Rating & Features
- Camera: 1280 x 720 HD (30FPS video) camera
- Weight: 56g (71g with camera)
- Gyro: 6-axis MEMS gyroscope
- Frequency/Range: 2.4GHz/120m
- Battery Type: Lithium 450mAh
- Dimensions: 50 x 135 x 135mm
When Extreme Fliers started their crowdfunding project, I don’t think anyone thought they would raise 3,077% of their IndieGoGo target amount. Well, they did and now the Micro Drone 3.0 is one of the most talked about mini-drones. It offers an impressive range of features at a starting price point of $175. We were lucky enough to get our hand on one of these beauties and we are going to see if the wait was worth it.
When you open the simple yet elegant box, you will find the drone sitting on a card which reads “hello”. Our first impression was that it has a very nice sleek feel and look. Although it does feel light and delicate, it also appears to be well-built and ready for flight. Although it does have different colored rotors already installed, we noticed that it doesn’t have a “face” which can cause some confusion when trying to get used to it for the first couple of flights. Its diagonal width is 165mm which doesn’t quite make it palm-sized but it is extremely easy to move around with one hand without having to worry about something falling off.
Moving on to the next section of the box, you will see the main components laid out in a well-organized manner. The custom 450mAh battery and charger come in the stylish black plastic. The charger utilizes a Micro USB port to get its power. The provided cable is a little short for our liking, it measures five and a half inches. However, you can easily swap it out with another cable you have handy. The two work effortlessly together and the easy to read charging display LEDs show what is going on without lighting up the entire room.
A set of blade guards are included, but the user’s manual doesn’t give too many details about how to install them. We noticed that when installing the blade guards, it’s very important not to apply too much pressure in the wrong direction or else you may have to push the drive nuts units and their housing back into place. Once the blade guards are on, they provide a decent amount of protection against grass crash landings and light bumps. The pre-fitted rotors are a set of regular replacements and a set of inverted flying blades, it also comes with a mounting tool. The instructions that are given are not particularly well written, but the process isn’t too hard to figure out.
The final part of the packaging is devoted to the controller, which is very lovely! It’s a comfortable two handed design which is spaciously laid out and it comes with two control modes (Mode 2 for roll on the right and turn on the left, or Mode 4 for the opposite), and an invert trigger and three sensitivity ratings (Slow, Fast, and Insane). You will also notice the Standard and Stunt mode, incremental trim controls on all axis, and a digital readout which displays battery, percentage position on the last moved axis, plus other useful information. It also beeps quite a bit, giving the pilot audio confirmations during flight. Unfortunately, it doesn’t come with batteries, so make sure you have a set ready to go.
The manual does specify to be careful with putting the battery onto the drone, however with the runners guiding it in you would have to be very careless to cause any damage. It pairs with the controller almost instantly, as well as the calibration, and once you have found the biting point you will be airborne in seconds. You will also be very happy because we are excited to report that this is definitely a fun flyer.
It’s responsive, it’s zippy, it can withstand impacts, and it operates well in moderate winds without too much trouble. It’s small size also makes it fun to see what you can fly it around and through, although some practice will be necessary to master that skill. Although the auto-leveling is included, this is not a “point and click” lazy-flying experience. Beginners will still be able to fly this drone with no problem due to the precise controls, but you will to stay alert to avoid things going awry.
If you’re feeling brave, you can jump straight to the Stunt mode and have the flips trigger when hitting 100% on the corresponding stick’s axis. You can even chain them together into acrobatic contortions and have four non-trigger axis available to guide the unit around.
Fast mode is also something worth trying if you are prepared for more speed and delicacy in your movements. Or, if you’ve have plenty of coffee, the twitch-sensitive Insane mode will definitely get you going. The difference in the settings is definitely noticeable and fun. Inverted flying is a little tricky to master, but once you master the controls changing, it’s easily an awesome party trick to show off with your friends.
We have the pleasure of also testing out the 1280 x 78-0 pixel Wi-Fi Camera Module add-on, which also allows enables flight control through your smart phone. The camera housing is a sleek black and is only slightly larger than the battery. Connecting the camera via the Neodymium nickel magnets is easy. The weight difference during flight is noticeable but it’s still easy to manage the drone during flight.
The only two issues we noticed with the camera unit were the aerial on the side can slip out of place on occasion or off of its holder. The occasional rough landing can also cause the unit to fall off. Although, the above mentioned problems can be easily solved with a small amount of black tape or a little more careful handling.
Installing the iOS or Android app isn’t as straightforward as we would’ve liked. To find the app in the App Store, we simply searched for “Micro Drone 3.0”. Once installed on your device, a fast Wi-Fi scan will connect you and from there you have the option of using it as a substitute controller or as a camera view finder. Larger camera control buttons would have been a nice feature; however, we’ve heard that Extreme Fliers may be already planning this for a future update.
The provided holder will support most smartphones and a few of the smaller sized tablets, and sits firmly planted on the main controller. The picture quality is good in photo and video formats, and the playback is timely and clear. Obtaining the right shot with a single position camera can be tricky, but the images are perfectly usable for personal use. Images can be sent and stored on your device or you can install a 128GB MicroSD card into the camera unit itself. Therefore, storage space and rapid sharing is never going to be a problem.
A WORK IN PROGRESS
During our final analysis of the Micro Drone 3.0, we had to take something very important into consideration. That is, we must remember that it is basically three drones in one: a camera platform and an FPV drone, a stunt flyer, and you can find better versions of each of these for a similar price. However, it’s the unit’s diversity that makes it what it is. That alone puts it beyond simply “jack of all trades” and into a “competent all around unit” territory.
We think that it’s fair to say that this drone has lived up to the hype so far and has the potential to continue to do so. It’s pure joy to get your hands on and fly, even if you’re limited to 10-15 minute sprints. So, if you’re looking for something adaptable, exciting, that gives you a taste of UAV flying, you should probably look at getting one of these.