As a child, I had RC (radio controlled) cars a few times and enjoyed playing with them. However, they ate batteries like no tomorrow and since they weren’t rechargeable, play time was quite short. Years later, the battery technology has gotten a lot better and rechargeable batteries are in almost everything. As an adult, I’ve owned an RC Hummer and an RC hovercraft, but have never owned a helicopter. I’ve always been fascinating with them; however, I never made the leap into owning one.
Last week I was looking for something on the Internet and came across an advertisement for a company that sells RC helicopters. After a little research, I found a very beginner helicopter, the Syma S107, for about $30. I decided to give it a try knowing that it was a toy and I didn’t expect a whole lot from it given that some helicopters I saw cost significantly more.
Once I received the helicopter, I plugged it into USB and charged it for 45 minutes or so. My first few tries were not very good and had hard or crash landings. The blades are quite durable and seemed to handle my poor flying (however, I did order some additional main blades and tail blades off eBay).
Flying a helicopter is definitely not like driving an RC car; once you take your finger off the throttle, it immediately falls to the ground and crashes. Also, hovering isn’t as easy as just making it lift off the ground and leaving it there. You have to continuously adjust it to keep it in one place. I’m now 3 days into it and am starting to make progress at controlling it. My office is quite large and allows me some room to fly, but I keep hitting my desk chair (yes, I should move) or the base of my punching bag.
This little helicopter has definitely piqued my interest in RC helicopters and I’ll be going to a hobby store later this week to start drooling (I’m looking at the Blade mCX2).
I’ve been searching for a hobby for years; my hobby has always been writing software. However, I’m not really sure I can consider my work a hobby! I’m excited enough, that this little helicopter may have opened my eyes to something I didn’t know could be fun.
- Durable main blades
- Durable body and landing skids (haven’t broken then, yet)
- Easy to charge with USB
- Replacement parts are cheap and readily available on eBay
- Infrared remote; you basically can’t fly it outside and fluorescent lights could interfere with control.
- Short flight time
- Manual is poorly translated from Chinese
- A little difficult to master
- A lot of drift even with no wind; this could be all RC helicopters, but from what I’ve read, the better ones are easier to hover in place
- Tail rotor is easily broken (it comes with a spare, but I’m already using it)
For $30, this is definitely a fun toy. However, I wouldn’t consider it a child’s toy as it isn’t easy to control. My 3 year old son drives my RC truck, but I wouldn’t consider handing him the controls to the helicopter. If you’ve never flown an RC helicopter before, don’t expect to be flying perfectly on the first flight. It will take some time to learn the controls and master flight.
The biggest downside I can see to this is that after the first taste of flight, you’ll want to get something better!