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Posted by DismayingObservation | Yesterday @ 03:07 PM | 423 Views
A bit of an introduction is in order.

First of all, the Police Helicam has been discontinued for quite some time and so has its cousin, the Blade CX4. Second, the model and radio in the photograph are not the items I used for the review, although I still have them in the original box and the model remains in perfectly good, nearly new and flyable condition.

My original review published February 22, 2011 can be viewed here.

What this is is the totally rebuilt damaged model given to me by Eddie Tucker at the now-defunct Ground Control Hobbies in Yucca Valley, California. Eddie took it back in as a warranty claim (read: pilot error) and he later gave it to me, radio and all. The story - and some photos of its original condition - are in the review.

What isn't in the review is what came a short time later. Just before I moved from the area, I'd paid Eddie a visit and I noticed yet another Police Helicam box just inside the door of the storage room. This had all of the parts I needed to complete the damaged model including two fuselages, a third radio system and the all-important battery! Forty bucks later, it was mine.

Now came the task of reassembling what I knew to be a working machine. Per the review, I'd test flown it without the fuselage after I'd repaired the minor mechanical damage. With an infusion of new parts purchased for slightly more than the cost of the battery by itself, I now had a second Police Helicam!

Since moving from the...Continue Reading
Posted by DismayingObservation | Jan 01, 2017 @ 12:52 AM | 1,560 Views
Of all the great model aviation breakthroughs of the 2010s, the one which may be among the most fondly remembered is the advent of the “Tiny Whoop” quadcopter.

Starting as little more than modified RTF nano quads with a 5.8GHz video camera on top (two more 2010s innovations), Tiny Whoops have quickly evolved into sophisticated FPV racing machines.

One such example is the new LT105 105mm quadcopter from GearBest.com. Available as an affordably priced receiver-ready package, the LT105 boasts a carbon fiber frame, two flight batteries and a brushed flight controller based on the SP Racing F3 Evo.

GearBest made this a complete package for review purposes with RC-007 5.8GHz FPV goggles and a FrSky Taranis X9D radio!

The model is available for US$65.12 and is available here. The Taranis radio is available for $232.32 here, the FrSky XSR receiver for $30.31 here and the RC-007 goggles for $73.10 here. All are available with free shipping to the US.

Time to get to whoopin’.

Contents and Setup

The LT105 comes nearly complete with the following:
• Fully assembled model
• Propellers
• Illustrated instruction manual
• Two 600mAh 3.7V lithium polymer batteries and charger cable
• Rubber O-ring for securing the battery
• Carbon fiber propeller removal tool

The following are required to get flying:
• SBUS or Spektrum satellite capable radio system, minimum five channels
• 5.8GHz FPV goggles
• Computer and mini USB cable
• Cleanflight programming...Continue Reading
Posted by DismayingObservation | Dec 21, 2016 @ 03:22 PM | 984 Views
Kai Deng K80 Pantonma RTF Quadcopter from GearBest.com (2 min 3 sec)


Small quadcopters, it seems, have placed model aviation on a whole new level, perhaps more so than the advent of the small RTF electric airplane of the early 2000s. Add to that the burgeoning technology of do-it-yourself aerial photography and it’s no wonder that multirotors have forever changed the model aviation landscape.

Online vendors have certainly capitalized on the trend with a plethora of ready-to-fly models. One such example is the subject of this review.

It’s the Kai Deng K80 Pantonma RTF quadcopter from my friends at GearBest.com. The K80 Pantonma offers a lot of options, among them two color choices, six different cameras, obstacle avoidance and even 3D virtual reality goggles. It’s available as a basic sport quad selling for $40 and change with no options, however, I reviewed it with a top of the line 2MP Wi-Fi camera which was later sent when the cameras arrived in stock.

The model is available here and the Wi-Fi camera here.

Contents

The oddly named Pantonma basic model comes with the following:
• Fully assembled model
• Spare propellers
• Phillips screwdriver
• Propeller guards
• Dummy camera and obstacle avoidance module block-off plate
• 2.4GHz four-channel transmitter with built-in battery
• 650mAh 1S lithium polymer flight battery
• USB charger
• Illustrated instruction manual

To begin with, my...Continue Reading
Posted by DismayingObservation | Dec 19, 2016 @ 04:46 PM | 1,330 Views
Syma X5UW RTF Quadcopter with 720P Camera from Lightake.com (2 min 45 sec)


Whenever I’ve been offered the opportunity to review a Syma quadcopter, I’ve always taken it and for good reasons. The brand simply makes some of the best flying entry level RTF quads available at very affordable prices.

So, when Lightake.com offered up the model I’m about to review, I couldn’t help but say yes.

I’m very glad that I did.

Up for review is the brand new Syma X5UW RTF quadcopter with a 720P camera boasting both onboard audio and video recorded onto the supplied 4GB micro SD card and/or via a Wi-Fi link to any smartphone. A lot of features including barometric altitude hold and automatic takeoff and landing are packed into a model which sells for $83.75 ready to go.

It’s available here.

Contents

As with all Syma quads, the X5UW is a complete package with the following:
• Fully assembled model with six-axis gyro
• Four-channel 2.4GHz radio
• 500mAh 3.7V lithium polymer battery
• USB charger
• Spare propellers
• Propeller guards
• 720P camera
• 4GB micro SD card and USB reader
• Smartphone retaining clip
• Phillips screwdriver
• Illustrated instruction manual

Needed for operation:
• Four AA-cell alkaline batteries for the transmitter

Syma does a great job on their packaging not only in the looks department but in how securely everything comes shipped in the...Continue Reading
Posted by DismayingObservation | Dec 19, 2016 @ 03:39 PM | 1,046 Views
The little AM/FM pocket radio kit from Banggood.com continues to work beautifully. Since my grandson and I completed the build, all I've had to do was to remove the back to solder a battery lead which had worked loose from a battery terminal.

It proved difficult to get the stations to line up with the dial, but I got it fairly close. Sound quality is a bit tinny given the size and depth of the speaker, but it's remarkably clear thanks to its Mylar cone and very loud. Here's a radio running on two AA-cells with a speaker driven by a transistor instead of an output transformer and it cranks!

AM selectivity could be better, but it picks up the local stations just fine, especially since I live in an area that isn't too RF friendly. Still, this is about the most fun you can have for all of $6.62 with free shipping. It's available here and I have to thank Banggood for honoring my request for one of these kits....Continue Reading
Posted by DismayingObservation | Dec 11, 2016 @ 08:30 PM | 1,055 Views
Daming Conqueror DM009 RTF Quadcopter from GearBest.com (2 min 46 sec)


During my ten plus years as an official RCGroups reviewer, I cultivated a great many wonderful relationships with some of the top players in the hobby industry along with other wonderful relationships with online mail order houses. Such a relationship is with GearBest.com. Although I no longer contribute in an official capacity, GearBest and others were still quite interested in sending me products for reviews on the blog pages.

It’s my pleasure to return to reviewing with a fun, affordable “toy” quadcopter, the Daming Conqueror DM009. The DM009 is typical of most small quads with features proven to be popular with new, young users, including a camera and automatic flip function. It’s also easy to fly, perhaps more so than most because of its built-in altitude hold feature. That makes the using the DM009 as a novice’s photography platform with its 1080p camera and its 8GB micro SD card simple since it will hold its altitude rather nicely in calm outdoor conditions. A six-axis gyro also aids in stability. Add a 7.4V li-po for lots of power and sport flying becomes a remarkably fun experience.

Let’s get a closer look at what GearBest.com offers in this nice little package, available for US$56.94 with free shipping to the US here.

Contents

The DM009 comes complete and ready to fly with the following:
• Fully assembled model with camera
• Four-...Continue Reading
Posted by DismayingObservation | Oct 27, 2016 @ 07:44 PM | 1,464 Views
Just over a month ago, I posted this blog entry regarding the assembly of a small AM/FM pocket radio kit from Banggood.com.

Without instructions, at least in English.

Thankfully, the instruction sheet had a schematic and the PC board was marked in English. I also had some online help in the guise of a time lapse assembly video, linked on the original blog.

I'm truly pleased to say that this grandfather/grandson project actually works! It didn't at first, but when you have a friend who happens to be a broadcast engineer, it didn't take long for him to find my one wiring mistake. I'd simply soldered the negative power wire to the wrong pad.

Pictures on the way soon! In the meantime, here's the Banggood ordering page for anyone wishing to do something truly fun on a wet afternoon:

http://www.banggood.com/DIY-CF210SP-...content=227735
Posted by DismayingObservation | Oct 24, 2016 @ 04:14 PM | 1,487 Views
It wasn't long ago that full hobby grade RTF quadcopters were a real rarity, let alone those with brushless motors.

Today, it's my pleasure to send us all back to October 14, 2013 to revisit the groundbreaking Skyartec Butterfly RTF quadcopter from Max Ettinger over at ParkRCModels.com.

Back then, $219.95 would net the lucky buyer a fully assembled, fully tested, fiberglass framed quad with four 2200Kv outrunners, all guided by a seven-channel Skyartec NASA701 radio.

It had been quite some time since I'd last flown this fun little machine and I'm glad that I dusted it off for a quick indoor sortie.

With its original 1300mAh li-po battery charged and ready, I armed the model, remembering not to move it while powered up. That, as I found out during the review, "confuses" the gyros. Since the Butterfly has an external power switch, arming it at its takeoff point is easy.

Despite its size and power, the Butterfly is an excellent indoor flyer if one remembers to keep its rather touchy throttle response in mind. It's possible to go into the radio's settings and adjust the expo, but doing so remains a mystery. Max, however, is a master at setting the NASA701 should one wish to tweak the factory's memory preset.

Since the original review went live, Max sells the original Butterfly at a closeout price of $129.99. A new version, the "S," has replaced the original with the capability of running three-cell batteries as opposed to the two-...Continue Reading
Posted by DismayingObservation | Oct 17, 2016 @ 07:01 PM | 1,624 Views
I thought I'd repost a request a bit further up thread.

I'm on the lookout for a "dead" LiDi or RC Leading brand hexacopter with a good transmitter. I have a LiDi L6 with a bad transmitter and nothing visibly wrong with the model's FC.

I'll post on the "wanted" page as well. Thanks for the help and please feel free to PM or email me.
Posted by DismayingObservation | Oct 08, 2016 @ 06:29 PM | 2,179 Views
I think the problem with that LiDi L6 hexacopter is with the transmitter. The antenna lead may have been shorted to an adjacent pad at the factory. That or I did it when I was fiddling around with antennas. I found that when I took apart both the model and transmitter and soaked up the solder with desoldering braid.

After removing nearly forty small screws on the model in order to open it up, I was able to ascertain that nothing visible was wrong.

There's almost no control range; it's literally about three feet! Works perfectly when the transmitter is nearby (less the props). It goes into signal loss mode and shuts down as the transmitter is moved away.

Does anyone have a "dead" LiDi or RC Leading brand hexacopter with a good transmitter with which they'd be willing to part? Or, if someone out there has figured out the radio protocol, I'm all ears. Thanks, everyone!
Posted by DismayingObservation | Oct 06, 2016 @ 09:50 PM | 1,893 Views
It certainly wasn't for a lack of effort.

The router antenna on the transmitter of the little Li Di hexacopter didn't solve the problem and actually made it somewhat worse.

I had no problem getting the transmitter and receiver to bind, but unless I literally brought the transmitter within inches of the model, it wouldn't enter flight mode. When I pulled back, nothing but blinking lights.

Disconnecting the ground lead and replacing the antenna with a fresh bit of micro coax didn't help.

All is not lost since I'll hang onto the model in the hope that a flight control board will someday be offered. Or, maybe I can find a different board and transmitter from a similar model.

Better still, I reestablished a relationship with GearBest! Adam is one of my earliest contacts and he told me that Elliot, my prior contact, is still with the company in a different capacity.

Adam, bless him, has offered up some new quads for review here on the blogs, so watch this space for more.
Posted by DismayingObservation | Oct 05, 2016 @ 06:47 PM | 2,313 Views
By that, I mean that the new transmitter antenna for the Li Di L6W hexacopter is in place per my previous entry.

What's more, the model is responding to the transmitter. However, I couldn't get it to lift off. The units bound fine, but the motors wouldn't spool up and the onboard lights were flashing. The problem was simple; I thought I was using a charged battery and I wasn't.

Time didn't allow me to charge up a battery and test fly the model, but I will tonight or tomorrow and give it a shot.
Posted by DismayingObservation | Oct 04, 2016 @ 08:51 PM | 1,933 Views
Continued experimentation with the little Li Di L6W hexacopter didn't quite turn out as I'd hoped.

As it moved away from the transmitter, the loss of control returned. It first loses yaw control and then flops to the deck, motors running.

I'd once experimented with installing a 2.4GHz router antenna in place of the very short length of coaxial cable which served as an antenna. That didn't seem to work and neither did replacing the coax with the one from another "toy" transmitter I'd successfully modified with another router antenna. That transmitter had the shield attached to ground even before I modified it.

Only the center conductor of the coax is soldered to the board which is another very likely culprit and I decided to try that setup once more with a new antenna I had on hand. Enter my friend the broadcast engineer! I told him exactly what I'm telling everyone now and he suggested grounding the shielding to the ground plane of the transmitter's PC board.

He cheerfully modified the router antenna's coax with a ground wire and plenty of exposed center conductor to solder in place. The job is, quite simply, beautiful and a continuity check with his Fluke multimeter showed it to be working perfectly. I'll get pictures and report back with the results.
Posted by DismayingObservation | Oct 03, 2016 @ 03:29 PM | 2,092 Views
Some explanation is in order before I begin.

I'd received this little entry level hexacopter from Elliot, my contact at GearBest, for an official RCGroups review some time ago. This is the ordering page:

http://www.gearbest.com/rc-quadcopte...27.html?wid=21

Unfortunately, it didn't work properly. Elliot said they'd investigate and he said to go ahead and keep the model in the meantime.

It would work fine for a few moments and then it would become nearly uncontrollable and crash, even indoors. That's why the caps atop each prop - and one of the props itself - is kind of "doinked." Lots of unintended upside down landings will do that.

I figured a bit of troubleshooting might be worth the effort since this model has received some good online reviews. Off the shelf after months of no use and out of the box it came, still looking for all the world like a Christmas decoration rather than a hexacopter.

No other "toy" multirotor transmitter of mine shared the same radio protocol, so a flight test with another transmitter was out of the question. The only other option would be another battery, one with a name brand and a high discharge rate. As I nurgled around with the model straightening out one of the soft plastic props, I seemed to remember that the supposedly 800mAh flight battery came down kind of hot. Six brushed motors equal a lot of current draw...and inexpensive li-pos are sometimes a bit overrated. Another similar pack I had on hand yielded...Continue Reading
Posted by DismayingObservation | Sep 22, 2016 @ 02:21 PM | 3,491 Views
...but not one too far removed from what we enjoy on this site.

Since my final RCGroups review went live, I've been busy doing some other things including some magazine work. I'm also working hard on launching some professional projects.

That said, I've had the pleasure of doing informal reviews for the good folks at Banggood.com right here on the RCG blogs. Not only do they have a lot of fun flying things, they have other electronic items of interest.

As part of the most recent review I did on their behalf, I requested a rather cool and inexpensive item which arrived yesterday under separate cover.

It's a pocket radio kit!

http://www.banggood.com/DIY-CF210SP-...p-1056663.html

I really wanted to do this as a project with my grandson and so we will. I'll cover it here on the blogs as time permits. Since the instructions are in Chinese, I'd followed a link to a YouTube video on the Banggood review page. Lo and behold, a time lapse assembly sequence!

Classical Soldering - AM/FM/TV Radio Kit - #0047 (26 min 46 sec)


This is going to be fun.
Posted by DismayingObservation | Sep 10, 2016 @ 12:22 AM | 2,516 Views
That, of course, is a good thing where we hobbyists are concerned.

A couple of other posters here on the blogs have highlighted the new Eachine E010 micro quad and man, is this thing ever fun.

They were selling for all of $10.99, at least when they were in stock. Not only do they fly surprisingly well, especially indoors, but there are already threads right here on RCGroups on how to turn an E010 into a budget Tiny Whoop!

Here's one:
https://www.rcgroups.com/forums/show...p#post35684295

According to the ordering page, the price has gone up to a still amazing $15.99. My suggestion: Get one while you can. They're really that good, although outdoor conditions should be at or near dead calm. The E010 won't lose its composure in breezy conditions, but as fast as it is, it doesn't quite have the power or torque to overcome a breeze, at least in stock configuration. In calm conditions, it's as much fun to fly as anything in this ridiculously low price range has a right to be.

Here am I flying the E010 both indoors and out. The model was provided by RCGroups user "BG Well" at Banggood for review and critique.

Eachine E010 Micro Quadcopter from Banggood.com Indoor Video (2 min 7 sec)


Eachine E010 Micro Quadcopter from Banggood.com Outdoor Video (1 min 59 sec)
...Continue Reading
Posted by DismayingObservation | Aug 28, 2016 @ 06:15 PM | 2,697 Views
I was certainly busy last night.

Lots of 2200mAh 3S li-pos were making their way through my charger in preparation for some fun with a favorite plane, another I hadn't flown in more than a year and some quads.

The planes were the FMS F3A Explorer pattern plane from Force RC (originally Diamond Hobby) and the other was the Parkflyers RC Corsair from Parkflyers.com.

My grandson is a big Corsair fan and I hadn't flown this Art-Tech based model with its upgraded motor in quite some time. So, I charged up a couple of 1300 3S packs. It wasn't without its problems; the tail on the Corsair is extremely delicate and sure as heck, I managed to bump it hard enough to snap off at the base. Some borrowed 15-minute epoxy and a bit of borrowed CA later and the tail was stronger than ever.

While it was setting, up went the amazing Explorer. The original spinner cone was damaged by thread locking compound and the original prop was damaged in a noseover landing. The replacement APC prop is a huge improvement over the original! It's quiet, fast and makes this already fantastic model even more fun to fly, but I had to use the backplate of the spinner in order to mount the prop to the motor. It goes about its business to near perfection, doing every kind of loop, stall, hammerhead, Immlemann and knife edge I could throw at it. The tips of the propeller had gotten a bit scraped on a previous noseover, but it still pulls the Explorer with authority.

The little Corsair was a model which I'd originally described as underpowered, but the addition of the Parkflyers RC "Power Star 3000" motor turned this sweet flying but somewhat slow little model into something much more befitting of its subject.

Plenty of power on tap meant some wonderful rolls and large, accurate loops. It's also one of the easiest landing models imaginable; it practically floats in with very little power.

The original 2013 review of the Corsair may be found here and the original 2015 review of the Explorer may be found here.
Posted by DismayingObservation | Aug 27, 2016 @ 03:56 PM | 3,000 Views
In my last blog, I mentioned that a review of some wonderful new Hitec multirotor motors was on the way.

And so it is.

Here's the result of the combination of Hitec Energy Propel 2212/20 motor/ESC combos, a DragonFly 32 Pro FC from site sponsors Multirotor Mania and an Armattan CF-355 frame from site sponsors Armattan Quadrocopters.

It all makes for one of the most fun sport quads I've ever flown and I highly recommend these motors and support components. Keep an eye peeled for the official review on the electric flight page!
Posted by DismayingObservation | Aug 17, 2016 @ 01:09 PM | 2,509 Views
As the summer labors on, I try and think back to the last time I flew an airplane.

The last time I was at the field was more than a month ago when I got video of the HobbyKing Super-G autogyro and before that, I honestly can't remember flying a plane at the club in recent months. It's been too hot, too windy or both at the club.

However, this crazy hot weather with its almost daily heat warnings continues to provide the opportunity to revisit old multirotor and helicopter friends either in the house, at the park or out front.

That said, I just flew my XK EC145 helicopter from Tmart.com and the neat little JJRC H20 nano hexacopter from Gearbest.com. I reviewed the helicopter in January 2016 and the hexacopter in October 2015.

I guess I've been spoiled with mini multirotors; the EC145 takes a more determined hand to fly it, even with the six-axis gyro engaged. Breezy conditions didn't help, so it was back to the living room to run out the batteries. Much better.

Once the initial charge drops off a bit, the model becomes a lot more controllable. It isn't difficult to control by any means, but it's both CCPM and small. The flybarless system does its job well and the scale look is just unbeatable. Add to that Futaba S-FHSS compatibility, brushless power and good parts availability and the little Eurocopter is one of the biggest bangs for the buck in micro helis. If one were to bind it to a Futaba radio, the possibilities of fine tuning are limitless.

The...Continue Reading
Posted by DismayingObservation | Aug 11, 2016 @ 07:27 PM | 2,796 Views
And hoo boy, is it ever a fun one.

The good folks at Hitec RCD have concocted their own version of multirotor motors with integral ESCs and they are, in a word, fantastic.

The upcoming official review of their Hitec Energy Propel Systems 2212/20 motor/ESC combos will feature some of the best products in the hobby, including an Armattan CF-355 quadcopter frame and a Multirotor Mania DragonFly 32 flight controller.

I hope to get video of this contraption in action on Sunday and share the review soon after. Jason Cole's original news report on these motors may be found here and Hitec's info page is here.