- How to choose a quadcopter: what to look for
- Types of unmanned aerial vehicles
- The main criteria for choosing a quadrocopter
- Features of choosing a quadrocopter for a child
- Features of choosing a quadrocopter with a camera
- Choosing a quadcopter with a video camera
- Choosing a quadcopter for beginners
- Features of choosing a racing quadcopter
- How to choose a battery for a quadcopter
- The best quadcopter manufacturers
How to choose a quadcopter: what to look for
There are hundreds of models on the quadcopter market that vary in size and purpose. According to the second parameter, they can be conditionally divided into two groups – “entertaining” and “for video shooting”.
- “Recreational” quadcopters are usually relatively small, inexpensive, and have little functionality. But at least they fly, and thanks for that. Sometimes these quadcopters are equipped with a small built-in camera to make it more fun, but its photographic performance is far from perfect.
- Quadcopters “for video shooting” are large in size, high in price and lack an internal camera. It is either external or not included. Devices that don’t come with a camera can be equipped with a GoPro or similar device. In this case, it is important to assess the presence of fastening.
According to the type of delivery, quadrocopters are of two types – RTF (ready to fly out of the box) and prefabricated. The first ones are as easy to handle as possible, but they are expensive, and it is advisable to buy them in offline stores: when ordering from abroad, transport companies may not handle the cargo with care enough. Prefabricated quadcopters are reminiscent of IKEA furniture: a box contains a bunch of parts from which a ready-to-use device is assembled. You will also have to configure them yourself, according to the instructions. But they are cheaper.
These are the two most important criteria when choosing a quadcopter. It is necessary to determine the planned purpose of use and the willingness to spend a couple of evenings assembling and configuring the device. Other important parameters include:
- Type of quadrocopter;
- The presence of a camera;
- Flight characteristics: range, speed and time;
- Type of drive;
- Additional features and characteristics.
- The manufacturer is also important.
Types of unmanned aerial vehicles
Drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), vary in the number of propellers they use.
- Tricopters, as the name implies, are equipped with three propellers. Such devices are cheaper than other drones, but they are not suitable for outdoor flights. Tricopters are unstable in the air, so because of the wind they go astray or even fall. In addition, such drones have little lift, so they are not equipped with an external camera. But thanks to the highest maneuverability, tricopters calmly go through complex trajectories.
- Quadcopters are the most common type of UAV. These drones are equipped with four drives, providing high lift, stability in the air, optimal maneuverability and range. Quadcopters are recommended for both beginners and professional users.
- Hexacopters and octocopters are equipped with six and eight propellers, respectively. Due to this, they are distinguished by a high carrying capacity and a “top bar” of flight. And finally, such drones retain the ability to fly even if one propeller is damaged. However, hexacopters and octocopters are usually more expensive than quadcopters and tricopters.
The main criteria for choosing a quadrocopter
Presence of a camera
The presence of a camera directly determines the purpose of the quadrocopter. So, if you just need a radio-controlled drone for entertainment, models that are not equipped with a photographic module will do. Drones without a camera are cheaper than others and are suitable, for example, for pilot training.
Drones with a built-in camera are suitable for undemanding users. In such devices, a sensor with a resolution of 5 to 13 megapixels is installed, which shoots with low detail.
Drones with an external camera are a solution for professional operators. A GoPro or a professional DLSR is attached to them, which receives video recordings and photos in high resolution or with the required optical qualities. The only drawback of such drones is the high cost: quadcopters with an external camera are among the highest-priced options.
Flight characteristics: range, speed and time
When choosing a quadcopter, it is worth evaluating the possible use cases. Then it will become clear which of the characteristics of the flight is of prevailing importance.
So, for fans of just entertainment, drones with a maximum time spent in the air (from 20 minutes) are suitable; for operators – with a maximum range (from 300 meters); and for racers – with a maximum speed (from 100 km / h).
type of drive
In quadcopters, drives of a collector or brushless type are installed. The former are distinguished by a low price, however, with prolonged use they overheat and therefore need to be replaced periodically. Quadcopters with brushless drives are durable and have a short takeoff time, but they are more expensive and are installed only in large drones.
Among the additional characteristics and capabilities of quadrocopters are:
- Programmed flights. You can pre-draw the trajectory on the map or using a simple algorithm. Video enthusiasts will especially like this as it automates the creation of a scene;
- Follow me mode. A useful feature for sports enthusiasts (such as snowboarders). In this mode, the quadcopter independently follows the person you want to shoot;
- WiFi module. A quadrocopter equipped with it can be controlled from a smartphone or other mobile device;
- GPS module. A useful feature for creating programs or simply tracking the movement of a quadcopter on a map;
- Blade protection. A design solution that implies the installation of a special “mesh” on the quadrocopter, which protects the device from shocks and falls. Useful solution for beginners.
- These are not the only possible additional features, however “universally useful”.
Features of choosing a quadrocopter for a child
For pilot training, quadcopters with blade guards are the best. They will “survive” after colliding with a wall or tree.
A good version of a quadrocopter for a child is a mini version. Such devices are inexpensive and help to learn piloting skills. Depending on the interests of the child, you can purchase both the RTF version (ready to fly out of the box) and the combined version.
If the child plans to engage in video shooting, you can pay attention to quadrocopters with a built-in camera. And after he “fills his hand”, it is worth choosing a larger model to which you can connect a GoPro or a “SLR”.
Features of choosing a quadrocopter with a camera
The most important parameter of a quadrocopter with a built-in camera is the photographic characteristics of the sensor itself and the complete lens. First of all, you should pay attention to the type of lenses. Wide-angle lenses are best suited for landscape photography.
In addition, the physical resolution of the sensor is important. The higher it is, the more detailed the resulting image will be. At the same time, the extrapolated resolution (for example, 4K on the finished video is easily obtained from 13 MP on the sensor in a software way) does not really matter.
However, high-definition video (Full HD, 2K, 4K) usually takes up a lot of space on the memory card and requires external storage speeds of at least 10 Mbps. Therefore, it is very important that the quadcopter supports MicroSDHC or MicroSDXC (up to 64 GB or up to 2 TB respectively).
Choosing a quadcopter with a video camera
Quadcopters with a built-in camera are not suitable for professional photography. A high-quality “picture” can only be obtained on an additional device – for example, a connected GoPro or a “SLR”. Therefore, it is very important that the quadcopter is equipped with an appropriate mount.
In addition, the lifting force of the quadrocopter is important. Even the most compact DSRL cameras and mirrorless cameras weigh around 500 grams, but more professional equipment with a lens can weigh more than a kilogram. When choosing a quadcopter for the camera you are using, you should pay attention to the maximum weight that the device can lift.
Not only high-quality quadrocopters (like DJI Phantom 3), but also hexacopters or octacopters are suitable for video shooting. Such devices are more “reliably” kept in the air, better resist the action of the wind, and also have a greater lifting force.
Choosing a quadcopter for beginners
First of all, when choosing a quadrocopter for training, you should pay attention to the budget sector. It is there that devices are found at a price of up to 10,000 rubles – which, in principle, will not “hit your pocket” much if they break on the very first day of use.
The disadvantages of budget quadcopters are low battery life, small distance and flight altitude. And the advantage, of course, lies in the fact that they are able to teach piloting – that is, the basic skills of controlling a device moving in a three-dimensional, dynamically changing space. And after that, you can buy a flagship quadcopter.
Features of choosing a racing quadcopter
When choosing a racing quadcopter, you should pay attention to the “format” of the device: micro or nano (up to 50 and up to 20 grams of assembled weight, respectively); as well as its maximum speed. However, such drones usually have a short flight time – on the order of several minutes.
When choosing a full-sized drone, you should pay attention to its mass (the smaller, the better) and, again, the flight speed. Usually it is indicated by the manufacturer directly in the device specifications.
How to choose a battery for a quadcopter
The main criteria when choosing a battery for a quadcopter are:
- Weight and dimensions;
- Number of cells and output voltage;
- Current output;
- Design parameters.
Weight and dimensions
The main requirement for the battery is that it fit into the battery compartment of the quadrocopter. Dimensions information is usually indicated in the specification of both devices.
In addition, the weight of the battery must be such that the quadcopter, together with the battery and the connected camera, has a mass less than the maximum calculated takeoff. Otherwise, the balance of the device will be disturbed and the drone will simply fall.
Number of cells and output voltage
The design of a lithium-polymer battery – namely, these are most often used in quadrocopters – includes several individual battery cells included in a series circuit. This provides an increase in voltage.
The output voltage depends on the number of cells. Each of them “gives” 3.7 V. As a result, 3 connected cells provide a voltage of 11.1 V, four – 14.8 V, and so on.
The design of the drives for quadrocopters of the budget and medium price segments implies a direct increase in power depending on the supplied output voltage. The higher it is, the faster the blades rotate. So, if the weight and volume of the battery compartment allows, for maximum lift, you should take a battery with a high output voltage.
At the same time, it is worth considering that most quadcopters have a voltage limit that can be supplied to the drives. It cannot be exceeded.
The following marking indicates the number of cells in the battery:
- 1S – one cell, 3.7 V;
- 2S – two cells, 7.4 V;
- 3S – three cells, 11.1V, etc.
Battery capacity directly affects the battery life of the quadrocopter in which it is installed. This indicator is measured in milliamp-hours. The higher the capacity, the longer the drone will last in the air.
Quadcopters are resource-intensive devices, so they need “hardy” batteries. The durability parameter is also indicated directly on the battery case and is measured in the current transfer rate.
The optimal discharge rate (current output) is within 20C-100C. C is a conditional parameter that shows the time during which the battery can fully release the accumulated electricity without harming itself.
So, for example, a battery with a current output of 30C can be discharged in 1/30 hour (or 2 minutes) without reducing its capacity, and with a current output of 60C – in 1/60 hour (or 1 minute).
To connect the battery to the electric circuit of the quadrocopter, special connectors are used. Despite the simplicity of the design, there are practically no adapters between them (and those that exist can lead to energy waste on the resistance). Therefore, it is important to make sure that the battery connector matches the one used in the quadcopter.
The power of the current that it is able to withstand depends on the current output and capacity of the battery. And it is she who is the main characteristic, showing whether the battery will “pull” the drives used.
For example, a quadrocopter has four drives of 10 A each. It is planned to install a battery of 1500 mAh and 10C. Calculate the current drawn: 4 × 10A = 40A. Calculate the current produced by the battery: 1.5A × 10C = 15A. Since 15 is significantly less than 40, this battery will not work.
Among the best manufacturers of batteries for quadrocopters are:
- Kokam Thunder Power. Relatively inexpensive, high-quality, suitable for various UAVs;
- Gens Ace. They are of high quality, they are expensive;
- Turnigy. Inexpensive, but relatively good;
- Zippy. Inexpensive, they are of optimal quality, they are perfect for budget quadcopters.
The best quadcopter manufacturers
Among the best manufacturers of quadrocopters are:
- DJI. The largest, most famous manufacturer of quadrocopters. It produces uniquely flagship devices with rich functionality and excellent flight characteristics. The only downside is the price. For example, the flagship model Inspire 2 in Russian stores can be sold for more than 500 thousand rubles;
- Syma. Manufacturer of budget, but at the same time very high-quality quadcopters, which are perfect for beginners;
- Husban. Another manufacturer of high-quality, but inexpensive quadrocopters;
- Parrot. It produces mid-range drones that are distinguished by non-standard design and pleasant functionality;
- Walker. A manufacturer of quality quadcopters for aerial photography enthusiasts who are not ready to spend a huge amount of money on a DJI model.
- Of course, Xiaomi is also worthy of mention with its mid-range quadcopters, but its lineup is very limited.
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