Thursday, February 12, 2015

Tiny Quadcopters - Hubsan X4 and friends

We are having too much fun at the office (during lunch breaks) flying tiny quadcopters. The best of them seems to be the Hubsan X4.

A close second is a clone sold as the "Top Selling X6".

Both sell for about $40. The Hubsan you can order from China, the "Top Selling" is available at Paddy's Market in Sydney. Don't be fooled by the price saying $49 reduced to $45, they'll take $40 in a heartbeat.

For a little bit more, $50, you can get models with a camera:

Some drones like the UFO drone have a remote with buttons for taking still or video.

Great to have "High Agily Control":

The cameras are not great but kind of fun. Here's me checking the gutters.

The video is motion jpeg and seems to drop a lot of frames:

The trick to getting decent video with these tiny MJPEG cameras is to use a fast microSD card. Here's a recording with a Class 10 card and it's much better.

The motors are interchangeable and the other "consumable", the propellors, are available at low cost.

So far, I've learned:

  • Fly calmly, avoid dramatic corrections, and you'll be fine.
  • Expert mode, by pressing the left controller (mode 2) is more responsive and not really any harder to control.
  • The motors do die - I had one that went stiff after a crash, but are pretty easily replaced.
  • There is a "ground effect" and a "ceiling suck effect". Take off to about a meter in height and then get stable. Avoid the ceiling.
  • It helps to calibrate the accelerometers - the instructions explain this in broken English but it's worth doing. I've heard that calibration in expert mode is better.
  • If the video drops frames get a faster memory card. Class 10 works for me.

Flying indoors:

In a larger room:

Great fun.

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