In this article, we'll have a look at what an octocopter drone is, what are its advantages versus standard quadcopters and what are the best octocopter frames you can choose.
In the world of drones, the bigger the engine, more extra power and lift. To power those motors, the drone requires more energy hence more batteries which only makes sense if the flight time is not affected adversely.
An ‘octocopter drone’ sounds like a futuristic piece of technology but it is nothing more than a drone with eight motors and propellers. For first-timers, it's no secret that octocopter drones look very weird and beast-like.
There's also the oposite, tricopters, which only have 3 motors and are very nimble. You can check my article on tricopters vs quadcopters here.
Most octocopters are used for complicated long-term applications. Given the multiple rotors and heavy nature of most of these drones, they offer great stability free of vibration.
This makes them naturally suited for:
Octocopters are also preferred as they check motor redundancy, which means you can still fly if one of the motors is dead.
In this section we're taking a look at why you would choose an octocopter versus other types of drones and a few more details about them.
To be honest, this is a fair question. Why opt for eight propellers and motors when you can achieve your needs with four? On paper, a quadcopter offers more efficiency than an octocopter. Some argue that the extra motors require more energy from the batteries to keep them running. However, in several instances, the octocopter reigns supreme.
For instance, when there is a malfunction, there is no recovery to a camera, shaft, or gimbal drop from the sky. The difference is that octocopters are capable of lifting a much higher payload than regular quadcopters.
Octocopters can easily replace super-sized helicopters given their stability and easy maneuverability.
Octocopters have a redundancy motor system. Those with five to ten pounds of gear worth of radios, cameras, gear, and gimbals will find flying a system with a redundancy motor system to be a major help.
Octocopters can greatly vary in terms of price, but since they are mostly used for industrial applications, the typical prices vary between $1000 and $10000.
As with every drone, the features play a key role. Octocopters are no different. Most of these multi-copter drones are used for heavy industrial and commercial uses thus the need for advanced features comes naturally. However, the best octocopters have lighter motors which tend to be more expensive and deliver reduced vibrations.
The price and its battery life remain a major concern. Newer models have greater flight times. The older first generations drain their battery life within 10 minutes and the user is forced to charge multiple times.
Battery life depends on the payload (weight of the drone), flight actions, and flight conditions of this drone. If you are looking for a camera that can withstand powerful wind conditions and still carry heavy camera equipment, an octocopter is your best bet.
In this section, we'll have a look at what to look for in an octocopter drone and some models compared.
Most drone makers are focused on quadcopters where the customer market is centered. Few of the majors have the production capacity to push the boundaries further by incorporating octocopters into this market. DJI, xFold, and Tarot are some of these companies.
Most if not all drone users would love to carry their drones to scenic spots and capture the best of imagery. The same applies to areas their job demands. Portability remains one of the key concerns.
2. Flight time
Ensure that the octocopter does not limit your work. For instance, the batteries must have enough juice to power eight motors. To offset the inconvenience of charging, buy several spare batteries that you can swap should the need arise.
3. Frame build
Drones do not come cheap - especially quadcopters. With that in mind, buyers should only invest in gear that lasts for a long time despite the challenges. Poor quality drones are easily damaged and are often unstable.
4. Spare parts
For frequent drone users, buying spare parts is expected. That is the only way to solve your problems that arise. Issues that arise are such as breaking a propeller or a damaged motor that needs replacement. Use a drone with widely available spare parts.
When buying an octocopter pay keen attention to the operational range. Anywhere close to home works fine with a 50-100m drone.
Octocopters generally carry much more in terms of payload than regular quadcopters.
If you have over a thousand dollars to spare, you should definitely get your hands on a DJI S1000 octocopter drone. The drone is ideally suited for videographers and photographers. This octocopter drone delivers stability, efficiency, and power yet can deliver speeds of 45mph. The drone’s arms can be folded to increase portability so as to ease travel.
If shoppers are searching for a light yet portable shopping solution the Tarot X8 truly stands out. The Tarot is the perfect introduction for any beginner into the world of octocopters.
Built to assume the most minimalistic shape possible, anything that is not necessary has been shaved off during construction. To create more convenience for travelers, the drone can fold inward as an umbrella to assume a more compact shape.
The drone has a black and red color version and can be assembled despite the simplistic design. The frame on the Tarot X series drone can carry heavy equipment such as a quality DSLR camera like a 3-axis gimbal with an HD DSLR camera.
The Tarot X8 is ideal for both hobbyists and prosumers working on aerial photography kits. It is a great octocopter drone for budget-conscious users.
The drone matches your desired needs and expectations. In terms of outward look, this definitely does not meet the mark as a nice-looking drone, however, it gets the job done. Most importantly, it is among the most affordable octocopters available in the market.
I am guessing it’s up for debate as to why a spy drone had to be in the form of an octocopter. Anyway, it’s probably just the brand name that borrowed the “spy” word. The drone can be fitted with a reasonable payload such as a GoPro Action camera or a DSLR.
The xFold is an industrial octocopter in the pro-level that arrives in three different sizes. Has a carbon fiber build and can fold up to 30% of its original size.
Who is this drone for?
The drone is suited for action sports cameras and small payload industrial applications.
The Devourer 130 X8 Titan version is a new addition to Foxtech’s product line. The drone can lift heavy loads despite its small wheelbase. X8 Titan combines both its folding arms and landing gears to carry heavy loads.
What is the drone used for?
The drone is suited for commercial and industrial applications such as:
Power line inspections
Forest protection services
Emergency and disaster rescue
Custom to for agricultural use - spraying
In this section, let's take a look at some more specific questions and even a few steps on how to build your own octocopter.
Step 1: Assemble the frame, propellers, and motors
To start constructing your drone, it needs a body. You will start with the body which comprises the frame and motors, then add the propellers and finally a retractable landing gear. Normally the arms are made of carbon tubing tubing which is light in weight yet does not compromise durability. The eight arms on the most stable quadcopters tend to point upwards. Air is pushed slightly out resulting in an inward push of the droe towards itself maintaining its stability.
If they were just horizontally positioned the octocopter drone would exhibit unstable flight characteristics.
What gives the octocopter drone its lift?
The eight propellers are responsible for the life effect, where some rotate clockwise and other anticlockwise.
What makes an octocopter drone rotate?
Power is increased on the propellers rotating towards one direction while decreased for those spinning in the opposite direction.
Step 2: Control your drone
Add the flight controller which is actually the brains of the aircraft. A flight controller is a circuit board measuring the GPS position, atmospheric conditions, and the prevailing wind speed. Octocopters have sensitive flight controllers that help adjust or compensate when the drone is hit by a gust of wind or loses one propeller.
The flight controller also notes the flight path command you instruct. Advanced octocopter have an Inertia Management Unit (IMU) for stability and Power Management Unit (PMU) that controls power distribution from its lithium-ion powered batteries.
Step 3: Camera
Drones relied upon for photography have a mountable camera gimbal.
Step 4: Drone landing
Your octocopter should be able to return home and initiate automatic landing.
An octocopter drone can come as light as 1.5 Kg Or the larger versions weighing 10 Kg.
You can find an Octocopter drone or drone parts on Amazon or ebay. You can also order them from individual manufacturer websites.
Robotshop - Canada
A popular go to website for robotic products and services sold in the store. RobotShop sells specialized robot parts, development kits and platforms, UAVs and other associated tools. The store offers a lot more stuff other than drones. Buyers have different buying options to choose from.
UnmannedTechShop - UK
At UnmannedTechShop you can buy different parts from octocopters.
FoxTech - China
Online RC store supplying up-to-date equipment including unique products such as k130 octocopter, and D130 X8 octocopter frames.
The 1300mm K130 folding platform (Kraken!) is designed by Foxtech as an ideal for heavy loading jobs and attaching an A3 gimbal. The Devourer D130 is another powerful octocopter drone designed by FoxTech.
Expensive octocopter drones are excellent for filming and cinematography as they offer stability and have impressive flight times.
Octocopter drones can weigh anything from 1.5 Kg to the heavier 10 Kg versions. The weight depends on the material build, the specs of the octocopter, its features and use.
Boeing’s “flying truck” named Godzilla is the largest octocopter drone ever made. The drone is part of the increased investment into autonomous civilian drones that are expected to be the future of commercial shipping. Godzilla was specifically built for at-home deliveries, with a length of 15 ft and width 18 ft. Within the drone are custom batteries powering counter-rotating 6-foot long blades. Weighing 747 pounds, Godzilla can carry 500 pound worth of cargo.
Octocopter drones are here to stay and will play a key role in future technology development. They carry a greater payload and are super powerful,making them highly suited for industrial and commercial work. We are already seeing development of advanced autonomous models as part of research and development into futuristic tech.