So after the flying in the wind, I wanted to know how small this thing really was. I broke out the scale and as you can see, it weighs about 52g, or about 5 AAA batteries. Luckily I actually opened my remote to get the AAA to weigh. Apparently one of the batteries had exploded. I’m not sure if I’m going to blame the remote or my Costco batteries. Either way, no harm no foul as everything still works.
Back to my point, you can see the drone itself is lighter than a GoPro. So it isn’t too surprising it struggles so much in the wind.
I decided indoor flying was too safe and took my tiny machine outside into the elements. On the first try, I didn’t have any recording equipment set up but it was disastrous. As soon as I left the safe area of the balcony, the wind sent it way to the left and I had a moment of panic. Not wanting it to land on any cars or on someone’s roof, I cut the power and let it drop from the about the height of the palm tree down just past the fountain you can see in the video thumbnail below. Luckily no damage occurred and the arms popped up like they should.
The second attempt, I waited until there was almost no wind. Of course, as I was flying the weather got darker and some wind did pick up. I did know what to expect so I was able to keep it relatively close, but I had to fight the wind constantly. The drone is so small and light it really doesn’t have enough weight or power to fight much.
Here is a video of how crazy it was and also some shots from the drone itself. I slowed it down so you wouldn’t throw up watching the rocky footage.
So far, I can safely navigate through my house and though it is not silky hovering smooth, I can avoid objects and go room to room without issue. Of course, I’m doing this from behind, so the orientation portion is still very simple and relative to the way I am facing. Taking off hasn’t been much of an issue, but my landings are a bit bouncy and hitting a target to land is near impossible still. I’m looking to take the flying outside soon and am fearful of what wind might do to my already meager skills.
Lithium Polymer batteries (LiPo), are a relatively newer type of battery now used in many consumer electronics devices. They’re pretty similar to the better known Lithium Ion batteries. They are generally lighter and pack a bigger punch than older technology batteries like NiCd or NiMH.
As extra batteries for my little Hubsan I got some 3.7V 380mAh LiPO batteries (https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B00RZ1G3NU/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s01?ie=UTF8&psc=1).
The 380 is the capacity and the 3.7 is obviously the voltage. These are relatively small and I haven’t started to worry about C ratings. From what I’ve started to read, there are some dangers for fire when using LiPo batteries. So most people recommend never to charge a battery unattended, look for bulges or signs of damage, and even a fireproof bag for safety.
I might eventually get a bag or maybe just a metal box, but these tiny 380 sized ones don’t look too concerning at this time. I have started to research them, but I haven’t decided on one yet. While a bag looks to be cheaper and easier to handle, an ammo case or fireproof safe just look cooler. We’ll see what I decide on.
There are plenty of warnings not to store them at full charge and to also never fully discharge them. A lot of the safety measures seem to be built in, but it is good to be aware of dangers. Bottom line I think is to be careful and just have your eyes open for any warning signs.
After assembly I took my first flight. As a beginner I instantly learned you shouldn’t have any papers near the copter when you take off or stuff will fly everywhere. You can instantly see that I overcompensate and go down quick. The first night I popped off the same propeller twice and chipped it. Luckily the x4 comes with 4 replacements. I quickly order more propellers for the long run (link below). I decided on propellers with as much color as possible, since finding the black propeller did take me some time. (https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B01LELU4IG/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o09_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1)
By week 2, I was more comfortable hovering, though staying in one place was still very hard. I tried to land cleanly on a small spot in front of the camera and of course crashed into the camera instead. It still feels very sensitive to me and not intuitive at all. I hope to get more time flying it.
Note: my dogs HATE it when I fly and the small dog will try to bite it out of the air.
Here is a video of getting the copter ready to fly. As you can see the propeller guard is under the packaging. It comes shipped with the propellers attached so you actually have to remove them to put the guard on. Like most quads, you have to make sure you use the right propeller in the right location. They are labelled A or B and have to be in the right spot to balance everything. It comes with a tool to pop the propellers off, but I’m just using my hands now. Maybe if it is too tight you can use the tool? The small battery took about 40 minutes to charge and seems to fit in one way better than the other. Finally, you have to calibrate the remote the first time you turn it on. You can see the lights on the quad blink until it connects with the remote.
The copter is much smaller than I imagined. I knew it was small, but it is hard to know until you have it right in front of you. As you can see, the controller itself is larger than the copter. The controller fits my hands well, though it does feel like a cheap plastic knock off video game controller. The copter’s rechargeable battery comes with a USB charger that nicely lights up when it is charging and goes away when it is done. The remote needs four (4) AAA batteries. As you can see from the picture, the propeller guards are not seen when you open the box. It is actually attached to the back of the white casing. I originally though mine was missing until I simply flipped the container over and saw it nicely tucked behind everything. The instructions seemed simple enough. We’ll be up in the air soon.
I’m still deciding if I want to learn how to fly for video or fly for racing. In either case, it is commonly recommended to start with a small cheap machine to learn on. So I looked for a few recommendations (which may have been rather old) but decided on a Hubsan X4. There were a ton of different version of it, but I decided on a cheap version with a camera.
Hubsan X4 (H107C) 4 Channel 2.4GHz RC Quad Copter with Camera – Green/Black
I decided on this, as it was less than $40 and had cheap replacement propellers and extra batteries.
By this time, this machine and videos about it on YouTube are 1-2 years old. Regardless of if this was the best machine to first get, it is what I decided on.
We will chronicle the journey of my entry into the world of remote flying machines.