Quad Copters : 5 minute overview and recommendations from a Hobbyist

What to buy: 5 minute overview and recommendation from a Hobbyist


Micro Size:
  • Blade Nano QX (RTF): $89 : 5"x5", weighs less than 18 grams, 4-6 minute flights, small enough to fly inside office/living room space, blade guards are provided as a safety feature for new pilots, has a sophisticated flight control software that keeps it stable during a hover. Developed and distributed by a popular US brand - parts are easily available at every local hobby shop and online. Designed for beginners - very easy to fly - does not require any prior training. Very little mass, thus does not result in damage during crash landings. Will help gauge user's interest and skills in flying quad copters.
  • HeliMax 1Si (RTF): $139, 5"x5", weighs 45 grams, 5-8 minute flight time, small enough to fly inside office/living room space, in built HD camera, innovative 'Return-To-Home' feature, stable flight characteristics. Developed and distributed by a major US brand - parts are easily available at every local hobby shop and online.
  • Hubsan X4 H107C (with 2 MP camera): $75 - $90: 5"x5", weighs less than 40 gms, 5-7 minute flight time, small enough to fly indoors or outdoors, in-built 2 MP camera, stable flight characteristics, designed for beginners and very easy to fly after reading the manual and/or watching a few Youtube videos. Developed and distributed by Chinese company - so parts are not available at local hobby shops but easily available online (Ebay, Amazon, etc).

Mini Size:
  • Blade 180QX (RTF): $189: 9"x9", portable, 6-10 minute flight time, can be flown in indoors/ driveway/ backyard, brushed motors with gears, built-in camera provide ability to to capture HD images/videos. Developed and distributed by a popular US brand - parts will be easily available at any local hobbyshop. Very stable flight characteristics with three modes to allow the user to select flight performance.
  • RC Logger RC EYE ONE Xtreme (RTF): $130: 9"x9", portable, 5-8 minute flight time, can be flown in the driveway/ backyard/park, small efficient brushless motors, can carry a small camera or upto 100 grams of payload. Developed and distributed by Hongkong based company - so parts are mostly available online. Three flight modes provide a comfortable learning experience as the user gets comfortable with the quad-copter.
  • Blade 200 QX: $229+$129 : 6"x6", portable, 6-8 minute flight time, can be flown in the driveway/ backyard, small efficient brushless motors, need to purchase a transmitter (can be re-purposed on other RC helis/planes), can carry a small camera or upto 20 grams of payload. Developed and distributed by a popular US brand and parts will be easily available at any local hobbyshop. Designed for intermediate skilled flyers. However, it offers three flight modes to provide a gradual learning experience as the user gets comfortable with the quad-copter. This will be released on 06/14/14.
Full Size:
  • 350 QX (RTF): $469: 30"x30", weighs 680 grams, 14 minute flight time, requires large backyard or a park, comes with full range transmitter that can be re-purposed to other planes/helis, built-in GPS return-to-home feature, built-in altimeter chip, large brushless motors, can carry a GoPRO camera or upto 100 gms of payload. Developed and distributed by a popular US brand and parts are easily available at any local hobbyshop. Three flight modes provide a comfortable learning experience as the user gets comfortable with the quad-copter.
  • Dji Phamtom FC40 (RTF): $499: 30"x30", weighs about 1200 gms, 20 minute flight time, requires large backyard or a park, comes with a full range transmitter but uses a proprietary 5.8Ghz frequency protocol, built-in GPS return-to-home feature, large brushless motors, beginner and advanced modes allow user to select flight performance, comes with an integrated digital camera that can controlled via any smartphone. Parts not available at every hobby shop, but can be easily purchased online. Very easy to fly and a stable quad-copter.

My Picks:

  • Micro Size: For someone with no RC flight experience, I would suggest the Blade Nano QX (RTF) for its ease of use, durability and value for money. 
  • Mini Size: For someone with some RC flight experience, I would suggest the RC Logger RC Eye One Xtreme for its powerful brushless motor, ability to carry a samll camera and the value for money. 
  • Full Size: For someone with previous quad copter flight experience, enjoys technology gadgets and wants a stable platform for aerial photography - I would suggest the 350 QX.

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