The 10 Best Hexacopters

Updated December 04, 2017 by Lydia Chipman

10 Best Hexacopters
Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive
We spent 37 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top selections for this wiki. When it comes to power, maneuverability, and high-altitude flying, six rotors are better than four. From dodging airborne obstructions to staying aloft with a broken propeller, these agile hexcopters are equipped to overcome the hazards of remote operation and let your wildest piloting dreams take flight from the relative safety of a virtual cockpit. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best hexacopter on Amazon.

10. Top Race TR-MQ6

A solid entry-level choice for remote-controlled flying practice indoors or out, the compact and versatile Top Race TR-MQ6 has three speed settings and can do 360-degree flips and rolls for 6-7 minutes per 15-minute charge within a range of up to 65 feet.
  • replacement rotors included
  • not compatible with go-pro cameras
  • the controller is rather bulky
Brand Top Race
Model pending
Weight 8 ounces
Rating 3.7 / 5.0

9. MJX X600

A drone that can live-stream its high-flying stunts to your smartphone in real time without emptying your wallet, the reasonably priced MJX X600 comes with an onboard 0.3 megapixel WiFi-enabled camera that's compatible with your iOS or Android device.
  • up to 10 minutes of flying time
  • headless mode and one-key return
  • less durable than other models
Brand GoolRC
Model MJX X600C
Weight 2.5 pounds
Rating 3.7 / 5.0

8. JJRC H20

The diminutive and affordable JJRC H20 sports LEDs to show off its performance of a modest repertoire of aerial acrobatics within a limited range, and it holds up remarkably well to the usual bumps and bashes of in-air collisions and hard landings.
  • one-key automatic return feature
  • 5-7 minutes of flying time
  • battery life could be better
Brand JJRC
Model pending
Weight 8 ounces
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

7. WLToys Skywalker V323

Ready to fly right out of the box, the WLToys Skywalker V323 features foam blade guards, headless mode operation and full eversion capabilities. It's sturdily built to withstand occasional impacts and hefty enough to be fitted with a camera for airborne photography.
  • 32 inches in diameter
  • camera sold separately
  • no gimbal for camera attachment
Brand WLtoys
Model SWL-V323
Weight 5.6 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

6. MJX X800

Featuring 6-axis gyroscopic stabilization, headless mode operation and one-key return, the MJX X800 can perform flips, rolls and other stunts with ease. And with the addition of the HD FPV camera unit (sold separately), you can capture all the action live on film.
  • ios and android compatible
  • 150-meter control range
  • throttle limits are adjustable
Brand Voomall
Model pending
Weight 1.4 pounds
Rating 4.4 / 5.0

5. DJI Matrice 600 Pro

Video and photography professionals with deep pockets will appreciate the industrial-strength stability and carrying capacity of the DJI Matrice 600 Pro, featuring an extended-range HD A3 controller and adaptive flight systems that adjust parameters according to payload.
  • intelligent power management
  • dustproof propulsion technology
  • landing gear retracts for clear view
Brand DJI
Model DJICPSB000308
Weight pending
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

4. Tarot X6

While building multirotors from scratch isn't for everyone, for DIY-minded drone enthusiasts, a kit like the Tarot X6 is the only way to fly. With a carbon fiber folding airframe and adjustable motor mount, it can be built to the intrepid operator's specifications.
  • gold-plated pcb connections
  • sturdy and portable
  • electronics sold separately
Brand Tarot
Model pending
Weight 5.5 pounds
Rating 4.4 / 5.0

3. UDI RC U845

The UDI RC U845, equipped with an onboard HD WiFi camera, offers real-time FPV flying via smartphone integration with your iOS or Android phone. It can be flown in headless mode for less-experienced operators and performs 360-degree eversions with ease.
  • includes extra quick-swap battery
  • 6-9 minutes flying time per charge
  • no faa registration required
Brand UDI RC
Model U845
Weight 1.5 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

2. DJI Spreading Wings S900

Coming from one of the biggest names in consumer drone technology, it's no surprise that the DJI Spreading Wings S900 with A2 controller and Z15 gimbal packs a wallop in terms of both quality and cost, but if money's no object, it may just be the drone you're looking for.
  • extensible arms retract in flight
  • carbon fiber airframe
  • camera sold separately
Brand DJI
Model S900
Weight pending
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

1. Yuneec Typhoon H Pro

With GPS-based stabilization and flight control, 360° gimbal-mounted ultra HD 4K camera, and RealSense technology to map its surroundings in 3D, the Yuneec Typhoon H Pro gives amateur photographers and filmmakers of modest means the power of professional filmmaking.
  • up to 25 minutes flying time
  • retractable landing gear
  • can keep flying with a broken rotor
Brand Yuneec
Weight 17.1 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

A Brief History Of Hexacopters

While it may look foreign to many drone operators, the hexacopter has a lot in common with the quadcopter design it is based on.

The quadcopter design itself dates back to 1907, when French aircraft builder Louis Breguet invented a four-rotor helicopter capable of lifting itself a few feet off the ground. Breguet's design was the first rotary wing aircraft to achieve this feat.

Some early aircraft designers promoted the multi-rotor layout as a superior alternative to the dominant fixed-wing design, but their confidence was not rewarded in testing, where multi-rotors proved unstable and difficult to pilot.

The multi-rotor design lay dormant for decades until a proliferation of affordable and lightweight flight controllers, GPS units, cameras, and accelerometers in the late 2000s made it a practical format for consumer drone manufacturers to adopt.

While the multi-rotor design was out of favor for much of the 20th century, the concept of unmanned flight was not, and the American army began researching the military applications soon after World War I.

Called drones because of the buzzing sound made by the first unmanned military aircraft, today's consumer drones are often powered by batteries. Battery power is not yet feasible for use by larger aircraft, but for hexacopters it is ideal.

The market for multi-rotor consumer drones exploded in the mid-2010s, and many potential drone applications were discovered. On film shoots photography-focused drones were used instead of cost-prohibitive helicopters. Hexacopters are preferred to quadcopters in some film and photography applications because of their superior stability and power.

Hexacopters are capable of carrying larger batteries and more equipment than their quadcopter counterparts. They are also capable of making a controlled landing even if a single motor fails — a valuable feature when expensive camera equipment is aboard.

Cameras are also used to track targets by auto-follow drones.

The Rules Governing Hexacopter Flight

The rules and regulations that govern the use of quadcopters also apply to their hexacopter brethren.

Chief among those rules is the FAA's prohibition on flying over other people without approval. In addition to raising privacy questions, flying drones over populated areas can be dangerous. If the drone experiences motor failure, it could fall in mid flight. Because hexacopters can perform a controlled landing with one of their motors disabled, they are generally regarded as safer for flying over people and events. While their larger footprint isn't suitable for all uses, hexacopters are preferred by many commercial operators.

Even with a hexacopter, you must apply for a waiver from the FAA before flying over people. If you plan to fly over people frequently, you may consider investing in a drone with rotor guards. The FAA advises that rotor guards significantly reduce the risk associated with flying over people. These guards can add significant bulk to the craft, particularly with hexacopters, which have two extra rotors to protect.

Up until May 2017, the FAA required pilots to register their drones with the government. However, a Washington, D.C. court ruled this requirement violated the law. Today only commercial drone operators are required to register their aircraft.

The FAA maintains a list of rules for safe drone operation. The administration advises flying no higher than 400 feet off the ground, and keeping the drone in sight at all times to avoid losing signal and control of the flight path. Most consumer drones feature auto-descent programs that trigger in the event of signal loss, but it is still unwise to push a hexacopter to the maximum distance, as determined by the manufacturer.

The FAA also warns against flying in the vicinity of airports, manned aircraft, and emergency workers. After commercial drones were detected by firefighters near the scene of a southern California wildfire in 2015, authorities were twice forced to suspend their operations as a precaution. While drones may appear harmless next to the might of large, low-flying firefighting air tankers and helicopters, a mid-air collision could actually cause significant damage, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

Drone Technology Basics

The first unmanned aerial vehicle looked nothing like today's advanced hexacopters and military drones. In fact, that early Austrian military craft was essentially just a balloon filled with explosives.

Today's military UAVs cost millions to manufacture, and feature advanced flight computers and satellite control systems that allow the military to remotely pilot them from almost anywhere in the world.

Though they may look wildly different, modern consumer drones and hexacopters have a lot in common with these futuristic fighting machines, including GPS guidance, live video feeds, and precision controls.

The term drone applies broadly to all unmanned military, consumer, and commercial aircraft, while UAV applies only to the high-end commercial and military vehicles typically deployed by businesses and governments. Hexacopter applies specifically to drones that have six rotors.

Military UAVs are guided by satellite data link, except on takeoff, where the reliability and low-latency of radio is preferred. Consumer drones are typically controlled by radio or, in some cases, programmed, GPS-based guidance.

Most consumer drones are in the quadcopter configuration. Hexacopters are similar to quadcopters, but they use six motors for propulsion, rather than four. These additional motors lend the aircraft stability and reliability, but also add significantly to its size.

By definition, hexacopters are rotorcraft, rather than fixed-wing aircraft, like most airplanes. Hexacopter operators maintain control by varying the speed of each rotor. Helicopters, by contrast, achieve control by varying the pitch of their blades.

The Northrop Grumman Global Hawk is generally regarded as the most powerful UAV in existence. Propelled by a Rolls-Royce jet engine, the Global Hawk can reach the outer edge of Earth's atmosphere, where it conducts surveillance operations for the Air Force for as long as 30 hours. The Global Hawk is also used in NASA planet surveys.

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Last updated on December 04, 2017 by Lydia Chipman

An itinerant wordsmith with an alphabet-soup of credentials to her name, Lydia has turned iconoclasm into a livelihood of sorts, throwing herself into a broad constellation of interests. From antithetical cultural analysis to interdisciplinary combat training, she bears the scars and stripes of an uncommon diversity of experience. Reading, biking and exploring are favorite pastimes, but – with the notable exceptions of joining a religious order (not on speaking terms with a higher power) and becoming an artist (can’t even draw a respectable stick-figure) – she’d try almost anything once.

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