LiteHawk QUATTRO SNAP Quadcopter Review @ ModSynergy.com
Drones have gained immense popularity worldwide, reflecting the exciting era we live in, where innovative technologies are readily available for us to enjoy. These unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are just one example of the many remarkable technologies accessible to regular citizens. Even large companies like Amazon and DHL utilize these aircraft for delivering goods, showcasing their widespread adoption.
However, it's important to note that the term "drone" has often been misused, encompassing a broad range of unmanned aircraft. At its core, a drone is a multi-rotor aircraft. While helicopters rely on a single motor, drones can incorporate multiple motors, making them more versatile and intricate. I consider them a hybrid blend of airplanes and helicopters, offering the best of both worlds. The most prevalent variant today is known as the Quadcopter, characterized by its four motors, hence the name (quad meaning four and copter referring to a type of aircraft). You've probably come across this type of drone, which has become a worldwide sensation in the RC (Radio Control) toy market, captivating both young and old with its incredible fun factor.
Now, when you think of drones, you likely imagine the high-end ones that cost over $1000, equipped with an onboard HD camera, and raising concerns about privacy laws. However, the focus of today's review is on something smaller yet equally thrilling. I will be sharing my experience with the LiteHawk QUATTRO SNAP Quadcopter, which stands out from the crowd by featuring an onboard video camera. This Quadcopter hails from a relatively young Canadian company called LiteHawk. So, without further ado, let's dive into my review of the LiteHawk QUATTRO SNAP Quadcopter as I share my thoughts, showcase the SNAP in action through captivating photos and videos, and provide an insight into my overall experience. Get ready for an exciting journey!
LiteHawk, a brand owned by Borgfeldt (Canada) Limited based in Markham, Ontario, first emerged in the spring of 2010 with the introduction of the original LiteHawk helicopter. Since then, the LiteHawk brand, designed by Canadians, has expanded to encompass a diverse range of over 45 radio-controlled boats, drones, traditional helicopters, airplanes, and vehicles.
One aspect that sets LiteHawk apart is its unwavering commitment to providing exceptional customer service. They prioritize delivering the very best support to their customers, ensuring easy access to replacement parts and offering a dedicated 1-800 number that connects product owners directly with knowledgeable technicians. With LiteHawk, not only do you experience an impressive "out of the box" play experience that will leave you saying "WOW," but you also have the peace of mind that comes with reliable customer support backing the brand.
LiteHawk products are readily available throughout North America. In Canada, you can find them at popular retailers such as The Source, Best Buy, Mastermind, Toys R Us, Tractor Supply Stores, as well as numerous independent toy shops across the country. For customers in the United States, LiteHawk products can be purchased at well-known establishments like Fry's Electronics, Bass Pro, Air Traffic Kites & Games, and other select retailers.
When it comes to providing quality products, outstanding customer service, and widespread availability, LiteHawk stands as a trusted choice for RC enthusiasts across North America.
More information can be found at: www.litehawk.ca
LiteHawk QUATTRO SNAP Quadcopter Description
SNAP an image, SNAP some video and have fun doing it too! Our newest quad comes fully featured with adjustable flight modes, fully digital stabilization and 2.4 GHz control! The unique clam-shell design protects internal electronics and motors! SNAP also comes with removable rotor guards and "high lift" landing gear, shown above. This protects SNAP when you are flying in tight spaces or when you are just learning.
LiteHawk QUATTRO SNAP Quadcopter Features
The LiteHawk QUATTRO SNAP Quadcopter comes packaged in an attractively designed corrugated box, showcasing LiteHawk's signature red and white color scheme. The front of the box features a clear window on the left-hand side, allowing a glimpse of the SNAP Quadcopter itself. Adjacent to this window, there is a photo of the SNAP highlighting its onboard camera, accompanied by a brief description that reads, "Built-in video camera so you can capture it all!" This clever presentation not only grabs attention but also provides a glimpse of the Quadcopter's capabilities.
Prominently displayed on the box are the LiteHawk logo and the model name, ensuring easy visibility when placed on store shelves. Those who have read my review of the LiteHawk QUATTRO NEON Quadcopter will notice that the SNAP shares the same design philosophy, featuring red color propellers and LED lights at the rear, while the front has white color propellers and LED lights. This thoughtful color scheme greatly aids in maintaining proper orientation while the Quadcopter is in flight. LiteHawk has made a logical choice in their design approach, setting an example for other manufacturers to follow. Imagine the difficulty in differentiating the front from the rear if everything was the same color!
The suggested age for operating the Quadcopter is 10 and over, as indicated by a circular symbol on the packaging. Another image on the box shows a USB cord, implying that the Quadcopter can be conveniently charged through any USB port. Quadcopters like the LiteHawk QUATTRO SNAP are equipped with digital stabilization, utilizing a 6-axis gyro and three accelerometers to control and maintain stability despite motor vibrations and external factors like wind. This feature ensures that even beginners can pick up the controller and fly with relative ease.
Flipping over to the back of the box, we are provided with a glimpse of the controller used for the SNAP. LiteHawk employs the 2.4GHz wireless band, which allows worry-free flying without concerns about frequencies or channels. It's worth noting that 2.4GHz is the same frequency commonly used by wireless internet routers and other devices, so there is a possibility of interference, although it typically shouldn't pose a significant issue.
Once again, we encounter a photo showcasing the SNAP's onboard video camera. The LiteHawk QUATTRO SNAP incorporates a Standard Definition video camera, delivering a resolution of 640x480. While it may not be an HD camera, it suffices for a device of this size. Further investigation reveals that the video camera utilizes the Motion JPEG Video codec (MJPG) and records at a frame rate of 30 fps. Video files are saved in the .AVI format, while audio is recorded in 16-bit Mono with a 22050Hz Sample rate.
Since the LiteHawk QUATTRO SNAP features an onboard video camera, the package includes a micro SD card and a USB card reader, generously provided by LiteHawk to facilitate a seamless setup process.
Upon opening the box, you will find the following items:
One notable aspect I appreciate about LiteHawk is that they include a full set of replacement propellers with the Quadcopter. This is a thoughtful addition that I believe should be included in every Quadcopter purchase. It ensures that users have spare propellers readily available in case of any accidents or wear and tear.
Furthermore, LiteHawk provides a metal propeller removal tool, which proves to be quite handy when the time comes to replace the propellers. This tool simplifies the process and ensures that users can easily and safely switch out the propellers when needed.
The included manual is written in both English and French, catering to a wider audience. It is well-designed, featuring clear and concise instructions accompanied by ample text and images. The manual serves as a valuable resource, enabling users to understand the intricacies of the Quadcopter and operate it with ease.
In the interest of full disclosure, it is worth mentioning that the first LiteHawk QUATTRO SNAP Quadcopter I received experienced premature failure. However, I was sent a replacement Quadcopter package, which had some notable differences in its contents. Firstly, the replacement package included a larger capacity micro SD card (1GB compared to the previous 512MB). Additionally, the micro SD card reader had a different appearance. Notably, upon reviewing the footage from the replacement Quadcopter, I observed a significant improvement in the onboard video camera module. The newer module, powered by a Generplus chipset, offered better video quality with improved color rendition, less dull-looking footage, and enhanced audio. It appears that at some point, the factory made a switch to a newer and superior camera module, resulting in an overall improved user experience.
LiteHawk QUATTRO SNAP Visual Overview
The LiteHawk QUATTRO SNAP Quadcopter has compact dimensions when measured diagonally from motor to motor, spanning approximately 4.88 inches or 12.4 cm. From side to side, it measures around 3.9 inches or 10 cm. When the removable propeller guards are attached, the distance from end to end measures just under 7 inches or 17.7 cm. In terms of weight, the Quadcopter weighs 49 grams in its flight-ready condition without the propeller guards, and 52 grams with the propeller guards attached. These measurements indicate that the QUATTRO SNAP is slightly smaller in overall size compared to the LiteHawk QUATTRO NEON, which I reviewed recently. Additionally, the SNAP is around 10-13 grams lighter, depending on whether you choose to fly with or without the removable propeller guards.
The LiteHawk QUATTRO SNAP Quadcopter features removable propeller guards that can easily snap on and off. However, personally, I prefer to fly without the propeller guards as it enhances the Quadcopter's agility and improves its recovery from 360-degree flips. I find the design of the propeller guards to be less appealing, mainly because they sit at a lower height than the propeller blades, which seems counterintuitive to me. In most scenarios, these propeller guards have limited effectiveness and are only useful in specific crash conditions.
During my initial flights with the propeller guards attached, I experienced two instances where the propellers broke upon impact. Interestingly, the propeller blades themselves remained flexible and undamaged, while the point of breakage occurred at the center of the shaft. In contrast, the integrated propeller guards on the LiteHawk QUATTRO NEON, which I previously reviewed, provided superior protection to the propellers in various situations. With the NEON's ring body design, I haven't encountered any broken propellers in nearly 50 flights, thus avoiding the need for replacement parts. This design is particularly suitable for beginners as it offers enhanced durability. Additionally, I believe the propeller guards on the SNAP may contribute to air turbulence and adversely affect the Quadcopter's recovery from 360-degree flips compared to flying without them.
Regarding the construction of the Quadcopter, the body is made entirely of plastic. It has a creamy white color and a slight degree of translucency, although not as pronounced as the QUATTRO NEON. The plastic used for the SNAP feels slightly sturdier compared to the NEON, which is a positive aspect in terms of durability and longevity.
The LiteHawk QUATTRO SNAP Quadcopter features LED lights that illuminate various parts of the drone. While not as vibrant as the dazzling light display of the QUATTRO NEON, the LED lights on the SNAP are still highly useful for nighttime flights. Similar to the NEON, the SNAP adopts a logical color scheme for improved orientation, resembling the appearance of a vehicle with white headlights at the front and red lights at the rear (like rear brake lights). This thoughtful design choice by LiteHawk greatly assists beginners in determining the Quadcopter's orientation, showcasing their smart approach.
To enhance orientation even further, LiteHawk incorporates colored propeller blades. The propellers in the front are white, while the ones in the rear are red. This additional visual cue greatly aids beginners in distinguishing the front from the rear. Just imagine the difficulty a beginner would face if everything was the same color and lacked any lights or visual indicators.
By combining LED lights, a smart color scheme, and colored propeller blades, LiteHawk has taken significant steps to make orientation easier for beginners, ensuring a more enjoyable and user-friendly flying experience.
In terms of style, the LiteHawk QUATTRO SNAP Quadcopter takes on a more conventional design compared to the futuristic racer appearance of the QUATTRO NEON. While the SNAP may not be as visually striking as the NEON, it still maintains an overall appealing aesthetic. The creamy white body shell, complemented by pure white and red propeller blades, adds subtle accents that contribute to the overall styling. Additionally, the plastic landing legs provide a touch of visual flair, enhancing the character of the SNAP.
The SNAP features a battery door located at the front of the Quadcopter's side profile. It incorporates a small locking mechanism that allows for easy access to the battery compartment. However, in practical use, I encountered difficulty in completely shutting the battery door due to insufficient space to accommodate the battery and wires. As a result, I had to fly without the battery door, which can be easily removed. Fortunately, this design flaw does not affect the performance of the Quadcopter. The bundle includes a replacement battery door in case of breakage, although I have not been able to utilize it due to the aforementioned issue. It appears to be a minor oversight in the design process.
The package includes a 3.7V Lithium Polymer battery with a capacity of 380mAh. Unlike the NEON's battery, the SNAP's battery does not specify a C charge/discharge rate. The battery bears a date stamp indicating its relatively recent production on April 22, 2015. The Quadcopter's battery utilizes a micro-T connector (also known as micro LOSI), which takes some time to get accustomed to during removal due to its secure connection.
Located at the bottom of the SNAP, beside the camera lens hump, is a convenient ON/OFF switch. I appreciate the inclusion of this feature, as some Quadcopters or drones lack a dedicated power switch, which I consider a drawback. It's always beneficial to have easy control over the power status. Furthermore, the SNAP is equipped with integrated landing legs instead of rubber landing feet found on the NEON.
2.4GHz Flight Controller Overview
The LiteHawk QUATTRO SNAP comes with an Xbox 360 gamepad style flight controller that operates on the 2.4GHz wireless band. However, compared to the flight controller that came with the QUATTRO NEON, the SNAP's controller is noticeably bulkier. This increased size can make it less comfortable to handle during flight. Unlike the NEON's controller, the SNAP's controller lacks a prominent recessed hump on the underside, which would have provided a better grip for fingers.
Additionally, the SNAP's flight controller features thumb pads instead of sticks, which were present in the NEON's controller. While some users may prefer sticks for flying, the thumb pads on the SNAP's controller are still manageable and function well. One notable advantage is that the controller comes with slip-on rubber thumb pads. Although they can be removed, leaving them on is recommended as they provide better grip. However, even with the rubber thumb pads, the surface can become somewhat slippery after extensive use. Nonetheless, they still offer significant assistance in maintaining control compared to using the controller without them.
I would like to note that the first LiteHawk QUATTRO SNAP I received had a slight issue with the left analog thumb pad. It would become semi-stuck or sticky when moved to the left. However, the replacement I received did not have this issue and operated smoothly in every direction. I thought it would be important to share this information.
The flight controller for the SNAP weighs 251 grams, making it heavier than the NEON flight controller, which weighs 170 grams (including the battery). It is constructed with hard and thick plastic, giving it a high-quality feel. The controller's plastic is noticeably stronger and more rigid than the plastic used for the Quadcopter itself, ensuring durability without any flex. The flight controller is operated using 4 AA batteries.
Upon testing the LiteHawk QUATTRO SNAP's flight controller, I noticed some notable differences compared to its counterpart, the NEON flight controller. The movement of the analog sticks provides satisfactory feedback, with both sticks offering equal amounts of spring-loaded tension. However, when using the thumb pads on the SNAP controller, I didn't feel that it offered a greater range of motion compared to the NEON controller. While it may not be as impressive as the NEON, the SNAP controller still performs adequately.
One aspect where the SNAP flight controller falls slightly short is its responsiveness to commands. It tends to ramp up quickly, resulting in a touchy throttle and sensitive reactions. This can make achieving a stable hover more challenging than necessary, requiring frequent corrections while in the air. In comparison, I found the QUATTRO NEON to be more forgiving in this regard.
Moving on to the design of the flight controller, there are some notable features worth mentioning. The top center power button, adorned with a power symbol, illuminates in red, indicating the controller's active state. During picture and video camera recording modes, it switches to a soothing blue glow. While these visual cues are helpful, I must admit that the SNAP flight controller seems to have a busier layout compared to the NEON. Some of the buttons are not logically placed in my opinion, which can be a bit confusing during operation. It would have been beneficial to have labeled buttons on a controller with such a wide array of functions.
Unfortunately, the SNAP flight controller lacks these labels, leaving users to memorize the various functions over time. To assist with understanding the controller layout, I've included a diagram showcasing all of its functions. This will help familiarize users with the button placements and functions, ensuring a smoother experience despite the lack of labeling.
Unlike the LiteHawk QUATTRO NEON, which offers three modes, the QUATTRO SNAP has two distinct modes: Standard and Sport. Switching between these modes is accompanied by audible beeps, with one beep indicating Standard Mode (50% response rate) and two beeps indicating Sport Mode (100% response rate).
Standard Mode is ideal for beginners as it provides a subdued and non-aggressive flying experience. This mode allows pilots to familiarize themselves with the controls and fly with stability, making it suitable for capturing steady video footage on the compact QUATTRO SNAP. The responsiveness of yaw, pitch, and rolls is gentle and controlled in Standard Mode, creating a slow and relaxing flying experience, particularly suitable for indoor flights. However, it's important to note that the SNAP is not designed to withstand windy conditions and should not be flown outdoors in winds exceeding 5 KM/H.
For more experienced pilots seeking a thrilling flying experience, Sport Mode unleashes the full potential of the QUATTRO SNAP, transforming it into an entirely different quadcopter. It's worth noting that the difference between the SNAP's Standard Mode and Sport Mode is significant, leaving a noticeable gap without an intermediate mode. In Sport Mode, the SNAP becomes incredibly agile, quick, and highly responsive. Yaw, pitch, and roll movements are proportional, allowing for impressive banked turns with tight turning radii. The SNAP exhibits a high level of agility and responsiveness, surpassing the capabilities of the NEON. The absence of delays in pitch and roll movements, combined with the quadcopter's small and agile build, contributes to a precise and exhilarating flying experience. Sport Mode challenges pilots to be more precise and ultimately improves their overall flying skills.
One distinction between the NEON and SNAP is the execution of 360-degree flips. With the NEON, a single press and release of the flip button, followed by selecting a direction, initiates a flip. However, the process is slightly different on the SNAP, which can be a bit confusing, considering consistency across LiteHawk products would be preferable. On the SNAP, users need to press and hold the flip button while selecting the desired flip direction using the right pitch and roll stick. Personally, I find the need to hold the flip button less convenient, especially when switching between the SNAP and NEON during consecutive flights.
Performing flips with the QUATTRO SNAP is an enjoyable experience, and it excels in this aspect compared to the NEON, primarily due to its lighter weight. The SNAP's flips are tighter and its recovery from flips is smoother than that of the NEON. It is advisable to give an extra burst of throttle before initiating a flip to counteract the quadcopter's weight, which may otherwise cause it to descend. When executed correctly, the LiteHawk QUATTRO SNAP delivers impressive flips that add excitement to your flying sessions.
How Does The LiteHawk QUATTRO SNAP Fly? What Are My Thoughts? See my flights!
LiteHawk's QUATTRO SNAP seems to struggle with its identity, as the disparity between its normal and sport modes is quite significant. It leaves me wondering what the true essence of the SNAP is meant to be. With its onboard camera, is it intended to be primarily a camera quadcopter? Or does its super aggressive sport mode define it as a high-performance flyer?
In normal mode, the SNAP's yaw, pitch, and roll movements are too slow for filming video outdoors. Even in moderate winds, it lacks the necessary power to combat the wind at such a leisurely pace. Switching to sport mode while filming introduces excessively fast panning due to the quick yaw response. Moreover, the SNAP's compact size contributes to shaky video footage that isn't suitable for quality use. The small body of the quadcopter struggles to capture steady footage, and in windy conditions, it may even get carried away. Ultimately, the onboard video camera of the SNAP feels more like a novelty than a practical feature. I believe the quadcopter is better suited as a sport flyer rather than a dedicated camera quadcopter.
The camera on the LiteHawk QUATTRO SNAP provides SD quality with a resolution of 640 x 480, which surprisingly yields better video quality than anticipated. However, the interpolated photos are not of great quality, although they may still be usable. It's worth noting that there appear to be two versions of the camera module for the QUATTRO SNAP in circulation. The first SNAP, which unfortunately died prematurely, had a camera module with dull colors and less clear video. In contrast, the replacement SNAP I received featured a better camera module, identified by the Generplus brand chipset mentioned in the video recordings. The camera records video in the .AVI format and offers decent audio quality.
One major drawback of the LiteHawk Quattro SNAP's video camera is its fixed lens and the perplexing decision to angle it downward. The camera is tilted downward by approximately 25-30 degrees, requiring you to fly the SNAP at a considerable height to capture the desired footage. This poses a challenge for beginners who may be hesitant to fly the quadcopter so high in the air, as it becomes difficult to spot and navigate. Additionally, the small body of the SNAP is susceptible to drifting away when caught in winds. I've personally experienced this issue, and while I managed to save the quadcopter from crashing, it was an alarming moment. Fortunately, the SNAP proved to be durable, with only minor scratches from the impact. Needless to say, I won't be attempting such flights again. The downward lens tilt is nonsensical to me; it would have been more logical for the lens to face forward, perhaps with a slight downward angle of around 5 degrees, rather than capturing excessive ground footage.
Returning to its flight performance, in my opinion, the LiteHawk Quattro SNAP is an excellent flyer. I would categorize it as both an indoor cruiser and an outdoor sport flyer, rather than a dedicated camera quadcopter. In normal mode, it is well-suited for beginners, offering a subdued and non-aggressive flying experience that allows pilots to grasp the basics of flight. This mode is particularly enjoyable for relaxed indoor flights. However, it's worth noting that the pitch and roll movements in this mode do not proportionally match the yaw speed.
As pilots gain more experience or seek a more thrilling experience, switching to Sport mode transforms the SNAP into a completely different quadcopter. The difference between Sport mode on the SNAP and the NEON is substantial. However, the absence of an intermediate mode between normal and sport modes leaves a noticeable gap. In Sport mode, the SNAP becomes incredibly agile, quick, and responsive. I found that it can handle outdoor flights in winds of up to 15 KM/H, based on my personal experience. The proportional relationship between yaw, pitch, and roll allows for impressive banked turns, as the quadcopter's quick movements result in a tight turning radius. The SNAP truly shines as an aggressive and sporty flyer in Sport mode, enabling maneuvers that are not possible with the NEON. Unlike the delay I experienced when stopping pitch and roll movements with the NEON due to its larger body, the SNAP exhibits no such delay in Sport mode. It's exceptionally agile and responsive to any input, demanding precise control. Overall, I believe flying the SNAP without the propeller guards yields the best performance in terms of flips, as the guards offer little benefit.
While the SNAP's LED lights may not surpass those of the QUATTRO NEON, they are still bright enough for nighttime flights. I particularly appreciate the see-through LED lenses underneath the body, which enhance its visual appeal.
Lastly, I have included a screen grab from a video recording showcasing the height I managed to reach with the LiteHawk Quattro SNAP before wind gusts caused it to drift away. The slanted angle of the photo is a result of the quadcopter being carried by the winds. Thankfully, I was able to save it by crashing it into a garage door. Additionally, I have attached four sample photos taken with the camera in RAW format.
Battery Test and Flight Times
The LiteHawk Quattro SNAP is equipped with a battery rated capacity of 380mAh. I conducted measurements using my USB Charger Doctor and found that the first unit I tested, which unfortunately died prematurely, charged up to 301mAh until reaching full capacity. However, the second replacement SNAP showed a slightly improved performance, with a measured charge of 346mAh until full.
During flight tests, I observed that the first unit provided a flight time of 5 minutes and 40 seconds before the low voltage warning kicked in, accompanied by flashing lights. It managed to stay airborne for an additional 31 seconds, reaching a total flight time of 6 minutes and 11 seconds, with the throttle stick positioned at its highest level. Throughout the flight, I maintained a stable hover with the flight throttle stick primarily centered.
In contrast, the new replacement SNAP demonstrated an extended flight time of 7 minutes and 52 seconds before the low voltage warning activated. It was able to stay airborne for an additional 22 seconds, resulting in a total flight time of 8 minutes and 14 seconds, with the throttle stick at its maximum position. Similar to the previous test, I maintained a steady hover with the throttle stick mostly centered throughout the flight.
Where Can I Buy One? And For How Much?
The LiteHawk QUATTRO SNAP Quadcopter is sold on Amazon, but the price is too high.
The good news is that you can still purchase the LiteHawk QUATTRO SNAP through other retailers for a better price.
Canadians can purchase the LiteHawk QUATTRO SNAP Quadcopter at Toys R US Canada for $67.47 CAD.
Americans can purchase the LiteHawk QUATTRO SNAP Quadcopter at Fry's Electronics for $69.99 USD.
Some Amazon Deals That May Interest You!
Despite encountering an unfortunate manufacturing issue with the first review sample of the LiteHawk Quattro SNAP, resulting in its premature failure after only 10 flights, I am pleased to report that the second replacement has been performing exceptionally well. With nearly 25 flights under its belt, I have yet to encounter any concerning signs or issues. While I may not consider the SNAP to be a top-notch camera Quadcopter, it truly excels as a great flyer overall. I would categorize it as a sporty flyer, especially when engaging its Sport mode, which enhances its agility and speed. Although the flight controller's chunky Xbox 360-like design may not be everyone's preference, it is still highly manageable and does not pose significant challenges. If you're in the market for a versatile Quadcopter that offers both indoor and outdoor flying capabilities, the LiteHawk Quattro SNAP is definitely worth considering. Based on my experience, I can confidently recommend it.