You should be familiar with the toy drones that are low cost quadcopters when you leave your home and make a visit to your nearby hobby shop to get your hands on one of the many best cheap drones available there for sale. This is our comprehensive guide to buying some of the most cheap drones out there. We will share with you some of the most ideal options that you can get your hands on and some of the really basic stuff that you should be acquainted with when you or your kids are about to set your drones whizzing through the lofty heights of skies.
Please make a note that this is not a complete and exhaustive guide by any stretch of imagination since we just intend to make things a little simpler for you. Specifically, we want to make you familiar with some of the most user-friendly machines out there so that you are able to make an impulsive purchase whenever you come across a drone that strikes the right chord with your preferences, requirements and choices. Drones are not that difficult to fly but you should have an idea or two regarding a few fundamentals before you get sailing.
Things needed to fly a quadcopter
The first question that should be asked by any of the newbies into the world of drones is what is required to fly a quadcopter or a drone. You should be thinking in terms of the hardware only since from our RC cars experience, we are aware of the fact that remote controlled cars are not essentially accompanied by remote controls. Just to make things a bit clear, majority of the drones come with their dedicated remote control device. There are a few that either do not come at all with a dedicated controller or have an added option that lets you use your smartphone or tablet to manoeuvre your quadcopter.
Do not forget to check out in the product listings if the machine that you are interested in comes with a radio controller or not. Having said that, our guide will discuss a few devices that come in ready to fly packages and you will not be requiring any addition paraphernalia to fly your quadcopter. So, continue reading!
We suggest you to get your hands on an additional set of propellers for you drone alongside the required tools to replace your broken or worn out parts. It is always judicious to choose protective gear for your device which will not only ensure safety of your device but will also ensure that any humans in your surroundings or property does not get damaged in case of a few horrendous flights or crashes.
It is also advisable to keep a pair or two of additional batteries in stock since most of the drones out there generally provide a flight duration of no more than five minutes or so on average. This duration is exponentially reduced when you start using additional gear such as blade protectors or cameras with your quadcopters. Having said that, cheap drones generally come without an integrated camera so that may not be a cause for concern in this class of machines. You can get six pack of batteries and a charger for $18 for your Syma X5C quadcopter that itself can be purchased for just about $30. To get an extra pair of propellers, you might have to spend around $5.
If you are a parent, then perhaps, not buying the additional batteries could work wonders for you and your kids. Since your device will require some recharging of batteries after a flight duration of five minutes which will automatically furnish some quiet time for you and your kids. Definitely, a point to ponder! You can also have a look at our list of best drones for kids to get some ideas about the drones that suit your kids the most.
Pilot’s license for drones?
Speaking in legal terms, a toy drone or a quadcopter which is less than 0.55 pounds in weight in addition to payload or additional gear can be flown in open and wide spaces in the United States as long as there are no airports or sensitive government installments in the vicinity without requiring any license. You are not allowed to fly a drone over humans and if your drone weighs more than 0.55 pounds in weight, then you need to get it registered with the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA). You will be sanctioned an aircraft identification number but you will still not require any license unless you abide by the set of rules and regulations prescribed by FAA.
As discussed above, hobbyists are not allowed to fly a device that weighs more than 0.55 pounds and even if your drone is within the required weight, you still are not allowed to fly your device above an altitude of 400 feet from the ground. Moreover, you are also required to maintain line of sight with your machine during flying all the time. The pilots should also check before each flight whether their device is ready for the flight. Regular inspection and maintenance can bring about a radical decrease in potential crashes, flight failures and accidents.
Registration with Federal Aviation Authority
When it comes to commercial flights and your flying adventures get beyond the line of sight rule, you will be required to get yourself registered with the Federal Aviation Authority to fly in certain airspace in the United States. You are more than welcome to grab aerial video footage and photographs with your device for your personal use but if you are being hired by your customers to capture images and videos for them, then you no longer remain a hobbyist and need to check out the FAA rules and regulations in this regard.
We will endeavor to delve into the depths of the basic requirements for a pilot’s license and how is each class of drone affected by the FAA rules and regulations. If you believe that we have mentioned something that is out of line or is incorrect, please hit the comments button below and register your case.
So, the long and short of it all is that your cheap drone is more than likely to weigh less than $0.55 pounds We also expect that you are planning to fly your drones in the sanctioned and designated flying zones. If this is right, then you are not required to seek any registration or license from any authority.
Forward, backward and headless
During your search for your preferred cheap drone, you will come across the terminology headless a fair number of times. You should be aware of the fact that flying a drone is a touch more complex than driving a RC car which can be made to move in the forward and backward directions and then steered as well to make it move in the desired direction. A quadcopter, on the other hand is completely a different proposition. It can be turned in the desired direction, which is called as yaw, but it also moves sideways and there is a third dimension of its flight as well: it goes in the upward and downward direction.
A drone also moves in the forward and backward direction. In the most typical of controller configurations in majority of the joysticks, when the designated stick is moved sideways, the quadcopter complies. It does not imply that the quadcopter will move sideways since there is another designated stick for this purpose. It will, however, bank to the side and strafe in the sideways direction.
This is exactly why it is strongly recommended to purchase a cheap drone initially so that you get acquainted with the art and science of flying a drone, the yaw, bank and pitch. The pitch is basically responsible for the forward and backward movement. As a matter of fact, during your initial flights, more often than not you will end up getting your drone stuck in trees. But as you get better and better at flying your cheap quadcopter, things will begin to improve and the tree hang-ups will become less of spectacle.
Let’s get back to the term headless. This is a sort of assistance mode that will help you fly your drone initially. Rather than flying your quadcopter out and determining how to turn it around safely and getting it to land back at your base station, headless mode will help you treat any side of the drone as the forward direction. This will make things a lot more easier for you when you will just have to push and pull your stick to make your device move in the desired direction. Definitely a neat trick for the beginners.
Let me elaborate the entire process for you. In normal mode of operation, the once your move the joystick of your quadcopter controller in the forward direction, the machine will move forward naturally. Once the joystick is pulled to the left, the machine will veer to the left and and the other joystick will be required to move the device in the opposite direction. The point to note here is that if the drone has moved around 90 degrees, movement to the left on the controller will make the drone move toward or away from the pilot. In this situation, once your move the joystick in the upward direction, the drone will move sideways in contrast to your present position. It is vitally important that you are aware of the direction in which your quadcopter is facing and manipulate your joystick movements accordingly.
The headless mode is also referred to as the care-free mode. The drone tends to move in relative motions, when in headless mode, without being concerned about the direction in which it is facing. You will just have to push the joystick up to make the quadcopter move away from you and pull it back down to make it come back toward you. This lets the pilot spin his drone frantically since up is always away from the pilot and left is always sideways. Having said that, all this is true as long as the drone is in front of you. Once you turn, the directions are reversed automatically. You will have to land your drone and adjust your directions accordingly.
We highly recommend you to spend some time in practice if you are intending for the long haul and looking forward to master your flying skills. Normal mode flight will be way more beneficial for you than flying in the headless mode in the long run.
What happens if you land upside down in a tree?
This phenomenon is not recommended at all. This should not happen at all ideally, but at the end of the day, nothing in this world is ideal at all. Cheap drones do not come with automated landing features so during your initial flights, you will come across a number of landings gone awry. Flips generally take place when your drone bounces off the ground or the air is able to bounce off the ground and get back into your craft.
As a matter of fact, flips at dangerously low heights are a common spectacle for newbies. The propellers on my Syma X5C have some visible grass stains to be honest. Similar to real life airplanes, landing and taking off are the most dangerous points during the flight of a drone and utmost care needs to be taken. The ideal thing to do in case you feel that your drone has gone out of your control is to bring the throttle down to zero. The propellers should not graze the ground while they are spinning and it is highly improbable that you will be able to recover from a flip.
Trees naturally get in way of safe flights. Since I live near a forest so I had numerous accidents with trees but if you live in an open space, then perhaps you will not be troubled by the foliage. Once your drone is headed for the branch of a tree, cut down the throttle and wait for the inevitable to happen. Situations could vary but if you feel that you will not be able to steer your quadcopter away from the tree, then you should not try at all. Let me explain this thing to you in detail.
Typically, a single arm and propeller get stuck in the branch of a tree. Excessive trying can cause a few things that should not happen at all. Firstly, the stuck propeller implies that the quadcopter has an unbalanced lift and so there is every possibility that a flip would occur. Secondly, since these are cheap drones so they are not reliable and durable and also do not come with ample protection for motors. Once you power up with your propeller stuck in the tree, the motors will burn out in no time whatsoever.
The bottom line is that if your machine gets stuck in a tree, bring your throttle down to zero, get your drone back to the ground, carry out a few repairs and look forward to your next flying adventure.
What is so great about these cheap drones is that they are extremely light in weight, quite well balanced and are equipped with features such as the 6 axis gyroscope. When a quadcopter drops from the sky with the throttle turned down to zero, the wind flow tends to rotate the propellers in the opposite direction. This is certainly not that great for the motors since they are forced to move in the opposite direction as well. But this slows down the descent significantly and reduces the overall damage to the device.
As far as my Syma X5C is concerned, it has been dropped from a significant height onto grass and yet has not incurred any damage. It tends to get to the ground in an upright position, bounces off the ground and then flips without suffering any damage. I want to emphasize here that I have had spend plenty of time in the air with my $30 cheap drone and it has come across numerous crashes and yet it has not received any damages that would end its life.
Checklist before flight
Before you fly your quadcopter for the first time, there are a few thing that you need to make sure. You can go for a thorough checklist but when it comes to these cheap drones, there are not a lot of complexities involved.
Once the drone and the controller are switched on and the pilot throttles the controller up and down to synchronize the quadcopter with the controller, the machine adjusts its gyroscope automatically. I would suggest you to place you to place your drone on a flat piece of ground while synchronizing the drone with the controller. Once the devices have been paired together, go for the manual adjustment by pulling the two joysticks in the downward direction and then sideways. This will prevent your device from strafing sideways at the time of takeoff.
Avoid flying these light weight machine in gusty conditions. My first flight happened to take place in windy conditions since I was quite impatient. I went for the flight without carrying out the pre-requisite recalibrations and suffered the consequences as the drone took off sideways and rammed straight into a tree. I still regret that I did not follow the above mentioned precautionary measures and had to face the music since my device headed into a tree in the preliminary few seconds of the flight.
The same precautions have to be taken when it comes to rain. Aerodynamically, these devices can manage a little quantity of water but we would suggest you to be careful about the complex electronic circuitry of your drone. If you are of the view that these devices are water resistant and are willing to take the gamble, then still I would suggest you not to go for it in any circumstances whatsoever.
Take a good hard look at the propellers before you take off. Any bend, crack or undesired damage or even deposit of unwanted material can result in an imbalance that can burn your motors out, cause accidents and if propellers get broken down into pieces, then according to the laws of mechanical physics, centrifugal force would help them become pieces of shrapnel. A propeller with even a minor crack is likely to become a device that can cause serious harm to the onlookers.
Also check out all the lights if they are working fine and also make sure that all the wires are connected properly and are in decent shape.
Check out all the accessories including the landing paraphernalia, propeller protectors and cameras for appropriate connections and installations. Keep in mind that all equipment that falls towards the ground at serious pace becomes a force to be reckoned with.
Is it safe to fly your drone at night in the local park or just above the river that crosses your neighborhood? You will come across dissenting views and opinions regarding this. There are countries that do not allow cameras to be attached to drones. In the US, it is prohibited to fly your drone in and around airport and sensitive government installments. The rules and regulations are quite comprehensive in this regard, however, when it comes to implementation, there are no stringent rules as long as you are playing safe. But you should be aware of the rules and take care that you fly your drone within line of sight. It is in accordance with the law and also a good way to ensure that you do not end up losing out on your beloved drone.
Best Drones Under 100 – What should you buy?
Here is a good news for you guys. We have come up with a number of best drones lists to help you decide what to spend your precious savings on. We have developed a list of the best consumer grade drones which is not entirely focussed on the price aspect. We have also compiled a comprehensive list of 20 Cheap Drones You Can Buy Today. Here is our list for the drones that can be bought for well under $100.
Hubsan X4 H107L
For those looking to step into the world of toy drones, the Hubsan x4 H107L is a drone designed specifically for the beginners who are learning the skill of flying drones. It is also a great option for enthusiasts who do not have too much time up their sleeves and have rather busy schedules to cater to. This tiny device has no integrated camera of its own, cannot carry any GoPro action camera and is a good enough proposition if you are looking for about 5 to 10 minutes of flight time. Again, the flight duration will depend on how hard you push it.
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This is yet another drone that falls in the toy drones category and is a cool option for newbies who are stepping for the first time into the world of drones. You can enjoy about 8 minutes of sensational flying experience in addition to carrying out some stunning aerial stunts such as flipping and spinning while capturing some aerial video footage at 720p. You can also pursue nighttime excursions owing to the bright LED lights but we would suggest you to check out your local laws to ensure compliance with nighttime flying regulations.
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Syma X8C Venture
The Syma X8C is a more advanced version of the Syma X5C as it comes loaded with state of the art landing paraphernalia, a touch slower flight operation and headless flight mode. The manufacturers call it the Intelligent Orientation Control but do not get fooled by the complex terminology involved here since it is basically the headless flight mode that is common to almost all the drones falling in the cheap drones category. With a much larger battery of 2000mAh notwithstanding, this drone provides almost equal amount of flight duration to Syma X5C but is slightly larger in size as well. Moreover, it has more or less the same add-ons and basic features.
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Holystone HS110W FPV
The Holy Stone HS110W FPV is fundamentally the same frame and design as the Syma X5C but when it comes to features and functionality, there is so much more to discuss. It is equipped with the scintillating First Person View technology whereby the drone transmits its camera view via a live video stream that can be viewed on the display unit in your controller or on your smartphone. In addition, this splendid machine comes loaded with the headless mode, altitude hold and return to base features.
DBPower UDI U818A
This is yet another FPV machine on our list that is compatible with Virtual Reality goggles that provides control via remote control or you can also use your smartphone to control your drone. As far as the features are concerned, the DBPower UDI U818A is slightly less capable as compared to the U842 but it provides a seamless flight experience that suits those who are looking to capture stunning aerial video footage. You can view the live video feed from the camera of your drone upto a distance of about 100 feet on your smartphone which can be conveniently placed in the holder of your controller.
Holy Stone F181
The Holy Stone F181 boasts a much smarter and sturdier hardware and electronics as compared to their product discussed above. But it features almost a similar set of functionalities such as the altitude hold, headless mode and one-key return to base. The camera offers a little bit more room and options to play around but essentially it is a toy drone camera so you should not tie too much of expectations with it. Overall, this is a great machine to have as your first buy and definitely promises plenty of fun to the drone enthusiasts first up.
DBPower MJX X400W
The DBPower MJX X400W is another prolific device that offers 3D VR headset capabilities while not allowing things to get complex for the drone enthusiasts. Featuring the reliable headless flight mode and flight duration of 9 minutes, this machine is a phenomenal one for you if you are learning to fly a drone for the first time.
DJI Mavic Pro
I have been flying the DJI Mavic Pro for no less than two months and believe that it is by far one of the most easiest and safest drones to fly around. Its controls are so seamless and user-friendly that you do not need to be a master of flying drones. You might as well skip your practice sessions while looking to fly this device but if you are looking to become a skillful dronie then you should spend some time learning to fly.
It is a cheap drone that may be about ten times more costly than the drones discussed above but it is a brilliant UAV that can be bought on Amazon in its basic packaging for $999 and you can buy the Fly More Bundle for $1299.
This is it folks! I hope that you have come to know all the basic stuff you needed to know before getting your first drone from the market. Please give them the respect they deserve but do not be scared of them at the same time. Try to spend some time with them, get to know them, get to know the basics of flying and make sure that your drone lasts a generation. Forget about spending too much money on your first machine. You should learn how to fly a cheap drone first and then invest more money into buying more expensive devices.
Do you think that we have missed any tips, tricks or ideas that newbies should be aware of? Do you know any other drone that costs less than $100 and should be on our list? Let us know in the comments sections!
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