2nd September 14:59
NEW - Draganflyer 5 (Just Announced) - Better than DF IV?
Yep... they just introduced the "Newest" Draganflyer. The Draganflyer5.
I can't blame Zenon Dragan (founder/inventor) for continually updating
his Draganflyer model line, after all complacency has been known to put
companies out of business.
That said... I do have a gripe with the Draganflyer line. The price!
Granted there's the cost of research/design and
development/fabrication etc... and Zenon needs to recoup his
investment... but over the years the price remains at or above $749.00!
The only reason this is noteworthy is because several years ago (I
think 2002), Zenon did an interview. In the interview he said something
like... with the drop of electronic component prices... and increase in
Draganflyer sales, within a couple of years the price of the
Draganflyer could be as low as $99.00.
Okay... its been a couple years... but the price hasn't dropped one
cent! Maybe "a couple years" is Canadian slang for "decades". Then
again... if I had production backed up to meet the demand of all the
people standing in line to pay $749... I'd probably hold the price too.
Still... I'd like to see the DF IV around $249.00. Heck, even $249
without the transmitter would be okay.
Anyway... enter the all new Draganflyer 5, and yes... its even more
expensive. Starting at $899.00... and that's "without" the eyecam.
Granted... the 5 offers even more than the Draganflyer 4. In fact...
the DF5 practically flies itself! Yep... No RC experience required.
Here's an excerpt from their announcement:
No previous R/C experience? No problem.
If you lose orientation while flying the Draganflyer V Ti outdoors,
simply release the right stick and its infrared stabilizers will
automatically restore a stable hover within a half a second!
If you run low on batteries, the innovative electronic control system
prevents battery over-discharge by limiting available power.
Lose transmitter signal? It will descend safely and autonomously
Incorporated into each Draganflyer V Ti's patented control board are
four infrared heat sensors and three state-of-the-art piezo gyros which
provide automatic self-leveling for an effortless outdoor piloting
Hmmm... I can't help but wonder how big the market is for a $900 RC
Model that flies itself?
Can't help but think about my first motorcycle. It was a 160cc. When
I got it I thought it was all I would ever need... It was great for
about three weeks until I got comfortable maneuvering it through
traffic, then I outgrew the lack of power. If I wanted a helicopter
that would "practically fly itself", there are plenty on the market
to choose from for under $100.00. The earlier model DF's were a
challenge to hover and get the hang of. Not near as hard as a Micro
Heli... but a challenge nonetheless. Mastering it was half the fun. The
DF5 seems to take away from the "fun of the challenge". Or, am I all
12th September 02:58
NEW - Draganflyer 5 (Just Announced) - Better than DF IV?
Well, I just bought the Draganflyer V. It's the first RC _anything_
I've every purchased... but I was intrigued by the blurb I saw on the
History Channel. $900 is not too expensive to me for an impulse
indulgence so I bought one.
I think that they must be extremely busy. It it took over three weeks
before I got the Flyer. But true to their ads, I had the thing
together in less than an hour... despite the fact that the screw
package they shipped me had opened in shipping and were all over the
place. During that hour, I was charging the batter as per the
instructions... but noticed that the charging light never turned on. I
figured that it might be because the battery was pre-charged? So
excitedly, I connected the battery and fired it up.
Strange. The helicopter didn't try to take off. I applied a little
more power--and the helicopter flipped over and ruined one of the
rotors. I was stunned... I didn't think that the Draganflyer would be
THAT hard to fly.
Well, it turned out that the "busy-ness" that possibly delayed my
shipment also likely caused poor quality control: the day after the
accident, I called up Draganfly and their (very knowledgable) customer
support identified the problem--two of the wires on one of the motors
were swapped around. This, mind you, from a $900 toy! They told me
that I can swap it around, or ship it back (I pay shipping!) Since I
had already waited almost a month, I opted to swap the wires
myself--they guaranteed that if I screwed it up, they'll still honor
the warranty. It was during this time (after I told them about the
rotor mishap) that they identified that I was missing my crash kit (I
had asked them how come I hadn't gotten spare rotors like the order
said). They offered to ship me a crash kit (no cost to me)... and I
ordered two more full rotor kits (believe me, when you see a rotor
shatter in the first five minutes with a toy, you get a little
OK, no problem. Swapped the wire, applied power, it looked like it
wanted to fly (but I never applied a LOT of power since it was missing
a real rotor, I duct-taped the broken one back together for testing).
Eventually, it appeared that the battery was running out of juice. I
put that battery on the charger, and swapped in my second battery and
played with it until it too was running out of juice.
An hour later, I put in the first battery and was puzzled since it
didn't seem to have taken a charge! After a few discussions with
Draganfly, we thought it might be the charger. They gave me the phone
to the manufacturer of the charger--and I RMA'd it.
The new charger arrived--AND IT DID NOT CHARGE THE BATTERY EITHER. I
called up Draganflyer, they figured it must be the batteries, so they
shipped me ONE replacement. Oh well, at least I had received the spare
rotors--and since I had also bought the tether, I was out practicing
again using a car battery.
It turns out that the replacement charger WAS broken too (after some
very knowledgable debugging sessions with the manufacturer). So he
shipped me a THIRD charger. This one worked! But by then BOTH the
batteries I had were broken likely because of being in a charger that
was draining rather than charging--the charge the battery holds is less
than 5 minutes of flying time. Hopefully when the new battery arrives,
I'll be flying for 10-15 minutes like their website says.
Okay to recap my experience with this $900 RC Helicopter:
(1) Poor packing -- screw set was all over the place luckily none were
missing. Just hard to find.
(2) Swapped wires on one of the motors
(3) Broken charger... possibly breaking the batteries
(4) ... or broken batteries?
(5) Missing crash kit
Despite my woes... this helicopter is GREAT. I know nothing about how
to fly a helicopter. I "practiced" a bit with the tether and broken
rotor--and soon after when my new charger arrived, I pushed the
throttle up and was airborne. I couldn't control the thing worth a
damn (extra pairs of rotors made me bold), but I COULD fly the thing.
It's just a matter of time before I'll actually be able to fly it in
the direction I really want to fly it in.
So despite the downturns, I would heartily recommend this helicopter to
anyone who has $900 or so to waste. The company, I hope, will put a
little more QA into their product before shipping it--but it's a great
toy nonetheless. And the company does stand by its product.
I can't wait until the new battery arrives so that I can fly this thing
for more than 5 minutes (the other battery I have won't take a charge