Syma X5C-1 Quadcopter

Drones!

In which Miles makes a hesitant foray into the world of drones.

You can view the full gallery of 9 photos below; to view them on imgur, click here.

My friend has gotten pretty heavily into drones, and I’ve enjoyed watching and flying them as well.  But it quickly became clear that the hobby presents endless opportunity to upgrade, i.e. spend more money, so I hesitated to get into it.  But then my friend offered me his used Syma X5C-1 quadcoter for $40NZ.  I took it for a test flight and was hooked.

Syma X5C-1 Quadcopter
Syma X5C-1 Quadcopter. With prop guards, which my drone friend and mentor calls training wheels, and also landing gear.
Syma X5C-1 Quadcopter
Syma X5C-1 Quadcopter. Prop guards and landing gear removed. The quadcopter is lighter, faster and more maneuverable without them.

My drone friend and mentor teaches a class at Auckland University, and was asked to start a regular meetup of drone enthusiasts.  I attended the first meeting.  It was a great opportunity to see a number of different drones in action.  The smaller ones were flown in the room in which we met, and later the others were flown in a larger classroom.  Other than my friend’s micro drones, they shouldn’t really be flown indoors.  We discussed meeting outside before the next meeting.

Drones brought to the Auckland University drone meetup
Drones brought to the Auckland University drone meetup
My friend's DIY drone
My friend’s DIY drone. He built this drone from parts ordered from China. He flies first person, using the view provided by the camera on top of the drone, viewed through the goggles he wears while flying.
(Without modifications, the Syma X5C-1 can only be flown line-of-sight)
ImmersionRC Vortex drone
ImmersionRC Vortex drone. This drone belongs to a drone racer ranked 5th in New Zealand.
Hexcopter, brand unknown
Hexcopter, brand unknown. The owner of this drone flies it FPV, but without goggles – although he really appreciated the benefits of googles after trying them at the meetup.
Quadcopter, brand unknown
Quadcopter, brand unknown

For a couple of weeks I would fly my Syma in the morning or early afternoon, then charge the batteries, and fly again just before sunset.  I’ve flown a lot at Rosedale Park North, a large sports park in Rosedale that has field hockey and baseball fields and a number of rugby and/or soccer fields.  There are a number of large open areas, and plentiful opportunity to fly with no people around.  I got good at flying line-of-sight, that is, simply watching the drone while working the controls.

Roseale Park North
Rosedale Park North. I have often flown just before, and sometimes after, sunset. Sometimes the wind drops off after the sun sets, and darkening skies makes it easier to see the lights on the drone, which help with navigation. These trees are loud with birds during sunset.

The first time I went out with my friend, he let his Syma X5C-1 get too high, the lights started flashing signaling that battery power was low, and the wind took it across the field, across the street, and somewhere behind the row of houses.  That was the last we saw of it.  Sadly, I lost my own Syma in a similar way one afternoon in Roseale Park North.  It got too high, and i wanted to cut power and simply let it drop, but it looked like it could be blown into a nearby wooded area.  I managed to steer it away from the woods, but the wind took it over the field hockey fields and far way from me as I tried in vain to lower the altitude.  I watched it eventually descend, but was unable to find it in spite of hours of searching.  Thus I returned to spectator status in the world of drones.  My friend is offering another of his used drones, but I haven’t decided if it is the way I want to go.

A drone pilot must be aware and considerate of people when flying, as people can have negative reactions to drones. Some animals take offense to it as well.

Magpie
Magpie

I’ll leave you with that cliffhanger, and my promise to fill you in on the details in a near-future post.

You can view the full gallery of 9 photos below; to view them on imgur, click here.

3 thoughts on “Drones!”

  1. hi Liz, thanks for the comment! Sorry it took me a couple days to see it.
    Unfortunately I don’t know if there’s a place that sells the Syma X5C-1 in Auckland. I’ve inquired with friends, and if I get any news I’ll let you know.
    Everyone I know buys their drones and all batteries, parts etc. from http://www.banggood.com. They’re in China, and it takes some time for orders to arrive, especially if the package includes batteries. But the prices are really good. I hope you enjoy your drone!

  2. hi again Liz.
    Someone just told me that they’ve seen some Syma X5C for sale on TradeMe. That might be more convenient than banggood, especially if you’re looking for a Christmas gift.
    cheers,
    Miles

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