Quadcopters, drones, and other RC fun


FTFY, as it applies to me usually


That Mavic looks sick


New video from one of the guys who got a pre-production unit. Notable because it shows the size compared to an iPhone, and it clarifies some concerns about sharpness. (IE: Hey Casey Neistat, there’s a “tap to focus” function DJI apparently didn’t tell you about when they sent you the undocumented drone.)

I liked the FliteTest guys’ look at it as well…


And one for @krayzkrok: flying on a windy day in Santa Cruz, CA. The guy said it actually handled the wind better than his Phantom 4. Seems viable, given that it has a smaller cross-section.


Why are you making me buy things?


[insert Steam sale wallet gif here, except insert this drone and all the optional toys instead]


Okay, I’ll stop spamming with Mavic videos after this, but the sample footage in the middle of this review is just stunning.

Protip: I’ve seen two reviewers state the Mavic asked if you wanted to land upon flying under a bridge. So don’t fly under bridges. At least not over water.


I bought a quad!

Spur of the moment decision while at the hobby store. About AUD$60 buy and fly. It’s and Ares-RC Spidex, which seems like it might be an local OEM version of something called a Blade Nano QX, which by all accounts is a nifty little unit for beginners.

And beginner is what I am! Took a few goes just to get the hang of moving around enough to even get it trimmed. Much better now it is though. Seems a pretty stable and durable little thing.

And rather addicting, I must say!

Biggest control hurdle so far is the radio unit is mode-1 (apparently more common over here?), but I really think I’d prefer mode-2 - years of controller gaming has built muscle memory for strafe (aileron) on the left, not right!

Dunno why I have never picked one up before!


I like the coffee mug stain for scale. It’s teeny! Looks like fun for that price though. I used to have (well, I still do) a similarly-priced RC helicopter, very easy to pilot, wouldn’t disintegrate (much) if you ran it into a wall, but far less stable than these modern drones.

But once you have the bug, which it looks like you do, then hide the wallet!


Mavic shipping seems to be slightly delayed. The forums are going nuts. It’ll ship when it ships, but it’s frustrating when we have amazing sunsets and I’m sans-drone. :-)

In the meantime, the iphonedo guy is back with a really cool music video he shot with the Mavic, some of the shots using the automated tracking modes. Some super-impressive footage here.


Got my Mavic! Charging everything up tonight to try it out tomorrow.


Sweet! Congrats, Vesper!

Be sure to update the firmware from the DJI Go app home screen before flying. The wacky behavior some saw (I didn’t) seems to have been fixed.

Made the right call not going for the GoPro Karma:

Couple of shots from the past couple of days:

And finally, to show how steady it is in wind, this is a five-minute video hyperlapsed at 8x speed into 30 seconds. This was taken in winds that were irregularly going from 10 to 20+ mph the whole time. Pretty steady given that.


Here’s my second video I took in my back yard. I really am still figuring this out but I’m so impressed by how smooth it is. And this isn’t even the full 4K:


Nice! I love how the llama (or is alpaca?) is completely unbothered by the drone. Unlike my cats. Great back yard!

Interesting to see a bit of flickering shadowing from the rotors at about 1:51 – I’d heard of that happening but hadn’t had it occur. It’s just when the light hits at just the right angle, apparently,.

A couple of newbie tips from my 10-ish flights so far:

  • Set the color to Vivid and the shooting mode to Lansdscape. Landscape up the sharpening by +1 and just makes the video look crisper without overdoing it.
  • You can adjust the gimbal speed to avoid quick pans and rotations. I haven’t done it myself yet as I was going to look up optimal settings, but your quick pan down reminded me that I need to do that. :)


Llamas. There are 3. My first flight I was expecting them to run away and instead they walked over to check the drone out.

Thanks for the tips! A bit overwhelmed by all of the controls and options but I’ll get there. My previous drone experience was a $80 drone that was extremely hard to fly. This is a world of difference.


Man, that’s so stable it looks like it’s on a crane. Amazing!


Well, now I own three. C’mon, don’t look at me like that!

I decided to get one for outside and in mode 2, so grabbed a Dromida Vista after a bit of reading and checking what was actually available in my local area.

It’s about a 200mm across, much more suitable for outdoor flight, not particularly expensive and was reportedly pretty durable:

Had some teething issues with gyro calibration that caused some early problems, but got that sorted and determined not long after that mode 2 was much preferred over mode 1. An outdoor quad in a large space is also a lot more conducive to getting the hang of moving these things around and flying line of sight.

But I can’t always fly outdoors so decided I better get a mode 2 indoor quad so I could get some regular flight time in. Instead of getting another Spidex in mode 2, I instead picked up a similarly sized Blade Nano QX 3D:

I picked this up from a different retailer and in relaying my drama with the mode 1 Spidex, he promptly went out back and came back with a replacement mode 2 transmitter (from a returned unit) which he graciously comped me! So, that’s how I ended up with three quads, all in mode 2!

Since then I have crashed numerous times, bought and replaced several spares, and crashed a bunch more times. The Spidex and the Vista have proven quite tough and the Nano 3D has had less flight time. But I have slowly improved such that I prefer flying them at higher sensitivity rates/modes now. The Vista in particular I think comes stock with rates configured too low and is a little too docile. Upping the rates turns it into almost a different copter.

All can do flips with the press of a button, but the Spidex lacks a full acro mode (no stabilisation), so while fun (and my preferred indoors at the moment), will be limited for advanced flying. The Vista has full acro, but I think ultimately may be a little under powered for spirited maneuvers (not that I have tried yet, nor am I running it at quite 100% rates). The Nano 3D only has full acro in 3D mode which also reverses the motors and puts the zero throttle position at centre stick - up for positive thrust, down for negative thrust. That allows for upside down flying and maneuvers similar to collective pitch helicopters. But that shit will wreck your day quickly, so I leave that alone for the time being. Accidentally switching to that mode has already cost a motor and two props…

The goal is to get into some recreational FPV flying and maybe into some light scratch building. But I am conscious of getting to grips with LOS flying first, hence nothing with a camera yet. And some of those FPV goggle are crazy expensive.

And then I discovered RCGroups and HobbyKing and Banggood…

Then HobbyKing started a November madness sale…

So now I have a Turnigy 9XR Pro transmitter and 4 in 1 transmitter module on the way. That will allow me to fly my current quads and be a marked improvement over the stock TX’s that ship with them while also providing a pretty decent platform to grow into for a pretty decent sale price.

Also snaffled a pair of entry level Quanum Cyclops FPV Goggles for a bargain price:

So now I am on the lookout for the final purchase of a smallish, outdoor suitable FPV racing quad to complement the goggles. This is something I intend to be a little more significant cost, quality and performance wise, while still being pretty turn-key and robust with good support and available spares. Been considering the Walkera Rodeo F150 but have yet to pull the trigger. Ticks a few boxes - small, well reviewed, capable, customisable flight controller (if you want), will bind to the Turnigy, seems pretty durable with full range of spares, Walkera seem a reputable brand.

It’s not even that expensive and looks like it would still be a pretty good starter quad, but not sure I am ready yet. From the vids, this thing will be a significant performance upgrade over anything I have now. That performance will be welcome in terms of something that’s not too large, able to fly outdoors with no problems and easily powerful enough to actually perform maneuvers without pushing it’s flight envelope (which I suspect will ultimately be a limiting factor for the Vista), but I am kind of mindful of the safety ramifications that come along with something like this. Even my best intentions of keeping well away from others while flying are worth nothing if I fail basic piloting and lose control of a much faster quad, or fail to notice someone wandering into the area, etc.

Maybe I am being overly cautious. I have been pretty good to date about choosing when and where to fly, conscious of being new to flying and my skill level. Big open spaces well away from anyone or anything has typically been the go to date and I don’t see that changing. Indeed it seems generally accepted etiquette is to keep it that way even as your skill improves.

Anyway, this hobby escalated quickly…

Might have to look at CP Helis too, those things are mental!


That guy in the video could literally fight someone with that thing. Beat them ove the head. I’ve never seen such maneuverability in anything. It looked like fake CGI at times, so unrealistic. But it’s real! Wow.


Those helis are insane. You literally can kill someone with one – I’ve heard of at least one operator killing himself in an accident.

@sharaleo, you’ve got the bug! I almost wish I’d held on to my Phantom 1 for more “spirited” flying. The Mavic’s too expensive to fly aggressively, and it doesn’t even currently have an ATTI switch, so you’re always GPS-assisted. (But I’m fine with that.) But it has moved the hobby more into photography than flying for me.

I’ve been thinking of building a 250 drone; it’s apparently pretty plug-and-play if you can solder a little. That Walkera looks cool, but you can build a 250 for about $100 more and then you end up with something more repairable with off-the-shelf parts. Because from what I’ve seen of fast FPV drones, you will eventually fly into a tree. ;)


Damn this thread.

I showed some of the videos above to my wife, and now she thinks we should get a Mavic for our Florida vacation/family reunion next summer.

That sounds great, and I’m completely on-board but… that money would come from the fund I had set aside for a VR headset. And I really want a VR headset… but do I want it more than a drone with a HD camera? I’m no longer sure.

The deciding factor might come from my location. I’m pretty close to being within 15 miles of DC and I’m almost certainly within five miles of Dulles airport, so I’m not sure I could operate a drone here anyway.