Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Avatar Dragon Fighter Electric Gyro RC Helicopter

When the Avatar Dragon Fighter showed up on my desk I was quite excited. We have a lot of 3 channel gyro helicopters at Hobbytron in all kinds of sizes and I’ve flown most of them. But the Avatar Dragon Fighter is different, it’s special. It is the first ever gyro helicopter with 4 channel control. Get excited. Gyro technology is the new tech that is just redefining the RC helicopter world. For an explanation of how gyros work on RC helicopters you can check out the blog post on the PhantomS107, but essentially they make flying RC helicopters a lot easier. Especially for beginners, a gyro will save you all kinds of hassle when learning how to fly. But so far gyro helicopters have only been offered with 3 channel control. The Avatar Dragon Fighter is here to change all that. A helicopter with 3 channel control can go forward, backward, up down, rotate left, rotate right, and hover. A helicopter with 4 channel control can also strafe, meaning you can go left or right without first rotating in that direction. It may not sound like much but when doing aerial maneuvers it adds a lot of possibilities. It also adds a little bit more complication to the controls, so it will keep you busy longer. Online forums and other mediums of RC helicopter discussion generally suggest that people get a 4 channel helicopter for their first one. Now you can have your 4 channel controls, and still have the added stability of a gyro. And oh yeah, it fits in the palm of your hand.

First things first, this helicopter looks really cool. It has crazy science fiction-y stabilizing rotors on either side that look they belong on something built by Doc Brown. I think if this helicopter hit eighty-eight miles an hour we might see some serious…well anyway it looks really cool. In the box you get a USB charger, a replacement rear rotor, a replacement stabilizing rotor, and two replacement main rotor blades. That’s quite a goody bag, the USB chargers are incredibly convenient and don’t drain the remote’s batteries, and all the replacement blades and rotors should keep you going for a long time. The remote is pretty basic, takes 6 AA’s, and of course has a throttle stick that goes in all 4 directions for strafing. You can also switch it between 3 frequencies – a feature you don’t usually get with helicopters in this price range. The instruction manual says it takes over 40 minutes to charge, but I have to say mine only took about 25 minutes.

When you turn on the Avatar Dragon Fighter you might notice it has really cool LED lights. Basically all of the coaxial gyro helicopters at Hobbytron have LED lights but for some reason I really like where they put them on the Dragon Fighter. Mine were a really pleasing purple color as well, a nice change from the generally red & blue standard. It goes well with the sci-fi theme. The Avatar Dragon Fighter takes off and flies much like a standard 3 channel gyro helicopter, but has its own unique feel. It finds a nice balance between the robotic precision of the Phantom S107 and the more realistic flight of our larger gyro helicopters, like the Legend 9050. Everything works like it should and if you have flown a 3ch gyro helicopter before then you should have no problem with the Avatar Dragon Fighter.  If you are a complete beginner it is slightly harder to control than something like the Phantom or even the SkyAce 9099, but is by no means harrowing. It should only take a few flights for basically anybody to master the controls. The 4 channel aspect of this helicopter, namely the ability to be strafe, seems to be the reason for the stabilizing rotors. In fact I’m not sure they are even for stabilization, because they don’t seem to even spin during normal flight. When you push the throttle stick left or right to strafe, they start spinning and make it happen. It actually works very well, and they also make a cool whirring noise that sounds totally unique, easily distinguishable from the noise being put out by the main and rear rotors. The Avatar Dragon Fighter is really fun to fly, and the extra dimension added by the 4 channel controls should keep you busy for quite a while.

Of course the Avatar Dragon Fighter features the same durable construction as Hobbytron’s 3 channel gyro helicopters, with a lightweight metal frame and extremely flexible main rotor blades. Especially with the smaller helicopters like the Avatar Dragon Fighter, these guys are pretty indestructible. Over the last few days I’ve played with basically all of the new ones, and had my share of crashes, and they have all been completely fine. I did pretty well with the Avatar Dragon Fighter, but it did have a couple small run-ins with walls and ceilings, and is no worse for the wear. If you do break something, parts are easy to find and replace. 

The Avatar Dragon Fighter really is an incredible machine. Gyro tech and 4 channel control are amazing features by themselves, and now are finally brought together in one helicopter. It’s pretty amazing with how complicated gyros are that they can even put one on such a small helicopter, let alone with 4 channel control. I really like the micro helicopters because of how convenient they are, especially with the USB chargers. You can keep them in your office or wherever and goof around for 10 minutes whenever you want; it makes for great stress reduction. They cost basically nothing but can be as much fun as their larger, more complicated brethren. Now you can own a micro helicopter with the latest cutting edge technology for the price of a meal at Friday’s. And that, my friend, is a beautiful thing.

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