tricopter vs quadcopter

Tricopter vs Quadcopter: What’s The Difference?

Besides their physical appearance and aesthetic features, tricopters and quadcopters are basically the same thing to me. Both of them glide around the air, are controlled by a simple remote, and occasionally shoot videos. There isn’t really much different to them, right?


As you can probably guess, I was mistaken. When I walked into a shop last week at the mall, the sales attendant explained to me explicitly what unique qualities each ones has. I was dumbfounded, to say the least, and realized that I had been living a lie all these years.

I also understood now how some flying conditions are better suited for a certain type of drone, while doing a specific task is for this one. Needless to say, there’s still so much we can learn about both these devices and how they can make our lives so much easier.

During this week’s article, I would like to take time out and share with you my recent epiphanies. It may seem rudimentary to some, more advanced enthusiasts; but for a novice like me, I was appreciative about acquiring these new nuggets of knowledge. I hope I can help other beginners further comprehend the differences of tricopter vs. quadcopter.

What Are Each One Exactly?

Tricopters

This is a type of drone with three motors and arms on each major side of its body. It also has a trio of propellers that spin simultaneously to help it lift off the ground. Due to this layout, tricopters are usually very light and do not possess the capacity to take on heavy loads.

tricopter

Quadcopters

On the other hand, quadcopters are arguably the most aerodynamic kind of UAV. They have an even number of rotors and engines, which increases steadiness as it flies around. These are normally heavier, more robust in size, and have a wider range of uses, thanks to a heightened center of gravity.

quadcopter

Now that we’ve properly defined what each one is, let’s try to compare some of their different features. As I’ve said earlier, the tricopter vs. quadcopter debate is so overrated because both have already proven useful to users; it’s just a matter of which one better fits your requirements.

Overall Design

Each and every drone comes in its own color, shape, size, and form. On the market, there are several designs for you to choose from that encapsulates your personal style and preference. But just looking at this industry’s general landscape, quadcopters are indeed more popular and have a wider variety of options.

This isn’t to say, of course, that tricopters are widely disliked – misunderstood is a better word – because there are a number of consumers that prefer them. The biggest flaw, though, is that its arms need to be far apart to keep it stable, thus making it very bulky and severely limiting its design potential. Still, manufacturers have semi-solved this problem by utilizing different materials, adding new textures, and rearranging the layout. The result has been acceptable so far and it should only continue to improve in the coming years.

quadcopter designs

Quadcopters have a wider variety of options

Quadcopters, as I mentioned, are more flexible in this regard. Since they use four propellers, the limbs on it can vary in length and distance from the base. This provides companies with more leeway for their creativity. As you scope through more choices, you’ll see selection that look like UFOs, spaceships straight out of Star Wars, fighter jets, and many more.

Overall, the four-armed design seems to be a lot sounder, at least for now, and is light-years ahead of its three-legged counterpart, both in terms of aesthetics and availability of choices.

Flying Stability and User-Friendliness

This is where things get a little trickier.

Based on my experience and from those of my friends, quadcopters are a lot easier to use. Its form makes it more secure and better suited for first-time drone pilots, especially during stronger winds and light rains. They are made with sturdier materials and won’t wobble as much when being used.  

Tricopters, in comparison, look lanky and are very flimsy when moving. Imagine asking a man on stilts to wear roller blades and see how he rolls – this is the image that’s constantly playing in my mind when watching this type of UAV move.

quadcopter designs
tricopter flying

Another issue that I’ve noticed is this drone cannot turn properly. The opposite propeller would always need to spin in a counterclockwise rotation, just so it pivots smoothly, and it causes the entire device to lose balance. Since the earlier models, engineers have added brushless motors and more ergonomic designs to counteract this problem, but to no avail. While things could definitely change in the coming, I’m convinced that it will not do much to alleviate this concern.

Given these circumstances, I would much rather recommend a quadcopter to a beginner because of how simple and easy it is to control

Price Range

On the average, quadcopters are slightly more expensive than their three-armed equivalents, but that’s just because there are more high-end models on the market. However, if we zero in on only the entry-level options, both basically fall under the same price range. You’ll be able to find quality devices anywhere from $25 to about $350.

As for the maintenance and replacement of parts, four-legged UAVs will have a slight uptick in cost to the additional components required. Though some service centers charge the same amount for both of these drones. The key thing to remember is to establish a good relationship with them so they give you big discounts on repairs.

Flight Time

A factor people almost always fail to look into is a UAV’s flight time, which is actually quite important. As consumers, went to maximize our battery life while conserving the resources used to power it. Consequently, having this checked out allows you to maximize the time you use your drone, as well as the distance it covers, and severely reduce the risk of it suddenly falling from the sky.

With this regard, tricopters offer you more value. On an average, they are able to glide through the air for up to 20 minutes before needing to land. Conversely, quadcopters only have a flight span of 15 minutes before their juice runs out. This may not seem like such a long time but when you’re in a remote location with a lot of obstructions in your way, every second is going to count.

Range of Uses

Generally speaking, drones have evolved from military weapons and dummies in the 1900s to a constant sight in many households. A big reason for this is the wide array of uses it provides, which includes capturing images, surveillance purposes, transporting different types of equipment, and for sport. Additionally, this is one of the major considerations people take into account when taking on the purchasing process.

To give a more in-depth comparison of these two types, lets see how useful each one is.

First off, we have the tricopter. One thing I’ve noticed is that these are predominantly used for recreational purposes. Very rarely do I see commercial drones utilize this set up. A major reason here is its frame’s inability to carry heavy loads. This, though, allows it to run really fast, which is a popular feature among customers. Once you master its twisting and turning techniques, this is going to be a constant source of fun.

Just as I mentioned above, quadcopters are a lot more structurally built, thus a common choice for photographers, agriculturists, security teams, and aerial vehicle users in general. They may be heavier and even bulkier, but its flexibility is something you can truly count on. 

quadcopter in agriculture

Additionally, you shouldn’t be worried about operating it through less than favorable weather since you know it can handle it. Just be sure to know its limits to avoid any untoward incidents.

All in all, I think the verdict is pretty clear in terms of usability. Buoyed by a solid frame and a vigorous body, the quadcopter can offer its users with a myriad of different functions that the tricopter just cant.

Conclusion

After going through this journey, don’t you just see you how uniquely distinct each one is from the other? Hopefully, you, just like I, have developed a deeper sense of appreciation for what both these gadget are able to give us.

Still, despite our fond admiration, it seems that the quadcopters is able to answer more of our modern consumer’s everyday demands. Not only are they easier to maneuver and provide a lower learning curve, but it can also be used for a lot more uses. These, after all, are things we look for and hope to acquire at a reasonable price.

If you’d like to learn a bit more about this tricopter vs. quadcopter comparison, here’s a short video that I hope will encapsulate my entire point on this topic.

Before I finish my 10-minute sharing, I would like to end with this reminder – When choosing between a tricopter vs. quadcopter, always focus on your need. Avoid having your decision-making distorted by fads or opinions from other people; the most important thing is what you prefer.

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