Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! No Flash necessary and runs on all devices. ×
Technology

Ask Slashdot: Best Drone For $100-$150? 116

andyring writes With Christmas fast approaching, and me being notoriously hard to buy for, I thought a camera drone would be great to suggest for Christmas. But the options are dizzying, and it's nearly impossible to find something and know it'll be decent. What are Slashdotters suggestions/recommendations/experiences with a basic camera drone in the $100-150 range? Looks like all of them do video but I'm more interested in high-res stills although that may be a moot point.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Ask Slashdot: Best Drone For $100-$150?

Comments Filter:
  • by chaosdivine69 ( 1456649 ) on Thursday November 27, 2014 @10:15PM (#48476949)

    You'll be getting crap for $100-150. Sorry, but you will. Now that being said, I have found a Syma x5C from Banggood for $63.51 CAD and has a 2MB camera. http://www.banggood.com/Syma-X... [banggood.com] and it's not bad for a beginner but it's going to get broken and then you'll be pissed off.

    But you should really save your pennies and buy a Cheerson CX20 but it's $368.40 CAD. http://www.banggood.com/Cheers... [banggood.com] Here's an entire thread on it from people who know their stuff on RCGroups: http://www.rcgroups.com/forums... [rcgroups.com]

    Do your research on this on YouTube and the Internet in general. Read the reviews. This is a pretty serious drone for little cost. You can get gimbals and use GoPro cameras (or SJ4000 type cameras too). Anyhow, good drones aren't to be found for under $300. Save your money...you'll thank me later.

    • by koan ( 80826 )

      Yes for a camera only, but I think he/she would enjoy FPV more, so the Hubsan FPV is the way to go.

      • By itself the Hubsan FPV is pretty unworkable. I had to use my Skyzone googles before I could fly FPV, and then you need practice. Also, the limited radio range of the Hubsan makes it very hard to fly FPV. Still fun when you're close. I have video! https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]
    • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

      Current feel in the regulations market means, keep it small and cheap because likely new laws will mean major restrictions and strict licensing requirements based upon capability and use, beyond restricted use on private property with the owners permission. This will vary with countries over time, keep in mind some countries already have strict restrictions on model aircraft use, with or without camera. How far off are those laws, it really depends upon location. So check local laws and make an estimate up

    • by imac.usr ( 58845 ) on Friday November 28, 2014 @12:22AM (#48477305) Homepage

      You'll be getting crap for $100-150. Sorry, but you will. Now that being said, I have found a Syma x5C from Banggood for $63.51 CAD and has a 2MB camera. http://www.banggood.com/Syma-X [banggood.com]... [banggood.com] and it's not bad for a beginner but it's going to get broken and then you'll be pissed off.

      Not as fucking pissed off as he will be when his $400 drone crashes, eats a prop, gets caught in a gust of wind and wanders out to sea, etc. etc. It's much better to start with a $60 Hubsan or Syma and get some inexpensive practice flying in before moving up to something Phantom-level.

      • I started with Phantom 2 Vision+. And it was easy peasy to fly. That is why people should buy a GPS controlled drone as their first.
        Maybe start with Microdrones at home (Cheerson CX-10 or Hubsan), but DJI Phantom / DJI Phantom 2 / Cheerson CX-20 / Walkera X350 Pro (not the non-pro) are all OK drones, and where I would recommend starting.

        I now have a cheap indoor drone, the Walkera X350 Pro (returned 2 DJI P2V+ due to bad QC), and are building my own F550 clone with APM 2.6, better motors and simonk ESCs.

        You

        • I started with a Phantom 2 (non-Vision) and it was also easy to fly. What I was recommended to do was to use Quadcopter FX Simulator [google.com] before purchase. It helped a lot to get oriented with the controls.
    • How much does it cost to add a remote viewfinder to one of these? Or say use your smartphone as one?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Dude, terrible advice and it's clear you don't give a shit about this hobby enough to learn a bit. Get the Eye One Xtreme from rclogger and you have brushless motors, cheap replacement parts, SUM/PPM for your own receiver, and it's $150 with a transmitter. I've been building frankenquads with these for a few months and you cannot beat the value.

  • wait for it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by turkeydance ( 1266624 ) on Thursday November 27, 2014 @10:16PM (#48476951)
    whatever is $500 today, will be $150 tomorrow. time is your friend.
    • whatever is $500 today, will be $150 tomorrow. time is your friend.

      "Tomorrow" doesn't mean tomorrow, and Christmas presents will be unwrapped in less than a month, so waiting for prices to drop may not be an option for a lot of people. Time is not your friend when you are working with a set timetable. Got a more helpful answer?

      • I think the idea was to get a cheapie this year, learn to fly it, hope it lasts a year, and get a better one for less money next year.
  • Better Question (Score:4, Interesting)

    by eric31415927 ( 861917 ) on Thursday November 27, 2014 @10:18PM (#48476965)

    Best way to disable a camera drone?

    If I see a drone outside my second story window, I'd like to take it out.
    Water gun?
    Frequency jam?
    Simple pellet gun?

    • by chaosdivine69 ( 1456649 ) on Thursday November 27, 2014 @10:22PM (#48476979)

      Buy another cheap drone and fly the fucker right into the expensive one. End of problem.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by koan ( 80826 )

      Based on your thinking I would suggest a psychiatrist for your paranoia.

    • A .22 with birdshot.

      That way, you won't hurt anyone or damage anything when you miss.

    • by ShaunC ( 203807 ) on Thursday November 27, 2014 @10:54PM (#48477079)

      Just show it your penis. The drone will overheat and self-destruct trying to zoom in far enough to get a good picture.

    • Re:Better Question (Score:4, Interesting)

      by uvajed_ekil ( 914487 ) on Thursday November 27, 2014 @11:22PM (#48477161)

      Best way to disable a camera drone?

      If I see a drone outside my second story window, I'd like to take it out. Water gun? Frequency jam? Simple pellet gun?

      Simple: shotgun. Or find the kid operating it, punch him in the eye, and take the controller away from him, or tell his mom he was spying on your wife.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      .410 shotgun, but if discharged inside any town limits and you'll have some jail time coming. Maybe some sort of spider man type of net gun would be best.

      Basically, you'll need something with some spread and some velocity to catch the thing should the operator try to avoid your shot. Something with only a single projectile will make it difficult to hit the drone and give the operator time to "duck".

    • by mysidia ( 191772 )
      DIY HERF gun.
    • water baloon

    • Hose. I've yet to see any consumer drones that handle water well.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Big Super Soaker-style water gun, with some nice, conductive, corrosive salt water for the electronics.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Actually, what I'd like to know is if there's a way to deal with these things without:

      a. destroying property, the drone or otherwise

      b. hurting someone

      c. violating laws

      Projectiles feasibly fail all three simutaneously, jammers likely will fail A and C. Best I've got is confronting the owner, but there's a better-than-average chance they'll be a massive a--hole and ignore you anyways. Creative ideas?

      • If you can't jam, then the only option is destroy. Even if you can catch it in a net and manage not to drop it against the ground, it's almost definitely going to take some damage, whether that's just a bent prop or something more serious.
    • by fuzzyf ( 1129635 )
      1) Get an HackRF
      2) Create a script that detects drones
      3) Inject random flight commands
      4) ??
      5) Profit!

      :)
    • Try flying some small helium party-style balloons on kevlar fishing line tethers, creating a forest of near-invisible strings.

      Copter drones don't fly well with the blades wrapped in string.

      (Indeed, I hear full-sized helicopers don't work all that well with a few hundred turns of 75-pound test line wrapped around that pitch control mechanism at the hub, either.)

      This might not work against those with the bumpers all around. But the ones with the blades unguarded would have quite a time getting through.

    • > Best way to disable a camera drone?

      If the distance is short, maybe an improvised whip would work.

      High power water hose sounds like the best suggestion so far, but it's not something I'd have at hand.

      I'd be very interested to know more about the legality of damaging drones. Laws against the flying of drones are kinda ineffective since by the time the cops got there, the drone will be gone and the operator might never have been visible.

    • Best way to disable a camera drone?

      If I see a drone outside my second story window, I'd like to take it out. Water gun? Frequency jam? Simple pellet gun?

      It's perhaps not the best idea to do this from the second story of an apartment building but here in redneck country we use shotguns. For the bigger drones I'd recommend surface to air missiles but the gubermint won't let us have any ...

    • Weighted plastic sheet, nylon netting, strands of rope... Or your own drone trailing any or all these things.

    • fishing net = free drone for you!

    • Best way to disable a camera drone?

      If I see a drone outside my second story window, I'd like to take it out.

      Record the drone with your cell phone camera. Call the cops. Tell them you have a peeping Tom using a drone to peep through your second story window.

      Cops like drones. They also like to confiscate things. Not to mention, anything they confiscate under forfeiture law, they can resell to their fellow cops at auction for super cheap. So in the end, it's a win / win for everybody. A cop gets a $300 drone for $5 at auction. You get your privacy restored. The police department gets an extra $5 for its pizza fund.

  • by koan ( 80826 ) on Thursday November 27, 2014 @10:25PM (#48476993)
  • Let me revise that (Score:4, Informative)

    by koan ( 80826 ) on Thursday November 27, 2014 @10:27PM (#48477005)

    I thought you were only willing to spend $100.

    Get this: http://www.amazon.com/Hubsan-H... [amazon.com]

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Don't be tempted to spend a bit more and get a Parrot AR Drone, I bought the AR Drone 2, and the GPS module and I've been waiting for the Android Directors mode software for nearly a year and a half now.

    The date kept getting pushed back and eventually they stopped estimating a deliver date, now it just says "Coming Soon", like it has for most of this year.

    The regular Free Flight software is hit and miss too, it works, sort of, but needs a restart often when the drone goes out of range. With such a small ran

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Forget those powered drones, the real fun is a camera tied to a kite.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I wish people would stop calling RC toys "drones"!!!!

    • by EzInKy ( 115248 )

      Okay, so please enlighten those of us who don't understand the difference on how these RC "toys" are not drones?

      • Re:Gaaa! (Score:4, Informative)

        by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Friday November 28, 2014 @01:06AM (#48477387)

        Okay, so please enlighten those of us who don't understand the difference on how these RC "toys" are not drones?

        RC toy:
          - Requires line of sight control.
          - May have a camera+recorder, but you cannot see the camera output in real time.
          - May require low level control of pitch/roll/yaw
          - You control it by looking at the toy in the sky.

        Drone:
            - Can fly out of line of sight.
            - Transmits video in real time.
            - Can accept high level commands, such as position and heading, and handles pitch/roll/yaw itself.
            - You control it by looking at the video.

        • by EzInKy ( 115248 )

          So like the difference between a Kia and a Lamborghini then? Both perform the same basic functions, one just has more bells and whistles.

          • No, the difference between a standard Toyota Prius and a Google self-driving Toyota Prius.
            • Actually the difference is between a Toyota Prius, and that BMW 750iL which James Bond drives via remote control in Tomorrow Never Dies.

              See regardless of how much you jump up and down with your idea of what drone should mean, all the dictionaries, encyclopaedias, and even the FAA disagree with you.

              A remotely operated aircraft is a drone. It doesn't need to be autonomous. The only contention at all is if a remotely operated vehicle without an FPV camera can be considered a drone. Just because something has g

        • Okay, so please enlighten those of us who don't understand the difference on how these RC "toys" are not drones?

          RC toy:

          - Requires line of sight control.

          - May have a camera+recorder, but you cannot see the camera output in real time.

          - May require low level control of pitch/roll/yaw

          - You control it by looking at the toy in the sky.

          Drone:

          - Can fly out of line of sight.

          - Transmits video in real time.

          - Can accept high level commands, such as position and heading, and handles pitch/roll/yaw itself.

          - You control it by looking at the video.

          I think your categorization is somewhat useful, but more and more "toys" are including the capabilities you put under "drone".

        • by unrtst ( 777550 )

          Drone:
          - Can fly out of line of sight.
          - Transmits video in real time.
          - Can accept high level commands, such as position and heading, and handles pitch/roll/yaw itself.
          - You control it by looking at the video.

          Check out the Hubsan H107D FPV X4. It's in a bit a grey area regarding your definitions. It can fly out of line of sight and transmits video in real time, and it's only about $150. It doesn't have GPS and can not be programmed, so it fails the full-out drone spec. I'd still call it an RC toy, but if you've got FPV video it's still a great stepping stone to spending buttloads on something high-end!

    • The word "drone" has fallen into the category of common usage. People know what you're talking about when you say drone but you get a puzzled look when you say quad-copter. The problem is the military has dibs on the word drone and it's not a pretty one. And with all the FAA brew-ha-ha I think they'll ultimately have to classify them by weight. A very lightweight drone is a toy.

  • For around $150 you can ebay yourself a drone. Frame ~$25, motors $30, controller $25, RC stuff $40, ESCs $20, battery $15, and maybe $20 more in bits and bobs to hold it together.

    This will get you a very powerful drone that can easily carry a camera. After this a primary expense will be more and bigger batteries as you will probably want to fly more than 7 minutes.
  • I got whatever is #1 on amazon for about $60 a few weeks ago and have been spending time learning to fly it before I invest in something awesome. Worth considering as they are harder to fly than one would think.

  • by hyades1 ( 1149581 ) <hyades1@hotmail.com> on Friday November 28, 2014 @03:17AM (#48477653)

    Any Congressman or televangelist.

  • We did our own Drone for less than $200. You should google for oddcopter and see for yourself.

  • I love my Hubsan quadcopter. It's the FPV model, but I've seen great video from the cheaper camera-only model. Very good flyer (if you can call that flying). I fly it more than my DJI Phantom because it's so small.
  • If you pick up something with reasonable video resolution that can do I-Frame only then you can use multiple images to do a super-resolution still. The premise is easy... Multiple images will not cover the exact same pixel positions (unless the drone is affixed to a stationary point). You can use this fact to merge multiple images into a single one with much higher resolution than any of the single images. The more images that you can overlay, the higher the resolution you can squeeze out.

    The trick is to

    • If you pick up something with reasonable video resolution that can do I-Frame only then you can use multiple images to do a super-resolution still. The premise is easy... Multiple images will not cover the exact same pixel positions (unless the drone is affixed to a stationary point). You can use this fact to merge multiple images into a single one with much higher resolution than any of the single images. The more images that you can overlay, the higher the resolution you can squeeze out.

      The trick is to have good alignment and warping algorithms to do the overlays. I've done this for an employer in my previous life with impressive results.

      I belive that there is software used for astronomy photography available which performs this function, but I've not found anything satisfactory. Is there any software that you could recommend, seeing as you seem to have written some yourself? Thanks!

      • The term to google is "Super-resolution". Unfortunately, I wrote this a long time ago and most of the techniques were based upon image pyramid processing which my employer has patented. They used this in a product for consumers back in the early 90s from their spinoff company (now defunct) called VideoBrush. Besides super-resolution, it did real-time video stitching to capture everything from panoramas to high-resolution whiteboard capture just using a handheld camera (no tripod necessary). Pyramid proce

        • Thank you. I've never worked with image processing before but I just might look into it. I appreciate your advice.

  • It will be hard to find a camera drone for $150, but here are some options. I recommend getting something without a camera first to learn how to fly the drone. They aren't as simple as you think. $50 - Pico QX, great little stable quadcopter. No camera. $90 - Nano QX RTF, comes with a cheap controller, but you can bind this quad to a real RC transmitter. No camera. $190 - 180 QX HD RTF, more of a gymnasium quad than a living room quad. Comes with an on board camera.
  • First stop calling them Drones they are not drones they are RC aircraft with very limited range. A drone can go miles away and be controlled miles away. Why are you people so determined to reclassify RC heles or airplanes? I have a 100.00 chopper ya cant even fly it outside.
  • It's not a "drone" with all the sinister connotations. It's a radio-controlled flying toy that you are really after.

    The cheapest, best, off-the-shelf one you can buy right now is the DJI series and it's about $1200. And that's more of a mapping and photography tool than a toy.

    You can, however, build an RC toy for about the price you mention, and it would be a lot more fun. Forget the camera for now (though you can add a camera later easily enough). Some wood scraps, motors, speed controls, props, batter

  • It's good to know why some drones are more expensive than others. (I'm going to use "drone" instead of "quadcopter" or "multicopter" since it's easier to type.)

    Your basic drone will have a 3D gyro & accelerometer that will keep it flying upright. That's about it. As far as the altitude, it's up to you to constantly vary the throttle setting to keep it somewhere near the height you want. It will also drift in the wind, and you'll have to vary the directional controls to counter this. It may also rot

  • The best cheap camera drone currently is the HUBSAN X4 H107C-HD Quadcopter with 2MP Video Camera. For only $65, you get a quadcopter that shoots 720p video and can fly for 7 minutes per charge both indoors and out. It's a great way to learn how to fly a quadcopter and you won't get upset if you destroy it learning how to fly. You can even order it from B&H Photo http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/... [bhphotovideo.com]

Always look over your shoulder because everyone is watching and plotting against you.

Working...