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Rotor Concept Inc. HPQ1 99.9% RTF Quad-copter Review

Rotor Concept was selling the HPQ1 quad-copter at the 2012 AMA Expo. I learned the HPQ1 comes RTF and I found it makes quite the first impression!

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Introduction

Maximum Width:615mm
Takeoff Weight:610 grams with battery pack
Maximum Length:615mm
Height:140mm
Servos:None
Transmitter:Included 2.4 GHz
Receiver:2.4 GHz
Battery:3-cell 2400 mAh LiPo
Motor:4 Brushless Outrunners
Flight Time:< 18 plus minutes with battery pack fully charged
Propellers:4 8" propellers two regular and two counter rotating
Payload STD Props:12 ounces
Payload Option high performance 3 blade props:1.2 lbs.
Manufacturer:RotorConcept
Available From:GorillaBobs
Price:$399.95-$899.00

This review grew directly out of seeing the demonstration flights of this quad-copter at the 2012 AMA Expo. The pilot was Patrick Le, and he was flying and selling the HPQ1 at the show. The model he was selling was RTF and included an assembled quad-copter and the transmitter on 2.4GHz. A camera mount was an additional $10.00, and it came in an aluminum case with the LiPo battery and charger for the LiPo battery pack. He did not have the car body or the optional lights for sale at the show. I have to admit that the car body and lights was very nice eye candy. I had wanted a new and improved quad-copter to replace my old Dragonfly quad-copter, and the HPQ1 looked to fit the bill. After I obtained mine I learned that two Delta Valley club members had bought HPQ1s at the show and fellow RC Groups reviewer, Ralph Squillace, was given one by a generous friend who went to the AMA Expo with him. Since I was first exposed to the HPQ1 and attracted to it when I saw it flying I thought it appropriate to start off this review by showing you the HPQ1 before reviewing it or discussing it.

The HPQ1's control board is designed using integrated advanced sensors including: barometer, accelerometer, magnetometer, 3-axis gyro and inertia based (6DOF IMU) self-stabilization system. The HPQ1s range is promoted as being 2,000 feet in altitude with a flight radius of up to 1 mile. Maximum tested by this reviewer is 300 feet in altitude and 300 feet in radius.

Kit Contents

At the EXPO they were selling the HPQ1 in a nice aluminum case that is perfect for storage and travel. Inside the box the foam was perfectly cut out to fit the HPQ1 and its 2.4GHz transmitter underneath it in the box. The HPQ1 came almost fully assembled with a quick final step to complete assembly when at the flying site. Also in the case was a three cell 2200mAh battery pack and a charger. There were just a couple pages of instructions. I purchased a camera mount for an additional $10.00 and it secures under the HPQ1. There was an extra cut out space in the foam that fit the camera mount piece nicely.

Included Items:

  • Aluminum storage and transportation case
  • HPQ1 99.9% ready to fly
  • 2.4GHz transmitter
  • 3-cell Lipo 2200mAh battery pack
  • Balanced 3-cell Lipo Charger & power converter
  • Instructions















Author Supplied:

  • 8 AA Alkaline batteries for the transmitter
  • Locktite (REQUIRED!)

Additional Items Purchased:

  • Camera mount
  • Lights as discussed below

Safety Features

1) Start Up Throttle Protection

During power up the quad-copter will not respond to any command until the throttle stick is placed in the lowest (zero throttle) position.

2) Loss of RC Signal

In case the RC signal is lost during flight the HPQ1 will go into Security Protection Mode (SPM). The HPQ1 will intermittently emit a long Beeeeep! The HPQ1 will not fly until an RC signal is received from the controller. If the signal is lost in flight the HPQ1 will immediately self land and start the intermittent tone. Only when the signal has been regained will this protection be deactivated and the HPQ1 allowed to resume flying.

3) Low Battery Protection

Upon detecting low battery the HPQ1 will beep intermittently while still flying. Pilot should land as soon as possible. If the pilot continues to fly the HPQ1 will slowly power down and self land. Pilot will have flight control but not throttle control.

Assembly

The HPQ1 came almost fully assembled. The propellers and the outer spinning components of the Brushless motors came in a slot in the foam inside the aluminum transportation case. Two have part B propellers and two have part A propellers. The difference is one propeller is a normal rotating 8" propeller and the other is a counter rotating 8" propeller. I just slipped the outer spinning component with propeller on over the motor per the instructions with one pair on for normal rotation diagonally from each other and the counter rotating propellers with outer motor covers on the other two mounts. When done flying for the day the covers and props can easily be pulled off and stored in the foam space for them in the case for ease of storage and transportation.

The spinners that secure the propellers in place need to be removable so that the propellers can be replaced if broken. However they must be on securely so that they don't just spin off in operation. Two of my friends have so far just tightened the spinners on as tight as they could and have relied on that alone to keep the props in place. I used a version of locktight that is not permanent but does secure the pieces together. It holds the spinners and blades in place but the bond can be broken if I need to replace the propellers in the future (That is really more of a when than an if.).

Because of the need to secure the propellers and place the outer spinners with magnets on the motors I consider it 99.9% ready to fly. Placing the props on the quad-copter's motors and securing the battery to the underside is all that is required. I recommend using the supplied straps and Velcro on the battery and base of the HPQ1 to really secure the battery to the quad-copter. You don't want that battery shifting in flight.

Replacement Propellers

The propellers on the HPQ1 Quad-copter are 8" long but they have a bushing in them that the propeller shaft goes through. They have replacements listed on the Rotor Concept website but they have been listed as sold out for two months in the standard propeller. I still have my original HPQ1 propellers but I saw Gorilla Bob RC selling the HPQ1 at the Arizona Electric Festival. He said the Gaui 8 inch propellers were the right size but that he had to install the bushing from his HPQ1 props into the Gaui props to install them properly. He said cutting out and installing the bushing wasn't hard and the Gaui props are much more affordable then the listed replacement propellers. I have bought some Gaui replacement props to use when I need replacements for my HPQ1. I will cut out the bushing and install it in the Gaui. If any readers know of some place where actual replacement props can be obtained please share the information at the end of this review.

Jose Macias from my club had a couple of his propeller blades break with the help of another club member. He has done the Gaui propeller replacement and said it was easy but for best results change all four propellers need to be the same brand. This is necessary per Jose to keep the HPQ1 in proper balance.

Conversion to a Quad-Car-Copter

Rotor Concepts has car bodies and lights for them listed on their Website and per the pictures and video above it looks very cool with the illuminated car body on the HPQ1. To install the car body the brushless motors have to be loosened and repositioned facing down on the motor arm supports and the direction of the propellers has to be reversed as well. They have a video of how to do this on their Website that covers it very well so I won't go into any more detail than to affirm that they advise you to be very careful about the motor wires when reinstalling the motors as the screws can cut the wires. Gorilla Bob can confirm that that is true and be very very careful if you choose to convert to the quad-car-copter.

Lights for the HPQ1

Besides the car body and lights for it Rotor Concepts has a light set you can buy and install on your HPQ1 for use in normal or with the inverted motor setup. Those are shown in videos on the Rotor Concepts Websites and how to install them. I bought a set of LEDs originally designed to install on the Gaui quad-copter and sold by Gorilla Bobs RC. There are four strands of LEDs that wrap around the motors for illumination. I have installed them on my HPQ1 with white LEDs in front and red LEDs in back. Again, I got these from Gorilla Bob at the Arizona Electric Festival. They currently are just secured with the sticky backs but I will get a bag of the clear little plastic pieces to secure them further along with the wires to the motor mount booms. It was also necessary to widen the space in the foam in the storage box to fit the HPQ1 in the box with the lights.

Price of the HPQ1

My friends and I bought our HPQ1 at the AMA Expo at a special Expo price. On the Website it is listed for $899 and Gorilla Bob was selling a complete HPQ1 setup with transmitter and aluminum box, etc at the Arizona Electric Festival for $395.95. I can only assume they want dealers to sell their product and thus the very large price difference. If you are interested in obtaining one I recommend you check with Gorilla Bobs and see if he has it in Stock or on order with an expected delivery date. Also check the Rotor Concept Website to see if there is a price change or notice of an event sale.

Flying

Basics

Quad-copters, including the HPQ1 are an excellent example of one of Newton's laws of motion. Quad-copters at rest stay tend to stay at rest and quad-copters in motion tend to stay in motion ... in the direction last commanded. Once tilted to move forward it will move forward until a counter command is given to stop moving forward or to go in another direction. Elevator controls forward and backward flight; aileron controls side to side flight and rudder allows turning the helicopter in either direction including turning around completely. Throttle controls power and elevation.

Taking Off and Landing

On the first power up of my HPQ1 she lifted up into a hover and started rotating to the left. I landed and adjusted the trim tab for the rudder and took off again and this time in the hover she rotated to the left but very slowly. I applied another click to the rudder trim tab and she was in a nice hover with just a little drift. Landings were simply a matter of lowering the throttle slowly. From a hover landings are no problem. Landings from moving flight usually leads to a slide on smooth flooring and a tip over on carpeting.

Aerobatics/Special Flight Performance

At this point and I and my two fellow club members with HPQ1s are just mastering the basics of flying are quad-copters around the room and outside around the park. I have added lights to mine and have installed and removed the camera mount. I have no plans for adding a car body in the immediate future but Tim Cassidy has discussed possibly ordering one. I am looking to use my quad-copter to take photographs from the air. That will be my special performance.

Changing Radios

Jose Macias and I have stayed with the included receiver and transmitter that came with our HPQ1s. Tim Cassidy has switched to his Spektrum DX7 transmitter and a Spektrum receiver. All three of our systems remain very well controlled.

Is This For a Beginner?

I would not recommend it for the true beginner but it is a good quad-copter for the experienced pilot who wants to fly a quad-copter. As stated above the HPQ1 lifts into a nice relatively solid hover. Keeping stick movements small (A must at first.) and realizing you often need to give a counter command to stop direction travel, the learning curve is pretty quick for an experienced pilot. A true beginner pilot is likely to crash the HPQ1 for a combination of reasons: making movements that are too big; not giving the necessary counter commands to stop movements or loosing orientation etc.

If the beginner first gets stick time on a flight simulator or a coaxial helicopter so that the stick controls are familiar they can be successful using small stick movements to learn to fly the HPQ1 quad-copter.

Flight Video/Photo Gallery








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Conclusion

Jose, Tim and I all purchased our HPQ1s at the AMA show after seeing how well she performed in the AMA flight center with the car body and the motors inverted. All three of ours have performed well right out of the custom case and our flying skills with our HPQ1s have improved greatly since our first flights. I have been happy with the performance of my HPQ1 but I was very surprised to see the prices for the HPQ1 and replacement parts as posted on Rotor Concept's Website. I have also been disappointed with the very limited response I have gotten from my e-mails to Rotor Concept. I presume they would be more responsive to me if I was buying something in those e-mails. The videos on their Website and been very helpful and I recommend anyone interested in a quad-copter to check them out. I have been encouraged to see Gorilla Bob has been selling them and he came up with a propeller replacement solution as discussed above. I recommend that those interested in the HPQ1 to look to vendors you trust that carry this product. Gorilla Bob's price when he has them in stock is very reasonable but check by e-mail before you order to make sure he has them in stock. Rotor Concept seems more interested in having vendors selling their product rather than them selling the HPQ1 directly to the public. While the product is good their communication with me leaves room for improvement.

Pluses

  • Flies right out of the box
  • Can carry a light camera
  • Controls are steady
  • Is neatly packed for transportation and storage
  • Looks very cool with lite up car body in a darkened room

Minuses

  • No replacement propellers in stock
  • Propeller used not readily available
  • Prices on their Website
  • Poor response to my e-mails
Last edited by Angela H; Mar 27, 2012 at 02:34 PM..

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Old Mar 30, 2012, 06:42 AM
semper mitis
gentle ben's Avatar
Paducah, Kentucky
Joined Nov 2004
958 Posts
Interesting concept, but what I'm not clear on, is the wisdom of using the motor shafts as landing struts especially the way I land sometimes.
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Old Mar 30, 2012, 10:15 AM
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DismayingObservation's Avatar
Southern California
Joined Feb 2006
2,896 Posts
I have one as well. Got it at the show and here are my opinions of the thing:

*The radio absolutely refuses to stay in trim.

*I lost a prop nut due to my not applying Loctite. It cost nearly $20 to replace after tax and shipping. I couldn't find the weird 3.5mm locknuts which would have saved me a ton of dough, so I coughed up the twenty bucks.

*Normal and pusher APC 8x3.8SF props will work. Keep the brass bushings from the originals.

*GEMFAN 8x4.5 quadrotor props from Goodluckbuy.com work well, but the company's reputation is a bit spotty.

*Thanks to a radio hit, I busted my GEMFAN props. It was in a hover and it decided to make a hard right turn into the ground on its own. Bought some cheapies from eBay. I now have an even WORSE problem. The props wouldn't cinch down properly and my attempts to do so made the shafts lift and rotate in three of the four. I twisted a Wiha .050 socket screwdriver to scrap this morning and it was then I noticed that the flat spot on the shaft was slightly turned against the setscrew, making it impossible to turn the setscrew. I also managed to ruin one of the endbells due to my attempt to press the shaft back down. So, I'm out another 30 bucks. It's either going to the hobby shop or to a machine shop because I will not spend another hundred bucks to replace the endbells.

This quad works well when it works, but their customer service HAS to improve and the parts prices HAVE to come down.
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Last edited by DismayingObservation; Mar 30, 2012 at 10:20 AM.
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Old Mar 30, 2012, 02:16 PM
Registered User
United States, CA, Los Angeles
Joined Aug 2011
175 Posts
Thanks for the review.

The comments here make me glad I'm taking the "build it myself" route for a multi-copter. The learning curve is somewhat long and steep, but it will pay me back later with knowledge of how to tune/fix/improve it.
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Old Mar 30, 2012, 02:35 PM
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DMala's Avatar
New Jersey
Joined Sep 2009
1,637 Posts
Can anyone post the dimensions of the carrying case? Thanks
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Old Mar 31, 2012, 01:20 AM
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Joined Mar 2012
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Response to Rotor Concept article

Just joined your group. Retired old fellow here who bought the Rotor Concept Quad copter at the AMA show in Ontario,CA.
It was amazing to me, how many people bought it (I saw about 40 metal cases waiting for their new owners to be picked up, they also sold a bunch at the Electronic show in Vegas) but then the demonstration by Patrick Lee was impressive. I believe the show was Jan.12 and it is now 3-31-12 and I really haven't been able to fly this thing very much.
First of all, I received it with a dead battery that could not be charged, I called and they told me to send in the faulty battery and charger, After 3 or 4 weeks, I hadn't heard yet, when I called I was told "it will be shipped tomorrow", meaning they hadn't even thought about sending a replacment. When it finally came, my friend and I tried to fly it, adjust the controller and what not, but it just kept crashing and breaking blades, I had bought one set ($29.95) of extra blades.
Now, the price you mentioned was much higher than the $279.- I paid Rotor Concept plus the ectra money for the blades, $318.-
I decided what a waste to buy a $318.- toy and not be able to use it, so I called RC and talked to Steve, who can only whisper at about 195 mpn, I can only listen at 50 mph. We set up an appointment for me to come down to El Monte,CA about 2 hours from Palm Springs and Steve PROMISED that Patrick would be there to help me. Of course, he wasn't, he called and had forgotten about a meeting he had. Why of course! Steve, though, was very helpful, the offices of this company is in total disarray, I have never seen such a mess in my life, crap and card board everywhere. Only 2 people work there,Patrick and Steve. I saw 3 helicopters, all the rest had to do with Taiwanese products where the family roots are evidently, but both were born in USA. Steve could not make my helicopter fly, no matter what. First we got me a new Helicopter, after Patrick OK'd it over the phone and when that didn't work, a new controller and after making adjustments, by God, Steve got this thing flying, I was thrilled. I was unable to buy blades there or anything, there is no cash register, was told to order on the net, but as the author pointed out, they have been out for MONTH and probably longer than that. The author also was right about lack of communication by email, there isn't any. Steve really tries hard to make things right and I must thank Patrick for allowing me a new copter and controller.
The new copter would not work with my controller by the way, hence I got both new ones.
I went home and tried to fly this thing, really looking forward to it, knowing that Steve had fixed all my problems, but unfortunately it didn't work here, even in the soft grass I was able to break some blades. I joined your group because I don't want to be through with this, I want to fly it and hopefully I will be able to purchase a couple sets of blades, please tell me where to go. Do you realize that the little nut that hold the blade on (with locktite) cost $12.95????
This thing cost about 2 cents, $12.95?? Are they crazy?
In retrospect, I wished I would have purchased the quad from Brookstone for about the same price.

Flydut 12-31.12
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Old Mar 31, 2012, 11:18 AM
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DismayingObservation's Avatar
Southern California
Joined Feb 2006
2,896 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by flydut View Post
Just joined your group. Retired old fellow here who bought the Rotor Concept Quad copter at the AMA show in Ontario,CA.
It was amazing to me, how many people bought it (I saw about 40 metal cases waiting for their new owners to be picked up, they also sold a bunch at the Electronic show in Vegas) but then the demonstration by Patrick Lee was impressive. I believe the show was Jan.12 and it is now 3-31-12 and I really haven't been able to fly this thing very much.
First of all, I received it with a dead battery that could not be charged, I called and they told me to send in the faulty battery and charger, After 3 or 4 weeks, I hadn't heard yet, when I called I was told "it will be shipped tomorrow", meaning they hadn't even thought about sending a replacment. When it finally came, my friend and I tried to fly it, adjust the controller and what not, but it just kept crashing and breaking blades, I had bought one set ($29.95) of extra blades.
Now, the price you mentioned was much higher than the $279.- I paid Rotor Concept plus the ectra money for the blades, $318.-
I decided what a waste to buy a $318.- toy and not be able to use it, so I called RC and talked to Steve, who can only whisper at about 195 mpn, I can only listen at 50 mph. We set up an appointment for me to come down to El Monte,CA about 2 hours from Palm Springs and Steve PROMISED that Patrick would be there to help me. Of course, he wasn't, he called and had forgotten about a meeting he had. Why of course! Steve, though, was very helpful, the offices of this company is in total disarray, I have never seen such a mess in my life, crap and card board everywhere. Only 2 people work there,Patrick and Steve. I saw 3 helicopters, all the rest had to do with Taiwanese products where the family roots are evidently, but both were born in USA. Steve could not make my helicopter fly, no matter what. First we got me a new Helicopter, after Patrick OK'd it over the phone and when that didn't work, a new controller and after making adjustments, by God, Steve got this thing flying, I was thrilled. I was unable to buy blades there or anything, there is no cash register, was told to order on the net, but as the author pointed out, they have been out for MONTH and probably longer than that. The author also was right about lack of communication by email, there isn't any. Steve really tries hard to make things right and I must thank Patrick for allowing me a new copter and controller.
The new copter would not work with my controller by the way, hence I got both new ones.
I went home and tried to fly this thing, really looking forward to it, knowing that Steve had fixed all my problems, but unfortunately it didn't work here, even in the soft grass I was able to break some blades. I joined your group because I don't want to be through with this, I want to fly it and hopefully I will be able to purchase a couple sets of blades, please tell me where to go. Do you realize that the little nut that hold the blade on (with locktite) cost $12.95????
This thing cost about 2 cents, $12.95?? Are they crazy?
In retrospect, I wished I would have purchased the quad from Brookstone for about the same price.

Flydut 12-31.12
I got mine at the AMA as well and I too paid $12.95 for a lost nut and I just plunked down $30 for a motor endbell. I have e-mailed them in the hope of cancelling the order before it ships. If it does ship, well, I'll have an extra.

That was before I did some internet research and stumbled on the fact this model is a repackaged LotusRC T380. Goodluckbuy.com in China sells the ARF versions less the radio for less than $200 and they happen to have some banner ads on this site. I found them here via a banner ad which mentioned quadcopter parts.

Motor endbells are $10 each and a set of four nuts sells for well under ten bucks with free shipping. They sell every part necessary for that model and all at a fraction of the cost. I bought four endbells and four props last night and I got a personal e-mail from that company within minutes. I managed to damage three of my four endbells trying to substitute some cheapies I bought on eBay. I had to cinch the nuts down hard and I pulled the shafts up through the endbells. Loosening the setscrew (if possible) won't help since the shafts are a tight press fit.

I wouldn't have had to replace any props had the thing not decided to make a hard right turn into the ground after a radio glitch hit it.

The radio packaged with this so-called "$899" quad is a $30 bulk sales unit from a Chinese company called Spring RC. Thankfully, any four-channel radio will fly the thing. There is NO need to spend some outrageous sum on a garden variety 2200mAh or 2400mAh battery. A good one from a hobby shop is half that price and you can get them all day long through Hobbyking.com for less than ten bucks each if you're willing to solder a female Deans Ultra-Plug connector to them.

That little charger they give with the unit works for me, but it takes about three hours to charge a pack. My Electrifly Triton EQ does it in an hour and does a better job.

Drop me a private message; I may be able to be of some more help to you.
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Old Mar 31, 2012, 02:44 PM
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Michael Heer's Avatar
Stockton, Ca. USA
Joined Apr 2001
9,458 Posts
Thanks for the great news. I still have my four propellers but I am placing a bulk order for my friends and I as they both need new props. Mike H
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Old Apr 01, 2012, 12:59 PM
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Michael Heer's Avatar
Stockton, Ca. USA
Joined Apr 2001
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The outside measurements of the case including the plastic feet are 16 1/2 x 17 1/2 x 7.
I have confirmation that my order has been received by Goodluckbuy. Mike H
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Old Apr 01, 2012, 02:56 PM
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DMala's Avatar
New Jersey
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Thanks!
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Old Apr 02, 2012, 10:04 AM
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Bing44's Avatar
United States, OR, Independence
Joined Feb 2008
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I'm curious about the other customers, the ones who don't say anything. Is it only a couple bad quads or are the others just suffering in silence? Based on what I read here I wouldn't purchase one of these with your money. And I have read a lot of bad reviews of GLB but their 525 is only $150 and parts are cheap. I think I'll buy a frame kit and build my own from scratch. Or maybe even build the frame from scratch.

jim
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Old Apr 03, 2012, 12:22 PM
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Canada, AB, Edmonton
Joined Mar 2012
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Here is a link for the many hundred dollar radio

[QUOTE=DismayingObservation;21196266] . . .

The radio packaged with this so-called "$899" quad is a $30 bulk sales unit from a Chinese company called Spring RC. Thankfully, any four-channel radio will fly the thing. . . .QUOTE]

This is the link for the radio. Note R C takes the oval lable from above the Tx LEDs off.
http://www.bidproduct.com/part/Produ...YSTAL_195.html

After a few flights my T380 developed and uncorrectable yaw. Changed the radio and the problem was gone.
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Old Apr 03, 2012, 01:46 PM
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Southern California
Joined Feb 2006
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I see you found the same vendor that I did.

I'm going to go Airtronics with mine once the new parts come in. I still have some model allotments on my SD-6G and that system works like a charm. Global Hobby sent me one last year for a review and I've used it in several model reviews since then including the one I just did for the MyRCGroups.com P-40.
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Latest blog entry: Call it a "review preview."
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Old Apr 03, 2012, 03:01 PM
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United States, CA, Riverside
Joined Feb 2012
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i saw this at the ama Ontario show , i was almost sold when i took a closer look at the motors and the fact that you would have to use only the size hardware that is easy to find in china but hard to find in the us... but i got stuck with goodluck buys bad service and am still waiting on a new kk board and 2 arms with proper holes drilled. these multi rotors are VERY dependent on balanced props (ie NO vibration) witch is very hard to accomplish especially after a crash so when you get your props on and balanced dont take them off !! , if your going to be in this hobby it seems like you need a lathe and several hi tech tools to make your own spacers and mounts ect... good luck ....
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Old Apr 03, 2012, 05:03 PM
Re-Kitting Expert :o
Bullhead City, Arizona
Joined Jan 2005
1,673 Posts
Interesting Find..

Quote:
HummingbirdRPV

After a few flights my T380 developed and uncorrectable yaw. Changed the radio and the problem was gone.
Interesting, after a ton of flying on my HPQ1, it has begun to do just as you have stated. I was planning on changing the radio out and putting it on my JR 9309 with XPS 2.4ghz because I like how it handles better. Now I think I am convinced to give it a try.

BTW. I am in the process of building a new frame that will accept standard motors and hopefully still fit in the case.

I have owned many quads in the past and I really like how this board performs. I am hopeful that the new frame with standard motors will work like a charm.

Also, if any of you decide to switch out the radio on your quad, the Rotor Concept web page has instructions on how to set up your receiver. I will try to get mine switched to my radio and report back.

Michael, Great review as always and tell Jose I cringed every time he bumped the throttle to get closer to the little heli... Those boards and pipes looked hungry for some prop!
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