Eachine Falcon 250 – Heavy Metal Racing Muscle at a Bargain Basement Price

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Drone racing is in the beginning stages of an explosion similar to what AV drones have experienced over the last couple of years.  While it’s still too early to tell if it’s going to be the next big thing or just a passing fad, it’s not hard at all to imagine these mighty midgets becoming very popular over the next year or so.  This segment of the hobby was once the domain of hardcore hobbiests only, people armed with soldering irons, hex drivers, and vast amounts of knowledge of how to build, tune, and fly these tiny beasts.  That’s changing however, and ready-to-fly and plug-and-fly (pre built, just add your own receiver and bind it to your radio) are popping up everywhere.  Originally these RTF and PNF models were fairly expensive, in the $400-$500 range.  Less expensive models started to show up last summer though, and the trend toward lower prices and a wider range of options has continued since then.  A few months ago I did a review on the Eachine Racer 250 (ER 250), an excellent low end racer-style quadcopter well suited for hobbiests with some flying experience with micro quads or AV drones who wanted to make the transition to racing drones.  In this review, I’m going to look at the Racer’s younger, leaner, and meaner brother, the Eachine Falcon 250 (EF 250).  How does the Falcon stack up against the Racer and other drones in this genre?  Who is it for, and is it a good value for the money?  Keep reading to find out! [Read more…]

JJRC H8C (Holy Stone F180C) Review

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JJRC is a well known manufacturer of “toy grade” quadcopters and drones. The JJRC H6C, which also appears to be relabeled as Holy Stove F180C, is a micro sized quadcopter in the same size and performance range as the venerable Hubsan X4 (H107) series. In this review we take a look at the machine and see if it fits the needs of a beginner.

What’s in the Box – and Pricing?

The JJRC model comes well packed in a small square box and includes the usual:
Quadcopter – with propeller guard
Battery (1)
RX (remote control) with LCD screen
USB Battery Charger
Extra Set of Propellers
Pry tool for propeller removal
MicroSD card and USB card reader [Read more…]

How many consumer drones, toys aside, exist in the USA as of Jan, 2016

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How many real consumer drones, toys aside, exist in the USA as of Jan, 2016

Unless you are living under a rock, you’ve probably heard about the new (US) FAA requirement that all drones over a certain weight (250 grams – a bit more than 1/2 pound) need to be registered. Registration is easy and cheap and each pilot – NOT each drone – needs to register.

The FAA has announced 300,000 registrations as of mid-January 2016. This number then begs the question – how many drones are not yet registered? Or, more accurately, how many drone owners (pilots) who are actively using their machines have yet to register?

No truly accurate numbers exist – your guess is as good as mine…or that of the paid “experts”, so let’s have some fun and flush out the numbers.

Note – many of the numbers can be estimated by studying the statements of various manufacturers, Amazon.com sales, etc – put together with some other criteria, this may give us a glimpse of a moving target.

The commonly reported numbers often include toy drones. They also don’t take into account multiple drone ownership by a single individual or loss/crash/retirement of drones.

Without further ado, here is my guesses and the logic behind them….
[Read more…]

Drones at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show -CES

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Drone Report from the Consumer Electronics Show 2016

In our 2 1/2 days at CES, I walked over 30 miles! It certainly is a big show and, as with 2015, drones were a large part of the buzz this year. Here is our “executive summary” of drones at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show (CES). It contains a number of opinions and predictions. At Droneflyers we dislike parroting PR statements or cheerleading for the entire drone industry…rather we look at the trends, accomplishments and market as a whole and try to distill it down for our readers.

Our report will focus on the consumer drone market although some mention will be made of commercial uses.

Here is our still picture gallery from CES.

General Overview

2016 will likely be a year where the evolution of consumer drones continues. Drones have become extremely complex and it’s very unlikely that brand new technology is going to arise…rather we are seeing a maturing of the industry as well as integration of existing technologies into lower priced consumer drones.

In order to give some method to our madness, we will run through the drones in order of “types” laid out in our recent article.

1. Toys
2. Racing/FPV
3. Consumer Camera Drones
4. Prosumer Camera Drones
[Read more…]

Fear of Flying 2016 – The Last Word on Drone Flyaways!

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Fear of Flying
2016 – The Last Word on Drone Flyaways!

It’s the term that won’t go away and seems to instill fear into many budding Pilots – the dreaded “Flyaway”. As with many fears, there is a grain of truth to the concerns-but statistically the fear may be unfounded.

The term is used mostly in relation to GPS assisted quadcopters – those selling in large quantities such as the DJI Phantoms, Blades, Yuneecs, etc.

It’s all about the odds – and about reliability. Let’s take a short look at some common fears and whether they are grounded in facts:

Fear of flying on commercial airlines in the developed world – this fear is unfounded as the odds of a crash are about 1 in 4 MILLION – the odds of you being killed are even smaller. On the other hand, there is a 1 in 500 chance of your death being in a car accident. Do you drive? Or ride in a car?

Terrorism – the chances of your being killed or injured by terrorism are very low. You are 300X more likely to die from a workplace accident, 5000X more likely to die from a medical error and 2000X more likely to die at your own hand (suicide).

So how does this relate to ‘flyaways”? [Read more…]

Phantom 3 Standard Part 2- Advanced Flight Modes, and What’s Missing vs. the Advanced

DJI-Phantom3 Standard

Ok, so Christmas has come and gone and you didn’t get the drone you wanted.  Not to worry – there should be some good deals in the coming months on drones of various types.  One of the drones that anybody just getting into this hobby should be considering is the Phantom 3 Standard.  If you read part 1 of my Phantom 3 Standard review you know that the Standard is a very solid product, but as would be expected based on the cheaper price it’s missing a few features found in the advanced version. That doesn’t mean it’s just a basic drone with nothing going for it though. The Standard still has a few tricks up its sleeve and in some respects fares quite well against the higher priced sibling. So what are some of those tricks, and exactly what is missing vs. the Advanced?
Keep reading to find out!
[Read more…]

2016 Overview of the Civilian Drone Market

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2016 Overview of the Civilian Drone Market

Having just returned from the vast Consumer Electronic Show (CES 2016), I have a wealth of material to post – including pics, video and soon-to-be opinions and articles on the state of the civilian drone market.

First, however, it might be instructional to describe the current scope of the civilian drone market – in the hopes of helping the public and trade understand the various segments.

For ease of understanding, this article breaks down the civilian drone market into 6 segments. As will be noted, these segments can overlap – especially those above the toy/fpv category.

Basic Civilian Drone Categories

Basic Civilian Drone Categories – click to enlarge

The diagram above notes 6 basic types of drones. These are separated by size, price, mission, reliability and flexibility – that is, the ability to add various options and equipment. An overview as well as some examples of the breed follows: [Read more…]

DJI Phantom 3 – Guide to 2016 Product Line

Phantom 3 4K

DJI Phantom 3 – Guide to 2016 Product Line – learn the difference between the 4 models.

First there were two – then three and now four models of the DJI Phantom 3 Quadcopter. New buyers may find themselves confused by the various specifications and features. Have no fear – we’re here to simplify the decision for you so that you can get flying ASAP.

First, we’ll assume you have already learned something about drones and perhaps flown a couple toy models to get the hang of piloting. It is possible, however, for careful pilots to start with a DJI model – there is even a built-in flight simulator so you can learn without endangering your new purchase.

So without further ado – and as short and sweet as possible, here is a guide to the 2016 DJI Phantom lineup in “price” order!

Phantom 3 Standard – This is the lowest price Phantom – currently selling for about $499. What you get is nothing short of amazing – you are getting an improved version of what sold last year for $1200-$1400.

Assuming you are not a pro, prosumer or camera nut – you can stop right here. The Phantom 3 Standard is more than good enough for most consumers who want to enter the world of aerial photography and video. It has plenty of range – in actual use most pilots stay within about 1500 feet (<500 meters) of themselves and this is actually the law in most countries – that is, you must be able to see the drone (line of sight or LOS).

The GPS system is single – meaning it uses only the US satellites for positioning. This is fine for most situations – however, if a lot of your flying is in urban canyons or deep in the woods behind mountains you may want to consider stepping up to a dual GPS model (Advanced or Pro).

The camera and gimbal are good enough for most all standard uses. [Read more…]

DJI Lowers Price of Phantom 3 Standard to $499 – Advanced to $799

Standard Now $499

We are off to CES (the Consumer Electronics Show) to see what is new…

However, today DJI announced a steep price drop on their Phantom 3 Standard and Advanced. The links to the DJI store are below.

If you are ready for your first camera quadcopter – this allows the purchase at a price which is lower than ever.

DJI Store Links:
DJI Phantom 3 Standard $499 – click here
DJI Phantom 3 Advanced – $799 – Click here.
Amazon Links – NOTE – They may show the wrong prices below – click them to go to Amazon and the prices should reflect the new lower pricing

Standard Now $499

Standard Now $499

Fair winds and happy flying and we’ll be reporting back from CES!

The 4 Biggest Drone Stories of 2015

Happy New Year!

As we prepare for a visit to the Consumer Electronic Show (CES, Las Vegas), it might be instructional to look back at the top consumer drone stories of 2015. Here, in no particular order, are the subjects we think have shaped – and are continuing to shape – this industry.

1. Regulation – and lack of it – the FAA, local governments and the media have all been caught off guard by the meteoric rise in the sales, use and capabilities of unmanned aircraft (drones). The scenario played out in an unfortunate manner as many new pilots exercised a lack of disgression on how and where to fly – causing a firestorm of complaints and concerns. As a result the government and industry are moving quickly – perhaps TOO quickly – to assure the safety of the public and the skies.
We believe this will moderate at some time in the future as drone programming and education puts a dent in the PDIs (Public Displays of Idiocy), however the result for now is an unstable market where potential buyers and pilots are unsure of how the future will play out. This could speed the “dot-drone” bust that we and others are predicting…such a bust can end up being a good thing as the market will be cleaned from some of the snake oil and false promises that have marked many of the drone startup efforts.

2. The DJI Phantom 3 – In every industry there are groundbreaking or harbinger product – those which both foretell the future and also are arguably the first common examples of a new breed. Examples include the Apple II, the Commodore 64 and even the iPhone/iPad. [Read more…]