|Heli-Max 1SQ V-Cam Quadcopters (1 min 50 sec)|
|Weight RTF:||1.43 oz.|
|Transmitter:||Heli-Max SLT Helicopter Transmitter|
|Receiver:||built in SLT receiver on board|
|Battery:||250 mAp 1 cell LiPo|
|Motors:||(4) 20 x 7 coreless brushed motors|
|ESC:||Part of the control board|
|Memory:||Accepts up to 32GB micro SD card|
|Included Card:||2GB micro SD card|
|Size:||40 mm L x 20 mm W x 8 mm H|
|Codec Video:||Motion JPG, 1280 x 720, 30fps,|
|Codec Audio:||PCM S16 LE, mono|
|Still Image:||1280 x720, 96dpi|
|Available From:||Fine Hobby Stores Everywhere|
If you are interested in getting a quadcopter with an on-board camera I strongly recommend starting with a quadcopter that is known to fly well. The Heli-Max 1SQ certainly fits that requirement. It has been a winner from the get-go. It's very stable despite its small size, and it has proven to be a very good flyer.
The quadcopter should also be backed by a company that stands by its products. If I have a problem with a Heli-Max product I know that it has support here in the US and is backed by Hobbico.
I like watching my aircraft fly, and I like seeing what the view is from up in the sky or even sometimes when flying low and close to the ground. I am more interested in getting good viewable videos and still pictures than instantly seeing something video while I am on the ground and the aircraft is still in the air. The Heli-Max 1SQ V-Cam fits my needs perfectly. It flies well, is good quality and is sold by a reliable company. With that as my background let me review the 1SQ and explain the difference between getting their RTF version vs. using your own transmitter with AnyLink and the Tx-R version of the 1SQ V-Cam.
|Heli-Max 1SQ Quadcopter (1 min 20 sec)|
The TX-R kit includes
*TAGs-FX Sensor Fusion Stabilization System features a 3-axis gyro and a 3-axis accelerometer. This system corrects for drift as well as unwanted movement in yaw, pitch and roll. Allows new pilots to enjoy unprecedented confidence and experts gain the precision to execute perfect maneuvers!
No Assembly is necessary! The 1SQ V-Cam comes fully assembled and is ready to fly with their transmitter or ready to link and fly with one of my transmitters. But I want to discuss the transmitter alternatives in more depth. The transmitter they offer with the RTF version operates somewhat differently than my normal transmitters.
The transmitter that comes with the RTF version is very different for my Tactic, Spectrum, JR or Futaba transmitters and that difference is worth considering before deciding which version to buy. The RTF transmitter has two main joy sticks with trim tabs for the sticks just like my regular transmitters but the similarity ends there! It controls the 1SQ V-Cam equivalent to a seven channel transmitter and "channels" 5, 6 and 7 are all push buttons. Channel 5 is on the top of the transmitter on the right side and is labeled: "Flip" and allows the 1SQ V-Cam to flip when used with the right stick. For good control the flip is best done while climbing. The button for channel 6 is in the back upper left of the transmitter (An easy reach for my left index finger.) and puts the camera into video mode and turns video recording on and off. Channel 7 controls still picture mode and taking still pictures. This button is on the back upper right of the transmitter (Easily reached with my right index finger.). Pushing buttons to control flips, taking video or taking still pictures rather than toggling switches on one of my traditional transmitters. I liked the idea of using buttons so I bought a RTF version to include in this review. I like using the buttons in reality very much as well.
To shoot video with the TX460 transmitter and SQ1 V-Cam, I had both on and operating. I pushed button 6 (Back upper left) and the camera went into video mode. I pushed button 6 again and the camera started shooting video and when I pushed the button for a third time it stopped recording. Although it stopped recording the camera remained in video mode so one push of button 6 and it resumed recording. Next push of that button and it stopped recording and so on.
To take still pictures I pushed the button on the back upper right side (As I look at the front of the transmitter.) known as button 7. This put the camera into still picture mode. When I pressed button 7 for a second time it took a still picture. I needed to give it about a second to record the picture onto the memory card. Every time I pushed button 7 while it remained in still picture mode it took another still picture.
|How to Operate the 1SQ V-Cam Camera on the RTF Model (3 min 13 sec)|
The RTF version initially cost $40.00 more then the Tx-R version and cost is a consideration. However, if I later decided I wanted that transmitter it sells for $74.99 by itself. An additional $34.99 if I later decided I wanted to have push button control. While doing this review of the Tx-R version Tower Hobbies had the RTF on sale for $110.00 and I bought one to review and use. Depending on the price difference between RTF and Tx-R version I think it is worthwhile to give the RTF serious consideration.
The 1SQ V-Cam Quadcopter is equipped with an SLT 2.4GHz receiver on its control board. Thus it can be controlled by current 2.4 GHz Heli-Max transmitters or the current Tactic 2.4GHz transmitters including the Tactic TTX404, Tactic TTX600 and Tactic TTX650. It will also fly using any 6 channel or greater transmitter that works with the AnyLink transmitter adapter. Since the AnyLink has been well discussed this past year I will not go into more detail here. For more information on AnyLink, click on the following link:
The 1SQ V-Cam requires at least a six channel transmitter to shoot video and a seven channel transmitter to shoot still pictures. Channels 1-4 control the flight of the 1SQ. Channel 5 controls the flip of the quadcopter and can only be used to control the flip. Channel 6 controls the video and only the video. Channel 7 controls the taking of still pictures. That is the way it is. The Tx-R says on the box it will work with a six channel transmitter and that is true but it will only record video with a 6 channel transmitter. It will not take still pictures without a seven or more channel transmitter.
I was first confused by the 1SQ Tx-R version flipping initially. I was using my Tactic TTX650 and It seemed to be doing flips on its own without any direction by me to do so. However, when I studied the situation, I figured out what was happening, and learned to control the flip command. When I first started to trial fly my 1SQ V-Cam I would be flying great for a few seconds and then as I accelerated a bit and maneuvered using the right stick, it would suddenly flip. I hadn't touched channel 5. Every flight it would flip on its own shortly after I started flying and in connection with movement of the right stick. As I studied the problem I found that if I flipped the gear switch to the back position and left it there instead of the front position the 1SQ V-Cam flew normally. If while flying I flipped the gear switch forward and moved the right stick my 1SQ V-Cam flipped once in the direction I had moved the right stick. I would immediately flip the gear switch back to the back, pre-flip, position and the 1SQ V-Cam would fly normally. If I didn't flip the switch back the 1SQ V-cam would flip on its own after flying for a while when I moved the right stick. Thus I learned the position of the gear switch was critical to the flip. If your transmitter lets you move your controls to different switches you can move the flip to the trainer control which goes back to the off position when you let go of the switch. But with understanding what was happening I controlled the flip. This worked the same with with all four transmitters I used with the Tx-R version of the 1SQ V-Cam.
Using my TTX650 transmitter, channel 6 was a dial control normally used for flaps. Here I learned dialing it to one side was off and dialing it to the other side started the activation process. Dialing back and then across for a second time started the recording process and dialing back again turned it off. I actually helped program my 1SQ in the setup stage of this process but my trouble was I started flying without programming and experienced the flips discussed above. The programming is covered in the instruction manual which had me repeat the on/off sequence for video using my transmitter and doing it several times in a row to program the 1SQ V-Cam to work properly with the transmitter. It was easy to see what was happening while using channel 6 by watching the red LED on the right side of the main body of the 1SQ V-Cam and see one red LED go out and other light up and then the second one flash for recording and go out when done. While I can't often see these LEDs while flying they were very helpful in tracking the sequence and seeing what was happening initially.
As much as I would have liked to use my TTX 650 to control my Tx-R 1SQ V-Cam I wasn't thrilled using the dial for channel 6 and I wanted to be able to take still pictures. Accordingly, after testing with the Tactic TTX650, I used my Spectrum DX7, my JR 11X and my Futaba transmitter with my AnyLink adapter and the different connection cord required for each transmitter. With each one I went through the initial set up programming flipping the desired switches multiple times in a row per the instructions to get the 1SQ V-Cam to work properly with my transmitters and it did one at a time. I just followed the instructions and I didn't have a problem getting it to work with my transmitters. My 1SQ V-cam worked with my Tactic transmitter, my JR transmitter, my Futaba transmitter and later with my Spectrum 7-channel transmitter.
1) I Fully charged the flight battery using the supplied USB charger and my computer. 2) I Linked my transmitter to the 1SQ V-Cam Quadcopter. 3) I Followed the programming instructions for channels 5, 6 and 7 so the 1SQ V-Cam worked with my transmitter. 3) I make sure the 2 GB memory card was properly installed in the camera.
I found it surprisingly easy to fly and control the 1SQ V-Cam in low rates whether it was using the RTF transmitter or my transmitter with programmed low rates at 80% and high rates at 100%. With the RTF transmitter I just turned on the transmitter. There was a 1/2 solid filled and a 1/2 empty circle in the bottom middle of the screen and that indicated the transmitter was on low rates. If both halves of the circle are dark it was on high rates. To change the rates I just pushed down the right control stick. When I got a low tone and only one of the half circles was solid I had low rates. To get back to high rates I just pushed down on the stick again and I got a high tone and both circle halves were dark again.
I recommend that for initial flying have the transmitter on low rates. It controls in the same fashion as other quadcopters or a four channel RC helicopter. The left stick is throttle and controls climb, hover and descent as well as rudder that lets you turn the 1SQ V-Cam in a stationary circle known as a pirouette. The right stick controls forward and backward flight as well as side to side flight. If you are not yet familiar with flying helicopters or quadcopters take some time and learn to fly before starting to take pictures or video. Just as a child learns to walk before running it is good to learn the basics to control the quadcopter safely before you try to do anything else.
I recommend calm conditions for the first flight and that can be indoors or outside in no wind conditions. I just powered up and the TAGs-FX system built into the 1SQ V-Cam and it went into a nice smooth, steady climb. I reduced throttle to stop the climb and it transitioned into a hover. Using small stick movements I flew the 1SQ V-Cam forward slowly and then back to where I started. I Practiced pirouettes with the left, rudder, stick and flew out in a new direction and back. I landed by slowly lowering the throttle. If I flew for too long I found I needed to add more power to maintain the hover as the battery got weaker. Landing was easy by slowly lowering power.
From what I have experienced the 1SQ V-Cam do do all of the maneuvers that the original 1SQ could do. The most obvious special or aerobatic maneuver is the ability to do a flip forward, backward or to either side by activating the flip and moving the right stick in the direction you want the 1SQ V-Cam to flip. Additionally, on high rates the 1SQ V-Cam is capable of flying fast maneuvers and quickly altering course in any direction.
|1SQ V-Cam Demonstration flips while shooting a Video (1 min 12 sec)|
In flying the 1SQ V-Cam outside what most impressed me was how well its TAGs-FX sensor fusion technology* worked in keeping her stable even in a breeze. I was able to fly her up approximately 150 feet above me to get some long distance pictures and video. That I was able to do this in a five mile per hour breeze and only have to hold against the wind drift surprised me. I was able to turn and point the camera as I wanted to and take pictures in breezy conditions where I didn't think I would even be able to fly her steady.
TAGs-FX sensor fusion technology supplies maximum stability from a 3-axis gyro and 3-axis accelerometer. Even in a 5-mph breeze it continuously kept me in control by integrating the data received from these dual sources and immediately compensated for any actions except the commands that I sent it with the transmitter. TAGs-FX corrects for unwanted movement in yaw, pitch and roll while also preventing normal drift in any direction. (I found I did need to correct for wind drift and the stronger the wind the more my attention was required.).
In very high winds I decided not to try and fly as I was in the Bay Area in an area where I could not easily recover the 1SQ V-Cam if the wind proved to be too much for the system. I wasn't sure it could penetrate some of the gusty wind conditions I encountered where I went to try and get some interesting video and stills by the San Francisco bay. Discretion should be used in weather conditions and some locations. I never fly over people nor do I fly close to strangers. I fly closer with friends who know I am flying, but still stay away from them and always have a clear direction to go (down or back) if an unexpected situation develops. SAFETY FIRST!
Yes! Thanks to TAGS-FX and the self correction it supplies for wind and other conditions the Beginner should be able to fly the 1SQ. Flown over grass or carpeting if the throttle is killed when there is going to be a crash it is seldom damaged by a crash. Capable for a beginner to fly he will be able to continue to enjoy and move on to flying and making in air videos. I strongly recommending mastering control of flight before shooting pictures or video.
Both videos and still pictures benefit from shooting in good light. The quality of both stills and video suffers in low light. Still pictures can be blurred if taken while spinning so having the 1SQ V-Cam steady gives the best results with still pictures especially. I like to fly on low rates if the conditions allow it as the 1SQ V-Cam is steadier and smoother flying with the reduced movement that occurs in low rates. Some special effects may be worth reducing the quality of the video so you may want to fly and turn quickly and see what the video looks like when you do that. As the pilot/director you can decide what you want for the shot and fly accordingly.
This review in my opinion is as much about the quality of the pictures and video you can get using the camera as it is about flying the 1SQ V-Cam and the pictures for the most part speak for themselves. There are limitations in low light conditions but I was generally very pleased with the results.
When the four above pictures were taken it was very calm outside and the 1SQ V-Cam was holding very well in place with TAGS-FX. I landed between the first and second picture but this was all done using just one battery. I only shot still pictures in the test sessions above and below as that was my focus. The pictures below where actually taken the day before the sunrise pictures.
Below is another Hobbico video of the SQ1 with some different footage and some repeat footage of the first video.
|Heli-Max 1SQ V-Cam Quadcopters (1 min 7 sec)|
I first experimented with the still camera and some of the results of those first pictures are posted above. I thought I was ready to tackle the world with my first videos and I picked a few different sites here in Stockton that I thought would be interesting to see and share. I had and enjoyable trip of about an hour and flew at five locations using three batteries. The results were mixed and in one case very disappointing but I learned a lot and I believe I will do better next time.
The still pictures all turned out, some better than others based on the angle of the camera. I learned to take a picture just in front of the camera fly forward and get a forward tilt on the 1SQ V-cam and the camera will be pointed more down. For a picture of the Horizon go backwards for a moment and take the picture as the 1SQ V-Cam tilts back and the camera will tilt up a bit for the distant shot. They same applies to videos.
On a positive note the 1SQ V-Cam proved to be very stable in the air as I flew her up to a dot in the sky at about eight stories high. There is no video of that flight where I admittedly scared myself a bit as the camera turned itself off shortly after lift off. DOH! That happened several times. On one flight I had a humming bird fly up and hover right about 6-10 feet in front of the camera and level with the camera. This was just above the trees and in full sun light. i was really happy as the bird flew around the 1SQ V-Cam slowly and I turned with it. It was going to be the best video ever! After two minutes with the bird the 1SQ V-cam was loosing power and started to come down and the bird flew away. Only when I got home did I learn the video camera had turned itself off seconds into the flight. I have learned that sometimes the video camera will stay on from the ground for the whole flight but usually not. If I wait to activate the camera when the 1SQ V-Cam is up and in a hover it stays on for me. I sure wish I had known that before the humming bird encounter.
The video below is what I got. I did not include the multiple takeoffs where the video camera turned off. I expected this to be a learning process and it has been. Enjoy the video and stills below.
|1SQ V-Cam videos and stills of Stockton first attempt. (1 min 55 sec)|
I started this review with the TX-R version and my six channel Tactic TTX650 transmitter. It flew the 1SQ V-Cam perfectly and I could do flips and shoot video (Using the rotating channel six dial). However, I could not shoot still pictures with that transmitter. (I read in RC Groups that an 8 channel Tactic transmitter is coming and this will be another reason for me to get one.) The TX-R worked well using AnyLink with my JR 11X, Futaba and Spectrum DX7 transmitters. I found I was actually better at operating flips and turning on video or taking stills with these transmitters as I was use to using their switches and could find them immediately without looking. The RTF version worked well and I thought I would really prefer the button system of flip and camera control. While I did enjoy using the buttons it wasn't as much of a difference as I thought it would be. While I have used the RTF version a bit more in this review I am actually still quicker on my traditional transmitters. The dial for channel six on the Tactic was my least favorite operation but it worked fine. It just required more effort on my part using the dial.
I was admittedly sad to learn I didn't catch the amazing flight of the humming bird with video. I never expected the encounter to go on as long as it did or I would have switched to still pictures after a minute. Still it was an amazing experience and I had a real rush during that flight. I have found with good lighting I get good pictures and good video about 95% of the time now that I know about waiting to turn on the camera after the 1SQ V-Cam is airborne I have much better results with shooting video. My aim of the camera is improving with practice. I showed the distortion line experienced in my Stockton video and there were no other distortions. I didn't edit them out. While I won't be trading in my Canon or my Hero 3, I am amazed at how far they have come with digital cameras and videos and this camera is included with the 1SQ and all for a reasonable price. The total package weight with battery is less than two ounces. Should I ever need a replacement part I am dealing with a company here in America that carries the parts. I enjoy watching my quadcopter in flight and seeing the videos and stills at home. I am very happy with the quality of the pictures and video. I am also glad I bought two extra batteries. While I have a larger 16GB memory card I haven't needed it as the 2GB card that came with the 1SQ V-Cam has been large enough so far. If I go on vacation I can charge the batteries using my cell phone adapter and then I might need the larger memory card with my computer at home. At this size, the 1SQ V-Cam will be going on vacations with me.
Turning on the video camera when already in a hover or while climbing slowly has proven to be a way to overcome the shut down experienced at times when turning on the video camera while still on the ground and having it turn off when lifting off from the ground. My latest efforts of turning it on in flight have all been successful. Also switching over to stills and taking a still picture and going back to video has worked well. Powering up for speed runs and climbs more slowly while in flight has prevented any camera shut offs.
I was on the phone with Hobbico just today regarding my regular 1SQ and shortened overall battery life and reduced run times with the Ram lighting kit.
The tech told me a 350mAh battery is on its way and it's reverse compatible with the regular 1SQ as well. He's predicting run times in the nine-minute range for that model.
It should be generally available by mid-November. Tower's price will be $6.99. Me want.
United States, CA, Santa Monica
Joined Dec 2013
So sorry to hear you lost such a great video. I was having the same exact experience. Very short videos even holding the copter in my hand it was 4-6second vids max. I replaced the crappy SD card they include with a name brand SD card and now video works perfectly for the entire flight, though using it reduces flight time noticeably.
Thanks very much for this review. This is my first RC item and it inspired me to buy a nice radio and I was looking for a solution to accidental flips with the right stick input. I found it here! Thanks again.
I have been flying my 1SQ Vcam for 2 months now...and liking the ability to take videos and charge the small batteries from my laptop or the car USB ports...
I do wish, the quad had longer flight duration...I am getting 3 minutes with the 250 mah LiPo...and Tower was out-of-stock of the 350 mah battery...the last time I checked... What are your flight durations?
try these, I get 4+ minutes of flight time while even running the video camera.
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