Best RC Helicopter | Best Quadcopter Guide

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The world of rc aircraft’s has never been in a better era than now.  With so many technological advances with durability, flight control, and modifications for any hobbyist taste.  Let Pilot Mart serve as your resource for the best rc helicopter and best quadcopter of any skill level from beginner to intermediate/advanced.  In addition, Pilot Mart  will also strive to provide information and reviews for cutting edge quadcopters from popular brands such as DJI and Parrot.

Introduction

Radio-controlled helicopters or commonly known as a rc helicopter are a type of model aircraft that is a relative to radio-controlled airplanes or rc airplanes do to its aerodynamic engineering.  However, rc helicopters are designed to “lift” straight off the ground opposed to the runway space the rc airplane needs to become airborne.  The radio-controlled helicopter is piloted by a hand-held flight control which allows pilots to control the collective or engage the throttle on a fixed-pitch helicopter.  The other two main flight controls are the cyclic controls for “pitch and roll” and the tall rotor control or “yaw.”

walkera-super-fp-rc

The “Walkera Super FP RC Helicopter” is a 4 channel fixed-pitch model equipped with a 3-axis gyro which provides the helicopter with a forgiving, stable hover. Therefore, this is a great training model for the beginner pilot that wants to fly both indoor & outdoor. This model is built with super durable plastic for heavy impacts.

Mastering the flight control is the primary factor for successful flights.  The controls are made up and are effected by small servos motors, piezoelectric gyroscope sensor for tall rotor control, and most of the current helicopter model come equipped with gyro-stabilization.  In addition, the newer models also have a three-axis gyro known as the “flybarless controller” that eliminated the need for flybars. Walkera makes one of the best “ready-to-fly” rc helicopters for people wanting something just over the beginner level with respectable control and performance that can fly indoor and outdoor.  Radio-controlled helicopters are typically powered methanol 2-stroke motors and electronic brushless motors powered with advanced lithium polymer batteries.  The methanol powered helicopters have become less popular due to the durability and advanced technological features of the lithium powered brushless motors.  A unique relative of the helicopter is the quadcopter.  Most people have heard the “buzz” on quadcopters with its uncanny design and breath taking image and video capability.  A quadcopter is also referred to a quadrotor but more recently a “drone.”  This type of helicopter is multi-rotored and the “quad” defines its ability to be propelled by 4 rotors.  Juxtaposed to helicopters, the quadcopter uses two sets of identical fixed-pitched propellers. This set-up consists of two clockwise and two counter-clockwise propellers.  All 4 rotors use a variation of revolutions per minute (RPM) for controlling lift and torque.  Navigation for quadcopters is achieved by altering the rotation rate of 1 or more rotors.  This alteration in the rotors allows the torque to change for lift and thrust abilities.

The Quadcopters today are being used for variety of applications.  Radio-controlled quadcopters are actually the most forgiving to pilot due to its balanced design and precise maneuverability. Quadcopters have become extremely popular with military intelligence, research, and recreation.  For military use, quadcopters are able to fly over hazardous environments with stability for surveillance of potential threats.  In general research, these small aircrafts provide a platform for scientists to test flight controls, navigation systems, and robotics.  Lastly, for recreational use, quadcopters have been capturing some of the best images and video footage with use of high-definition cameras.  In addition, it is reasonably affordable to own and operate these for personal use.  However, quadcopters have been sparking controversy with its uses between the FAA and the public.  On March 6, 2014 the court case between Pirker and the FAA ruled that quadcopters are not covered by the FAA rules.

DJI Quadcopter Comparison Chart

 
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DJI Innovations: Phantom 2 Vision+


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DJI Innovations: Phantom Vision 2


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DJI Innovations: Phantom 2


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DJI Innovations: Phantom FC40


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Stabilization Gimbal3-axis Camera Stabilization GimbalAdd on
Video DownlinkMax 700m Wi-Fi ConnectionMax 300m Wi-Fi ConnectionAdd on
APPDJI VISION AppDJI VISION AppDJI FC40 App
Camera14 Megapixels/1080p14 Megapixels/1080pAdd on720P
Controllable Range-90°-0° (Vertical)-60°-0° (Vertical)
Remote Control800m (FCC), 5.8Ghz
(preinstalled smartphone holder)
800m (FCC), 5.8Ghz
(smartphone holder in pack)
1000m (FCC&CE), 2.4Ghz
(without smartphone holder)
800m (FCC), 5.8Ghz
(smartphone holder in pack)
Max Flight Time25mins25mins25mins15mins
Weight (Battery & Propellers Included) For Aircraft2.83lbs2.60lbs2.27lbs< 2.2lbs
Battery5200mAh LiPo Battery5200mAh LiPo Battery5200mAh LiPo Battery2200mAh LiPo Battery
Hover Accuracy (Ready To Fly)Vertical: 0.8m
Horizontal: 2.5m
Vertical: 0.8m
Horizontal: 2.5m
Vertical: 0.8m
Horizontal: 2.5m
Vertical: 0.8m
Horizontal: 2.5m
Max Ascent/Descent SpeedAscent: 6m/s
Descent: 2m/s
Ascent: 6m/s
Descent: 2m/s
Ascent: 6m/s
Descent: 2m/s
6m/s
Max Flight Speed15m/s15m/s15m/s10m/s
Max Yaw Angular Velocity200°/s200°/s200°/s200°/s
Max Tilt Angle35°35°35°35°
Diagonal Length350mm350mm350mm350mm
Gimbal Pitch Control Range (For Camera)0°-90°0°-60°--
Operating Environment Temperature0℃-40℃0℃-40℃-0℃-40℃
Sensor Size1/2.3"1/2.3"-1/4"
Effective Pixels14 Megapixels14 Megapixels-720p
FOV110° / 85°120° / 110° / 85°-100° wide angle
Operating Frequency (For Range Extender)2412-2462MHz2412-2462MHz--
Communication Distance (Open Area)500-700m300m--
Transmitter Power20dBm<=17dBm--
Power Consumption2W1.5W--
Operating Frequency (For Remote Control)5.728 GHz-5.85 GHz5.728 GHz–5.85 GHz2.4GHz ISM5.8GHz ISM
Communication Distance (Open Area)CE: 400m
FCC: 800m
CE: 400m
FCC: 800m
1000mCE: 400m
FCC: 800m
Receiver Sensitivity (1%PER)-93dBm-93dBm-97dBm-93dBm
Transmitter Power(EIRP)CE: 25mw
FCC: 100mw
CE: 25mw
FCC: 100mw
CE: 25mw
FCC: 100mw
CE: 25mw
FCC: 100mw
Working Voltage80 mA@6V80 mA@6V100 mA@6V80 mA@6V

 

RC Helicopter | Quadcopter Buying Tips

Whether you are a first time buyer or just looking for an upgrade, it is important to consider a few important points before making a purchase. Owning one of these small types of aircrafts can be a complete blast but you still should be smart when evaluating which model is best for you. A good place to start is to ask yourself “what am I going to use this for?”, “what is my experience level?” and “how much can I afford to spend?” After these preliminary questions are answered, the next best thing to do is read reviews of each model whether you decided to buy a rc helicopter or a quadcopter. Reviews are a great way to study model’s overview, features, and specifications. Each review should also provide detailed descriptions, images, and video illustrations if available. In addition, there should also be pro’s and con’s of each model to validate the authenticity of the review. Whether you are selecting a rc helicopter or quadcopter, you may find that each model may have the exact features of other brands but once you have reasoned this far it may come down to aesthetics-how the model looks, and the brand name.

Difference Between 3, 4, and 6 Channel Helicopters

RC Helicopter ChannelsDescription of Each Type of Channel's Capabilities
3-3.5 Channel
Beginner-Intermediate
(Basic controls) Gives you control over up/down movement, left/right spin and throttle (speed forwards/backwards)
4-4.5 Channel
Intermediate-Advanced
(3 channels) plus a 4th channel that allows function of sideways movement to the left/right and spin.
6 + Channel
Advanced
(4 channels) plus a 6th channel that adds possibilities of left/right control at the tail and pitching the helicopter up or down on its horizontal axis (3D Aerobatics)

 

Best RC Helicopter Points to Consider

Model Type – Radio controlled helicopters can come in a range of sizes from: nano (smallest), micro, miniature, and other various sizes with indoor and outdoor capabilities.  It is a good idea in the reviews to check out the size specifications to fit your preference.

Flight Performance – Some RC helicopters may just operate on a 4 channel radio control for basic indoor/outdoor on a 3-axis gyro for great hover stability. If you are a beginner, it will be a good idea to review these types of features for a “ready to fly” model. Moving into a 6 channel radio controlled helicopter will usually indicate models that are built for 3D performance with quicker speed and aerobatic capabilities for moving into the intermediate/advanced level.

Durability – Whether you are a beginner or an intermediate/advanced pilot, the helicopter may eventually endure hard impacts. Therefore, make sure if you plan to use the helicopter outdoors that is made with quality hard plastic and replaceable components. On the other hand, if the helicopter is just being used indoors, you may not have to buy something specifically built for hard impacts. Evaluating durability will also help you decide if need something strictly for indoor, indoor and outdoor, or just a model built for flying only outdoors.

Price – Expect to pay around $40-100+ for a quality rc helicopter depending on model’s brand name, features, and performance.

Cost of Maintenance – Another great point to remember is just like with anything with moving parts, it may eventually need maintenance. When reviewing each model, it is also a good idea to look at the cost and availability of batteries, controllers, and other parts required for the helicopter to operate. Most of your popular name brands should offer some type of product support and warranty.

Best Quadcopter Points to Consider

Quadcopters are very similar to electric rc helicopters with a battery and a flight controller. However, these small aircrafts are actually easier to fly with its 4 rotor design so the features and recreational capabilities should be better points to look for first.  A good tip to remember is not all quadcopters are built for camera/video footage but this will help decide which model to buy depending on its purpose of use. There are several micro/nano versions of quadcopters that have 6-axis gyro capable of full aerobatics-flips, rolls, and other stunts. On the other hand, there are “drone quadcopters” that specifically designed for capturing professional imagery and video.

Model Type – Depending on the intent of purchase, quadcopters can be designed for performance maneuvers or built as a “drone quadcopter kit” that are made by popular brands such as DJI and Parrot with high definition cameras and gps navigational systems. As with rc helicopters, quadcopters can be purchased based on skill level and your personal budget. You may to just get a feel for flying a quadcopter with a less expensive model in the interim of saving for the drone quadcopter with all the “bells and whistles.”

Features – Is the aircraft controlled by a radio controller similar to the rc helicopter or does it comes with an advanced gps navigational system, smart phone and tablet applications, or quality high definition cameras? This will definitely determine the type of quadcopter model to consider and the price.

Price – Quadcopters (some camera equipped) can range from $50-250+ and the high-end “drone quadcopter kits” (quadcopters designed for film & photography) can range from $300-1000+

Cost of Maintenance – Again similar to rc helicopter, quadcopters may eventually require maintenance. Therefore, depending on the type of model being considered for purchase, it is good to look at the cost of common replacement parts from the manufacturer. Although the quadcopter can be more expensive, it is an easier type of small aircraft to fly so the likelihood of needing replacement parts will be lower. The good news is some of the top quadcopter manufacturers are adding extra safety features to protect the small aircraft in case of an accident. There are also durable carrying cases that can be bought to ensure the product is protected when being transported or stored. You should also look for warranties that each manufacturer may offer when purchased.

Sources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RC_Helicopter | http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quadcopter

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