Literally every day the thirst to fly is quenched by more and more earthlings. Not everyone is given to become a pilot "Boeing", but everyone can buy a drone (copter) to his liking and financial capacity. But there are more and more drones. And inevitably there is the eternal problem of choice. We tried to understand the current diversity of drones and recommend the best of them for purchase on AliExpress.
To begin with, it would be a good idea to decide for what purposes you need drones and how much money you are willing to spend on them. Immediately you can outline the range of copters (among which most quadcopters) for the purpose of use and, accordingly, the price.
The cheapest (up to $ 30) are simple toy drones, characterized by unbreakability, relative durability and affordability. These are great gifts for children and inquisitive beginners (from the word "at all"). As the saying goes, "cheap and sulphuric". Such microcopters are great fun, especially in our quarantine-prone times. They fly even in small-sized "khrushchevki", distracting from lockdowns. The present of such a gadget to a young son increases his chances of becoming a Boeing pilot when he becomes mature enough.
The next level is represented by entry level drones ($40-70), recommended for practical mastering of piloting basics. This kind of drone is not too shameful to lose (if anything). Additional functions are not so special, but in fact first of all it is necessary to learn how to fly and to experience bent for the sky through the raised shot of adrenaline.
Probably the most common category of drones are "flying photo/video cameras", copters with photo/video shooting function, including the sub-category "selfie drones" ($120-160) .
We will not consider drones for photo/video professionals, as well as industrial drones (spraying all kinds of insecticides, fertilizers, etc., monitoring technical facilities in remote areas, looking for lost conquerors Hoverla). Do you need it? But sports stunt drones are pretty interesting and useful for adrenaline injection in the organisms of their owners.
We should say at once that DJI products, drone manufacturer and trendsetter in the world of drones, will be considered in the minimum section, as expensive and oooh-very surdito. Let us mention only that the company has successfully mastered a relatively new format of drones - FPV, which is revolutionary compared to the previously produced an incredible effect of presence. You put on special glasses and fly like Batman, and below sweeping series of mountains, rocks, waterfalls and all sorts of jungle. But it's so, for the fans of very keen sensations and strong vestibular apparatus.
We'll filter the most relevant novelties and gadgets, though not the first-fresh, but strongly loved by customers around the world.
In order to select the best ones by popularity the consumers' preferences were thoroughly analyzed, including the price indexes, and the "magnificent ten" were defined, which we recommend for buying.
Analysis showed that 43% of buyers on AliExpress prefer the price range - $36.3 - 65.95, while another 32% of users prefer $17.17 - 36.3. However, to complete the picture, let's also take a couple of cooler and more expensive models.
The quadcopter supports gesture control and "Follow me" mode. It has altitude control, "headless" mode, one button for takeoff and landing, GPS - all the necessary functions are also available. A set with additional battery is recommended for purchase, 2 modular batteries (up to 30 minutes of operation) make flying more exciting and interesting. Very obedient device: follows the owner without question, and still flies the route defined by the user on the map. But there is no stabilization. It is suitable for teenagers (14 years old) as well as for pilots much older.
To learn to read, you need a primer; to learn to fly, you need Eachine E010 mini. It is a no-nonsense, easy to fly microcopter for the very beginners. It can be operated in Headless mode which is especially useful for beginners because they do not have to bother with the right orientation of the device every time. The small pilots are enthralled by the 3D Flip function, which is a delight to behold. There is effective protection of the blades. By the way, 4 spare propellers are included. The drone is easy to control, for the apartment - "the best. However, time of flight is only 3-5 minutes and it does not keep altitude, but there is so much adrenaline for "mini-pilots"! And the budget price.
More serious device with the optical positioning, barometer, altitude hold function, auto-return home, "Follow me" mode, automatic takeoff and landing. Its shockproof and foldable design, coupled with its long flight time and low price, contribute greatly to the popularity of the NYR E99 Pro2 (available in gray and black). And this flying device conducts "smart" aerial photography. However, you should consider favorable (windless) weather conditions for flying, because the wind strongly blows the copter, and remote control - only up to 100 m. Ideal purchase for children from 8 years to master the basics of drone flight under the supervision and guidance of caring fathers.
To "kill" JINHENG XT6 must try very hard, although it is unlikely to succeed. However, the camera, according to some very categorical users, quite useless and "pulls" all 240-360p. But the drone flies quite well. In short, it is not a bad drone for a reasonable price. Users (12+) are happy with it.
If you do not want to wait for a month of delivery from China - the quadcopter can be ordered in local shops. But it will cost a lot more.
Read also: quadcopter Ryze Tello review
Eachine E58 - the best-selling drone with a wide-angle camera
The model E58 allows you to control yourself in 2 formats: with the remote control or directly from your smartphone. It flies very cool. A multi-speed acrobat: his somersaults are just a song. This model has a barometer (for flight height stabilization), a "headless" mode. Automatic return to the place of start is carried out by one button. The drone registration is not needed, for its weight (with battery!) is 94.8 gr. In the presence of WiFi-repeater control range is increased to 500 + meters. There is protection of the propellers + you can order the set with spare batteries. The copter spends up to 10 minutes in flight, after which it is recharged (about 1 hour), and then back in the sky! It is interesting, that the remote control is heavier than the quadcopter itself. The wide angle camera covers more space and there are several resolution options to choose from up to 1080p.
Users have a choice: buy a drone without a camera, with a "wide-angle" 1080P or 4K HD (for videos available at most Full HD-resolution). With the Wi-Fi feature, you can connect to the APP, APK for shooting and video, as well as for real-time image transfer via your phone's camera. "Headless" mode makes it easy to control as there is no need to adjust the drone's position before flight. The battery (3.7V 500mAh) provides up to 15 minutes of flight time (80-100m). Unfortunately, there is no GPS-navigation, and the wind blows (after all, only 35g!). If you take it, then with extra batteries (2-3 pcs.).
The Holy Stone HS120D by its design is really similar to DJI's Phantom series quadcopters. Among the main features of the drone: smart one-button auto-return in case of signal loss and/or low voltage. Automatically "catches" the host and obediently follows him. Great selfie drone. Claimed Glonass/GPS and a good range (up to 150 m). Advanced Full HD 1080p camera with a wide angle (120°) lens mounted on a hanger with the ability to adjust the angle after takeoff. The device is capable of flying on a route that the host has drawn ("tapped") on the display (TapFly). Powerful flight time of up to 18 min. In FPV mode the picture will be stable up to 50 meters away.
The main advantage over the above devices - brushless, more durable motors. It has one-click auto-return and gesture control (operates from 1-5 m). A function of finding a drone (if you click the icon GPS signal three times in a row, it opens the interface map showing the last distance, longitude and latitude of the copter). However, GPS calibration is often a problem, it is necessary before each launch.
The 50x zoom is more just for show, while the 3 axis suspension is a nice touch (though the picture could be more stable). In general it is a good quadcopter with a gentleman's set of functions for an affordable price. The SG906 Max with an additional module for obstacle avoidance is on sale now, but its effectiveness is yet to be tested in practice.
F11 4K Pro (not to be confused with standard F11) received one of the best cameras in drones under $200 due to mechanical suspension and good electronic stabilization. Pilots can use filters and video effects, add background music and share spectacular videos with friends right from the app. Owners also recommend not being lazy to do calibration before each flight. If you are planning to shoot a lot and a lot, 26-28 minutes of flight time from one battery will not be enough. Get at least two.
The equipment includes commutatorless motors, GPS and 5GHz Wi-Fi. Multiple speed modes are available. It's a serious device for advanced users, well worth buying.
Nowadays there is a standard set of functions, such as:
One-button takeoff and landing
Carefully raise and lower the quadcopter - a few years ago it was quite a difficult task. Now, with the Auto-Launch and Auto-Lower function, even a child can do it. There is a corresponding button both on the remote control and in the application.
Geo-positioning sensor allows you to track the location of the drone in the application on your phone, as well as to use such modes as following the pilot, flying by points and overflying the target. Thanks to GPS the drone also resists wind and holds its position even if you let go of the remote control. This is important in a situation where you need to take pictures from one point. In order to use the GPS modes, you need to turn on the GPS on the remote control as well as on your smartphone.
The barometer provides an altitude hold function. With the barometer in place, the quadcopter is able to hover at one point at a certain altitude even if you let go of the remote.
Thanks to the GPS and barometer, the drone is kept in the air at a given point at a given altitude.
The drone follows the pilot (by GPS signal from the phone), capturing his movement and broadcasting video to the pilot's smartphone. The function is activated from the app on the smartphone.
In Orbit mode the drone will fly around the object in a circle of specified diameter, so you get an all-around view of the object of interest. The function is activated from the application on your smartphone.
Flight according to a defined path. This function allows you to set the route of the drone. The function is activated from the application on your smartphone; after you draw a route on the screen, click on the Submit button (accept).
RTH - Return To Home
Return to Home function. Return to Home brings the copter back to the take off point even if you have lost connection to the remote control. The function works in 3 modes:
Smart RTH. At any time you can press the RTH button and return the quadcopter to the starting point.
RTH low charge. Protection triggers automatically when the battery level is low. The drone is guided to the starting point and lands.
Failed RTH. The drone automatically returns to the starting point if the connection is lost. If the connection is restored while returning to home point, the flight home will continue, but the user can cancel it with the "RTH" button and regain control of the drone.
How to launch the quadcopter correctly?
Always refer to the quadcopter instructions.
Battery, remote control and smartphone fully charged.
The battery is inserted into the drone neatly and all the way in; securely locked in place.
The propellers are installed correctly.
Frames and propellers fully deployed.
The normal steps to start the quadcopter:
Turn on the remote control, then turn on the drone. The drone must be placed on a flat and stationary surface.
Calibrate the quadcopter's compass by rotating it. Turn on the GPS on the remote control. Calibrate the gyroscope on a flat surface (usually the remote control sticks to the left downwards).
Establish communication between the quadcopter and your phone (wifi signal source is the quadcopter), open the application, fix the phone in the holder on the remote control.
Unlock the drone, press Autodetach. The drone will rise to a height of 1-1.5 m. Perform the flight using the remote control and smartphone to control the drone, including smart functions.
At the end of the flight:
Land the quadcopter (RTH and Auto Landing function), lock the motors.
Turn off the remote control and the drone, remove the battery.
What are the basic rules of drone operation?
Always use GPS mode for flying whenever possible.
Gently push the control sticks so that the drone movements are smooth and steady.
Launch the drone in good weather with little wind.
Do not launch the drone in weather conditions such as high temperature, snow, strong wind, rain or fog. It is not recommended to launch drones in sub-zero temperatures.
It is not recommended to launch the quadcopter near buildings and structures, power lines, and trees. Tall buildings and large metal structures may affect the accuracy of compass and GPS system.
It is better to pilot in a wide open space within line of sight.
Never touch a flying vehicle under any circumstances. Do not touch a landed copter until its propellers have completely stopped.
Do not leave the battery discharged for long periods of time. Keep the battery charged without inserting it into the drone.
Store the drone and battery in a dry place.
What are the commutatorless motors? What are their advantages?
Brushless motors have a number of advantages over collector motors:
reliability, wear resistance, durability - due to the small number of friction parts;
better smoothness of motor operation - and better controllability of models with such motors;
efficiency - models with brushless motors can operate without recharging for more time than models with collector motors (at equal model weight and accumulator capacity);
Our ranking of brushless motors has, for example, F11 4K Pro.
Is an inexpensive quadcopter suitable for aerial photography?
Although the most affordable models are able to shoot video, the picture quality often does not match the declared Full HD resolution, and even less so 4K. Copters without a suspension also can not compensate the shaking during the flight, although in DJI Ryze Tello works pretty good electronic stabilization. In our rating the best results in aerial photography is F11 4K Pro, as it is additionally equipped with 2-axis stabilizer.
Is it possible to learn how to pilot drones with the help of professionals?
No problem. There are a number of "drone schools" offering training services, where pros will be happy to teach the basics of piloting. This is justified only in the case if you have to work with an expensive machine. After all, the method of your own "trial and error" is better remembered at further practice. It is hardly reasonable to spend money for training if you have nice toys of the level of YLRC KY905 or inexpensive Eachine E58.
What is the flight time from one battery charge?
This depends on a number of factors. First of all, it depends on the weight of the copter, the battery capacity, and the weather conditions. It is clear that for the "toy" Eachine E010 mini maximum is only 5 minutes, while F11 4K Pro flies without recharging five times longer.
Do I need to have internet access on my phone to fly?
No. The source of the Wi-Fi signal is the quadcopter itself, the phone connects to this network. The external internet is not required for flying (only for the preliminary download of the map of the intended flight site).
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