It can be a little overwhelming when you first start researching what quadcopter to buy, especially if it going to be your first drone. Never fear!
We've been there, and we've heard from many others who've gone before you too.
So we compiled the 6 most common questions beginner or prospective drone owners have about quadcopters.
What features should I look for in a beginner quadcopter?
There are four important features to look for when getting your first drone:
- Size – as a beginner it might best to start off with a relatively cheap “micro-sized” drone to get some basic experience, especially if you are wanting to fly inside. Then, move on to a larger quadcopter that will be much more stable and not affected by the wind and other elements.
- Ease of use – as a beginner stability is key to get enjoyment from a drone. The larger the drone the more stable they tend to be. Most quadcopters have beginner and advanced modes, so you wont have to buy a new drone once you are a more experienced pilot.
- Set up and flight time – Average flight time for drones is 5-10 minutes, and sometimes up to 15. It depends on how fast or far you fly your drone. Always, always, always, fly your drone on a fully charged battery, there is nothing more frustrating for a beginner than flight being interrupted by something so easily managed.
- Durability – Yeah… you're probably gonna crash a few times as a beginner, so get a quadcopter that will last.
Here's our suggestions:
If you have a bit of experience with a small drone and are ready to step up to a medium-size quadcopter, we suggest:
What does “return to home” or “one key return” mean?
The “return to home” or “one key return” feature allows you to hit a button on the drone remote which will make your drone return to the place of take off. This is extremely handy if you suddenly lose sight of your drone, and worry you will lose it or endanger someone.
This is more of a “premium” feature and is not typically found on the cheaper drones. Plus, to be properly implemented, the quadcopter needs to have GPS – something only the high-end drones have.
Some of the cheaper micro drones advertise having a version of this “return to home” feature, but it really just makes the drone fly backwards towards its original starting orientation – which may or may not be towards you!
I see drones advertised as having a “6 axis gyro” – what does that mean??
A “3 axis gyro” automatically balances the pitch (forward & aft tilt), the roll (right & left tilt), and yaw (right and left turning axis) of the drone.
A 6 axis gyro stabilization allows for much faster correction of attitude displacement compared to the 3 axis system. In addition to the three pitch, roll, and yaw sensors, there are 3 additional sensors that sense acceleration within the three dimensions.
This allows a drone to automatically sense and compensate for abrupt gusts of wind.
What is the difference between RTF, BNF and ARF?
- RTF – “Ready to Fly”, meaning no other accessories are needed to fly – everything you need is in the box.
- BNF – “Bind and Fly”, meaning it needs to be bound to a remote control (which is not included in the box).
- ARF – “Almost Ready to Fly”, meaning the drone comes in a kit, and requires some DIY set up before flight. This probably involves some assembly and some configuring/tuning.
You'll really only see these terms in more expensive quadcopter models. If you are new to drones, you should be shopping for a mini drone, and these will all come complete and ready to fly out of the box. You may run across the occasional mid-size drone that does not come with a remote, but it is pretty rare.
Do I need to register my quadcopter with the FAA?
You only have to register your drone if it weighs more than 0.55lbs. All nano, micro, and most mid-size quadcopters are well under half a pound. It is only when you start playing with the “big boys” – like the CX-20 or DJI Phantom, that you will need to get it registered with the FAA.
For more details, check out this FAA page: https://www.faa.gov/uas/registration/
Can I fly my quadcopter anywhere I want?
No, you may not fly your drone near any manned aircraft or near any airports, nor should it ever be flown beyond the sight of the pilot.
The FAA provides some more guidelines here: https://www.faa.gov/uas/model_aircraft/
Do you have more questions? Check out our Tips and Tricks page for more guides, or leave a comment below!