Parrot AR Drone 2.0
[error]We drone on about this fantastic piece of kit…[/error]
When I was at secondary school, my best friend Ian Henderson and myself used to sneak down to the shopping precinct in Spondon, as tucked in the corner next to the furniture shop was a model shop. It was like heaven for an 11 year old, Radio Controlled cars, planes, boats and helicopters galore.
In those days there wasn’t a chain of stores like Model Zone that you see in the big Westfield shopping malls, it was your everyday hobbyist who decided to open up a little shop selling his passion. Unfortunately it was places like Model Zone and Toys R Us that closed these little shops down, there are still a couple around but they aren’t the same.
My uncle always used to go to these shops, he was always building something that flew. Actually thinking about it, I never saw anything fly as I don’t think he managed to finish one of his projects. I think I get some of his tendencies!
I first set my eyes on the Parrot Drone a few years ago at a tech show, it was an amazing piece of technology and looked easy enough to control. I expected the price to be around £75, maybe even £100. The bloke said £300 and I walked away in shock!
Since that show it has appeared on Gadget Show, many magazines, footage on YouTube and every reviewer loves it, I wanted one but didn’t want to pay the money. I had to think really hard about why I needed it, justify spending nearly £300 on a radio controlled toy… Aw well got one now!
The box is huge, the drone is huge! Mainly taken up by the polystyrene indoor hull. The box comes with charger, 1 battery, outdoor hull and an indoor hull. The drone itself is very light and is easy to handle.
I read up as much as I could before actually receiving my shipment from Apple, that way I could avoid crashing such an expensive toy. Once the battery was charged it was out of the box and in the middle of the office floor, fitted with its outdoor hull.
There is a choice of App’s available to control the Drone, some of these are by Parrot themselves, but due to the software being open source any developers can produce there own application and I believe there are even Android apps available from Google Marketplace.
I used DroneControl, as recommended by Drone Pilot TomStrong67 on YouTube. He said that the App gave you much more control over the Drone when you were ready, I did download the other Parrot app’s but they still have the blue “new” banner across the icon.
You can use both the iPad and the iPhone with the drone, once the battery is connected the Parrot AR Drone produces its own WiFi network. You simply connect your phone to the WiFi point and fire up the App.
There is a button at the bottom/middle of the screen, hit it and the drone fires into life and hovers approx. 3 ft above the office floor. The on-board HD camera (this has two) relays pictures to the iPhone screen with real clarity, there is an option to record to the iPhone memory or a USB stick that you plug into the Drone under the full shell.
To control the Drone you are presented with two on screen joysticks. The one on the right looks after altitude and direction. The left you have to hold and tilt the phone backwards and forwards, left and right for movement in the respective directions. If you lose control, simply let go of the screen and the parrot corrects itself.
By default, the app restricts quite a lot of options, which is great for training. The more confident you get the more control you can give yourself, I’m yet to gain the confidence. But flying the Drone up and down the office was gave me an idea of how to use the Drone. Saying that, due to the confined space in which I was flying the toy, it did suffer from turbulence of its own back drafts and at some points I had to literally pull it from the roof where it had sucked itself to the ceiling tiles, pulling all of the dust and dead skin from the lights!
7 minutes and it was flashing on my screen that the battery was low, does not last long at all. I will use the next few weeks to gain some confidence and fly this outdoors and post a few videos of its footage. In the mean time check some of the clips from other pilots on YouTube.
I ordered my Parrot AR Drone from Apple, there were a couple of reasons behind this. The first is Quidco, register using the link (I will receive £2.50 towards the running costs of my site) and you can get between 2 and 3.5% from shopping at Apple through the Cashback website.
Secondly, Apple are a very well trusted company. By placing an order with them, I feel quite confident that my parcel will arrive and in one piece. And lastly I knew more or less when I would receive it!
[alert]What Would Go Well With It…[/alert]
ORDER SOME BATTERIES. The standard battery lasts between 7 and 12 minutes, depending on the operating conditions. You can get some higher capacity batteries which last slightly longer. I will be ordering some of these.
Apps! You can download quite a few different applications from the Apple App Store, and I have found the paid for ones the best. There a re a couple of games that you can use the drone with also, I am yet to explore these.
The only other thing I would recommend is the iPad Mini, the iPhones screen is too small and the standard iPad is too heavy. I hope to get one of these soon to use with the Drone.