Are you starting out to step into quadcopter hobby? Are you serious about becoming an expert quadcopter flyer but need guidance, you are on the right page.
This is a quadcopter beginners guide for those who are trying to start flying those multirotor aircrafts.
First of all, welcome to the hobby.
Second, keep reading.
Here is an overview and learning outcomes of our quadcopter beginners guide.
- We will start off by understanding what a quadcopter is and what some of its major types are.
- How to start with this hobby, what you need.
- How to fly a quadcopter – this is the most important section so don’t miss this one.
- Tips and suggestions for beginners. You just cannot miss these exclusive tips.
So let’s begin.
What Is a Quadcopter?
A quadcopter, according to Wikipedia, is a multirotor helicopter that has four rotors. It is an unmanned helicopter with four rotors.
So the basic definition of a quadcopter is that it is a flying machine (or aircraft or a helicopter) having four rotors.
Some other names of a quadcopter are:
- Quadrotor helicopter
Whenever you hear a word “quad” with a flying machine, it definitely means it is a quadcopter.
Quick Fact: The first quadcopter was developed by Louis Breguet in 1907.
Every rotor in a quadcopter has its own motor and propeller. As the number of rotors increase, quadcopter becomes more powerful and it gets better at flying.
Types of Quadcopters
There are no as such specific types of quadcopters but generally they are classified into three categories:
Micro are the smallest quadcopters that are perfect for beginners normally priced under $100. These are easiest to fly for example Blade Nano QX.
Mini quadcopters on the other hand, are perfect for amateur flyers. These are also inexpensive but they aren’t as simple and easy to fly as micros. Syma X5 is a fairly well-known mini quadcopter.
Professional quadcopters are high level expensive quadcopters that are best for professionals. These are mostly equipped with a camera for aerial filming for instance DJI Phantom.
Where to Start: Your First Quadcopter
As a beginner, you need to start off with a really inexpensive micro quadcopter. I’d recommend going for Bade Nano QX or Hubsan X4. These two quads are extremely great for beginners.
These are cheap and are extremely lightweight. Due to their lightweight, these quads can survive a lot of crashes thus you will not have to purchase a new one every couple days. Even if you end up crashing your quadcopter, you will only lose $50 or less which won’t hurt your pocket too much.
Micro quadcopters are best for learning purpose. Their simple control system, easy navigation and simple flying techniques make them a perfect device for starters. These are in fact toy quadcopters that are made for beginners and kids. You don’t have to hesitate flying one because every professional quadcopter flyer has started his journey from these micro quadcopters.
Another reason for using these tiny lightweight quadcopters as your first device is that since they are so light in weight therefore they don’t hurt someone even if they crash in a crowd or a park. You don’t want to hurt others, right?
How to Fly a Quadcopter
After you have purchased your first drone, it is time to fly it.
But before you set it up, go out and give it a try, there are certain things that you should understand and know.
The first and the most important is the transmitter.
Transmitter is used for two purposes. First it lets you control your quadcopter by buttons and sticks and secondly it communicates with the drone and send all the instructions to it.
Normally transmitters have two sticks and a few buttons. Sticks are used for throttle and controlling and flying the quad while buttons are used for other purposes like on/off, twists, flips, flying mode etc.
All the transmitters are labelled and they all come with a user manual. You need to read manual and understand your transmitter and its functions.
Here is a list of some of the common terms that you will see on a transmitter:
- Throttle: We all know what it means, right? It will move your quad up and down.
- Pitch: It refers to tilt. It will either tilt the quadcopter in forward or backward direction.
- Yaw: It rotates the quadcopter.
- Roll: It tilts the quadcopter in left or right direction.
All the buttons on the transmitter are labelled. Go through the manual to understand what each one means.
Getting Your Quadcopter Ready to Fly
Most of the quadcopters, especially micro, are ready-to-fly (RTF) which means you don’t have to assemble them. They come out of the pack as a whole. If not, you need to assemble them which is not normally hard. You just have to add propellers and that’s all.
Of course you have to add batteries and charge the quadcopter before you can take it out for its first fly.
Getting your quadcopter ready for its first flight is one of the best moments in life. If you are doing it for the first time, I am sure you will be desperate to give it a try.
Wait ……. Do not rush or you will lose your quadcopter forever.
Here are the basics:
- Micros are probably best for indoor but I do not recommend taking your first flight indoors as you will hit something instead fly it outdoors. If you have enough indoor space, that’s great.
- Choose a good sunny day. It must not be windy.
- Go to a park and choose a place with no obstacles, no trees and no people. Make sure that there are no obstacles at a distance of 50 meters.
Here is how to take your first flight.
Put your quadcopter on a level surface preferably on a bench. Avoid flying it from the grass. Turn it on and let it sit for a few seconds. Then gently give throttle and take off.
Make sure you are standing at a distance from quadcopter. Don’t stand too close to it.
Once your quadcopter is in the air, you need to learn maintaining its balance. You need to maintain its level and the best way to do it is by flyingtail in which means your face and the face of the quad should point in same direction. This way, you will be able to control it easily. It is the natural and the easiest way to learn flying a quadcopter.
Do not use maneuvers at this stage rather just try to get a hold of throttle and learn controlling it. Trust me, this is not easy.
Keep the average flight time in mind and land your quad before its battery drains.
Sounds simple and interesting, yes it is.
Things to Remember for Your First Flight
- Fly it low. There are a couple of good reasons for not flying your micro quadcopter above rooftops. First, you won’t be able to get hold of it because you will not be able to maintain tail in position. Second and importantly, as you move up wind pressure starts to increase. If you will take your quad above rooftops, there are fair chances that you will lose it. It will be dragged away by the wind due to its lightweight, you will lose control over it and soon it will get out of sight.
- Take your first flight and first few flights indoor as long as you have enough space. Choose an empty room or a lawn or a large room or preferably your backyard. Make sure that there aren’t any people around and room must not be too congested. If you live in a small house, don’t try flying it indoors.
- There will be moments when you will notice that the distance between you and your quadcopter has increased enormously. This happens a lot and this is just unintentional. Since micros have minimal range therefore if your quadcopter gets too far, you will lose control over it or it will get out of sight due to its sheer size. Therefore, as soon as you get a hint that it’s getting too far, drop it. Yes drop your quadcopter. It is better to drop your quadcopter and repair it instead of losing it altogether.
- Wind is not a good friend of quadcopter flyers. You cannot resist it therefore don’t try to fly your quad in wind. Period.
Hovering and Maneuvers
After you have mastered tail in flying and you are sure that you have full control on throttle and you can level your quad in air and control it easily – it is time to start off with maneuvers.
One of the basic rules of maneuvering is to keep one side of quadcopter towards you that is its one side should always face you. Choose its left side and it must face you.
Fly your quadcopter and when its left side is towards you, take a yaw. Since you took 180 degree yaw therefore now its right side is towards you. Now take another 180 degree yaw to make its left side point towards you again.
This is how you should practice.
When practicing maneuvers, make sure to first practice and master one maneuver. Once mastered, then and only then move to the next one.
If you will mix it all up, things will get very hard.
Tips and Suggestions for Beginners
- Not every quadcopter is for beginners. Start from a micro quadcopter that is priced under $50 as these are best for beginners. Anything that’s over $100 is not a good choice for a newbie.
- There is no shame in being a beginner and there is no shame in using a micro cheap quadcopter. We all have been through this phase and there is no way that you can bypass it.
- You will lose quadcopters, you’ll crash them, you will break them, you will hurt yourself and you might hurt others. These are the parts of the game. Don’t be afraid of losing a quadcopter. All you have to do is go out and get a new cheap one.
- Practice. Practice.
- Micro quadcopters are lightweight and you should understand this. They cannot resist wind so don’t try flying them any above than rooftops even if you are extremely good at flying.
- At times, it is better to drop your quad then losing it. If you lose control or if it gets out of sight, just drop it. Once dropped, you can find it and repair it.
- After getting expert at your first micro quadcopter, move to a mini quadcopter and then move up the ladder gradually. Move towards high-level quadcopters gradually and in steps.
- When your quadcopter is about to crash, the best thing you can do is stop its throttle. There are times when you cannot move it right or left because crashes are almost instant and you have to react in a millisecond, and at such moments, the best you can do is simply turn off the throttle to minimize damage.
- It is an expensive hobby. You need to find out a way to keep it relatively affordable for yourself and the best way to do so is by moving from low level to high level in gradual steps.
It is not really hard to learn flying a quadcopter neither it is an impossible. In fact, it is one of the best hobbies ever. Maybe that’s because I love flying quadcopters and this is my only hobby.
But there is so much that you can do with a quadcopter – it is not just flying.
Imagine taking aerial photographs of buildings and making videos from sky sitting in a park, that sounds very fascinating. But to do this, you need to first learn flying a simple quadcopter then an advance level quadcopter and then a pro quad with a GoPro or an HD camera. If you will move in steps, you will never ever end up crashing your camera and a quadcopter that cost you well over $700.
This is why it is so crucial that you start from a micro quadcopter, learn the basics and then move ahead.
It is a fantastic hobby, and to make most from it, you should be willing to learn and practice. I hope by reading our quadcopter beginners guide you understand the basics and are ready to buy your first quadcopter.