Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Phantom S107 Electric Gyro RC Helicopter

The Phantom S107 Electric Gyro Helicopter is one of the lightest, smallest, and cheapest coaxial gyro helicopters on the market right now and as a result it draws a lot of attention and is a massive seller. As you may know, gyro technology has pretty much reinvented the RC helicopter industry by allowing much more stable flight and making trim adjustment actually comprehensible for beginners. I remember my first time flying an RC helicopter when I was a teenager and….well it didn’t go so well.  In fact, it broke - pretty much immediately. It was impossible to fly and incredibly fragile, and not surprisingly I didn’t fly an RC helicopter again for quite some time after that day. My first time flying a gyro helicopter, however, was much less harrowing. With the addition of a gyro, trim adjustment becomes a small, simple task you must complete before you start whizzing all over the place with ease. Without a gyro trim adjustment is more like a constant frantic chore that must be taken care of to avoid massive, dramatic failure. This is because without a gyro the trim must continuously be readjusted to compensate for the battery losing power. So as you can see, especially for beginners, gyro helicopters are really where it’s at.

The Phantom S107 takes the gyro technology and puts it in a simple, lightweight helicopter that fits right in the palm of your hand. These micro helicopters are really fun because they generally have a shorter charging time (about 45 minutes for the Phantom), they are portable, and they are very fun to mess around with. You can take off from and land in your palm, do low flybys easily, and you can actually flip the blades around and fly the little guy upside down because of the gyro. Doing something like flipping the blades around is simple and requires only a small set of screwdrivers, the same single requirement for basically all parts replacements. Unlike with a $10 toy helicopter, the Phantom is hobby grade so all of the parts can be ordered easily and replaced in a matter of minutes. In my experience they are very hard to break though, and my particular Phantom has survived multiple crashes into ceilings, fifteen foot drops on to hard surfaces, and even getting its blade stuck in a light fixture and hanging there for about 10 minutes before being rescued. Through all this she still flies true so I’m confident in saying it’s a very durable little machine. The easiest part to break seems to be the rear rotor, because unlike the main rotors that are extremely flexible it’s made from hard plastic. The company has apparently realized this however, and they give you an extra one in the box which is a nice touch. 

The Phantom S107 features simple 3 channel controls and is very responsive. Literally anyone should be able to put the Phantom exactly where they want it after about 10 minutes flight time (which is about what you get on a single charge), even if they have never flown an RC helicopter before. The throttle stick that controls altitude is spring-loaded so it returns to zero when you aren’t putting pressure on it. Some people like these and others don’t, personally when I first started flying I found the spring-loaded ones to be easier so I think it was a good choice on this entry-level helicopter. If you end up not liking that it’s a fairly simple modification to remove the spring anyway. A lot of people have actually gotten quite creative with modding the Phantom, doing everything from more powerful batteries, body modifications for speed, and even extra LED lights. I think it just goes to show that even though it’s one of the cheapest coaxial helicopters you can get, the Phantom is still hobby grade and provides so many more possibilities than a toy helicopter. 

One of the really cool features the S107 has is its USB charger. You can actually just plug the thing in to your computer, which makes it perfect for causing havoc around the office during lunch hour. The plug has a handy red light so you know when it’s done charging as well. I love the decision to package the USB charger with this particular model, because it just makes it even more convenient and accessible. That is what the S107 is all about: accessibility, simplicity, and fun. You can give it to someone who has never flown an RC helicopter before and they will pick it up immediately. It isn’t frustrating at all and won’t be turning anybody off RC helicopters. But if you give it to even the most jaded RC pilot who’s used to eight hundred channel control and spends thousands of dollars on helicopters every year, I’ll bet they would still be hard pressed to not have a good time. 

All in all, the Phantom S107 is a steal.  For barely more than you would spend on a toy helicopter you get a legitimate coaxial RC helicopter. It won’t crash and burn, all the parts are replaceable, and you can customize it. I would recommend it to any beginner; I think the S107 is a great starting point for those who have never flown an RC helicopter before. Even if you aren’t a beginner though you should probably have one to chase your friends around the house with, or two to play “bumper helicopters”. For an incredibly affordable, no-nonsense, indoor micro helicopter, look no further than the Phantom S107. It’s fun, and we like fun.

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