"return to pilot" feature is not as robust as hoped
looking at the numerous aircrafts of all sorts and
sizes being frequently introduced to the market,
the creativity of the quadcopter designers seems
endless. They compete on many different domains
including size, power, stability, aerobatic capability
and even navigation features. The Heli-Max 1Si Quadcopter
is a strong example of this ever-evolving environment,
by adding features previously seen on only larger-sized
quads, for instance the ?return to home?
function and the HD camera.
1Si is not short of impressive functionalities and
it is with excitement that I saw one delivered at
my door for review. The 1Si exists in two flavors:
with the camera or without. All versions of these
quads come with a remote control. The 1Si we are
testing today has the HD camera.
box will not surprise those accustomed to the brand. As
usual with Heli-Max, the package is nicely decorated and
strong enough to serve as a transportation box.
1Si and all of its accessories are secured in place in clear
kit is a true RTF, and includes everything to operate the
quadcopter right out of the box:
card and even the reader for a USB port!
1Si with camera: $140
1Si without camera: $100
all the R/C quadcopters now available, the ready-to-fly
1Si stands out as one-of-a-kind. It's the only
one that puts the "intelligent technology" of
quads costing six times more into a model that
fits in the palm of your hand.
This exclusive Heli-Max technology makes the
1Si the easiest compact quad to fly ?
and the most fun. Choose the version with built-in
camera and you can take in-flight photos and
versions ? with camera and without
indoors or outdoors in light winds
body shell helps stabilize the 1Si during
hovering and forward flight
components and motors are protected from
hard landings and crashes by the 1Si's full-bodied
LEDs allow for cool lighted flight.
? RTF w/o Camera
? RTF w/Camera
Diameter: 2.2 in (56 mm)
Dimension: 4.8 in (123 mm)
Weight (w/o Camera): 1.5 oz (43 g)
Weight (w Camera): 1.6 oz (46 g)
remote control provided with the kit plays an important role
in applying the iS1?s advanced functionalities. The
transmitter imbeds motion sensors that detect the relative
displacement of the pilot and accordingly adjust the "auto
return" and "actual direction control" functionalities.
the top section of the housing removed, we can see the internal
components. The single circuit board carries all components
from the receiver, the stabilization system and the motor
drive. The motors are brushless, so the drives are really
voltage regulators. Interestingly, the power harness for
each motor is also what powers the LED.
camera angle can be adjusted from being perfectly straight
to being oriented approximately 45 degrees down. The battery
connector is standard for Heli-Max, but be careful if you
try to connect third-party batteries, as the pins might
be reversed. The small piece of plastic that locks the battery
latch in place tends to break with time.
propeller protections are easy to install, and Heli-Max even provides
the screwdriver to do it. These protections are good for keeping the
propeller from hitting something, in the not-so-unlikely event where
the pilot flies too close to an object or a wall.
a quad of this size and weight, strong wings are out of the
question? at least until you truly get the hang of it!
The first few flights were done indoors, to truly get a feel
for the quad (and to entertainingly watch the dogs chase after
it thinking it was a giant insect). The 1Si is impressively
stable right out of the box, without needing to adjust the gain
or any other parameters. A few flights later, and the 1Si was
flying outside, in winds estimated to be around 5-10mph. The
plane handles the wind ok, but tends to drift, which is expected
for a machine of this size. The pilot has to actively compensate
for the drift. The flight experience is most agreeable to use
either indoors or outdoors on a very calm day.
The stabilization system has two modes: one is standard, and
the other is called ?braking?. The first mode is
what we are now used to for the control of a quad or an RC helicopter.
An action on a cyclic control (forward/backward, left/right)
gets the quad into a horizontal displacement, and the pilot
has to apply the opposite action to bring the quad to a stop
The brake mode does that automatically. To keep the quad into
a horizontal displacement, the pilot must maintain his action
on the control. As soon as the stick is centered, the 1Si stops.
This is a great functionality for learning how to control a
quad. I found the success rate for complete beginners to be
very high. The first thing that a new pilot must learn is to
adjust the throttle, and the brake mode on the 1Si is ideal
for that as it keeps the quad very steady, even if the pilot
applies an unwanted input.
The normal mode works as excepted. It stabilizes the quad by
smoothing the reaction to a wind gust or any other disturbances.
The gain can be adjusted from the remote.
I was eager to test the ?return-to-pilot? function,
and I did it right on the first flight! The manual explains
that the pilot has to click the ICM button rapidly and the quad
comes back to the remote. So I did? and surprisingly the
quad came rushing towards the wall, literally at 180 degrees
of the direction it should have headed! A quick troubleshooting,
and a more thorough read of the manual, and I understood that
the remote needed to be calibrated as well. This is actually
well explained in the manual and an oversight on my part. Heli-Max
also provides a video that
explains the process. The radio is calibrated through a series
of rotation on all axis, performed in the right order.
Once I calibrated the radio, the quad would come back towards
me when I clicked the ICM button, and this is a really neat
and impressive feature! The function works best when the quad
is at a distance, not just a few feet away. This comes handy
when flying outdoor and the pilot loses orientation on his quad.
Any action on the right stick cancels the previous action, so
it is better to get the thumb away to get the 1Si to complete
the sequence and arrive to the pilot. During these phases, the
1Si supposedly follows the orientation of the transmitter?
rotating the transmitter to one direction should make the quad
moves in that direction. I cannot confirm or deny this statement.
The quad seems effectively to move when the remote moves, but
the correlation is sometimes hard to see. After playing with
the return-to-pilot function a few times, I found that the actual
direction control worked better for me.
The actual direction control is a feature that goes against
all an experienced flier has learned: it makes the control of
the quad unbearably simple, even to a beginner! The principle
is simple, really: rather than forcing the pilot to imagine
himself in the aircraft to decide which direction is left or
right, the system infers the quad position against the pilot.
If the pilot requests a right displacement, the aircraft goes
to the right of the pilot, whatever the orientation of the quad.
Going forward goes away from the pilot, and going reverse, brings
the quad to the pilot. Simple I said! Now the implementation
of such a feature must have been anything but simple, and we
have to point out interesting engineering features when we see
some! This function makes moving the quad around very simple,
but it is not great for the camera and taking video, as the
quality of the video is better when the pilot/cameraman keeps
a good orientation of the lens.
The video is simply activated by the click of a button on the
radio, and stopped the same way. The video is good, especially
considering the size of the model. The pictures are taken in
a similar fashion, by pressing another switch.
Heli-Max 1Si with Camera
Heli-Max 1Si Quadcopter is packed with features that
make it a perfect beginner quad yet still fun for
experienced fliers. It has functionalities that will
make the first flights a breeze. The beginner pilot
can focus on one parameter at a time, and learn how
to control the aircraft better. The helpful features
such as the brake and the actual direction control
can be disabled as the skills evolve. Among the features,
we have to mention that the ?return-to-pilot?
does work, but it is not as robust as I hoped it would
The camera is icing on the cake, and it is a lot of
fun to see the house from all angles which would have
been otherwise impossible.
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.