Tag Archives: drone

Compact drone alternative to DJI Mavic Pro (Xmas 2016)

If you are a shopaholic, drone addict, don’t own yet a compact drone, you are tempted to get one, you are looking for special deals, or waiting for Christmas: have a look at this interesting idea for a present or just for fun.

Buy a small quadcopter before buying a bigger, more expensive drone. If you don’t know this website yet, give it a try: it’s where I purchased all my mini drones, drone accessories and spare parts.

I recently ordered a few mini drones with camera, to connect to the smartphone/tablet. I will review them soon, asap I receive them. For now I wanna share the most unique one (which I’ve just found a few days ago):

Eachine E50 WIFI FPV

Eachine E50 WIFI FPV With Foldable Arm Altitude Hold RC Quadcopter RTF – only 42 USD !!!
(price checked and last updated on 2016-12-20)

eachine_e50_wifi_fpv_with_foldable_arms_altitude_hold_compact_drone

eachine_e50_pocket

  • Weight: 73g
  • Control distance: about 40m
  • Control: via WIFI UFO app
  • Flying time: 8 – 15min
  • Battery: if you own other Eachine mini drones you may re-use the ones you already have


It’s a mini quadcopter with camera (advertized for selfies) and foldable arms.I believe that this could be an awesome choice for a beginner: it has a built-in barometer to hold the altitude, a feature that I don’t easily find in other mini drones for this price, thus a big plus. I really like it because it reminds me the DJI Mavic Pro compact drone! Of course you can’t even compare this with the Mavic, but still, it looks fun and costs just a fraction. Looking forward to receive it!

See also my comparison between 2 mini drones for beginners.

Mini drones comparison: Cheerson CX-10 vs Eachine H8 Mini

If you want to buy a mini drone to get the feeling on how it is to fly one of these “creatures”, you are in the right place. I started my drone pilot “career” exactly like that, with a mini quadcopter.

The models I like the most are Cheerson CX-10 and Eachine H8 Mini.

Comparison between Cheerson CX-10 vs Eachine H8 Mini

Comparison_mini_drones_Cheerson_CX-20_vs_Eachine_H8_Mini

Cheerson CX-10 Eachine H8 Mini
Ease of use Easy Medium (it’s very fast, can be unpredictable)
Protection Cover available separately: you can fly the drone till it touches the ceiling Integrated protection (but not as good as the CX-10 one)
Speed Has several modes to modify the responsiveness (angle when steering) but the speed is basically average (good for beginners) Very responsive, it’s like made for racing
Control distance Around 10m Around 30m!
Transmitter Small
Needs: 2 AAA batteries
Small/medium
Needs: 3 AAA batteries
Turning it on/off On/Off switch Plug/unplug battery cable
Battery Integrated (can be replaced if broken)
Flying time: 5 min
Charging time: 30 min
Charging mode: USB (cable included)
Separate (you can buy more spare ones!)
Flying time: 5 min
Charging time: 40 min
Charging mode: USB (cable included)
Battery low voltage The drone begins to blink, you see the power going down slowly and you have about 20 seconds to land it safely. The drone begins to blink and after 5 seconds it dies. This is really bad as it’s impossible to make it land properly, especially from a higher altitude.
Size 40 x 40 x 22 mm (without cover) 135 x 135 x 28 mm
Available colors Orange
Green
Blue
Pink
Black (CX-10A)
White (CX-10A)
Gold (CX-10A)
Silver (CX-10A)
Black
White
Pros Stable (good indoors)
Low voltage: enough time to land
Racing feeling (good outdoors)
Extra batteries
Cons Short control distance
No extra batteries
A bit unpredictable
Low voltage: almost no time to land
Price and links to buy Drone: 12.99 USD
Cover: 0.79 USD
Propellers: 1.55 USD
Battery: –
Total: 15.33 USD
Drone: 12.29 USD
Cover: integrated
Propellers: 1.89 USD
Battery (upgraded 260 mAh): 3.87 USD
5-pack batteries + charger 15.50 USD
Total: 18.05 USD

Prices last checked and updated on 2016-11-25.

Final thoughts

Cheerson CX-10

Cheerson CX-10 orange, with protecting cover


I own several Cheerson CX-10 models (I convinced all my colleagues in the office to buy one) and I think they are stable and reliable to fly indoors in a little room. Outdoors, since the flying distance is not big, it’s not exciting.

Eachine H8 Mini

Eachine_H8_Mini_black


I bought also an Echine H8 Mini and tried it in my living room. A first impression I think it’s a bit unpredictable and thus dangerous. I think that this is best used outdoors, in fact the drone is very fast and because of its “random” nature during the flips and simply drops when the battery is low, you can feel safer when flying it over some grass.

Eachine H8S 3D mini inverted

Compatible with the same batteries of the H8 mini, this drone is even more fun as you press a button and it will flip and stay upside down and fly inverted. Really fun.

Eachine H8S 3D Mini Inverted Flight 2.4G 4CH 6Axis One Key Return RC Quadcopter RTF
16 USD (green), 18 USD (blue)

Advantage of owning both models:

  • they support the same batteries
  • if you wanna fly with a friend, the same models interfere with each other, but if you have an H8S it won’t interfere with the H8 mini

Conclusion

If I were you, and I assume you like to fly drones or at least I think you wanna have some beginner fun, I would buy both of them (in fact I owe both of them). The links I posted point to bangood, which is an awesome website and the delivery is free of charge (unless you are impatient and wanna pay for expedited shipping for faster delivery). Make sure to buy 1 propellers set for both (props for Cheerson CX-10 / props for Eachine H8 Mini. Note: the packages already contain a set of spare props, and if you buy the protecting cover you won’t break many props, thus 1 set is enough I believe, up to you). Buy the protecting cover for the CX-10. Buy one (or two) more batteries for the Eachine H8 Mini.

Check my article Cheerson CX-10 vs Skeye nano drone to read more about the Cheerson CX-10, CX-10A and CX-10C models.

If you feel like buying something bigger, check these quadcopters. Have fun! 🙂

Note: I’m filming these 2 drones to compare their behaviour. I will update this blog post as soon as I have some good footage. Stay tuned.

Cheerson CX-20 FPV Kit Review and HOWTO

Recently I ordered for my Cheerson CX-20 drone an FPV kit from Bangood for 157 USD:

Cheerson-CX-20-FPV-kit-SKU251782_2

Cheerson CX-20 RC Quadcopter Spare Parts 5.8G FPV Image Transmission Device Set

For a video, scroll to the end.

The monitor (model Sky-702) alone is worth 140 USD and it has the (removable – in case you don’t wanna use them) parts to protect it from the light (you know, when you are on the field to avoid the sunlight in the screen).

The kit provides also the necessary part to mount the monitor to the transmitter. Included is also a clover antenna (worth 20 USD) and some cables for it. See some close up photos of the transmitter and the cables for it.

Clover-Antenna_2150exp

Clover-Antenna_2151exp

Clover-Antenna_2152exp

Cheerson-CX-20-FPV-kit-flat-cable-IMG_2154exp

On a first look the cable seems to be a micro USB but it’s not (I tried to plug it in my phone without success)

Cheerson-CX-20-FPV-kit-flat-cable-IMG_2155exp

I tried to plug the cable in my GoPro 4 HDMI plug, but the cable is too big.

The manuals provided with the kit are kinda useless. They just show some details about the channels, but no information to understand the wiring or some other more important technical details. Also the support from Banggood is quite useless. I wrote in the forum asking for info and no useful information was provided, besides telling me to e-mail the customer support and ask for the manual. So I did and I’m still waiting for it. As the documentation and manuals are useless, I’m updating this article when I’m doing progress… see updates.

The transmitter looks like the SKY 8200, so when I’ll ask for help in the forums I’ll point to it. For more close-up pictures and technical details about the SKY 8200, check:

HOW TO

The following is my try and guess testing (and so far it didn’t work). TO BE UPDATED. HELP needed.

The main challenge for me was to make this work with my GoPro 4 Silver edition. The kit doesn’t come with the cables for the GoPro 4 and also the customer support on Banggood had no idea on which cables to recommend. This is really bad from banggood and even from Cheerson. I have no idea if connecting the transmitter to my drone like I did is correct or not.

I bought a USB cable for GoPro 3 for 3 USD and I tried to connect it like this (see following picture)

Cheerson-CX-20-FPV-kit-test-IMG_2156exp

The 2 G+5V (S1 and S2, bottom left) are used already by my gimbal (I didn’t put it to simplify the picture). The clover antenna needs 12V so you must get the power from the drone, from one of the G+12V on the right.

I had to go to a local hobby shop with the GoPro cable I bought on banggood and with the cables provided by the kit and ask to combine them together. The result can be seen in this video. It works!

Update February 2016: if you don’t have a local hobby store in your nearby have a look at this FPV 5.8GHz 200mW Mini AV Transmitter For Gopro Hero3 for 28 USD (it includes both transmitter and cable). I’ve read it works also for the GoPro 4. You may need to cut the red cable. See “Questions & comments” in the page for more details.

Things to know if you plan to buy a Cheerson CX-20

This is a shopping list if you are interested to buy an affordable (best price/features) Cheerson CX-20 drone and related accessories for more fun.

This was my 1st choice when I decided to buy a drone (from a beginners perspective) back in March 2015. Then I “modded” it to get the feeling on how it is to cultivate this hobby and of course to capture better footage (the gimbal was the first priority, as the videos taken with the standard gimbal were trembling a bit). I crashed it several times, not only in the first days but also months later and you know what? It still flies well! It’s really a good machine to start a drone adventure and little crashes don’t ruin it too much. Just the shell.

For more options check also this post: Cheap drones under 300 USD to attach your GoPro

Cheerson_CX-20_Mt_Pelerin_Lac_Leman

Note: I own a Cheerson CX-20 and bought everything from bangood. Banggood is an excellent online shop. Free shipping for most of the items (for big items like the drone you may pay a little fee, but all accessories are sent for free) and they arrive in Switzerland in around 2-3 weeks, exceptionally in 4 weeks.

I recently did a compilation of my adventures and stupid, funny things done with my 1st drone in summer and autumn 2015. I can tell you one thing: you wanna do your experiments with a cheap drone. Besides some bad crashes that ruined the body and the legs of the Cheerson CX-20 (which can be replaced) I’m quite happy that it is still in good conditions.

Mandatory things to buy

Note: prices checked and updated on 2016-12-28.

Recommended to buy

1 or 2 extra batteries are recommended. A 2800 mAh (already included in the RTF package) battery has an autonomy of around 15 minutes. I have a 2200 mAh battery with a broken cell and it can fly for around 8 minutes + 2 minutes “beeping” reserve.

If you want a bigger battery you’ll need to adjust the battery tray (DIY). See this video on Youtube to get an idea: CX20 Battery tray conversion for High Capacity battery. I did it but honestly I don’t think it’s worth it: extending the plastic to make the compartment higher for the battery to fit makes it harder to close the shell, and also it creates a lot of tension in the structure. Buy 2 more batteries instead, trust me.

Optional to buy

The 1st thing I bought with my drone is the imax recharger and I’m quite happy I did so. It is much faster then the original minimalistic charger included with the drone. It has also functions to discharge batteries, or putting them in storage mode. This can make batteries last longer.

  • Imax B6-AC battery recharger: 33 USD (this is a cloned version of the skyrc. It works perfectly for me. Buy the original if you want the best quality).
  • SKYRC iMAX B6AC V2 Professional: 56 USD (this is the original, better quality imax)
  • Lipo Bag: 6 USD (if a battery short circuits and starts to burn you may want it inside of a lipo bag and not on your floor, or in your bag… so for you safety you may want one of those).
  • Li-Po Battery Balance Charging Extension Wire Cable 20cm: 1 USD (take for 3S: this is useful if you wanna recharge your battery inside a lipo bag. The battery balance cable is too short, this extension makes it easier & safer).
  • A metallic box (like those you buy to put some money in it, or ammunition boxes) to store your batteries. Same: if the batteries explode you may want them in a metal box. A lipo bag helps a bit but is not 100% effective.
  • Propellers protectors: 11 USD (it’s not recommended to fly with these, but especially when you are a newbie, your first 10 flights are crucial. Trust me: I already had some experience with other smaller drones, but in my first 10 flights with this class (a bit heavier and quite sensitive controls) I had 4 crashes and broke 2 propellers. Buy and use these protectors for your first flights and you won’t regret it). If you break the protectors it’s not a tragedy, you can fix them with some super glue and they can protect your drone again.
  • DJI Phantom / Cheerson CX-20 backpack: 66 USD (this is a must for bikers or city pilots. I use a 35l Dakine backpack for my CX-20 but this is much better because it has several compartments to keep everything safe, plus it can be opened like a trolley)
  • 2 sets of CX-20/DJI Phantom propellers: 4 USD each

After some crashes

After some crashes I personally realized that the material of this drone is quite fragile… the body was the first to get smashed. I could duct tape it together but after every consecutive crash I had to do the duct tape job again and again… the legs got broken as well thus:

Accessories for cool videos

If you are into videography you may already have a GoPro. GoPro is like the iPhone of the drones. You pay much more for the brand, and have of course the best quality. But you may consider a cheaper action camera.

Action camera

If you have a GoPro and you are afraid to destroy/lose it you may buy a cheaper alternative for the drone, till you get more confident. But generally speaking, check in youtube comparison videos for those cameras and judge yourself. The quality is quite ok, you may even not need a gopro at all: one of those cams can be good enough for you.

Gimbal

If you buy a camera you may want to have it stabilized with a gimbal. I bought the Walkera G 2D and can recommend it. It’s almost plug and play: you attach a slider to the CX-20 bottom and you slide the gimbal in. There is a cheaper gimbal, for 50 USD, but you need to drill the drone and other modifications to make it work. Spend 20 bucks more and save time and hassle. Check this video on youtube to see how it’s easy (with some considerations about the length of the tripod) to mount the Walkera G-2D: Cheerson CX20 FPV Setup Part 1.

cables-male-to-male-for-gimbal-power

FPV

The final pimp for my drone was the FPV kit.

Check my review and HOWTO about the Cheerson CX-20 FPV kit.

Minimal FPV Setup

UPDATE February 2016: if you don’t care about filming, so if you don’t need a gimbal and you don’t need a gopro or another action camera, but you want to have a minimal FPV setup, check this kit containing a lightweight camera, antennas and a monitor:

JJRC H16 YiZhan Tarantula X6 Camera With Monitor: 52 USD

With little effort you can adapt the YiZhan FPV kit for the Cheerson CX-20 (youtube video).

Cheap drones under 300 USD to attach your GoPro

You are looking for a drone and you don’t like the cheap ones with built-in (low quality) cameras. Most importantly you want to attach your GoPro (or a similar action camera) and you are looking for a good deal? Check this article, it’s updated to contain the best drone of 2016.

A good place to browse is BangGood. I personally bought a few mini RC quadcopters, spare parts for my drones and many other electronics: USB power banks, battery chargers, cables and even smart phones for amazing prices. In a few cases I received defective product. I just had to prove with a video that the product was defective and received a new one for free, without the need to return the defective one. I call this awesome! Some products can be delivered from the USA or from the UK warehouse, but the best prices (and cheapest – even free delivery for small items) are from the default (Chinese) warehouse. You have to understand that the delivery from China can take up 2-3 weeks or even a month depending where you live and what you order. In Switzerland I mostly receive my orders in 2-3 weeks, exceptionally up to 4 weeks. I never had to pay customs. The prices listed in this post are taken from the Chinese warehouse.

Introduction

Below you’ll find a list of drones I’ve found for you, but if you do your research (which you should do) I’ve created a list of things to check before buying:

  • Check if the gimbal for the GoPro is included, its quality, and how it works. Some models have a generic one, some have a stabilized one, some can be extended with a separate gimbal…
  • Check the flying distance.
  • Check if the package has the transmitter included or not.
  • Check if the GPS is included and has a “Return Home button” or fail safe landing feature.
  • Check on youtube footage taken by normal people with the drone you wanna buy.
  • Check on rcgroups.com or in some other RC forums what people say about the drone you wanna buy.

Abbreviations

  • RTF: “ready to fly”. Everything you need is included in the package.
  • BNF: “bind-n-fly”. Transmitter, battery, battera charger not included in the package.

Cheap alternatives to the GoPro

If you don’t have a GoPro, or you need a cheaper action camera, you can buy one of those (camera prices last checked and updated on 2016-05-27):

Browse action cameras on banggood for more choices.

Here a YouTube comparison video between SJ4000 SJCAM vs AMKOV SJ5000 vs GoPro HERO 3 BE vs SONY AS100V.

Drones under 300 USD worth checking if you want to connect your own action camera

Here comes the list of drones capable to carry a GoPro or similar (e.g. a Xiaomi Yi is a very good alternative) action camera.

I start listing two models which on my opinion are worth listing even if they come with their own integrated camera.

3DR Solo Quadcopter

3dr_solo_gopro

3DR Solo on Amazon – if you own a GoPro 3 or GoPro 4 and you can order from Amazon (USA): this is the drone for you! It’s THE drone made for the gopro. The price sunk from the initial 1000+ USD to less than 300 USD, thus it’s really an interesting drone. I’ve put it at the top of the list because it’s the one with the best quality/price ratio. Buy it with the gimbal and send your gopro in the sky for great aerials. Enjoy.

UPair Chase One Quadcopter

Note: not to be confused with the “old” UPAir Chase quadcopter (there are many bad reviews about the old model). The company was acquired and they developed a new improved version based on the old drone. It has almost the same shape, but many improvements.

new_upair_chase_one

New UP Air UPair-Chase UPair One 5.8G FPV 12MP 2K & 4K 24FPS HD Camera With 2-Axis Gimbal RC Quadcopter – 180+ reviews, Rate: 4.9/5

Price: 310 USD 2K camera, 384 USD: 4K camera (last checked and updated on 2017-01-06)

  • Flying time: 16 minutes “full load”, 22 minutes “aircraft alone”
  • Control distance: around 1km
  • Video feed distance: around 800m
  • GPS: GPS stabilized flying (like a DJI Phantom) and return home feature
  • Gimbal: brushless gimbal included. Note: the camera is attached to the gimbal (like a DJI Phantom series camera).
  • FPV: telemetry included, monitor included!
  • App control: the drone has even an app (just like DJI Go)

You can choose between 2 models: Full HD 1080p (at 60fps) which they call 2K and a 4K model that comes with a camera that shoots 4K at 24fps.

Update: since the camera is integrated in the gimbal, it’s not possible to attach a GoPro, unless you buy a separate gimbal, but then you may need more customizations (telemetry, FPV…).

This drone looks like a copy of the DJI Phantom 3 drone and it’s very promising. Definitively if I had to buy my first drone I’d give this a chance.

If you consider that a cheap action camera costs around 70 USD, a gimbal costs also around 70 USD, and telemetry (antennas + monitor) would cost definitively also around 100 USD, this drone is really a bargain! Even if you have to use its own camera and not your GoPro.

Xiaomi Mi drone

xiaomi-mi-drone

Xiaomi Mi Drone WIFI FPV With 4K 1080P Camera 3-Axis Gimbal RC Quadcopter

Price: 420 USD (last checked and updated on 2017-01-06) + 10% voucher (coupon code: 95c89f) 42 USD discount = discounted price: 378 USD

Description:

Camera: 1080P Wifi FPV
Gimbal: 3 Axis
Smart Battery: 5100mah 17.4V
Flying time: 27 mins
Maximum distance: 1km (even less if you consider wifi interferences e.g. in an urban area)
Weight: 1376g (to compare, a DJI Phantom 3 standard with battery weights 1216g)

Features:

  • 1080P Wifi FPV camera, 3-Axis gimbal
  • Video resolutions: 1920 X 1080p 60fps 1920×1080p 30fps 1280×720p 120fps
  • 720p preview resolution (on app)
  • Control via Mi Drone app (Android) / Mi Drone app (iOS)
  • Pointing flight feature: the drone can fly to the point you touch
  • Orbit feature: fly around a point
  • Waypoints feature: set waypoints on a map for autonomous flights
  • 4-propeller system with detachable shields
  • 17.4V battery 5100mAh, 27 minutes non-stop flying
  • Camera attached to a 3-axis gimbal, stabilizes up to 2000 vibrations per second
  • GPS + GLONASS + vision-based positioning
  • Autopilot options: automatic take-off + landing, waypoint flight path planning, tap to fly on map, circle an object on the ground
  • Intelligently detects low battery and returns home automatically
  • Real-time location tracking for easy retrieval even post crash
  • Hovers automatically at the edge of no-fly zones
  • Built-in PCB antenna array in remote control for maximum reach
  • Modular design and foldable landing gear

I own a Xiaomi Mi 4c phone, some friends in Europe own Xiaomi phones too and they are all satisfied. So the Xiaomi brand is well known and has good feedback. The drone looks promising, however, according to some reviews I’ve read so far it has some strange limitations such a beginner mode that can be unlocked only after a certain amount of flying time. Also they say it’s lightweight, but it actually weights around 100-150g more than a DJI Phantom 3 drone. But it has a good “modular” design: for traveling you can fold the landing gear, remove the camera and it will fit better your carry on baggage. It’s still not as portable as a DJI Mavic Pro, but for this price what do you want? Last but not least, to be honest with you, consider buying a DJI Phantom 3 Standard (on Amazon) for 400 USD (UPDATE 2017-01-12: when I updated this, it was available for 400 USD, a real bargain, now I see it at 480 USD which is still good to me, but if those extra 60 USD and the fact the the Mi drone is more portable make a difference for you, you may give a mi drone a try, but I still believe that the Phantom 3 is way better and recommend it more), which is on my opinion a better drone. The Mi drone wins only in portability and in some countries it may be just a bit cheaper than the DJI Phantom 3 Standard, but I believe a DJI drone is always worth the investment.

Cheerson CX-20 (also known as Quanum Nova)

Cheerson_CX_20_Auto-Pathfinder

as you can see below, the Quanum Nova is exactly the same as the Cheerson CX-20, just rebranded and renamed.

quantoum_nova_fpv_gps_waypoint_quadcopter

Cheerson CX-20 Open-source Version Auto-Pathfinder Quadcopter RTF (ready to fly)

Price: 216 USD (last checked and updated on 2016-12-28)
8% OFF Coupon Code: bggcx-20

Check my article Things to know if you plan to buy a Cheerson CX-20

  • Flying time: about 15 minutes with the standard 2800 mAh battery of course.
  • Charging time: about 2-4 hours (with an Imax B6-AC battery recharger: less than 1 hour)
  • Control distance: about 300m
  • GPS: GPS multi-rotor autopilot system, Come Home button, waypoint flying, stay in the same position etc.
  • Software: Mission Planner (for Windows), APM Planner (for Mac) etc.
  • GoPro Gimbal: included (a better gimbal is recommended if you are into aerial videography).

Syma X8G

syma-x8g

Syma X8G 2.4G 4CH With 8MP HD Camera Headless Mode RC Quadcopter

Price: 120 USD – Syma X8G on Amazon: 106 USD (last checked and updated on 2016-12-28)

For this amazing price you get a drone with a GoPro clone.

  • Flying time: 10-12 minutes
  • Charging time: 70 minutes
  • Control distance: 100m

Wltoys V303 Seeker Quadrocopter

Wltoys-V303-Seeker

Wltoys V303 Seeker Quadrocopter 2.4G FPV GPS RC Quadcopter for GoPro on Amazon

Price: 275 USD (last checked and updated on 2016-12-28)

XK DETECT X380

xk-detect-x380

XK DETECT X380 X380-A X380-B X380-C GPS 2.4G 1080P HD RC Quadcopter RTF

Price: 296 USD – XK Detect X380 on Amazon: 290 USD
(last checked and updated on 2016-12-28)

It looks like the Wltoys v303 listed above and it can be purchased in several editions. The edition with the gimbal for the gopro (X380-C) costs much more and it includes an action camera, but you may buy a gimbal separately and the costs should be more sustainable.

Kai Deng K70C

kai-deng-k70c

Kai Deng K70C With 2MP Wide Angle HD Camera Gimbal 3D Rolling RC Quadcopter RTF

Price: only 70 USD (last checked and updated on 2016-12-28)

Be aware that for this price you can’t expect a good quality. But if you want a cheap drone (maybe your first drone) just to see how it goes, this one could be good. It even comes with its own action camera which you can unmout and try your GoPro. Again, check the reviews in the banggood page. Personally I’d invest a bit more and take a better one (like the UpAir) or spend less and take a mini drone without camera.

Blade 200 QX BNF with SAFE

Blade_200_QX

Blade 200 QX BNF with SAFE on Amazon

Price: 141 USD (last checked and updated on 2016-12-28)

BNF = transmitter not included

High performance brushless motors.

“The Blade 200 QX can also carry a GoPro, but it’s probably around the maximum payload for that quad, so flight performance is likely quite affected.”

Flying 3D X6

Flying_3D_X6

Flying 3D X6 Plus 5.8G FPV With 720P Camera 2.4G 6CH GPS RC Quadcopter RTF

Price: 188 USD (last checked and updated on 2016-12-28) the price went up to 220 USD and now is down again to 188 USD.

Flying time: 4-15 minutes
Control distance: about 500m
GPS: Come Home Button

A racing drone

Look at these videos: Mr Steele YouTube channel

If you are excited about this kind of videos and this kind of flying, you probably wanna consider to buy a racing drone.

Check these 2 kits which on my opinion are really good to begin with.

Eachine Racer 250 FPV

eachine-racer-250-kit

Eachine Racer 250 FPV drone with i6 transmitter, 7 Inch monitor, HD camera, RTF

Price: 280 USD (last checked and updated on 2016-12-28)

Eachine Falcon 250 FPV

eachine-falcon-250-kit

Eachine Falcon 250 FPV drone with FlySky i6 transmitter, HD Camera, RTF

Price: 233 USD (last checked and updated on 2016-12-28)

This kit is amazing for a starter. If I had to buy a new drone right now as first model to play with, I’d go for this one and I’d attach a Mobius camera to it.

Final considerations

Maybe all the drones listed above are still too pricey or you are not yet convinced if this hobby is for you or not? Then do like me, start with a mini toy quadcopter without camera, fly it inside, outside and have some fun. Also a mini quadcopter is a very good present for a kid. A quadcopter with a camera can be dangerous for a kid. I’ve seen it with my eyes. Kids tend to focus on the smartphone/app, not on the quad. Teach them the opposite: to check the quad, then after many hours of experience with some mini quadcopters you can give them a camera drone.

 

Programming drones in C#

You are a software engineer and wanna learn some drone programming? Check the ArduPilot/APM development site. There you can find Mission Planner.

The future (in my opinion) are the autonomous drones. I would invest my programming energy in learning how those work. In fact a few promising projects go in this direction.
E.g. HEXO+, AirDog (main purpose, attach a GoPro and use them to film). I read somewhere that they may be based on the ArduCopter project.

Costs for various drones

Parrot AR.Drone 2.0, 200-400 US$
HEXO+ (pre-order) 1,150 US$.
AirDog (pre-order) 1,300 US$.
ArduCopter DIY kit 550 – 615 US$.
ArduCopter ready to fly kit 1,350 US$.

So the cheapest option seems to be the AR.drone 2.0, which is also very popular and you may even find used models on amazon, for even 190 US$!

Which one should you choose?

Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 SDK in C#/.NET

Ruslan-B/AR.Drone on GitHubThe AR.Drone 2.0 controlling library for C#/.NET and Mono, with video support. Built over the original AR.Drone SDK 2.0.1 – using lastest drone firmware.

If the cost is an issue, you may wanna buy the cheapest option and begin learning from there. Go for AR.Drone 2.0 and try the AR.Drone library by Ruslan-B. It may be even easier to learn (just my opinion – need to test). If you already own an AR.Drone 2.0 or can borrow one from a friend it makes sense to give this a try.

To consider: the last commit on Ruslan-B code was on August, 26th 2014. Maybe the community and support for this may not be that big. But the project looks mature and stable (to check) so it may not be a big issue. Eventually, questions and support can be found on stackoverflow.

MissionPlanner SDK in C#/.NET

diydrones/MissionPlanner on GitHub – the most commonly used ground station written in C# for windows but also runs on Linux and MacOS via mono.

If you wanna learn the cool and advanced stuff directly, check the ArduPilot/APM project. The drone will cost more money, but on the other hand the projects look more active, and there is a big community.

To consider: The main flight code for ArduPilot/APM is written in C++. Support tools are written in a variety of languages, most commonly in python. So far only the MissionPlanner is available in C#. Check what each project does, and see if it’s ok for you.

Cheerson CX-10 vs Skeye nano (rip-off) drone

Skeye Nano vs. Cheerson CX-10 vs. Cheerson CX-10A Headless vs. (other or no brand) Nano drone: Cheerson CX-10 wins! If you wanna buy a cheap Nano drone, Cheerson CX-10 the one to buy! You may think that the 10A is better but it’s not. It’s just marketing, the headless function is kinda useless. I own both, I can tell you. Check also the videos (a guy compared both of them and is telling the same: the CX-10A is slower).

Update July 2017: if you are interested in the model with the camera, check the Cheerson CX-10C, for only 24 USD (Skye Nano version: 99 USD if you like to pay more…)

Update December 2016: check also my newest mini drones comparison: Cheerson CX-10 vs Eachine H8 Mini.

Update September 2015: now you can order the Cheerson CX-10C, which includes a 0.3 MP camera! I still think that the CX-10 is the best, but hei if you wanna take some low quality pictures just for fun, why not.

Cheerson CX-10, the original

The Cheerson CX-10 exists since a while. It can be bought for less than 20 USD from banggood.com and it’s available in different colors: orange, green, blue. Orange is my favorite.

Cheerson CX-10A headless

This is the new model and it’s headless, which means that you don’t have to position it in the flying direction before the take off. It orginally costes a few bucks more but now it’s being sold at the same price as the CX-10, probably because they realizes nobody wants it :). It’s available in different, fancy new colors (black, white, silver, gold with some tribal logo on it). Update after receiving and testing it: I never use the headless mode (you need to specifically activate it so if you are like me you won’t do it, you will probably just turn it on and fly it, so you would not “benefit” the headless mode). So if you wanna buy this one instead of the original CX-10, it’s probably because of the design/color (black is kinda cool). But for a better flying experience, buy the CX-10 which is a bit more reactive. I like both of them but the CX-10 is better in my opinion.

Notes about the Cheerson CX-10 and CX-10A quads

In the Cheerson CX-10/CX-10A package you get (besides quad, transmitter, charging USB cable) only 4 spare propellers. 2 turn clockwise, 2 counter clockwise. The CX-10 transmitter is compatible with the CX-10A and vice-versa. I have 2 different models but only use one transmitter, it works just fine. I can also fly one and a friend of mine flies the other one with the other transmitter. No problem, they don’t interfere if you were wondering.

Important, when you order your mini quad, you can choose which mode to control it. In USA (and EU): people in the RC community generally use Mode 2, left hand throttle. So if you wanna get familiar with the “standard”, buy the model with the mode 2 transmitter.

Buying suggestions

After playing for a while with my Cheerson CX-10 I think I can recommend to beginners to buy some spare parts, like these:

Especially when playing inside, collisions are almost inevitable. When the copter falls down violently, the propellers can be turned a bit (they can be fixed) but after several collisions they break. Buy the protection cover, you’ll never need to replace propellers anymore.

Cheerson CX-10C with camera

cheerson-cx-10c-camera-front

This is basically the same as the CX-10, but with a 0.3 MP camera. 0.3 Mega pixel is really low quality, don’t even bother buying this, you can take better selfies with your phone, really. But in case you wanna give it a try:

Skeye Nano, the same but twice price

If you are here because you saw the Skeye nano drone – “World’s Smallest Quadcopter” for a special price (limited offer) and you were wondering if it’s worth to buy: DON’T buy it. I sadly ordered one from the gizmag store and unluckily the order is non-refundable. See a screenshot of this “limited offer” taken from gizmag:

skeye-nano-gizmag

Check a video of the Skeye Nano. As you can see, it’s practically identical to the Cheerson CX-10.


The Skeye nano can be found on gizmag.com, stacksocial.com, androidauthority.com etc. (all webshops look the same) for a “limited offer” 41% discount (or something like that), so for 35 USD (update: last time I saw “sale ends in 4 days“, now -a week after- I see “sale ends in 6 days“, seems it’s just a marketing way to attract customers…). On trndlabs.com it can be found at the official price of 49 USD. For this price you can buy 3 Cheerson CX-10! Quite a rip-off!

Same technical specifications and same design. At the time of writing, it’s being sold at different shops (see above) but nobody wrote yet a comparison review between the two models. Quite funnily the special offer will be gone in a few days.

The order is non-refundable. I ordered one myself and I wrote this post to warn users not to make the same mistake as I was quite frustrated myself. I don’t usually write rants. This is just to open your eyes. If you wanna buy the skeye, feel free.

Personally, I bought also a Cheerson CX-10 at and a Cheerson CX-10A at banggood (see links above) so in the end I’ll have 3 models for an average of 25 USD.

A special thanks to Antony Alston, the author of the Cheerson CX-10 review on Best Quadcopters Reviews to enlighten me about this rip-off.

UPDATE 23-01-2015

Cheerson CX-10 form banggood UK: ordered on January, 13th. Received on January, 19th. The delivery to Switzerland took 5 working days!

Skeye Nano: ordered on January, 10th. Received on Januarty 22nd. The delivery to Switzerland took 9 working days.

Here a first person view video of me flying my Cheerson CX-10 (in my youtube channel you find more videos and tests):

Here a crash tests video with the protecting cover:

The Skeye Nano looks exactly the same, as stated before…