Elanview Cicada Brushless RTF Drone
Type: RTF quadcopter
Skill level: Beginner to intermediate
Diameter: 167mm (6.6 inches) x 288mm (11.3 inches) including propeller guards
Weight: 8.5 ounces
>> A compact drone you can fly with your smartphone or tablet
>> Take off or return to home with the slide of a button
>> The HD digital 1080p video/16 MP still/10 MP burst photo camera is Wi-Fi enabled, and features EIS (Electronic Image Stabilization)
Abridged product review
The Elanview Cicada is a new multirotor that is tailored for the needs of rookie fliers who want to capture a bird’s-eye view. Instead of a quadcopter with a camera, the Cicada is better described as a camera that flies. The core of this aircraft is a camera capable of shooting 1080p video at 30 frames per second. It can also capture 16 MP (megapixel) still photos (4608 x 3456 pixels).
The built-in camera is capable of shooting 1080p video at 30 frames per second or 16 megapixel still photos.
Assuming that you already own a smartphone or a tablet, Elanview includes practically everything necessary to operate the Cicada. In addition to the actual aircraft, there are two 2S 1,000 mAh flight batteries, an AC charger, three full sets of spare propellers, and even a small screwdriver. The only item that the user must provide is a micro SD memory card (up to 32 GB).
The Cicada and its accessories come packed in a sturdy box with fitted foam inserts. The box makes a convenient storage and transport case.
The Cicada’s sturdy and well-padded packaging box is great for storage and transport.
This quadcopter uses a proprietary 2S 1,000 mAh LiPo battery that fits neatly inside of the plastic body. Two batteries are included.
Rather than a traditional RC radio system, the Cicada is controlled by a smartphone or tablet. Elanview provides an app for these devices that interfaces with the aircraft through Wi-Fi. In addition to live video stream, the app also displays the current state of the flight battery.
A foldout quick-start guide is the only documentation provided by Elanview. It contains the essential information needed to get the Cicada in the air, but it is short on details. I hoped to find a more thorough manual online, but my search came up empty.
The need for more comprehensive instructions was soon apparent. I read a bold, red-colored manual addendum that emphasized the importance of frequently calibrating the Cicada’s GPS and compass sensors, yet I could find no instructions on how to do so. Hobbico (the importer of the Cicada) and its product support staff got me squared away. As it turns out, calibration is a menu option in the app that is not mentioned in the quick-start guide
This screenshot from the Elanview app illustrates the smartphone interface that is used to pilot the Cicada.
The Cicada is extremely docile. Even in the most aggressive of its three flight-sensitivity settings, the quad moves at little more than a walking pace. When no control inputs are being made, the onboard GPS keeps the Cicada in its current location. When flying outdoors, you probably want to avoid any wind greater than 5 mph. With its limited speed and gentle maneuvering, the Cicada is unable to cope with high wind. A racquetball court is probably the smallest indoor space in which I’d be comfortable flying this aircraft. If you let the battery run down too far, the Cicada will automatically execute a soft landing.
It’s important to note that the Cicada is not a sport flyer. This quad’s primary job, and the one it is best suited for, is hauling around the camera. It handles most of the flying chores by itself. A pilot’s job is simply to point the camera in the right direction.
While flying the Cicada, I occasionally experienced lag in the video signal. I also noticed some latency with my control inputs to the quad, although that was much less frequent. The degree of lag ranged from barely perceptible to a few seconds. The Wi-Fi performance of your control device could be an important factor here. I have no idea how my smartphone and tablet compare to other such devices in that regard.
I’ve been impressed with the still camera performance of the Cicada. Although the camera has a wide-angle lens, the fish-eye distortion that it creates is subtle. The image quality of video clips is good as well. There is, however, a little bit of shakiness to the footage. Although the overall footage is nice, it isn’t on par with the seamless video that I’ve come to expect from larger, gimbal-equipped multirotors.
The Cicada’s wide-angle lens is ideal for shooting landscape photographs.
Just as there are many model pilots (or aspiring pilots) with varying needs and skill levels, there is also a wide variety of multirotors from which to choose. The insect-like Elanview Cicada is focused on those hobbyists with an interest in aerial photography and little to no flying experience. Its docile flying traits will help new pilots find success in the air, while the built-in camera provides a taste of high-definition imagery.
Read more about the Cicada in the full product review. There, Terry Dunn discusses the three control modes as well as his experiences with large and small mobile devices. Subscribe today!