RCU Review: Hobbico Estes Proto-Z

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    Contributed by: Joseph Vermillion | Published: November 2015 | Views: 10146 | email icon Email this Article | PDFpdf icon
    RCUniverse.com Review of the Estes Proto-Z Multi-Rotor
    Joe Vermillion

    Email Me

    Distributed by:

    2904 Research Rd.
    Champaign, IL. 61822


    "The Proto-Z is a Blast of micro-sized fun! It's the ultimate user-friendly drone- The fastest, easiset and most economical way to start enjoying multi-rotor flying!"

    The above is a direct quote from the Estes website discribing the Estes Proto-Z. Lets dig right into this little guy and see what it has to offer!

    • Ready to Fly - No Assembly
    • Two Flight Modes
    • Up to five Minutes of Flight Time per Charge
    • Auto Flip Mode
    • USB Charger Included
    • 2.4gHz Transmitter Included
    • Small and compact Perfect for indoor

    • Needs Trim buttons
    • Needs Larger Controller

    Skill Level:
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    Time Required to Build:
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    Name:Estes Proto-Z

    Price: $29.99 (Accurate at time of review)

    Weight: 0.59oz (17 g)
    Diagonal: 3.9" (100 mm)
    Radio Used: 2.4Ghz (Included, requires 2-"AAA" Batteries)
    Battery Used: Internal
    Channels Used: Elevator, Aileron, Throttle, Rudder, Auto Flip, Multiple Flight Modes

    Items Needed To Complete

    • USB Power Source for LiPo Charger

    • (2) "AAA" Batteries for Remote

    The Estes ProtoZ arrived in a full color well designed box that included the Proto-Z, Controller, Manual, USB Charger, and Extra Props. All the things I needed to get it in the air minus the (2) "AAA" batteries for the controller.

    To get the Proto-Z in the air all I needed to do was install the "AAA" batteries in the controller and charge it via the included USB charger cable. The controller on this one is a bit small but is a common size for a Multi-Rotor such as this. I think steps could be taken to make the controller a little bit larger so that it fits in the hand better. I was surprised to find out that this unit does not have the typical digital trim buttons on the controller. You are instructed to place the Proto-Z on a flat surface and go through a quick stick sequence that is laid out in the manual to perform a "sensor reset". I personally would rather see trim buttons to make flight adjustments in smaller increments. The Proto-Z also includes a "flip mode" function. Two buttons on the front of the remote control the flip direction. The right button performs a right flip and the left performs a left flip. This is a nice feature for a multi-rotor this size and it just looks cool too! By pushing and holding both the the flip mode buttons then you can enter the "True Direction" mode. In this mode the Proto-Z moves in the direction of the input given no matter what direction it is facing! This is a pretty nice feature for beginners. Whether you are in normal mode or "True Direction" mode, with its docile flight characteristics you should have no issues at all getting in the air quickly with the Proto-Z!

    To charge the Proto-Z all you need to do is plug in the included USB Charger cable into a USB port or a USB charger block. The red LED will be on when chargeing and off when fully charged.

    With the small size of the Proto-Z (just 100mm) it can be flown just about anywhere. And if you have any issues there is a complete set of spare props included.


    The Manual is easy to read and only a few pages long, so if you start charging it while you read, by the time you are finished you should be close to being able to get your Proto-Z in the air.

    What's Left To Do?

    The Proto-Z arrived ready to fly minus a few quick things. As will any new aircraft, the unit needed to be charged. The included USB charger can be plugged into an open USB port of any computer, or as a secondary option you can use a common USB charging block which comes with most new cell phones. Once plugged in the charger LED will indicate that its charging and turn off when the charge is complete. Put the (2) "AAA" batteries in the controler and you are ready to go.

    With its small size (100mm, 3.9") and stable flight the Estes Proto-Z can be flown just about any where. For me the first flights took place over my workbench in my shop. I was able to take off and fly the Proto-Z with little effort on my part. Once I engaged the throttle stick, the Proto-Z jumped into the air space above my workbench and flew around the shop with very stable caracteristics. Right off the bench she had very little drift in any direction. I really have to say I don't care so much for the fact that there are no trim buttons on the Controller. They have a sensor reset function that does an ok job of trimming the Proto-Z out but I feel with simple digital trim buttons you would have much more control of the flight regardless of the environment you happened to be flying in. That being said this thing is super stable and flies great!

    The Estes Proto-Z has two different flight modes to choose from. Normal mode is for those of us with experience flying multi-rotors and the stick movements will have the expected effect. Mode two or "True Direction" mode is for the beginer and the quad will move in the direction the stick is pushed regardless of its orientation. I can see where mode two would be very helpful for those that have never flown a quad before, but I would caution staying in this mode for very long though, because it may create bad habits as far as flying other multi-rotors without this function.

    After about five minutes of fun the Proto-Z's LED lights started blinking signaling to me that it was time to land. I brought her back around to the workbench lowered the throttle stick and watched as she set down ever so gently on the bench. For a muti-rotor of this size the five minute flight time was a nice surprise. Now all that was left to do was put her back on the charger and wait.

    With the Proto-Z back to a full charge, it was time to take to the air yet again! This time I wanted to make use of the "Auto-Flip" functions. So with her postioned about half way in the middle of the airspace my workshop provides, (about 8') I clicked the right Flip Button on the controller. The Proto-Z did a quick neat little right flip that took a whole lot less space to do then I was expecting, and recovered to upright and level flight. I then clicked the left flip controll button and got the same response. She did a neat little left flip and recovered.I was quite impressed with the small amount of space needed for these maneuvers. And it just looks cool!

    In almost five minutes exactly the Proto-Z's LED system once again let me know the fun was over. So we headed towards the hanger and landed easily on the workbench and powered down. What a great flying little Multi-rotor!

    Check out the video to see the Estes Proto-Z in action!

    With a few flights in the books and all the functions gone through, I do have to say that this little mulit-rotor is a lot of fun to fly. Its perfect for indoor flying and in low wind conditions is a blast outside. I did find out after a few flights that the unit I had gotten had a faulty controller board which sometimes happens in this hobby. I contacted Hobbico support and could not be happier with the way my claim was handled. After a short conversation with John in costumer support and after a short wait for backorder my new Proto-Z was on its way! I look forward to many many fun flights with this great flying little quad!

    Distributed by:

    2904 Research Rd.
    Champaign, IL. 61822


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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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