I recently purchased a Parrot Swing VTOL Drone (quadcopter) along with the Bluetooth Controller pad. The Swing is remarkable in that it is very different than any Drone currently on the market…due to the VTOL abilities. For the uninitiated, that means it can take off and land (and fly) like a quadcopter, but it has X-shaped wings which can then allow it to fly like an airplane. VTOL will be a big part of the future of drones due to the longer distances and larger payloads they will be able to haul.
Let’s be very clear – the Parrot Swing is a “toy grade model” with brushed motors, yet at the same time it’s head and shoulders above any toy grade machine I’ve ever operated. It has many options – flying forwards, backwards, at different angles and even programmable flights (looks, circles, etc.
It can be operated with a mobile phone attached – or not. The mobile device is mostly for settings and other such monitoring and changes since it does not have a front facing camera. There is a tiny (and poor quality) camera on the rear which is part of the “ground sensing” system. In other words, it has a “VPS system” using sound waves and the rear camera to allow it to know when it is close to the ground – an option usually only seen on much more expensive machines.
At launch the Parrot Swing sold for approx. $130, but they have now come down to about 50% of that price. Refurbs can be purchased for even less, sometimes as low as $40 or less. You’ll have to buy at least one extra battery to get the hang of this machine as you don’t want to have to go out to the field and have only 10-12 minutes of flying.
Note: the Youtube Video Embedded at the bottom of this article will repeat a lot of the written information here – and go much further into some details. You’ll see the model in flight and get a much better idea of how it works!
Parrot Swing (new) at Amazon: https://amzn.to/2pHi7xF
Parrot Swing Refurb at Amazon: https://amzn.to/2pHi7xF
3 pack generic batteries and charger – https://amzn.to/2pHi7xF
Who and What it is for
The Parrot Swing is not a camera drone or a “FPV or Racing model. It is unique and the VTOL aspect is the major feature.
The budding pilot who just wants to fly camera drones may not be the target customer for this model. But among those who want to learn about VTOL it provides an ultra-low cost platform to do so. Also, many pilot become bored with the same old toy model quadcopter – they present almost no challenge to fly. The Swing will require you to learn a few new tricks.
Those who desire to learn R/C Gliders and Planes may want to start with a Swing. The experience will prepare you for the demands of winged flight without having to crash and burn more valuable craft.
The Swing comes with a single removable battery which is charged by inserting it into the drone and plugging in the micro-USB cord. The R/C controller has an internal battery which is also charged via a USB port. Amazon offers both Parrot branded and generic batteries as well as a charger that can handle multiple batteries. The Swing itself has no on-off switch – inserting the battery fully will turn it on. The R/C controller has an on-off button labeled “Parrot” which will turn red when first activated – and then green when it binds with the Swing.
To takeoff, place the Swing on a level surface with the pros facing up – this is quadcopter mode. Hit the small center bottom button on the R/C controller (with the up/down arrow points) and the Swing will lift into the air and hover. Use the sticks as you would any mode 2 controller to get the feel of the Swing in this mode.
When you are ready for winged flight, make certain you are in an open area. A minimum of 100 foot (30 meters or so) square is suggested since you will flying quite fast once in “airplane” mode. Try to pick a day when the winds are light…it will be much easier to learn without fighting wind and gusts (<10 MPH should be OK, but real newbies may want completely calm air).
Study the diagram below (click to enlarge) to understand how the Swing changes its angle to transition from Quadcopter to Winged Flight.
As mentioned in this diagram, the Swing can fly “right side up” or “upside down” – neither mode is better than the other. I suppose most pilots will want to start out flying it “right side up”. which means they will use the R2 (right hand top of R/C Controller) to transition to winged flight. The video will clearly show how the machine makes this transition. What is important for the pilot to know if that they can “stop and regroup” anytime by pressing on the Quadcopter mode button (bottom center – same button as takeoff). This will cause the Swing to stop and Hover – a 2nd press of the same button will make the Swing descend and land. This is a very handy trick if you sense that the machine is getting away from you (wind, roads, etc.).
Video Intro and Demo (will be live 10 pm EST 3/25)
The first Parrot Model we are really excited about. It’s a great value – fun – and you learn things about VTOL and flight. This model will be a keeper for me.