Dromida KODO Quadcopter



By Chris Savage.
An inexpensive, camera-equipped fun machine.
Photos by Chris Savage and Jennifer Alderman.
Full review in the Spring 2015
Park Pilot.


Features

• Fully assembled quadcopter with tough plastic frame
• Shoots photos and videos with integrated digital camera
• LED lights for easy tracking day or night
• One-button Auto Flip
• Three-axis gyro stabilization


Pilot's Choice Product Review

I am amazed by the idea that so much technology can be squeezed into such a small piece of equipment at this price. The Dromida KODO is an indoor aircraft, but I was still surprised by its small size when I opened the box.

The box contains everything needed to take advantage of all that the KODO offers. The RTF (Ready-to-Fly) kit includes a simple transmitter (with batteries included), a 390 mAh flight battery with a USB charging cord, a spare set of rotor blades, rotor-blade guards, a 2GB micro SD memory card for recording photos and video, and a USB micro SD card reader to retrieve them.

I was anxious to get into the air and I began by thoroughly reading the double-sided page of instructions that was included in the box as well as the accompanying double-sided sheet of safety information. The full-color instruction sheet provided great information in a quick read, including how to charge the battery, an overview of the transmitter’s controls, preflight preparation, and even some simple troubleshooting tips.

I recommend downloading the additional three-page manual from the Dromida website. It includes information on flight modes, how to install and remove the micro SD memory card, information about replacement parts, and an exploded parts diagram.

After reading the instructions, I noticed that the quadcopter did not have the included rotor guards preinstalled. I wanted the rotor guards to protect the propellers as well as anything with which the quadcopter might come into contact.

With the rotor guards installed, I charged my flight battery and was ready for takeoff. When connecting the flight battery, it is tempting to tilt the quadcopter or even turn it upside down for easier access to the battery connector. Instead, ensure the KODO is completely level when the battery is connected. It is at this point that the quadcopter’s stabilization system establishes a neutral position. If the aircraft is tilted, the stabilization system will be calibrated to believe that this tilted position is neutral and will stabilize to that tilted position once it is in flight.

This calibration takes place at each battery connection, so if you’re concerned that you’ve gotten it wrong, simply unplug the battery and start over. It was easiest to install the battery with the quadcopter on the edge of a flat surface to allow room for my hands to make the connection.

At this point, the KODO offers an important preflight safety feature. The pilot is required to arm the motors to prevent the aircraft from unexpectedly throttling up. This is done by moving the throttle stick to its upmost position, then down again after hearing a beep from the quadcopter. When the motors were properly armed, I slowly increased the throttle and the KODO was airborne.

At takeoff, I was aware of the sound of the rotor blades. Although not disturbingly loud, the sound is certainly noticeable and might be bothersome to others in the same room or an adjacent one—much the same as how someone may not appreciate hearing a TV or radio turned on by another person.

My aircraft initially required some trim to achieve stable flight, and I found that each subsequent flight also required trim corrections. I don’t know why, but my best guess is it’s because of a combination of small differences in battery placement combined with small changes in the environment’s airflow.

I spent my first flights becoming comfortable with the KODO’s controls, and was impressed with the built-in stabilization system. After a few successful takeoffs and landings, I decided to put the stabilization system to the test with a gentle hand launch.

Once I had trimmed the aircraft for stable hovering, and in an area free of obstructions, I kept the throttle stick at the “off” position and gave the multirotor a soft, underhanded toss out in front of me, then increased the throttle. Immediately, the KODO righted itself and began to gain altitude—impressive! During normal flight, the stabilization system is powerful enough to be of assistance, but not so powerful that it feels intrusive or overbearing.

The KODO offers three levels of control sensitivity, which can be adjusted on the transmitter. The default setting was responsive enough for me, but if the KODO doesn’t feel as nimble as you would like, clicking the transmitter’s left stick directly down cycles the transmitter to its next sensitivity setting.

When I was comfortable with the controls and ready to test my photography skills, I piloted the KODO into the vast wonders of my living room and pressed the transmitter’s record button. Although the transmitter does not offer the pilot a perspective of what is in the camera’s field of view, the aircraft’s designers were careful in the design of the quadcopter’s body and the placement and angle of the camera lens.

It was surprisingly easy to position the camera to shoot pictures or video of the subject I intended after a few attempts. Audible beeps and clear LED indicators on the aircraft let the pilot know when he or she has captured a still image or is capturing video.



The Dromida KODO RTF kit includes everything that is needed to get the aircraft in the air and start filming. Only the rotor guards require assembly.





The KODO’s front-facing camera does not provide FPV, but I found it intuitive enough to capture the subject I intended thanks to the designers’ careful attention to its placement.





The Dromida’s camera captured a photo of this Focke-Wulf 190 model on the runway.


Operating the KODO’s image and video capture buttons felt awkward in the beginning and pilots with larger hands may find it difficult. When capturing images or video, avoid the temptation to use one of your thumbs to depress the image capture buttons on the transmitter. Instead, keep your thumbs on the transmitter’s control sticks, position your index fingers over each of the image capture buttons (small indentations on the buttons will help keep your fingertips in place), and place your middle fingers over the rudder and aileron trim buttons on top of the transmitter.

When you’re ready to capture an image, press down with the side of your index finger to activate the button. Holding the transmitter in this way doesn’t feel intuitive at first, but for me it resulted in better control.

I got approximately 5 minutes of flight time from each battery charge, and flashing LED lights let me know when the flight battery was low. When I finished flying, I removed the micro SD card and used the card reader to take a look at my footage and I was pleased with the results.

The KODO’s onboard camera provides 720 x 480 resolution video in AVI format and better 1280 x 960 still images in JPEG format. This is plenty for fun point-and-shoot images. After all, the KODO is designed for entertainment, not utility.

When it comes to entertainment, the KODO does not disappoint. Although I’m not an aerobatics pilot, I had to test the KODO’s advertised aerobatic abilities. As indicated in the instructions, I clicked down on the transmitter’s right stick and then held it in the direction in which I wanted to execute the flip. The KODO launched into an exciting barrel roll-type maneuver and then righted itself.

The quadcopter will lose altitude during the maneuver and will continue flipping (with a brief pause between maneuvers) as long as the right stick is held in the direction in which you want to flip, so keep your altitude a mistake or two high! I found that to allow the KODO to regain altitude after flipping, I needed to either start the flip at full throttle or move to full throttle during the maneuver.

Despite my successes, not all of my flights were uneventful. Flying indoors takes some measure of careful control and a few incidents involving the ceiling, a small cabinet, the floor, the hallway walls, and an end table tested the quadcopter’s durability. My KODO passed the test far better than expected for such a small and inexpensive aircraft.

I have yet to install any of the extra rotor blades (thanks to those rotor guards) and suffered only a cracked plastic body-mount point. I’m not sure exactly when it happened because it never affected the flight characteristics. I repaired it with Super Glue.

The Dromida KODO is a great way for a novice pilot to experience the fun of flying and the novelty of aerial photography with a full-featured, rugged, RTF aircraft at an entry-level price. For experienced pilots, the KODO offers a fun, off-the-cuff flying experience that they can take advantage of anywhere.

After getting some stick time with the KODO, I’d happily suggest it to anyone with an interest in flying!


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2 comments

My video doesn't work when I put the sd card into my computer. It says the media is not supported

I have the same issue. i ran a repair disk on my macbook, but still no luck.

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