GPToys H2O Aviax RTF Quadcopter from Allbuy.com

It flies great, it sells for under fifty bucks and it can actually take a good soaking.

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Introduction

GPToys H2O Aviax RTF Quadcopter

Dimensions (LxWxH):12.8x12.8x3.1" (325x325x80mm)
Rotor Diameter:5.4" (137mm)
Transmitter:GPToys 2.4GHz four-channel Mode 2 aircraft with digital trims, LCD status display, onboard light control, four flight rates, controls for an optional camera, automatic flip and "cruise control" intended to repeat the last 40 seconds of flight control
Receiver:GPToys combination four-channel receiver, ESCs and six-axis gyro
Battery:GSP 650mAh 3.7V 25C lithium polymer with Team Losi micro connector
Weight:4.6 oz (130g)
Motors:Brushed coreless with gear drives; size not given
Claimed Flight Duration:6-8 minutes
Claimed Operating Distance:328' (100m)
Maximum Operating Water Depth:8" (20cm)
Operator Skill Level/Age:Beginner; 14+
Manufacturer: GPToys, 5/F, Meijin Building, Tongyi Road, Chenghai, Shantou, Guangdong, China 515800
Available From:Allbuy.com
Price (USD):$44.56 with free shipping

When I first learned of this quadcopter, a brief quote from the 1964 Christmas television special Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer zinged through my noggin:

"How would you like to be a bird that doesn't fly? I swim!"

This, of course, was the lament of a resident of the Island of Misfit Toys, a hybrid bird/fish toy - with a northeastern US accent- who jumps from his perch into a goldfish bowl full of water to prove his point.

Unlike our unnamed "Misfit Toy" friend, the quadcopter I'm reviewing here actually flies well and even swims to some degree.

There is now a supposedly waterproof quadcopter on the market and this is it.

Please welcome to the proceedings the GPToys H2O Aviax quadcopter from Allbuy.com. Or, as it's described on the sales page with the aid of some keywords, the GPToys H2O Aviax Waterproof Surviax Drone 4-Axis Quadcopter RTF LIKE DJI Phantom 2 Fasion Style LED Lights RC Toys Support DIY.

Surviax?

I'll be sticking to "Aviax" for this review. It seems to be the model name of all GPToys quads and for good reason. According to my research, the company's chief engineer is a fan of a DC Comics character of the same name, one who can alter his body at will into that of any flying creature.

Its naming notwithstanding, this is a really nice little quad whether one wishes to take it for a swim or not. For all of US$44.56 with free shipping, the fully assembled Aviax comes with a 2.4GHz radio system, two lithium polymer flight batteries and a spare set of props.

Very little needs to be done outside of installing the props, skids and batteries to get flying, so I'll begin.

Contents

The fully assembled Aviax comes virtually ready to fly with:

  • Two li-po flight batteries
  • Two sets of propellers
  • Prop protectors
  • Landing skids
  • USB charger
  • Philips screwdriver

All that is needed to fly are:

  • Four AA-cell alkaline batteries for the transmitter

The compact, nicely done display box shows an orange Aviax plunging headlong into water - with its motors off and the writing on the one visible propeller reversed. Lots of the model's specs are printed on one side.

So too are a couple of odd little ad slogans:

  • "DIY to make the H2O Aviax that is truly unique to yourself"
  • "Unleash your curiosities, from high up."

Well-written caution notices and a statement of RoHS certification take up one side of the box. The latter is something not often seen on electronic models; it's an industry standard dedicated to reducing the use of certain chemicals in the manufacturing process.

Inside was a truly neat looking quad and underneath its shipping tray, the transmitter. The matte orange finish is, in a word, cool. The Aviax looks every bit the part of a fun, easy to fly and rugged little quadcopter.

It comes out of the box needing only its props and landing legs.

However, I wondered why the factory elected to put the simulated GPS antenna on what I thought was the front of the model. In this case, the stripes which would normally denote the front instead denote the rear. The LEDs are also seemingly backwards with red in front and green out back, although this isn't the first time I've seen this odd configuration on a mini quad. The "GPS antenna" flashes red and blue, further aiding with orientation.

One thing which the factory did do which borders on genius is its use of body clips to retain the propellers. No tiny screws or nuts. With the clips removed, the mainshafts fall out as well, making them exceedingly easy to replace if need be.

Unfortunately, no spare parts seem to be available as of yet from any source. I hope that changes soon; no replacements equal a permanently grounded model!

While the shaft was out, I noticed that the Aviax didn't have bearings but rather bronze bushings. That makes sense given its claim of being waterproof and I may upgrade them at some point. Frankly, I'd rather fly than swim.

The manual is much, much better than most of the manuals I've seen in recent months. It is almost entirely free of machine translated English in all but its front cover. It's also chock full of beautifully rendered engineering drawings which wouldn't be out of place in a Tamiya assembly manual.

It's easy to determine which propeller goes where thanks to markings on both the props and the radials as well as in the manual. Thanks to the clip-on feature, it only takes a few moments to install the props.

The landing legs press in place, but once they're in, they're in to stay, making it difficult to reuse the display box for storage.

Then, of course, there are the propeller guards. Frequent readers of my reviews already know how I feel about them, e.g., I don't like them in the least on small machines such as this one. Still, for the benefit of this review, I gave them a try. While they didn't seem to have a lot of effect on the flight characteristics, this is still a small machine with a small battery and, of course, I'm leaving them off. Small too is the transmitter, a sort of WLtoys clone with an LCD display very similar to those found on that brand. As is the case with many models of this type and price range, the function buttons are unmarked, but are clearly identified in the manual.

Its LCD display seems to have either been cribbed from WLtoys or provided by the same manufacturer. Again, it's typical of this kind of quad with its trim, throttle position and status indicators for lighting, battery level and video/photo mode for an optional camera. There's a simulated transmitter antenna in one of the bags which simply pops in place atop the unit.

If a company is going to go through the trouble of producing such a thing, the least they could do is make it functional.

The enclosed USB charger does a good job of charging the flight battery. Actually, make that two. GPToys actually provides a second battery!

With a flight battery charged and some AA-cell batteries installed in the transmitter, the Aviax is ready to fly.

Or swim.

Flying

Getting the Aviax ready to fly is a cinch.

The flight battery cover slides rearward, a dubious feature I've seen in recent reviews of similar products. There's no way to know how long this setup will last before breaking a tab or becoming too worn to stay shut, but since the body shell seems to be made of nylon-filled plastic, it should hold up well.

My suggestion would be to slide the flight battery in place before turning on the transmitter. Once the transmitter comes on, it beeps loudly and incessantly before the flight battery is plugged in and the two bind with one another. There is no battery lead flopping around inside the battery hatch but rather a receptacle in which the battery is plugged. Very nice touch.

The default control rate is a very low 20% which I found to be perfect for the maiden flight in the house. The Aviax is very smooth and stable, with gentle, predictable liftoff. To conserve battery power before heading outside, I switched off the lights at the transmitter; the button is to the upper right of the LCD display.

Satisfied, I took the Aviax outside, cranked up the control rates to 100% and took it for a run up and down my street.

The rates are selected with the button on the far upper right of the transmitter and unlike the usual two- or three-step rate selection, the Aviax has four: 20, 40, 60 and 100 percent.

At 100%, the Aviax has slightly faster yaw rate and considerably more forward pitch than the lower settings, but speed is somewhat limited given the quad's tendency to want to climb at higher throttle settings.

Overall control is excellent; the gyros compensate well for the intentional bursts of throttle, reduction of throttle and sudden stops with both throttle and pitch which I tossed its way. Other functions include the usual automatic flip. It works well, but it came off as kind of hit and miss. The trick was to hold the flip button on the upper left corner of the transmitter for a couple of seconds after which the model responded perfectly to flips in whichever direction I happened to move the right stick.

Considerably less than excellent are the cruise control and headless mode functions. Try as I might, the cruise control function simply refused to work. This is intended to "replay" the last forty seconds of flight with the Aviax performing the moves autonomously. Worse still is the headless mode. When engaged, it completely changes the directional responses of the right stick. The left stick still works throttle, but the model becomes totally unflyable.

Switching back to nice, normal manual control brings back the terrific flight characteristics, so I'll summarize and say that while the flip function works well, I don't recommend the use of the cruise control or headless mode, especially the latter.

The big question: Will it survive getting wet or even being submerged?

Water Operation

There are a number of independent videos and at least one factory video showing the Aviax taking off and landing from water, including the ocean. Perhaps the best independent video I've seen is that of RCGroups.com user Felipe Garcia, who graciously granted permission for me to use the video he'd shot both above and below the surface of the water. It's linked in the gallery further down the page.

An alarmingly high number of sales sites claim that the Aviax will actually dive from 2 to 7m (6.5 - 23') below the surface. I don't know who released such ridiculous information and I'm glad to report that Allbuy.com didn't follow suit. The strain on the motors becomes incredible even if submerged a few inches. Furthermore, the factory advises against the battery becoming wet - and it is in no way protected.

There's a first time for everything, including hosing down an energized electric model, which I did. I figured the motors would do alright, but it was the board and battery which worried me. I'm pleased to report that the Aviax performed flawlessly after its first soaking.

Its second soaking came at my hand and that of my grandson, Stephen. Stephen hosed down the Aviax after I powered up the motors for pictures. Naturally, a seven-year-old assigned such a task did so with glee, getting the Aviax even wetter than I had and with the motors running. Again, no problems even with a wet battery compartment and visible drops of water on the control board.

I'd hoped to get video of the model flying off water, but the only public lake in the area doesn't allow models. My parents have a saltwater pool and even though one of the videos below shows the Aviax doing just fine taking off and landing on a choppy sea, I simply didn't want to expose my sample to even the very lightly salted water of the swimming pool. Instead, I got external video at the Coachella Valley Radio Control Club in Thermal, California east of Palm Springs. Shooting the video was my friend, former coworker and professional videographer Ken Alan, who met me on a perfect Sunday morning to shoot the Aviax using my Canon DSLR and its 300mm telephoto lens. Since there were only a few pilots present, I had no problem getting everyone's blessing to fly the Aviax over the 985' (300m) main runway.

Only a couple of flips, but no headless or cruise control. Instead, I had a great time diving and swooping the Aviax over the runway. This is where the model really shines as a great flying, stable beginner's platform, one which makes a great indoor flyer for experienced pilots as well.

Aerobatics and Special Flight Performance

While the headless and cruise control modes proved disappointing, the overall goodness of this model shines through in its stable flying habits and fun flip function, although its light weight and somewhat low power make it a handful in breezy conditions. It gets extra points for actually living up to its claim of being waterproof, or at least water resistant. It won't dive 23 feet down short of being tied to a rock, but this is first and foremost a flying machine and a pretty darned good one.

Is This For a Beginner?

Yes! In addition to some really good flying manners, it's a tough-as-nails platform. My attempts to fly in headless mode resulted in a crash almost every time, yet the Aviax didn't suffer so much as a scratch.

It's a marvelously inexpensive way to take the plunge into multirotor flight, pun intended.

Flight Video and Photo Gallery

This terrific video was produced by RCGroups.com user Felipe Garcia on behalf of Allbuy.com and used here with permission:

H2O Aviax in flight from Allbuy (2 min 45 sec)

Here's another Allbuy.com video, this time showing the Aviax being flown into the ocean:

GPTOYS H₂O Aviax Waterproof Surviax Drone 4-Axis Quadcopter (1 min 31 sec)

I'm flying the Aviax in this video in considerably drier desert conditions:

GPToys H2O Aviax RTF Quadcopter from Allbuy.com (2 min 40 sec)

Conclusion

I have to admit, I was skeptical when I was offered this model for review. I'm glad to report that I needn't have been. The GPToys H2O Aviax RTF quadcopter from Allbuy.com is a terrific, fun beginner's platform made even more fun with its ability to take off and land from water at will. True, the headless and cruise control modes don't appear to work as advertised, but the model's marine abilities more than make up for those shortcomings. As an experienced multirotor pilot, I would have no need for the headless mode - especially since there's no camera - although the cruise control would have been nice. If I can get it to work, I'll report back in at the comments section.

Two thumbs up. This is really worth its very small purchase price and it flies better than some I've flown costing twice the price.

Many thanks to Winnie Zhang and the folks at Allbuy.com who made this neat little quad available for review. Special thanks to Ken Alan who met me early on a Sunday morning and who did a stellar job of keeping up with this model through a telephoto lens.

Hosing down the Aviax for photos was none other than my grandson, Stephen Squillace. He had an absolute blast turning a garden hose on the model. As always, Angela Haglund and Jim T. Graham are at the RCGroups administrators' desk for you, our worldwide audience. Thanks for visiting!

Pluses and Minuses

Lots of pluses, including:

  • Excellent flight characteristics
  • Really can fly off of water
  • Incredibly affordable with its free shipping
  • Rugged construction
  • Excellent instruction manual
  • Quick and easy propeller changes thanks to the use of clips
  • Two flight batteries are provided instead of only one
  • Flip function works very well
  • Four control rate modes instead of the usual two or three
  • Truly a lot of fun for the money regardless of skill level
  • An outstanding, highly affordable beginner's platform for less money than many micro quads

Minuses include:

  • No spare parts as of yet
  • Headless mode changes the flight controls and will lead to a crash
  • Cruise control function doesn't seem to work
  • Transmitter is very small and has poor ergonomics
  • Not entirely waterproof which may lead to a damaged battery
  • The stripes which should denote the front are instead on the rear
Last edited by DismayingObservation; Sep 11, 2015 at 05:33 PM..
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Sep 17, 2015, 05:42 PM
Pronoun trouble...
DismayingObservation's Avatar
Thread OP
Motors and batteries have been added to the order page! The motors, both CW and CCW are $2.07 each and the batteries are $3.52 each. They're all supposed to be water resistant as well.
Sep 17, 2015, 05:44 PM
Pronoun trouble...
DismayingObservation's Avatar
Thread OP
Oops...double post.
Sep 18, 2015, 04:44 AM
SAR
A little contribution here... Since it is such a stable flyer, we try it with a cam during a rain test today.

► Where To Buy
• AllBuy groupbuy http://dronemission.com/shop/h2o-aviax.php
► Mini quad videos at http://dronemission.com/mini.php

H2O Aviax Waterproof Quadcopter Unbox Review (9 min 14 sec)

H2O Aviax Rain Test Flight (2 min 8 sec)
Last edited by tvdrone; Sep 24, 2015 at 11:22 PM.
Sep 24, 2015, 03:48 PM
Registered User
Any chance of a partial teardown review? I'm wondering if the body would make a good candidate to strip the guts out and give it some brushless power in a handsome waterproof mini package.
Last edited by SirRexAlot; Sep 24, 2015 at 03:56 PM.
Sep 24, 2015, 04:48 PM
Wicked, tricksy, false!
mikefromgermany's Avatar
Not really. Flimsy body.
Better get a Dex frame for your project.
Sep 25, 2015, 11:38 PM
Pronoun trouble...
DismayingObservation's Avatar
Thread OP
Yeah, most of the waterproofing seems to be on the board and, according to the comment I posted, the batteries.

The shell itself isn't waterproofed at all.
Oct 02, 2015, 05:58 PM
Registered User
I live in windy desert company. Any idea how much wind it can handle?
Oct 02, 2015, 10:40 PM
Registered User

camera and flip with camera?


Quote:
Originally Posted by DismayingObservation View Post
Motors and batteries have been added to the order page! The motors, both CW and CCW are $2.07 each and the batteries are $3.52 each. They're all supposed to be water resistant as well.
Where did you get the camera? Price?
Can it still flip with the camera on board?
Oct 03, 2015, 02:03 AM
Registered User
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thalek View Post
I live in windy desert company. Any idea how much wind it can handle?
[sigh] Actually, I live in windy desert COUNTRY. Breezes of 2-8 miles an hour many hours of the day. Occasional bouts of real wind, which can exceed 20 mph in gusts. It gets pretty still around midnight, though. Good thing I had those 25 years on night shift . . .
Oct 03, 2015, 08:56 AM
Registered User
I know, because I always like to fly when it's raining/soaking wet!
I know I know- some folks might ask "why" & others can say "just because"!

I say- just another gimmicky platform designed to beat every possible buck out of the consumer.

Just sayin
Oct 04, 2015, 04:23 AM
Registered User
There's always the Game of Drones airframe. It can be made waterproof, or nearly so, and even getting shot out of the sky doesn't necessarily kill it.

Of course, you pay for what you get . . . But is that unreasonable?
Oct 07, 2015, 04:05 AM
Registered User
Find H2O Aviax Parts here: http://www.aliexpress.com/store/1496...SearchText=h2o
Oct 07, 2015, 04:06 AM
Registered User
you can buy it from this link: http://www.aliexpress.com/store/prod...470949711.html
Oct 07, 2015, 06:07 AM
Drone Collector
Blade Runner 350's Avatar
I am very reluctant to buy anything from allbuy at the moment, seeing as the customer support e-mail address does not work.

Had a problem with an MJX X101 ordered from them. But was/am unable to sort it because of this. Tried [email protected] AND [email protected].

Not good....

Edit. Situation resolved.
Last edited by Blade Runner 350; Oct 08, 2015 at 12:22 PM. Reason: Situation Resolved


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