Wait; you want to acquire a drone for under 300 dollars? Well, we got you covered! In this article we will discuss the best bind and flys (BNF), custom builds, best 0802 motorsand everything in between. I will help you choose the best drone for your needs and help you make the best choice when buying your next drone! In this article we will be discussing freestyle mini FPV quads but rest assured.
So, when buying a new drone, it’s always best to think about how you will use the drone? Are there any space restrictions you have to consider? The smaller the space the smaller the drone, and because we are considering freestyle quads, the three sizes to consider are tiny whoops (65 or 75mm), 3.5 inch and 5 inch. There are other sizes like 6 inch and 4 inch mini quads but the tiny whoop, 3.5 and 5 inch are the sweet spots and represent best in class performance for their separate use cases.
Tiny whoops are the king of indoor flying; they are agile, fast and can perform many of the maneuvers that larger drones can, especially with the advancements in motor and flight controller technology.
3.5 inch drones work extremely well in medium outdoor spaces, and because most of the time you can build them under 250g, there aren’t as many restrictions (more fun woohoo!).
5 inch freestyle drones are performance machines and work well in virtually any outdoor space. The sheer power and weight of a 5 inch build opens up the ability to do complex maneuvers with a combination of punch and hang time.
Let’s start by looking at some drones and what you should consider when buying one!
Should you buy or build a drone?
The first question you should ask yourself is; should I buy a drone or should I build one? If you are a complete beginner learning the ropes of FPV, you might feel that you want to get in the air quicker and buy a drone and that is completely fine especially if it is your first drone! You will save yourself a lot of time and potential stress if things go wrong.
Many pilots buy a tiny whoop as their first drone (I did this too!) and it is a great way to get started, as you can learn basic maneuvers of a drone whilst not breaking anything expensive. Tiny whoops are very durable and are a great way to start learning how to fly.
But if you have a little bit of experience and also the time and willingness to learn, then building your own drone is an excellent option. I personally bought my first 2 drones and after that I built the rest of my fleet. I think that is a great route to go as you will learn things from repairing your first drones that you bought and apply it to your new drones that you will build.
In this article we will focus on a custom tiny whoop build as well as the best 3.5 inch and 5 inch bind and fly drones, with every option being under $300!
What to consider when buying a Bind and Fly drone
There is no doubt that performance is the most important aspect of a drone, and we are not just talking about flight performance! here the most important things you must consider when buying a BNF drone:
- The drone’s motor and electronic speed controller (ESC) combination
- The video transmission system performance
- RC control link performance
Buying a BNF drone is about assessing the parts that make up the drone and trying to use all the available resources and information online to gauge the performance of the drone. This resource include:
- Reviews of the actual drone itself
- Reviews of complete systems on the drone (e.g. Walksnail VTX system)
- Reviews of the individual components on the drone (e.g. Flight Controller, RC Receiver)
The importance of the durability of a drone is clear: if it breaks easily, it won’t fly very often! and so the key things to look out for when considering the durability of a drone is how the drone is constructed and what materials are used in the construction. For example; if a drone has interlocking arms that are 6mm thick, with a bottom plate and mid-plate joined together via bolts and press nuts, you know you have a strong build on your hands!
If you want the best ‘bang for your buck’ then you should try to make sure that the BNF drone you buy has the ability to be upgraded in the future. The key things to look out for are:
- Ability to upgrade motors by making sure you have an ESC with a large amp rating
- Ability to use a new video transmission system by ensuring your flight controller can handle the power / signal requirements of many video transmitters (VTX)
- Ability to add other peripheral devices to the drone by ensuring the flight controller has multiple available UART ports
Sometimes it’s worth shopping around to try and get the best deals on good FPV equipment, but be careful about buying the cheapest possible gear! Quality is also important to keep in mind and in the long run will save you potential issues and having to spend more money.
With that in mind, let’s look at some of the best drones under $300!
Custom Tiny Whoop Drone Setup
Tiny whoops are an excellent first drone as they are easy to build (most electronics are plug and play), very durable and provide opportunities to fly virtually anywhere! Here are some parts for a versatile 75mm tiny whoop build that is under $300. I will also make some separate recommendations for FPV goggles and a radio transmitter:
Frame – Happymodel Mobula7 V4 – $3.99
The king of 75mm frames. Look no further. This frame is very durable and flies great in the air! It is the base of many bind and fly drones as well as custom builds!
Pro tip: if you notice your frame is a little bent/misaligned when you first receive it, put it in some warm water, then gently press on the 4 motor mounts to straighten it out, it will return to perfect shape!
Flight controller – HappyModel X12 AIO – $64.99
This AIO has everything you need built in! A receiver, 400mw video transmitter, ESC and flight controller all in one. All you need to do is plug in your motors, camera and VTX antenna and you are good to go!
Motors – MEPS fpv 0802 motor– $9.9
0802 tinywhoop motorare an excellent choice for a 75mm tiny whoop build, providing good power, responsiveness and efficiency! with dual ball bearings and single piece bell design, they are smooth and durable, perfect for a beginner!
Camera – BetaFPV C03 – $19.99
This camera has low latency and an excellent field of view so you can see more of your surroundings when flying.
Propeller – Gemfan 1610 Bi-blade Propeller – $3.99
There is no question that the Gemfan 1610 bi-blade is one of the best 40mm props you can use on a 75mm build. Lightweight, responsive and smooth, it is the go to choice for a build of this size!
Below are some separate recommendations for the best beginner FPV equipment to pair with your drone!
Here I will make 2 recommendations: one for a budget option or if you want to buy once and not have to upgrade later, a premium option. For our budget option we will pick the Skyzone Cobra X V2 ($249.00); it is a great budget option with many features of premium goggles. For our premium option we will pick the best goggles on the market right now, the HDZero goggles ($$599.99). HDZero goggles are the most versatile goggles, allowing you to fly analog, HDZero and other HD systems like walksnail.
Radio Transmitter – Radiomaster Boxer – $139.99
The Boxer is a fantastic radio in terms of its features and ergonomics. It has a 1W ELRS internal RF module, a LED display and full size V4 gimbals (they feature the same hall sensor circuitry as the premium AG01 gimbals!).
Pro tip: you can replace the springs in the gimbals for a softer gimbal tension. You can also add a spacer so you more comfortably reach the stick end points, especially if you are a thumber like me!
Best 3.5 inch Bind and Fly Drones
Emax BabyHawk II Analog
Representing our top performer; the Emax BabyHawk II, is one of the best 3.5 inch drones you can buy. It was designed with flight performance, and durability in mind. It features a truss shaped arm design for increased frame resonance performance and durability, powerful 1404 motors, a high power 25 amp ESC and 3.5 inch propeller combination.
Darwin BabyApe V2 Pro
Representing our ‘bang for buck’ pick; the Darwin BabyApe V2 Pro provides the best performance possible at the lowest cost. The 1104 motor and 3.5 inch propeller combination provides enough power to freestyle in medium sized spaces, making it a perfect beginner and intermediate drone. It comes standard with an analog video transmission system with a Caddx Ant camera and a 600mw VTX, which in my experience is an acceptable camera and VTX output power for analog especially considering its use case!
Whilst some of the following drones are not bind and fly drones, some of these pieces of equipment and resources deserve some special attention!
- The Ummagawd X Botgrinder Grinderino frame; an absolute tank of a frame, maximum durability was the main design choice for the Grinderino!
- Le Drone Club open source 3.5 Inch frames. Le Drone Club makes some of the most innovative and exciting open source frames that you can try out for yourself! Be sure to shout them out when you do make one
Best 5 inch Bind and Fly Drones
Diatone Roma F5 V2
The diatone Roma F5 V2 is an excellent 5 inch bind and fly, featuring smooth and precise 2306 motors, a powerful 55 amp ESC and a 1 watt video transmitter! The drone has excellent flight characteristics, with the frame having a good resonance performance as well as a durable design. For 299.99 it would be difficult to find a drone that can perform better!
And that will round out our list! I know only one 5 inch bind and fly under 300 dollars? Yup! There are some others for cheaper, but we feel the quality and performance they provide will leave you wanting more and so it is best to spend just that little bit extra and get the best performance and quality you can for your price!