UDI U818A Quadcopter
Beginner drones can come in two main forms. You can have a frilly drone that is sufficiently equipped with sophisticated firmware, a kind of rudimentary autopilot, that will fly the drone once you launch it in flight. Alternatively, you can have a drone that is basically “bare bones” where you have to do all the flying. The UDI U818A quadcopter falls in the latter category.
Your success with this drone will depend on how well you hone your flying skills. The drone will be fully in your control so you have to control it expertly in order to have it fly as you wish. However, the drone is still easy to fly with very simple and intuitive controls. If you are an aspiring drone pilot looking for a quad that you will actually fly, the UDI U818A is the perfect quad for you. It will offer you an opportunity to actually fly the drone rather than relying on the firmware to plot its flight. You will find it fun to fly and the best thing is that it is also one of the most affordable entry-level drones in the market.
Thanks to its bare-bones build, the UDI818A will take quite a beating as you work on the ropes but it is still a resilient and durable drone. However, you should still take precautions when flying the drone in order to minimize the damage. For example, it is recommended that you fly it in open spaces away from asphalt, walls and concrete.
This review covers all the design and performance features of the UDI U818A and should hopefully guide you on all aspects of this drone from its features to operation.
The Drone Specifications
The UDI U818A quad is a radio controlled drone with a six-axis gyro stabilization assuring pilots of relatively stable flights. The drone has the following specifications:-
- Flight Time: Ranges from 7 minutes to 9 minutes.
- Battery Charging Time: Roughly 60 minutes
- Communication Range: 300 feet.
- Battery: It uses a 3.7V LiPO Battery
- Camera Resolution: 640 x 480 pixels
- Battery for Controller: 4 AA batteries.
The quadcopter is suited for entry-level users.
The drone has the following features:-
- The quadcopter has a four channel function that will guarantee very stable drone flights.
- It is designed with a 6-axis gyro-stabilization which includes posture control. The integrated design of the drone allows for precise quadcopter positioning.
- Has a remote distance of up to 30m.
- High capacity battery gives you a good flight time ranging from 6 minutes to 9 minutes. The battery charge is enough to strongly power the motors and allow you to fly the quadcopter more efficiently.
- Video camera offers a first person view that extends your navigational capabilities. You can fly this small drone around very narrow confines.
- The UDI U818A offers various control options to users including a forward and backward, left and right along with an up and down control.
What is included in the Package
Every package of the UDI U818A quadcopter should include the following items:-
- The UDI U818A quadcopter itself
- A single transmitter
- A single USB cable for charging the drone battery
- Four extra blades
- A single LiPO battery
- A user manual
The Build and Design
The UDI U818A quadcopter has a minimalist design and does not pack in a lot of features that automate the flight. It is built with a fairly thin plastic airframe with the electronic firmware in the drone installed inside a small cavity in the center of the drone. It is a ready-to-fly drone. The end user only needs to charge the drone LiPO batteries and insert the four AA batteries into the transmitter and it is ready to go.
The drone uses a relatively small 500mAh LiPO battery that fits snugly into its holder at the bottom of the middle part of the RC quad. The drone camera also fits into this position. The drone is also designed with a micro SD that will store all the footage captured during the flight. However, certain basic precautions must be taken when handling the footage in order to avoid losing them.
The design of the rotors also has a minimalist feel to it. The rotors are built with a light plastic material with a diameter of 5.25 inches. The rotor is attached to the shaft of the motor through a small a screw lock. This is in sharp contrast to the design of other quadcopters where the rotors are attached through mild friction. This screw lock mechanism makes for a secure attachment and the prop rotors are unlikely to come off easily. Included in the package is a small screwdriver that you can use to remove the rotors in case you need to replace them. There are spare rotors included in the package that can replace any damaged rotors.
The frame of the quad includes various LED lamps. The forward-facing LED is white while the motors have blue and red LED lights. Beneath the center of the quad are two white LED lamps, both situated at the back and on the front part.
The quad also comes with a user manual although the translations are not as coherent. If you are looking for extra information, you can watch the Youtube videos or check out the various UDI U818A quadcopter reviews online.
The UDI U818A controller is nicely designed with a smooth plastic exterior and plenty of switches that you will use to operate the quad. The front part of the controller includes several buttons around an LCD screen. There are buttons on the shoulders that you can use to turn the LED lights on and off. Then there are the switches used in controlling the drone. However, with the plastic exterior, the controller still looks cheap even though you can handle it comfortably.
The buttons on the controller can be used to perform various functions when the drone is in flight including taking photos and footages and stopping video recordings. You can even use these control buttons in flipping the drones or changing the mode of flight. The drone has two modes of flight namely, the Mode 1 and Mode 2. The LCD screen on the controller will display various flight settings such as the throttle settings, the camera settings, the strength of the signal, the battery signal as well as the current level of thrust being applied on the quadcopter.
Above the LCD screen are the drone control sticks that you can use to perform various control functions such as left and right as well as back and forward motions. You can use the left control stick not just for direction but also to apply thrust.
The transmitter is a 2.4GHz, offering sufficient signal discrimination to prevent collisions with other similar drone models flying nearby. The transmitter also offers a fairly good range. Most users have reported a range of between 30 feet to 40 feet. You can only control the drone using its controller. This is unlike other drone models that offer you some flexibility in control options, allowing you to control the quad with a smartphone or any Wi-Fi device.
The UDI 818A controller design also has a very user-friendly design with an ergonomic feel and very light weight. It weighs only 10 ounces so you can carry it comfortably for a long duration of time and have the best flight experience. The user-friendly and ergonomic design will see it fit comfortably into the palms of your hands with your thumbs easily resting on the control sticks while your index fingers will easily reach the controller’s shoulder buttons at the top. The compact design also means that your thumb can easily reach the other buttons and effect the desired action such as taking photo and video shoots. The UDI U818A controller is powered by four AA batteries which are inserted at the back of the controller. The batteries can run through hours of flying without the need for a replacement.
The flight performance of the UDI U818A quadcopter is excellent. It is a fairly tiny and light quad so it offers certain advantages such as excellent speed and good maneuverability. However, the motors in this drone are still widely spaced which contributes to good stability in flight.
However, the small size and light weight means that it may not give you the best performance in windy conditions. Even a mild breeze will likely interfere with the flight. The plastic blades are easily damaged if you bump the quad against obstacles or hard surfaces. The frame is also flexible and is likely to bend and hit the blades which will disrupt the flight and likely crash the drone.
The drone also has two flight modes namely, Mode 1 and Mode 2. You can use any of these modes depending on your flight experience. The Mode 1 of flight will dampen the quadcopter’s climbing and turning speed allowing you to steer the quad comfortably. This mode is suited for beginners who will be learning to fly a drone for the first time.
Mode 2 does away with the limitations on the turning and the climbing speeds. When you shift to Mode 2, the throttle is opened and this unlocks the fast climbing and turning speeds, allowing you to fly the drone like a pro.
If you are just starting out, we would recommend flying the drone in Mode 1 until you are comfortable with the controls before shifting to Mode 2. The higher speeds in Mode 2 means you are more likely to lose control of the quad if you are not adept at its controls.
Apart from its two flying modes, you can also carry out some simple stunts with the UDI U818A quadcopter. Pressing the 360 Eversion button will result in a back flip while the left shoulder button on the controller will create a beeping sound that notifies you that the drone has entered the stunt mode. The quadcopter will also do a somersault if the control stick is pulled and released in a particular direction. The hard part for most beginners will be landing or executing a hover maneuver. Since these features have not been automated into the quad, you have to rely on your pilot skill to land the drone safely.
Photography and Videography
The UDI U818A has a small camera that is attached at its bottom along with a 2 GB micro SD that stores the footage. However, you wouldn’t get the quality and clear footage that you would typically get in many high-end drones, which is understandable. This is a very cheap drone. It would be a great drone for honing your drone photography skills before you “graduate” to the better performing quads. It is also important to note the position of the camera to help you get a good orientation for capturing desired images. It faces forward and is tilted slightly downwards.
The video camera has a resolution of 640 x 480 pixels at thirty frames per second. It has bright colors although the image resolution is of poor quality. If you will be capturing video footage with the UDI U818A, you will also have to grapple with a lot of background noise which will obscure a lot of the details in the final images. This will be more pronounced if you are planning on capturing drone footage in low lighting conditions.
The drone footage will also have flickers, especially if the footage was captured in an environment with artificial lighting such as fluorescent lights. This will drastically blur the quality of the footage and the video might be difficult to watch. Do not buy this drone with the expectation that you are going to use it in capturing high quality images. The captured video footage will be saved in a motion JPEG format and you can subsequently load it onto Youtube pr onto video-editing software.
The camera captures still images at a higher resolution of 1280 x 960 pixels. If the light is bright, the images will come out with good clarity and rich colors. However, don’t expect the images to have better resolution. This is especially so if the images are captured when the quad is in motion.
Unlike some of the higher end drone models that are designed with either a 3-axis or 6-axis stabilization, the UDI U818A does not have any stabilization. You have to carefully control the movement. So if the drone is shaking when you are capturing some footage, the shaking is likely to blur the images.
Also, while the 3.7V LiPO battery should last you anywhere from 7 minutes to 9 minutes, it will get depleted a lot faster when you are taking photos or recording videos. If you are planning to shoot images, make sure the battery is fully charged before you launch the drone. If the battery runs out in the midst of the recording, you are going to lose the footage.
Crashes, even mild ones, might also knock the camera off its alignment. Fixing this will take considerable effort as you have to open the case and realign the camera. So you should watch out and fly your quad more carefully when you are planning to capture some footage. Another downside of the UDI U818A quadcopter camera is that it only captures the video footage without the audio.
Taking the Footage: If you want the drone to capture images, press the small button which has an image of a small video camera on it before you launch the flight. After the recording is finished, press this button once more. Don’t shut down the drone before you press this camera otherwise you are going to lose your footage.
The UDI U818A quad utilizes a 3.7V 500mAh battery that has a flight time of 7 to 9 minutes. Remember this is a cheap drone that is costs less than $50 so an average flight time of 8 minutes is generally standard for this class of drones.
The main drawback of this drone is that it does send a warning when the charge is about to be depleted. The thrust will gradually decrease until the drone shuts down and falls from the sky.
The battery charging time for the drone is about 1hour and 50 minutes so a lot of users might find this quite inefficient especially for a small battery like the 500mAh LiPO. It would be better to purchase multiple spare batteries if you want to enjoy an extended flight time. They don’t cost much, generally $9 on average.
The UDI U818A is an affordable beginner drone that is fairly easy to fly. It lacks complex automation firmware so you can use it to fully hone your flying skills before spending money on some of the costlier drones. The drone is also equipped with a camera that you can use to capture average quality footage and improve your drone photography skills. The quadcopter is very responsive and has an easy to use and intuitive controller that will simplify your flying. If you are a beginner looking for practical piloting skills, we would definitely recommend the UDI U818A for you.