FREE Ebook for Quadcopter Beginners – FREE for April 18-20 inclusive

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The ebook for Beginners is once again a FREE download on Amazon for the days April 18-20 inclusive (3 days). I think Amazon goes by Pacific Standard Time (USA), so keep that in mind. It should be available anywhere in the world that Amazon has ebooks for sale. Here is the link – please spread the word. Note that my other ebook is also free for that time period – see the “author” page for that one.

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Movin’ On Up! Transitioning From a Toy Class Quad to Hobby Grade


If you’re a regular on this site, chances are you’re relatively new to multi-rotor RC flying.  There’s a good chance you’re either brand new and just looking to get started, or are currently flying a toy grade quad such as an AR Drone, Hubsan, Ladybird, etc.  If you’re part of the latter group, you’ve probably looked “over the fence” a few times and thought about moving on to bigger, “Hobby Grade” drones (for the purpose of this article, I will classify anything with brushed motors as toy grade, and anything using brushless motors as hobby grade).  I know how you feel.  I was there a year ago, flying my AR Drone and looking on with envious eyes at some of the things Juz and Alishanmao could do with their quads.  I ultimately jumped over the fence, and I have to say it’s been quite a journey and learning experience.  Along the way I’ve done some things right and some things wrong.  The purpose of this article is to share what I’ve learned, and to help you be as prepared as possible when you’re ready to make the leap yourself.

Plan Ahead
Probably the single most important piece of advice I can give you is to plan ahead.  Making the jump to a full sized quad is a big step and it comes with a big learning curve.   [Read more...]

JXD 388 Aerocraft Quadcopter – First Look and Review


The JXD is made by the Chinese JinXingDa Plastic Toys Factory and is sold, in most cases, complete with a matching TX. However, I was attracted to this quadcopter based on it being available without the TX – Banggood’s (and others) web sites declared that it would work fine with an existing WL Toys v2x2 TX. True to their word, the models works perfectly with my v262 TX.

Without the TX, the price is probably as low as any quadcopter on the market – Banggood sells it for about $27 including worldwide shipping! This is what attracted me to take a shot and see what this quad could do.

Here is a link to the model I purchased.

Appeal to users:
Beginners UP
Type of Quad: Consumer/Toy Grade
Cost: $27 with 1 battery, spare props, charger (this is BNF Version)
Crashworthiness – Good

The Basics

I received the JXD 388 in a full sized box – [Read more...]

DJI Phantom Models Differences – a Hobbyists Guide

Phantom 2 Vision

DJI Innovations led the quadcopter industry in 2012/13 with it’s introduction of advanced features and ready-to-fly Phantom models. Up until recently, the choice of a Phantom was quite easy – there was ONE model. However, their offerings have now multiplied into 4 different products. The beginner may become confused when trying to compare the features, benefits and pricing – so is going to offer a basic guide to deciding which model may be for you.

[Read more...]

BlackVue SC500 Sport Camera – First Look and Review


BlackVue, a well known manufacturer of dashboard and vehicle cameras, is now expanding into the Sport and Action camera market with a new model named the BlackVue SC500. They were kind enough to send a prerelease model to us at for our review. In this article and the forum thread, we will provide various pics, videos and opinions regarding the suitability of this camera for those who intend to fly them!

URL for Camera Maker:

BlackVue SC500

BlackVue SC500

The camera has some impressive specs – it uses a high-end Sony imaging chip (SONY Exmor CMOS Sensor) which is designed for fast action. Video modes include:
1080p, 60/30fps
720p 120/60/30fps and WVGA 240/60/30fps

720p at 120fps is a high speed mode which should work well for videos where you want to slow down the action by as much as 75% and still have smooth motion.

The camera features built-in Wifi as well as an app which allows wireless control from a smartphone or tablet. At the time of this writing, only the Android app is available – however, most of the features of the cam can be accessed using the built in color LCD and menus.
[Read more...]

10 Best Quadcopters for 2013 Holiday Gift Giving and 2014 use!

Blade 350 QX

Here are some best bets to be looking at this upcoming gift-giving season, whether you are looking to gift yourself or a family member/friend.
UPDATED 2/1/2014

Note – these quadcopters can be less or more expensive depending on vendor, options, etc. but the following will give some idea of the price ranges.

Also note that many of these are not for beginners! Rather they are upgrades after you’ve learned the basics of flying and know exactly what features you desire. Quads best for beginners are marked with an *

Under $100
*Blade Nano QX – Micro Quad with great features
Amazon Link
*Hubsan X4 H107L – updated version of the most popular micro
Amazon Linky
*WL Toys v212/222 – Mini quadcopters with 6-axis stability – 222 is with camera, 212 without
WL Toys v262 – Larger version of a 212 series with decent payload capacity (see our review)
Amazon Link for v262
WL Toys V262 Cyclone UFO 4 Channel 6 Axis Gyro Quadcopter 2.4Ghz Ready to Fly (Green)

Try for a full service small business (takes phone calls, etc.) source for the v2xx series above.

Under $200
[Read more...]

WL Toys v262 Quadcopter – First look and review


WL Toys are well known for their inexpensive line of mini and micro Quadcopters – these include the v929, 939, 949 and v959. Newer models are called v202, 212 and 222 which feature additional stabilization.

The new (July, 2013) v262 quadcopter is a step up in size from mini-quads, making it capable of carrying larger payloads as well as being seen at longer distances from the pilot. Despite being larger, it is priced very low – the current supplier ,Banggood, sells the quad for a little over $80. Add in the cost of a couple extra batteries and parts and the entire package is under $100.

Link to v262 Quadcopter at Banggood

Appeal to users:
Beginners* (see summary) and Advanced Beginners who want an inexpensive platform for flying fun as well as aerial photography, FPV and video experimentation.
Type of Quad: Consumer / Hobbyist “toy grade
Cost: approx. $85 with battery, spare props, charger and Receiver
Crashworthiness – Good

The WL Toys v262 is a “6-axis” quadcopter, which means it has the ability to self-level as well as easily correct itself when flying. This makes control quite easy – pilots with advanced beginner skills (up) will feel a sense of control which is often lacking with the 3-4 axis machines.

The Basics
[Read more...]

Mobius Sport, Dashboard and Aerial Cam – First look and review

Mobius Camera

Quadcopter pilots are quite familiar with very small cameras, especially the “keychain cams”, which are very lightweight (20-30 grams) and take video up to 720p. These are capable of being flown by smaller quads than heavier cams like the GoPro, Sony Actioncam, etc.

However, even the top-dog keychain cam (the 808 #16) lacks many of the features of the more advanced action cameras.

The new Mobius attempts to address many of these shortcomings – and at a price that will please most hobbyist. Let’s take a look at what this camera can do.

1. 1080P HD Video
(1080p-30fps or 720p-60fps or 720p-30fps)
2. High resolution still photo capability including time lapse interval shooting – take a picture every X seconds.
(25, .5, 1, 2, 5, 10, 30 and 60)
3. Advanced settings such as exposure, etc.
4. Loop recording – perfect for use as a dashboard or security camera.

Mobius Camera

Mobius Camera

In terms of size and weight, the camera has these approx. specs:
35mm wide x 61mm long x 18mm thick
1 1/4″ wide x 2 1/2″ long x 3/4″ thick
Camera weight = approx. 40 grams bare
[Read more...]

FPV for Beginners


First Person View is introduced in our earlier article. As mentioned there, it can be quite a technical endeavor, although some newer machines may come already set up and ready to go.

For those who want to understand the systems, we provide the following diagram and descriptions.

First Person View gear for drones work differently than the digital cameras we are familiar with. They are analog systems, and therefore use either a different (2nd) camera or an analog A/V output from your existing digital model. This output is coupled to a transmitter with it’s own antenna – and often needing it’s own battery (or a feed from the existing battery). The video signal is then transmitted from the quad down to your ground station and displayed on a small monitor on on the inside of specially designed googles. Many hobbyists prefer to keep the entire FPV system separate – with it’s own small cam. FPV does not require a high resolution, so the camera can be very small and light.


In the diagram above, #4 through 6 are parts of the FPV system. They can be described as:
[Read more...]

W L Toys v929 Beetle Quadcopter – first look and review


WL Toys are well known for their inexpensive line of Quadcopters – these include the v929, 939, 949 and v959. Newer models with additional stabilization are called v202, 212 and 222 which feature additional stabilization.

The 929 was one of their first models and has earned a great reputation since it was introduced a little over a year ago.

Appeal to users:
Beginners and Advanced Beginners who want an inexpensive platform for learning, practice or modification.
Type of Quad: Consumer / Hobbyist
Cost: approx. $45 with 1 battery, spare props, charger and Receiver
Crashworthiness – Good

The WL Toys 900 series (including this v929) are marketed as “4-axis”, while the 200 series are “6-axis”. Although these terms sound technical, the summary is that 6-axis quadcopters will self-level when the operator takes their fingers off the right control stick. 3 (or 4) axis models will continue in the direction they were going – even if that direction is a steep angle toward the ground. In general, a 6 axis quad will be easier to fly, but that may not be what you desire. Those who want to develop real piloting skills should consider the more “manual” 3 and 4 axis micros as a learning platform. The v929 fits the bill if this is your desire.

The Basics
[Read more...]