Multi Rotors: So many choices, what's the difference?
MassiveRC sells multi rotors or multicopters (also inappropriately called 'drones'). Most multi rotors are quadcopters that have 4 propellers, but more prop combinations are available, ranging from 3 to 8 or more. We're going to concentrate on quad(copters)s, since that's what we sell. There are 3 general categories of quads and we'll go over each as well as new trends being implemented into them.
Micro and Nano Quadcopters
Micro quads are typically 9 cm from rotor to rotor or smaller and are the smallest of the quadcopters, weighing 25-50 grams. Their props are directly driven\attached to the motors, minimizing the amount of moving parts compared to a helicopter. The latest models are very stable and very fast, being capable of exceeding 25 mph. They are great for rainy days because you can fly them inside and do obstacle course flying. There are models with LEDs built in that make them great for flying indoors or out in the dark. They can be flown outdoors in the daytime but depending on how good the pilot's vision is, how far out you can fly them will be limited to visibility due to their small size. A newer class of Nano quads have come out that are only 5cm. These are great fun but are mostly for indoor flight. For the price, we recommend you start with a micro or mini and buy a nano later as an ultra portable quad to add to your existing fleet.
Mini quadcopters are typically 23-35 cm from rotor to rotor. Their props are gear driven on toy grade and direct driven on hobby grade. The props on them are actually larger than a micro quad. They weigh between 80-150 grams. While they can be flown inside, their larger size makes them more suitable for outdoor flight, where their larger size also makes them more visible for flying farther distances than a micro quad. Recent implementations of accelerometers allows mini quads to handle wind almost as good as micro quads. Mini quads also have plenty of load capacity if you wish to mount a high-quality mini camera (some come with a lower quality camera already built in). Some even come with add-on modules such as plastic missile launchers, grappling hooks, squirt guns, and bubble makers. Mini quads also have a longer running time due to their larger capacity batteries. These also have models equipped with LEDs for flying in the dark.
Hobby Grade Multi Rotors
Hobby grade multi rotors typically range in size from 25 cm or larger. The main difference between hobby grade and 'Toy' grade multicopters are the power and sophistication of the components they are made of as well as their weight (250 grams or more). Many hobby grade units are kits that must be assembled and soldered after going through the task of choosing which components to use, unlike 'Toy' grade that only need batteries installed. Hobby grade multi rotors make use of brushless motors which have much more power than toy grade quads that use brushed motors. This allows them to go faster, perform better, and carry heavier payloads. It also makes them potentially more dangerous. A nick or bruise caused by a toy grade prop can turn into stitches or more grave damage from an encounter with a faster spinning hobby grade prop. They can be outfitted with GPS, barometer, compass, and even telemetry. Some have the ability to use GPS to go to programmed waypoints, hold GPS and/or altitude position, or even return to takeoff by themselves in the event the pilot loses control. We caution beginners to start out learning with smaller multicopter until your piloting skills and more-importantly, responsibility level have increased before trying to fly something larger. There have been many stories in the media about 'drone' accidents due to irresponsible pilots. Most of these inappropriately-called 'drones' are hobby grade quads. While you should be responsible while flying any aircraft, the potential for danger to people and property from a mishap with a hobby grade quad is much higher than their lighter, less powerful toy grade counterparts. MassiveRC now sells the RC Logger Eye One Xtreme. It is an entry-level, ready-to-fly, 250 sized quad that has the power of hobby grade brushless motors, but has safety features such as motor cutoff and lightweight soft edge props. Combined with its light weight at only 130 grams, it makes a wise first choice for your first hobby-grade quad. We also sell DIY (Do It Yourself) hobby grade components for the advanced builder.
Aerial Photography, Video, and FPV (First Person View)
All multis are capable of being outfitted with cameras to take pictures, video, or even fly real-time via video transmission to a remote display or goggles. Doing this is not for beginners, but advanced pilots and not only should you respect the laws when performing such activities, you should also follow all the additional safety precautions when doing so. The government and media already want to ban these activities, ruining it for the responsible pilots and vendors because of the reckless individuals who don't follow any safety\privacy rules. Everyone makes mistakes, but there's a difference between having a lapse of judgement or accident to complete abandonment. These activities should not be done over a highly-populated urban environment. If you have a mishap, do the right thing and own up to it and don't run away like a criminal. MassiveRC now sells FPV equipment.