In this article we will discuss the different types of radio controlled drones that you can buy or build to get into the hobby. These drones are also known as quadcopters, multirotors or multicopters, which are basically just RC helicopters with multiple motors. These are radio controlled (RC) model aircraft designed for racing, aerial photography or just purely for fun.
Did you know that there are many different configurations of multirotor as well?
Toy Grade Quadcopters
Toy grade quadcopters are the most widely available drones on the market. They can cost as low as $20 to get you started with flying. They are very small and usually no bigger than the size of your palm. They are very light weight and robust against crashes, however they tend to have low power and speed compared to other drones in this list.
These Toy grade quadcopters are also called “Micro brushed quads” because they use brushed (coreless) motors.
- Price Range: $20-$200
- Weight: Less than 50g
- Size of your palm
- Suitable for indoor flying
- Great for beginners
Check out this guide to learn about how pick your first toy drone and start out flying.
Basic Micro Quadcopter
They are great for complete beginners to learn the basics of controlling a drone using radio transmitters sticks, and they can take quite a bit of beating. There are hundreds of different toy quadcopters available from well known brands such as Hubsan, Eachine, Syma and Cheerson.
Some of these micro brushed quadcopters might come with a low quality camera that usually has no use in my opinion. Resolution is so low it’s impossible to take any good video or photos, and they normally cannot be used for FPV (live stream video). As a rule of thumb, just don’t expect anything below $200 to have any kind of good recording cameras.
- Eachine H8 and E010
- Hubsan X4
The Hubsan X4 has been around for years and it remains to be one of the most recommended micro drone for beginners.
More recently the Blade Inductrix and E010 became some of the most popular micro quadcopters in the hobby, for both new comers as well as experienced pilots. They are very tiny and the propellers are well protected by ducts, you can bump into anything and not damage the props. They became so popular due to the unlimited upgrade potential, where you can add FPV gear and turn them into fun indoor FPV quads.
FPV Micro Quads
These FPV micro quads are more advanced and equipped with FPV setups. They utilize proper radio transmitter (such as the Taranis or Spektrum) and FPV Goggles that you would normally use with a full size mini quad.
Cheap FPV Quadcopter Options For Learning
You can build your own multicopter and setting up your FPV system. But if you don’t have the electrical knowledge or skills, there are also other cheap ‘plug and play’ FPV quadcopter options available. One famous example would be the Hubsan H107D FPV Mini Quadcopter.
This is a complete FPV system, the LCD screen and video receiver are built into the radio transmitter. It’s a relatively cheap way to get you into FPV flying, and a pretty good training platform for beginners.
As known as mini quad, racing drone is designed for speed, maneuverability and durability. They are no larger than 200mm-250mm diagonally, but able to reach up to 120mph.
Unlike the simplicity of a toy grade quadcopters, the construction of a mini quad could be a bit more complicated. Racing drones are equipped with on-board camera to allow the pilot to see what the drone sees in first person view (FPV).
- Price Range: $300 to $600 or more
- Weighs 400g – 600g in average for 200mm wheelbase racing quads
Majority of the hobby racing drones are self-built. For people unfamiliar with electronics the learning curve can be a little steep, but many found building their own quadcopters is just as fun as flying. You get to choose whatever parts you want, install and configure the software, and finally tune it to fly the way you like.
To help you choose parts, we’ve compiled a list of popular mini quad components in this guide.
RTF (Ready to Fly) Kits
If you don’t like building and keep things simple, you can also just buy a RTF (ready to fly) quadcopter, saving the the troubles for DIY.
Different Racing Drone Sizes
There are many different sizes for a racing drone, which is determined by the size of the propellers.
TLTR: 5” is the most popular for both beginners and professional pilots. They are relatively easy to build and have enough power to lift an HD camera. Components for 5″ racing drones also are the most widely and cheaply available compared to other drone of different sizes.
2″, 3″ and 4″ – Typically very small and suitable for indoor as well as outdoor on a calm day. They are the perfect option for tight spaces and park flying without causing too much noise.
5″ and 6″ – The most common size for drone racing and freestyle flying. They are the most versatile due to the fact they offer a large amount of power yet have incredible maneuverability and are able to carry a HD camera such as a GoPro without a significant compromise on flight characteristics.
7″ or bigger – People looking for long range and better efficiency mostly choose larger rigs. These offer even more power and space to carry extra hardware and bigger battery in the cost of agility.
Camera Drones (Filming, Aerial Photography)
Camera drones are mainly used for taking high resolution, professional aerial footage. They come pre-built, and usually are more expensive than hobby grade quadcopters. They are often equipped with high end cameras, GPS navigation and sophisticated technology.
DJI is the industry leader for camera drones, other well known brands include 3DR, GoPro, Xiaomi, Walkera, and others.
- Price Range: $500 – $2000 or more
- Weight: 1Kg-1.5Kg in average
- Size: 300mm to 400mm diagonally in average
- Mar 2017 – Article created
- Jun 2018 – Article revised