Best Quadcopter Flight Simulator | Drone Multirotor Trainer

In this article we will talk about some of the best flight simulators for quadcopter FPV. There are already many simulators for heli, fixed wing and glider, and we’ve begun to see more and more multirotor FPV Sim designed specifically for Drone Racing and FPV Free-style, some of which are even free!

FPV Simulators allows you to practice flying on a computer 24/7 under any weather condition, without damaging your quadcopter. Either you are still learning how not to crash, or getting the hang of a challenging acrobatic trick, simulators are perfect for beginners and advanced pilots alike.

Featured image is from “Unreal FPV” simulator.

Before Looking for Best Drone Flight Simulator

But before searching for your drone flight simulator, you need to make sure to have a radio transmitter that is compatible with the simulation software. Alternatively you might be able to use other means of control, such as a gaming console, or even just a keyboard! However, I strongly recommend using a proper TX, that’s how you get the most benefits from the training and build up muscle memory.

Connect your TX to Computer

Picking a transmitter that has an USB port for computer connection is a huge advantage with FPV sim’s. For example both the Frsky Taranis X9D and QX7 are “plug and play” solutions for many computer platforms. When connecting it to a computer with a mini USB cable, it would simply show up as a game Joystick in Device Manager.

Some  TX such as the Turnigy 9X doesn’t have an USB port. They might require an USB simulator adapter. The USB end goes into your computer and the 1/8″ stereo/mono jack into the training port in the transmitter. Do your research for the particular transmitter you have.

transmitter-usb-adapter

There is also an “universal” solution by using this “radio receiver to USB” adapter. It connects the RX output to this USB adapter which goes into your computer, and there is no direct connection between the TX and computer. This works on all TX that has a pairing receiver with PWM outputs.

Popular FPV Simulators for Racing

There are more and more FPV Drone simulators emerging in the market. I’m listing the most popular FPV Racing Sim’s here, which are designed specifically for FPV Drone Racing and Acro Freestyle flying.

  Price Changeable Physics Multi-player Track Editor Platform Link
FPV FreeRider $5 Yes No No Windows, Mac, Linux Purchase
Liftoff $20 No Yes Yes Windows, Mac Purchase
Hot Props Free Yes Yes No Windows, Mac Website
VelociDrone $25 Yes Yes Yes Windows, Mac Website
DRL Racing Simulator Free No Yes No Windows, Mac Download
RotorRush £4/month Yes No No Windows Website
AccuRC 2 n/a / / / / Group

Read on to learn more about these FPV sims.

FPV FreeRider

Cheap Sim, okay for beginners, but Outdated.

This is probably one of the earliest FPV simulators specifically designed for multicopter racing.

It’s a cheap simulator and it allows free trial. You are able to change the physics in the game, such as gravity, drag, quadcopter power etc. You can also change camera tilt angle, and FOV. In the free version you can’t change any settings, and only limited to one map.

FPV Freerider used to be one of my favorite quadcopter simulators. The physics is acceptably realistic and it’s good for beginner practicing. However, the rate system has always seem a bit slow to my taste. It doesn’t have “super rate” which I feel the quad always spins too slow in acro flying. Also the lack of support for multiplayer lets a lot of people down.

Furthermore I always feel like there is more delay in the stick input with Free-rider. It’s not a massive problem, but I can just feel it.

Update (16/Apr/2016): FPV FreeRider released a new version called “Recharged”. Check out the discussion thread: http://intofpv.com/t-fpv-freerider-recharged-new-version

LiftOff

Great configurator and part system, but feels “floaty” and needs a very good computer to run it.

Liftoff is backed by ImmersionRC, and it’s designed specifically for mini quad FPV. Liftoff is the first to come up with the “parts system” that allows you to change components and settings just like in the real world.

They have also made the rate/expo behave so much like a real quad does. Liftoff also tried to implement the PID system like the one in Cleanflight or Betaflight. It’s a good idea but it’s a fail because it just doesn’t work like the real one and they seem to have unexpected results. In the end you are better off to just leave them at default.

It has improved significantly in terms of physics over the years. But still, I found it to be really “floaty”, and I can’t say it’s most realistic sim out there. You cannot change any of the physics in the game. Also it doesn’t detect crashes very well, most of the times I have to lean over to the keyboard and reset the game manually.

Liftoff is also the most graphically intense sim in the list. Many people complain about the performance to be “choppy” and “slow”.

Lastly I found Liftoff to have the most frequent updates in all FPV sims. When I wanted to have my weekly 20-min practice, and there was a new update and had to wait 10 mins for it.

liftoff-fatshark-goggles-taranis-connected-pc-computer

Here is an video of me flying this Sim recorded on my FPV goggles’ DVR. I had my Taranis and FPV Goggles connected to the computer.

VelociDrones

My Go-To FPV sim at the moment. Hands down.

In VelociDrone there are many known real-life drone models you can choose to fly. You are able to change the physics of the game, such as gravity, drag, quadcopter power etc.

I got to say this sim feels very realistic to me, probably one of the best in that aspect. (Apparently it uses Betaflight codes)

The fact that you can make adjustments to your PIDs and rate just like in Betaflight, changeable FOV and camera angle, and that it uses your TX’s full range of motion without having to use offsets speaks volumes in my opinion. Great track editor too, tracks load fast, in multiplayer you can jump between races and freestyle in one session, have voice chats, even changes courses.

DRL Racing Simulator

Fun game for FPV pilots, but not real enough to be a simulator.

DRL is free and allows multiplayer. But physics is probably the worse in all the Sim’s we have mentioned. Way too much drag and under-power. It feels like flying a quad that weighs 1kg with tiny motors on. (Edit: apparently they based their simulator model on the real quads used in the DRL events, which indeed weigh 1KG each, which I think is a mistake)

Anyway, the maps and scenery is probably the best out of all Sim’s I have tried. You get tall buildings, shipyard, abandon factories etc all in one single map! It allows you to reset the quad’s position, or race with your TX switches and it’s really handy.

Not the best sim, but It’s a fun game… Definitely give it a try since it’s free :)

Here I am having fun diving buildings, and trying one of the race tracks…

RotorRush

Expensive – from someone who hasn’t tried it.

Previously known as FPV Event, is another known FPV simulator. I’ve heard it’s a great sim, and has some of the tracks in past racing events. Originally they were selling it for £40, later on they changed the pricing to the £4 monthly subscription model which makes it even more expensive IMO. I haven’t tried it due to this reason.

Heli-X Simulator

Don’t bother.

The graphics is not the best, and I often get lost in orientation easily after a roll, because the landscape is over simplified.

It offers self-level mode and acro mode. The only available quadcopter model is a Phantom in the free version. But it’s all good, you can do FPV and practice with it. It’s not that realistic, but I still prefer the physics in this game over the Phoenix. The Phantom in Heli-X feels powerless, doesn’t have the punch like the mini quad in real life.

This software is built specifically with multicopters in mind. But I still finding it lacking basic functionality, such as PID tuning etc.

heli-x multirotor simulator heli-x flight-simulator heli-x quadcopter flight simulator

AeroSim RC

Outdated.

Graphics looks quite good, however like most of other Sim’s, you can’t use full resolution on your TX as it only takes 0 to 127 as range (where the Taranis uses -127 to 127).

pros:

  1. Big variety of models.
  2. Allow FPV
  3. Ability to create FPV tracks/scene based on satellite image and geo-referenced it by two sets of coordinates. Also the ability to load terrain elevation data from .hgt file.
  4. Training mode for beginners with progress tracking and nice exercises.
  5. OSD plugins for FPV mode with the ability to load external OSD plugins and to change OSD settings as they are in the real OSD system that’s being modelled in the plugin.
  6. amazing control over model characteristics in a way that imo enables u to get real close to your real model behaviour including flight time based on weight and battery capacity.
  7. Big variety of flight modes available including ALT hold, heading hold, course lock, auto stable and more.
  8. Control over wind settings.
  9. Realistic Physics

cons:

  1. Built-in scenes get really boring after a while
  2. Price is really expensive (about 90$)
  3. Rare updates and slow development, for such an expensive product
  4. Lacks the ability to create detailed scenarios with trees and other obstacles (again- for that price seems reasonable to have that feature).

To sum up:

it’s a serious simulator with nice graphics and big variety of features to play with. It feels like its more for basic flying skills and aerial photography training, for those who do racing might find it boring after a while.

Finally… Build/Buy a Tiny Whoop to learn FPV on :D

Simulation are getting better, but it is different from the real thing. Getting out there and fly is the best way to learn and enjoy! Another cheap way to learn FPV is building a Tiny Whoop :)

Article created in March 2015, last updated 19 Feb 2017.

  • March 2015 – Article created
  • Feb 2017 – updated, added Velocity Drone and FPV Event
  • June 2017 – updated and edited FPV Event name/price change

46 thoughts on “Best Quadcopter Flight Simulator | Drone Multirotor Trainer

  1. BRquad

    Nice update Oscar! I own many of these and oddly enough I agree with all your comments about them. I enjoy Liftoff because it is very “polished”. I like DRL because of the large map. I play Velocidrone mostly because I can change the graphics to match how my real quad flies and it is the best racing practice in my opinion.

    Reply
  2. FullThottle

    Could you credit the image you used for your article please ?….
    I know the development of UPV is pending , but it would be nice to support them.
    facebook.com/unrealfpv/
    Thanks.

    Reply
  3. Eric

    FPV Freerider Recharged is the new version. You really should update that list.
    It’s my absolute go to sim in terms of realism. Tweaking the settings a bit and it feels nearly 100% like my quad.
    RotorRush is just too expensive. It feels and looks great but due to the price there are no players to race with. I mean the top 500 highscores are not even filled yet that few people play it.
    LiftOff has a bunch of cocks as programmers, so don’t expect any nice support. Otherwise it could be a nice sim one day.
    And of course I do feel the urge to mention the ripoff RealFlightX is where you not only need to buy the software, but also a stupid dongle, cause it doesn’t recognize any remote otherwise. Blatant rip off.

    Reply
    1. Oscar Post author

      Yes I have tried Recharged, I feel like it has the same flight characteristics, apart from the new maps, which IMO are worst than the original maps…

      Reply
  4. Robin

    Hi Oscar,
    you have a amazing site full of invaluable information for quad lovers! Thank you for putting this together.
    The only thing that I would improve related to the site is to have the article post date above (on top) of the article so that it is straight away visible how up to date a certain article is. You if anybody knows how fast this hobby is developing and I find myself always scrolling to the bottom of the article to find the date before scrolling back up and starting to read.
    Happy tinkering, testing, learning and flying!

    BR,
    Robin

    Reply
    1. Oscar Post author

      thanks Robin, I am trying my best to update the articles :)
      hopefully keeping the site up to date :)

      Reply
  5. BlubberYeti

    I’ve been flying Lift Off since its early days. It was crucial in helping me get my level-mode “training wheels” off when I first got into the hobby, and I still brush up on it regularly. I find it especially handy when I’m ready to increase my FPV cam angle, saving me precious rebuild time (and $$).

    I definitely recommend Lift Off!

    Reply
    1. Doug Abel

      Agreed, Liftoff has recently come a long way with its latest update to 0.10.0.

      They’ve added a PID system that’s almost straight out of Betaflight (sadly, it’s not the most recent 3.0+) BUT!!! It is almost spot on now for flying in the real world.

      How do I know this?

      Because I tuned my Blade Conspiracy to the same identical settings that I had in game. One of the instructors at my RC airfield took it out for a spin, and said, “Wow! Not bad! A TINY bit of oscillation when you punch it through a tight turn, but the rolls and flips? It’s fairly accurate and snappy!”

      I tried Velocidrone, and the free trial is ok, but I’m stuck doing just racing. Liftoff, so far, has some fun locations, like the Shipyard (flying over and around some fallen shipping crates is a blast), but my favorite is flying Hannover, Germany, where I can cut through the guy wires over their buildings, dive an observation tower, and fly through a spinning logo sign on top of one of the buildings.

      The “trees” aren’t entirely accurate, unfortunately; flying by them and obviously hitting tiny branches that would bring down any other drone, you just kind of fly through them with minimal damage, but if you’re like me, you tend to avoid trees (at least at the beginning, while you’re learning Acro).

      Reply
  6. Cory

    A new simulator called Zephyr came out recently. It seems awesome so far, they have a bunch of training challenges and a screen pops up after each challenge that shows you where you can improve. It looks like it was primarily made to teach new pilots how to fly, but it could also be a good tool for experienced pilots to stay fresh on the sticks. They have a lot more info on their website: zephyr-sim.com

    Reply
  7. joan

    CGM Next is better,

    rc-aerobatics.eu/cgm-rc-heli-simulator_e.html

    mac/pc… with gimbal option. 2 RC for drone + gimbal control…

    Reply
    1. Steff

      I also fly CGM Next on OS-X mostly with helicopters. Graphics is not very fancy, but for helicopter sim this does not matter. FPV experience is quiet good in my opinion with multiroter and helicopters, too. Btw, thanks Oscar for your great articles on multi rotors, i learned a lot!

      Reply
  8. mike

    hi ive tried most sims but im loving the demo of fpv freerider recharged…took me a little while to get my cheap banggood usb controller setup but it really feels like fpv, physics and speed seem good.
    well worth the £12 for the original and the recharged!
    thanks for the link

    Reply
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  13. Andrew I.

    Did you try some new sims?

    – Liftoff (steam): http://store.steampowered.com/app/410340/ . I’ve tried it yesterday and must say that it is GREAT. It has beatiful graphics, real-like FPV noize, good physics etc. Need to add, that before I was flying in Phoenix RC, RealFlight 7.5 and FPVFreerider. I’d recommend to take a look at it!

    -HotProps (beta): http://hotprops-fpv-race.com/home/ . Not so impressive as previous, but I must say that it requires your attention.

    Reply
    1. Oscar Post author

      HI Andrew, thanks :) yes i tried them both already actually i have a video on my channel flying liftoff :)
      Same here not impressed by hotprops but liftoff is pretty good :)

      lastly, 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 only once a week, but I use the forum daily!

      Reply
  14. OWLPIC

    Hi Oscar
    We have taught a lot of people how to fly and the simulator the best start for maybe 1/4 of them. 15 minutes is all most need to get use to the altitude and yaw controls.

    Many good experienced flyers have no use for them because of the experience and physics.
    I have them all including Realflight 7.5+.

    The trick is to learn on a cheap ($20) quad – that flies realistically – , CX 10 is my current choice,
    Amazon: amazon.com/gp/product/B00QDZ8D9G is one, it includes the blade guard, crazy not to have it.

    Reply
  15. Darren

    Hi Oscar, thanks for the review. I have Aeroflot 7 with Taranis and it’s an awesome combo. One question; how did you adjust the tilt angle in FPV mode (or cockpit mode as they refer to it) ?
    There are only a limited number of scenes you can use for FPV as it has to be a 4D scene which is a bit of a pity.
    Great training tool though.

    Reply
  16. TubeRider

    Hi Oscar
    FPV FreeRider is awesome, i went from horizon straight into Acro on my quad with no problems after a couple of goes on this.
    After changing the presets and using a controller plugged into the pc to make it feel real.
    I now use this for training for flying though woods etc.

    If this was multiplayer, a few more courses and maybe a way of building your own I’d play nothing else when its raining.

    Reply
    1. Oscar Post author

      Hi TubeRider
      yes it’s pretty good :)
      if it’s got more features, and better improved physics… i don’t see why we still fly the real things :D LOL

      Reply
  17. Tony

    Hi Oscar
    There is new release for Quadcopter FX simulator on android which supports Google Cardboard VR where you can Look around in 3D environment and see your quad flying as in real life. Also the FPV experience with google cardboard is simply amazing. You guys will forget PC simulators after trying that.

    Reply
  18. yokota

    nice review!I just worried about flight-simulator for multicopter.
    I wanna translate this into Japanese.
    I’ll try heli-x have free version. thank you.

    Reply
  19. Prebster

    Have you had a look at this one??
    fpv-freerider.itch.io/fpv-freerider

    Haven’t tried it myself yet, but it looks good! :-)

    Reply
    1. vbalko

      I have bought freerider FPV and have to say, that its AWESOME. Very realistic (not ultimately, but its simulator no real life). It costs few bucks and you get updates every other day. I really recommend it.

      Reply
  20. sipa

    AerosimRC can be made to work with tweaking config files manually

    C:ProgramDataAeroSIM_RCConfig.txt

    Here’s example of my Elev and Ail channels for thrustmaster T,16000

    .TX_CAL_CONTROL_TYPE_0 5
    .TX_CAL_VAL_MIN_0 0
    .TX_CAL_VAL_MED_0 8192
    .TX_CAL_VAL_MAX_0 16383

    .TX_CAL_CONTROL_TYPE_1 5
    .TX_CAL_VAL_MIN_1 0
    .TX_CAL_VAL_MED_1 8192
    .TX_CAL_VAL_MAX_1 16383

    To figure out which channels is which I calibrated the channels with say Elev middle 142, Ail middle 176, and then looked them up in the config file, and edited the values to match what the joystick is actually doing.

    Reply
  21. John Savelli Jr.

    good review, I have been practicing with clearviewSE version using a Sky Surfer 54in wingspan and followed mods in youtube it flys great for the price. best money I ever spent. I’m sold on simulators and thanks for pointing me in the direction to save me time.

    Reply
  22. Chiggz

    Real Flight 7.5 is great. The quads in it feel good to fly, and it really helps with the muscle memory. You can even download the CY Stingray a collective pitch quadcopter. Owners of the real thing who have used the sim say its pretty much spot on to how it feels in real life. I’ve flown it in the sim (and I have one IRL, but haven’t flown it yet) and if it really does handle like it does in the sim, I’m going to have a lot of fun. :D

    Using the sim helped me go from auto leveling mode to rate/acro modes when flying, just helped with how the quad handles and such and improved my reactions to certain situations.

    You’ll still need to compliment real flying with it to be truly good, but its handy having a good sim there to quickly fly for 10mins here and there in-between dinner or heading out.

    Reply
  23. Benjamin

    What about picasim I use it and it is great? I have never flown outside this sim it has a quad in it rowlhouse.co.uk/PicaSim/
    There is also smartpropoplus.com/site/ for controllers that use an aux port like headphones can be used like a regular controller

    Reply
  24. Travis

    How about Quadcopter FX for andriod?
    play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.Creativeworld.QuadcopterFX&hl=en

    Can pair with a ps3 dualshock

    Reply
  25. Ray

    I think Sims are crap and total waste of time.

    1.- Buy a micro/nano quad… I have the Nano QX FPV, it’s pricey SPECIALLY in my neck of the woods. Oh and it only flew well for the first week, I replaced the props and motors ($$$) but it still flies wrong so I sent it for repair 3 weeks ago but they say there’s nothing wrong with it.

    2.- Build a strong basher quad. I have an Armattan 355 frame + Naze + Scorpion 2208 kv1050/8×4.5 props (old GAUI 330X) and this thing is virtually indestructible. I’ve had to yank it out of the ground and the props bent all the back… straightened them out and it flew again… best RC toy ever!

    Reply
    1. Ummmmm

      Ummmmm…. I don’t really see the point in your comment and couldn’t disagree more with the little you elaborate… I think a simulator gives a lot of good times and helps you a lot to get into Acro mode WITHOUT spending tons of dollars into props.

      I do agree in buying a nano, and don’t understand your complains. It sounds like you didn’t spend enough time setting up your controller properly, or trying to understand the quad.

      I made the mistake of going directly with a big quad. I enjoy smaller quads better and the sim takes a lot of time, when it’s late and I just want to fly. The sim lets you play with configurations on the quads much faster, so when you want to adjust a real quad it doesn’t take you as long either.

      Reply
    2. fl0PPsy

      I completely disagree that Sims are a waste of time. A sim is a very good way to start learning without constantly having to buy spare parts.

      I learned the basics of flying a Heli way back when Realflight 3.5 was the latest. It teaches you orientation and the basics of throttle control.

      I think a Sim and Real life practice will help someone progress much faster than just real life flight time on its own.

      Reply

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