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One month in: impressions

tourmax

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I've had the bebop2 with (skycontroller 1) for about a month now. Like most products, there's good and bad. I figured I'd list what I've found in sort of a "mini-review". These are only my experiences with it, YMMV.

The Good:

1. Price. I got it on clearance at a local store, mostly because Canada has introduced pilot licensing and registration for drones (1 jun 2019) and stores are trying to dump stock (kijiji is pretty busy with people unloading used drones too it seems) that's not at least certified for "advanced" use.
2. Fun. Switched to "sport" mode, this little bugger will move! ...AND, it's also very nimble! Great fun to whip it around.
3. Flight time. Anywhere between 20 and 30 minutes, depending on what type of flying you are doing. More than enough time for the messing about I like to do.
4. Auto flight. Auto takeoff and landing make getting on/off the ground a snap for even a novice. Flight stabilization makes flying pretty much a simple "point and shoot" exercise.
5. Remote control. I have yet to experience any issues with control-ability due to loss of signal. I do, however, mostly use the skycontroller 1 all the time, fly in fairly clear areas and don't venture overly far away. Don't think I've even been more than 1/2 Km away yet....
6. FPV. Great fun! But, I don't use the Parrot FPV googles. I've got a set of Yuneec Skyview googles that connects directly to the Skycontroller 1 HDMI port. No lag time in the video, or at least so small it's not perceptible. The Skyview image is very clear, the drone camera...not so much. More on that later.
7. Motor fault sensing. If you do happen to "clip" something in flight, the OS senses it and shuts the motors down. This is both good and bad. Yes, it may save your blades, but the drone may also shut the motors off 40 feet up if you manage to clip and leaf or branch by mistake. Instead of maybe having a chance of limping it back down to the ground, it has now become a 500g rock 40 feet in the air. 500G can pick up a fair bit of velocity/inertia from 40 feet AGL at 9.8 m/s2 and the ground is usually pretty hard and unforgiving.......

Not so good:

1. Landing gear. Way too short IMHO. You can't land or take off from even a mowed grass lawn without the blades being smeared with grass stains. I bought an aftermarket set of gear that raised it up about another 2-3" and that ended the clearance problem for where I fly:
A1Ry0MkeqOL._SX466_.jpg

They do add a small weight penalty to the drone, so be careful if flying in sport mode and thinking it's going to stop as short as it used to. More weight = more inertia = longer stopping distances and wider turns.
2. Auto-landing. Man, this thing drops out of the sky pretty fast when you hit auto-land. So much so that I could often see the arms flex and bend and the whole rig "bounce" with ground contact. My aftermarket gear also helps here, as it has a "flex" built in that absorbs a lot of the hit and it also transfers a good deal of the loads to the base of the motor strut instead of all of the load acting on a longer lever to the body attachment points. Small difference, but important to me for longevity. Also is a bit of a "feel good" if you crash or loos power in flight; if it manages to hit the ground on the gear first, they have a chance to prevent serous damage to the drone itself.
3. No object sensing. This is what I would call a "stick and rudder" or "steam driven" aircraft. There are no safety systems other than the flight auto-stabilization. The Bebop 2 will quite happily allow you to slam it right into a wall, at full speed, from any direction, at any time. This is a bird you have to fly, on your own, every second it's airborne...
4. Blade guards. None. This is highly dependent on the operators preference, but there should be a set of blade guards in the package. That way a new user can fly with the guards until they feel confident enough to fly without (or just leave them on). This thing is in the price range of "beginner" drones, so it should have blade guards. I bought an aftermarket set and while I haven't "pranged" anything yet (that was solely operator error), I've come pretty close. The guards were worth the couple bucks I paid for them as I'm still on the original set of blades and probably will be for quite a long time to come. I'll drop them when flying in open areas for the weight savings, but they go back on if flying anywhere near trees, buildings, wires, etc.
5. Portability. Yeah, it's pretty light and fairly portable. But it's also a bit "out of step" with more modern drones, even the Anafi. The Bebop looks pretty "huge" and vulnerable compared to a folded Anafi or Mavic. The arms and blades are NOT something you can just "shove in a bag" on the Bebop and not expect it to come out undamaged. When it was first designed, sure, it was pretty small and portable compared to it's contemporaries. These days, it just seems delicate and awkward anywhere but in flight.
6. Feel/quality. Overall, It just feels......cheap. Lots of that is just trying to keep the weight down, but the end effect is it comes off feeling more in the "toy" category than the "camera drone" category. More in the "RC aircraft" slot than something you use for aerial photography.
7. Drift. This thing just never seems to lock onto a spot. It's always drifting in one direction or another if you just leave it to hover. I've always got a gps lock, both the skycontroller and Bebop 2 are calibrated, no wind and it still tries to truck off in one direction or another. A quick stab on the skcontroller stick and it stops, but will start drifting almost right away in another direction. Again, its a "stick and rudder" aircraft, you have to fly this thing every second you have it airborne. No resting during flight for you.....

(con't in next post)
 
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tourmax

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The Bad:

1. The camera, the camera, the camera! I've got a couple other 1080P sports cams and compared to them, this thing is crap! My Contour 180P HD sports cams are 5-10 years old and make the images from the 1080P Bebop 2 look like they were scratched out by a kinder-gardener with crayons. When I first flew it, the image looked OK. not spectacular, but ok. Clearly missing in definition and clarity, with a few stange artifacts here and there. But watchable at least. Then a power loss that caused it to half hit the house and half tumbled to the ground. Not high mind you, maybe 6 feet AGL if lucky. The camera never touched the ground (or anything else). But the images were noticeably worse now. Clarity was completely gone, images were poor and sometimes fuzzy, fuzzy spots all over the viewing field. It wasn't good to start with, but this just totally pee'd me off! A small "crash" and the camera goes to crap? Do these people even fly drones or just crank them out of a Chinese factory? No way to refocus or adjust anything on the bebop2 either. So it can't survice a crash and there's no way to fix it if you do, other than to spend mucho-bucks at Parrot to buy a new camera, which will probably F-up just the same in another crash/bump scenario. I ended up cutting the lens assembly open and making the camera "focus-able", which brought back some clarity, but it still sucks (comparatively) and it still requires frequent re-focusing. I don't understand the rational behind selling a camera drone with such a p!$$ poor camera? The specs make it look good, but real world performance just, well.....sucks. Since the camera is essentially proprietary to the Bebop, you're stuck with it. No way to upgrade to something better. If I was going to NOT recommend the bebop 2 to someone, it would be based almost solely on that $h!tty camera.
2. "In APP purchases". Ok, what? This originally listed close to a grand (before on sale) and you have to pay more for a "follow me" and "flight planning" feature? What the heck?!? that's just gouging the customer....pure and simple.
3. No SD card and no option to add one. Alright, 8 MB of storage and that's it. Horrible, what were they thinking in this world of cheap, small memory? don't even try to argue "Weight savings" when you're talking a chip and a micro SD card. They cheaped out, plain and simple. Sure, you can add a thumb drive to the USB port if you want to attempt loading up someones custom firmware. But if you "brick it", you're just made a spare parts Bebop for your next one........
4. Video transfer rate. What can I say? Slow, slow, slow, sssSSSLLLLLLOOOOOOWWWWwww..... No one wants to sit there and watch their flight battery burn down sending the video files to your computer. Either by wifi or the micro usb cable. Micro SD card would have avoided that whole issue.
5. Digital image processing. OK, no gimbal on the bebop. It's all done with processing the "fisheye" image. In theory, not a bad idea. In practice, falls a bit short of the theory. For the most part, the images are pretty stable, but sometimes you can see it getting "overloaded" and the image will jump or kind of stutter. Again, it's a camera drone, crappy camera images/video are not acceptable. I could strap one of my old Contour HD's to the body and get crystal clear images and smoother footage. This is not new tech nor is it hard to master. Just record the image in front of the sensor, yet somehow they seem to have manged to get it only "half right". I haven't experienced any of the "black bars" at the extreme ranges of camera "movement" like some have, but I usually don't have the camera too far off center either.
6. Accessories. Essentially, there are none. If you want landing gear, lens protection, etc, it's aftermarket (3D printed usually) or nothing. Now that parrot has pretty much dropped the bebop line (hello Anafi), that's a situation that's not going to get any better in the coming years either.

Canadian concerns:
Transport Canada now has it's new "drone licensing and operators" rules in place (as of 1 Jun 2019). It also has a list of drones that are certified to fly in "advanced" roles (basically, close to buildings, people and controlled airspace). DJI looks to have been fairly proactive as they have a slew of drones on the list. Parrot? Not one drone on the list. Not even thier "professional" or "agricultural" drones, not even the Anafi makes the list. Responsibility for certification falls on the manufacturer and it's most ly a declaration that thier product meets safety standards. I've written parrot.ca several times inquiring if they will be working towards certification, and I've gotten back nothing but silence. So if you want to fly a Bebop 2 in Canada (legally), you need to do it in uncontrolled airspace. There's lots of uncontrolled airspace in Canada, the only problem is you have to (mostly) head out into the country side to get to it. Anything remotely urban is pretty much off limits, as well as lots of area's where a farmer might have a light aircraft he flies twice a year or any other type of aerodrome exists (ie: helipad, hospitals, grass strip, municipal fields, etc)

Conclusion:

IMHO, if you want a drone you can just go out and have a little fun flying like you would an RC aircraft, the Bebop2 is a decent choice. It's fast and nimble for it's size, with plenty of performance to entertain most beginning and intermediate flyers. But for me, the main purpose of a camera drone is, well.....the camera. If I want to loft it in the backyard and get footage of a party or a family get together, I want clear images. Same for FPV flying: clear imagery is essential. This is where the Bebop falls far too short in my opinion.

So fun, sporty and basic flier? Decent choice.
Camera drone? Give it a pass and look for something with a better camera system.

Just my 0.02

:)
 
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