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I have previous experience with flying RC aeroplanes, which didn't quite go according to plan, you can check out the video in the post below.
Drones are advertised as being a lot more controllable, and I've watched some amazing footage from professional drone photographers and I was curious to try. I didn't want to spend a lot of money on something that I would probably crash or lose after the first couple of flights, nor did I want to spend a lot of money on something that could, in theory, just be a quick gimmick that would only entertain me for a few days.
Enter the Kaiser Baas Gamma Drone, a low cost drone with a 720P camera, decent range and a variety of features including smartphone control over WiFi.
Kaiser Baas Gamma Drone Features
- 720P HD camera with adjustable angles
- 80M Flying Range or 30M when using Live FPV function from your smartphone
- Headless Mode lets you fly forwards from your position no matter the orientation of your drone
- Experience flying from the driverâ€™s seat with Live FPV via WiFi from your smartphone
- Altitude Hold helps your drone stay in the air even when you let go of the throttle
- Detachable Obstacle Avoidance module means you can fly safely without hitting large obstacles
Kaiser Baas Gamma Drone Unboxing
The box is very light. I suppose a drone would have to be very light to fly using just four tiny motors, I was just surprised at how light it was. The drone itself only weighs 120g so it is very light, something which would cause me problems later on.
Also in the box are the camera module, hazard avoidance module, remote control, rotor guards, spare rotors, battery and charger. Those go straight into the USB plug.
While the battery and handset are charging (2 hour charge time) I read the small leaflet on getting started and how to fly. According to the book its as easy as moving the little joysticks up, down, left and right.
First Flight of the Gamma Drone
Eventually, the battery is charged and ready to go so I connect all the modules, turn on the drone and handset, pair the radio controller and off we go! Pressing the Launch button starts the rotors spinning and a tap on the throttle sends the drone up into the air, bouncing off the ceiling and into the bookcase and back onto the floor. Upsidedown. At least I'm not duck taping it together like the RC plane.
The second flight was more successful, a GENTLE tap on the throttle was much more controllable and I was able to hover for a split second, however, the drone quickly went out of control, hit the table, ricochet off the chair and onto the floor.
After a few more attempts, it seemed to me like the controller needed some trimming to maintain any kind of stability. After making a few adjustments it seemed a little better, then the batteries died.
2 hours later the batteries are fully charged and I quickly pair the devices, calibrate the gyros and take off. Only the trim I applied before was not saved. A few minutes setting the trim again and I was able to take off, hover, rotate and the battery died again.
Long story short, the battery does not last long. Around 5 minutes in total. And it takes 2 hours to charge. This could get frustrating.
Heading to the Great Outdoors
After a few days of getting used to the controls indoors, I decided it was time to take the drone to the park and play in a more open space. With charged batteries and a smartphone power bank, I head out for a quick flight. The weather was good, slight breeze, sunny and warm. Perfect flying conditions.
I'm now much quicker linking the units, calibrating and applying a bit of trim so I can get airborne in just a few seconds. Being outdoors I'm able to fly much higher, so I go a full 5 feet off the ground! And for some reason, the drone decides to flip upside down and power itself into the ground. A few more tries and I can hover and move around a little, but the controls are really not easy to work out.
Pushing the right stick up makes the drone go forward, but when the drone is up in the air, spinning, which way is the drone facing? Right becomes left, up becomes down, then it spins a bit more and the controls are reversed again.
I tried some more trim but the batteries died. After plugging the charger in, going for a walk around the park and enjoying some of the Sun I try again with some trim. Better but still not very controllable, and there is now a slight breeze which is pushing the drone off course into the next field, with the curious cows.
Back home I do some research on drone flight and how to control these things and discover that there is another flight mode. Whilst I have been flying relative to the drone (up on the controller is always moving the drone forward in the direction the camera faces, regardless of which way the drone is actually facing). The other mode is relative to me, so then I push up on the controller and the drone moves away from me, back on the controller moves the drone towards me, regardless of which way the drone is actually flying.
With this now sussed, the flight is a lot easier. I head out again for a much more controlled flight, zipping around the park. I then took the drone up a little higher, only to get caught in a light breeze. This was more than the drone could handle as it was quickly taken away. I ran to catch it up but somehow the controller lost connection and I had no flight control. I watched as the drone flew off over the tree and into the next field. Luckily the battery decided to run out, so the drone dropped out of the sky and was recoverable, but that was too close a call for me.
Thoughts on the Gamma Drone
I always keep two things in mind - you get what you pay for, and this is a cheap entry level drone. I wasn't expecting GPS control, fancy programmable flight paths or anything like that but I was expecting to be able to fly it with a lot more control than I have been getting.
The quoted range of 80m for the controller seems to be a lot less than that given that the wifi range is 30m. When I lost control I still have the video recording (see below) yet the controller had no effect on the drone, not even the emergency rotor stop button.
The drone is too light to fly in anything above a light breeze, ideally, you need a perfectly still day as the tiny motors just don't have the power to fly against a breeze. You need to be very light with the controls, and it does not respond quickly to input. It's more like flying a hovercraft.
Apparently, a good drone can hover in place with no input while youâ€™re trying to get your bearings, but the Gamma Drone wouldnâ€™t sit still for me. It always wanted to go this way or that, spin or just fall to the ground.
Having reviewed the video footage, the quality is poor and wobbles around something chronic. Some of the videos recorded had corrupt files which could not be opened. The camera is adjustable to look down and up, however, there are only three preset locations and it jolts each time you change it. Still captures are not great either.
Overall opinion, if you want a bit of fun down the park, then the Kaiser Baas Gamma drone could be the answer, but for anything other than this you probably need a larger drone. It's too large to fly indoors, and not powerful enough to fly outdoors in a breeze.