The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) have set up some rules for drone pilots in order to curb down mishaps in the United States. One of the regulations states that any drone weighing more than 250 grams or 0.55 lbs have to be registered with the FAA and will have to follow a certain set of rules (which can be found here) in flying their drones.
All this might sound tedious to a budding drone enthusiast whose intention might just be to get a quad up in the air and see how the world looks from a bird’s eye perspective. Fret not, for we have compiled a list of the top 10 drones that don’t require the hassles of getting them registered with the FAA… or in other words, weigh less than 250 gram.
The Parrot Airborne Night MiniDrone supports all Android 4.3+ or iOS 7.1+ devices to control it and has a wireless range of upto 65 feet. The controller app lets you do some in-flight tricks as well like flips, it also streams the camera visuals from the 0.3 MP VGA camera mounted on the drone.
The Parrot Airborne Night MiniDrone lasts for 9 minutes on full charge of the 550mAh battery and can be juiced up again in 25 minutes with any 5V 2.5A micro USB Fast Charger.
2. Hover Camera
The Hover Camera which we talked about recently has a peculiar and interesting foldable design made specifically to improve portability of the drone. It packs in some impressive amount of specs for its size as well.
For starters, it features a 13 mega-pixel camera with EIS, and is capable of shooting videos at upto 4K resolution. A Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 SoC helps the drone process the data for stuff like facial recognition and visual mapping of its surroundings. The drone can do 720p FPV streams to the connected smartphone.
The Hover Camera sadly isn’t available for purchase yet but is expected to carry a price tag for under $600.
The ZeroTech Dobby can possibly be the closest competitor to the Hover Camera. It comes with some similar internal specifications like the 13 MP 4K recording camera, a Snapdragon 801 SoC, 2GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage.
The ZeroTech Dobby also has facial recognition, follow me mode and visual mapping and in addition to that, it also comes with GPS and GLONASS. Dobby can even receive voice commands to perform its manoeuvres. Also See: Exclusive Photos of Dobby
Portability is the key aspect of the Dobby as it can can fit in any pocket thanks to its foldable props. The Dobby can give flight time of up to 10 minutes on a single charge. The ZeroTech Dobby is priced at about $350 on reseller sites, however in China it costs about $260.
The Blade 200 QX isn’t exactly an out-of-the-box camera drone, but the company has made it compatible with the E-Fliet EFC-721 HD camera which has an 1.3 mega-pixel sensor and has its own 150mAh battery.
The combined weight still doesn’t exceed the 250 gram limit and hence has been a hit among drone hobbyists. The drone’s 800mAh battery is capable of delivering flight time of up to 11 minutes.
The drone also has room for customization with the props and transceivers making it a hit among drone hobbyists. The Blade 200 QX also has a BNF version to lower down its cost.
The Blade 200 QX costs about $329 for the RTF camera version while the BNF without the camera will set you back $199.
The JJRC H6D drone’s launch dates back to August 2015 and is still doing good in sales thanks to its affordable price tag of $90 combined with decent features and specifications.
The drone does FPV over 5.8GHz with its 2 mega-pixel camera. It also has headless mode and one key return functionalities. The FPV feed can be streamed on the built in display unit of the controller. The 350mAh battery on the H6D can last up to 7 minutes on full charge and can fly within a radius of 200m.
The Hubsan X4 is a veteran in this category whose success has envied the competition so much that there are even fakes being made.
The H107D+ is an upgrade from the original H107D and costs $120. For the price, it does HD 720p FPV at 30 fps on a 5.8GHz stream. For controls, the transmitter has a 4ch 2.4GHz signal stream and provides a range of 100m. The camera used is a 2 mega-pixel OV9712 sensor with an f/2.8 aperture and 60 degree FOV.
The 380mAh battery on the drone has a charging time of 30 minutes and can last for up to 9 minutes in the air. The FPV stream is down-linked on to the controller’s on board 4.3 inch display.
The Cheerson CX-32 has a total of 4 variants in its line up and the CX-32S is the only one in its range to do video transmission over 5.8GHz streams and costs about $90. The controller that comes in the box features an on-board display to get a bird’s eye view from the drone’s 0.3 mega-pixel camera.
There’s a 1 mega-pixel HD camera on board the aircraft to take pictures and HD videos without real time transmission however (on versions other than the CX-32S). The drone has features like throw to fly, one key take off and land, etc. The 360mAh battery can deliver a flight time of up to 7 minutes and takes about 170 minutes to get completely recharged again.
Syma’s X5 series is widely popular among drone enthusiasts, and the X5SC can possibly answer why that is the case. Retailing at just around $41 the drone houses a 2 mega-pixel HD camera and has a built in 4GB storage via microSD.
The drone offers headless mode and can perform flips and rolls in the air. The 2.4GHz controller of the Syma X6SC has a flight range of about 100 meters and the on-board 500mAh battery which takes around 2 hours to charge can deliver flight time of up to 8 minutes. The 6 axis gyroscope, 4 channel flight and release in air to fly are features that should suit well with beginners.
The Heli-Max 230Si‘s highlight is its battery, as the company has managed to squeeze in a 1200mAh LiPo battery into the drone and still manage to keep a check at the weight.
This delivers flight time of up to 15 minutes. The drone has a 2MP camera on board that can record videos in HD 720P. The 230Si has features like headless mode, one key return, altitude hold mode and fail safe mode. The RTF version of the drone which includes a controller with a built in passive LCD display costs $159.
The Walkera Rodeo 150 isn’t meant for the fainthearted folks as it is designed to race. The drone uses a 600TVL night-vision camera which is capable of recording at HD resolution and has a 110 degree fov. It is streamed to the user via 5.8GHz signal at almost zero latency which is essential for fpv racing. The drone has 40 channel support and has a control range of up to 800 meters.
The 7.4V 850mAh battery is capable of delivering flight time of up to 8 minutes on a single charge. If you’re interested in getting started with drone racing, this $229 drone should help you start off well. While this means the Rodeo 150 is more of an FPV racer than aerial video platform, it sure does deserve a place in the list of top 10 camera drones under 250 grams.
Top 10 Camera Drones Under 250 grams: Conclusion
We’ve managed to list some really popular drones, some really new ones, and then some that are really exquisite! This list of the top 10 camera drones under 250 grams is written to help you get a camera drone that does not require registration with the FAA.
Of course there are a million other drones, but these are the ones that we thought are noteworthy. If you have suggestions for this list, let us know in the comments section below!