Are Quadcopters Getting Smaller?
It used to be, way back in 2013, that the smallest quadcopter you could buy was a whopping 4.572 by 4.572 cm. (That’s less than 2 inches on a side.) Then in 2014 and 2015 the smallest quadcopter kept getting smaller and smaller.
Let’s take a look at the progression toward the tiny that started in 2013. Quadcopters are probably about as small as they’re going to get. Then again, maybe not.
What Are the Smallest Quadcopters Made by Estes?
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The Estes company made the Proto X in 2013 and followed it with the Syncro in 2014. Both of these machines measure 1.8 inches square which translates to about 4.572 cm in each direction.
As of this writing, you can get the Proto-X in several flavors including one that contains a first person view (FPV) camera.
The slightly oblong shape of both the Proto-X and the Syncro body reminds me of an insect or beetle. It just gives it a crawly feel – in a good way.
There is one other manufacturer, UDI, who makes a bug-shaped quadcopter. It’s model U839 which was also released in 2014. It has the distinction of being the second smallest quadcopter in the list I’m presenting here. It measures just 3.5 by 3.5 cm.
What Do the Other Small Quadcopters Look Like?
Virtually all the other makers to date have opted for a squarish look for the main body of their machines. Syma, Cheerson, TRNDlabs, the Wallet Drone, Morrison Innovations, and Axis Drones all made models that appear nearly identical. You have to look pretty close – and probably side by side – to tell the difference between any two of them.
The Syma X12 Nano measures 4.5 by 4.5 cm.
The Cheerson CX-10, a very popular model, is a little smaller at 4.2 by 4.2 cm.
The newer SKEYE Nano Drone from TRNDlabs is an even 4 by 4 cm, just like the (Indiegogo) Wallet Drone and the earlier Nano Drone from Morrison Innovations.
That brings us to the current (early 2016) King of the Small, the AERIUS from Axis Drones. It is a wee little thing measuring only 3 by 3 cm.
Most of these tiny quadcopters are available in more than one bright color. Orange, blue, green, and red are quite popular.
Each of these also has an appropriately sized remote controller into which you can place the quadcopter either for storage or recharging or both.
Do I Have to Register My Quadcopter with the FAA?
If your quadcopter weighs less than 0.55 pounds, which is 250 grams, you do not need to register it with the FAA. All of these small quadcopters weigh far less than that. Even the largest Estes reportedly weighs only about 0.4 ounces.
This has become one of the best reasons to get a small quadcopter. You don’t have to hassle with registration, at least, not under the current regulations. Granted, the $5.00 fee isn’t very much and the registration process is fairly simple, but it’s still nice not to have to worry about it.
Which Small Quadcopter Should I Buy?
As hinted at above, the differences among these quadcopters are very small. It stands to reason that this is the case because, as their size decreases, the possibilities for differences decrease too. There are only so many ways to put a quadcopter together when you only have a few square (or cubic) centimeters to work with.
The mold of each body is slightly different as are the designs of the controller boxes, but they’re probably not so different that it will matter to you.
The factor that will probably matter most to you is the cost, and even that doesn’t vary all that much from one model to the next.
I own a Wallet Drone which, at the time, was promoted as the smallest quadcopter in the world. Obviously since then the AERIUS has taken that crown.
So if you want the current smallest quadcopter, you’ll need to get an AERIUS. If that designation doesn’t matter to you, any of the others should satisfy your desire to have a teeny, tiny quadcopter.