Best Quadcopter For Beginners and Tips to Start Out

zmr250-artur-mini-quad-quadcopter

A few people asked me what the best quadcopter is to start out with for beginners. I will share with you some good quadcopters options to start out with. If you have no RC flying experience in the past, you might find this post useful.

Article was created in September 2013, revised in May 2016.

What’s the best quadcopter for beginner?

It’s a tricky question because there isn’t really a best quadcopter setup.

The electronics, frame and gear you choose will determine its flight characteristics and capabilities.

Electronics with better hardware may have better capabilities, but without the knowledge and understanding of how to utilise that hardware things can become frustrating very quickly. There’s also toy grade and hobby grade both of which have models great for beginners

Research and Study

When I first got interested in quadcopters I spent weeks reading/watching reviews and guides. Hearing from people’s flying and quad building experience really helped me to understand it better.

You can’t go wrong with doing a lot of research and studying, currently there is an overwhelming amount of very useful write ups and videos online. Ask tons of questions before you spend your hard earned money on a box of stuff you have no idea what to do with. I put together a comprehensive guide explaining how each component works on a quadcopter you may find useful.

A good place to start for anyone learning is a toy grade model, these are easy to fly and learn with but can also be very entertaining as your skills improve. Hobby grade models usually require some knowledge and build skills to assemble and maintain, so be sure to do your homework before buying.

See this post to learn about tips on flying for beginner. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment, or ask on this quadcopter forum.

The Best Quadcopter To Start out

As a quadcopter or RC beginner, you are almost guaranteed to have countless crashes with your quad at the beginning. Even just once among those countless crashes can be fatal, expensive and time consuming replacing all those broken parts. Practising with an inexpensive model can be beneficial to learning the ins and outs of these very technical machines.

If you can afford to, I would personally recommend getting a RTF (ready to fly) quadcopter. After you have mastered the flying skills with this mini quad you can move onto some faster/more powerful ones, or start building your own multirotor. It gives you an opportunity to learn the steering control, hand-eye coordination and muscle memory. I got one of those and they are so robust and still flying after many crashes.

Toy grade RTF options are (which I think are good value): Cheerson CX10, and Hubsan X4. Alternatively, you can build your own micro quad, but requires more advanced knowledge and experience in RC. For more powerful Hobby grade mini quad, check out the Emax Nighthawk Pro 280 I reviewed before.

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How to Start with Flying Technique?

This is how I learned to fly. It’s important to start your practice by standing behind the quadcopter so you are facing the same direction as the quad. This will allow the movements on your transmitter to make the quadcopter go in the same direction!

Here is another guide on flying tips and rules.

Hovering

You’ll want to lift your quad off the ground almost instantly to around 1 meter (3 feet). When it’s too close to the ground you might get air disturbance from the motors (ground effect/prop wash). Just try to hover around the same spot with the same height using throttle, pitch and roll.

Landing

If Hovering isn’t too difficult for you, you can now try mastering landing. It sounds easy but it’s one of the most important technique beginners seem to forget. The idea here is the throttle control, remember to lower it really slowly and smoothly. Do not cut the power instantly, your quad will free fall and might damage your frame or electronics.

Pitch and Roll Control

Pitch controls forward and reverse, roll controls side to side motion. Pick a location you want the quad to move to, use pitch and roll fly to that spot and land.

Yaw Wondering

Yaw is the 360 degree rotating motion around the quads centre. Much like when you move your head to look right or left, the quad will “yaw” left or right with your control input.

Start by trying to circle around an object or yourself (just don’t get too close). You will only use pitch and a bit of throttle to go forward, use Yaw to turn left and right. You can either practice flying in circle, or in figure 8’s. This control technique is very useful when you start flying FPV, or taking videos in the sky.

Tips for Beginners – Selecting the right multirotor

A lot of people take the hard way and build large quads as their first quad. If you don’t have the spare budget for a mini learning quad, this seems to be the only way to go.

But again, if you crash badly due to lack of control practice, it might cost you more eventually (speaking from personal experience). You might even hurt someone if you lose control.

If you prefer something larger, consider an RTF quad that is similar in size to what you eventually want but is affordable and not too expensive to repair or replace in worst case scenarios. Currently there are many options available to beginners on the market. Many businesses even have RTF kits for a variety of quad sizes and experience levels.

Don’t just buy what everyone else is buying because they said it’s the best. Their preferences and skill sets will vary compared to yours and may not be suitable for you.

As a beginner you want to stay away from machines that are overly complicated. You want something that will allow you to focus on flying. Having all the options and best equipment is great, but doesn’t necessarily means they will make you a better pilot. Learning the basics of multirotor building/flying/repairing should be your first priority, they are all part of the learning curve and shouldn’t be skipped.

For those with some experience, you can fly almost any multicopters, but how well will be determined by your understanding of tuning, and setting up to fly the way you want. Part of being a great pilot is being a great mechanic, and knowing what to do with your quad to maximise its flight characteristics. All this comes down to practise and research. Take advantage of the endless amounts of information out there to make the most informed decision possible.

Something else to remember, things are changing at such a fast pace in this industry that it’s easy to get caught up in the rat race of what’s best or most popular. The most expensive or best gear won’t necessarily make you a better pilot. Once you find something that you like and flies well, stick with it till you’ve mastered it. Once you’ve done that, you’ll know the next step to take.

20 thoughts on “Best Quadcopter For Beginners and Tips to Start Out

  1. David Bellerive

    Hi Oscar,
    First thanks for all yours articles! There are very informatives.
    I have some quads ligne the Hubsan H107L, the XK X100 and X251 and I want to buy a RTF racing quad. Do you think the Kingkong 210GT or the Eachine Wizard X220 or the Realacc GX210 will be a good choice? If not do you have another suggestion?
    Thanks a lot!
    David

    Reply
  2. Edgar

    Hi Oscar
    “Best Quadcopter For Beginners” is obviously important. I just finished my LKTR120 a few weeks ago and I think it was a good choice because it is small and doesn’t break easily. Currently I am learning to fly and I am sure soon I want a more powerful quad. Now the big question is: How much more powerful? I think about a BoltRC Black Ops but I am not sure if I should built one with 4″ props or 5″ or start with 3S or jump right away to 4S. In the moment I just fly for fun, no racing. What are your ideas for the 2nd quad? Maybe that would be another interesting article to write.

    Reply
    1. Oscar Post author

      it depends a lot on your flying style :)
      but I would recommend going 5″ on 4S…
      with 2300KV motors, start with 5030 props if it’s too powerful for you…
      gradually you can try higher pitch props, even 5040 triblades…
      it would save you a lot of money upgrading over and over

      Reply
  3. Vincent

    I guys,
    Thanks for this nice article.
    For beginner and for indoor training, I personnaly recommand the Bayangtoys X9. I made a little demo how it can perform in a small area. Links are in the video detals. youtube.com/watch?v=1Z_xn4W0y-Q
    This guy is very cheap and fly very well. Parts are cheap too. In my opinion you get more bang for the buck with this little quad
    Vincent

    Reply
  4. Bill Ellis

    Oscar,
    I really appreciate all work you put into this blog. I am a beginner and following all your recommendations has releaved me of all the pitfalls and made learning a enjoyable process. I flew airplanes in my youth and took a shot a helicopters but it just did not connect, Quads for some reason is more satisfying. Your blog is my go to source for unbiased information and enjoyable to read.

    Bill

    Reply
    1. Oscar Post author

      Thank you for the kind words Bill! i would really appreciate it if you could join the forum: http://intoFPV.com … I don’t want to miss your comment, because I only check my blog comments once a week, but I use the forum daily!

      Reply
  5. Chad

    Hi Oscar,
    I’ve crashed my syma x5c everywhere, even in a creek, it has survived so far and keeps coming back for more. Right now it’s in the top of a large tree but I’m having another go at getting it this afternoon. There was a frost last night so I hope the electronics aren’t ruined. IMO it’s a good quadcopter to start out with and at least get the basic hang of things since it’s cheap and replacement parts are available.

    Reply
  6. Rodrigo C Smith

    Hello – Thank you for sharing this knowledge. I’m a newbie (or will be) for commercial reasons. I work in the Telecom business and those drones will help us improve site survey, tower and tower based equipment maintenance, etc. Any particularly tips for this industry specifically (Telecom) ? I appreciate you input. Best regards,

    Reply
    1. Oscar Post author

      for site survey you probably want long flight time, and being able to lift heavy payload, that means you need a relatively large quadcopter or hexacopter that runs 12inch propellers or even bigger ones…

      Reply
    2. Simon Hansen

      After seeing ” the worlds scariest Video”, and it is 15 minutes of a guy free-climbing a Radio-Tower to install a BULB! Well, obviously the drone would not be able to replicate the job he did, but what about eliminating the job anyways? What about a drone that would fly up and BE THE BEACON? If it could be capable of flying up, attaching itself to some charge-port, and then the bulbs could be flown up and down, or basically, it would be engineered for one purpose only. Fulfilling FAA Requirements, while removing the need for a guy to Free-Climb and replace light bulbs. Another application for Drones, would be ones that take off and hover, then record in Hi-Definition to observe the Earthquakes in Japan, and elsewhere. It would really help the Scientists if the camera was not attached to a wall that is also moving. And, best of all, if you only knew what it costs to repaint Bridges, because of bird-poop. They have a Bridge in my City that costs one-million dollars every three years to repaint. It is not water that degrades the paint, it is the bird-poop that does not wash away. In China, they hire a guy with no harness to walk out underneath and sweep. America is not China, how about some drones that go and squirt a little water on the bird-poop? My original idea is very old, it is simple, a motion sensor hooked up to an electro-hydraulic switch. If a Youth tries to spray-paint your Greek Sculpture, the motion sensor sprays water on the statue, preventing the paint from sticking. This same method could be used under bridges. As well as on a timer, in the entry-way of businesses that have issues with Vagrants. It’s only WATER, I don’t think you would get sued, and nobody would be sleeping in your doorway anymore. I have big solutions, million-dollar ideas, and billion dollar ideas. Even Trillion-Dollar ideas. If you need ideas, ask me.

      Reply
  7. Cheryl Smith

    Hi Oscar,
    Starting off standing behind the quadcopter is a good idea. I want to get my son into this hobby. I have really enjoyed it over the years. Hopefully, he will like it as much as I do.

    Reply
  8. Paul

    Hi Oscar
    Thanks, Im wanting to get my son a Quad and get him off the pstation.. out and about, he works with the Australian Rules footy team RICHMOND and otherwise is stuffed and we have a great partks around to fly, Ive built many balsa remotes but the Quad with a Camera is of great interest for INDRA its his 21st and he has a form of autism but is very good with technology. I wish to get him out and about … And this interests me very much Ie Id purchase a phantom 3 as I love photography but need to start at a level with my son.. Thanks Paul. _Ps I want to get his birthday present along with my toy too.. big dad.. cheers,

    Reply
    1. Oscar Post author

      Hi Paul, sounds great :)
      I think it would be good to start with a micro quad like the hubsan or something… then progress to a 250 mini quad, which you can select your own parts, and build it yourself :D it’s great fun!

      Reply
  9. inFlight

    How big is the difference between flying a normal RC helecopter and a multicopter? Do you think controling a quadcopter is more or less difficult?

    Reply
    1. Oscar Post author

      It’s not harder nor easier, but if you can fly a heli, you should be able to fly a multi. It just takes practice.

      Reply
    2. madgadget

      Of the primary types of rc helicopters each differ in difficulty, I will address them accordingly. Co-axial fixed pitch slightly more difficult than basic quad, fixed pitch conventional heli with a main and tail rotor a little more difficult, collective pitch conventional helis exponentially more difficult. Almost any mini or micro quad will be significantly less challenging than typical rc helicopters. Example I gave a trimmed and setup micro fixed pitch helicopter to a friend who has substantial surface rc experience and he returned what was left of it. I let him TRY my micro skull drone in the garage one evening and that’s the last I’ve seen of my little quad. And he won’t even talk about giving it back. Unfortunately our friendship has more value than the quad, so I ordered 3 more. But don’t tell him!

      Reply

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