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Best 5 RC Quadcopter Drones for the Cheap Hobbyist...Some Under $100

Updated on March 19, 2016

Cheap or Expensive...How Does a Quadcopter Work?

With advances in technology and engineering, quadcopters have become one of the most fascinating toys (or tools) to hit the market. The typical quadcopter boasts a total of four arms with their corresponding propellers and motors. Each motor/propeller unit functions independently. In addition, each opposing pair of rotors spins in the same direction, with one pair spinning in a clockwise manner while the other spins in a counter-clockwise direction.

Unlike regular helicopters that utilize the tail rotor for control and other related functions, the quadcopter makes use of changes in the rotation rate of the rotors to generate thrust and lift as required. The stability produced by the multirotor system is superior to that of helicopters, therefore maneuvering them is a whole lot easier. The main components of modern RC quadcopters include propellers, motors, main frame, flight controller, electronic speed controller (ESC), and a receiver.

Most enthusiasts and newbie's may be more familiar with other names by which quadcopters are often called; these include but are not limited to drones, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), quadrotors and quadrokopters.

There are many quadcopters on the market today but many of them are first generation models that don’t stand up well to the newer models. Some have longer flight times than others, some have a camera while others don’t. Quadcopters are often constructed with a very simple layout, making them easy to build and repair. Likewise, the cost of fixing crashed quadcopters is much cheaper than that of other complex UAVs.

Not only are quads used for leisure activities, but they are also adopted for military and law enforcement use, as well as for commercial purposes, making them ideal for a broad range of customers.

My #1 Pick for Price and Function Comes in at only $99

Here is the Scoop on the UDI U818A RC Quadcopter

For customers in search of a futuristic design and great camera all in one, the UDI U818A shown above is just the perfect choice. Unlike other models, this craft features a 6 AXIS GYRO with posture control and an integrated design that guarantees precise positioning of the aircraft. Flying is made easier and longer (up to 30 meters) as a result of the integration of high capacity batteries and efficient motors.

What about performance and toughness?

Fans of this quad have found it to be very durable (helped by the protective hoops around the blades), It also flies quite fast and will even do flips! The onboard 640x480 camera also sports decent color and white balance for normal use.

Installation and repair of the UDI U818A 2.4GHz 4 CH 6 Axis Gyro RC Quadcopter is simplified, thanks to its overall modular design. The 4 channel function of this craft promotes stability and ease of operation. The UDI is a favorite among scores of customers and UAV enthusiasts. The best news of all is that it comes in at a very affordable sub $100 pricepoint. This makes it the overall best choice for beginners and experienced RC pilots alike.

Check out the video below for a more detailed review of this bird and watch her fly!


Pick #2 Hubsan H107L X4 Mini RTF RC Quadcopter...only $34!

This model sports a durable one piece main frame, complemented by a 6-axis flight control system with adjustable gyro sensitivity, making it ideal for both indoor and outdoor use. Furthermore, its overall stability promotes ease of use. If you are not in need of a craft with an onboard camera, this versatile flyer is just what you need.

Other specific features include a full 4 channel 2.4Ghz control and a high capacity LiPO battery that drives 4 powerful coreless motors. The LiPO battery is complemented by a USB charger which facilitates ease of battery recharging.

Awesomeness for a low price!

The Hubsan H107L X4 Mini RTF RC Quadcopter sports an elegant design with an aesthetic appearance. This small flying craft is also equipped with LED lights that make it easier for late evening and night flights. Performance is guaranteed, not only by the manufacturers of this craft but also by the vast majority of customers who have purchased and flown this UAV. The Hubsan H107L X4 Mini RTF RC Quadcopter comes at a very, very affordable price range.

Hard to Beat the Famous DJI Phantom!

Pick #3...DJI Phantom Aerial UAV Drone Quadcopter for GoPro

We are stepping up the price and functionality with this quad. This craft is by far one of the most impressive in terms of design and performance. This factory grade, pre-tuned quadcopter comes packaged with a state of the art remote transmitter. Setting up this system is as easy as it gets: once the batteries are charged (and properly inserted) and all of the other components (propellers, landing gear etc.) are mounted, the DJI Phantom is ready to fly. A high definition GoPro camera can be attached to capture all of the action from a bird’s eye view.

Built-in automatic configuration utilizes a fail-safe mechanism that allows for precise flight route and return to landing area in the absence of a transmitter connection. In addition, the horizontal speed at which the DJI Phantom travels allows for superb photography and video capture, making it ideal for outdoor activities such as sports and other events that require high speed, accuracy, and stability.

Coolness with a Camera (sold separately)


Unique Looks...Sweet Flyer


Coming in at #4...Parrot AR Drone 2.0 Quadricopter

This innovative quad is designed to operate smoothly with your iPod touch, iPhone, iPad, and Android device, making it suitable for a broad range of users who own these gadgets. In addition, the use of familiar devices to remotely control this quadcopter makes it easier for users to master the art of flying this UAV.

RC pilots can enjoy the pleasure of receiving high definition live video streaming to their tablet or smart phones while the Parrot AR Drone is in full flight. The package includes a special app (FreeFlight 2.0 piloting app) that allows for quick sharing of photos and videos with friends. Another important feature is the autopilot mechanism that reduces the overall stress and concentration level required to maneuver this quadcopter.

Special programs are also available to allow users to geolocate flights and connect with other pilots around the world. The Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 Quadricopter also boasts a robust structure that aids in proper landing and take-offs.

Coming in at around $280 from Amazon, this quad is a nice midrange machine for the intermediate flyer!

Last but not Least #5...DJI Phantom 2 Vision Quadcopter with Integrated FPV Camcorder

This quad only gets the number 5 slot because it may not appeal to as wide a range of buyers as the other DJI reviewed above. First person view or FPV is gaining in popularity as the days go by, but the appeal still doesn't equal that of GoPro toting DJI units.

As the name rightly suggests, this UAV is fitted with a 14MP camera with 1080p HD video recording on a micro SD card with Wi-Fi streaming of video and telemetry to a free Vision app which can be controlled using Android and iOS devices. The equipment allows for live streaming of up to 980 feet from the transmitter, giving users the freedom to enjoy the view from heights that are usually unattainable with regular UAVs.

The DJI Phantom 2 comes fitted with heavy duty LiPo rechargeable batteries that can power the craft for up to 25 minutes of flight. Intelligent Orientation Control is also included in the Phantom 2 as it appears in other Phantom UAVs.

Special software created for this equipment promotes advanced GPS-guided autonomous functionality. The DJI Phantom 2 can be best described as an upgraded version of the original Phantom model. Numerous quadcopter reviewers naturally give this quad high marks that are typical of all DJI products. So if FPV is your thing...this drone will definitely not disappoint.

Prices for this quad vary from $500 to $1200.

Amazing FPV Footage at a Nice Price!

A Final Word...

Hopefully this review will help you make an informed choice on your next RC aircraft purchase. Any one of these quads would be a solid addition to your flying collection or even a beginner machine for newbies. Certainly I would recommend the lower priced Hubsan or UDI for first-timers, so in the event of a fatal crash, a large amount of cash is not lost! Whatever your choice...happy flying!

If your a complete beginner to this exciting hobby, check out my top pick for newbie flyers.

Tell me what you think...Love em or hate em!

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