Parrot AR. Drone 2.0 Elite Edition

Dear readers,

Just before the new year, I ventured into this new hobby. I’ve always wanted to buy an RC helicopter, and finally I took the leap of faith and bought one. This is not a heli per say, its quadcopter.

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Parrot AR. Drone 2.0

This was an impulse purchase. I didn’t make any survey prior to purchase. That was so not me.. So as you can see from the picture above, included were the drone itself, indoor hull, outdoor hull, charger, battery, GPS recorder device, special tools to replace propellers and 4 extra propellers.

There’s no physical hardware for control. This drone must be controlled via phone or tablet. So its either iPhone, iPad, or any android devices. I’m using android so I downloaded the apps and straightaway jumps into playing.

Started with basic manoeuvre inside my house and one flight just outside my house. The drone was capable of video recording. I got so excited at first and was doing lots of aerial recording.

Few days later, as confidence level grew, I brought the drone to a nearby open field by the lakeside. I was thinking to get a better aerial footage. Started with low level control, then I moved further front and back. And then I decided that its time to take it to a greater height. I increased the elevation. It was almost 50 metres above when suddenly the drone flew to my right side as if following the wind direction. Then it rapidly decreases elevation and down in the nearby swamp. I can’t see the drone. Must’ve been floating but I can’t get there. Its too far from the lakeside. I can’t exactly see where the drone is.

It was just few seconds and there’s nothing I could do to regain control. I can still see the video feed coming from the drone but I can’t get there. It was only my 2nd flight outdoor. Pure stupidity.

Here’s my view based on less then a week with AR.Drone 2.0.

The drone: For that price, I was expecting a higher built quality of the hull. But once started, the hull’s presence can just be ignored. Some prefers flying without the hull attached. This helps the drone to accept heavier  load.

Control: Smartphone with gyro sensors and capacitive touchscreen looks an interesting combination. But controlling with this features were such dismay. Its hard to control it especially using the tilt function. At the end I opted for the on-screen thumb stick control. And that wasn’t best either. Control over WiFi was another issue as this drone flyaway situation is common amongst ARDrone owners. Surprisingly I’m not the first to experience this. Most users would’ve modified their drone to accept normal RC controller with physical sticks and buttons. This would also be using radio frequency to control hence allowing better control.

Video: The main reason I bought this was for the aerial videography ability. Despite the poised 720p HD capable, the image wasn’t anywhere near good. The video was grainy. Jello effect due to vibration was badly affecting the footage. The colour was not as sharp as I expected. But perhaps I was expecting too much out of a simple hobby drone. The video can only record straight ahead from the drone. This actually gives good fpv (first person view) while controlling the drone but quite useless in recording aerial to ground video. Hooking up the drone with a small camera, the likes of Go Pro Hero cameras, is not that recommended. Some users did the modification but since the drones limited max load ability hampers this approach. No audio recording was available with this drone but that’s not quite important as the motor’s noise would’ve been the most it would capture.

A bad start to a newfound hobby. Yet this won’t stop me from venturing further into this. Perhaps one day, a more careful approach before purchase and a more detail study on drone control before I clock hours on flights.

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