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I’ve already got one of my son’s Christmas presents picked out: the Micro UFO Quadcopter.

But the truth is the copter isn’t just for him. It’s for me, too.MakerShed_Holiday_Hdr-Logo_bur02

In my 14 months here at MAKE it’s been exciting to watch drones, er, take off. But I’ve yet to put my hands on one. And I know enough about piloting a drone that it makes sense to start slow before trying to launch something fancy.

The Micro UFO is a good place to start for newbies like me and my son (the product says it’s for ages 14+ and my son is 9, but I’ll make sure to keep an eye on things). It’s an RC quadcopter, not a drone and therefore not capable of autonomous flight. And even though it’s an entry-level unit, this quad is no slouch.

The UFO quad has controls that are very similar to what you’d find in a full size quadcopter. It features a 4-channel 2.4ghz radio that allows it to fly indoors and out and two flying modes: one for novices and a more aggressive mode for those with flying time. Another cool feature is that by pushing a switch you can make it flip forward, backwards, left, and right. Maybe you can do that. I haven’t yet.

I played around with a test model and I can tell it’s going to take a few hours to get the hang of it. (My son is a quicker learner than I am). But I can report that it withstood more than a few wall crashes and sky drops with no apparent damage.

A charged battery is supposed to last about 7 minutes, but I’m not skilled enough to keep it aloft for more than a few seconds. Give me time.

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Stett Holbrook

Stett Holbrook is editor of the Bohemian, an alternative weekly in Santa Rosa, California. He is a former senior editor at Maker Media.

He is also the co-creator of Food Forward, a documentary TV series for PBS about the innovators and pioneers changing our food system.


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