones. These products don’t include GPS stabilization, return-to-home functionality, and other automated flight modes that make a drone a drone.
We’ve reviewed a handful of these products and placed them in our Toy reviews category. If you’re interested in something you can use on the International Drone Racing Association, keep your eyes tuned there for reviews.
Yuneec is DJI’s major competition in the consumer market. Its Typhoon series competes with DJI’s Phantom line and offers some features that Phantoms don’t provide, including a freely rotating camera on the Typhoon H and H Plus. It also has a smaller model, the Breeze, to appeal to pilots who want a more user-friendly, casual drone experience.
PowerVision is a newer player in the US market. It’s announced two copters—the consumer-friendly PowerEgg and the pro-grade PowerEye, and has dipped its toes in the underwater UAV market with the PowerRay, PowerDolphin, and PowerSeeker. Also making headway in the US is Autel Robotics. Its line of X-Star drones look like DJI Phantoms that have been dipped in bright orange paint, and it announced a Mavic Pro competitor at the most recent CES. We’ve not yet had the opportunity to review them, but they compare favorably with DJI models in terms of price.
GoPro made a drone, the Karma. But after a rocky launch, which involved a massive recall, and underwhelming performance in the market, the company decided to pull the plug on drone development. You can still buy a Karma while supplies last (at a discount), but there are better options out there.
The pocket-sized Wingslan Sis designed intelligently for those who want to experience a comfortable and immersive flight. Some of Wingslan S6’s features that work to give you this experience include the 4k camera with a 3-axis digital stabilization system. The two features let you capture detailed photos and footages.
Besides the 4K camera, Wingslan Salso supports the Follow me, Return to Home, orbit, and auto hovering intelligent functions that collaborate to give you a fun flight experience. You can operate it using its controller or it comprehensive smart app.
You can equip your Wingslan Swith a boom gun for aerial shooting, a searchlight for night flight, and propeller guards. This drone is not an excellent buy for those who would love to fly higher than 100 meters above the ground.
The Vortex 1racing quad features ultra-powerful motors and tri-blade propellers that provide strong synergy for speed. Unlike most of its competitors that come in separate parts that might be quite hard to assemble, this type comes fully assembled. On that account, this drone would be an ideal option for hobbyists who dread the assembly part of the drone.
Hubsan H507A X4
Hubsan H507A Xis a micro fpv quadcopter intended for hobbyists who love to capture and stream footages while exploring the sky. The drone uses the Universal GPS positioning system for advanced flight control, and a 720 HD camera. The Hubsan Xis a great little mini drone for beginners.
Hubsan H507A Xcomes with a transmission distance of 100 meters, a flight time of up to minutes, and a Wi-Fi FPV for video streaming. This micro FPV quadcopter supports the one-key automatic return to home, follow me, and the headless mode functions.
Holy Stone F180W Quadcopter
If you are on a tight budget, you should consider Holy Stone’s F180W mini RC drone, one of the most affordable micro quadcopter in our best list. Despite its low price, this mini RC drone has almost every feature that you would find in its expensive competitors.
For instance, Holy Stone F180W mini RC drone utilizes the 6-axis Gyro, a universal flight system that enhances flight stability, an HD FPV camera for real-time video streaming, and the 360-degree flip function for an immersive flight. It has a transmission range of 120 meters and a flight time of minutes. Its 2Mp camera is not powerful enough for professional photo taking.
RC Quadcopter Drone with 2.0MP Camera
Besides the foldable arms, this drone also has an integrated 2MP camera for live video streaming, LED navigation lights for nighttime visibility, one button take off/ land key, and a one key return home function for an emergency landing. It utilizes the 6- axis gyro system which enhances flight stability. RC quadcopter drone’s basic design might not be ideal for step-up and pro hobbyists.
Rabing Mini Foldable RC Drone
Rabing’s foldable mini drone is stylishly designed for hobbyists who love to look unique. Besides the unique looks, the mini foldable drone also comes with a miniature FPV capable HD camera for video streaming. Depending on your choice, you can operate Rabing mini foldable RC using its stylish and comfortable to use controller or using a smartphone app.
Regardless of its low price, this drone comes with multiple features found inexpensive models. Some of these features include the 100-meter range, minute flight time, and a sturdy construction that can withstand several crashes. Its lightweight is not ideal for outdoor flights during a windy day.
JJRC H3mini quadcopter s is the most affordable but feature mini-drone in our list. Some of the features that make this drone recommendable include the 6-axis gyroscope that delivers a stable flight and integrated LED lights for nighttime flights.
This miniature drone also supports the headless mode function that lets you fly the drone in any orientation, D rolls that let you roll the drone for an immersive flight experience, and the return to home function for emergency landing. It is a good buy for entry level hobbyists on a low budget.
SKEYE Nano Camera Drone
SKEYE Nano Camera drone is another good option you would consider when looking for a good Nano drone. Some of the features that make it an amazing camera include the 6-axis flight control system that ensures flight stability regardless of your skill level and a small but powerful camera that captures and records footage.
Other features that make this drone amazing include the 0.6ounces lightweight for easy portability, an altitude hold function, and 360-degree flips that let you create aerobatic flips. Its easy take-off and landing feature makes it an excellent option for entry-level hobbyists.
EACHINE E0Mini UFO Quadcopter
EACHINE E0mini quadcopter comes in Red Green and black colors to let you purchase a drone whose color fits into your taste. For this reason, the drone would be an excellent option for pilots who want to incorporate style into their hobby. Like most Nano quadcopters, this one uses 6-axis gyro, a system that keeps the drone stable.
In addition to style, this nano rc quadcopter also supports the one-key return to home function that lets you land the drone on its initial take-off position, the 360-degree rollover, and a compass mode that changes the drone’s direction in relation to the controller’s orientation. Its basic design makes it an excellent option for beginners but not pros.
HUBSAN H11Nano QMini RC
If you are on a tight budget or looking for cheap drones, Hubsan H11Nano Qis for you since it is the cheapest drone in our Nano drone category. Hubsan H11Nano Qutilizes the 6-axis flight control system, a universal system used in most drones. These are great nano drones for beginners.
Starting a flying club
Stress Testing Quadcopter Connectors
This video does a fantastic job exploring a topic I have always wondered about – are our electrical connectors holding us back? In the video, YouTube user dronelab tests the diminuitive XT 30 connector to failing point with…
The STEM Knowledge Gap
The main issue facing todays industry is the lack of a STEM knowledgeable labor supply to fill the available job market demand. Despite students showing high potential, many lack the interest to enter STEM related fields. Some have the perception that these subjects are simply too difficult for them to understand, so they switch majors and move away from STEM fields. This deprives them of the opportunity of a higher paying job. More importantly, is the STEM knowledge gap that is created, which has long term implications. STEM careers are needed to sustain innovation, build communities, and compete globally.
Understand the Flying Rules
Quadcopters cannot be flown anywhere and everywhere. First, if you are thinking of getting a quadcopter that weighs more than 0.5pounds, then you should be aware that you will need to register the drone at registermyuas.faa.gov. To avoid this hassle, consider getting a lighter quadcopter that does not require registration. Drone pilots must follow the flight rules that include flying the drone within their line of sight, flying no higher than 400 feet and away from crowded public areas. You also need to be sure you are at least five miles away from the nearest airport.
Auto vs Manual Flying Mode
The best drones for kids recommended here all feature an auto and a manual flying mode. What the auto mode does is limit the maximum quadcopter roll and pitch angle, allowing for more stable flight.
This means your child can’t accidently flip the quadcopter and send it flying it into the ground.
Once your child has a better grasp on quadcopter flying, you can promote them to manual flying mode.
Speaking of flips, some quadcopters come with a special flip button that allows for some fancy aerial acrobatics. This feature is always a hit with kids.
Flying Inside vs Outside
If possible, you should start your child off by flying inside so they can get used to the response and control of the quadcopter. However, flying outside requires the development of some extra skills to be able to fly even in slightly breezy conditions.
If you let your child simply head outside and start flying, you can expect the quadcopter to veer off and fly into a tree. Start your child off by flying close to the ground, and in very light to zero breezy conditions. Eventually your child will develop a feel for how to fly their quadcopter in windy conditions.
Emergency Shut-off Switch
When you think that the quadcopter is about to crash, it is safer to shut off the drone before it goes crashing into a wall or the ground. This helps to reduce damage to the quadcopter’s motors, propellers, and household objects. The quadcopter will crash, but this will minimize the damage.
Flight School for Kids
Although you will find drones and quadcopters listed in the toy sections of most stores, we want to stress that quadcopters are NOT toys. The Federal Aviation Agency does not consider drones to be toys, and has enacted new laws to ensure a safe airspace. You cannot just hand over to the child their new drone, and let them play unattended.
Use your GoPro Camera on a quadcopter.
Maybe you already have a GoPro camera that you really like. If so, you don’t have to buy a drone with a camera attached. After all, you already have a great camera.
Finding Which Drones For Sale Meet Your Needs
Below we have defined those metrics that we find to be the most important when comparing drones. This includes wingspan, flying time, camera, controller, sensors, and skill level.
Each variable has its pros and cons, but if you can find a good combination of these for the right price you should feel satisfied with your choice.
The wingspan of a drone is the distance from blade tip to blade tip, along one of its sides, and is often measured in millimeters. A micro drone may be in the order of ~100 mm and larger consumer drones can get up to a whopping 300-400 mm.
I like to use wingspan as a metric because it gives an idea of how large the copter. This has a lot of influence on what it can do and where you are able to fly it.
With flying time, we’re looking at how long a drone can stay in the air after a single battery charge. This is affected by battery size, weight, and flying maneuvers.
And as recharge times can be ~45-90 minutes, buying a spare battery is always a good idea. that way you can keep flying longer. There is a tradeoff that manufacturers have to make. They can add a larger battery with more power but the added weight of that battery reduces flight time again.
You may wonder why the manufacturers don’t just add bigger batteries to their drones. That’s because a bigger battery does not necessarily mean more flight time. Larger batteries offer more power but the added weight of that battery reduces flight time again. It’s a fine line that the manufacter has to balance.
Maneuvers like constant altitude changes or flips can drain a battery a lot faster than just a static hold. These cause more power to be used on the motors to gain lift and stability corrections. This is also something to keep in mind when you’re looking at dronespecifications. The flight time mentioned in specifications is usually measured hovering, in perfect conditions (no wind) and might not accurately reflect what you get out in the field. Expect 25% less flight time than advertised.
Many quadcopters are now outfitted with onboard cameras or they hae the ability to carry a small camera. This provides a great way to record flights from the drone’s perspective and get a birds eye view of your surrounding.
One thing you’ll have to consider is the quality of the camera. To save space and weight, lower resolution cameras are often utilized.
Data is usually stored on an onboard MicroSD card and/or live streamed back to the controller for FPV (First-Person-View).
We should always take into account what type of controller a drone comes with as this is what we’ll be using to control the quad during flight. For the safety of the drone and all its surroundings, an easy to use controller is a top priority.
Most controllers are 2.4GHz and provide remote communications with the drone, telling it how to control its motors. A basic controller will have analog sticks for adjusting the altitude and flight direction. Some even have a ‘flip’ button built in.
An additional built-in LCD screen can provide real-time flight diagnostics as the quad is airborne.
Another metric to consider is which additional sensors the quad includes.
The most popular would be GPS sensors which allow for a lot of different functionality. With this drones can really be ‘automated’ by programming Latitude/Longitude waypoints that it will fly to without user control.
For automatic altitude hold, a drone will need to be equipped with some form of an altimeter. This can be a barometric sensor that measures atmospheric pressure or an ultrasonic sensor that uses high-frequency sound to measure distances.
Hubsan XMicro Quadcopter
The Hubsan has the most is really a ‘base model’ quad in that it doesn’t have any features like a camera or sensors. But that’s okay because the fun in this drone is all in the flying! Its small size makes it great for flying indoors and cruising it around your house. And it won’t do much damage to itself or anything else you may fly it into. Taking it outside is definitely doable but in high wind situations is may be a beast to control.
Now that you have seen the options and reviewed our top picks of all drones for sale its up to you to pick what meets your needs, is in your price range, is available to buy, and gets you flying.
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Basic tricks and flips
Take your skills to the next level. Become a stunt pilot and master incredible tricks, flips and more.
See the world from new heights. Snap pictures and shoot video from the skies.
Capture, record and enjoy your adventures with crisp 720p photos and video.
It’s time for action! Race across land, sea or water and perform spectacular tricks, races and battles.
Why stick to the skies? Discover drones that can speed across the ground or even over water.
Don’t fly close to buildings and cars
Drones must be kept at least 50 metres away from any building or structure. Some drones are fine to use indoors – check the manufacturer’s guidance.
You’ll want to show off your drone, but flying over groups of people or crowds is prohibited. An accident could result in serious injury. Stay 50 metres away from any person.
Don’t be surprised if you crash your drone
Flying drones isn’t always easy, and while many models come with technology to help you, this in turn can make them more complicated to operate. If you’re keen to develop your skills, you may want to choose a lower cost model first to practice with.
A monster in every sense of the word, the Inspire is a genuine piece of professional-grade cinema gear. It’s big; if the Mavic fits in a pocket and the Phantoms fit in a backpack, this is a small suitcase. When you break one of these bad boys out and put it in the air, people give you plenty of space. With the micro 4/3rds Zenmuse X5S camera on board, you can shoot in 5.2k, 30fps, 12-bit RAW with 12.stops of dynamic range. Master and slave controllers let you fly as a two-man team, with a pilot flying and a cameraman operating the completely independent, 360-degree rotating camera. It connects to a satellite truck to allow live broadcast in 1080i. That’s the level the Inspire is operating on, despite a relatively approachable price tag in the scheme of things.
Made your decision? Now it’s time to learn to fly your drone.
Accelerometer: An electrical device that measures acceleration for a specific direction of flight.
Almost Ready to Fly: Usually comes with everything you need but will require some minor assembly.
FPV: A mountable camera on the drone that allows the pilot to see in real time what the drone is seeing.
Gyroscope: A device most high-level drones have that measures angular velocity and helps to keep your drone stable.
Hexacopter: A multirotor vehicle with six rotors for flight.
Multirotor: A vehicle with multiple rotors used in flight.
Payload: How much your vehicle can lift on top of its own weight and batteries.
Quadcopter: A multirotor vehicle with four rotors for flight. The most common type of drone available on the market today.
RC: Radio controlled. Used to describe unmanned vehicles.
RTF: Ready to fly. Take it out of the box and get going, requires no assembly and can basically be flown straight away.
Size: Usually provided in millimeters (e.g. 350mm), “size” represents the greatest point-to-point distance between two motors on a drone. Size can also help determine a drone’s “class” (mini, micro, etc.).
CG: Stands for “Center of Gravity”, which is the point on the drone where weight is equally distributed on all sides (VERY important when learning how to build a drone).
Dampener: Dampeners are small molded pieces of rubber used to minimize vibration throughout an RC drone.
Frame: A drone’s frame is synonymous with a human being’s skeleton – it helps bring together important components, as well as provide protection.
Landing Gear: For an RC drone to land without damaging fragile hardware, it must have landing gear. Unlike airplanes, which have wheels on their landing gear, RC drones utilizes plastic, metal, or rubber materials to help cushion landings.
LED: To help orientate you to an RC drone’s location at night, it needs to have “Light Emitting Diodes”, or LEDs, on it.
Prop Guards: Prop guards help protect your drone’s propellers from coming into contact with the external environment. They are also there to protect the operator (you).
Shell: A drone’s “shell” is its outermost cover. Made from a variety of materials, it’s designed for aesthetic purposes (style) as well as functional purposes (proving protection from the elements). Depending on the shell’s shape, it can help the drone become more aerodynamic.
ESC: Stands for “Electronic Speed Controller”, which is something that connects to the flight controller, motor, and battery, and helps mediate the speed by which the motors are rotating (you’ll learn a lot about these later on).
Motor: The motor is the part of the drone that rotates the propellers. Larger UAVs typically use “brushless” motors while smaller UAVs typically use “brushed” motors (you’ll learn about the differences between the two later on).
PCB: Stands for “Printed Circuit Board”. This is a flat fiberglass part that has many different components soldered to it.
Power Distribution: In order to power the different parts of an RC quadcopter, batter power must be shared, or “split”, to all those different devices. This is done with the help of a power distribution board. It takes the single negative and positive terminal from the drone’s battery and provides numerous other terminals (or connection points) throughout the drone so that other devices can receive power.
Prop Adaptor: A prop adapter is the thin used to connect the drone’s motor to the propellers.
FPV: Stands for “First Person View”. This is when you’re able to see a live video feed of what you’re drone’s camera is seeing while it’s recording.
LCD: Stands for “Liquid Crystal Display”. It’s a type of screen used to display an image that’s coming in from a receiver.
Gimbal: A gimbal is something that holds a camera during a flight, and allows it to deliver stable footage.
GoPro: This is a popular sports/action camera that can be attached to RC drones with the proper mounts.
I found on the major differences between Gand regular fiberglass.
Aluminum can also be used when building your frame. It’s lightweight (though not as lightweight as carbon fiber), flexible, and is relatively easy to work with. You can use aluminum to build the entire frame, or simply use the material to supplement certain parts of the frame (arms, landing gear, etc.). Another benefit to aluminum frames is that this type of material is both inexpensive as well as readily accessible.
Motors are the heart and soul of a drone. It’s what allows you to lift the frame off the ground, hover, and fly in the direction of your choosing. As a general rule of thumb, each motor should deliver the same amount of thrust. Otherwise, you’ll run into problems with stability. In the sections that follow, we’re going to talk about the general anatomy and functions of an RC motor, followed by discuss the different types of motors that you can potentially use when learning how to build a drone.
How RC Motors Work
When learning how to build a drone, you need to understand how brushless motors work. Brushless motors act in the exact opposite manner: their COILS remain fixed while their MAGNETS are spun. As its name implies, a brushless motor does not contain any brushes, which can actually lead to the longevity of the RC motor.
Inrunner: These types of brushless motors have coils that are fixed on the outer casing, while the mobile magnets spin on the inside of the casing.
Outrunner: As you can probably guess, these types of brushless motors have their magnets on the outer casing, and are spun around the fixed coils that are located within the middle of the motor casing.
While nothing about RC motors is black and white, do know this: outrunner brushless DC motors are generally exclusive to helicopters, airplanes, and RC cars (due to their high KV), and tend to have less torque than their outrunner brushless DC motor counterpart.
Do The Math
If the KV Rating for a specific motor is 650 RPM/V, then at 11.1V, the motor is going to rotate approximately at 7,21RPM (650 x 11.= 7,215). If, however, the exact same motor is operating at a lower voltage, like 7.4V for example, then the new RPM is going to be 4,8(650 x 7.4). Remember that the KV Rating for a motor should be available in its specifications.
3-Pin R/C Servo Connector: This is the thing that accepts the RC signal.
Bullet Connectors: These are the things that connect to the three pins that you’ll find on a brushless motor.
Power Input: The pair of thick wires (normally, one will be red and the other will be black) are there to obtain power from the power distribution board.
One of the main benefits of having an electronic speed controller that’s equipped with firmware is that it will be able to react much more quickly to changes in input. What exactly does this mean? Essentially, it allows the flyer (you) to experience a much more acrobatic flight with more responsive controls.
Battery Capacity and Discharge Rate capacity of a battery pack is measured in amp-hours, or Ah. Smaller battery packs have capacities of approximately 0.1Ah (or 100mAh), while larger battery packs can have capacities of 2-3Ah (2,000mAh-3,000mAh). As a general rule of thumb, the higher the capacity, the more flight time you’re going to experience (just keep in mind that the larger battery also means a heavier RC drone). When you learn how to build a drone, you’ll almost always get a flight time of about minutes, with five minutes being the average low and 20 minutes being about the max.
A battery’s discharge rate
But guess what? None of this can work without a flight controller. In simplest terms, the flight controller is the “brains” of the operation. It’s the thing that contains all of the microprocessors, sensors, and output/input pins that make it possible to maneuver your RC drone through the air.
Syma X5C Quadcopter with HD Camera
The top of this list is Syma X5C. Syma X5C is a drone equipped with HD camera and 6-axis Gyro. You can fly this both indoor and outdoor and you will love this beauty. The drone can perform 360-degree flips. Prop guards are strongly connected at three points with the main body. I would suggest, in the beginning, do not remove the prop guards, particularly if flying indoor. Later you can remove them and get an increase flight time. Also, be careful the way you mount them because one pair of propellers would be in one direction and the other pair would be turning in the opposite direction, so please follow the instructions. The screwdriver comes with the drone which you can use to install the props and prop guards.
The landing gear is sufficiently high and as a result, the camera is quite safe. The battery charging time is a bit high which is 100 minutes. When fully charge, you can fly between to minutes. If you remove few components such as prop guards, the flying time will increase. The battery charger is of USB type.
The HD camera is 720P and 2MP with a 2GB memory card. You also get a memory card reader with the drone. The camera is controlled by the transmitter for taking pictures and videos.
The LED lights also give the indications during photographic sessions. LED lights are of good quality but the installation angle of the camera is not quite optimized for better quality videos.
Our range of beginner drones is specifically designed for the first time flyers in mind. Starting with our range of Roll Cage RC Drones, these have a protective cage around the drone to protect the drone, people and surroundings. It can handle the inevitable crashes that the drone will endure whilst learning and developing your flight control and skillset.
It is important to remember that the key to flying drones is slow linear control adjustments. The main cause of hard crashes is sudden change in control directions that can potentially leave the drone out of balance or quickly plummeting from great heights.
As you gain confidence and better control in flying drones, stepping up to more powerful drones is the natural progression. Our range of intermediate drones requires more precise controls to fully maximise the drones performance, features and capability.
Knowing what size battery you need
To get the longest flight times you should use the largest battery (in terms of capacity) that you possibly can, but still keep within the maximum takeoff weight of your drone. For more details on finding out what your maximum takeoff weight is for your drone have a look at our guide on how to choose motors, propellers and ESC for your drone. The other thing to take into account is the physical size of the battery, as depending on what drone you are using you will only need be able to fit a battery of a certain size.
How to find the optimum C rating
As choosing the battery is often the last step to building your own drone, we will already know what motors and ESC we are using. Since the motors will draw the most amount of energy from your battery we can base our calculation around this.
By looking at the specs of your motors, in particular the thrust data tables you will be able to see what the motors maximum current draw is. As an example, our quadcopter (motors) weighs about 2Kg in total (with battery and all other equipment), the quadcopter will hover when each motor products about 500g of thrust. Since we are using the MT221motors with inch propellers we can look at the thrust table to see the motors current draw at maximum thrust, which turns out to be just under 10A.
Number of batteries
The number of batteries you decide to use on your drone does not ultimately make much difference as there are pros and cons of using more batteries. Firstly using more batteries has an added layer of safety as if one battery should fail, you still have another that you can use to quickly land. Also if you have the flexibility of replacing one battery if one of them gets older than the other. Charging time can be reduced if you have two chargers as each one can charge at the same time. However using two batteries can be more complex to mount and wire and buying two batteries can sometimes be more expensive than buying one. So ultimately using one ore more batteries comes down to the drone your are using and your own preference.
Drones are ideal for budget filmmakers—or even photo or video enthusiasts—because they can capture images that otherwise would be impossible.
The reason drones have become so popular recently is that they have the ability to shoot bird’s-eye-view photos and videos that were previously unavailable to photographers and filmmakers without access to cranes or to ultralight aircraft or helicopters—aerial establishing shots, for instance, or alternate angles for chase scenes that only big-budget productions could achieve. Drones are ideal for budget filmmakers—or even photo or video enthusiasts—because they can capture images that otherwise would be impossible.
With technology rapidly improving and price tags declining, there’s never been a better time to buy a drone. Previously, we recommended that all rookie pilots start with a trainer drone, but at this point flying a drone has never been easier, and you can get a decent one at an affordable price. You should certainly still get a trainer drone if you’d like, but we no longer think it’s a necessity.
How we picked and tested
A GoPro-quality camera and a gimbal (a camera stabilizer that uses accelerometers and gyroscopes) are crucial for providing usable, high-definition (or better) footage in anything but the most placid flying conditions.
First-person-view capabilities for the pilot to see things from the drone’s perspective make flying much more intuitive. Some drones even have the option of working with goggles that give you a more immersive flying experience.
Flaws but not dealbreakers
The biggest issue with the Mavic Pro is the banding effect (a rolling shutter artifact) that appears when it’s shooting into the sun. When banding strikes, it renders videos unusable. This effect is something we saw on the Phantom drones, and it just won’t go away. Camera sensors tend not to like direct sunlight, and banding is most common when you’re shooting toward the horizon while the sun is low. The only solution is to steer away from the sun and/or lower the tilt angle.
The Mavic Pro rarely captures its own propellers while shooting—the problem is very infrequent compared with the Phantoms—but it’s still a possibility. The Mavic Pro does give you an option to limit the max tilt angle, so this isn’t an issue.
Also, the Mavic Pro may not be best for people with older smart devices. While it is technically compatible with devices dating all the way back to 2014, in our experience it struggled with smartphones more than a year old. Competitors such as the Yuneec Typhoon H, while not as easy to fly as the Mavic Pro, use controllers with built-in touchscreen LCD panels for the live feed, so you don’t need to supply your own iPhone (which also means one less thing to worry about charging). The Mavic Pro’s controller is very compact, best suited for a phone rather than a tablet, and it is not as comfortable as the larger Phantom controller––the price you pay for portability.
We’ve also read a number of reports (and learned from Wirecutter senior editor Dan Frakes’s personal experience) that DJI’s customer service can be very slow, with especially long waits for repair service, though the company is quick to send replacement parts. Keep in mind that pilots who have encountered serious equipment damage in the past have experienced lengthy downtimes.
Of the drones we tested, the GoPro Karma is the easiest to fly thanks to a quick setup, intuitive and responsive controls, and the fact that you don’t need to pair it with your smartphone. It shoots excellent stills and video courtesy of the GoPro HeroBlack (which is currently our top action cam pick), it has a nice suite of intelligent flight modes and decent battery life, and it ships with GoPro’s handheld Karma Grip, which lets you get more use of the camera off-drone. It’s still notably larger than the DJI Mavic Pro, and it can’t match our main pick’s range—and while GoPro claims to have fixed the issues that led to the whole line being recalled after its initial release, we’re still keeping our eyes open for future problems.
After you’ve charged its batteries, the GoPro Karma can be in the air within minutes thanks to a built-in 5-inch 720p LCD screen on the controller—no need to pair it with your phone, calibrate it, or run firmware updates. We launched our Karma in under two minutes by pressing and holding the Launch button on the controller.
Piloting the Karma is also very easy. Its joysticks and camera tilt are smooth and highly responsive, and the touchscreen functions are easy to use. It remains remarkably agile in the air and hovers fairly accurately, and it returns to the Home point within feet of the controller. However, the Karma has a stated maximum range of just miles (half that of the Mavic Pro), and in our testing we started having issues after just a mile of distance. This typically isn’t a big problem with most drones, since they resume live-streaming to the controller once they automatically return within range, but the Karma’s screen froze and stayed that way until it landed at our feet after an auto Return Home. This experience scared us, because we didn’t know whether the Karma was on its way back until we heard it in the air. We weren’t able to safely replicate this behavior, for fear of losing the drone over icy New England waters, but it’s something to watch for. According to GoPro, this same malfunction happened to one other reviewer, and a firmware fix is in the works. We recommend not flying the Karma over a mile away, especially with an obstructed connection, until the company has officially addressed the issue.
The Karma is compatible with the GoPro Hero5, HeroSession, and Heroaction cameras (it’s sold either with a HeroBlack camera or in a no-camera version for adding your own), which connect to the three-axis Karma stabilizing gimbal. You can also remove the gimbal and camera from the drone and connect them to the included Karma Grip, a handheld stabilizing unit for photos and videos.
The Karma Grip is highly effective at stabilizing video in the air and on land, and it’s a bonus that no other drone offers. In our tests, due to the way the gimbal was mounted in front of the Karma, we never captured propellers in our shot, either, which was a problem for the Mavic Pro and just about every other DJI drone we’ve ever flown.
Video and still quality is excellent thanks to the GoPro HeroBlack, a camera we already love, and in our tests the images rivaled the results we got from the DJI Mavic Pro and Yuneec Typhoon H cameras, turning out sharp and clear. The Hero Black can also shoot at different FOV angles, including Linear, which corrects horizontal distortion—an issue we had with previous GoPro models.
The Karma is capable of performing in four intelligent flight modes: Dronie (takes a selfie video and travels away, giving context), Cable Cam (travels a set linear path), Orbit (flies around the subject in a perfect circle), and Reveal (flies in a straight line and gradually tilts the camera up). While these modes are certainly useful for cinematic applications, the Mavic Pro offers more with the addition of subject tracking and the very useful Tripod Mode.
The Karma drone itself is hefty, and one of the better-constructed models out there. Its prop arms fold up to increase its portability, but it still requires a 21-by-13-by-6-inch carrying case (included). The Mavic Pro is notably more portable, which is the primary reason we chose that model for the top spot, since you can just put it in a backpack rather than needing a designated carrying case. Still, the Karma occupies less space than any DJI Phantom model and the Yuneec Typhoon H, which each require carrying cases nearly double the volume. Battery life on the Karma is about 1to 1minutes, judging from our experience—not the best, but pretty close to the battery life of its rivals.
At the end of 2016, GoPro recalled the Karma due to a loose battery connection: During certain flights, the Karma’s battery would lose contact with the internal connector and cause the drone to fall out of the sky. (GoPro gutted its aerial division at the start of 2018, and the company now says it is done with the drone business once its inventory of the Karma sells out.) The redesigned battery latch seemed secure in our tests, but we’re keeping our eyes open for any further complaints of falling Karmas.
What to look forward to
At the 201IFA trade show, DJI launched a new version of our favorite drone, the Mavic Pro, called the Mavic Pro Platinum, which is designed to be quieter and fly longer. DJI also revamped the Phantom Pro (our upgrade pick) by putting a slightly better camera and a dark coat of paint on the Phantom Pro Obsidian.
The Yuneec Typhoon H hexacopter almost became one of our picks but lost at the last minute to the GoPro Karma, which likewise doesn’t rely on a smartphone but is smaller than the Typhoon H and comes with a removable camera. The Yuneec model has a 4K camera that rotates around a full 360 degrees, plus forward-collision avoidance, carbon-fiber prop arms, retractable landing gear, a handful of intelligent flight modes, and a touchscreen built right into its remote controller.
We like the safety of a hexacopter because if one rotor fails, the drone can still fly. The Typhoon H is extremely fast and agile, but it has a more limited flying range than our main pick. Though the drone is large next to others we tested, it looks unlike anything else in its class.
Its large size prevents it from being truly portable, and the remote controller’s UI is not as refined as those of DJI and GoPro. In the end, the benefit of the DJI Mavic Pro’s portability and the superior value of the GoPro Karma (with its included HeroBlack camera, Karma Grip, and detachable gimbal) pushed the Typhoon H to the sidelines.
Walkera offers two models in our price range: the Aibao and the QR X350. With mixed reviews and a poor camera, the QR X350 doesn’t really stack up to our main picks. Although the Aibao is newer, it still lags behind our picks in its specs.
The Beginner’s Quadcopter
An inexpensive UAV can still take a good battering. The most important thing here is the availability of spare parts should you need them. Breaking something is less of a problem when you can replace it.
Electronic speed control or abbreviated ESC works in a way that it transforms the signals we input throught the transmitter into voltage that ESC sends to motors, and in a way regulates the motor spining. They come in 4inoption ( ESC’s on one PDB ) or separate ESC’s ( separate ESC’s are more cost effective, you can change only one’s that are damaged, unlike 4in1 ).
Drone racing kit
Choosing receiver depends on the transmitter. There’ couple of different manufacturers, and each uses their own protocols that are not compatible with the other. For that reason it’s advised to study receiver specifications and compatibility with the transmitter.
When you build a drone composed of the above-mentioned components you have all the mechanical parts for the flight, and you can fly the Line of Sight (LOS). It’s a good thing if you’re a beginner and you want to get a feel for flying and to develop a motor skills.
The cameras come with variations: those with CMOS sensor and CCD sensor. More quality cameras mostly use a CCD sensor that has less latency, faster adaptation to light change, and more resistant to vibration.
Video Transmitter VTX
VTX transmits the analog video signal received from the FPV camera to the video receiver. We differentiate them according to the available options, and to the antenna connector (SMA/RP-SMA). Modern VTXs, besides frequency and channel change options, also have the option of switching signal power (25mW / 200mW / 600mW), which can be useful if you are flying with several more pilots at the same time.
Rubbered FPV Antenna
Its disadvantages are that it has a low resolution of 480×272, and because of that the picture is pixelized, also there is no way to adjust the proximity of the screen. Comes with a rod antenna, so we recommend to buy better one separatly (connector is RP-SMA).
Eachine VR DPro
There are many simulators for FPV flying. We would definitly recommend practicing alot, it will help you develop finger memory on the sticks without fear of crashing your quad severly. Even if you’re best on simulator you’re still gonna crash when flying your drone. More practice, less crashes, more time for flying.
FPV racing was born from the world of radio controlled aircraft. Most of the equipment is similar or the same to what you would use in other radio controlled applications such as planes. The FPV community has grown its own specialized equipment, resulting in better, less expensive, tailor made gear specific for these type of quadcopters. The popularity has also grown into the mainstream with events happening worldwide and even a racing league being televised.
Start with a Micro Quadcopter
Making your first investment on an FPV drone shouldn’t have to be a scary, expensive leap of faith. Starting with a small scale quadcopter is the best way to get into the hobby without the risk wrecking your brand new, expensive drone. While you see the professionals racing with the latest carbon frame and expensive components, remember that they didn’t learn on those powerful machines.
When we say start small, we really mean it. One of the best options you have when buying your first quadcopter is to look for a micro quad. These are normally small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. Don’t let the size fool you though – these drones are great little learning tools and a perfect introduction to flying a full size machine.
When you’re learning to fly, you will crash. It’s a reality as a beginner pilot (and even advanced pilot). Now we are not saying that every crash will be catastrophic. Most likely you will have lots of little ones. Small crashes often require minor repairs of things like broken props.
With any of these options we highly suggest you also invest in several additional batteries and extra parts/propellers to keep you in the air. Micro quad batteries often last between 4-minutes so having or of them can keep you flying for much longer. The propellers are also very cheap, but also easy to brake. Make sure you have plenty. Also consider copters that have propeller guards which will keep you from breaking as many props.
This easy to recognize micro quadcopter is one of the most popular on the market for good reason. The ducted fans keep the props safe while flying and the copter can be flown using level mode or acro mode (no auto-level). Since high level FPV flyers are flying acro mode, this gives you a great taste of what to expect and a chance to hone your skills.
Moving Up to Full Sized Quadcopters
After you spend some time on your mini quad and know you’re ready to take the next step, its time to follow the wisdom of the crowd. Stepping into a custom build for your first pro-level FPV is extremely overwhelming. There are tons of options out there and you can literally order everything part-by-part. Below we are going to cover the essential parts of your kit, and our recommended progression on your full sized journey.
Depending on your preference and how sure you are about getting into high end FPV, now is the time to start considering buying a radio. One radio can be used to control many quadcopters, so you will only need to buy one radio. Because of this, it is wise to invest in a radio that will last you.
In the racing world there are two popular options that represent the vast majority of flyers: FrSky and Spektrum. FrSky being used by the biggest portion of the community. Either option works well, the important thing to remember is that FrSky radios are only natively compatible with FrSky receivers and Spektrum radios are only natively compatible with Spektrum receivers. It is possible to buy additional adapters to mix radios and receivers.
Fly for Fun
There is no question that FPV is just pure fun. The excitement that comes from flying with a first person view is unmatched. We’ve all seen the thrilling videos of wingsuit flyers gliding down mountains and flying with close proximity to their surroundings. Flying an FPV drone gives you very much the same perspective and allows you to fly with speed and proximity – it is really a thrilling experience.
Fly for Competition
The racing and competition aspect has recently launched into the mainstream media. Events are popping up all over the world, races are being held in exotic locations, and flyers are becoming champions. In the racing world of FPV you will find highly skilled pilots flying their highly tuned copters in serious competition.
Flight Time & Battery
The Phantom Pro provides an even greater flight time than the Phantom 4, delivering approximately 30 minutes on a fully charged battery. While the drone may deliver 30 minutes under ideal conditions, its best to take this estimate with a grain of salt and consider an average of 2minutes as evidenced from several of our test flight runs. This increase is still a stark improvement from the phantom 4’s average of 23-2minutes.
As for the recharge time on the battery, we were elated to find that it takes roughly 80 minutes to fully charge a dead battery, which is not bad considering the amount of flight time you get out of it. Also, since the majority of the time, you’ll come back well before the battery completely fades, you’ll need only wait approx an hour for the battery to regain its full charge.
The biggest improvement on the Phantom Pro barring camera enhancements and flight time lie in the field of flight autonomy. This aircraft has more sensors than its predecessor and the DJI Mavic Pro. In addition to two forward facing sensors, as well as infrared sensors on the left and right sides, the Phantom Pro also has a pair of rear sensors.
Additionally, there is also a pair of downward facing sensors that work in consort with the vision positioning system for greater stability in low altitude flight. This nexus of sensors co-operates to create a 5-directional obstacle sensing system which provides 4-directional obstacle avoidance, practically making this aircraft aware of its environment. Equipped with the above-mentioned system of sensors, the Phantom Pro can navigate its environment with greater autonomy as well as hover indoors without GPS and even fly through tight spaces with the least pilot control. At its normal speed of 31mph, the forward and rear sensors work fine to stop the drone almost instantly before it collides with an object.
However, in sports mode, where this drone can reach speeds up to 50mph, the obstacle avoidance system collapses, and the pilot is given full control over the aircraft. All this obstacle avoidance and flight autonomy are great, but it shouldn’t lead you (the pilot) to assume that the drone can fly on its own. This drone can still crash, and you do still have a role to do play. However, the big difference is that you can now play around with your drone and not have to worry constantly about potential damage. As for range, the Phantom Pro delivers the same powerful range of up to 4.3mi or 7km as the Mavic and shares its Ocusync video transmission technology, delivering an HD live feed to the controller from extensive distances. Moving onto the ActiveTrack feature, and other intelligent flight modes, the Phantom Pro surpasses its little brother in all aspects. With advanced ActiveTrack, the Pro can identify more objects, including animals and vehicles, and also allows the user to choose between a ‘follow behind’ or ‘follow in front’ option, in addition to a 360-degree orbiting option.
Advanced Waypoints includes a new ‘Draw’ function that enables the user to quickly draw a route on the screen for the drone to follow, thus freeing the pilot to concentrate on the camera and capture better shots or video. The Pro also has an upgraded ‘Return Home’ feature. Unlike its peers, who merely gain altitude and beam back to where they took off from, the Pro has the built-in intelligence to recognize the same path it used to reach its destination and remember the obstacles that it found in its path. So, in the event of a controller disconnection, the drone can return without a scratch.
The Remote controller comes with an integrated built-in Screen (5.5in) with a 1080p display which offers incredible brightness and viewing. It has upgraded Lightbridge technology HD video transmission that offers dual transmission support (5.8GHz and 2.4GHz). This dual frequency support helps mitigate lag in connection when you’re flying in a 24GHz congested air space and enhance transmission range.
The controller has a 5-hour battery life which gives users ample time to edit and customize their images or video from within the DJI Go app. As for the controls, its share the same dual sticks, dials and buttons as Phantom4.
Not to diss the Phantom series drones, but the new DJI Mavic Pro is just a whole new level of cool. When pitted against both the DJI 3&controllers not just the drones, the Mavic appears so much more sleek and compact; it’s just a beautifully crafted aircraft with no comparison in the market. The drone is small enough to literally fit in to any backpack and even fits in your pocket.
The rotor arms and propellers fold in neatly on themselves and take the shape of a nifty little rectangle brick that is easy to carry and extremely portable. The propellers remain attached at all times and all one needs to do to start using this device is take out the arms and calibrate it with the controller. For the actual drone material itself, the drone is built using a high grade metal and there is almost nothing plastic about it. It has a solid and sturdy feel to it that is not only reassuring but imbues the user with a strong confidence when flying.
Camera & Gimbal
The camera and gimbal on the Mavic Pro are the smallest that DJI has created so far. Having said that, don’t let their size fool you. The camera can shoot 4K Ultra HD video at 30fps (1080p at 96fps) and take 12MP stills just as well as the bigger Phantom However, one major difference between this camera and the one on the 4, is the field of view, which is slightly smaller on the Mavic at 7degrees. While this does affect the angle of the shot, the picture quality is not compromised in any way. The other drawback of the Mavic’s camera is the absence of a fixed focus.
Instead, the user has to tap to focus on an object. The gimbal is a 3-axis device which is quite adept at stabilizing the camera even at high-speeds. Even the fact that this portable and compact drone has a gimbal is quite an achievement in and of itself. Also, in keeping with its bigger cousin, the Mavic sports ActiveTrack (Object tracking technology) that employs image recognition to identify obstacles and follows the user. It also features optical and vision sensors as we mentioned before that prevent the drone from crashing into the floor in an indoor setting. Additionally, for selfie lovers, there is a gesture recognition software which responds to hand movements that get it to focus on the person and snap his/her photo.
Flight Time and Intelligent Battery
The DJI Phantom comes with an upgraded battery with increased voltage that offers a slightly longer flight time when compared to its predecessors. During our trials using this drone in an outdoor setting, we recorded flight times ranging between 20-2minutes depending on battery life and camera usage. Besides extra voltage, the intelligent battery on this drone also features LED lights and sensors that give you a real time read of the amount of power that remains on your battery.
In addition, this quadcopter regularly performs an analysis of its distance to you and the amount of battery it will require to get back home. Pretty neat, huh? This was great, since we always knew how much further we could go and when we had to pull back. Also, the new 100-watt charger that this drone comes with allows you to pretty much go from an empty battery to a fully charged one in under 3minutes or maybe even less depending on the amount of charge left on the battery. This is a huge improvement from the previous situation that used to take a whole lot longer to charge. With a faster charger, you can enjoy hassle-free flying and charge any extra batteries in a short amount of time.
The Phantom Pro is designed for easy flying and the beginner flier. It is very literally calibrated to allow for a smooth and enjoyable flying experience. Although outwardly things may look similar to the Phantom 2, upon taking a closer look, one can see some major differences. For starters, it is endowed with much greater propulsion power, and its rotors have unique sensors underneath them that guide the aircraft and give it greater flight autonomy reducing the work of the pilot.
Two sets of sensors, including Optical Flow sensors and Ultrasound sensors, work together to identify different patterns on the ground and measure the drones distance to the ground at all times. These real-time calculations help steer the drone and enhance its hovering capabilities which allow for greater aerial photography. Also, if you let go of the controls, in-built air braking, stops the drone and makes it hover in place at a moment’s notice. Not only is this best professional drone fairly simple and easy to fly, but it gives you a great range of 2km. At longer distances when you can’t see the drone, you can view the drone on your phone via the DJI app, which is a pretty neat feature which we’ll get to in a minute.
Now, while this DJI Pro does have a vision positioning system to prevent you from hitting the ground, it doesn’t serve as a robust collision avoidance system. So, you have to pay attention while flying to avoid trees, building, and other such objects. With this drone, you also get access to several intelligent flight modes including a return home, home lock, course lock, follow me and waypoints. Return home guides the drone back to the point of take off that it remembers via GPS. Home lock and course lock modes both influence the drone’s orientation; home lock mode locks the drone’s movement on its take-off direction. While course locks the drone’s movement about its present nose/tail orientation so that when you tip the right stick forward, it always moves forward in that direction and backward about the locked direction.
In ‘Follow me’ mode, the drone follows the controller and allows you to regulate for altitude: a good feature for taking selfies. Unfortunately, regarding waypoints, you have to fly to them manually before the drone can store the route in its memory for future use. Without any solid collision control feature for obstacle avoidance, this makes sense as a safety measure, so the drone doesn’t fly into stuff on the route. Overall, the DJI Phantom Pro provides an easy learning curve that any beginner can get used and master with some practice.
Performance & FPV function
This top FPV quadcopter drone for beginners has powerful 8mm motors that make some racket during flight but thankfully provide greater stability in flight compared to its predecessors. Take-off and landing are quite impressive, and the drone doesn’t waste any time getting into the air. Handling is quite pleasurable as well since the controls are responsive and there is no lag in transmission between the drone and the controller.
The built-in Headless mode also makes flying this aircraft a breeze. This mode is especially suitable for beginners who might find it difficult to fly from the perspective of the drone’s nose. Additionally, this quadcopter offers flight modes: high speed and low speed. While the ‘high speed’ mode is useful for more advanced pilots and flying outdoors, the ‘low-speed’ setting is more suited to flying indoors and give beginners a chance to train and improve their skill level.
Also, performing 360-degree eversions is incredibly easy and fun, but make sure you have enough space around you when performing tricks and flips. However, not all is kosher with the drone’s performance since it suffers from an inability to fly in even mildly high winds of 5-10kmph without almost flipping in the wind’s direction and stopping dead in its tracks. More than a hardware related problem regarding the drone’s motors, we figure this might be more a software issue, but we can’t be sure. Regardless, for the money, this nifty quadcopter is a great option for beginners and youngsters looking to develop their flying skills before moving onto a more robust drone.
FPV and Camera
To use FPV mode, users have to install the Syma FPV app on their smart phones (IOS or Android) first, which is easy enough. After installation, you’ll have to connect your smart phone to the Wi-Fi hotspot created by the on-board camera which will take barely a couple of seconds. Once your phone is connected, you’re good to go. Video transmission to the live feed on your phone is strong at shorter distances, but gets mangled at longer distances and is quite unintelligible at the maximum range of 50 meters. There is a high lag in video transmission of almost seconds that becomes increasingly pronounced as the drone moves further away from you. With such a wide discrepancy in video transmission, it is in your best interest to keep in the drone in sight at all times.
Flight Time & Charge
This tiny quadcopter packs quite a punch regarding flight time considering its low cost. Users get one battery along with the package, which is a 3.7v 380-mAh. The battery takes roughly hour to charge, although as it degrades with time, it can take a couple of minutes longer to complete charging. Once charged, you get roughly 8-minutes of fly time before you need to charge again. It goes without saying that if you wish to fly uninterrupted for longer, as you may well know by now, you should get a couple of batteries lying around.
Flight Time and Battery
Charging time is always a key aspect to take into consideration when purchasing a drone. With the CX-battery, you only need to wait 30 minutes for a full charge which delivers roughly 5-minutes of fly time.
That’s pretty impressive considering the long charge times that some of the bigger drones on the market offer. The battery is built into the CX-which requires a USB cable to charge it. This is unfortunate, since the only way to enjoy longer, uninterrupted flying, without the wait, is to get another CX-since the battery cannot be replaced.
Considering the price range that this drone is delivered at it provides an above average flight time between 7-minutes and a good range of 50-100 meters. That’s about as good as it gets in this range; if you want better flight times and a greater range, you’ll have to consider increasing your budget. As a last resort, in order to squeeze out maybe another minute of flight time from the battery, you could try unloading some of the heavier accessories such as the prop guards and the landing gear.
Like most drones in this category, the F18comes with different speed modes so users have ample room to play and practice. If you’re a beginner you probably want to start off with the low speed mode and work your way into the higher speed mode as you get better. This HolyStone quadcopter has a 6-axis gyro stabilization system which gives it that little extra regarding maneuverability and stability as well as makes it easier to fly.
It is suited for flying both indoors and outdoors, but it does not have an in-built GPS of any significance so don’t expect it to hover in place with precision like a DJI when you let go of the controls. Although, you can have quite a lot fun with this drone and perform either a key roll or a continuous roll with it. And, there is a return home capability and a Headless mode which makes this drone a lot less likely to get lost.
The camera performs well, can take aerial HD video as well as 2MP stills. It also has an auto-focus feature that uses phase detection to render good quality images even in lower light conditions. A good feature is the on-board SD card that stores all your video and images for playback later.
Drones with Cameras
As we explained, camera drones account for the large majority of drones used by home owners to take video and images. They are mostly ready-to-fly quadcopters powered by four rotors and regulated by a remote controller (RC). They also come equipped with a camera or gimbal to attach a camera of the user’s choice. The best camera drones come with several advanced functions that enhance usability, such as Real Time Object Detection (RTO), Collison control, flight planning, integrated touch screen controls and advanced “Follow-me” and “Follow-that” functionality.
Toy drones or mini drones cost considerably less than advanced camera drones and offer significantly fewer features. These drones are compact, offer a small range (50-200m) and come with decent camera features. Also, they are harder to fly owing to poor GPS and flight autonomy. In short, these drones are great for beginners and kids looking to get into the hobby of flying a drone.
The sport of drone racing is gaining a lot of momentum around the country with more people taking a fancy to this fast paced and intense format of aerial competition. Racing drones are leagues ahead of your average RTF camera drones in regards to max speed and maneuverability. Although they have shorter flight times, they can reach speeds up to 100mph, and their performance is off the charts. Also, unlike camera drones, these drones require a lot more skill to fly and operate. These drones are only for the experienced pilot and are not meant for beginners or even intermediates.
Getting your first drone is an exciting time. For most people, it can remind them of a time as kids when they operated their first remote controlled gadget such as a remote controlled car. Except for the fact that owning and operating a drone is way cooler. There are several features that one can consider while buying a drone, depending on one’s intended use, interest and skill level. We have designed this guide to be useful for both beginners as well as seasoned users looking for more advanced features such as a flight planning, automatic collision control and more. For starters, here are nine basic features that can be found on all the best drones for sale in the market and that should be taken into consideration when buying your first drone.
This is one of the most important considerations when you’re buying your first drone since it determines how long your drone will be able to stay in the air without changing batteries or returning to base. Flight time is influenced by the type of aircraft, the number of rotors, size, battery strength, a size of the on-board camera, tricks, speed and weather conditions. While most toy drones for sale typically have a flight time of 5-minutes, the bigger camera drones on average deliver anywhere between 15-2mins. If you’re worried about missing out on that perfect capture, extra batteries can be a great help. Try and keep a few extra batteries handy so you can swap them in and continue your flight.
Note: Take whatever ”flight time” mentioned by the manufacturer with a grain of salt, since its more than likely that it was captured under ideal flying conditions by a pro. Also, keep in mind that the charging time for most top drones is between 45-90 minutes.
This shouldn’t be a major concern unless you’re planning on taking part in drone racing tournaments or you plan on taking high-definition video or images of a target moving at speeds upwards of 50 mph. On average, most RTF Quadcopters can achieve speeds between 30-50mph, which is more than sufficient for taking videos or photos.
The range or how far your drone can fly while maintaining contact with the controller is affected by the strength of the radio frequency between the controller and the drone as well as weather conditions. While most toy drones only deliver an effective range of 40-100 meters, more advanced camera drones such as the DJI Phantom (mentioned above) can deliver a range up to 5000 meters. If you’re engaged in an activity that requires your drone to travel long distances such as in reconnaissance work, you should invest in a drone that incorporates the latest wireless radio technologies such as 5.8GHz frequencies.
A congested radio frequency band can greatly affect the range of the connection between your drone and its remote controller as well as the quality of video by almost 80%.
Similar to a horizontal range, flight ceiling is also determined by the drone’s technology, software, and radio frequency. Some of the top consumer drones can achieve altitudes of 500-700m before the connection to their controllers gets severed. With better upgrades in software technology for your controller and onboard software, it is possible to achieve greater altitudes, but there is a legal limit set by government authorities for consumer drones. In the US the limit is set at 400m, which is more than sufficient for taking some awesome aerial clicks of your property.
Most basic controllers come with a two analog design. The left analog controls lift and throttle direction, while the right analog controls movement along the horizontal axis i.e. forward, backward and side-to-side motion. Look for a controller with 6-axis control and two analogs. Also, the more advanced controllers allow for more sophisticated controls that can regulate various drone configurations, offer model memory, telemetry displays, FPV, audible feedback, map overlay, waypoint control and more.
Advanced controllers have a telemetry display via OSD (On screen display) that showcases flight status (speed, altitude, battery, etc.) for when your drone leaves your line of sight. FPV (First Person View) – In addition to telemetry displays, sophisticated controllers also have the option of FPV that delivers a live video from the drone allowing the user to control the drone from the view point of a pilot.
Radio Frequency Bands
Drone receivers operate on two frequency bands – 2.Ghz and 5.Ghz. The 2.GHz frequency band is more susceptible to congestion since several other devices (household and otherwise) operate on this frequency band. The 5.GHz band remains less congested on average. As mentioned before, the range is directly affected by the strength of the radio frequency channel your drone operates uses. The best drones can switch between both frequencies thus offering a greater and more enhanced reception and range.
Last but not the least check that the controller offers a decent battery life. The top drone controllers offer a battery life of 45-90 minutes, so you don’t have to swap out batteries as often and can continue your flight without hassle.
GPS sensing is becoming a standard protocol on the best drones in the market. Of the few different standards of GPS found on drones today, most consumer drones use a GPS that incorporates a GLONASS receiver. This type of configuration delivers several benefits to users, some of which include stable hovering, return home, and direction control. GPS functionality also greatly enhances flight stability and gives the drone greater autonomy over its flight, thereby reducing to a great extent the burden on the pilot to regulate every aspect of the flight. With GPS enabled, some of the more advanced drones can also fly to set waypoints (latitudinal, longitudinal coordinates) which can come in handy if you’re engaged in an activity that demands location precision.
This safety function guides your drone back to you (home) or to the point from where it took off. This can be an extremely useful function especially if you’re a beginner and you lose control of you the aircraft when you lose sight of it. It goes without saying that this feature works best on more advanced drones with GPS enabled that it does on small drones or toy drones.
Headless mode is great for beginners who aren’t yet used to the orientation of the aircraft in flight. It can be quite frustrating when you start out to have your drone turn left when you want it to turn right or go forwards when you want it to go backward.
With ‘Headless mode’ turned on, your drone will always move in the direction you want it to regardless of the direction in which the front of your drone is facing. However, when you activate this mode, bear in mind to have the front of the drone and your controller facing in the same direction. As you get more proficient with your flying skills, you can use this mode less frequently.
Now that you have a good idea of the basics that you should consider if you’re looking to buy a top quality drone let’s talk about more advanced features that separate the best drones from the toys.
Automatic Collision Control
With greater intelligence and the ability to recognize objects, drones like the phantom four can now automatically route a new path around objects in their way. Although you may not get that perfect shot upon re-routing, this feature is still great news since it simplifies pre-flight planning and reduces the risk of damage that your drone would incur.
The overall price of the drone you buy will include certain important accessories that you will need to reap the most benefit from your flying experience. Parts such as drone batteries, extra propellers, prop guards and maybe even a drone backup are some essential spares that you don’t want to without. Which is why, when buying your drone you should check to see whether spares and accessories are easily available to save yourself the trouble for when the need arises.
Just as you have a safe and snug case for your laptop to protect when it’s not in use, a drone backup can offer the same security and protection for your drone. Drone backups have neat foam padded cut outs to secure all the various parts of your drone so that when you’re moving and bouncing around on long hikes, your drone stays safe and secure.
Price Range for Best Drones 2018
First of all thanks for reading my article to the end! I hope you find my reviews listed here useful and that it allows you to make a proper comparison of what is best to fit your needs and budget. Don’t be afraid to try more than one product if your first pick doesn’t do the trick.
Most important, have fun and choose your micro drone wisely! Good luck!
So, TOP3 of micro drone
- №1 — HOLIDAY SPECIAL! Contixo F2 Mini Pocket Drone 4CH 6 Axis Gyro RC Micro Quadcopter with 3D Flip
- №2 — Syma X20 RC Drone Mini Pocket Drone LED RC Quadcopter Micro Quads Altitude Hold Headless RC Quad Copter
- №3 — Dayan Anser Mini Hexacopter