Home Knowledge Base Knowledge Base: What are RTF, BNF and ARF drone kits?

Knowledge Base: What are RTF, BNF and ARF drone kits?


Whenever you’re stepping into a hobby, be it drone flying, cycling or trainspotting, there are always a lot of jargons used by the community which make it tougher for a newbie to get into the groove. While there are a lot of such terms used by drone hobbyist, some of the most commonly used ones are — RTF, BNF, ARF, UAV, FPV and more.

In this article, we’ll be talking about the first set of these jargons, comprising of RTF, BNF and ARF.


Explained: What does RTF mean?

When you’re out to buy a drone for yourself, the same drone can often be purchased in various combinations and varying prices. Most often you’ll see a drone in its RTF and BNF versions. RTF stands for Ready-to-fly, which means that you don’t need to purchase any additional accessory to be able to fly the drone once you do take the plunge and make the purchase. Typically, an RTF version of a drone means that there is a controller included in the package. So, if you’re just starting out with drones, it is the RTF version of a drone that you need to get yourself.

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An RTF drone kit

Okay, what about BNF then?

In simple words, BNF stands for bind-and-fly. This means that the drone needs to be bound to a controller that is not included in the package. This also means that you’re assumed to be in possession of a higher-grade controller than the one which the OEMs ship with the drones. Typically, controllers are classified into two types: Hobby- and toy-grade. Hobby grade controllers are usually bigger in size, better in quality and have a vast range of controls that the bundled toy grade controller might not offer. Therefore, if and only if you own a hobby grade controller (which is known to be compatible with the BNF drone you’re looking at) should you go for a BNF drone. The fact that you’re reading this article probably means that you don’t have one yet!

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BNF kits come with the drone only (no controller)

What in the world can ARF mean, then?

Okay, so we’ve discussed the two most common versions that drones ship in – RTF and BNF. Now, if you’re one of those people that like to get their hands down and dirty (DIY, in other words), then ARF (almost ready to fly) is for you. ARF kits may or may not ship with a controller, but they most certainly have something in common – the drone isn’t in one piece, and often requires a good level of assembly on your end to make it ready to fly. In other words, ARF kits are drone manufacturers’ take on the DIY concept, something which is a bit of a hit with budding drone hobbyists.


ARF kits target the DIY enthusiast market


To sum it all up, one can say that: (i) RTF kits are for those that are entering the drone hobby, while (ii) BNF kits are for RC veterans, who are usually in possession of one or more hobby grade controllers. (iii) ARF kit drones appeal to a different market altogether, the section of the market which comprises of DIY enthusiasts and the like.

ALSO SEE: What is a headless mode drone?

So, that’s that. Do let me know if you have any doubts or queries (or perhaps even suggestions for future articles) by posting in the comments section below!