Heli-Max 1SQ V-Cam



Add pictures and video to your flying fun
Written by Terry Dunn.
See footage from the Heli-Max 1SQ V-Cam.
Featured in the Spring 2014 issue of
Park Pilot.

Specifications

Type: RTF multirotor
Skill Level: Beginner to intermediate
Frame Width: 4.6 inches
Frame Diameter: 6.4 inches
Weight: 1.4 ounces
Price: $99.98 (Tx-R), $129.99 (RTF)


Features

Built-in digital camera
LED illumination on each motor pod
Auto-FLIP makes the V-Cam somersault front-to-back, back-to-front, or side-to-side
TAGS-FX Sensor Fusion stabilization system
Comes with a 2GB micro memory card and USB card reader
Molded plastic and composite materials for high durability


Review

The 1SQ V-Cam Quadcopter builds upon the popular 1SQ and features a remotely operated camera capable of taking still photos or videos. The files are saved to a 2GB micro SD card, which is included, as is a USB card reader.

Another new feature is the addition of LEDs on each corner of the airframe. With white lights in front and red in the rear, visual orientation is much improved during low-light flight operations. Anything that aids orientation with multirotors is always a plus. As with the original 1SQ, Heli-Max provides a single-cell 250 mAh LiPo battery, a USB charger, and a full set of spare propellers.

Like the original, the 1SQ V-Cam comes in Tx-R (transmitter-ready) or RTF (ready-to-fly) versions. The only difference between the two packages is that the RTF includes a transmitter. The Tx-R version can be linked to a Tactic-brand transmitter, such as the TTX650 that I used. You can use nearly any other radio you like when paired with Tactic’s AnyLink module. I suggest that you spend the few extra bucks to get the RTF version. It has features that you can only get on the Tx-R version by using a seven-plus-channel radio.

There is the “flip” button, which does exactly what you would think. While holding it down, the V-Cam will flip in the direction that you move the right control stick. The flip happens quickly, but so does the self-recovery.

There are more buttons on the back that control the video and still camera functions. Did I mention dual rates and gyro-gain adjustments? Bottom line: don’t dismiss the RTF version by assuming that it includes a stripped-down transmitter—it doesn’t.

\his little quadcopter has attitude stabilization that will do most of the hard work for you. Don’t be shy about getting it off the ground. Go ahead and get it up a few feet into some clean air. I’ve handed the transmitter to RC rookies who were able to get the hang of basic flying within a few minutes. Yes, they bounced it off the walls and ceiling a few times, but my house and the V-Cam were none the worse for wear.

In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve also dished out my own abuse to the quadcopter. I’ve flown it into trees and bounced it off the curb multiple times. A particularly rough hit might break a propeller, but I consider them to be sacrificial parts. The V-Cam just keeps on flying. If you have a reasonable-size field, you can fly the 1SQ V-Cam with relative impunity. It is so lightweight that even a freefall to the sod is unlikely to cause damage. I’ve flown the V-Cam in double-digit winds. It handles the breeze admirably; you just have to make sure that gusts don’t carry it away!

Although the V-Cam’s touted specifications would classify its camera as high-definition, don’t expect cinema-quality footage. The camera’s small lens needs plenty of light. I get the best results when shooting indoors with all of the lights turned on. Smooth flying will also equate to better video and clearer photos, so be gentle on the sticks. The camera lens can be tilted for different perspectives. Play around with it and discover your inner cinematographer.



The onboard camera lets you adjust the lens angle for different perspectives. It can capture still photos or video while in flight.





This picture of my house gives you some idea of the photo quality that you can expect from the 1SQ V-Cam.


Shooting video and photos outside is more challenging. I’ve found that mornings with gentle winds and soft light are best. Bright midday sun can overwhelm the camera and too much wind will produce shaky video as the V-Cam fights to stay level. Also, the camera’s focal length is roughly three feet. Distant objects can get fuzzy. Don’t let any of this deter you, though. It is still fun to fire up the camera outside and see what develops.

The V-Cam model is slightly heavier than the standard 1SQ. On the plus side, I think the pendulum effect of the underslung camera actually makes for a more stable platform. The tradeoff is that it is not quite as nimble. Although you may have a hard time believing that when you push the flip button! The biggest effect of the weight increase is flight time. I average 5-6 minutes per charge with the V-Cam, which is roughly 2 minutes less than what I get on my first 1SQ.

The original 1SQ was already a fun little machine. Adding a micro camera to it amplifies the fun factor. Even if you’ve never owned a multirotor before, the 1SQ V-Cam will ease you into this new genre of flying. For more information, visit www. helimax-rc.com


Flight Video




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