Wednesday, February 19, 2014

My "feet are wet" in areal photography, but what I am standing in, doesn't smell so nice...

This is a follow up to the post about getting my feet wet in the genre of areal photography via the Syma X1.

In an earlier post, I said "I wanted to get my feet wet in areal videography"  I have jumped in, and my feet are now wet.  The trouble is, they are wet from standing in a substance that is less translucent and odorless than I would like.....

So, after making sure my finances are suitable to afford some expense, I purchased the Blade Helis, 350qx over the Chinese competition.

I did this because I want to buy American, helping to maintain American jobs, and I know there is no way to maintain a strong nation without a solid manufacturing base.

That, and I wanted to deal with people that spoke my native language clearly, so there wouldn't be any misinterpretation.

After doing my part, I am not certain the American company I have dealt with are holding up their end of the bargain...

There are several entries into the 350 size quadcopters, with the most well known being the DJI Phantom. There is also the Walkera, The Parrot, AR Drone, and many, many others, including ones that are custom made like Whitespy.

This little guy was around 1000.00 complete with transmitter, but
with the introduction of the craft I bought, the Blade 350Qx, you
can pick one up for 479 with transmitter.

I bought the Blade 350QX for a few reasons.

A.  It really does not give me a good feeling to give a Chinese company so much money.  I feel guilty enough about buying the really great SYMA X1.

B.  I did not like the user friendly, toy like feel of the transmitter that came with the DJI, I wanted a real hobby grade transmitter.

C. I want support from an American company.  I have heard support for the DJI phantom is basically none existent.

So, I took the plunge, and was immediately underwhelmed....

I get the Spektrum DX6i, and it is everything I wanted it to be.  A big, professional feeling, and complicated RC transmitter

However, the actual 350qx is underwhelming.  It is smaller and lighter than I imagined and has a chintzy feel to it.

Underwhelmed, but not phased, I take it out for it's first flight after programming the DX6i transmitter that is NOT the manufacturers poorly made "tutorial" video.  It is the one that says something like "programming the DX6i for the blade 350QX in under 4 minutes"

NOTE:  There are questions people are asking on the Blade tutorial video, and blade never goes back and answers them.  Legitimate questions...

Since my Sony AS-15 action cam didn't arrive, I have no choice but to Velcro my 808 # 16 to the belly of the 350qx craft, forgoing the anti-jello mount that is to be used for the higher quality action cameras like Hero, and Sony.

 I am kind of glad I did use the 808# 16 directly on the belly so I can see how the craft sounds like it is going to rattle apart. At a price of 419.00, this type of lack of quality is unacceptable as far as I am concerned.

Non Jello mount or not, it shouldn't run like this. 

Jello(wobbly video) is one thing I understood, but the vibrations coming out of the craft, are like ordering a Cadillac, and discovering it came new from the dealership with two bad wheel bearings....

How would you feel if you plunked down the money on a brand new Cadillac, and had this happen?

My 32 dollar SYMA X1 is more smooth than this very expensive, yet not very refined air vehicle.  Smoother if you just spin the propellers, and smoother in flight.

Yes, they are not the same, with one being an apple, and the other being an orange, but when you pay 419.00 for a video platform, you have the right to expect a much higher quality point, than some 32 dollar Chinese toy...

Try to imagine you forked over the money out of pocket for a Cadillac, and discovered a 15,000 dollar KIA had better quality... Wouldn't you feel like an idiot?

In addition to the main point, which is how much of a rough rider the American made, Blade 350qx is, I want you to also understand, that Smart Mode is really underwhelming.

In Smart mode, the left stick(on mode 2 transmitters) throttle, or lift, becomes "altitude adjustment"

Smart mode altitude adjustment really isn't that nice. the engines on the 350 qx are constantly cycling up and down, so that the engine pitch is constantly changing, sending oscillations into the craft, which makes the video EVEN WORSE.

Smart mode is basically un-useable for video.  On the transmitter end, the craft is slow, and rough to respond, and feels like it is fighting you the whole way.

Less tight control of altitude within a window of a few feet after maybe 10 feet of height would actually yield a smoother flying mode. To do this, gain could be high when the vehicle was close to ground, and gain could slowly turn down as the vehicle gains height.   This is possible to do, as the 350qx has GPS receivers, and a barometer that calculates height, which is how altitude adjustment works in Smart Mode.

For the 350qx, you will find some really unhappy people, and some that are singing the praises.

The unhappy people I think are people who want to shoot video,  and the people singing the praise are old hobby people that just want to fly, with the only reason they would attach a camera, would be to record their awesome flight.

That, and I think some people are blinded by the idea of heaping praise on an American company that is trying to compete in a really tough world.

For me, I do try to go out of my way to buy American, but when I do, I expect some quality. I am not going to blindly throw my money away for the sake of patriotism.

I just am not really happy...

I spoke with Chad at Horizon Hobby, and he is going to have 2 new motors sent to me free of charge.  I am happy enough with that resolution.

Mark :(

About the author

My experience in the world of RC.

15 years ago, I was pretty deep into RC(not like some of the fanaticism you see for  a lot of RC people), but I had my vehicles..

A 60 inch trainer, with a .40 OS motor, 3 electric planes(2 two channel, and one 3 channel), a 60MPH Traxxas Nitro 4 Tec, and a 1/8th scale, Duratrax, Nitro Thunder Quake( the quality just wasn't there for this vehicle either, the 2 speed transmission never worked)

Why I got this.

Not to get back into RC, but to have a unique video camera platform, to make unique nature videos.

I also came up with the following theory today, the day after the first flight...


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