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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.
Points to Consider for Finding the Best Quadcopter
Quadcopters or “Drones” are like some of the RC helicopters that are designed with advanced battery and a flight controller technology. However, these small aircraft are 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 a 6-axis gyro capable of full aerobatics-flips, rolls, and other stunts. On the other hand, there are “drone/quadcopters” that are 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 kits” that are manufactured 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 want to just get a feel for flying a quadcopter with a less expensive model to start off while saving for a drone/quadcopter kit with all the “bells and whistles.”
Features – Is the quadcopter controlled by a radio controller like the RC helicopter or does it comes with an advanced GPS navigational system, smart phone/tablet applications, or quality high definition cameras? This will determine the type of quadcopter model to consider along with price.
Price – Quadcopters (some camera equipped) can range from $100-250+ and the high-end “drone/quadcopter kits” (quadcopters designed for film & photography) can range from $500-1000+
Cost of Maintenance – Again like RC helicopters, your quadcopter may eventually require maintenance. Therefore, depending on the type of model being considered for purchase, it’s a good idea to look at the cost of common replacement parts from the manufacturer. Although the quadcopter can be more expensive, it’s 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 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.
FAA Drone Regulations & Rules
*If your quadcopter/drone is going to be primarily flown outdoors vs indoors, FAA Registration rules will apply if your RC aircraft will weigh between .55 to 55 lbs. and will be used primarily for outdoor use.