Micro UFO Quadcopter: A Quad for a Newbie

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Micro UFO Quadcopter: A Quad for a Newbie

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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.

See all of our Shed picks here.  

10 thoughts on “Micro UFO Quadcopter: A Quad for a Newbie

  1. Mike Meyer says:

    Can I suggest a different (unfortunately more expensive) quad? The Blade Nano QX:

    It’s got at least one clear advantage over the Maker shed version: guards on the outside of the blades, so getting them to hit things (which is what causes most of the damage from a ‘copter) takes some work.

    The beginner mode is the most stable I’ve seen in a small quad. Not sure you can get it more stable than it, but this might not be better than the shed one.

    There is no “flip” button – instead, it has enough power in the agile mode to flip (and roll, and loop) it yourself. I much prefer this to “flip” buttons.

    It uses a popular radio protocol (DSM), so you can bind it to a computerized radio (which start at the same price as the micro quad) instead of the cheap ones found in most ready-to-fly packages. This makes more difference than you would think once you get beyond the beginner phase.

    Finally, it’s not a toy – it’s a hobby grade quad. It’s designed to be disassembled and fixed when it breaks, so they sell all the parts separately. I would expect a shed product to do that, but most toy quads aren’t designed to be fixed, even if they do sell the parts. I don’t see the parts for this one listed, which worries me.

    1. Stett Holbrook says:

      Thanks for the tip. I’ll have to check that one out. No reason I can’t have both, right?

    2. Nick Parks says:

      One cool thing about the Micro UFO Quadcopter is that there is an optional foam cage that protects the blades. There are also a lot of 3D printable prop protectors on Thingiverse. That being said, Blade makes some very nice quads, the Nano definitely flies better than this one, but I don’t think it’s quite as durable.

  2. Andrew Terranova says:

    Got one of those for my son last Christmas. He enjoyed the heck out of it. He was also way better than me at flying it.

  3. Steve says:

    It is becoming customary to refer to all such aircraft as drones, whether autonomous or not.

    1. Mike Meyer says:

      Except in the RC community, which objects to our toys being lumped into the same category as the military and police craft that are causing politicians to write poorly-thought out laws making flying “drones” illegal.

    2. Stett Holbrook says:

      True, but since I wrote this for newbies I thought it best to define terms.

  4. milstead says:

    Timely review. My 9 yo recently received the UDI quadcopter (www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00D3IN11Q/ref=oh_details_o04_s01_i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1) and we are enjoying it. The rotor guards will increase its lifespan and the swappable battery is appreciated. On board still/video camera (640×480) is a bonus and the 1 gb microsd was included as well as replacement rotors and a hilariously translated manual.

    Here’s his first day of flight with footage from onboard camera http://youth.be/kEnMPVdQHDI

    1. Salman Sheikh says:

      Link for milstead youtube video should be http://youtu.be/kEnMPVdQHDI

      1. Stett Holbrook says:

        Nice! Thanks for sharing. My son’s last flight didn’t go so well. The quadcopter is lost somewhere in the canopy of a 100-foot redwood tree…

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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.

View more articles by Stett Holbrook