Foreword – quadcopter size
Quadcopters come in all sizes you can imagine, from the huge, 6 kilogram HammerX8 to the tiny 11 gram CheersonCX-10. Quadcopters are usually classified by their diagonal motor-to-motor size in millimeters:
250 size quadcopters, which measure 250 millimeters from the front left to the rear right motor are usually used for FPV racing. They are nimble and due to their lower weight do not crash as hard as a larger quadcopter would. They do not fly so well in high winds, and have a flight time of 15 minutes top, 10 minutes is more realistic. We recently built a250 size quadcopter, check it out! If you are in the US, size 250 and larger quadcopters may require FAA registration, as they usually weigh more than 250 grams. The Eachine Racer 250 is a really nice 250 size FPV quadcopter.
- 350-380 sized quadrotors are intermediate quads mainly used to carry Gopro cameras: they have just the power required to lift a Gopro, while staying more nimble and less crash prone then the larger 450sized quads. The DJI Phantom 4is a 350 sized quad.
- 450 size is great for Gopro or other light cameras. These quads are a bit sluggish compared to the 250 size, but they can lift more, have better wind tolerance and can fly for longer – up to 20 minutes. DJI’s Flame Wheel series features 330, 450 and 550 size quadrotor kits, Amazon has them too.
- 650 size quads can lift even more, so they are good fit for large, professional SLR cameras.These will fly even in windy weather, but can come down really hard if something goes wrong. Flight time is 30+ minutes with these beasts. For a 650sized quad example, check out this Tarot 650 kit on Amazon.
These sizes are approximate, so a 250 size quad can be anything between 240and 260 millimeters diagonally. Using an approximate size helps classifying the quadcopters.
Electronics are getting smaller and smaller, so even 250 size quads can be fitted with a GPS and other advanced features – you do not need a large quad to have flight planning, location hold, or GPS based return home.
are size 180, with ~180 millimeters between their motors diagonally. These quadcopters are great both for indoor and outdoor flying, their flight time is between 7 and 9 minutes. Mini quadcopters are usually used for flying around as form of recreation. A lotof these mini quads have cameras too which can be operated from the transmitter, so you can make a few good shots or record video with them.Some support WiFi based first-person-viewing too (the video is live streamed to your smartphone). These WiFi based systems are hardly reliable though.
Overall these quadcopters are good to have a bit of fun indoors or outdoors,while not costing as much as a 250 sized quad would. The Hubsan X4 H107L and the Holy Stone HS170 are great examples for this class.A nice upside of owning a mini quadcopter is that you will probably not need to register it with the FAA (though you’ll have to check the weight to make sure). The mini quadcopters come with the same interference-free transmitter technology as the larger ones, so you can fly together with others.
While these quadcopters have 6 axis stabilization, they usually lack advanced features, such as a GPS or flight planning. Their motors are usually of the coreless brushed type – these are simpler than the brushless motors found in larger quads, while providing more than enough power. Mini quadcopters are great to start drone flying, as they are really cheap and come ready to fly.
are class 100 quads, so their front left and rear right motors are ~100 millimeters apart.
If you look at them from the top, they would fit into a 7cm X 7cm box (with the props off). These quads are really tiny, and rarely weigh 20 grams. Such a tiny size has the drawback of lower flight time, around 4-8 minutes. Even though tiny, these quads can fly outside too if the weather is calm. Just as some mini quads,nano quadcopters can have cameras too, some even support WiFi based FPV.
These tiny quadrotors are great to have a bit of fun, seeing them zipping around is mind-blowing. As these quads are tiny they can barely hurt anything, so they make great gifts for children above 14 too.
Nano quads have the same interference-free transmitter technology as the larger ones.The Cheerson CX-10 is probably the most popular nano quad, and the Eachine E10C the most popular one with a camera. Get one to have some indoor fun – just as the mini quads they are cheap and need no assembly.