As we begin the 2015 Fly Season (no RAID jokes please!) I wanted to review a few quads that I have bought and like a lot. For those few of you who are waiting for multirotor Nirvana, here is my take on ‘how do I start?’ Or, better yet, ’I have a friend who would like to begin flying multirotor. How should THEY begin?’
Ok then. I would start with flying an indoors Syma Helicopter http://www.amazon.com/Syma-S107G-Channel-Helicopter-Gyro/dp/B00F4WMAI4/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1423096454&sr=8-1&keywords=syma+helicopter Very cheap, extremely stable, takes a pretty good hit and responds to basic quad stick commands.
Next would come a Hubsan H107c http://www.amazon.com/Hubsan-Channel-2-4GHz-Copter-Camera/dp/B00P79ZQIA/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1423096593&sr=8-1&keywords=hubsan+x4+h107c Again, cheap, stable, flies indoors or out and you can learn all of the standard stick controls including right stick (aileron) slides from side to side. Two things to consider for outdoor flying. These babies are small (I lost two at the onset) and though most have cameras, the lack of a camera gimbal makes the video virtually worthless. Why waste the $$ or the battery life?
An alternative second quad would the many microquads such as the http://www.amazon.com/KiiToys%C2%AE-Quadcopter-Drone-Helicopter-Copter/dp/B00NF9PPLC/ref=sr_1_2?s=toys-and-games&ie=UTF8&qid=1423096911&sr=1-2&keywords=micro+quadcopter These fly great both outdoors and inside but they are really small. Hard to keep orientation and like all these inexpensive fun quads very susceptible to the slightest of wind.
Now we start to get serious, not necessarily more expensive at less than $100 but a little more lively performance at the top end. These two quads are quite similar in size and ease of flight. The JJRC quad has a camera, very stable and it does flips when set in the advanced mode. Lots of fun, camp impressive and durable. Both take a good hit and rise from the ashes.
My fav of the two is this Dromida. Very stable yet great performance including controllable flips http://www.amazon.com/Dromida-Ominus-UAV-Quadcopter-Green/dp/B00NHLALDK/ref=sr_1_1?s=toys-and-games&ie=UTF8&qid=1423097390&sr=1-1&keywords=ominus+quadcopterMike Ramos has one. So there you go. “Nuff said.”
I am sure there are other terrific fliers under $100 but these are my favorites and I have had a few that weren’t much. I can’t remember the models as they are with Waste Management gods now.
Finally, I also came across this terrific quad maker. Chris will build you a complete ARF model needing only Tx/Rx and battery. He also sends you a YouTube vid of your craft flying at his facility prior to shipment from Taiwan so you know it flies nicely. I have a couple of Armattan quads and will have them at the field if you want to gawk or even fly one. http://www.armattanquads.com/ BTW, at $350 these terrific quads are cheaper than scratch built. (Trust Me!)
Finally, finally: I still believe the best aerial video platform is the DJI Phantom 2 with, Zenmuse gimble, GoPro and FatShark FPV. At a recent Game of Drones meet (pics elsewhere in this issue), I spoke with a few video folks and there are issues with the DJI Vision and looks of like a lot of issues with the new Inspire.
Here is a fascinating new approach to search and rescue capabilities. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7zWxnRplv8s
At a recent worldwide conference of technology companies, Sandra Ng, an analyst from International Data Corp. spent a few minutes on the success of DJI. She mentioned that the Shenzhen based company now had 2,000 employees with $3b in revenues having been founded by Frank Wang (35) in 2006. Interestingly, ‘drone technology’ is one of, if not the only, technology to originate in China.