MJX Bugs 3 Brushless Quadcopter Drone Review @ ModSynergy.com
The term "drone" has gained popularity worldwide, but the mainstream adoption of drones is still in its early stages. However, this is expected to change rapidly in the coming year, particularly in 2017. Just last year, it was reported that the US FAA official predicted the sale of up to one million drones during the 2015 Christmas season in North America alone. One can only imagine how many more drones will be sold during the approaching 2016 holiday season. The drone market is on the verge of explosive growth, and it is fascinating to witness the unfolding of this untapped market.
According to a report by The NPD Group on May 25, 2016, drone sales in the USA had grown by 224 percent compared to the previous year, reaching approximately $200 million. This statistic only reflects drone sales in the USA, indicating that the drone market is far from slowing down and will continue its momentum into 2017.
I recall numerous posts on Twitter, Vine, and Instagram after the Christmas of 2015, where many people who received drones as gifts found themselves in amusing predicaments. Drones were getting stuck in their hair, entangled in trees or buildings, and people were overwhelmed by the complexity of operating them. It was humorous to observe their reactions to these chaotic situations. One of the main issues with new drone owners is their failure to read instructions and their tendency to attempt complex maneuvers without prior flight experience. When starting out, it is essential to begin with small movements and master basic skills such as hovering and maneuvering within a confined space.
We are living in an exciting era where innovative technologies like drones are accessible to everyday consumers. The technology behind drones continues to advance, and we are already witnessing their adaptation in various industries, including agriculture. In 2017, we can anticipate more autonomous flight capabilities and drones equipped with advanced sensors that we haven't seen before. As the industry evolves, consumers will benefit from improved technology and eventually see a decrease in prices as the market becomes more saturated. Currently, the average price of a drone is around $550, according to The NPD Group.
It is important to note that the term "drone" is often misused and has become a general term. In its basic form, a drone refers to a multi-rotor aircraft. Similar to helicopters, drones can have as many motors as the manufacturer desires, making them flexible and complex. I consider drones to be a hybrid combination of an airplane and a helicopter, offering the best of both worlds. The most popular type of drone today is the quadcopter, which features four motors.
In this review, I will be focusing on a premium toy-grade quadcopter from the Chinese company MEIJIAXIN TOYS CO., LIMITED, commonly known as MJX. MJX has been at the forefront of introducing affordable quadcopter drones to consumers since the early days. Today, I have the opportunity to introduce their first-ever brushless quadcopter drone called the Bugs 3. All previous quadcopters produced by MJX were equipped with brushed motors, making Bugs 3 their first foray into the premium brushless quadcopter market. With more powerful brushless motors, Bugs 3 is positioned as a versatile quadcopter that can be both sporty and capable of carrying a GoPro camera. The best part is that the MJX Bugs 3 brushless quadcopter drone can be purchased for under $125 USD, making it an affordable option.
Continue reading to discover how the MJX Bugs 3 performs in action and whether it is worth considering for this holiday season!
"MJX" is one of the main professional manufacturers in the R/C radio control model industry. The faith of “dream” is the motive power behind company’s growth, MJX is always committed itself to development of “ Toys and hobby”, which target is to bring incredible , new entertainment experience to the consumers all over the world. With the spirit of “Innovation & Quality” and the mission to create “Passion and Happiness” for the blue planet, MJX is always devoting itself to develop, produce and sell the most reliable and safest toys & models. From radio control cars to radio control helicopters & multicopters, every product is well-designed and with innovative technology applied. Consumers could enjoy the feeling of passion, happy and safe that MJX R/C technology brings."
MJX Bugs 3 Brushless Quadcopter Specifications
MJX presents the Bugs 3 brushless quadcopter in a visually appealing white and red corrugated box. The box features a convenient carrying handle, making it easy to transport. The box design is simple but effective, with large photos of the Bugs 3 on both the front and rear, accompanied by the model name and a graphic character design. Even without taking the drone out of the box, it is evident that the Bugs 3 has a unique and attractive appearance.
The MJX Bugs 3 brushless quadcopter comes as a ready-to-fly (RTF) package, which means it includes both the quadcopter and flight controller. Everything needed to get the Bugs 3 in the air is included in the box. The drone is 99% pre-assembled at the factory, requiring minimal customer assembly. In fact, if desired, the Bugs 3 can be flown straight out of the box without any assembly. MJX offers the versatility of flying the drone with a shorter landing gear and no camera mount, or adding longer landing gear and a GoPro-style action camera mount. Depending on the chosen configuration, the weight differences will be noticeable during flight. Flying the Bugs 3 out of the box is as simple as taking it out of the box, inserting the battery in the drone, inserting AA batteries in the flight controller, and taking off.
I would personally advise against beginners purchasing a brushless quadcopter as their very first drone. Brushless quadcopters are powerful, and if not handled carefully, things can go wrong quickly. Ideally, beginners should start with a smaller form factor quadcopter, such as a mini or micro size, to learn the basics of manual flying without the assistance of altitude hold or GPS. It is important to become proficient in flying and orientation without relying on assistance features to become a skilled drone pilot. Ultimately, the decision of whether the Bugs 3 should be a beginner's quadcopter is up to the individual.
In my previous reviews of LiteHawk quadcopters, I mentioned their implementation of using red color propellers and rear lights, and white color propellers and front lights, to aid in orientation while in the air. This setup is similar to how vehicles have red tail lights and white headlights. While this feature is beneficial for beginners, it is worth noting that the MJX Bugs 3, as mentioned earlier, should not be considered a beginner's quadcopter. The Bugs 3 has all black propellers but different pairs of lights to distinguish the front (white) and rear (blue) orientations. Additionally, the physical shape of the Bugs 3 and the front LED headlight serve as unique features to help determine its direction in the air. Furthermore, if the action camera mount frame is attached, it will provide additional assistance in determining the Bugs 3's direction. The target audience of the Bugs 3 should have no trouble with orientation.
The box indicates that the suggested age for operating the Bugs 3 is 14 years and older. This is due to its larger size as a 310mm class quadcopter and its powerful brushless motors.
The box also showcases upgradeable parts on the other side. MJX plans to release these parts for the Bugs 3, including a 1080p action camera designed for the included camera mount frame holder. In the future, there will also be a 360-degree panoramic camera, a WiFi 5.8GHz camera, a 5.8GHz 4.3" FPV LCD display, a 5.8GHz 7" FPV LCD display, and MJX's own VR goggles, which consist of the 7" FPV LCD display and the VR goggles themselves. Although the exact release dates for these parts are not specified, they will be made available over time, allowing the Bugs 3 platform to expand and provide more options for users.
The box highlights four main features of the MJX Bugs 3 brushless quadcopter:
1. Action Camera Mount: The Bugs 3 is equipped with an action camera mount that is claimed to be compatible with various action cameras, including those from GoPro, Xiaomi, SJ CAM, and others. The performance and compatibility of this feature will be evaluated later on.
2. Independent ESC (Electronic Speed Controller): The Bugs 3 utilizes independent ESCs, which are commonly used in brushless motor setups. These ESCs convert signals from the flight controller and relay the information to the brushless motors, controlling their speed. MJX claims to have incorporated optional features into their ESC, such as built-in automatic lock protection and high-temperature lock protection, to prevent ESC burnout.
3. 2.4GHz Two Way Communication: Like many other quadcopters on the market, the Bugs 3 operates on the 2.4GHz frequency, which allows for uninterrupted use without interference from other signals. However, what sets it apart is the inclusion of a weak signal and low voltage remote control alarm. These alarms, triggered through the flight controller, provide audible alerts when the Bugs 3 is experiencing a weak signal or when the battery is running low. This feature is unique among toy-grade quadcopters and simplifies monitoring during flight.
4. Brushless Motors: The Bugs 3 is equipped with powerful brushless motors, distinguishing it from the majority of toy-grade quadcopters that use brushed motors. MJX specifies the use of MT1806 1800kv brushless motors, which are both powerful and efficient while remaining affordable. The Bugs 3 is capable of lifting a payload of up to 230 grams, allowing for the attachment of an action camera without straining the motors. Compared to brushed motors, brushless motors offer increased power, better longevity, and can handle heavier payloads without issues.
The Bugs 3 quadcopter encompasses several high-tech features commonly associated with quadcopters. These include:
1. 4 Channels: Bugs 3 operates on a 4-channel system, allowing for precise control over its movement in various directions.
2. 6-Axis Digital Stabilization: This quadcopter utilizes 6-axis digital stabilization, which relies on three accelerometers to control and maintain its orientation and three accelerometers to ensure stability despite external factors such as motor vibrations and wind. This feature helps to provide a stable and controlled flight experience, making it accessible for users of different skill levels.
3. 360-Degree Flips: Bugs 3 is capable of performing 360-degree flips in four directions with a simple button press and a nudge of the directional stick. This feature adds a fun element to the flying experience.
4. 2.4GHz Digital RF Spectrum: Bugs 3 operates on the 2.4GHz digital RF spectrum, offering a claimed range of 300-500 meters. However, it's important to note that spotting the drone at such distances can be challenging without FPV (First Person View) capabilities.
While Bugs 3 incorporates many advanced features, it is considered a manual quadcopter and does not include additional functionalities such as altitude hold, GPS, headless mode, return to home, or one-touch ascend/descend. This makes it a suitable choice for those who prefer a more hands-on and manual flying experience.
When unboxing Bugs 3, you'll find a generous bundle of items. The sturdy corrugated box designed by MJX provides excellent protection for the quadcopter and its components during shipping, thanks to the thick Styrofoam packaging. This ensures that the quadcopter arrives without any damage, even when shipped internationally.
The MJX Bugs 3 bundle includes a variety of items to enhance your flying experience.
Here's what you'll find inside:
1. Bugs 3 Drone: The main component of the bundle is the Bugs 3 quadcopter itself, which comes pre-assembled and ready to fly.
2. Flight Controller: The flight controller is included, which is responsible for controlling the quadcopter's flight and stability.
3. Propeller Guards: Four propeller guards are provided to help protect the propellers and prevent damage during flights.
4. Propellers: A total of eight propellers are included, with four of them serving as spare replacements. This ensures that you have spare propellers on hand in case of any accidents or crashes.
5. Propeller Changer Tool: A propeller changer tool is included to assist in the removal and installation of the propellers.
6. Screwdriver: A small screwdriver is included to aid in the installation of the taller landing gear if you decide to mount an action camera.
7. Landing Gear: Four landing gear pieces are included, allowing you to choose between shorter landing gear or taller landing gear for mounting an action camera.
8. Action Camera Mount: The bundle also includes an action camera mount, providing the option to attach a compatible action camera such as those from GoPro, Xiaomi, SJ CAM, and others.
9. Battery Charger: A charger is provided for the included 7.4v 1800mAh lithium-polymer battery. The charger connects to the battery's balance leads and features LED indicators to show the charging status (red for charging, green for complete). However, it's worth noting that the charger is relatively slow, operating at 500mA, so upgrading to a faster charger might be preferable for more efficient charging.
10. Battery: The bundle includes a 7.4v 1800mAh lithium-polymer battery, which powers the quadcopter and provides flight time.
11. User's Manual: A user's manual is included to provide guidance on setup, operation, and maintenance of the Bugs 3 quadcopter.
12. Bugs 3 Character Stickers: MJX includes Bugs 3 character stickers for customization and personalization of the quadcopter.
It's worth considering that while the charger and included components offer a good starting point, enthusiasts may eventually choose to upgrade certain accessories like the charger for faster charging or consider purchasing additional batteries for extended flight time and reduced downtime between flights.
MJX Bugs 3 Brushless Visual Overview
Here are the measurements for the MJX Bugs 3 quadcopter in different configurations:
1. Without Propeller Guards:
Diagonally from motor to motor: 310 mm or 12 inches or 31 cm
Side to side, motor to motor: 220 mm or 8.66 inches or 22 cm
2. With Propeller Guards:
Diagonally from motor to motor: 210 mm or 8.26 inches or 21 cm
Side to side, motor to motor: 444.5 mm or 17.5 inches or 44.5 cm
In terms of ground clearance:
With tall landing gear: Approximately 101.6 mm or 4.0 inches or 10.16 cm
With short landing gear: Approximately 35.56 mm or 1.4 inches or 3.56 cm
These measurements give you an idea of the size and dimensions of the MJX Bugs 3 quadcopter in different configurations.
Weight Per Configuration:
The propeller guards of the MJX Bugs 3 quadcopter are well designed and provide effective protection for the propellers. They are easy to install by overlapping them on top of the short landing gears and tightening the screws. While flying with propeller guards, it's important to be cautious around trees to avoid them getting caught on branches.
The construction of the Bugs 3 body is of high quality, with a matte finish and no defects or gaps. MJX uses a pure nylon fiber material for the main body, which offers both flexibility and strength upon impact. The packaging also ensures that the body and arms are well protected during transport. MJX has designed the Bugs 3 to have a stable flight by positioning everything inside the drone to maintain a centered center of gravity.
The fit and finish of the Bugs 3 quadcopter are excellent, contributing to its overall quality. Additionally, the quadcopter comes with extra Bugs 3 character stickers, allowing users to customize their drone with strategic or cool placements.
Overall, the Bugs 3 demonstrates attention to detail in its design and construction, providing a durable and aesthetically pleasing quadcopter.
The MJX Bugs 3 has a design that is truly one-of-a-kind, and I haven't come across anything like it in the market. And let me tell you, I love originality when it comes to quadcopters. When you look at it from the side, you can't help but notice how it resembles the face of a bug, with a larger head compared to the rear. The painted eyes and frowning mouth add to the effect, but what really stands out is the nose of the Bugs 3 character design—it's actually an LED headlight! This LED nose serves a practical purpose too, helping me easily distinguish the quadcopter when it's up in the air. It's just a fun and creative look that MJX has come up with, and it brings a smile to my face every time I see it. The sleek design of the Bugs 3 is quite spectacular, and I hadn't realized just how sleek it was until I got my hands on it.
Now, the big question is whether the Bugs 3 is more of a sporty quadcopter capable of handling an action camera or if it's primarily focused on being a camera bird. I've been disappointed before when quadcopters tried to do too much and ended up falling short in both aspects. But the fact that MJX has given the option to configure the Bugs 3 with either tall or short landing gears gives me hope that they've really thought this through and designed a quadcopter that can cater to both target audiences effectively. The true test, of course, lies in its flight performance. Only by taking it to the skies will I find out if the Bugs 3 lives up to its promises and delivers an exceptional experience.
On the bottom of the MJX Bugs 3, you'll notice that each of the four motor arms is equipped with its own LED light, which is covered by an individual lens. This design ensures that the lights shine evenly downward. I must say, these LEDs are impressively bright and incredibly visible, even during nighttime flights. They make it possible for me to enjoy the thrill of flying the quadcopter at night. The front LEDs are a crisp white, while the rear LEDs emit a vibrant blue light. One of the fantastic features is the ability to control the LED lights, allowing me to turn them off or on according to my preference. This not only saves battery power during daylight flights but also grants me some extra flight time to make the most of my aerial adventures.
I must say, the MJX Bugs 3 stands out from the other quadcopters I've tested in terms of antenna placement. Unlike the majority of quadcopters that have their antennas mounted inside the drone, next to the flight control board beneath the top canopy, the Bugs 3 takes a different approach. Its antenna is routed outside of the quadcopter and positioned on the bottom, right next to the battery. This unique antenna placement has the potential to significantly improve the range of the quadcopter. It's interesting to note that some enthusiasts of toy grade quadcopters actually perform a similar modification to achieve extended range, but their approach is often a bit more haphazard, involving drilling holes in the canopy to route the antenna externally. The Bugs 3, on the other hand, accomplishes this in a much more aesthetically pleasing manner. It's a small detail, but it's great to see MJX paying attention to these finer points of design.
I have to say, the battery design of the MJX Bugs 3 is quite unique compared to other quadcopters I've reviewed in the past. Instead of having the battery exposed on its own, the Bugs 3 features a battery compartment where the battery securely slides into. This design choice is in line with the new drone regulations that emphasize battery safety. The enclosed caddy provides an added layer of protection for the battery.
What's interesting is that the Bugs 3 uses a different type of connector compared to the typical JST and micro-LOSI connectors I've encountered before. It utilizes XT30 connectors, which I must say are a significant improvement overall. These connectors are easier to insert and remove, they can only be inserted in one way, and they are highly reliable and foolproof. I'm familiar with the larger XT60 connectors, so seeing the XT30 connectors on the Bugs 3 is essentially the same but on a smaller scale.
However, one small downside is that the Bugs 3 doesn't have a power switch. It would have been convenient to have one, but unfortunately, it's not included. As a user, you'll need to manually insert and remove the battery each time you fly the quadcopter.
MJX makes a bold marketing claim that the Bugs 3 can achieve an impressive 19 minutes of flight time. To be honest, I have my doubts about this claim based on my experience with other drones. It seems unlikely to expect such a long flight time from a 7.4v 1800mAh lithium-polymer battery. Typically, achieving 19 minutes of flight time would require a larger capacity battery, around 3000mAh.
Considering the current state of battery technology, it's hard to see how MJX could achieve such a feat unless they have implemented some remarkable optimizations or their motors are exceptionally efficient. My best guess is that there might be a typo in their claim, and they actually meant to say 9 minutes of flight time, which would be more realistic for a drone in this price range.
While it would be truly impressive to have 19 minutes of flight time from a drone at this price point, I believe it's important to approach such claims with some skepticism until verified through real-world testing.
Let's discuss the action camera mount that comes with the Bugs 3. It's a straightforward plastic frame mount that easily slides into place on the battery compartment tray. Once it clicks into place, it provides a secure attachment for your action camera. However, I must admit that it can be a bit challenging to remove, which can be seen as a positive in terms of keeping the camera stable during flight.
It's important to note that the Bugs 3 does not have a motorized gimbal for the camera mount. Instead, it offers a fixed frame mount. Additionally, I didn't observe any rubber vibration dampening features, which may raise concerns about potential jello effects in the footage. However, there is a possibility that the brushless motors of the Bugs 3 generate fewer vibrations and are quieter, which could result in improved camera stability.
With this basic action camera mount setup, it would be beneficial to use an action camera with an internal gyro to counteract any potential shaking during flight. This would help in obtaining smoother footage. Ultimately, the performance of the action camera mount will be determined through actual testing and observation.
The action camera frame mount provided with the Bugs 3 is made of simple plastic and includes two pieces of thin foam. These foam pieces can be used to fill any gaps between the mount and action cameras that are slightly smaller in size.
To insert an action camera, there is a latch on the side of the frame that you can loosen to open it. This allows you to slide your action camera into place. Once inserted, you can close the latch to securely hold the camera in position.
However, I encountered some initial difficulty with the latch being quite tight and seemingly stuck the first time I tried to open it. I had to use a flat head screwdriver to carefully pry it open. Subsequent attempts to open and close the latch were easier and could be done without any tools.
According to MJX, the action camera mount is compatible with various action cameras, including GoPro and Chinese alternatives like Xiaomi and SJ CAM. However, I faced some challenges when attempting to fit certain Chinese action cameras. Some cameras had lenses that hit the top of the frame, preventing it from closing properly, while others were physically too large in height or width. The EKEN H8 Pro 4K action camera, which I recently reviewed, fit into the frame, but it was physically small in depth, so I had to use larger foam pieces to achieve a snug fit.
Click on the two photos below for a larger version.
Another issue I've encountered with the action camera frame mount is the absence of a circular hole on the top portion of the frame. This design oversight effectively covers the shutter button located at the top of GoPro-style action cameras. Without a dedicated shutter button hole, it becomes impossible to start and stop video recording while the camera is mounted inside this frame.
I find this decision by MJX quite perplexing, as it seems like a significant oversight. It would have been more practical for MJX to include a standardized GoPro base mount at the bottom of the quadcopter, using the same mounting position. This way, users could utilize their own camera-specific frame mounts that come with their action cameras.
By providing multiple mounting options, such as the bundled frame mount and a standardized GoPro base mount, users would have more flexibility and compatibility with different action cameras. It's important to note that not all action cameras physically fit into the provided frame mount. Some are too large, while others have lenses that obstruct the frame from closing properly. Additionally, some cameras fit but are physically smaller, requiring modifications and additional foam to secure them in place.
Upon further investigation, I discovered that the decision to exclude a shutter button hole in the action camera frame mount may be related to MJX's plans to release their own FHD action camera as an optional accessory. In the stock photo on the box, it is apparent that MJX's camera has both power and shutter buttons located on the front of the camera, with the lens positioned lower towards the center.
However, this design choice poses challenges for users who wish to mount their existing action cameras in the provided frame mount. Not all action cameras will fit properly, and even if they do fit physically, users may need to modify the frame to create a shutter button hole for convenient access while the camera is mounted. This limitation could be frustrating for users who prefer to use their own action cameras with the Bugs 3 quadcopter.
It's important to note that this issue with the action camera mount is separate from the drone itself, and overall, the Bugs 3 has proven to be a reliable and well-designed quadcopter. Despite this one notable flaw, the drone's performance and features have been impressive thus far.
2.4 GHz Flight Controller Overview
The MJX Bugs 3 brushless quadcopter comes equipped with a compact and conventional flight controller operating on the 2.4GHz wireless band. Compared to similar flight controllers I've used, this one stands out for its smaller size, which is a positive feature for users with smaller hands like myself. However, one drawback is that the plastic construction of the flight controller lacks texture, making it too smooth and slippery to provide a secure grip. To address this, I plan to apply my own anti-slip tape for better control.
Despite the grip issue, I must say that I've grown to enjoy using this flight controller as it allows for smooth and effortless flying. A well-designed flight controller should enhance the overall drone experience by allowing users to focus on flying rather than struggling with the controls. In terms of ergonomics, the Bugs 3 flight controller excels, providing a comfortable grip and ample range of motion on the sticks. The tension of the spring-loaded analog sticks is perfectly weighted, resulting in precise and fluid maneuvers.
The flight controller is powered by four AA batteries and weighs 294 grams (0.648 lbs) in its flight configuration. It features a convenient carrying handle at the top and a lanyard hook just below the power switch, allowing users to mount it overhead using their own neck lanyard. Thanks to its lightweight design, the flight controller doesn't strain the hands, even during extended periods of flight.
The flight controller of the MJX Bugs 3 is constructed with thick plastic, giving it a sturdy and high-quality feel. Its robust design suggests that it would likely survive accidental drops without significant damage. I particularly appreciate the recessed areas designed for the middle, ring, and pinky fingers, which provide a comfortable grip. However, the smooth plastic surface remains a drawback and would benefit from additional grip.
The flight controller features protruding analog sticks that cater to both thumb and pinch flyers. The tips of the sticks have cuts for improved grip, ensuring that thumb flyers can use them without slipping, while pinch flyers have grips on the inside of the stick pods. The movement of the sticks is excellent, offering equal spring-loaded tension on both, and the flight controller provides a wider range of motion, allowing for precise and progressive maneuvers. This enhanced control contributes to more precise flights and reduces sensitivity to throttle adjustments and stick inputs. I didn't encounter any issues with sticking or being stuck at different angles, indicating the absence of defects in the flight controller.
A good flight controller like this one allows for finding the sweet spot for stable hovering, where minimal corrections are needed (in calm weather) and the drone maintains its position without significant ascent or descent. Achieving a stable hover is made easier on the Bugs 3 due to the absence of spring tension in the throttle control, with spring tension only present for yaw movements (spinning).
When powered on, a green LED below the red MJX logo illuminates, indicating that the flight controller is active.
The left analog stick on the flight controller is responsible for controlling throttle (up/down) and yaw (spin-left/right) movements of the quadcopter. The right analog stick, on the other hand, controls pitch (forward/back) and roll (left/right) movements.
Around each analog stick, you'll find trim buttons that allow you to make adjustments if the quadcopter is veering to a particular side or rolling unintentionally. By pressing these trim buttons in the respective direction, you can center the quadcopter and eliminate any undesired movements. A long beep indicates that the trim is centered.
Located at the top of the flight controller is a single red button, which is not an emergency button but serves as the motor lock or disarm button. To bind or pair the flight controller with the quadcopter, ensure that the throttle stick is completely down and hold the red button while powering on the flight controller. You'll hear two audible beeps, and the green LED will start blinking continuously, indicating that the flight controller is in bind/pairing mode. Then, connect the battery to the Bugs 3, and the flight controller will automatically bind to the quadcopter. Once paired successfully, the green LED will remain solid.
Next to the red button, there is a white button that toggles between low and high-speed modes, indicated by one or two audible beeps. One beep signifies low speed, while two beeps indicate high speed mode. Holding down this button also enables or disables the quadcopter's LED lights.
The button to the right of the handle on the flight controller is the 360-degree flip mode button. It allows you to perform impressive flips, although personally, I've moved beyond the excitement of flipping maneuvers. Remember to avoid flipping the quadcopter in unfavorable weather conditions, as it can lead to undesirable outcomes. To execute a 360-degree flip, simply hold down the flip button and nudge the pitch and roll stick (right analog stick) in the desired direction, and the quadcopter will perform the flip on its own.
How Does The MJX Bugs 3 Fly? What Are My Thoughts? See my flight -- Canadian Winter :(
I can't believe how incredible the MJX Bugs 3 brushless quadcopter drone is, especially considering its price. It flies like a high-end drone that would cost several times more! The average drone on the market is priced over $550 USD, but for that same amount, I could easily buy four or five Bugs 3 drones. That's an incredible value.
I have to say, the Bugs 3 is an absolute joy to fly. Even in its lightest configuration, without the action camera mount or propeller guards, it's a fast and exhilarating drone with exceptional maneuverability. It feels sporty and responsive, making it perfect for those who love a thrilling flying experience. The difference between low and high-speed modes is noticeable, with the high-speed mode offering quicker yaw rates and greater pitch angles. It's like flying a race car in the sky! However, I must emphasize the importance of flying responsibly and avoiding aggressive maneuvers around people. I prefer to fly in open areas with minimal bystanders to ensure everyone's safety.
One of the great things about the Bugs 3 is its compatibility with action cameras like GoPro. With the camera mount attached, along with the tall landing legs and propeller guards, it transforms into a stable platform for capturing aerial footage. I did need to make a few modifications to the bundled action camera frame to access the shutter button, but after that, it worked like a charm. Alternatively, if your action camera can be controlled remotely, there's no need for any modifications. The Bugs 3 handles the extra weight effortlessly, and I didn't notice a significant performance drop-off despite the additional payload.
What truly impressed me about the Bugs 3 is its versatility. It manages to excel in both sporty and stable flying modes. The brushless motors provide ample power, ensuring instant and precise response to my commands. Unlike other drones I've flown that felt sluggish and heavy, the Bugs 3 feels incredibly powerful and agile. It's a breeze to ascend rapidly with full throttle input. While it's worth mentioning that the drone can still be affected by strong winds, it copes remarkably well thanks to its brushless motors and sleek frame design. It's far superior to any brushed quadcopter I've flown in terms of wind resistance.
The flying dynamics alone make the MJX Bugs 3 a winner in my book. Its sleek profile and powerful performance allow it to cut through moderate wind with ease. Of course, it's not meant to tackle typhoons or extreme weather conditions, but for regular flying, it's more than capable.
I appreciate the thoughtful features MJX has included in the Bugs 3. One feature that stood out to me is the audible warning tone inside the flight controller. When the battery voltage is low, the drone emits a constant chirping sound, reminding me to land immediately. It's a unique feature that I haven't seen in other drones, and it gives me plenty of time to safely bring the drone down. In terms of range, the Bugs 3 already impresses. I easily flew it beyond 100 meters in a wide-open soccer field. Going any further or higher became challenging due to visibility limitations, so I erred on the side of caution and brought it back.
But as with any product, there are always a few downsides, although they are relatively minor in the case of the MJX Bugs 3. One issue I noticed is that the actual flight time falls short of the claimed 19 minutes. In my testing with everything turned on, the flight time ranged from 5 minutes to 6 minutes and 45 seconds less than what was advertised. However, it should be noted that this was in winter conditions which eat away at battery life. While it's not a huge difference, it's worth noting for those who expect the full 19 minutes of flight. Later in the review I did test battery life under indoor conditions.
Another drawback I encountered is not directly related to the drone itself, but rather the accessories that come with it. Specifically, the action camera frame mount provided doesn't fit all Chinese action cameras. It lacks a pre-cut hole for the shutter button, which means it won't work properly even with an authentic GoPro. If your action camera doesn't have remote control capability, you'll need to start recording outside of the drone and then mount it, which can be a bit cumbersome. I personally experienced difficulties with some larger Chinese action cameras that didn't fit properly due to the lens hitting the edge of the frame, preventing the latch from closing. For the EKEN H8 Pro 4K action camera, it did fit, but on the smaller side, so I had to use foam to fill in the gaps for a snug fit. These issues can be time-consuming, especially if you don't have easy access to side ports for transferring videos or a functioning shutter button.
The only other minor drawback I encountered is the slipperiness of the flight controller. The smooth plastic construction makes it a bit slippery to hold, and it would have been better if MJX had added more texture or included anti-slip tape that users could apply where needed.
I also want to provide some context about the footage I captured in the frigid Canadian winter. Please note that the video doesn't accurately represent the performance of the MJX Bugs 3, as it was filmed in challenging weather conditions. Prior to the video, there was a heavy snowfall of 15 cm, accompanied by strong winds. The temperature during the filming was around -10 to -15 degrees Celsius, with wind chills affecting how cold it felt. The winds were gusting between 20-39 km/h, and the MJX Bugs 3 was constantly battling against the strong gusts. Due to these extreme conditions, I couldn't risk performing any fancy maneuvers or 360-degree flips, as I was concerned about the drone toppling over. However, this flight in harsh winter conditions demonstrated the power of the MJX Bugs 3 in handling strong winds. I had brought along smaller brushed quadcopters, as well as larger ones, but they couldn't fly at all in these windy conditions. The powerful brushless motors of the Bugs 3 allowed it to fight against the wind, although it was certainly pushing the limits of its environmental capabilities. My hands were freezing throughout the flight, and eventually, I had to stop flying, even though the MJX Bugs 3 hadn't triggered the low voltage warning. The drone still had battery life remaining, but the extreme cold weather made it difficult to continue. Unfortunately, these were the conditions I had to work with. If the weather improves and becomes calmer, I'll update this review with videos under better conditions.
Measured Flight Times
So MJX designed the Bugs 3 to give the user approximately 1 minute, 45 seconds to land upon entering low voltage warning when the flight controller beeps to inform you of its low battery status. This is a very generous amount of time given to return to home and land.
Unfortunately, the MJX Bugs 3 falls short of its bold claim of 19 minutes of flight time in the "everything on" configuration. In reality, I found that the actual flight time ranged from 5 minutes to 6 minutes and 45 seconds less than the advertised 19 minutes. Even when you remove all additional accessories, the flight time still falls short of the claimed duration. Furthermore, mounting a GoPro or other action camera will further reduce the flight time.
When considering the Bugs 3's 1800mAh battery, the actual flight time of 12 minutes and 15 seconds that I experienced is actually quite decent for a drone of this size with brushless motors. It's unfortunate that MJX made an exaggerated claim, as it can be seen as misleading. If MJX had initially stated a more conservative flight time of 15 minutes, the discrepancy would have been less significant, and it would have been easier to overlook. It's always better for manufacturers to be conservative in their claims and then exceed expectations, rather than setting unrealistic expectations that they can't meet.
Where Can I Buy One? And For How Much?
The MJX Bugs 3 Brushless Quadcopter Drone is available for purchase worldwide through various Chinese online retailers at prices below $125 USD. Some options include Banggood.com for $115.99, GearBest.com for $107.74, and GeekBuying.com for $93.99. It's important to note that I am not affiliated with these websites, so I cannot guarantee their reliability or the quality of their service. Additionally, you'll need to consider shipping costs when calculating the total price.
For those who prefer shopping on Amazon, the MJX Bugs 3 is also available for $149.99 USD with free shipping. The advantage of purchasing through Amazon is that the product will be fulfilled and shipped directly from an Amazon warehouse, providing a higher level of assurance in terms of receiving the item as expected. Furthermore, when purchasing through Amazon, you can benefit from their customer protection policies, adding an extra layer of peace of mind to your purchase.
I have had nothing but positive experiences with Amazon, which is why I highly recommend them. Their fast and reliable service, combined with their excellent return policy, makes them a trustworthy choice. In fact, I was impressed when they proactively refunded me for an overcharged duty cost without me even having to reach out to them. This level of honesty sets them apart from other companies.
If you're considering purchasing the MJX Bugs 3 brushless quadcopter drone or any other item, I strongly encourage you to use our Amazon links provided. By doing so, you not only support this website but also contribute to any future contests we may hold through Facebook. It's a win-win situation, and I appreciate your support!
Some Amazon Deals That May Interest You!
The MJX Bugs 3 brushless quadcopter drone stands out among the sea of toy-grade drones I've encountered. Its unique Bug-inspired design sets it apart from anything else on the market, exuding creativity, happiness, and a touch of personality. I particularly appreciate the practical LED light in the nose and the slightly menacing frown in the mouth. The overall construction and build quality are superb, showcasing MJX's attention to detail.
Flying the Bugs 3 in its lightweight configuration, without the camera mount or propeller guards, is an exhilarating experience. This drone is fast, maneuverable, and incredibly fun to pilot. Its flying dynamics alone make it a must-have in my collection. On the other hand, if you're looking to capture aerial footage, the Bugs 3 seamlessly accommodates a GoPro action camera, ensuring excellent performance and stability.
While the MJX Bugs 3 has numerous positive attributes, it falls short in one area—the claimed 19 minutes of battery life. In reality, my testing revealed a flight time of only 5 to 6 minutes and 45 seconds less than the advertised duration. To overcome this discrepancy, I recommend purchasing an additional battery, allowing you to surpass the original claimed flight time and extend your flying sessions.
Considering its exceptional price-to-performance ratio, with the Bugs 3 available for under $125 USD, it's challenging to find a better brushless quadcopter drone within this price range. Therefore, I proudly award the MJX Bugs 3 our prestigious Editor's Choice Award, reflecting its outstanding value and performance.
With the approaching Christmas holiday season, the MJX Bugs 3 should be at the top of your drone wishlist. Its impressive capabilities and affordability make it an excellent gift option for both enthusiasts and beginners alike.