A Unique Flight With Yuneec UK
I had the pleasure of learning, and testing out the Yuneec Typhoon Q500 4K Pro and Yuneec Tornado H920 with Daniel Farren, Test Pilot and Tech Support Manager at Yuneec UK.
Personal initial thoughts and opinions of the Q500 and H920 from an aerial photography perspective - happy reading!
Having always been drawn to the bright lights of DJI, I was interested to find out more about Yuneec. Having not heard much about Yuneec previously the day started out with an overview of what we would be covering, a high level description of Yuneec's operations throughout UK, China, Germany and USA and the design and manufacturing processes.
The first aircraft to take centre stage, was the Yuneec Typhoon Q500 4K Pro Quadcopter. Aggressive in design, dark gunpowder grey and black panelling with sturdy build. First things first, was learning about the aircraft and I noticed how easy it was to move around in hand. (Compared to the DJI products which I have always found overly smooth with no real place to hold onto!). The battery that comes with the aircraft has a simple handle on the back for easy loading and unloading, simples ideas are sometimes the best ones!
Making use of a homemade, yet very professional looking might I add! 4ft x 4ft helipad we stepped back to a safe distance, the Q500 was launched to an overhead low level hover for demonstration…
Hold on just a tiny sec.
No calibration? No app fiddling? All questions that immediately reeled in my mind which inevitably came pouring out while I watched the aircraft whizz laps around the field. It was explained that with the Typhoon Q500, Yuneec streamline the process from ground to air. The ST10 Ground Station is an active home position for the aircraft and with the integrated 5.5” LCD touchscreen on the ST10 does away with the need for third party interference. A little nifty feature was also mentioned that could come in handy with my aerial videos and photos (which I will come back to).
For me, having the ability to cut out the faffing around before a flight is like music to my ears! A monstrously huge positive in my book.
Taking the ‘reigns’ I couldn’t wait to get a hold of the ST10. After getting familiar with assigned button positioning. I was off. Take off was as smooth as silk and I was amazed by the stability of the aircraft.
These are my immediate impressions:
Regardless of the camera/video issues the quality of the 4K camera is simply amazing. An absolute must for my aerial work is the ability to capture full video and photos, smoothly and in hi quality. With ease and elegance, the Q500’s brushless motor and gyro stabilised CGO camera allows just that. Some would say when compared to the DJI Inspire 1 4K the raw camera footage from the Typhoon Q500 4K Pro requires more heavy lifting postproduction. Having used both, I find it to be subjective.
Now for the nifty feature that I mentioned before... I had heard about this, but never seen it in the flesh or used it.
The Yuneec Wizard Wand
Was very surreal to use and somehow reminded me of a Nintendo Wii Remote Plus, but without all the aggressive hand movements! After pairing the Wizard Wand to the Q500, the Yuneec Wizard Wand worked with simple button presses and Wand positioning. For example, to launch from the ground the Wand should be pointed vertically with the top button pressed.
So simple to use, anyone could pick up the Wizard Wand and they could confidently control the Q500. As amazing as the Wand is, I don’t see it replacing the main transmitter but can be used when you might not want to carry around a large transmitter. The Wizard Wand has a ‘Tracking’ mode which enables the user to move around and the aircraft will follow you. The Follow Me feature could be so useful in situations where you are tracking a car, a bike, anything that moves at speed. This also changes the ‘Dronie’ game, having yourself on camera without carrying a transmitter makes for better footage if you are a lonerdroner like myself.
Increasingly notorious for their fair pricing, Yuneec are allowing top spec Drone technology to be more accessible. In the UK for Typhoon Q500 comes in at £959.99 (Inc.VAT). To this day I cannot believe the prices of the Yuneec products, they are ‘all in’ and more. For me the ‘more’ was receiving the Yuneec SteadyGrip. Hold me. I love this thing so much more than I thought I would. For me it’s also the small things that count, you are also sprinkled with 2 x sets of spare propellers, 2 x Lipo batteries 5400mAh as standard, a Neck Strap, LCD Sunscreen. It goes on.
It was now time to break out the Typhoon’s big bro, multi-rotor Yuneec Tornado H920 from it's hard travel case. The travel case itself has chunky locks, firm sponge padding surround the whole of the interior of the case and is able to hold the H920 snuggly with the arms at the folded position. The H920 setup was upgraded from the V18 to the Panasonic GH4 capable gimbal GB603, enabling 360-degree spectacular panorama 4K hi definition footage. This makes me happy. Very happy.
We headed back towards the trusty helipad to commence with the flight demonstration. Within minutes we were in business, the ST24 transmitter was on, quick-lock arms were put in position, propellers on and adjusted. Final checks and all good to go. The hum of the propellers commanded attention, and it got it. Take off, landing gear retracted and again a flight demonstration put it through its paces around the field.
From a safe distance, ST24 in hand, final checks were done and I held down the red start button. Each propeller started one after each other and the H920 almost jumps to attention, well its more of a jolt. Having 6 propellers on the H920, does in a horrid situation, allow for in-air redundancy and piece of mind should a motor stop working.
Using GPS mode and I went to 12ft hover to see what the GPS lock had to give. I was pretty impressed, but I did find that the physical size of the H920 does mean that it moves around a bit more when windy. Although larger in size to its kid brother Typhoon Q500 and weighing in at 5kg, it handles all manoeuvres with minimal effort and grace. With GPS enabled the H920 can reach up to speeds of 25mph.
With a slightly higher altitude now, I started doing the normal, writing my name, age, shapes, speed sprints, slow descent (hope I’m not the only one that does this?!...) to test the agility and response. The camera functions on the ST24 were easy to use and 360 degree rotation of the camera was pretty great to use. There was no camera delay as with the Q500 and operating with the GH4 you’re sure to capture beautiful imagery in 4K.
As standard the H920 comes with the Smart Transmitter ST24 which from one glance has a larger 7” LCD screen. The transmitter is fully programmable, allowing you to move your controls where you would prefer. And as an added plus is backwards compatible with lower Yuneec models. The H920 is able to carry a maximum of three batteries on-board and needs and minimum of two to take off. Two batteries would allow you around 30 minutes of flight time. More than enough to capture any cinematic wonders.
Again, as with the Q500 the RTF term is living and breathing in the process of becoming airbourne – no apps, calibration or third party equipment required. Also as standard comes with all the added extras hard carry case, spare propellers etc.
Being aimed at the more professional user, the price seems to reflect that also. In a nutshell, you are getting much more kit than the Q500. The UK price comes all in at £3,599.99 (Inc.VAT) which may be a pretty hefty price tag for a hobbyist. But again, I think the value for money teamed with Yuneec’s top customer services is totally worth it! (Obviously if a professional multirotor is what you’re looking for!)
All in all, it was a great day of checking out these aircrafts...
Both are absolutely fantastic pieces of kit, clearly with different uses. If life leads you to the large scale professional route of drone flight. The Yuneec Tornado H920 is definitely the way to go… and I may just be tempted! :) But if not, be sure to bag yourself a (super fun!) easy to use Yuneec Typhoon Q500 – I have.
One thing I can say for sure is Yuneec are definitely unique. Who would have thought you could purchase a RTF drone with added extras as standard AND as the icing on the cake, spectacular customer services?! :)
Would be great to hear your thoughts on which you prefer! Comment below.
Huge thanks to Daniel Farren from Yuneec UK