Why is the Quadcopter Design Used for Small Drones?

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Over the past couple of years, drones have taken the world by storm and most people have started to think that the quadcopter design is what is known as a drone. When actually what people call a drone is just an Unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) & Multi-rotor.

A UAV or what people call a drone can actually be anything from an RC Helicopter, Airplane, or Quadcopter. But have you ever wondered why the quadcopter design has actually gotten so popular?

Well, in this post we are going to go over all of the technical reasons why manufacturers have chosen the quadcopter design and even why most people have started to prefer the quadcopter design rather than other UAVs such as RC Helicopters and RC Airplanes.

Why I love Quadcopters vs. Helicopters

Over the past couple of years, I have become very interested in the drone industry and have become a big fan of flying everything from RC Helicopters to drones, but I’ve noticed that I really like flying quadcopters way more.

There’s just something about that incessant buzzing, ease of use, and innovative uses that keep me coming back. Even when I made a mistake and got caught flying a drone near the white house!

Following the invention of small flying RC UAVs, engineers have been experimenting with different designs, in an attempt to boost efficiency. The quadcopter design has been around since the early 1900s, which comes as a bit of a shock since the quadcopter design is not applied much in any other means of transport. So why use the quadcopter design, and not the typical helicopter design?

Why the quadcopter design is attractive with small consumer drones

One of the main reasons cited for this anomaly is mechanical simplicity. See, for a conventional helicopter to take off and ensure easy maneuverability, it needs to use the combined effort of its main rotor blades and tail rotor. The main rotor blades have to modify their pitch as they gyrate, so as to angle the helicopter’s thrust. The mechanism needed to accomplish all this is very intricate and thus very expensive. On the other hand, the quadcopter uses four propellers affixed to four motors. These then link up to form a single moving part, a design that is very simple and straightforward compared to the multi rotors design. In addition to being cheap, in terms of price, this design also makes the drone very easy to operate.

The quadcopter’s blades are significantly smaller in size than the standard helicopter blades. Most RC quadcopter propellers measure approximately eight to nine inches in length, whereas helicopter rotor blades span up to several feet in length, depending on the size of the aircraft. The small size of the quadcopter blades makes them safe, in the event of an accident (say the drone hits something midair or one of the propellers breaks off), as the amount of damage caused will be significantly less than that caused by a helicopter blade. The small size of the design also makes it suitable for flying both indoors and outdoors.

The main disadvantages of the quadcopter design are:

Quadcopters are so unstable that they have to be enhanced with electronic stabilization just to maintain them in the air. So what exactly is the reason behind this? See, for a quadcopter to achieve stability, it has to modify each propeller’s thrust. Sometimes the propellers on one side of the quadcopter can produce more or less thrust than those on the opposite side. Consequently, the drone tilts to the one hand. The only way to restore balance is by adjusting the thrust of the propeller so as to slow down or speed up the propellers.

With helicopters, this is accomplished within a matter of seconds. This is because all that needs to be done is to change the pitch of the blades which in turn changes the thrust. In quadcopters, however, the speed of propellers is controlled by the motors. Due to inertia, more energy might be required to adjust the rate of a prop. There is thus more time needed to attain stability.

Nevertheless, there are many different types of small drones in the market today. And with so many, there is always something for everyone, from easy-to-operate beginners’ drones to intricate quadcopters for aerial photographers. As long as you know what you would like to use the drone for then you could definitely find the perfect drone for you!