Alright - so my six year old has been looking through the Wish List catalogs they send prior to Christmas. He wants a drone…but he’s six, which means whatever he gets he will destroy by Christmas afternoon. Are there any fairly robust drones that are affordable and relatively kid proof? I somehow doubt it…but I figured I’d ask. It might be something we defer for a few more years…
Get a simulator with a cheap flight controller first so that both of you can get a feeling for control inversion, you’ll also know if he’d like a real one or not(same for you I suppose ). The durable ones that are affordable always seem to fly like crap though. Maybe I’ve always played with the wrong ones
At 6 years old I wouldn’t be getting a quality one. The problem with these things is you get what you pay for, so your best bet is looking up reviews for cheap, durable quadcopters. You also want to consider how big you want this. The smaller ones are a pain to use outdoors because small gusts of wind make them relatively unflyable. I have a decent sized one (smaller size of medium I’d say), and I never flew it when windy because you just couldn’t control it well. I wouldn’t recommend it either as it was very easy to damage the props which makes it difficult to hover (even small nicks cause trouble).
Unless he’s gonna get super serious about it, there’s no point spending $$. Mine was $100 or so and that was about my limit, mostly because I knew it wasn’t going to be an all-the time thing. I’m careful with it though and still damaged the props as mentioned.
Also important is “auto-stabilizing” or whatever term are using now, it’s basically a safety feature. If you lose control of the drone you just stop providing inputs and the drone will go into hover mode. There are more advanced features like a “return to remote” but you’re looking at $$$ for those. Even the basic recover hover adds to the cost.
One thing to make sure Kai is aware of is that these things can take 2 hours+ to charge, and many last 8-15 minutes max in the air before needing to charge again. I’m not sure what his patience level is, but you’ll want to consider that.
The internet can be a huge help here, but your local hobby shop should also have someone who’s familiar with these things and can recommend a good drone for a young one (durable, easy to control, etc…).
Sorry I didn’t provide a specific recommendation but I haven’t looked at these in a while.
For one that is easy to learn and one that you won’t grow out of, the Blade Nano QX is best IMO. You can fly it indoors while you are learning, it’s very durable, and has little bumpers around the props so that it won’t hurt anything that it runs into. Even though I’ve been building, flying, and racing them for over 6 years, I keep a Nano QX at the office to keep my chops up in the hot months when we are not usually flying.
The basic flight mode is very stable, but you can switch it to a less stable mode for racing or freestyle. It’s a little on the light side for flying outdoors, but I have flown mine off of the back deck in light wind. You will need 3 batteries minimum.
There are a ton of YouTube videos reviewing and modding the Nano QX. There is also and FPV version, but I highly recommend leaning how to fly line of sight (LOS) mode first before going FPV. It comes with a basic controller, but you can also use it with a more advanced one if you progress in the hobby.
Thanks for the time to give me your thoughts Rhino…I’ll weigh all of those considerations. Yeah…I’m not sure a 6 year old will have the patience to realize that all those hours of charging will only net a quarter hour of play time.
Fortunately, we do have a fair sized yard…and shotgun wielding neighbors are plenty far enough away. If it were me getting the drone…I’d definitely shoot for something really cool that could shoot video. My wife saw the video below and now thinks we need a drone…LOL…I told her we are both going to have to hit the gym if we are going to make videos like THAT…AND make enough money to afford vacations in the Maldives…LOL…
Ah…the price point of that Blade Nano look about right from a “lost in the lake” perspective…thanks for that info! Maybe Santa will fly the drone down the chimney for Kai this Christmas…
The Blade nano QX is more for indoor, so very little chance of loosing it in H2O. BTW, I lost $1700 worth of drone doing a creek shoot at our beach house. 2 years later a fireman pulled it up flounder fishing. Was painful, but a lesson learned about relative air flow being blocked by the boat
Here is a place where I can contribute. I wanted a nice expensive drone a couple of years ago. I realized that spending nearly 2 grand on a drone, when I have nearly ZERO remote control experience was silly. It would certainly end in tears. I was in Thailand at the time and ran into this. This is a Syma X5C. Its cheap, its easy to learn to fly and it is nearly Bullet Proof. I got it stuck on trees, nearly lost by the wind, spent hours looking for it and ran it straight into walls many times. You really have to try hard to break one. But then again, I doubt anything is “Six year old boy Proof”. My son is four… He will get my drones when he is… I refuse to commit.
The price was about 55 dollars at the time and I ended up with 3 of them. I just love them. I learned a lot about flying and had a lot of fun. I recommend flirst, remove the camera and keep the blade guards ( I do when my son is around) For my own enjoyment I take everything off. No cam, guards or landing gear makes it super light. However, with a six year old… well you know… They other thing I recommend is to have at least 3 or 4 batteries and a multi battery charger. Each battery lasts 10 to 13 minutes. It does flips, flies really nice and takes pictures or film with an SD card (that you supply) . I quickly decided to have one stripped for fun flying and one with camera for my recon missions.
So here is my recommendation. As I said, I have 3 and love them.
Yes, Syma drones are a good ROI. Good recommendation from @Maico. I dont mind spending a little more for the nano QX because I have a high end controller that I flashed with firmware that will also control Spektrum receivers (Horizon, Blade), so I can use the same controller for racing, aerial photography, and the nano (AP).
ALL drones are for kids!
I’m gonna need a bigger chimney. And yard.
…and Band Aids…gonna need lots of Band Aids…
More RC helo than drone but this guy wouldn’t be a bad idea to start with:
Really simple, easy to fly, and, perhaps most importantly, cheap.
For my first quadcopter I picked up a Hubsan X4 which was pretty much indestructable, especially if you fitted prop guards.
It was pretty easy to fly, but it didn’t hold position or altitude if you just let go of the sticks, so you have to fly it. If you don’t need the FPV then the same copter is as cheap as $35. It all depends on how much you want to spend I guess.
I quickly moved up to the DJI Phantom 3 Pro, which was a huge step forward in capability (with a price tag to match though).
I should note that the Syma is not a drone. Drone = Ability to fly on its own programed course. The Syma is more of a remote control quad. I also forgot to mention, there are little gears that have a tendency to fall out after a lot of use (and abuse). Thus the reason I got more than one. Amazon does have spare parts for these witch is a big plus.
Flying a Syma is like bringing the most crappy scratched up motorbike to track day. You may not look the best but you will have the most fun of the crowd. Why? cos if you crash… who cares!!! I have yet to destroy one. Like Paul Rix mentioned, these are the gateways to something better.
Unfortunately Qatar no longer allows the import of drones especially those with cameras. I keep a low profile and never fly with cameras now. So no DJI in my immediate future
While I share the sentiment that the term “drone” gets a bit overused, and is especially jarring when comparing an MQ-9 to a Hubsan X4, the “drone” classifier on an air vehicle simply refers to the fact that it is pilotless - not that it necessarily can execute a mission autonomously. For example, early “drone” aircraft were simply gutted out planes with radio control equipment in them. No fancy computers or controllers, just mindless “drones” that served their purpose as targets or big remote-controlled bombs.
In recent times, the word “drone” has resurfaced to social awareness via systems like the Predator or Reaper, which can operate somewhat autonomously, but this didn’t redefine the term. Drone still just means a pilotless aircraft.
Air Hog makes some Star Wars “drones” for the young ones. http://starwars.airhogs.com/
there is an X-Wing and Death Star one that look kinda fun, can try and shoot down the Death Star with the X-Wing, more like laser tag, but you probably figured that already.
You are absolutely right sir. I stand corrected. It is only in recent times that drone has come to mean something else. I cant help but to feel bad when I see these remote control target drones. i.e. QF-4 Phantom or QF-106 Delta and the biggest pity of them all QF-16. I guess when aircraft become too expensive( or obsolete ) to maintain they become targets. The QT-33 is an example of obsolete aircraft that became drones. You never see a F-86 target.