Drones are the latest toys on the market for adrenaline junkies and adventurers alike. They are high-quality toys with a price tag to match. Drones conjure up pictures of UFOs or high-flying unmanned spy airplanes, quietly sneaking up on us and monitoring our every move from a distance. But these are not the drones we use in our RC hobby.
All drones are unmanned radio-controlled aircraft that need a controller to fly and maneuver them remotely. Most drones are Wi-Fi enabled and can be controlled via a tablet or smartphone. Hi-tech drones are equipped with GPS but still rely on radio transmitters to receive signals from the controller
The truth is, RC hobby drones really are recreational unmanned aerial vehicles, but instead of spying on us, they are the next step in radio-controlled technology toys. For those who are new to the world of RC and, in particular, drones, you may be wondering if all hobby drones are radio-controlled or not. We will take a look at how drones operate and how they are controlled to help you get a better picture of this exhilarating RC hobby.
What Is An RC Drone And How Does It Work?
“Drone” is a word used to describe an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that is controlled remotely or by onboard computers. They can look like a small airplane or a helicopter, or a quadcopter, and they are engine-controlled.
A drone is an upgrade on the RC airplane that most operators grew up with and is becoming more popular because of its speed and aesthetics. An RC drone is easier to operate than traditional RC aircraft. A drone is powered and controlled differently, and it’s these differences that make it versatile and easy to fly.
Modern RC drones offer better designs and are more efficient than RC airplanes. Made from light composite materials, RC drones are strong enough to withstand high altitudes and speeds. Because of its more modern, sleek design, an RC drone looks more impressive when flying across the sky!
The way the engines are configured and controlled makes this craft highly maneuverable, making it easy to operate in smaller spaces! You can even get some small drones suitable for indoor flying, so you can enjoy your RC hobby, whatever the weather!
Are All Drones RC?
A drone is operated by a drone controller or drone radio transmitter, which is the radio-control box held in the hand of the drone pilot.
The drone controller transmits a radio signal to the flight controller, which is the circuit board located on the drone. The flight controller translates information from the drone controller to activate the drone, control its engines and flight controls, and direct it to where it should go.
Check out my post: Flight controller not getting power from the battery?
Top-end drone controllers have screens on the controller which allow you to see where the drone is going. If the controller does not have a screen, you can use your tablet or smartphone to fly the drone in first-person view (FPV) mode.
The RC drone can be controlled remotely using a smartphone, or in some cases, a wireless game controller, for example, a PS4 controller, if the device is compatible with the drone. While there are many handheld controllers to operate the drone, they all fall within the scope of radio-controlled technology.
All top-end drones come standard with their own remote control devices, so you should not need to buy another one unless your controller is broken, but always make sure that any new device is compatible with your particular drone.
Some drone models are not supplied with an RC controller but offer control via an app on your smart mobile phone. In this case, you do not need a controller to control the drone, only a smartphone compatible with the control software in the app for the drone.
All these control devices that are used to control your drone, even when using your smartphone, are based on wireless or radio control technology. This means that essentially, all drones are indeed RC, whether they are hobby drones, commercial, or military drones!
RC Drone Vs. RC Quadcopter – What’s the Difference?
While researching RC Drones, you will probably come across the term “Quadcopter” almost as often as the term “Drone.” Both of these are unmanned flying craft, but they do have their differences.
While a drone is the term for a broad category of UAV’s which includes tricopters, hexacopters, and octocopters, there is a separate category for quadcopters.
A quadcopter or quadrotor is a UAV that is controlled by four rotors, so it is technically not considered a drone. Each motor on a quadcopter consists of a propeller and a motor, and these are always remotely controlled. They do not have onboard computers.
For more on quadcopters, please take a look at my article: What Is An RC Quadcopter? All The Cool Stuff You Need To Know
Quadcopters bear a resemblance to helicopters, but they are balanced by the rotor blades and not the tail rotor.
Drones and quadcopters are used for different things. A drone has a much wider use than a quadcopter, whereas a quadcopter is generally used for recreational pursuits.
While the military often uses drones for important missions, they are also often used by civilians and the commercial industry for aerial surveying and photographs. This makes the use of drones highly regulated in most countries due to their powerful capabilities.
Quadcopters are not as regulated as drones as they are not generally used by the military or for commercial use. Specific rules apply to all drones and quadcopters; for instance, no drones or quadcopters are allowed to fly over the airspace within a certain radius of the White House or airports, and you shouldn’t fly over your neighbor’s yard without informing them first!
Which Is The Best RC Drone For Beginners?
There are many modern and updated types of RC drones on the market. If you are a DIY RC hobbyist, you can build your own drone by purchasing a drone building kit. If you chose the DIY route, you also have the option to purchase a used RC drone and fix it up rather than buying a new kit.
Either way, if you are looking at a cheaper option, always follow the directions when building or customizing your drone, or you could spend a lot more than you had intended.
We have researched a few RC drones available on the market for beginner RC drone hobbyists. Check these out before you buy.
1. Holy Stone HS270 2.7K Drone
The Holy Stone HS270 2.7K drone is available on Amazon for around $179.99
- Great for hobbyists
- 18 minutes of flying time
- Features a 2.7k resolution camera with 5G image transmission
- Includes follow-me, tap fly, and point of interest modes
- GPS positioning system
2. U49WF FPV Camera Drone
The U49WF FPV Camera Drone is available from Amazon for around $79.99
- Great for hobbyists and FPV racing
- Comes with an extra battery and 25 minutes of flying time
- 720p camera delivers HD pictures and camera live video
- Altitude-hold and Wi-Fi FPV in real-time
- Headless mode, full trim
- Includes spare propellers and drone tools
3. JJRC H95 Mini Drone For Kids
The JJRC H95 Mini Drone For Kids is available on Amazon for around $24.99
- Mini drone designed for indoor flight
- Auto hovering function, very easy to control
- Speed control that a child can adjust to suit their requirements
- Hard to damage, the drones outercasing decreases impact in a crash
- Comes with 2 batteries
As an RC drone hobbyist, you will experience the adrenalin rush of flying an unmanned aerial vehicle.
While RC drones are completely remote-controlled, you have the added benefit of choosing the device to control the drone, allowing you more manoeuvrability.
Many hi-tech drones contain state-of-the-art technology allowing them to fly longer, faster and higher, and take better photos.
As an RC drone hobbyist, you should keep up to date on the latest available technology so that you don’t miss out on the new developments. Who knows, someone may invent new technology to fly your RC drone, and RC might become obsolete!