It may be argued that the recent advents of both ready-to-fly quadcopters and dependable, affordable FPV have brought the great hobby of radio control to the masses.
What’s really great is how hobby manufacturers have risen to the occasion for hobbyists of all skill levels.
An excellent example is the equally excellent model I’m about to present.
The folks at Hobbico have come up with another entry-level winner, namely the brand new Dromida KODO FPV RTF quad with its 3D and virtual reality compatible FPV goggles which convert an ordinary smartphone into a wonderfully immersive experience.
Beginners – and advanced modelers alike – please note. No arcane programming or assembly skills are required. Everything is in a single box which doubles as a carrying case. Operation is as simple as installing the supplied AAA-cell batteries in the transmitter, charging the flight battery with its USB charger, downloading the FPV app to a smartphone and going for a blast around the house or yard.
Hobbico also supplies some of the best manuals in the business and that of the KODO FPV is no exception. It walks brand new pilots through each phase of first-time setup, operation and even repair.
Spoiler alert: This thing is fun. How much fun? Kindly read on.
Diagonal Length: 4.2″ (106 mm)
Weight: 1.4 oz (40 g)
Camera: 30 fps video and 2 ms low-latency Wi-Fi; adjustable tilt
Motors: 8 mm brushed coreless
Battery: Dromida 3.7V 350mAh 25C lithium polymer battery (DIDE1550) and USB charger (DIDE1511)
Transmitter: Dromida MR200 2.4 GHz SLT protocol radio with smartphone holder, digital trims, video and photo buttons
Minimum Operator Skill Level/Age: Beginner; 14+
Catalog Number: DIDE0016
Price (USD): $89.99
Available From: Any hobby shop which stocks Hobbico products
Fully assembled model
Dromida FPV smartphone goggles
Transmitter with video and photo control buttons, flip function, rate selector, digital trims and spring loaded smartphone clip
3.7V lithium polymer battery and USB charger
Four AAA-cell alkaline batteries
Illustrated instruction manual
Required for Completion:
Apple or Android smartphone
Free KodoView app available online or via QR codes in the manual
Inside the attractive display box is a ready-to-fly little quadcopter in black and red along with goggles in white with black strap and accents. The flight battery is installed in the model and the accessories are packed below the model’s tray. All present and accounted for including a second flight battery in the shipping carton thanks to Natalie Rodrigues at Hobbico. Four AAA-cell alkaline batteries for the transmitter are provided in typical Hobbico fashion, even though the product’s website claims AA-cells.
There’s a label on the back of the display box covering up what may have printed as “AA,” but in any event, batteries and a Phillips screwdriver to remove the screw atop the battery hatch cover are part of the deal. I don’t know what it is with the practice of further securing a good-fitting cover with a screw. It’s something I’ve seen on many a small RTF model and I’ve concluded that certain world markets might require it.
Another hallmark of Hobbico products is their domestically written instruction manuals. They’re chock full of easy-to-understand information on setup and operation with the extra benefit of a tutorial section for brand new pilots. Some samples are listed below:
The USB charger seems to do a good, fairly quick job of charging the 350mAh li-po. In terms of size and price, the KODO FPV fits neatly between two other Hobbico quads of mine, the Estes Proto Z indoor beginner’s quad and the indoor/outdoor RISE Vusion House Racer Indoor FPV Race Pack, the latter which I recently reviewed for RC Universe.
When I’m privileged to review an FPV quad, I always check to see how well said quad flies line of sight. Once I determined that the camera was working, I set up for the maiden flight in my living room.
The supplied USB charger did a good job of bringing each battery up to full charge in about a half hour. Since most manufacturers have their own ideas regarding the charging indicator with small USB chargers, Dromida takes an interesting approach with a flashing red LED during the charging cycle which then glows steady red when charging is complete. An AC adapter isn’t supplied, but one’s existing USB adapter will work as will Dromida’s own adapter.
New users will not have to worry about the motors starting uncontrollably. Like virtually all quadcopters, the KODO will not start unless it’s bound to the transmitter, described as “Power-On Fail-Safe” in the manual. Speaking of which, while it won’t pass for a high end unit, the supplied SLT protocol transmitter is larger than most in this price category. That means good heft and stick spacing in relation to a full sized transmitter. It also features a spring loaded clip designed to hold a smartphone for FPV use without the goggles. Should one happen to own a more sophisticated transmitter with SLT radio protocol, the KODO FPV is fully compatible.
Arming the unit is standard stuff. It’s basically transmitter on, connecting the flight battery, setting the model on a level surface, advancing the throttle to full and back to zero to complete the process and it’s ready for fun.
Since the KODO FPV is primarily an indoor machine, indoors is where I began as shown below on my dining room table:
Taking off in the default low control rate was as easy as could be thanks to smooth throttle control; some small machines tend to be twitchy in that regard. It’s definitely not the sort of mode one would use for any kind of fast indoor flight, let alone outside. Rather, it’s best for new pilots and those new to FPV to assist with practice.
Pressing the left stick switches the rates from medium to high and back to low. Medium rate is an excellent all-around choice both indoors and out while the high rate turns the KODO FPV into a highly responsive little racing quad. Regardless of the rate chosen, the model has no bad habits save for one. That bad habit is lazy climbout speed.
Outdoor testing showed the KODO FPV to be an amazingly fast model – at least in a straight line – thanks to its light weight, an excellent gyro and a battery with generous capacity. Climbout is OK with a full charge, but it doesn’t take long for the throttle to lose its otherwise wonderful response. If there’s an upside, it’s a good means by which to learn throttle management in turns, but the model could still benefit from more power and less having to compensate with full throttle to keep it from dropping and possibly bottoming out on the ground. I’m hoping that Hobbico will offer a set of upgraded motors at some point. There are universal aftermarket motors from various online vendors, but for the sake of liability and warranty issues, I strongly recommend flying a KODO FPV as is unless and until that issue is resolved.
Here’s another outdoor look at the KODO FPV prior to a flight:
This is where the true fun can begin.
A standard Wi-Fi signal and the KodoView app which I downloaded via the QR code in the manual allow my iPhone 6+ smartphone to be used as a monitor. Since the link is via Wi-Fi, the signal is chosen via the phone’s settings tab. It’s easy enough to find in the settings menu since it’s identified as a “UFO.” Or, “WIFI UFO-35388a” to be precise.
These are the manual’s illustrations and QR codes:
The opening page is simple enough; there’s a question mark which brings up some simple instructions and another tab marked “FLY” which goes to the control page. Except for the Hobbico logo which appears on that page, the app looks a lot like others I’ve seen down to the airport runway graphic. On-screen controls include photo, video, album, “REV” which inverts the image and split screen for use with the goggles. If preferred, the transmitter has a mounting clip built in for holding one’s phone, but whether one chooses to clip the phone to the transmitter or slide it into the goggles, any protective cover on the phone must first be removed.
The goggles warrant special mention. They are in fact capable of viewing 3D and VR videos. For those who’ve never experienced a ride aboard an extreme 3D roller coaster or hiding from a VR Tyrannosaurus Rex thanks to videos my son found on YouTube, the goggles make it all possible. They even have a sliding port which allows VR images to be overlaid on the scene if a suitable app is being used.
This leads me to wonder why the split view doesn’t have an artificial 3D mode. I’ve seen this feature on other entry-level Wi-Fi quads and the effect works well. With or without the 3D, the goggles have a lot of extra value built in. Similar to the transmitter’s clip, the goggles also have a spring loaded clip to hold the phone in place. The mounting panel is removed, the phone attached to the panel and the panel reinserted. This means that the on-screen controls are now inaccessible, but there are buttons on the transmitter for both video and still photos.
Getting It All Together:
Initial FPV tests took place at a large, grassy parade ground and overflow parking area for both Southwest Community Church and the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, California. It’s a popular site for electric flyers of all types and anyone with an AMA card is welcome if no events are taking place.
Previous reviews of Wi-Fi linked quads showed that the concept works well, but not without a lot of signal loss, latency or both. Such isn’t the case with the KODO FPV. There was no noticeable latency, picture quality was reasonably good and the incoming signal was also good. Going out more than about 100′ or so caused some signal loss, so it’s clear that the model isn’t designed for long-range FPV use.
These are some stills snapped via the transmitter directly to the camera:
I wanted to see how well it would record video, done with the help of my grandson Stephen at the Coachella Valley Radio Control Club. Stephen manned the iPhone while I flew the KODO FPV on the highest control rate around the helicopter pad. Interestingly, signal dropouts were fewer than when I flew it with the goggles, but the aforementioned lack of climbout power made coming out of turns a challenge.
We ran both batteries through the model and had a great time doing so, but the resulting video as seen through my computer was disappointing at first. It’s very grainy and lacking in resolution compared to the live video feed. My guess is that Dromida concentrated more on reducing latency and improving live video quality than on recorded video. If that’s the case, they succeeded nicely.
This is my edited onboard video:
Hobbico’s own beautifully produced ground and onboard video really shows this model well:
The Dromida KODO FPV is a terrific entry-level value for those wishing to dabble in quads and/or FPV. It’s a gentle indoor flyer which can be successfully flown outside in calm conditions, but one should be aware of the lack of climbout power in turns. Overall, it’s one of the better flying quads in this price range. Add to that SLT compatibility, multi-purpose goggles and the world class customer support of Hobbico and this model earns two thumbs straight up.
My sincerest thanks go to Natalie Rodrigues of Hobbico who has become a true ambassador for the hobby community in a short time. It’s a genuine pleasure to work with Natalie and a genuine privilege to be able to review products on her behalf.
I certainly can’t forget the help of my video ground crew, aka my grandson. Stephen Squillace is an up-and-coming quad pilot and he enjoys coming to the field whenever he has the opportunity.
Nathan Maat works the administrator’s desk here at RC Universe and it was Nathan who arranged for me to review the KODO FPV. Special thanks to you, our readers for stopping by!
Pluses and Minuses:
- Excellent overall flight characteristics
- Full parts availability and customer service through Hobbico
- Motors are quickly and easily replaced
- Inexpensive, long-lasting flight batteries
- Outstanding manual
- FPV via Wi-Fi works well
- Goggles can be used for any 3D or VR application with a smartphone
- SLT radio protocol means that more advanced transmitters may be used
- Affordably priced
- Fun for all skill levels
- Climbout power is lacking
- Live video quality is good, but recorded video quality is disappointing