Skyartec Butterfly RTF Quadcopter
|Radial Span:||10.5" (267mm)|
|Flying Weight:||10.6 oz. (300g)|
|Construction:||CNC-cut fiberglass frame; polycarbonate canopy; stainless steel canopy mounting pegs; machined and anodized aluminum propeller mounting nuts|
|Transmitter:||Skyartec NASA701 2.4GHz seven-channel computerized spread spectrum with digital trims|
|Receiver:||Skyartec SKY-706 2.4GHz seven-channel park flyer|
|Battery:||Skyartec 1300mAh 2S 30C lithium polymer with E-flite EC2 connector and JST-XH balancing tap|
|Motors:||Two Skyartec CW1804 and two CCW1804 brushless outrunners; 2200Kv|
|Control Board:||Skyartec 32-bit IMU with firmware upgrade port and camera control capability|
|ESCs:||Four Skyartec BMC-15AS|
|Propellers:||Two GWS EP-5030x3; two GWS EP-5030Rx3 three-blade plastic in gray and black|
|Typical Flight Duration:||5 - 7 minutes|
|Available From:||Park RC Models, Auburn Hills, Michigan 48326 USA|
|Price (USD):||$219.95 plus shipping and tax where applicable|
In the pantheon of multirotor model names, I can't recall any being named "Butterfly."
When I first learned about the quad that I was going to review and the name which had been bestowed upon it, I immediately pictured a cute little toy quad, maybe with a canopy in the shape of a butterfly.
That is, until I saw a video of one in action.
"Cute" does not apply to a solid black, all-fiberglass quadcopter.
This brand-spanking-new entry into the RTF multirotor market is Skyartec's first and is one seriously nice ride, name notwithstanding. We're about to go in-depth with the Skyartec Butterfly RTF Quadcopter as pretested, tweaked and pretested again by ParkRCModels.com of Auburn Hills, Michigan USA.
Max Ettinger is the brains and brawn behind Park RC Models. This no-nonsense veteran is both a sponsor of the site and, thanks in no small part to his incredible customer service, is one busy dude. As the official North American distributor for Skyartec products, one might think that Max would leave well enough alone.
Believe me, that isn't the way Max rolls.
Each and every individual Skyartec model undergoes a rigorous, multi-point inspection and bench test before being shipped. The lucky owner also receives a link to a video actually showing his or her new model undergoing basic flight tests. The checklist is sent with the model with all inspected components and assemblies marked with a small Mylar tag.
In short, Park RC Models ships true ready-to-fly models which can be flown virtually straight from the box with the utmost confidence.
Park RC Models sends almost everything needed to get airborne:
Needed to get flying are:
Max Ettinger is a stickler for detail; everything arrived beautifully and securely wrapped and packaged and, as has been the case with my previous Park RC Models review subjects, everything arrived in perfect condition.
As for the Butterfly itself, it was carefully assembled at the factory. The CNC-cut fiberglass frame was nicely finished with no glue smears or flash and all of the electronics neatly mounted. The painted polycarbonate canopy with its painted-on graphics fits perfectly and gives the Butterfly a smooth, organic shape not often seen on quadcopters while the landing legs give it a sort of mid-century modern look. If famed architect Albert Frey were still around and if he were asked to design a quadcopter, something much like the Butterfly might be the result.
Furthermore, the overall retro-future shape reminded me of the Jupiter 2 spacecraft from Lost in Space. Definitely cool.
The legs give the Butterfly a nice, wide stance for landing and takeoff, but they make orientation at a distance very difficult. There simply are not many visual cues as to which way the Butterfly is pointing in flight.
The electronics consist of a central control board and gyro board with four separate ESCs, one per radial. Discrete components have become the state of the art in multirotor construction over the last couple of years and it was a real pleasure to note that Skyartec has followed suit.
I can't say for certain whether Max or his new inspector Paul remounted any of the components, but Paul certainly followed Max's policy of applying small Mylar stickers atop each component to signify that it passed testing. Even the canopy, charger, AC adapter and battery bore stickers.
All Skyartec models bear a serial number on both the model and the transmitter, making service easier as production changes are implemented. Our example is serial number MCJ0064, making it only the 64th production unit off the assembly line.
I told you it was brand-spanking new.
As I've indicated, each model is tested and inspected before shipping. The propellers are then removed and numbered before shipping and the factory paper discs indicating each propeller number and direction of rotation is replaced and secured by the machined aluminum nuts.
It's then a simple matter of reinstalling each propeller, noting that the two counterclockwise motors have nuts and shafts cut with left-handed threads. Nice idea and one which will prevent a nut coming loose in flight.
The battery will need to first be charged and since I didn't have an EC2 adapter which would have allowed me to charge the pack on my own charger, I simply opted to use the factory charger.
Even after more than an hour, the green charge indicator light still hadn't gone out to signify a full charge. A quick check of the battery with my Dualsky LiPoMate battery checker showed both cells to be just under 4.1V, more than sufficient for an indoor test flight and just under a full charge anyway. The charger's output is only 0.6A, so we're looking at a couple of hours to recharge a 1300mAh pack.
As far as a charging adapter was concerned soon after, that was easy. I just bought a two-pack of E-flite EC2 male connectors and two bulk 4mm bullet plugs at the local hobby shop. They gave me a couple of 6" lengths of red and black 16-gauge stranded wire. Some time spent with the soldering iron was all I needed after that and I now have a charging harness for my ElectriFly Triton EQ.
The battery is held in place by what appears to be genuine Velcro hook-and-loop fastener. There's a generous strip of each both on the model and on the battery with more than enough grip to hold the battery in place without a strap.
Park RC Model's manual suggests doing the initial flight with the canopy removed. No problem there; it was shipped loosely anyway.
The Butterfly actually has a separate power switch which is another excellent idea. This allows the battery to be plugged in and the model set on a level surface prior to turning it on.
Eight AA-cell alkaline batteries are needed for the transmitter, so in went a fresh set.
Like most multirotors, the Butterfly is set up in the radio as an airplane and the little airplane icon on the LCD display panel bore that out. Before the model or transmitter are powered up, the "GEAR" switch on the upper left corner of the transmitter must be flipped to the down position. It's programmed as a throttle hold in this case and the transmitter will beep an error message if powered up with the switch flipped upward.
The Wasp X3 and Wasp X3V 250-class CCPM helicopters I reviewed for this site have a rather amusing feature, one which the Butterfly has as well.
When the quad is powered up, all four motors join in a chorus of the first eight bars of "Oh, Susanna" followed by a series of alert tones which signify the ESCs are entering the optional programming mode.
Once "Oh, Susanna" ends, or is at least close to ending, the model is ready to fly. If one has allowed the sequence to go into the alert tones, the model can still be started normally with no change to the ESCs.
Arming the motors is first, done by moving the throttle/rudder stick to the far right corner. This starts the motors in idle mode regardless of the position of the safety switch. Moving the stick full left switches off the idle and places the Butterfly back in safe mode. To fly, the motors are armed when the throttle stick is moved full right and the safety switch flipped up.
That first flight was in my living room and as the motors throttled up, the Butterfly smoothly lifted off the floor.
Hovering was practically hands off but with somewhat sensitive and responsive pitch controls, both elevator and aileron. The throttle was also sensitive, but rudder control was considerably gentler.
Those aren't indictments but rather compliments. An overly dampened model is no fun. Beginners, keep this in mind and don't go bonkers with the sticks. Very little was needed to manuever and better still, very little was needed to hold a hover.
On went the canopy and out the door I went to try the Butterfly outdoors.
The Butterfly didn't lift off but rather flipped quite rapidly onto its head. Throttle up once more after setting it upright; same thing.
I powered down, tried again and this time the Butterfly lifted off just fine, handling the slight breeze with no problems whatsoever. It was a gentle flyer with the feel of plenty of speed on tap, confirmed by a few quick forward blasts.
As the wind picked up, I thought it best to return inside. On the floor, throttle up...
This time, there was actually some damage to one of the propellers in the guise of a classic GWS blade fracture at the hub. After a couple of emails to Max detailing what had happened, his answer was simple.
According to James Peng, Skyartec's chief designer, it's possible for the gyros to improperly initialize if the model is moved with the power on before the gyros complete the initialization process. They can also be "confused" by trying to compensate for handling even if they're already initialized.
It doesn't happen often, but it does happen. Max was unable to duplicate the problem with one of his own Butterflies even after shaking it "like a martini," but both he and Mr. Peng recommend shutting off the power at the receiver if it's to be moved to a new flying location. Max will be enclosing the information on all future shipments of the Butterfly.
Max, bless him, sent four new props and some parts I'd ordered for my Wasp Nano CP helicopter via Priority Mail, arriving in plenty of time for the video shoot. Max was even kind enough to toss in a new battery for the Nano. Neither local hobby shop listed the required GWS props, but they're easily obtainable as Skyartec service parts through Park RC Models.
Such is the kind of customer service I've come to expect from Park RC Models.
With the new prop in place, I was confident about performing a test flight around the living room, one which thankfully lacked the drama previously caused by six utterly confused piezoelectric gyros.
I'm pleased to say the problem hasn't manifested itself since this writing. To be safe, I power down the model before moving it.
All that I needed to do now was to wait for the video shoot.
That shoot took place on a perfect early Sunday morning at the Coachella Valley Radio Control Club east of Palm Springs, California. On hand once more was club videographer George Muir to capture the Butterfly both with some "beauty shots" with the motors idling as well as flight video.
The flight took place just over the flight line and the Butterfly showed its pedigree with utterly rock solid and gentle control. The six-axis gyro system does its job well.
It also showed its potential for speed once more, but I didn't want to risk a crash because of disorientation and so I kept it close. As previously stated, the Butterfly lacks a lot of contrast between front and rear and I plan to change that before I try any high-speed blasts.
This is a model which practically begs for some high-intensity LEDs.
Surprisingly, not many club members fly multirotors and so the Butterfly generated a lot of questions from those who'd seen this quad in action. All were impressed by its stability, light weight and quality construction.
I, of course, was more than happy to provide ordering information and I wouldn't be surprised to see another Butterfly or two out at the field very soon.
Here's the Butterfly doing its thing with the Santa Rosa Mountains in the background:
|Skyartec Butterfly RTF Quadcopter from ParkRCModels.com (2 min 18 sec)|
This is Skyartec's own video shot about a month prior to the release of the Butterfly:
|skyartec butterfly testing 2 (4 min 25 sec)|
Between excellent performance, excellent construction and excellent customer service, the Skyartec Butterfly RTF Quadcopter as sold by Park RC Models is one terrific unit. It has the stability needed for a beginner and the responsiveness demanded by more experienced multirotor pilots. Not only that, it looks to be a lot more expensive than it is and, I daresay, looks better than some quads costing twice the price.
It really does float like its namesake and has the potential to sting like...well, you know.
Performance and control can be adjusted at the NASA701 radio, but I would recommend that anyone seeking to adjust those parameters to first seek Max's advice. It's an easy-to-program system, but the online manual is poorly translated and difficult to follow.
Outside of the factory, no one knows more about these radios than does Max, so those wishing to adjust the parameters would be wise to seek out his help. For those who would like to know more about the radio, the manual may be downloaded here.
Since the basic platform is so good, I for one would love to see a receiver-ready version or even an electronics-ready version should one wish to go the KK2, MultiWii and/or SimonK routes, for example. However, should one already own a NASA701 transmitter, Park RC Models sells a transmitter-ready version. That said, I give two thumbs way up for the RTF Butterfly, even with that silly name!
Many thanks go out to Max Ettinger of Park RC Models for offering this outstanding model for review and for his peerless technical assistance. This is a man who is fiercely proud of his product lineup and it shows with each and every Skyartec product on which he works his magic. George Muir of the Coachella Valley Radio Control Club is the man I can always count on for his excellent videography and the work that he does on my behalf for almost all of my reviews.
Some special thanks go to my father, Ralph. I'd emailed him a private link to this article prior to publishing and he's the guy who pointed out the obvious floaty-stingy comparison. Thanks, Dad!
Naturally, I cannot go without heartfelt thanks to RCGroups.com administrator Angela Haglund, the hard-working administrator of the authors' forum. She makes all of these reviews possible for you, our worldwide audience of hobby enthusiasts. You've made RCGroups.com the biggest, best hobby site on the Internet, so enjoy your stay and I'll see you at the field with your own Butterfly!
Pluses abound on the Butterfly, including:
The minuses are few:
|Oct 14, 2013, 10:32 AM|
The Butterfly looks very good Ralph! I agree with your comment about orientation. I have lights on my larger quadcopters and they help greatly with orientation. Mike Heer
|Oct 14, 2013, 01:10 PM|
I took it out for a spin around the local softball diamond last Friday. Did some figure eights, some regular forward/backward flight and some pirouettes, all the while concentrating on how the props were pointed.
Some LEDs are definitely in order. It's fine as long as it isn't too far downrange and if I don't let my attention drift for even a millisecond.
|Oct 17, 2013, 05:50 PM|
I don't see any reason why Park RC Models couldn't do international shipping, but you'd have to contact him on the details, especially where the battery is concerned.
It's a heck of a lot of fun; I was out last week flying figure eights at the local softball park. As long as I kept my eye on it, the orientation wasn't much of a problem. It just flies great the way Max set it up and I know you'll enjoy yours as much as I've enjoyed mine.
|Oct 20, 2013, 12:55 PM|
United States, MI, Auburn Hills
Joined Dec 2008
Hope that helps
|Oct 24, 2013, 02:17 PM|
United States, OR, Portland
Joined Oct 2012
Having had this quad for a couple of months, allow me to submit some comments.
1. Dealing with Max is a pleasure. He is responsive and helpful. Spare parts (more about this later) are shipped quickly.
2. Out of the box this quad is a very good unit. Do the "first time" binding procedure and its ready to fly. You can carry it with the power on IF you keep it horizontal. But powering it off is better when carrying.
3. The supplied battery is a good unit. The charger is okay but low output (800 ma would be better for a wall charger). Using a higher C rated battery perks up the response (stock is 25C). You can also use a lighter 25C battery and increase the response.
4. Vertical climb is good stock, but different blades increase the rate significantly. Testing has shown that using 6 X 3 3-blade props, trimmed to 5.5 inches improve vertical climb. Blade trimming is usually not good but in this case it's great. In my opinion the improvement is the result of the blades being stiffer than the stock GWS units that have considerable tip flex. Balance any blades (even stock ones) you use to cut down on vibrations.
5. During a vigorous flight session I had a spaz attack and smacked a tree. Three of the four props were trashed and in the process the canopy lost some pieces. No other damage. Max sent the canopies I ordered very quickly.
6. The canopy mounting using the pins is okay but I removed the pins and used velcro instead. To get the canopy flush to the frame I also slightly relocated the Rx and one ESC.
7. To save the landing "feet" I placed black rubber caps on them. The caps are actually made for use as vacuum caps for auto carbs (available at most parts stores).
8. If you want to do flips, this unit (stock) is not for you. It wants to fly stable and makes a good camera platform (light weight camera). Maybe it can be programmed to permit flips but that's not my desire anyway. However, many people love flipping.
9. The screws used to mount the motors on my unit were terrible and the wrench useless. I replaced them with better allen head screws, but that's really not needed unless you trash a motor some how.
10. This quad is a really good starter for those wanting to go brushless. Fast, nimble and fun. And nice to look at - not a jumble of exposed wires. Plus it's reasonably priced.
PS - for orientation I placed a ping pong ball on the front ring. It's sliced half way through at the mid-line, slid on to the ring, the back slice then sealed with hot glue. To keep it from moving along the ring, small cable ties were placed on each side. The white ball against the black body is good when near horizontal, and the ball outline shows well against the sky.
|Oct 25, 2013, 06:44 PM|
United States, MI, Auburn Hills
Joined Dec 2008
Skyartec Butterfly with GoPro Camera
Thought we would share a quick video that James, the director of Skyartec, made using a GoPro Video Camera attached to the Skyartec Butterfly. We used a couple of double sided adhesive pads and mounted the camera to to front of the Butterfly Frame. He flew it around and above our 2013 IHobby Show Park RC Models Display Booth
You can see that the Skyartec Butterfly provides a nice steady video and photo platform.
(Our Team: John, Tracie and Paul pictured in our video helping us with the week's events)
|Dec 16, 2013, 01:29 AM|
Switzerland, LU, Lucerne
Joined Mar 2013
Butterfly S (MC02-1)
Any information for the new upgraded version? What's about the magnetic receiver?
|Feb 03, 2014, 12:14 PM|
United Kingdom, England, Wolverhampton
Joined Jan 2011
Skyartec butterfly HELP!
Since not setting the calibration at the start, i now can not access the calibration mode. When i do what the booklet says on the TX i can not get the main board to reset so that the led light flashes to complete the calibration. If i try and fly it how it is, it does what yours did and flips forwards. I too broke a blade. No matter what i do i can not get it to fly. Im thinking of just getting a new board now.
|Feb 04, 2014, 01:12 AM|
Joined Jan 2014
What is the firmware upgrade supposed to "upgrade"?
I bought the "S" model with th 707 receiver/compass, so I think it should have the latest firmware. Am I missing something or have they improved something already? I heard gps a few times here. Can this model hold any more components if the gps is really only going to give alt hold? If you need that then you've already added the weight of a cam. Also, why the gymball servo supoort? Can it carry that too? I have only taken it just about half throtle and it takes off like crazy. Battery flight times limit using it for photography i think.
Anyway, is it worth trying the firmware update?
|Feb 04, 2014, 11:41 PM|
Joined Jan 2014
No matter how great the product or the usa distributer, you can expect "no" help from them unles you bought it directly from him or skyartec overseas. This leaves us purchasers/supporters of this product who happenned not to know Max existed prior to buying this quad left screwed blue (and we all are old enough to know the blue-◇±÷®© reference). This is unfair because if you are the so called www.skyartec-usa.com owner or the dude who owns skyartec itself, you still sold your product no matter where from. To get "tough shite" replies is just too bad and a bit childish. I am a customer and could give a you know what that some of the idiots you use to distribute your unexplainable and nonintuitive products can't help. If I buy a Dell laptop from the fools at Fry's and they know nothing about the product, guess what max, Dell will support it and help me get it going. If you want to sell more or at least replacement parts, and lots of them, since no new butterfly owner that doesnt speak tai-glish will crash the hell out of this thing untill its configured correctly. Already on 4 broken blades. And at my age, I know r/c better than most kids here. Since hobby retards (people) dont stock parts, I guess I will have to deal with rude backhanded tough-shites to my inquiries, as I buy replacement parts, with the only retailer of this unknown quad in usa.
If you want to make a name in ths ever rapidly growing market, BE OPEN TO HELPING YOUR CSTOMERS, be they direct or indirect.
One week now and not one answer from anyone who sells this. Im beginning to think its junk. Great tbat this writeup at the top of the post braggs about the quality andd that someone in bumbfooooked egypt pretests them, but how the heck did we cunsumers know he was there? And was theusa skyartec dealer? And why not making it easier to understand? If the tai dude doesnt want to make his instructions in english and wont pay someone here to support his expensive toy, don't sell the darn thing at large retailers.... make it so only Max sells them then he can take the throne as butterfly guru......:
UPDATE: Max called me from my order info (extracted my cell number), which was very offensive and supprising, to ask me to change this post in his favor. Well, here goes Max; You are the www.skyartec-usa.com rep for the overseas company and should be the english speaking helper with this cryptic unsupported 707 receiver, so your rude voicemail and backhanded emails to my polite inquiries (even a purchase of parts from your "hobby shop") did not warrant stealing my phone number from purchase order info to call and cry about my review (and that was the entire phone message). I had, at the time of this original post, nothing bad to say about you except my confusion that you complain about customers who bought a product from someone other than you, yet you represent skyartec in the usa and refuse to support over email; at least an english explanation. I did buy it at HP because I was there that day. True those kids knlw nothing about alot of what they sell which is why a normal thinking consumer would contact www.skyartec-usa.com for help. But I am so very sorry I hurt your delicate sensibilities in asking polite questions. So, to all you reading this, Mr Max is a god of skyartec and is correct in flogging me for having been irritated that I had to buy more canopies and blades to figure out how to get this junk to hover. He proclaims to be an expert yet wont tell anyone who doesnt pay him to explain in one email (that can be cut and pasted for each time) how to calibrate this in english. Stop using skyartec's website name in you adds and maybe you wont be asked what the stupid instructions mean. And please dont illegally use private data to contact your customers to complain about a review on a forum that is not owned or operated by you. I whish i bought it from you cause hobbypeople know nothing. With that said, the original post was a plea for help before i wasted $250 on junk with no support.
If you hassle me one more time about my review, I will post all yoir emails here and transcript of the pbone message making you look pretty petty. I vindicated you by explainning HP were the know nothings ,but you are misrepresenting your role in skyartec company or are just too lazy to support what you contracted with them to do. One more phone call from my order info for blades and canopy will result in a legal complaint of misuse of info. Your message was strictly rudely about my review, not my order. I saved it to an .mp3 file and will attach it if required.
Is this the revision update you forced me to write? was i lieing a,out lack of suppirt? I bought a blade quad this week-and guess who helped me? Not the robs hobbies shop, but e-flite themselves. They are a real companh that knows how to keep customers, not , bitch them out.
Hope this jelps you.
|Feb 10, 2014, 11:30 AM|
Joined Jan 2014
Is that why you stopped signing on as WWW.SKYARTEC-USA.COM?
If anyone is interested, the manufacturer, the REAL www.skyartec.com replied with well written English directions for the "S" model this week, along with a nice apology for the cryptic ones included in their packaged models. All I had to do was send them the "same" polite email I first sent to www.skyartec-usa.com.
Bygones be bygones my friend. You still made a few bucks off of me and I am glad to support your shop, just don't imply anything but reality my friend.
With all that said, my butterfly is flying great. Even added leg extensions, a DYI camera gimbal and a Brookstone action camera. The PTZ slots work perfect for the 2-axis camera gimbal action. Only thing I would recommend is using faster brushless motors for the gimbal instead of the micro Futaba ones I used. The video footage as the quad moves is slightly behind the action of the gimbal, but nonetheless works pretty darn well. I would say this would have no problem with a GoPro. Was surprised it had no issues even with the weight of the leg extensions in addition to the camera. Also should note I'm running an 11.4 lipo and/or when that one dies a 7.4 2200mah and the motors, esc and board are all cool to the touch and perform well. The fiberglass frame is quite brittle though and that is my only complaint about this model. But super glue and tape and its back in the air.
Unlike others, IF ANYONE WANTS THE ENGLISH INSTRUCTIONS, PM me and I will forward you the email I got from the real skyartec. NO PURCHASE REQUIRED AND I WONT CALL YOUR HOUSE WITH COMPLAINTS..... Really, it's no problem. Been in this hobby 24 years and have no issues passing along valuable info. And guess what? I'm not even the distributer or a store of any kind. Just a guy who likes R/C and a great customer to shops with polite reps.
|Feb 10, 2014, 03:15 PM|
United States, MI, Auburn Hills
Joined Dec 2008
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