The best entry-level drone
Some time ago, I wrote in my article that there is no such thing as the perfect beginner drone. But I have changed my mind. Meanwhile, I have to say that I found one that is very close to it. Now that I have gained some experience and have tried and bought and assembled some drones, I think I have found the best beginner drone. My XJB!
I also write this article because many friends have asked me again and again. Again and again, the question came up: “And what should I buy now if I have no idea? What is the best beginner drone?”. (Yes yes, it is clear to me that it should be called actually Quad or Quadrokopter – but we are a beginner side here, and there the term drone has not yet completely evaporated) now can simply refer to this article. Right at the bottom is the shopping list, with which you can strike in good conscience and has a very cool opportunity to get into the hobby.
And even hornier: All this (so really everything that you need, with goggles, etc.) costs just 300 euros!
The HGLRC XJB145
If you follow the site a bit, you won’t be really surprised. I’ve been a huge fan of the HGLRC XJB145 since day one. It’s also not really a beginner drone, but its extremely low price (especially compared to its performance) and many other positive points compared to only extremely small disadvantages make the thing a mad copter.
It’s “only” a 3″ racer – but this class is simply fantastic. You can get it under the magic 250g, but it still has enough power to even carry a GoPro. If you don’t believe it, here’s the proof:
Now, I would like to list the points for and against the HGLRC XJB145 in detail:
The biggest disadvantage is probably that it is not RTF. So it is not Ready To Fly. This means that you still have a minimal construction step in front of you before you can take off into the air. The Quad comes without a receiver. The Receiver (a part which connects radio control and Quad) must still be soldered by hand to the circuit board. Now the question is, is this really still the “best beginner drone?” If you can not simply take it out of the box and fly away? I think so because that is part of it. And soldering a receiver on is the easiest step. But even if you can’t do that, just ask someone who had a soldering iron in their hand and can help you. (UPDATE: There are also BNF models where you don’t have to solder! Take a look below.)
The HGLRC XJB-145 – For me the best entry-level drone
The second disadvantage (but this applies to almost all FPV Racing drones) is: It has to be ordered in Asia. The shipment is for umme, but it just takes 2 to 3 weeks until it is there.
So, I guess that’s it with the downside.
Tune: I (like many others) unpacked my HGRLC and it flew fantastically from the first moment! That’s not necessarily the case. Almost everyone who bought a Wizard X220 (the best entry-level drone from 2016 and 2017) had to realize that it almost always “wobbles” a bit, and you have to tune the PID. Without this tuning, the drone is simply not well in the air. But especially as a beginner you have no idea how to tune the PIDs. The Racequad of HGLRC, on the other hand, was perfect and had not a single vibration.
Can GoPro: Although the XJB-145 is relatively light and “only” a 3-inch drone, it is even strong enough to carry a GoPro. (With GoPro, however, it will be over 250 grams with the corresponding battery). In the video above you can see how performant only the 80g GoPro session is.
Quality Control: The quality control at HGLRC seems to be exceptionally good. My XJB and also the experiences I made with YouTube videos show that HGLRC only sends extremely well working and adjusted models. This is where HGLRC stands out from other Chinese manufacturers who like to deliver a defective drone.
Very good FPV camera and VTX: The HGLRC XJB145 has an “only” self-branded FPV camera (HGLRC ELF), but in combination with the VTX it delivers one of the best images I have seen on our quads.
The picture that the XJB brings to the glasses is really incredible, especially if you look at the total price of the package. And especially the FPV image is a real Achilles heel for most beginner models. With many other beginner drones like the Wizard X220, the camera and the VTX is one of the first things you exchange because the quality is grottig. Not so with XJB145. I am happy every time again when I see the clear sharp and good picture in my glasses. One of the most important points for the XJB speak.
“3” are very stable: In contrast to 5″ models, 3″ models are much lighter. Nevertheless, they are also made of stable carbon and due to the fact that they don’t have so much weight they don’t have so much kinetic energy when you fly against an obstacle. That makes them quite stable overall. I have crashed my XJB145 several times really hard – and it almost always survived without any problems. All I’ve been able to do so far is destroy an engine when I looped the XJB hard in the asphalt. The frame didn’t scratch.
Batteries and parts are cheap: A small but extremely important advantage for beginners is: with 3″ models everything is much cheaper than with 5″. This is especially true for the LiPo batteries, but the broken motor mentioned above only cost me 12 €.
What else is needed?
(shopping list with the links to the different shops is at the bottom of the page)
Besides the drone and the remote control, the most important component in FPV flying (i.e. flying from my perspective) is the glasses. But FPV goggles can be very expensive. That’s why I recommend a very cheap pair of glasses for getting started. If you find out then that you mean it with the hobby first, you will replace these soon. But the recommended Eachine EV800 has a big advantage: If you replace it with a better pair of glasses, it is very suitable as guest glasses or as a monitor (is modular) for guests. And believe me, you want people you take with you to fly to also have some of the first-person perspective flying. These glasses are optimal for that! And until then it is also suitable as glasses for you – the price is more than reasonable.
For the spark, I chose a quite simple Flysky model. But the Flysky FS-i6S works quite well. Also, the Gimbals are clever. There is another number cheaper, the Flysky FS-i6X. But I left it out here because it doesn’t have a USB port. This means that you can’t fly on a simulator computer (because only the i6S has a USB port). And we should really practice flying a simulator!
This is the receiver: a small part that receives the radio signals from the radio remote control and transmits them to the drone. The Receiver is usually not with the drone itself thereby, since one uses depending upon used radio another protocol and thus also another Receiver needs. Therefore one must buy and solder the Receiver nowadays actually always extra. That sounds first more threatening than it actually is. We used here a very simple Flysky Receiver. If you don’t know exactly how to get the one on it write me in the comments and I make a video especially for the XJB and this receiver.
UPDATE: I just saw that Aliexpress and Gearbest (click on AE or GB at the bottom of the shopping list) also have BNF models of the XJB. The receiver is already built in! Look for models with “multiple colors” and then select the BNF model with FS-A8s receiver.
Batteries + power supply unit
With the batteries, I am not 100% sure which one I should recommend exactly. The HGLRC XJB145 is a Quad that can handle an extreme bandwidth of batteries. It works with 3S and 4S lipos. Whereby I would probably recommend the 3S for beginners first of all. With 4S the device is much faster and more aggressive. But it was with me so that the tune was optimized on 3S, with 4S there were light vibrations and it had to be readjusted. But if you want to transport a GoPro I would probably recommend 4S.
If you don’t understand what I’m talking about read the article here.
Concerning the capacity of the battery, I am very uncertain. I’ve seen people fly with 650mah, but I’ve also flown with a 1200mah myself. I think as a compromise an 850mah 3S is recommended is then the right one. I don’t want to recommend cheap battery models because to save here would be really at the wrong end saved, besides, the smaller batteries as already mentioned above are relatively cheap compared to the big ones for 5″. I’ve never had any problems with Tattoo Lipos before, here price performance is just right. Get 3-4 batteries and a simple power supply.
What happens after the purchase?
When all the ordered parts have arrived there are the following steps to do:
- Solder on the receiver (PNP models only)
- Bind” spark with the receiver
- Connect the drone to the computer via Betaflight
- check if the spark is correctly connected and the signals arrive cleanly
- “Set “Modes”: “Arm” and put flight modes on the levers of the spark.
- Set HUD
- Charging batteries
I think I will make a small video series to these points with Youtube. Write me which topic you are most interested in and to which I should make a video.
If you are a complete beginner and want to know how to learn how to fly best: As a gift for signing up in my newsletter, you get the book “In 8 steps to the FPV Pilot” for free. You can also unsubscribe immediately from the newsletter, but I would still be happy if you take a look at a few newsletters before you unsubscribe. Maybe you like it even quite well =)
So you see: The complete package is available for less than 300 € (!!!)