Intro: How to Buy a Quadcopter
Now if you're reading this, you may be wanting to get into the world of quadcopters. If you don't listen to anything else I have to say, listen to this. BUY CHEAP. Things will break and expensive quads perform almost exactly the same as lesser known ones that are half their price. There are many reasons to buy a quad, and I'll lay a few of them out and my suggestions for going about finding the right one. Quadcopters vary in almost every way possible from size to shape to maneuverability to power and stability. There are a few different particular uses I will cover and I'll lay out what to look for.
Step 1: Determine the Size You Want
The size of the quad is probably the most important decision to begin with. Sizes vary from being able to fit on a quarter to a few feet in diameter. Size determines what environment you can fly it in. Smaller quads are much more maneuverable and better for indoors but do terribly in any wind whatsoever. There are three basic sizes of quadcopters: micro, mini, and normal. Micro quads can generally fit in the palm of your hand and are made strictly for indoor use. They are usually fairly cheap and can be a real blast because they can be taken anywhere. Mini quads are slightly large but usually around 6" in diameter. These are great for starting off but have terrible cameras and can't carry any payload. In strong winds, mini quads will have a LOT of trouble but they are fairly rugged when they crash. Normal quads are much larger than the others and I wouldn't suggest trying to fly one inside. They have a lot more power and so it's possible to put camera mounts on them for aerial photography. These quads often break when crashed and so I wouldn't suggest getting one as your first quad.
Step 2: Determine Usage
There are three main types of uses for quadcopters that are fairly self explanatory.
1:General Fun. These are quadcopters you just fly with your friends to have a good time.
2: Aerial Photography. There are two types within this: built-in camera and external camera. The advantages of having a built-in camera are that they usually have buttons on the controller to record or take pictures and you don't have to worry about weight. However, if you want to upgrade your resolution or framerate, you have to buy a new quad. External cameras are my personal favorite, but you have to make sure the quad can handle your camera.
3: FPV (first person view). These quads are much more expensive, but they have a camera on them that sends you live feed, allowing you to fly them remotely. These quads are generally for advanced fliers and they usually make them theirselves.
Step 3: Determine Flight Space
WATCH REVIEWS. Make sure someone on youtube has flown it in conditions similar to your expectations. Some mini quads are thought to be meant for indoors but fly at absolutely INSANE speeds. For new fliers, please for the love of anything make sure your quad has a protective cage. Propeller protectors are all fine and dandy, but I guarantee you will run it into anything and everything before you're done and a 2$ cage will make sure it comes through alive.
In the next three steps I will show MY suggestions for what to buy based on these three categories, sorted by size.
Step 4: Micro Quads
Now with micro quads there are tons of possibilities. I don't actually own one of these, but most seem to be really cheap and really fun. One that I've seen thrown all over the place is the Cheerson CX-10. It looks like a blast and comes in many different colors. Don't worry about a cage on something this small and cheap and don't forget to have fun!
Step 5: Mini Quads
First you must determine if you want a camera. Your camera won't take any crazy awesome high quality videos, but it's still fun to see the point of view.
CAMERA: generally FPVs are larger quads and the small FPVs don't work very well so get good at flying and then save up. If you want an ok camera and a cheap quad with a cage that I can tell you from personal experience can fall from over 100m and hit a rock and survive, then check out the Holy Stone F180C. I bought mine from eBay and really any trusted seller will be great. Mine was 53$ and it's a blast
NO CAMERA: Hubsan X4 *screaming in the distance* this is the most popular quad on the market and can be bought with a camera but I don't know why you would want one on it. It is perfect for indoor flying and light breezes and everyone and their cousin has reviewed one on youtube. This will run you about 40$ but it's worth it. http://pages.ebay.com/link/?nav=item.view&alt=web&id=381338190895&globalID=EBAY-US
BRAVERY: If you are a first time flier DON'T BUY THIS. I ran across this review for a Juncheng 3015: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=klVei-phiNw&layout=mobile&client=mv-google
And I fell in love. It is cheap, but this thing is soooooo fast. The Great Houdini wouldn't dare try to fly this inside. Here's where to buy it: http://m.gearbest.com/rc-quadcopters/pp_156036.html?ebay
Step 6: Full-size Quads
The last of the quads are the full size. If you don't get a camera on one of these, I don't know why you have it. I'll show a few options for an external camera and ones with built in cameras.
EXTERNAL: I personally have a Yizhan Tarantula X6 and I love it. I made a gopro mount for it with ease and it flys like a dream. It has a transmitter range of about 200 yards and it costs around 50$ without a camera. http://shrsl.com/?~96gp
This quad also has very cheap replacement parts available on the same sight which is very important to me as things will go wrong no matter what. I have videos taken with my setup on the last slide that I encourage you to watch.
BUILT IN: I don't have much experience with these, so all I can do is encourage you to watch youtube videos. That's the only true way to see the mobility of the quad and the quality of the camera. Quadcopter 101 on youtube has reviews of just about anything you could ever dream of buying so watch him.
HYBRIDS: The Tarantula X6 has a camera option, but it mounts externally. I really like this idea because it means that if you want to upgrade the quality of the camera, you just take it off. Also cameras break and this is an easy way to replace them when they do.
Step 7: Final Remarks
Thankyou for reading my first instructable and have a great day. Before you go, here is some video footage of me testing my Tarantula X6 and the camera mount I made for it.
Please leave any questions in the comment section and I'll be sure to reply ASAP!