Reasons you should NOT Buy or Fly a Drone!

Quadcopter after Crash!

Wait! This is a site which promotes the safe, fun and productive use of aerial robotics (aka “drones”), so why would we produce such a story as this?

Simple – because it’s the truth and we want to save a lot of people money, time and trouble.

How would you feel if your $1500 laptop dropped on the sidewalk and shattered into pieces….the first week you had it? Not very good, right? Well, this experience is being had by dozens of people each day at this time of year as their new “holiday presents” are opened and test flown. Here are a few recent quotes for your consideration:

“I used to own a brand new (higher priced drone). Tonight I noticed the lights started blinking red and it fell out of the sky. I haven’t found it , will go to look for it in the morning…. I’ve been crying like a child…. ”
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BOTH Quadcopter eBooks FREE download Dec. 24

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Both of our Quadcopter eBooks ARE free for download on Christmas Eve Day, 2014 (Dec. 24)
If you are seeing this page after that date, then you missed this particular giveaway. The books are only $3.99 in the electronic addition.

Check out our top list of quadcopters for gift ideas this year!

bothbooksBoth of our Quadcopter books will be free for downloading (ebook only) from Amazon for the 4-day USA Thanksgiving Holiday (thursday to sunday inclusive).

Beginners BookGetting Started with Hobby Quadcopters and Drones
DJI BookBuying and Flying the DJI Phantom Quadcopters

Both are also available as print books – which are probably better if you intend to give them as holiday gifts!

Please Note – these are books for beginners – if you are an experienced R/C pilot or already deep into the hobby, please do not read and then post a review saying “These are for beginners” or something of the sort. Instead, tell all your friends and family members who want to get started to download these – that way they won’t ask you as many questions!

Syma X11 Review and Rating

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Syma is well known for their low cost quadcopters and the brand is often suggested to those who want to get started in this hobby. Their most popular models – the X1 and X5 – are too large for extensive indoor flying, so we were pleased to see them release the Syma X11 Hornet, a smaller model. This model comes with propeller guards as standard equipment making the quad comparable in price to other popular starter models such as the Hubsan X4. Our review and rating will put the Syma X11 Hornet through it’s paces and let you know if you should consider this quadcopter for your fleet.
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Phantom FC40 setup – Getting Started Guide

Phantom FC40

Note – the following is for new users or buyers of the Phantom FC40 or Phantom 1 models. These models can be identified by the single round LED on the quadcopter read and the battery compartment door on the front. The FC40 includes a camera while the plain Phantom 1 comes with a GoPro holder.

Have you recently acquired a Phantom FC40 or Phantom 1? The Holiday season often ends with the unboxing of thousands of new Quadcopters!

If so – and if you have limited experience with the DJI Phantoms and advanced Quadcopters – please read and understand the following before taking to the air.

Before taking your Phantom outside to fly!

Read the manual at least twice. You can download the newest electronic version at:
http://www.dji.com/product/phantom-fc40/download

Basic Definitions:
NAZA – the flight controller box (F/C) inside your Phantom which contains the hardware and software which makes your quadcopter work.
NAZA Assistant – the software, windows or mac, which allows you to upgrade, test and change various settings on your Phantom.
Transmitter or TX – the remote control (usually a white box with two “sticks”) which you use to control your Phantom.
S1 and S2 (called X1 and X2 in the Assistant program!) – the switches on the upper right (S1) and left (S2) of your TX. These set the “modes” which the Phantom responds to and can be programmed in the NAZA assistant software.
RTH – Return to Home – Failsafe programming of the Naza
ATTI – Altitude hold mode on the NAZA F/C – this does away with the use of the GPS and gives you semi-manual control.
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Parrot BeBop Drone Quadcopter – First Look

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As we noted in our Parrot BeBop Quadcopter Drone Pre-Review Rundown, the BeBop is now available to be purchased and flown. We will be writing many articles on the BeBop but felt it was important to note some early impressions and experiences we are having with our review model.

If Nothing else, Read this!

Sadly, a number of technology publications are not truly testing the Bebop – instead choosing just to print marketing claims, press releases and their 5 minute experience flying the Parrot BeBop at Parrot hosted (and paid-for) PR events. In addition, Parrot has offered incentives to early customers (contests, giveaways) if they post reviews online (at bestbuy, apple store, etc.) and share those reviews with the manufacturer. In our opinion, this is not the proper way to get unbiased opinions and experiences. You might want to read our article about why you see so few negative reviews on quadcopters and drones.
The question is not whether the Bebop is an advanced piece of technology – that it surely is! The question is more of whether it suits your needs and expectations…is it the right machine for your intended purpose?

Overview

It takes many weeks – or even months – to properly test a complicated piece of technology like the Parrot BeBop. However, we thought it important to post some of our initial findings and advice so that those looking to buy and fly this quadcopter have some understanding of it.
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SJCAM M10 Review – Cube Mini Full HD Action Cam

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SJCAM M10 Review Introduction

SJCAM is a Chinese based maker of budget sport cameras. Their earlier models, such as the SJ4000 (approx. $110), are low priced copies of the GoPro rectangular style which have gotten very good reviews. The SJCAM M10 ($100 w/accessories, $70 bare) is a newer cube shaped model which we assume contains many of the same innards as the SJ4000 model. This First Look and Review will focus mostly on the use of this camera for aerial photography and video.

SJCAM M10 Action Camera

SJCAM M10

Before we delve deeper into the features and performance, it must be said that if you are shopping for a camera which like a GoPro but at 1/3 of the cost…you are not going to get it with any of the action cameras in the $100 category. Even an older model of GoPro such as the Hero2 will be superior to this category. BUT, if you are looking for a camera with a vast array of features, a color LCD screen and the ability to easily switch to a dashboard cam, etc. – then read on. [Read more...]

Parrot BeBop Quadcopter Drone Pre-Review Rundown

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As Promised, Parrot released their new BeBop Quadcopter at the beginning of December, 2014. The BeBop drone has been in development for over 2 years and contains some very innovative features at a reasonable price. The bigger question is – will it live up to it’s promise?

Note – we just added a First Look which touches on some important items involving the new Bebop.

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Producing Decent Aerial Video on a Budget

Hills in W. Mass.

You’ve all seen them.  Videos produced via quadcopter that are smooth as glass with awesome music tracks that look ready for the big screen.  Then you look at your latest video and it looks like you’re filming the apocalypse.  Everything is shaking about, the jello is making you nauseous, and the whine from your motors is giving you a headache.  So what’s the trick?  Well, quite frankly the only way to get smooth as glass professional quality video is to spend some money on a larger quad and a good quality gimbal.  Even with a gimbal though there’s no free lunch.  Gimbals are expensive, add complexity to your quad, and shorten your flight times due to the added weight.  There’s no denying they produce stellar video, but they’re not for everybody.

That doesn’t mean you’re completely out of luck though.  It’s entirely possible to produce very decent quality video without a gimbal and without spending a ton of money.  You will still have to spend SOME money, expecting to produce good quality video from a $40 micro quad with a low res camera is simply unrealistic, but if you’re willing to spend up to a larger (250-450 sized) quad and at least a halfway decent camera, you can produce some very decent video by following a few relatively simple guidelines:
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Basics of Radio Frequencies for FPV Quadcopter Drones

DJI Phantom FPV

The Basics of Radio Frequencies

You will notice the use of terms such as 2.4GHZ and 5.8GHZ when describing fpv quadcopter and drone aircraft. Here is what you need to know.

2.4 GHZ – is the radio frequency that most quadcopters use for the connection between the ground transmitter and the aerial vehicle. You may remember that this is is also the frequency that computer wireless networks operate on. This can cause some problems when an area (dense housing, office buildings, etc) has many wireless signals. Loss of control and flyways are just some of the reported problems. Another concern is the quadcopter interfering with it’s own on-board systems. This is due to two separate systems being on many modern quadcopters – one for control of the craft and one for transmitting the video (FPV).
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10 Best Quadcopters and drones for 2014 and Gift giving

Blade 350 QX

UPDATED 11/2014 – we also update every couple days during the holiday season!

Here are some best bets for drones and quadcopters this upcoming gift-giving season – whether looking to gift yourself or a family member/friend.

Please read notes in ALL CAPITALS

Note – these quadcopters can vary in cost depending on vendor, options, etc. but the following will give some idea of the price ranges.

Also note that many of these are not for beginners! Rather they are upgrades after you’ve learned the basics of flying and know exactly what features you desire. Quads best for beginners are marked with an *

We do not suggest the very tiny “nano” thumb size quadcopters for learning or beginners! Here is why.
We do not suggest the new Parrot Rolling Spider – as our review of it showed it to be buggy and not ready for the market.

Under $100

Micro-Sized
*Blade Nano QX – Micro Quad with great features
Amazon Link Blade Nano QX
*Hubsan X4 H107L – updated version of the most popular micro- beginners should purchase the option prop guard.
Amazon Link – Hubsan X4
Hubsan X4 and WL v636
Mini-Sized
*Syma X5 – Inexpensive, reliable, good parts and knowledge availability (lots of owners!) – the model with a X5c designation includes a camera.
Amazon Link to Syma X5Amazon Link to Syma X5c

Syma has recently introduced the X 11 – which is sized right in-between a micro and a mini. It is getting good reviews – so we feel comfortable recommending it.

*WL Toys v636 Skylark – Newer and more advanced “toy grade” mini – see our review.
Bangood Link (worldwide shipping)

*Dromida Ominus – Another advanced toy grade quadcopter which is getting very good reviews! This is somewhat similar to the WL Toys v636, but perhaps a step up in total quality.
Link to Dromida Ominus on Amazon

WL Toys v262 – Larger version of a 212 series with decent payload capacity (see our review)
Amazon Link for v262
WL Toys V262 Cyclone UFO 4 Channel 6 Axis Gyro Quadcopter 2.4Ghz Ready to Fly (Green)
Note- mid-2014 price of under $70 is a great bargain and if you have a large open outdoor area to learn in, it can be a great first or, better yet, second quadcopter.

NOTE – ALL OF THE ABOVE QUADCOPTERS USE “BRUSHED” MOTORS WHICH WILL NEED REPLACING AFTER A COUPLE HOURS OF FLIGHT. Keep in mind that a couple hours of flight can easily mean 25-40+ total flights as each flight is approx. 8 minutes.

Under $200

Eye One Extreme – Brushless quadcopter (Approx. $150)
Link to Manufacturer
NOTE: Not for beginners – read reviews and become familiar with spare parts, etc. you might need. Lots of extra accessories for camera flying, larger payloads, sport flying, etc.
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