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Ares Ethos Unboxing

Two more players enter the field of the quadcopter market: the Ares Advantage Series Ethos FPV and Ethos HD from the Firelands Group. Both of these quadcopters are identical aircraft wise, but the camera setups are different. The Ethos FPV comes with a full First-Person View setup including viewscreen and transmitter/receiver system. The Ethos HD has no FPV capabilities but carries an 1080p video camera to record and take pictures with. Check out the FPV and HD galleries below, and look for a full combo review of these two in the coming weeks!

Here is the FPV:

More pictures, including the HD quad pictures after the break, hit the READ ME..
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IRCHA Pilots Flying (3)

Now, I may not be a cybernetic organism, and you won’t hear me say ‘Resistance is Futile’ all THAT often, but there reaches a point in every RC helicopter pilot’s evolution where the BIG step is made: going for collective pitch aircraft and starting the path towards complete 3D control of their aircraft. An email crossed my desk from a reader (Thanks, Glen!)  looking for my take on this very step and wanted to know what options can be found on the market and what factors make a good helicopter for such an endeavor. You can see my recommendations as well as some general advice/information about collective pitch helicopters after the jump.

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Simplecopter mini tricopter  (16)

Hey guys, 3DBill here with another fun multirotor kit to review!  This year the mini quad class really exploded but this isn’t another quad from the average consumer hobby brand: it’s the Simplecopter Mini Tricopter. See my setup as well as my impressions of this small class aircraft after the jump…

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Ares Advantage Optim 80

Hot off of the delivery truck, aka Brian’s car, is the newest endeavor in a collective pitch (full 3D Capable) helicopter from Ares Advantage of the Firelands Group: the Optim 80 CP. I am excited to review this Ready to Fly helicopter and test my flight skills on this new design and stabilization system. The full review will be ready in the coming weeks, but for now enjoy the unboxing!

For more Firelands Group news on BigSquidRC, Click Here.

photoAnother week, another fun installment of Raging Rotors! Granted I’m not bringing atomic batteries to power, but I have a project that I have been working on since IRCHA this past August. As I mentioned, I did acquire a SAB Heli Division Goblin 570 helicopter kit and have been diligently working on it in my free time. I have to say, it has been one heck of an experience so far.

Here are a couple of things I’ve learned as well as some advice for all you new kit builders or aspiring heli-builders:

  • Goblin seems to be doing it right. I have only built this one kit, but from observing other brands of helicopter kits and repairing a few helicopters at work, SAB Helidivision really has the right idea in the design department. The motor mount and primary transmission system for the main and tail rotor system is on a single aluminum mount. In event of major crash, replacing a frame piece is just a matter of a dozen or so screws, thats it. That earns major engineering points in my book.
  • Do your research. Picking a helicopter kit is like picking a car, every model has its pros and cons. Some brands may have brittle main gears, where others may not have as readily found parts at your local hobby shop, and others may not have manuals with part numbers or listings. When you find the right kit, you will know it. For those of you looking for a kit helicopter, here are a few brands to take a look at: SAB Heli Division, Align, Mikado, Blade, Gaui, and Futaba. NOTE: This is not an exhaustive list, and my list does NOT mean that those brands are the best; it is just a list.
  • Know your resources. Always have something else besides the internet and your manual to bounce questions at when deciding on a kit, electronics, and building questions. So check your local hobby shop, ask if they know anyone, and feel free to stop by the local flying field and ask, too! I consider myself pretty lucky to have such a great knowledge base here in the midwest. Not only did I have a representative from Team SAB to throw questions at, but a coworker, and my fellow flying club members to talk through a lot of things. A HUGE THANKS to my fellow SAC (Suburban Aeroclub of Chicago) members Ed Henschel and Mike Zubik, my coworker Tony, and Team SAB’s Mike Linko for putting up with me during this whole process (I think I asked hundreds of questions between them all, and they’re still going…).

I will be doing a full ‘summary post’ about the Goblin 570 build as well as expenses, components, etc in the near future, so stay tuned for that. Brian gave me a pile of stuff to unbox and review, and I’m hoping that will get me a shiny and new 180CFX since I got all excited with last week’s reveal. The guys around the office were close to killing me because I have been acting like a kid who pinky-swore not to tell Mom about the broken vase, because I have been holding on to some of those pictures and video for weeks with explicit instructions to say nothing.

I am still accepting emails for this month’s Ask Hot Sauce! The post will go up later in the month, and the best entry will get an ESTES ProtoX for their question, as well as 15 minutes of internet fame! Send all your questions to kevin (at) bigsquidrc (dot) com with your questions and you may just make the cut!

Don’t forget the 10th Anniversary Bash this Sunday!!! Details can be found Right Here, and I cannot wait! I will be in attendance and will be driving my heart out (-gasp- Yes I do own a surface vehicle!). Until next time, Stay Shiny and Keep Flyin’!

Kodo Unboxing

The quadcopters from Dromida just keep coming, and just off the truck and on the shelves of local hobby shops is the Kodo, a new flipping, camera touting, bug-looking quadcopter. This quad can flip, take pictures and video, and can be picked up for only $60. I know we gave at least one away at iHobby, but now I get my own to mess around with for a bit. The review will be on its way in a couple of weeks, but for now here are some pictures from the unboxing.

BLH3450_a1

Right on the heels of the PicoQX, Blade Helicopters from Horizon Hobby adds a new member to their team: Castle Creations! Featuring a specially designed Talon ESC, Blade has taken the design of the 300 CFX and the size of the 130X to create the all new collective pitch (3D stunt) 180 CFX helicopter. I got to see a prototype fly in September, and I cannot wait for Horizon to get mine here so I can give her a spin! Check out the details as well as very special, previously undisclosed pictures and video from my trip to Horizon after the jump!

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Dromida in Flight (3)

The quadcopter market, as I mentioned earlier, is continuing to grow. I can’t help but note my surprise when Dromida announced they were expanding from 1/18  scale RC cars to joining the multirotor world. Enter the Ominus, a brushed 238mm sized quadcopter with full stabilization and flip capabilities. Is it as tough as the box says? Will it survive the Tomato Treatment? See the full review after the jump…

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Hot-Sauce2-iHobby-2014 Hello all! First of all, iHobby was surely entertaining, and I had a great time bashing with the crew as one of two pilots representing BSRC. Those Dromida Ominus (or is it Omini?) sure took a beating, especially with Cubby behind the controls. Side note: apparently I shall hereby be called Kevin Hot Sauce. Please forward all questions to Tim, as I have absolutely no idea where that came from.

Okay, I am now on point, and I can’t help but get really confused by the decisions on some of the major quadcopter manufacturers. I have two major names developing multiple quadcopters around the same price, same size, and with about the same features. I now count not 1, not 2, but three different nano-micro quads (i.e. ProtoX) on the shelf of my LHS with more on the way (another 3 so far, totalling 6).

Yes, this may sound partially redundant compared to my ‘rant’ a while back, but this situation is insane in my opinion. Yes, the Estes ProtoX has proven that nano-micro quadcopters are fun and can be enjoyed by all, but what good is it to start throwing them in the ‘overseas photocopier’ when there original has solidified itself in the market share? A clone or two I can understand between all the major brands and/or companies, but this has gotten out of control. I appreciate trying to continue to perfect  this style of multirotor, but I cannot help but think that this endeavor by so many companies is just (from a business perspective) throwing good money after bad.

In other news, there will be some unboxings and reviews coming down the pipe from Ares RC via Firelands, as I got my hands on some new quadcopters and a helicopter. I hope to find a way to review how effective SAFE is on RC aircraft and how it helps train beginner pilots (read: me). Feel free to contact me with any questions (kevin [at] website) , and maybe I can do some Ask Hot Sauce for everyone.

Until next time, Stay Shiny and Keep Flyin’!

So it is iHobby week, and Cubby has already covered his reasons why you should be going to Schaumburg, Illinois this weekend. I promise not to be a broken record, but Wait, there’s more!

Last year’s iHobby was my first time attending; both as a patron and as a hobby shop employee. I am hoping this year is just as good as last year, if not better, and here are some reasons why:

You get to meet some of the ‘little guys’. Besides seeing some local hobby shops selling their wares, there are other small businesses/manufacturers as well. I met the guys over at Rigidbot/Invent-a-part and saw first hand what 3D Printing can do for the hobby industry, which is why my shop now has two of them (plus I did a little begging with the boss).

Oh, so THAT’s how it works! I can’t wait to be a part of the BSRC shows this year, but that is the tip of the iceberg in demonstrations. Last year, Horizon Hobby showed us AVC for the first time, Empire Hobby continued to show how much Gaui and DJI can really show the best of the RC air industry, and KillerBodyRC showed us how to transform an XO-1 into a beautiful Corvette. “The proof is in the pudding,” and demonstrations are what makes me really get a feel for the best and brightest in the RC world.

“We, the People” I never will walk away from a good conversation, and the best part of iHobby to me is the people. The manufacturers, the store employees/owners visiting iHobby with me, the distributors: they all were a great group of people to meet, talk shop, and just enjoy the company of other hobby lovers from all over the country the world. Technically, iHobby was pretty much the first day I was doing anything for the guys at BigSquid, so this year would make it a milestone for me as well.

I cannot wait for this Friday for my first day at the show, and to be doing what I do best (sell and show off) to everyone all weekend. Don’t hesitate to stop me and say hi, get my autograph, or just shake my hand because if you want to talk I’ll make you go deaf :-)

I also cannot wait for the 10th Anniversary Bash this October 19th. Details can be found right here, and I will see you there!

Until next time, Stay Shiny and Keep Flyin’!

sparked_cirque

There have been some pretty good (and not so great) Cirque du Soleil productions, but if they could come up with an hour and a half of quadcopter and other RC interactions happening on stage, live, I would be first in line. This sort of test interaction video was called SPARKED. There is a MAKING OF that you can see here, that has a lot of behind the scenes stuff they tried and tested that didn’t make it into the video.

The action starts around 1:30 in, so feel free to skip ahead.

Very cool stuff! The future of entertainment may be changing.

Looking for a Cirque du Soleil show? Hit the link. Looking for more videos posted on BigSquidRC? Hit This Link.

Leap 3D Quad

Trailing my build of the Invertix400, our friends at HRP have announced the details on the soon-to-ship Leap 3D Quadcopter. This quad is an almost ready to fly (ARF) and features an auto stabilization for all quad orientations (since it can sustain inverted flight), as well as a bail-out feature for beginner 3D pilots.

Other features include:

*Powerful 3D fixed pitch quad-copter utilizing bi-directional brushless motors.
*Bail-out, self-leveling function enables easy learning for beginners and allows experienced pilots to challenge their skills.
*Multiple receiver compatibility: S.Bus, X.Bus, DSM2, DSMX, and DSMJ(partially not compatible).
*Precise CNC carbon fiber machining with strict quality control.
*Flight control system engineered for extreme 3D maneuvers as well as stable flight.
*Powerful bi-directional brushless motors and specially designed ESC enables lightening fast directional changes required for extreme 3D acrobatic flight.
*Simple, robust design with low parts count allows easy maintenance and repair.
*Portable for easy transportation.
*Compatible with wide range of lithium polymer battery selections.
*Aerial photography and FPV capable with additional equipment (not included).

Specifications:

*Model: Fixed pitch 3D quad-copter with bi-directional motors.
*Blades: 8-inch high-strength polymer fixed pitch blades X 4
*Motor: 1400kV X4
*ESC: 25 Amp X4
*Span: 450mm
*Flight Controller: Six-Axis Advance gyro. 3D programming, auto leveling, bail-out function.
*Weight (w/o receiver and battery): 580-620 grams.
*Battery:  7.4V – 14.8V (2S – 4S). 2200-2600 mAh. (not included)
*Receiver: S.Bus, X.Bus, DSM2, DSMX, and DSMJ. (not included)

The quad is priced to sell at $430 and will be shipping in the future. More details can be found on Leap’s  website Right Here.

For more quadcopter news on BigSquidRC, click here.

SAC Heli Fun Fly 2014 (6)

In this installment of Raging Rotors, I cannot help but take a look at the dilemma starting to plague hobby shop owners nationwide, including mine: market saturation.

The multirotor market has exploded, providing customers numerous options for aircraft at every size level. The other side of that explosion is that many shops have to pick and choose what goes on to their shelves to maximize space, profit, and provide the best experience to their customers due to the overwhelming amount of options for them to choose from.

Let’s get specific, starting with the nano-micro class of quadcopters. The hobby world started with just one: Estes ProtoX. There now also is the Ares Ethos PQ, the new HobbyZone Faze, and other ‘clones’ that can be ordered all over the internet.

In 350-450 size quadcopters, there’s the DJI Phantom, Blade 350QXWalkera has announced one, Align has stepped into the ringas well as Thunder Tiger, just to name the BIG names throwing their hats into the ring. That doesn’t include any of the dozens of kit frames available in that size class! Retailing minimally at $500 retail and (so far) reaching as high as $1400, it would be hard for any shop to carry ALL of those quadcopters, much less the back stock of batteries, props, and other consumable parts that each aircraft may require.

So how do hobby shops choose? In many cases, they will carry brands with good engineering pedigree (i.e. “I’ve had a great experience working with -insert company- products, so I will stick with them”), price per unit, margin of profit, besides listening to what customers have to say or what they are asking for.

The point I’d like to make in this is to trust your local hobby shop. They have the inventory they have because they are looking to give you the best bang for your buck while also providing a means of keeping the hobby world alive and kicking. I can say that there are around a dozen of just multirotors I have flown or owned just to make sure that they are the best the market has to offer at prices that won’t leave you feeling emptier than your wallet. Don’t see the item you were looking for? Do not hesitate to ask about it, as your LHS will likely be able to get what you are looking for or at least be able to talk to you about it better than a webpage can.

In other news, I’m stoked to be a part of iHobby this year. I will be popping in and out of the BigSquidRC booth as well as selling products at multiple vendor booths. If you run into me feel free to wave, high five, or say hello!

Until next time, Stay Shiny and Keep Flyin’!