RCU Review: Draganfly Innovations, Inc. Draganflyer IV


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    Contributed by: Erick Royer | Published: March 2004 | Views: 35252 | email icon Email this Article | PDFpdf icon
     

    NAVIGATION

    Home
    Assembly
    Flight Report
    Maintenance
    Lithium Polymer Battery
    Eye Cam
    Summary
     
     
     

    DEALER INFO

    DRAGANFLY INNOVATIONS
    2108A St. George Ave
    Saskatoon, SK
    S7M 0K7
    Canada

    TEL: 800 979-9794
    FAX: 306-955-9906
    WEB: www.rctoys.com 
    EMAIL: info@rctoys.com

     

    VIDEO

    Video Courtesy of Draganfly Innovations.





     


     

     

     

      

    DRAGANFLYER IV
    by Erick Royer


    INTRODUCTION


    Just when I thought I saw just about every type of flying machine that this great hobby has to offer, along comes the Draganflyer IV.

    The Draganflyer IV is best classified as a helicopter, though it looks more like a UFO. Four propellers are used along with 3 gyroscopes to control lift and flight commands, including yaw, pitch and roll. The on-board computer reads control inputs from the transmitter then speeds up or slows down the appropriate propellers to perform the given command. The gyros are used to stabilize all 3 axes of flight.

    The performance of the Draganflyer IV is very impressive, with the ability to climb quickly and move horizontally as fast as many full size helicopters. The on-board 3-cell Lithium-Polymer battery pack will give you flight times of 15-20 minutes.

    While the controls react much like a conventional helicopter, I found the Draganflyer IV to be much easier when learning how to hover. The gyros do an excellent job keeping the unit stable in flight.
     

      

    PRODUCT RATINGS

     

    Quality:

     

    Performance:

     

    Ease of Assembly:

     
    Speed:  
    Ease of Flight:  
    Durability:  

    Cool Factor:

     
    Price:  

    1-POOR  2-NEEDS IMPROVEMENT 
     
    3-AVERAGE  4-VERY GOOD  5-EXCELLENT

     

     

    HITS

      Indoor/Outdoor Flight Capability

      Special rotor blades are designed for safety

      Tri-Axis Stability - Uses 3 Gyros to stabilize yaw, pitch, and roll

      Rugged design - Uses carbon fiber and space-age polymers in structural components

      Navigation LED's provide excellent visibility in low light conditions.

     Includes instructional video

      Fast, Easy Assembly

      Fun to Fly

     


    MISSES

      Brittle blades tend to break easily

      Can't fly inverted

    SPECIFICATIONS

    Model:

    Draganflyer IV
    Manufacturer Draganfly Innovations
    Model Type: 4 Rotor Model Helicopter
    Flying Skill Level: Beginner to Intermediate
    Smallest Flying Area: Living Room
    Length/Width: 29 1/2"
    Height: 5 1/2"
    Weight (w/o Battery) 12.8  oz.
    Power System: Four 5:1 Gear reduced 370 size motors
    Radio System (Included): Futaba Skysport 4 channel Radio
    Batteries Used: 3 cell 2100 mah Lithium-Polymer
    Flight Duration: 15-20 minutes
    Charger Used: Great Planes Triton as well as the supplied Lithium-Polymer battery charger.
    Sug. List Price: $749.00
     

    FEATURES

    ◊  4 channel genuine Futaba radio

    ◊  Lightweight carbon fiber frame

    ◊  Composite foam propellers

    ◊  CPU Control with built in dual conversion receiver

    ◊  Three on-board gyros for stabilization

    ◊  Fast charger for Lithium-Polymer flight pack and transmitter battery

    ◊  Tether cord for longer flights while learning

    ◊  Instructional video

    ◊  Optional Eyecam 2.4 GHz wireless color video


    ASSEMBLY


    What Comes With The Kit?

    I was amazed at how complete this kit was. It contains everything you need to get started right out of the box. The Draganflyer IV comes with a Futaba Skysport 4 channel transmitter complete with NiCds. It also contains a battery charger for both the transmitter and Lithium-Polymer flight pack.

    The field charger has outputs to charge both the flight pack and the transmitter battery it even allows you to charge both at the same time!). A tether cord is also included for use while learning how to fly without having to continually charge the battery. Also contained in the box are extra propellers, and an Allen wrench that is used in assembly.
     

    Transmitter, battery, charger,
    and microprocessor unit

    Blades, motors, and booms


    An information packet in the box included the instruction manual and a videocassette detailing setup and flying tips. As if opening up the box and suffering the anticipation of flying this unique machine isn't enough, take a few minutes to watch the video to see what the flight capabilities are in the hands of a trained pilot!
     

    Simple Assembly

    Assembly of this model is very easy and takes no time at all. From the time I opened the box to turning the unit on for the first time, took maybe an hour (and that included watching the video and reading the instructions).

    Motor is installed on the boom


    I began by inspecting the blades. The instructions suggest that you shape the leading edge of each blade, rounding them ever so slightly. I used fine grit sanding paper and only sanded the tops of the blades. In addition, I also tapered the trailing edges a bit. After talking with Draganfly Innovations, they informed me that this little step would help smooth out flight and extend the flying time. Editor's note: Draganfly has recently informed me that this step is no longer necessary as the factory hand shapes every rotor blade.
     

    The Booms Are Installed to the
    Center Hub

    Carbon Fiber Battery Tray


    Each boom comes pre-wired with the motors already installed. I simply attached each boom to the center pod, making sure that the motor shaft was perpendicular to the ground. The blades attach to each motor drive gear with 2 nylon screws. Be sure to refer to the instructions as there are 2 motors that used counter-clockwise blades and 2 that use clockwise blades.
     

    Controller installed on the mounts

    Close up of the controller. 
    Notice the LED's on the front
    of the unit.


    "How can I tell what direction is forward?", I remember thinking to myself. As the decals are applied to the blades, the "front" blade's decals are yellow while the other three are red. This makes it easier to see the "front" of the Draganflyer IV in flight.

    Next, I attached the included hook and loop fastener to the carbon fiber tray under the microprocessor board and to the battery pack. This is what holds the battery in place during flight.

    Lastly, I installed the canopy making it ready for flight.

     

     

    FLIGHT REPORT


    I had the most fun flying the Draganflyer IV outdoors when the wind was calm to a light 4-5 mph breeze. Flying outdoors gives you some extra room for mistakes while learning. Flying off grass also provides some cushion in case of a mishap or bad landing. Once I got used to the flight characteristics of the Draganflyer IV, I felt more comfortable trying to fly indoors. A gymnasium or indoor sports arena would be perfect venues for this great machine.
     

    Completed unit ready for flight!


    Flight Performance

    The Draganflyer IV is a real hoot to fly. The four 370 size motors provide plenty of power for this bird to climb rapidly. Horizontal flight can be exceptionally fast (30mph+) and it can be a little difficult to maintain orientation if you let this bird get too far from you. The yellow decals on the front blade as well as the LED's in the cockpit are very helpful in maintaining orientation.

    The controls on the Draganflyer IV perform much like a real helicopter with fore/aft and left/right cyclic on the right stick and left/right yaw and throttle on the left stick. The flight stability on the Draganflyer is awesome. With the 3 integrated gyros, it remains very stable in hover as well as in forward flight. In fact, this exceptional stability makes the Draganflyer great fun when flying indoors as well. I like to take off and land from various obstacles such as tables and chairs. I also had a lot of fun taking off and landing from the palm of my hand.
     

     

    POST-FLIGHT MAINTENANCE


    While there really is not much in the way of parts on the Draganflyer, I highly recommend performing a thorough inspection of the various fasteners throughout the machine. Even the smoothest running machines can loosen up nuts and bolts over time. Be sure to check that the plastic screws that attach the rotor blades are tight. Also, check to see that all for motors are perpendicular to the ground. Performing this simple check after each use will ensure that your Draganflyer will be in top shape for many future flights.

     

    Check the fasteners that hold the blades on as well as the motor and boom mounting bolts after every few flights.

     

    NEW LITHIUM POLYMER BATTERY


    Draganfly Innovations has just released a new Lithium Polymer battery pack for the Draganflyer. This battery has a capacity of 2100 mAh, as compared to the 600 mAh of the old NiCd pack, and it weighs 35% less than the NiCds. The new battery pack not only improves performance, but it will increase your flight time to around 15-20 minutes. Draganfly Innovations includes a special Lithium-Polymer charger for this pack.
     

    So Does it Make a Difference?

    You bet it does!  I noticed an unbelievable increase in performance with the Lithium Poly battery.    With this pack it is as if the unit doubled in horsepower.  It has the ability to blast out of sight in seconds.   It was awesome to see the Draganflyer scream across the sky in forward flight, almost too quick (But, can you ever be too quick?) A major improvement as compared to the Ni-Cad batteries.    Even with the added weight of the Eyecam, it did not seem to affect the performance of the Draganflyer with the lithium batteries. 

    Suddenly, I felt as though I was flying a completely different animal and the run times of 15+ minutes was just a bonus on top of the increased performance. 

    Of course there is always a downside, though this is not too upsetting.  With the extended run time on the lithium batteries, the motors run much hotter.  Therefore the folks at Draganfly recommend that you let the let the helicopter rest after 7-9 minutes of flight depending on how hard you push it.   A set of heatsinks have been engineered to help keep these motors cool.



    New Lithium Polymer Battery.  I used a Great Planes Triton Charger.  Draganfly includes their own fast charger for the Lithium-Polymer battery pack.

     

    DRAGANFLYER IV w/OPTIONAL EYECAM


    Another cool item that is available from Draganfly Innovations, is the Eyecam, full-color on-board video camera. (See the review in RCUniverse.com Magazine) A mounting bracket is supplied with the model as well as a power port on the circuit board. Once you master basic flight, the addition of the Eyecam adds a whole new dimension of fun to the model. Because of the excellent stability of the Draganflyer IV in flight, it is a perfect platform for taking video both indoors and outdoors.
     

    The Eyecam snaps right into the included camera mount! 
    Very Cool!

     

    SUMMARY


    If you are in the market for something out-of-the-ordinary, then the Draganflyer IV is for you.   A high-tech toy, if you will, that is sure to give you hours of enjoyment and turn the heads of curious onlookers.   If you want to step up the fun, add the optional Eyecam.  I reviewed this product last year and I must say it is, to date, one of the coolest R/C products I have seen yet.   Attach the camera to the Draganflyer IV and you now have the makings for aerial videography.   I have talked with people who have started businesses providing aerial photos of houses, land, buildings, etc with this cool device.    When was the last time you were able to make money with your R/C helicopter?  

    Call Draganfly Innovations for more information or visit their website at www.rctoys.com!


     

     





     

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    The comments, observations and conclusions made in this review are solely with respect to the particular item the editor reviewed and may not apply generally to similar products by the manufacturer. We cannot be responsible for any manufacturer defects in workmanship or other deficiencies in products like the one featured in the review.

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