4 Stars By J. Tant on 2016-11-22
Needs more flight time, but a useful platform on which to explore design/engineering concepts.
First, I should say that while I played with this a bit, I put primary custody of this product with my teenage son, who is greatly interested in engineering, coding, and so on. This follows a philosophy I've been trying to hew toward, namely that when I was young I was more interested in what I would grow up and build, not grow up and buy. From that perspective, this is a useful and informative platform on which to learn how to "build" UAV systems.
I put "build" in quotes because, quite frankly, you won't get into the weeds with this product. The quad itself is already fully assembled, so your efforts will be largely limited to building the controller (all parts included), incorporating the "Smart Inventor Board" (which is already done up, so no building circuits here), and designing/uploading custom code. So it's not quite as in depth as buying a bunch of components and putting them all together from scratch, but it IS in depth enough where concepts such as design, coding, testing, and debugging are amply demonstrated. Indeed, one of the initial concerns I had here was in the "community," which is to say the means by which regular people find and interact with other regular people for the purposes of troubleshooting or inspiration revolving around this thing. Fortunately, Robolink seems to be more sensitive to this than I, and looks to be devoting resources toward encouraging just such a community to evolve. This, along with making design resources/references available on their website, helped me to just point my son to their URL and encourage him to do his own research and troubleshooting.
We didn't find the experience all wine and roses though. At this point I have to mention the quad itself. It comes fully assembled, and it is SMALL (it will fit in your hand, quite easily). Because it is small it does have some ramifications for use. It is far too small to have a lengthy flying time, because the battery must also necessarily be small. We averaged under ten minutes per flight. Also because it is small, it is really an indoor quad...flying outdoors introduces some hazards (it's too small and light to, for instance, successfully resist much in the way of wind). Indeed, the indoor venue is obviously preferred given that the quad has built in blade guards and such. On the other hand, the size made it quite agile and responsive to flight inputs, and of course it's far too small to require FAA registration.
Still, this quad design is the main thing keeping me from loving this product. Abbreviated flight time means only a narrow window to test coding inputs/changes/debugs. Indeed, we found ourselves frustrated after spending a fair amount of time going over code, trying to figure out what was wrong with it, then only having a limited period of time to functionally test ourselves.
This all said though, what mollified me (somewhat) was the realization that this is a concept demonstration devices, not a production-level platform. It's broad enough to give the user a highly visible and, I daresay, evocative platform on which to apply these techniques, and certainly much less abstract than your typical exercises. It also offers a base level of, well, fun that just also happens to be rewarding. If you just want to build the controller and leave everything else stock, well, this pretty much lets you do that. If you want to get fancier, you have the ability to stretch out as well. Again though, this isn't without limits, namely the engineering limitations of having a small battery in the design.
At the end of the day, it ended up being fantastic from the standpoint of demonstrating and encouraging knowledge of engineering and design concepts. I confess to wishing the quad itself were a bit beefier, but perhaps that's part of the encouragement as well...if my son is interested in a more robust platform, there's less keeping him from building his own quad than there was a couple of months ago - and that's a good thing. Overall I like this product quite a bit, quad design notwithstanding.
5 Stars By B. Jang on 2016-12-02
Fun drone for tinkering around with
I tried this out, because it's one of the more affordable drones around. Looks like you're supposed to use it to learn to code, so it comes with a remote that you have to assemble. You gotta go online to watch a tutorial, where it walks you through how to build it. I got it flying in about 20 minutes while taking my time.
It's pretty well built, super light, and it's a lot smaller than I expected, actually. I've crashed it a bunch of times and dropped it from the sky, and it's been totally fine. The flight is really stable, too. I'd also recommend keeping it indoors. It's really light, so wind affects its flight pretty easily. I wish I had one of these as a kid! I would've been able to learn programming without realizing it. I think if your kid is really into RC cars or drones, it's a pretty good way to get your kids learning how to code while having fun.
5 Stars By G. Song on 2016-11-21
and seemed to really love building it and figuring out how to code for ...
I bought this programmable drone for my brother as a gift. He was really excited, as he had always wanted a robot, let alone a drone! I watched him play around with it: it kept him busy for a few hours, and seemed to really love building it and figuring out how to code for it. What I really liked: just the right challenge for anyone interested in 'coding' to fly it.
There are no instruction manuals; everything is on the website so don't freak out if you can't find diagrams. The website has all the tutorials, and my brother found his way fairly quickly even without my help. If you know a tinkerer in your life, this is definitely an awesome gift.
4 Stars By mikeE on 2017-01-12
Good versatility, very short battery
I am giving this 4 stars because of the veratility of the drone itself. Building the remote was a easy, understanding the programming part took some practice, but there are a lot of tutorials to go with this product. The coding is in C++, luckily I adapted pretty easily to coding, but I have also taken college courses in C++. The tutorials are very good for people without a coding background (explained the subject better than my intro C++ instructor). You can also use the petrone app on your phone if you are impatient to understand the coding and want to start flying immediately. There are a lot of cool features that go with the app as well (follow me mode). The battery does not last long at all, which is probably the biggest downfall, definitely buy more batteries if you commit to this project, otherwise you will be writing commands you want to execute in flight mode but have to wait for another charge.
The drone disassembles very easily, I think it is a pretty sturdy drone for the price, and there are features you can add down the road like a camera or even wheels. I wish there was more description to make the controller more comfortable to hold, or even if a case was designed to give it a finished look.
Overall I would recommend this product if you are willing to commit to learning the code. I bought this to build a better understanding on how transmitters are programmed and feel like this little project helped with achieving my goal. This is good for any age person interested in the "guts" of programming transmitters. I live in Ohio and wish they offered classes out this way, if I was in CA I would definitely check the classes out.
5 Stars By CoolCustomer on 2016-12-21
Cool Tool for Intro to Programming
So firstly, this showed up literally next morning when I ordered it even though it's so close to Christmas (not sure if that was BTA-MALL or Robolink, but nice work there!). The drone itself is already in one piece when you open up the packaging. It sits on top of an insert with the URL that takes you to the tutorial on their website--because under the drone is like a bunch of cool fiddly wires and screws and chips and stuff (which it turns out is the parts to make the remote control that you program and connect to, to fly the drone). You don't actually need to know what it all is to get started, the videos (conveniently under the Getting Started heading) will tell you what it all is. They have an instructor lead you through building the remote, explain installing the software on your computer, and once it's set up the basic code to get it flying takes only a few minutes max to get working. There's more you can do with the drone by uploading more complex codes to it, which I haven't looked through all of the tutorials for yet, but it's all available on their website.
The drone itself is pretty small and light, but durable enough to endure some bumps while you're learning how to handle it (don't fly it outside in windy situations though... OR OUTSIDE AT ALL MAYBE? It does say right on the insert that it's not for outdoors, lol). If you're more of a hands on learner and don't think you'd do well at figuring out code just looking at lines on a screen, programming a toy that flies is great because you can see how it responds. I'd bet if I were a parent (since I'm a learn-by-teaching sort), it'd be cool to work on this with my kid. It's definitely a nice way to learn about the Arduino environment, which is actually a programming thing that's applicable to other stuff besides this toy (like seriously fancy robotics stuff).
Anyway, poking around on their other public media stuff, it looks like they had a Kickstarter earlier this year and they've got updates happening regularly, so I'm excited to go through the rest of the tutorials and see what new stuff goes up after I get through those! GONNA LEARN SOME LIFE SKILLS AND HAVE FUN DOING IT.
1 Stars By musichemist on 2017-05-10
Needs serious improvement before its worth ~$200
All and all, cool idea. The actual coding side of this project is fairly easy. Tutorials are very clear and helpful.
However, the are some major issues. For one, the battery lasts only 8 min and takes around 30-45 min to charge. Secondly, this thing is unlikely to fly well right out of the box (mine certainly didn't) so it takes some time to configure the trim, etc. For example, I have a short code on this thing that tells it to take off, throttle for a few seconds, and then land. The problem is that the trim out of the box wasn't right which caused it to drift into walls and things like that. So while trying to configure the trim so it just travels vertically (no, I'm not looking for perfection here, I just don't want it drifting several feel when the air around the drone is still) I am also battling the power supply that dies in 8 min. This is a huge headache. Additionally, as the battery begins to die the flight characteristics of the drone change. So just as soon as you are ready to get a second or third run in to check your trim settings, the drone will start to behave so erratically that nothing meaningful can be understood from a coding perspective. In other words, good luck trying to see how changes in your code effect the drone because the drone is unlikely to behave consistently from flight to flight even if the code doesn't change!
So you are going to need to spend some time experimenting with this thing before it works well, but you only get 8 min or so per trial! And since there are no back up batteries, you then need to put the thing down for quite some time before you can try again. This kit should have come with at least 3 batteries, if not more. For being around $200, this oversight is definitely not attractive. If this thing was $50, I wouldn't bother complaining. But for $200, there are much easier ways to learn to code. Seriously, get an Arduino UNO ($25) and a starter electronics kit ($20) and you can learn to code interactively in a very similar manner, but without the hardware issues and for a fraction of the cost.
UPDATE: One of motors already died. This thing did maybe 20-30 flights or so.
5 Stars By Memly on 2016-11-22
Great product to encourage a person who is into robotics and engineering.
My brother was an early adopter of consumer drones. He’s has always been into these kind of gadgets. So, this programmable drone was a great gift for him. I reviewed this product based on his input.
The CoDrone website and community provides all the documentation needed to program the Drone.
It’s easy to buy a completely working product with two working joy sticks and fly it. However, to build and program it, the user gets to understand drones and how they work at a different level.
The lesson plans include 1) setup, 2) pairing the device, 3) Fight commands, 4) Throttle, Yaw, Pitch, and Roll, 5) Variables, 6) IF statements, IR sensors, and so on…. Overall, there are 12 beginner lessons and 12 intermediate lessons.
This is a great product to encourage a person who is into robotics and engineering.
Two minor complaints. 1) This drone was smaller than I expected. For the price, I was hoping for something bigger. They must have used a person with small hands to take pictures of the drone. LOL. 2) I wish the batteries lasted longer. But just about all drones suffer from this issue.
2 Stars By Quantum Star on 2017-07-17
I really wanted to like it...
I bought this during the Kickstarter, and haven't really been able to enjoy it since. The main problem is that it won't hover. I don't know why, but for some reason, it just won't lift off and then stay in the same place, so I end up trying to fight with the controls the whole time it's in the air just keeping it straight. Maybe this is not everyone's experience, but sadly, it has been mine. I wanted to do some automated flight patterns and things like that, and just enjoy flying it, but I can't do either since it is so inconsistent. I really hope they come out with software updates to address this, or find some way to make sure the motors are all spinning at the right speed so it can fly straight.
1 Stars By UserABC on 2017-10-08
defective unit. can't hover.
i was excited to receive the item and before try programming I tried out the iPhone petrine app. When I click takeoff, it would fly right. I tried setting 'tim' and even tried to make it follow 'path' drawn by finger. This unit was clearly defective and would always go toward right. Very disappointed with quality control. If it doesn't work with app, clearly I should not waste time try programming with it since it will never work! I am returning this unit and will try codrone lite. Perhaps I was extremely unlucky to get a defective unit.
4 Stars By Harley3904 on 2017-02-16
Fun little gadget
Purchased for my engineering son. It only took a little while to get this thing put together and it worked great. The only complaint I had was it can only fly for about 8 minutes before it needs to be recharged. The other only other minor complaint is that it is so small...I didn't realize it was going to be barely bigger than his hand. Other than that it worked great and is a nice little gadget.