LiteHawk QUATTRO NEON Quadcopter Review @ ModSynergy.com
The word drone has become a popular one worldwide. We live in an exciting generation where innovative technologies such as these are available to us to use. These unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) are just one of the many technologies that we as regular citizens can enjoy. We even have examples of large companies such as Amazon and DHL using these types of aircraft to deliver goods.
The word drone is quite a general term that has been misused. Drones down to its basic form are multi-rotor aircraft. Just as helicopters utilize a single motor, drones in the same way can utilizes as many motors as its design calls for and therefore makes them more flexible and complex. I call them a hybrid combination of airplane and helicopter giving the best of both worlds. The most popular form today is called the Quadcopter (quad meaning four, copter meaning a type of aircraft). You've probably heard of the craze that is the Quadcopter, they are a worldwide sensation in the RC (Radio Control) toy market and unbelievably fun for the young and old.
You've likely heard of the one that costs over $1000 and carrying a camera that has created all the commotion regarding privacy laws. That's not exactly the one you'll be reading about today though, something more smaller and unbelievably fun is what I will share with you today. You might even want to purchase and experience one for yourself, or your children, this coming 2015 Christmas Holiday season.
I'll be reviewing my first ever Quadcopter from a relatively young Canadian company called LiteHawk. Today the LiteHawk QUATTRO NEON Quadcopter gets reviewed by ModSynergy! Find out what I think and see the NEON in action with photos and videos of my experience. Let's get this review started!
The LiteHawk brand is owned by Borgfeldt (Canada) Limited of Markham, Ontario. It originated in the spring of 2010 with the original LiteHawk helicopter. Today the LiteHawk brand (designed by Canadians) includes over 45 radio controlled boats, drones, traditional helicopters, airplanes and vehicles.
LiteHawk prides itself on the very best customer service by providing easy access to replacement parts and a 1-800 number to enable the LiteHawk product owner to talk to a technician. The LiteHawk difference is out the box the product produces a WOW play experience and if support is needed LiteHawk has the service to back up the brand.
LiteHawk products are available North America wide.
Canadian shops include: The Source, Best Buy, Mastermind, Toys R Us, Tractor Supply Stores and independent toy shops across Canada.
USA shops include: Fry’s Electronics, Bass Pro, Air Traffic Kites & Games
More information can be found at: www.litehawk.ca
LiteHawk QUATTRO NEON Quadcopter Description
NEON is stunning! Just look at it! Unique two-piece design houses all the electronics, mechanicals and LED lighting systems in a sturdy structure. Even the rotor blades are protected! The LED's are enclosed in the rotor guards so NEON looks like nothing else available - the lights are very, very bright allowing you to easily see NEON day or night.
LiteHawk QUATTRO NEON Quadcopter Features
LiteHawk packages the QUATTRO NEON Quadcopter in a really nicely designed and colorful corrugated box. Up front we see LiteHawk's signature red and white color scheme all throughout the NEON Quadcopter which is shown through a window and boy oh boy does it look pretty futuristic like an UFO . LiteHawk QUATTRO NEON is a ready to fly package meaning it comes with Quadcopter and transmitter (controller) and is factory assembled so no customer assembly is needed. Just take it out of the box and fly.
The LiteHawk logo and model name are the biggest graphics on the box and we're told that the NEON is designed for ultimate aerobatic performance. We see an exaggerated image of the NEON leaving behind a trail of light which means the LiteHawk QUATTRO NEON comes with LED's that emit through the body of the Quadcopter. LiteHawk tells me that they've designed it to resemble how a vehicle has white headlights up front and red brake lights in the rear, this is to help orientation when in the air. Further assistance for better orientation is the propeller blades, again white in the front and red in the back of the Quadcopter. LiteHawk's done the most logical thing out there to help beginners and anyone orientate this in the air with their integrated LED light system and colored propellers, I can only imagine how difficult it would be differentiating front and rear if everything was one color.
The suggested age for operation is ages 10 and over. A circular symbol mentions that the Quadcopter is 4 channels, which pretty much all Quadcopters support as these move in every direction, throttle and yaw (up/down) on the left stick, and pitch and roll (left/right) on the right stick of the controller. We're also shown a picture of a USB cord which suggests that this can be charged through any USB port. Quadcopters like the LiteHawk QUATTRO NEON comes with digital stabilization through the use of a 6-axis gyro which in turn uses 3 accelerometers to control and maintain its orientation and stability despite vibrations of the motors and outdoor element like the wind, trying to throw it off. This helps ensure that anyone can pick up the controller and fly with relative ease.
Turning over to the back of the box reveals what the controller looks like for the NEON and that it uses the 2.4GHz wireless band to let you fly, in LiteHawk's mind, without any worries of frequencies or channels. Ironically though 2.4GHz is the same frequency that most people use on their wireless internet routers and other wireless devices, so there is a possibility of interference though usually it shouldn't be an issue. The box ends off by telling us that a Lithium rechargeable battery is included in the box.
Opening the box we find the following items:
I really like the fact that LiteHawk bundles replacement propellers with the Quadcopter, this is something that should be included in every Quadcopter purchase. The funny thing is that there's six replacement propellers in the bundle which is an odd number considering the four motors. I don't know if this was a mistake, maybe they were supposed to give just one set of replacement, or did they intend for two sets, but regardless more is always good to have.
The included manual is written in English and French and is very clear and easy to understand with plenty of text and images to help the flyer understand the ins and outs of the Quadcopter.
LiteHawk QUATTRO NEON Visual Overview
Measuring diagonally from end to end the QUATTRO NEON measures 7 inches or 17.7cm. Side to side it measures 5.6 inches or 14.4 cm. In flight condition the NEON tips in at a weighty 62 grams.
In terms of construction, the body is fully plastic and is translucent to a small degree. The first time I touched the plastic, it felt really toy grade, a little cheap to be honest as it was creaking and making some noises when handling it. Out of the box I did see a few spots around the Quadcopter that had separated, the two piece body came undone around one of the rings which exposed the LED, the front face had a small opening, these I had to pinch and close and it clicked shut, I thought this was interesting to note.
The whole upper shell is coated with a smooth feeling soft touch type of rubberized plastic which I found very interesting and despite the initial cheap feel I experienced, the NEON has held up beautifully well in ceiling hits, general impact, and hard crashes, so call me very impressed. The ring design does a superb job protecting the propellers with ease. Hits to the wall, hits to the ceiling, hard impact crashes, everything that I've done in twelve days I've had it has never resulted in a broken propeller or broken Quadcopter, the ring design is just fantastic especially for a beginner as myself and the NEON just takes a beating and keeps on working. The bottom side shell has more of a glossy translucent appearance.
The LED lights inside illuminate through and are a visual blast at night time let me tell you! LiteHawk tells me that they've designed it to resemble how a normal vehicle operates. So white headlights up front and red brake lights in the rear, this is to help orientation when in the air. Orientation of a Quadcopter can be tricky for a beginner. Further assistance for better orientation is the use of colored propeller blades, again white in the front and red in the back. LiteHawk's thought this through logically and it really helps to orientate this in the air, add in the bright LED light system and colored propellers, it's a perfect match and works beautifully. Imagine how difficult it would be differentiating front and rear if everything was one color and if there were no lights.
Styling wise I genuinely love this design because it reminds me of the old video game I played when I was much younger on the original Sony Playstation called Wipeout. It lines up perfectly with the theme of the video game. It's got this futuristic race car UFO-ish style to it along with the bright red accents on the body and propellers surrounded by rings. The design and use of this much plastic throughout does end up creating a compromise in terms of speed and battery life of the Quadcopter. The LiteHawk QUATTRO NEON ends up tipping the scales at 62 grams. More weight to anything means its slower than it potentially could have been and in turn affects flight time.
The LED lights also draw power from the battery and takes away flight time. These are all compromises to the design of the NEON, but in the end for a beginner, I feel the compromises are certainly worth it. The QUATTRO NEON is an overall smooth flyer and while the weight does show through in flight characteristics, it's still a bundle of joy to fly with quite speedy pitch and roll (side to side, forward to back) speed.
The bottom of the Quadcopter houses the battery door which is a little difficult to open at first, however, the best way to open is to use a finger nail and slide out until you hear a click in one direction and do the same for the opposite direction, where then the battery door will swing open to allow you access to the battery chamber. A 3.7V Lithium Polymer battery is included, its rated at 500mAh capacity with a 30C charge/discharge rate. A date stamp on the battery indicates that the battery was made on April 30, 2015 so it's still relatively recent. The Quadcopter battery uses a micro-T connector (also known as micro LOSI) which takes some getting used to when removing as the connector maintains a secure connection.
At the bottom of the battery door is where an ON/OFF switch is present and is always welcome on such an application, some Quadcopters don't have a power switch and it's a drawback in my eyes not to have one. Lastly, we find four rubber feet at the bottom of the motor pods which is to prevent damage and vibration, and to absorb some impact when landing. These do a great job. One of the rubber feet was placed off center from the rest, however, this is a small thing which poses no disadvantage.
2.4GHz Flight Controller Overview
A gamepad style flight controller comes with the LiteHawk QUATTRO NEON and uses the 2.4GHz wireless band. This flight controller is something I've come to really like because it allows the user the fly the QUATTRO NEON with ease and without much struggle. The best flight controllers are ones that allow you to focus on flying and not focusing on fighting with the flight controller. When you have a badly designed flight controller, it takes away from the overall experience of the product. Thankfully this is a really nicely designed one that is very comfortable in the hands and executes maneuvers with ease. In addition this flight controller weighs 170 grams making it relatively lightweight and isn't tiring to hold. Construction wise it is made of hard and thick plastic making it feel high quality. The controller plastic is stronger than the Quadcopter plastic by far, it's just really solid and has no flex. I love that underneath the flight controller has a recessed area where your middle, ring, and pinky finger will rest and wrap around. This flight controller is operated by 4 AAA batteries.
The flight controller has analog sticks that stick out higher making it useful for both thumb flyers and pinch flyers (thumb and index fingers) to use. I like how the tips have cuts in them to make for grip, allowing thumb flyers to use it without fearing of slippage, while pinch flyers have grips on the inside of the stick. The movement of the sticks are excellent offering equal amounts of spring loaded tension on both sticks and the flight controller feels like it has more range of motion to work with making it very linear and very progressive in the way the command slowly ramps up over how far you move the analog sticks. This makes for more precision flights and means the QUATTRO NEON doesn't suffer from touchy throttle or sensitive reactions, an example of why this is good is hovering, good flight controllers like this one allows you to find the sweet spot for a good hover where you can essentially take your hands off the flight stick and not have to do much correction.
The center power button lights up with a red LED light that also illuminates the upper rings.
Logically placed beside the analog sticks are four buttons which control the respective trims of the Quadcopter. I would have liked these to be ideally labeled, however, since they are so logically placed there's really no need.
The left analog stick is the throttle and yaw stick. The right analog stick is the pitch and roll stick.
At the bottom of the throttle stick is the left/right rotation trim if you find the Quadcopter is turning direction on its own left or right. Press once and more times in to correct so it stays centered.
At the left of the pitch and roll stick is the forward/backward pitch trim if you find the Quadcopter is going forward or backwards on its down. Press once and more times in to correct so it stays centered. Or you may purposely trim full forward to fight against strong wind and vice versa.
At the bottom of the pitch and roll stick is the roll trim. If you find the Quadcopter is moving sideways or rolling to a certain side on its own, press once or more times in either direction to make it centered.
The top left L1 button is the speed switch for Standard and Sport Modes. The LiteHawk QUATTRO NEON supports 3 modes differentiated by audible beeps when this button is pushed down. Press once and you will hear one beep meaning Standard Mode (50% response rate), press again and you hear two beeps meaning Sport Mode 2 (75% response rate), and press a third time and you hear three beeps meaning Sport Mode 2 (100% response rate). Obviously the higher mode you are in the faster everything will feel, especially the pitch and roll ability as you'll see the degree of tilt when performing pitch and roll maneuver is far greater in each of the higher modes. The YAW rate or how fast the Quadcopter will spin on its own does increase with each mode, but not nearly at the level of how much the pitch and roll speed changes (pretty speedy pitch and rolls), the YAW rate remains leisurely even at the highest setting so not quite as sporty as it could be.
The top right R1 button is the 360 degree flip mode button. This is so much fun to see in action. Simply push once the flip button and select whatever direction on the pitch and roll stick (right analog stick) you want to flip, the Quadcopter will flip on its own. I recommend to give an extra punch of throttle while entering your flip or else the weight of the Quadcopter will force it to descend quite rapidly. If done correctly, the LiteHawk QUATTRO performs really good flips considering its size.
How Does The LiteHawk QUATTRO NEON Fly? What Are My Thoughts? See my flights!
The LiteHawk QUATTRO NEON flies absolutely fantastic in my opinion, it's a dream to fly at night with extremely bright LED's and even a beginner as I can pick up the flight controller and be in total control of what I'm trying to achieve with just a few practices. It's the complete package that the QUATTRO NEON provides that adds up to having a great flight experience. It does just about everything at a high level and has enough pitch and roll speed to make it exciting. Pitch and roll speed especially in the highest sport mode is pretty speedy and you can see fair amount of tilt from the Quadcopter when it zooms by.
Not only that, it has that fierce sound in flight and funky robotic noise it makes when performing yaw or spins. The only real drawback is the yaw rate or the speed in which it can spin in circles, even at the highest rate it remains at a leisurely pace. For a beginner though, this is a good thing so that you can't lose it in flight, but for those intermediate and expert flyers, they probably want something much faster. For beginners and novices, I think the yaw rate can suffice.
One of the best attributes the NEON has, especially for beginners to learn on, is toughness. Honestly the first time I touched the NEON it did feel like a cheap toy and the fact that I had to pinch shut some parts where the plastic body came undone reinforces that feeling. But it's completely proved me wrong in that it's survived all of my numerous crashes inside my home and outside with direct full speed crashes to the asphalt road.
The design has made it feel like it's got the protection of a tank. The compromise is that it has that tank like characteristic in flight as its carrying a whole 62 gram payload, for example in performing the 360 degree flips you need extra throttle before the flip or else the Quadcopter will descend to the ground. But if you give it extra throttle before the flip, recovery is greatly increased and the flips are quite clean and compact. In addition, when performing pitch and roll and with how speedy and tilted it can get in the highest sport mode, you have to anticipate when it'll come to a stop because all that weight means it cannot stop on a dime. It's the analogy of a vehicle trying to stop on black ice for example, a lighter car will stop sooner than a heavier car.
The NEON LED lights have got to be the best attribute for this Quadcopter. I keep on mentioning how bright they are, but I don't think my words describe how extremely bright they really get. Its best to look at the photo gallery and flight videos to get an idea of how fantastic these are. LiteHawk logically decided to not only mimic a vehicle having white headlights up front and red brake lights in the rear, they also decided to place the same colored propellers for those bright flying days which the lights aren't really visible. It's these small things that add up and make for a great flying experience.
Battery Test and Flight Times
Where Can I Buy One? And For How Much?
Unfortunately, the LiteHawk QUATTRO NEON Quadcopter is not sold on Amazon.
The good news is that you can still purchase the LiteHawk QUATTRO NEON through other retailers.
Canadians can purchase the LiteHawk QUATTRO NEON Quadcopter at Best Buy Canada for $79.99 CAD.
Americans can purchase the LiteHawk QUATTRO NEON Quadcopter at Fry's Electronics for $59.99 USD.
Some Amazon Deals That May Interest You!
I've come away mightily impressed with the LiteHawk QUATTRO NEON Quadcopter. Yes it has shortcomings, but they do not detract away from what an absolute joy the NEON is to fly in daylight and especially in the night time. Honestly the NEON doesn't really have or do anything glaringly wrong.
Shortcomings are a meager YAW rate, even at the fastest third mode, the spin speed on the NEON is still leisurely. It could be much faster, especially for the higher modes which would have made it even more fun than it already is. Another shortcoming is related to its design, a compromise of toughness comes at the expense of weight, and the NEON ends up showcasing this weight when in flight. The NEON tips in at 62 grams and it shows because while this Quadcopter is a smooth and stable flyer, it's not exactly a sports car with cat like reflexes. For example, when coming to a stop when performing pitch and roll, which by the way is quite speedy, it takes a while to come to a stop and fly the other direction, this is all due to weight and therefore it requires some anticipation on the flyers part to judge when it will stop it else you might bump into something.
But in the end, I think this is a compromise that I can fully accept because the advantage is now a body that is as tough as a tank. I've crashed many times and had some really hard impact crashes at full pitch and roll speed toward asphalt roads and LiteHawk QUATTRO NEON always comes out unscathed! I've not broken any propellers or any body part in my hard testing over the span of 13 straight days. Surely I thought this would break at some of my crashes, however, it just doesn't know when to die.
The NEON judged as a complete package is just fantastic. From its design which protects its propellers, its body which I thought felt cheap, but proved me wrong with how tough it really is, to its staggering LED lights that are super bright, to the logical color coded orientation, to its smooth and stable flight characteristics with speedy pitch and roll speed, it's fun 360 degree flips with good recovery, to the robotic and screaming swarm of bees sound like that of a Formula 1 race car, to the whirling sound it makes when spinning, to its solid and very comfortable 2.4GHz transmitter/controller, to the over 6 minute flight times, to its bundle with more than a set of extra propellers, the LiteHawk QUATTRO NEON executes everything at a high level. All of this combined for the LiteHawk QUATTRO NEON Quadcopter makes for a highly satisfying experience.
I've completely fell in love with the LiteHawk QUATTRO NEON Quadcopter and can easily and highly recommend it to anyone starting out in this hobby, even to those who have greater experience than I have. It makes not only the young happy, but it can make older guys feel young again, bravo LiteHawk!