The Difference Between a Drone vs Quadcopter
So what is the difference between a quadcopter and a drone? This is a most intriguing question, but luckily, there is an easy answer. All quadcopters are drones, but not all drones are quadcopters.
Indeed, quadcopters are drones. By definition, a drone is an unmanned aircraft, an aircraft that doesn’t have a pilot sitting in it. Of course, a drone isn’t really autonomous, and they still need a guiding hand of a human pilot to direct them, although some drones (even quadcopters) have autonomous flight options that rely on mapped out routes made by marking waypoints on GPS.
A drone is a simple quadcopter used to film a concert, or the military-grade MQ-9 Reaper, capable of carrying a deadly payload of weapons and armament. But, we shall not delve that far. In this article, we’ll focus on explaining the different kinds of civilian drones, mainly the tri-, quad-, hexa- and octocopter drones most widely used today. We’ll also present one drone for each type.
List of the Best Drones in Each Category
|MOTA Pro Live-5000 FPV Drone
|$300 – $350
|DJI Inspire 1 Pro Drone
|$3,000 – $3,300
|Yuneec Typhoon H Pro
|$1,500 – $1,700
|DJI S1000 Octocopter
|$2,800 – $3,300
MOTA Pro Live-5000 FPV Drone – Tricopter
As a representative for the tri-copter family, we picked the MOTA Pro Live-5000 Drone. As the name suggests, MOTA Live-5000 has three arms. The three arms are placed in a Y shape, rather than X shape or H shape present in quadcopters. Having three arms instead four hurts the copter’s lift, power, and stability some.
However, MOTA Live-5000 has three additional rotors attached on each arm, which mitigates the lack of power, making the craft as fast and as nimble as a regular quadcopter. Not only that, but the Y-shaped design of the MOTA increases its aerodynamics and, thus, maximum top speed
As far as the drone itself goes it features a 6-axis gyro stabilization system. The system allows the copter additional stability in the air, and also makes it more resistant to gusts of wind. The small size of the copter also makes it viable for indoor use. It is easy to maneuver, and the controls are precise and responsive.
Among other features, MOTA has the one-touch take-off landing option. This is very favorable for novice flyers, as it removes the tricky process of putting the copter back on the ground without crashing it. The done is controlled by a 2.4 GHz camera that allows multiple copters to be flown at the same time. The copter can be connected to your smartphone or your tablet and controlled thusly. Due to small size, the battery is also small ad you can fly the drone for a total of 7 minutes, although with an additional battery, you can double that time.
One final note, the drone, having been a tri-copter, doesn’t have the option for Headless flight, a feature most often found in quad-, hexa- and octocopters. Also, failure of a motor will result in a crash almost certainly.
- Tricopters are faster than quadcopters, but can’t fly as high.
- Double rotors on each arm increase the speed and stability of the copter.
- The 6-axis gyro allows for more stable flight and more stability in windy conditions.
- The small size of the drone allows it to be flown indoors.
- Relatively short flight time.
And that’s about all you need to know about tricopters. They are small and agile, which gives them great ubiquity, as they can be easily flown indoors and outdoors. Also, their relatively low cost makes them ideal for novice pilots.
DJI Inspire 1 Pro Drone – Quadcopter
As the representative of the quadcopter family, we chose the DJI Inspire 1 Pro Drone. Quadcopters have four arms positioned in an X or H (also called square) shape around the body for the copter itself. This allows the drones to be very stable in the air, and also generate more power and lift, allowing them to take on heavier loads.
Quadcopters come in many shapes and sizes and are the most common type of personal UAV. They are very ubiquitous and their prices range from very affordable to very expensive. Their skill levels also vary from drone to drone, and the skill level often coincides with the price. Also, having four arms allows the copters to use the Headless mode, in which the machine doesn’t have a true nose, but directly refers to the position of the controller when flown. This allows the quadcopter to be very friendly to new pilots, as it offers a better learning curve.
In the case of Inspire 1, this is a professional drone. As such, it has been built to facilitate high def photography and stellar video quality. It has a 12 MP camera that films in 4k, at 1080p. The drone is also stocked with automatized flight modes that allow you to switch and control the camera independently. Also, the bigger size of the drone allows it to carry a more powerful battery, allowing the drone to fly for up to 18 minutes. The controller for the drone is pretty much the same, a 2.4 GHz one with 4 channels. However, this being a high-end drone, it can fly as far as 2 km.
- Quadcopters are more powerful than tricopters, can fly faster and are more stable.
- Quadcopters are ubiquitous devices, they come in many shapes and sizes, suitable for all skill levels.
- Their design allows them to use the headless mode.
- The four rotors allow the device to carry a heavier load.
- High-end models feature plenty modes and usually come with high-end cameras.
In conclusion, the most widespread form of drones is the quadcopter. They are all-purpose and have the most models. This allows them to accommodate any pilot and can perform any task you might have.
Yuneec Typhoon H Pro – Hexacopter
As far as hexacopters are concerned, they are very similar to quadcopters. However, unlike quads, hexas are even more stable and even more powerful. This also means that these drones are more expensive. These are mostly devices meant for high-level photography and cinematography tasks because the added rotors allow the copter to fly higher and carry an even heavier payload. Having additional arms and motors allows the hexacopter to fly even if one or even two motors fail, as the rest can pick up the slack. However, positioning is crucial, for if two motors next to one another fail, this can create an imbalance and the copter may crash.
On other note, hexas are large. This disables them from flying indoors, as there is simply no room for them to maneuver. However, the added stability allows them to take stronger gusts of wind head on and still stay in the air. Their design allows them to hover safely, while some quadcopters don’t have that ability.
The perfect representative for a hexacopter is the Yuneec Typhoon H Pro hexacopter. This device is high-quality and designed to undertake serious filming tasks. It is equipped with a 12 MP camera and can produce 4k footage, making it a perfect device for professional photographers who want to capture great moments from innovative and previously unseen angles. The drone also comes with a high-tech ultrasonic collision avoidance system.
- Even more powerful than quads, able to reach greater heights, and hit higher top speeds.
- Extremely stable and reliable.
- Able to carry greater loads.
- Usually more expensive than quads, but there are entry level models.
- Motor failure presents less of a problem than in tris and quads.
- Indoor flight difficult due to size.
So, if you’re a professional looking for a pack mule that can haul your expensive equipment, turn to hexacopters. They are powerful and reliable, and almost crash proof, making them ideal for tough jobs and flights in not so good a weather.
DJI S1000 Octocopter
If tricopters were fighters, quads fighter-bombers, hexas bombers, then an octocopter could be considered a mothership. These UAVs are very large and very powerful due to having 8 rotors. They are even faster than hexas and can fly even higher. They are stable and can carry very heavy loads. The DJI S1000 alone can carry up to 11 kg of equipment and other loads.
Due to their huge size, octocopters are impossible to fly in tight spaces. Also, octocopters are extremely expensive, as is the equipment for them. They are made for absolute professionals and the entire kit for an octocopter can cost in excess of $10.000.
The DJI S1000 is the most famous member of this family. It is extremely powerful and is almost impossible to crash. The copter can suffer a failure of up to three motors without plummeting to the ground. It is also has a new Zenmuse Z15 gimbal onto which you can mount the Canon 5D Mk. II or III camera, allowing you to create the perfect filming platform. The craft has also been built with carbon fiber construction and arms, making it extremely durable and light, adding to its maximum altitude and speed.
- Extremely stable, very fast and powerful UAVs.
- Hexacopters are able to carry very heavy payloads.
- Extremely expensive, reserved for absolute professionals.
- Superb quality build, durable and light.
- Able to mount the best of the best cameras.
- Very big and thus impossible to fly indoors.
When it comes to octocopters, they are the masters of the sky. Extremely powerful, they are best suited to professional cinematographers, as they are built to take on best quality cameras and other filming equipment.
Final Words on Drones vs Quadcopters
And that’s it for our little guide on drones vs quadcopters. As you can see, there are many types, each of which has its own pros and cons. Some are more suited for indoor flight, some are best suited for beginner pilots, and some are true juggernauts, built to enable people to create outstanding art.