I have been flying only 3-inch propeller size quadcopters so far, as it’s the first one that catches my eye as it has the right size and the right power & speed for my circumstances. A 5-inch propeller size would theoretically fly better and further, and it’s the most common size being used by racers and professional FPV pilots. But, have we ever wonder why there are more and more micro-to-mini size?
This is made more apparent with micro long range explorer such as the Flywoo Explorer and GEPRC Crocodile Baby.
To clarify the terms about the size of quadcopters, mini quad refers to mostly quadcopter frames with size of around 200mm - 300mm of diagonal wheelbase, while a micro is mostly 100mm or less, but sometimes it can be used for sizes in between 100mm to 200mm. But, for most people, it’s much simpler to refer to mini quad as the ones equipped with 5-inch propellers size, and micros can be used for those who are sized less than 100mm up to 3-inch.
I found it a little bit inconsistent and can be confusing to refer to Brushless Whoop or Tiny Whoop propeller sizes with milimeters while referring to Toothpick or larger propeller sizes with inches. Then, we always refer to frame sizes in milimeters :). But, as time goes by everyone in this industry got used to these inconsistencies. I assume it’s because the manufacturers have to cater to the US market with Imperial units, and those outside US who are using metric units. It’s easy to get the specifications mixed up.
The main reason so far is as clearly described by BetaFPV:
BETAFPV is one of the premiere drone companies in the world — fueling FPV racing and freestyle communities worldwide with cutting edge products and gear. We know all about the quaddiction, which is a fun way of saying we’re hooked on drones too. Our products empower newbies and pros to build and rip drones with little effort or cost. Our primary focus is micro quadcopters (called whoops) and the accessories you need to make yours fly well and look good. We love sharing the joy this hobby brings with others. Micro drones are the best way to begin. Micros are not heavily regulated or restricted worldwide. They can be flown almost anywhere. We sell hundreds of high quality products with customers all over the world.
But, from my experience how does someone actually scale up from flying a tiny whoop to a powerful racing drone being used in actual race or any other purpose? That’s where 3-inches quad comes in, and also the recently becoming popular 4-inches long range explorer. A simulator such as DRL or VelociDrone can only simulate so much, but it will not be able to mimic the actual experience of flying FPV with all the equipment, and environment. Flying indoors might be an experience that’s closer to a simulator, but outdoors flying takes more risk and environment sensing. Although, it can be a similar experience if you can successfully simulate the same quad with the same characteristics.
Another reason for flying 3-inches is simply it’s just difficult to find a place that’s legal to fly, where there’s no crowd, and reasonably far away from people and cars. If you live near the wilderness, you’re lucky and you can fly your 5-inches or even 7-inches with more freedom. But not for most people. That’s the drawbacks of city life, people have become less adventurous, and curiosity has become lower, although the economic and education level are higher. Not simply because of choice, it’s also because there’s no choice but to survive and adapt to the existing environment.
But, to be more honest 3-inches or even smaller quads are more compact, lightweight, and portable. It’s just easier to handle, and I don’t need large capacity batteries to have fun with it. Although I need more battery capacity if I’m flying one of those 4-inches long range explorer.