Now on to the fun part of this review, Flight Testing! First things first, its time to charge the LiPo battery of this Heli-Max 230Si Quadcopter. I charged at the recommended rate of 1.4 amps and it took about 30 minutes to complete, but I did not time it down to the second. I’m sure there was a bit of juice still in it from testing at the factory.
The first place I took flight was my garage, as I wanted to get a feel for the controls and how well the drone handled under zero wind conditions. If you are new to quadcopters, I would definitely take flight indoors first, but choose a wide open space like a school gym where you won’t have any obstacles.
The garage flight went very well and the aircraft handled with ease. I did not have to make any adjustments using trim tabs and did not have to configure anything at all to get it up and in the air without issues.
Over the six day period that I tested this quadcopter I had around 18 total flights with some days I was unable to fly due to rain. I live on the Gulf Coast about a half a mile from a large bay and there is always wind here. It’s hard to find a day with less than 10 MPH wind and almost impossible to find “light winds” as this quadcopter is sold as being able to fly in. I consider light wind conditions 5 MPH or less.
Flying in winds around 5 MPH was very easy to do, I was able to climb the aircraft to around 200 feet to take a look around with the HD camera and it handled very well. When the wind began to gust up to 10 MPH or more, that’s when things got hairy. The 230Si did not seem to have the needed lift to keep the aircraft aloft and the winds would simply push the quadcopter towards the ground. Therefore, I would definitely only fly this in 5 MPH winds or less, preferably. Another note while flying outdoors is that the battery seems to only have a charge to fly at higher altitudes for 9 minutes. When flying in zero wind or indoors at lower altitudes I found the battery to last up to 12 minutes.
I tested the Return to Pilot feature and it seem to work very well most of the time. It would come within a foot or so of my controller when it returned back to me. One time however, it did not return to me properly I would assume because it had not acquired my position properly or maybe I moved from where I once was when it had the last known position.
The fail-safe also seem to work well. I took the aircraft up about 50 feet and turned off the controller and it landed within about 8 foot of where it was hovering. The blades continued to spin for a bit once it had landed so this could cause problems, especially in tall grass or where other structure could be. However, this is a rarity that its needed and its main purpose is to get the aircraft on the ground without dropping from the sky and completely destroying the quadcopter.
The Heli-Max 230Si has geared motors which I think might result in the bit of sluggishness that I found when sending commands to it from my controller. After I went into expert flight mode and increased the control sensitivity, it seems to have helped a lot but there is still some slight sluggishness in the response that you will need to get familiar with if you have flown other quadcopters before without gears and perhaps have brushless motors.
I’ve read some stories from other 230Si users which have complained about the HD video camera on this quadcopter but from my testing I found that it was adequate, especially when you consider the price of this quadcopter. This quadcopter is by no means a professional aerial photography aircraft, it’s a hobby grade quadcopter that gives consumers an entry-level way to begin getting into aerial photography.
So how well does the HD video camera work? About like you would expect it to without a gimbal and without it being a GoPro or other high-end camera. The color detail was actually better than I thought it would be, but the lack of stabilization made the video hard to watch, especially with wind. The photo feature was about the same quality, as it only took a snapshot of the video. I think an easier way to take photos would be to run the video and then take snapshots once you get the video on your system.
Other things that I noticed while performing the flight testing is that the landing feet/gear could have a more wider stance to give it a bit more stability when landing. The propellers do not have any sort of protection around them to keep them from hitting objects, especially indoors. Being a beginner quadcopter, I think having the protection around the propellers would help prevent damage to the aircraft for newbie pilots.