Both Helicopters and Drones are lovely flying machines capable of keeping people of all ages occupied for hours. But, have you ever wondered, “What’s the difference between RC Helicopters and Drones?” While they share some similarities, for those who don’t know how different they are, let us delve deeper. Here we will explore the differences between RC helicopters vs drones.
1. Basic Definition
RC Helicopters are miniature versions of real-world helicopters with a single set of rotary whirring blades.
Drones usually have four sets of small fast-whirring blades, which provide them unparalleled stability.
2. Stability during Flight
When a pilot flies a radio controlled helicopter, he is in full control of the flight of the device. There are hardly any autonomous modes. But there is a fair amount of stability and control.
Quadcopters or drones are super stable by design. Drones have become more popular recently due to this unique feature. It means they are easier to fly. You don’t need to worry that it may crash into something or go out of range.
3. Applications or end-use
If you are looking for a recreational device, helicopters are very handy to make maneuvers and tricks like twist, soar, hover, and especially the 3D flight.
Drones are suitable for carrying cameras and payloads and can still maintain their balance because of a center of gravity in their structure. Super stable drones can create some of the best videos. Drones also do not respond as quickly as helicopters so it is harder to get them to perform stunts and tricks.
4. Control axis channels
RC Helicopters have three channels of control, i.e., up-down, left-right, and back-forward. A toy helicopter’s skill level may not be very demanding, but pilots need the training to control them properly if you want to fly a specialized helicopter.
Meanwhile drones have a minimum of 4 channels, i.e., Three channels as above plus a Roll channel. But these are found in all the toy devices. If you move to hobby grade devices, the number of channels increases and makes it more challenging.
Both the devices in the toy grade have quite similar price tags. Still, if you are a sincere hobbyist, you need to shell out more money for drones as they can transport and operate video cameras. Earlier, the price difference was quite big, and now the prices of drones have decreased with advances in technology. Many drones come with software and GPS to let them fly independently, do specialized jobs, and are more expensive than helicopters.
6. Takeoff and landing
Helicopters are more comfortable to take off even from uneven ground. However, launching drones from rough surfaces may be a bit tricky. It may even crash if the base itself is unstable. The flip side can be true for landing – drones are usually easier to land and are usually programmed to avoid crashes or damage to things and people around. So, generally speaking, RC helicopters are easier for take-offs but drones will normally provide a smoother landing.
The maintenance of a helicopter is minimal as compared to drones. The spare parts of helicopters are less complicated and readily available. At the same time, many popular spare parts of drones are also readily available these days since drones have grown in popularity. But it is tough to get uncommon and specialized spare parts for drones, making them more expensive to maintain. It means helicopters provide a better flight time and lifespan.
RC Helicopters are very fragile and may not survive many crashes. On the other hand, quadcopters have an excellent build and are much sturdier. They are capable of carrying small to mid-sized payloads because they are more stable. The lightweight helicopters are more economical to operate than a quadcopter, which is usually massive.
9. Cinematic photography
Drones can capture an excellent quality of aerial videos equivalent to cinematic standards. But Helicopters just can’t. You will hardly find any RC helicopters with video cameras. Even if they had one, they could never match the quality of the video recording of drones.
10. Centre of gravity
The center of gravity is quite tricky to control in RC helicopters as they may get balanced to one side. Meanwhile drones are designed perfectly for their centre of gravity to be, well, central and thus they are super well balanced.
RC Helicopters have been around for much longer than drones, but even though advances in technology have seen drones providing more stable operation, transportation and aerial photography, we don’t think it spells the end for RC helicopters.
Anyone who’s flown an RC helicopter knows just how fun and addictive this hobby can be! And, although some of us may have added a drone or two to our radio controlled flying vehicle collection, it doesn’t mean we don’t still value the RC helicopter.
RC helicopters still have a lot to offer – they can respond much faster and give the pilots full autonomy, as well as many hours of fun.