Confession: I’ve never flown a drone before last week. I’ve been known to rip our Traxxas around the yard once in awhile, but as far as hitting the big, blue yonder, I’ve pretty much abstained from taking my turn with variety of helicopters and light airplanes the family has brought home.
Until I was asked to test the Yuneec Typhoon G Quadcopter for GoPro Cameras, I thought drones looked fun, but I couldn’t see how they would relate to me. Interestingly enough, the day I received it I told a friend how we were going to fly a drone over the property, and she mentioned how someone had come to her door and tried to sell her a massive aerial image of her home.
She couldn’t figure out how he had taken the image until he mentioned it was a drone, so instead of buying his $200 photo, she went out and bought a Typhoon G herself. Because this drone is designed for aerial photography, she got some great video and images.
Now, after flying it around the 12-acre property we purchased last year, I can see why she was so impressed, and I could now give you a long list of why I’d want a drone. You just can’t get that view any other way, and when you have what amounts to a park in your backyard, you see things via drone that you’d never see.
It’s been a blustery spring on the wet coast, but the boys in my family and I got the Typhoon G and our GoPro Hero 3 Black up in the air and cruising over the property every chance we got. Here’s my take on the Yuneec Typhoon G Quadcopter:
- Flight time of approximately 25 minutes with the 5400mAh battery
- 3-axis gimbal to mount and maneuver your GoPro camera. The gimbal keeps the camera steady in 3 different positions
- Includes a Personal Ground Station with built-in touchscreen, letting you control the drone and see a real time video feed of your GoPro up to 400 feet
- Has three flight modes: Smart, Angle, and Home
- Has Follow Me mode where it can focus in on you and follow you where you go
- Can travel up to 35km/h with you up to 800 feet away from the drone
- Auto take off and auto landing so you don’t crash when you land, and can also automatically return home when the battery is low
- In the box is a CGO SteadyGrip handheld gimbal so you can mount your GoPro and follow the action from the ground
- Compatible with GoPro HERO3, HERO3+, HERO4 Black, and HERO4 Silver
- 4 extra propeller pairs are included
Taking flight with the Typhoon G Quadcopter
The Typhoon G is a ready-to-fly drone. That means you can unbox it, calibrate it, charge the battery, and it’s ready to fly. The 3-axis Gimbal keeps your GoPro camera stable and connected, and once you take off you can watch your footage until you hit about 400 feet. At that point the footage will cut out, but you’ll still be taping and able to fly.
We took our first flight out in the field behind our house. There are no trees out in the field, so it seemed like the safest place to learn to fly the Typhoon. Although it’s ready to fly, I wasn’t, and there is a learning curve to flying a drone that’s different from the learning curve of another other RC vehicle I’ve driven.
Thankfully the Typhoon G is ready for beginners like me, and there are three modes of flight that take you from outright beginner to expert drone pilot. Because of those three modes, even if you become an expert at flying the drone, you’ll never get bored with it.
How the Typhoon G works with the GoPro camera
In order to use the GoPro with the Typhoon, you have to mount it within the 3-axis Gimbal, and once it’s mounted you’ll need to turn it on and press record before you take flight. When you’ve landed, you turn it off. That means there is no option to just hit the record button or snap a pic when you’re in flight, even if the GoPro is turned on. You have to have it recording before you take off.
This was how we first tried out the Typhoon G. Smart Mode puts a 26” safe circle around you when you fly, and it also imposes a barrier of 300 feet so you always have the drone in sight.
Smart Mode is important if you’ve never flown a drone, because if you don’t know what you’re doing it can veer away from you and drift off toward a tree with you running after it (possibly yelling, although you know that is pointless because drones don’t have the capability to hear). With Smart Mode on, the drone will always move in the same direction the stick is pressed relative to where you are standing. That means no matter which way the nose of your drone is pointing, the drone moves with you.
With Smart Mode on we took it for quite a few spins around one section of the property, and when we were a little more confident with what we were doing, we moved up to Angle Mode.
When you’re in angle mode, you’re in real control of the drone. You can use the controls on the remote to angle the drone precisely, and this is the mode where the Personal Ground Station really shines.
The drone is very responsive in Angle mode. We found even the slightest touch of the stick would alter the course, and you can capture amazing aerial photos and videos at great heights. I’m not sure exactly how high we went with the drone, but it was sailing over trees that have been there since the 1940’s.
Although I’m not the best at flying the drone, I loved angle mode. We have a few areas that are heavy with trees, and once we got the hang of it I took it underneath a canopy of trees and just did a few circles. As long as I was focusing on what I was doing, I could dip in and out around branches to capture what it looks like in there.
Angle mode was where we first really hit the heights, and although you do lose your GoPro feed around 400 feet, you also can still see the drone. We had it out at dusk and the under carriage lights blinked bright enough that we could see it from quite a distance.
The Typhoon G has a safety feature built in called Home Mode. It will take your drone straight back to within 10 feet of where it took off, so if you lose sight of it and you’re not sure where your drone went, it will land for you. If you lose the signal between you and the drone, Return Home will automatically kick in and take it back to the home point.
We tried Follow Me a few times and it works well. The drone will follow you wherever you go, and I imagine if you were mountain biking or skiing, this would be an amazing addition to your GoPro footage.
Crashing the drone
Anytime you take a drone up you have the potential to crash. It happened to us with this drone. We had been flying it near our house, and that’s a heavily treed area. We had been quite careful, but upon clearing a gate the remote went blank for a second and the drone fell. Thankfully it was only about 20 feet up in the air at the time, but it hit the ground hard and broke off a piece of landing gear as well as two propellers.
As we found out, propellers are easy to break, and that’s probably why there are four included in the package of the drone. Although I wasn’t happy to crash, when I did I found out how inexpensive parts are for this drone and how easy they are to change. It’s entirely modular, and it takes about 2 minutes to change a propeller and less than that to change one of the landing pads. We were back in the air in no time at all.
There’s a lot to love about the Typhoon G
From being a novice when it comes to drones to cruising it back and forth over my property, I’ve found a lot to love about this drone. There’s a definite learning curve with it, and although this isn’t something I would just hand off to my 13 year old without supervision (despite his repeated requests), it’s easy enough for anyone to fly.
We did try out the included CGO SteadyGrip handheld gimbal a few times. If you’re shooting video from the ground you just can’t beat it. The GoPro is so tiny that it’s impossible to shoot video unless it’s mounted on something, but the SteadyGrip lets you pan around and take in the view without bumps and jumps in the video.
We’ve shot a lot of GoPro video over the years, from ski hills to mountain biking and the vacations in oceans of California, but this is footage that really means something to me. My grandfather had an aerial shot of his property hanging in his kitchen, and back then you had to capture that via plane.
We’ve managed to capture what our property is like right now, less than a year after owning it and in full renovation mode. Yes, I can see the piles of stuff the other owner left behind, but I look at this video and see the potential of what it will be. I can’t wait to capture more when it’s done. We’ll be able to see how far we’ve come, and that’s priceless in my book. It’s also really great motivation to buy a tractor.
Take a look at the video we captured with the Typhoon G Quadcopter and you’ll see what I mean:
One very funny thing happened to us when testing the Typhoon G Quadcopter. We’ve seen a lot of crazy things in the sky around here since moving in. With total darkness and no street lights, you can see meteor showers, falling stars, and one time, a bunch of Chinese lanterns taking flight out of no where.
Apparently our neighbors aren’t big sky watchers, because when we took the drone out for a flight at night, we had a few people out on the road wondering why they were seeing flashing red and blue lights in the sky. It really scared one of them, and although she didn’t say, I’m pretty sure she thought it was a UFO.
We came, we flew, we crashed, but we had a ton of fun with the Yuneec Typhoon G Quadcopter, and we captured images of our home that we’d never get any other way. I’ll never look at a drone like a kid’s toy again.
The Yuneec Typhoon G Quadcopter is available on Best Buy right now. If you’re looking for some spring break fun or want to capture some truly stunning aerial images, I highly recommend this drone.