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Budget Quadcopters

The market for low cost mini quadcopters has exploded! It seems like everyone is jumping on the bandwagon. The good news is there are lots to choose from. That’s also the bad news, because some are certainly better than others, and it’s hard to know what to buy.

Here are a few options that I’ve heard or read good things about. Of course, by the time you read this, there may be even more choices available. So do shop around a bit before you decide.

I’ve heard some very good things about the UDI U816 4CH Mini Quadcopter UFO. This ready to fly quadcopter includes a 6-axis gyro to help keep flights steady and controlled. A friend of mine who is a bit of an authority on multicopters bought four of them! I think this one might be on my own shopping list this year.

The Walkera QR Ladybird V2 is another small quadcopter that I’ve read good things about. The V2 version is a serious price drop from Walkera’s V1, and includes the transmitter (unlike the V1). They also added a little rubber ball underneath each motor to help absorb impacts on those not-so-gentle landings you are likely to have. The V2 may be slightly ‘dumbed down’ from the previous version, but it allowed Walkera to offer a very price competitive product.

Perhaps the latest manufacturer to jump into the fray, respected RC airplane and helicopter maker Nine Eagle is coming out with the MASF02 Alien. Although I can’t seem to find a place to buy this yet, several online video reviews are out on YouTube. It certainly looks like fun!

Price

  • UDI U816 Mini Quadcopter UFO: $44.40
  • Walkera QR Ladybird V2: $59.90
  • Nine Eagle Alien: Coming out this November. I can’t find price yet, but I hope it will be competitive with the other small quads in this market.

What they Do

These small quadcopters are simple and fun to fly! You can use them indoors if you have enough space, but it is more fun outdoors as long as there is only light wind.

Why they’re Cool

They are small, maneuverable and very stable with 3 or 6-axis gyros. Who would have guessed you could get a multicopter with this much smarts for less than $60? Awesome! This is a great way to learn to fly multicopters, and and easy way into the aerial drone hobby.

Andrew Terranova

Andrew Terranova is an electrical engineer, writer and an electronics and robotics hobbyist. He is an active member of the Let’s Make Robots community, and handles public relations for the site.
Andrew has created and curated robotics exhibits for the Children’s Museum of Somerset County, NJ and taught robotics classes for the Kaleidoscope Learning Center in Blairstown, NJ and for a public primary school. Andrew is always looking for ways to engage makers and educators.


Comments

  1. The Parrot AR.Drone is a fantastically capable platform, but I wouldn’t call it a complete package. Until they include a remote control or make it compatible with standard RC controllers out of the box, it will remain an iPhone accessory to me.

    Kudos for ease of repair and spare part availability.

  2. Fair point! You do need to supply the smartphone or tablet to control the AR.Drone. Parrot has a compatibility tab on their support page, which tells you exactly which devices it will work with.
    http://ardrone2.parrot.com/support/

  3. I don’t see the HoverFly kit listed !!! Those are awesome kits !

    1. Yes, that’s a good one to add to the list. Thanks for mentioning it. Hoverfly makes some very nice flight systems, boards and accessories. I almost included the Parallax Elev-8 quadcopter (http://www.robotshop.com/parallax-elev-8-quadcopter-uav.html), which uses a Hoverfly control board.
      Interested readers can find out more at http://www.hoverflytech.com.

  4. Michael Margolis says:

    I really like that tricopter build. Although the component table needs a correction for the speed controller cost – 3 of those will be $23.40 (the table shows $9.40). its still a lot of tricopter for the money. This will go onto my list of new years projects, thanks for posting this.

    1. Whoops! Good catch, Michael. I’ll see if we can get the cost table updated. I’m hoping to make this one in the new year too. Let me know how yours goes!

  5. Bruce says:

    Walkera has a new model called the Infra X, which is slightly bigger than the ladybug. It has sensors that allow it to avoid walls and the ground. Around $100.00, hard to find, but the videos look awesome.

    1. Nice find. That does look really cool. Did I mention that the market for small quadcopters is evolving at an incredible pace? You should definitely shop around and see what is out there before you buy. Be sure to check for independent reviews so you can be reasonably sure you are getting a quality product.

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