Battery: Built-in 150 mAh, 3.7 volt
Flight time: 5+ min
Charge time: 20 min
Transmitter rates: 3 (variable yaw)
Transmitter compatibility: ?
Competitors: Cheerson CX-10, CX-10A, CX-10C, etc.
First there was headless mode, then there was WiFi FPV and now… Call it a gimmick or call it a feature, but 2016 is shaping up to become the year of the altitude hold.
There’s a new Cheerson CX-10 model out. It’s called the CX-10D, has a new look and a new feature (I think you can guess what it is). I read somewhere that it’s a limited edition to “celebrate the success of the model”. The CX-10 series has sure had a lot of success, but I’m not sure specifically what there is to celebrate right now. I’m also not sure how limited this edition really is, I suspect it’s “as many as they’re able sell”. Anyway, let’s have a look!
The paint job, which extends to the included transmitter, is certainly the visually distinguishing feature of the CX-10D. This Jackson Pollock imitation is one of the two “limited editions” the CX-10D comes in, the other being something I initially thought was leopard skin but closer examination revealed to be more like ink spots on cork (if that makes any sense).
Do they work aesthetically? This is of course a matter of personal opinion and I think I let you – the viewer – be the judge of that, but at least think Cheerson deserves respect for being original. They could have just gone for a simple palette-swap, but I’m glad they didn’t.
Otherwise, the CX-10D is – in terms of appearance – nearly identical to other more recent Cheerson nanos, like the CX-10C or W. It’s a proven and sturdy design, though a little bulky compared to other nanos and with a history of less-than stellar flight times. A nice touch, unique to the CX-10D, is the addition of these foam-like landing feet.
Though they don’t seem compatible protocol-wise, the transmitter is basically the same as the one included with previous CX-10 iterations, the only difference being that the throttle stick is now centered on both axes as opposed to just the horizontal. This – in turn – to accommodate the new, altitude assisted way of flying.
Clicking the left stick cycles between the quadcopter’s three rates, clicking the right stick initiates a flip and pushing the pitch trim buttons performs either an auto-takeoff or auto-landing, two altitude hold associated features the CX-10D sports. The only buttons to do any actual trimming are the roll trims, meaning left/right is the only drift you can compensate for.
Since both sticks are now centered on both axes and thereby identical, Cheerson have kindly made it possible to change between mode 2 (left hand throttle) and mode 1 (right hand throttle). Simply press and hold the roll pitch when turning on the transmitter. Smart! …and sure to be appreciated by the otherwise often overlooked mode 1 crowd.
The quadcopter comes, quite neatly packaged, with the standard accessories: Four spare propellers, a USB charging cable and an instruction manual – fully comprehensible this time!
Altitude hold certainly feels like the main attraction of the Cheerson CX-10D. This means – much like the name implies – that the quadcopter will hold its altitude automatically, with the person controlling it providing throttle input only when he or she wishes to ascend or descend. The idea, at least on the toy grade multirotors I’ve tried, seems to be that it’s an “always on” deal rather than a mode you engage and disengage at will.
The best I can say about the altitude hold on the CX-10D is that it almost nails it. Under many or even most circumstances it works as advertised, but it’s also very particular and under others – especially outdoors – in my experience becomes rather unreliable. As far as I can tell, it’s affected by changing light conditions, which makes it rapidly ascend and descend when – for example – flown in and out of shade on a sunny day. This is apparently an issue not unheard of with the barometric pressure sensors used to achieve the feature.
Even if it worked perfectly, I somewhat fail to see the point of altitude hold in the case of the CX-10D as I find it doesn’t make the flying experience easier as much as just different. If we were talking about a massive aerial photography platform, sure: I can see how altitude hold would be useful for capturing smooth, steady footage. Not so much in this case.
Apart from the not quite spot-on altitude hold, I got basically only positive things to say about the CX-10D flight experience. The three rates (the highest of which being a crazy stunt mode with super-fast yaw) feels distinct and well-measured, flight times are solid at 5+ minutes, range seems perfectly adequate for an aircraft of this size and the quadcopter flies stable. It’s also – much like previous CX-10 iterations – very durable, something sure to be appreciated by beginners.
The only other negatives I can think of is that the yaw, apart from the crazy stunt mode, doesn’t change with the rates and that there – in what’s probably a historical first for 2016 – is no documented headless mode.
CX-10A, CX-10C, CX-10W and now CX-10D… You can kind-of start to recognize the pattern of Cheerson’s product development strategy at this point: Lay low a few months and then release the “new and improved” CX-10 with a different paint job and the latest toy RC feature inside.
Despite being on-par or even surpassing the original in most regards, I still found this particular one not especially exciting: For one because the feature of the day – altitude hold – didn’t quite work as well as I expected it to, for another because I didn’t quite get the appeal of it.
If you’re positive you need altitude hold, only intend to fly it indoors or simply happen to collect neat-looking quadcopters: Go ahead! If you’re just looking for a reliable beginner quadcopter in the nano size class: May I suggest a look at the original CX-10 instead?