Best Drones for Beginners to Intermediate (and why it’s a whoop!)

Updated: November 2018

What are the best Micro Drones and Tiny Whoops for beginners?

The problem of choice

The number of micro drones on the market has just exploded in recent years, with dozens of  new models appearing in 2018, most continuing the ‘Tiny Whoop’ design trend, and there’s no reason for this to slow down at all in 2019.

Now it seems, almost everyone is buying this new class of drone, from beginners looking to start out, to experienced pilots just looking for some FPV fun without the risk, without a licence, and without the need to even find a safe place to fly – because anyplace indoors will do just fine. And, as discussed in History and Evolution of the Tiny Whoop , the design is changing, evolving to meet the needs of an increasingly demanding user base. It’s an exciting time to get started in FPV!

Some of the most popular micro drones as of December 2018, all of the ‘whoop’ design.

If you are starting out from scratch though, how do you ensure your first “real” FPV drone is the right one?

There’s really only one way – doing your homework. If you get this part right, there’s a good chance you’ll be darting around, narrowly avoiding obstacles, like Luke Skywalker on a speeder-bike, in no time!

Look closely. Yes, that’s a drone!

Brushed or Brushless?

Micro Drones and Tiny Whoops are much more forgiving to beginners than any other type of drone due to their light weight and simple design – most crashes will be survivable. You’ll pick it up, dust it off, and be back in the air almost immediately.

To increase the survivability and keep costs down even further, you can follow the ‘traditional’ route of starting with a simple brushed drone. This is how almost everyone started in this hobby, and there’s good reason for it. They’re cheap, fast, near indestructable, the 1S batteries are less likely to burn your house down, oh and the props probably won’t bite your finger off and scare the cat. Probably.

Typical brushed motors and props from a standard brushed drone.

Alternatively you could start with a brushless, but we would recommend against it unless you are already experienced with high powered models.  Many will say that a beginner can handle the extra speed just fine – and even if I agreed with that, it’s not the speed which concerns me, it’s the motors. Most people simply don’t appreciate how powerful (and to be honest, downright frightening) a brushless motor can be. Realising that after you’ve spent hundreds of bucks on something which you can’t fly is something I’d recommend you avoid.

A typical brushless motor used on an FPV racing drone. I mean, look at it,In nature, stuff which can hurt you is brightly colored and looks evil, and there’s no exception to that rule here. While the plastic is see-thru on these, it’s much harder (polycarbinate) than that used on the brushed blades, and combined with the sharp edge and extremely high speed of a brushless, it will damage whatever it touches before it ultimately snaps off, probably embedding itself in your cornea. I’m not joking

If you’re determined to go for brushless, don’t go further than a 1S (4.2v). There are 2SS (8.4V) micro drones available now, but these are for experienced pilots and will just make an already difficult challenge even more difficult, it won’t add to a beginners enjoyment. Additionally, many are beginning to realise that micro drones and tiny whoops on a 2S simply does’nt make sense – it departs from the point of it all, like a Miata with a heavy V8 engine*, it just won’t corner as it used to, and the extra acceleration just does’nt help around a small race track.

…actually, it appears V8 Miatas are awesome, but the analogy stands!

THE MOST IMPORTANT LESSON!
Brushless motors, lithium batteries, and a 250-500g drone hurtling along at 88mph won’t break the space time continuum, but it could break your face in half, burn your mothers house down, and get you on the evening news with the banner “IDIOT FLIES DRONE”, giving us all a bad name. So do your research, and whenever safety is mentioned, TAKE IT SERIOUSLY! Google ‘drone injuries’ if you don’t believe us, it’s horrible, especially where there’s innocent kids involved, absolutely heartbreaking stuff.

FPV DRONES for BEGINNERS

Eachine H8 Mini
Brushed. Suitable for beginners and above. 

But this isn’t a whoop! And it’s not even got an FPV camera, what the heck is this doing on the list! Yes I know, but hear me out…  This is a relatively old design that pre-dates the Tiny Whoop by 3-4 years , yet still ranks amongst Banggood’s most popular and best selling drones even TODAY! Right now, it’s still like on Page 2 when sorting most popular, next to DJIs and the latest Eachine vWhoop. So why is that?

The secret is in its incredibly well balanced design, with a tiny center of mass making it highly maneuverable, while the oversized props make it stable and predictable – you can really throw this thing around!

Best of all, the simplicity keeps the costs down, so it’s cheap as chips at only $17 USD at the time of writing.

So what about the camera? Well, you’ve got to walk before you can run, and if you’ve never flown a drone before, this is the perfect model to get you started learning the basic skills of throttle control, coordinated turns, and basic stunts before you splash out a few hundred bucks (or much more) on FPV gear to support an FPV drone.

Don’t worry though, this little rocket is so popular that the internet is filled with how-to-guides on converting it to FPV, and all of this many years before the Tiny Whoop was even a thing!


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Eachine E010S
Brushed. Suitable for beginners and above

 

It’s cheap and fairly durable, but there’s a reason all the designs changed in the 2nd Generation to enclose the camera and transmitter antenna – after a few flights you’ll find yourself bending it back into place, but by the time it breaks you’re probably ready for an upgrade.

If you’re looking for the authentic experience on a budget, look no further, but if you’re after the best of the beginners bunch, check out our next pick.


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Tiny 6x and Tiny 7

Brushed. Suitable for beginners and above

The 6X and 7 are the culmination of everything that came before them – all the best ideas packed into these inexpensive, durable, and easy to fly drones.

The Tiny 6X is the smaller more ‘Whoop-like’, and Tiny 7 slightly larger and more capable outdoors. Both are almost identical in construction and design, with the major difference being overall dimensions, motor and blade size.

I can personally attest to the crash worthyness of these drones, with my own Tiny 7 taking what I thought was a fatal crash into a muddy creek on a windy day. I pulled it out of several feet of brown water, absolutely caked in mud, washed it off with fresh water, let it dry for a few days before cleaning the electronics with alcohol wipes.

While the motor bearings didn’t make it (always buy a few spare motors) everything else including the flight controller, FPV transmitter, FrSky receiver and camera were fine, which I thought was just amazing considering it was under dirty water for at least a minute, with thick mud filling the inside of the case. It still flies great today.

Highly recommended.

Note: These work best indoors, but if you have a quiet outdoor space without much wind and would prefer to fly there,  get the Tiny 7 which will handle outdoors better than its smaller cousin.


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Eachine QX65

Brushed. Suitable for beginners and above. 

Some may say the Tiny6X is better, while others might think the QX65 most identical to the Tiny 6X, but with onboard OSD, a different manufacturer, and slightly different case design which includes a handy camera angle adjustment, useful for when your abilities improve and you need the camera to face more upwards to compensate for your speed.

Oh and it’s usually cheaper!

.


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Check out our guide to
1S and 2S Tiny Whoops!

 

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