NOTE: This is just my opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of CNY Drones.
NOTE: ALL X5C’s being sold now have been upgraded. X5C and X5C-1 are one and the same these days.
I get asked all the time, “I have never flown anything before and I want to learn how to fly drones and I have little money to spend. What should I get?” A lot of times people want to get something for their kid, who is generally under 16.
The Syma X5C is my favorite drone to learn to fly line of sight (LoS) on. It was the first drone I ever flew besides toy helicopters. I still fly it and have modified one of the three I’ve purchased over the years to fly First Person View (FPV), it’s really fun. If you are interested in how to modify the X5C to fly FPV, please leave a comment below and I will post instructions or send an email to you.
They want a little too much money right now for the full version that includes the camera and controller. The last time I bought it like that it was $41.34 on June 28, 2016. The camera is HD (720p) but becuase it is not on a gimbal, if you are moving forward it will be looking at the ground. It is very hard to get stable footage with it, but it’s ok for beginners to practice with and can be unplugged and removed .
Here is another option:
This is $29.99 but does not come with a controller or a camera. Almost all the Syma controllers are able to control the X5C. If you have a spare you are all set. I have a bunch of spares and if you leave a comment I will sell you one for cheap.
No matter which version you buy you will need batteries. These are the best batteries I have found and typically give me flight times of 7 minutes flying full throttle almost the entire time. Normal flight should get little under 10 minutes. Both of those times are without FPV, HD camera, prop guards, and landing gear. I basically take off anything that draws power and/or adds weight. When I fly the FPV setup, I typically get about 5 minutes of flight but am full throttle almost the entire time. Your mileage may vary.
I recommend only flying indoors in a large open room or basement for your first flight. Learn how to hover in place, practice throttle control, try hovering 2 feet off the ground, then 6 feet, 4 feet, and repeat. Next try doing square patterns, and try walking along with your drone as you fly it (Walking the dog/drone). When you are ready, take it outside. Be very careful! The Syma is pretty light and if you fly too high, it will get taken by a gust of wind. When flying outside you might want to switch to high rates mode to be able to fight against the wind more effectively.
Here is a video from Flite Test on how to fly a multirotor: https://youtu.be/6btEFJJD4_o
The Syma X5C is pretty much indestructible, and does not have GPS or altitude holding sensors so you can actually learn how to fly LoS without those crutches. Here is a video review that has many views: https://youtu.be/y93vzA-KRlM