RCU Review: Heli-Max 1Si


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    Contributed by: Laurent Caekebeke | Published: May 2014 | Views: 20896 | email icon Email this Article | PDFpdf icon
    RCUniverse.com Review of the Wings Maker DF032

    • The stability
    • The camera controllable from the radio


    • The "return to pilot" feature is not as robust as hoped

    When 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.

    The 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.

     




    The 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.


    The 1Si and all of its accessories are secured in place in clear thermoformed plastic.

    The kit is a true RTF, and includes everything to operate the quadcopter right out of the box:

    •     1Si quadcopter
    •     Transmitter (battery included)
    •     Battery and charger
    •     Propeller protections
    •     SD card and even the reader for a USB port!
    Manufacturer Information


    Price:

    1Si with camera: $140
    1Si without camera: $100



    Overview

    Among 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 videos, too!

    • Two versions ? with camera and without camer
    • Fly indoors or outdoors in light winds
    • Aerodynamic body shell helps stabilize the 1Si during hovering and forward flight
    • Internal components and motors are protected from hard landings and crashes by the 1Si's full-bodied design
    • Integrated LEDs allow for cool lighted flight.


    Specifications:

    • HMXE0830 ? RTF w/o Camera
    • HMXE0832 ? RTF w/Camera
    • Rotor Diameter: 2.2 in (56 mm)
    • Diagonal Dimension: 4.8 in (123 mm)
    • RTF Weight (w/o Camera): 1.5 oz (43 g)
    • RTF Weight (w Camera): 1.6 oz (46 g)
    • Both Require: Nothing




    The 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.








    With 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.


    The 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.


    The 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.


    For 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 again.
    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.














     

    The Heli-Max 1Si with Camera









    The 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 be.

    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.





    Pictures and videos were shot at:
    http://www.bayoucityflyers.com/

    Comments on RCU Review: Heli-Max 1Si

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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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