Some people decide to build their own quadcopters. Although I think this is a noble pursuit, this seems like something that might be above my abilities/time availability currently. After being persuaded that a larger drone for around $500 might be something I needed to “think about,” I was introduced to a smaller version, The New Hubsan X4, which currently sells for $51 on Amazon.
After trying it out, this is definitely one of the coolest things I’ve purchased in the last few years. I have briefly experimented with more traditional remote control helicopters with very limited success, but this quadrotor is much easier to fly. Plus, it’s very small, easily able to fit in your hand, so it can be flown indoors. Here’s a flight video of the Hubsan (not mine). Note that a keychain camera like this one is attached for some of the shots. I’m surprised that part turned out as well as it did.
It is relatively simple to fly, but to call this little quadcopter “easy” to fly would be an exaggeration. This website seems to have some good pointers for learning to generally fly a helicopter. Some of the lessons you might be able to skip forward on, but it’s got some good practice ideas. Disorientation seems to be the biggest challenge flying this quad, so I started out mostly using the left-right and forward-backwards control to move it around. This helps give you a feel for the craft.
After flying around like this for a while, I swept the craft back and forth adjusting the nose forward. This is quite difficult at first, but after a few sessions, I got the hang of it. I have crashed it several (maybe 50) times, and I’ve been quite impressed with how well it’s held up. One of the motor pods did eventually crack, but I was able to repair it, which I’ll do a post on later. I’m a lot more willing to experiment on something that cost around $50, and weighs a few ounces, rather than something that cost $500 and weighs much more.
Flying this little quadcopter is great fun in itself, and great practice for if I ever did decide to move to one of the “big boys.” The battery lasts less than ten minutes, but is ready to go again off of a USB charger in about 30 minutes. This is perfect for around the house, as you can practice, then do something else for a while, and it’s ready to go again.
In conclusion, I would absolutely recommend one of these little guys. buy it here from Amazon, and I think you’ll be extremely pleased.