Syma X8W - a large drone with real-time video for 90$

20 January 2016 at 02:24
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In this section of the blog I will write about my experience with various drones. I would like to start with my Syma X8W. Previously I had a chance to play with other copters from this company: Syma X5SW and Syma X13. Those are small drones which can fly both at home and outdoors. They are easy to fly and have a simple design, that's why I liked them so much. However, I was mistaking when decided that the Syma X8W will be of the same "fluffy" kind. This drone is from another class, which means that its power and possibilities are much higher than of his younger brothers.

As I said - this is a lager and quite dangerous copter. However, it is still not a complicated one and that is what I really like about these budget drones.

Meet Syma X8W
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Size
This model is as large as 49x49x19 mm. It is already comparable with one of the most popular drone models - DJI Phantom 1.

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I think, you can see that they share not only the size but also the design. DJI drones are setting trends now, just like Apple does it with smartphones. So, lots of small manufacturers copy their designs. However, while DJI Phantom 1 costs 322,84$, Syma X8W is almost 4 times cheaper and already features the on-board camera, capable of transmitting video to your phone in real time.

Camera
One shouldn't expect here a quality of a GoPro or even a Chinese 100$-camera, as this drone costs a hundred itself. The main function of its camera is to deliver a picture to your phone in real time. And with this it copes well: almost no delays, similar to Syma X5SW, and the picture quality is enough to understand where you're flying.

You can check the picture quality here (from 2:30)



Additionally, if you have a better action camera, this copter will easily lift it.
For example, here is a video of Syma with a GoPro.



It is worth pointing out that the effect of "jello" is not observed, indicating a good balancing of the drone.

Flight range

The manufacturer claims a flight range of about 100 meters. FPV works well in that range. Theoretically you can fly further, but only blindly. In my tests the drone was stopped by the fence in about 140 meters from me.

For beginners, I would recommend to fly within 50-100 meters, as at this distance even a large copter is already hardly seen. And as this model has no GPS - it won't automatically return to you. However, even with GPS you are not always safe.
Functions

No GPS
I want to emphasize that Syma X8W has no on-board GPS, so if you've lost the sight of the drone or the signal from the remote control is lost - the copter will fly freely with the wind until the batteries are empty.

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On the other hand the absence of GPS has positive sides because the drone becomes a lot simpler. Just connect the battery, arm the engines and fly. No need to wait for the satellites, no need to care about a bunch of extra switches, no need to remember what is indicated by 3 red and 2 green lights flashing, no need for a sophisticated calibration at each new location, no need to be afraid of electronics failure, etc. In general, just turn on and fly. Perfect!

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Headless mode
In order to compensate the absence of GPS Syma has a Headless mode. It works as follows: you choose the flight direction; place the copter towards it; activate Headless function and takeoff. When you want your drone to return, just put the right stick down. Syma will fly backwards regarding the flight direction you set. Test it at short distances in order to understand the principle, since it is easy to get confused when you are used to fly in normal mode, not in "headless".

Flips
Interestingly, all flips are controlled by one button. For such large copters it is not typical, and it looks quite impressive when the drone starts to make flips in all directions.

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Acceleration
At the usual place on the remote, under the left index finger there is a button to increase / decrease the acceleration rate. Traditionally I recommend to start with limited accelerations in order to get used to the drone and increase them only after you are confident with the controls. Fighting with the wind is, of course, easier at maximum acceleration rates.

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Safety
On the first photo I have shown that it is necessary to be careful with such copters. Propellers do not look like the harmless ones from smaller models. I hurt my finger by occasionally touching the throttle stick with the drone in hands. Propellers even had no time to spin up, however it was enough. So every pilot must understand that if the copter hits somebody during the flight, the consequences could be bloody.

It was a mistake from my side not to attach the prop guards, which are included. The full assembly looks like this.

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These guards have miserable influence on the total weight, so the flight time is not reduced. Therefore I strongly recommend to use them.

Specifications
  • Flight Time: 10 - 12 min.
  • Number of propellers: 4 pcs.
  • Propeller diameter: 23.37 cm
  • Charging time: 120 minutes
  • Flight range: 100-150 meters
  • Battery: 2000mAH, 2S LiPo, 7.4v
  • Motors: brushed
  • Weight: 383 g

Package content
In the box you will find all necessary components: spare props, screwdriver, phone holder, prop guards, landing skid, camera, battery, manual and, of course, the charger.

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Quality
Personally I am satisfied with the quality of Syma X8W. The drone turned out to be a reliable product.

The fly in the ointment is the motor type. Brushed motors are not very reliable and tend to "burn down". However, it is impossible to build a similar copter with brushless motors for such money, so this design is a good compromise, as you can always buy a replacement motor for a couple of dollars and fly again.

And the quality of the plastic body is traditionally excellent. This manufacturer was never saving on materials, and Syma X8W looks solid and can survive many crashes.

Conclusions
The drone turned out to be surprisingly well built for its cost: large size, cool features, considerable load capacity, enough power to resist the wind, high manufacturing quality. Personally, I was mostly pleased with its simplicity. With Syma X8W you can simply enjoy flying, avoiding all the pre-flight preparation routines. And yet, of course, the price of 90.25$ is quite appealing.

That's it, I wish you cheerful flights!
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