Battery: Built-in 80 mAh (3.7 volt)
Flight time: 4-6 mins
Charge time: 20-25 mins
Transmitter rates: 3 (fixed yaw rate, 3rd = headless mode)
Transmitter compatibility: ?
Headless mode: Yes
Competitors: JXD 502, FQ777-124
Well, that record didn’t last long! It felt like only last week or so I reviewed the – at the time – “world’s smallest quadcopter”, the JXD 502, and now the record has already been broken. Heck, if you want to get technical, the 502 maybe never even held the title since I think both aircrafts became available at approximately the same time.
So, who’s this new champion? As any legend, it has many names: the Floureon FX-10, the DHD D1 (which is what my box says)… I even saw Cheerson plans to rebrand it as the CX-Star. Despite the different brandings and model numbers, every indication seem to point toward them all being the exact same product (with the possible exception of different packaging and/or colors available).
So we know it’s small, but is it any good? If you haven’t watched my review of the JXD 502, the takeaway was that despite a few cosmetic compromises for sake of size, it turned out to be a surprisingly fun and competent flyer, seemingly unhindered by its miniature size. Does the DHD D1 deliver in the same way or have the size constraint left a more noticeable impact on its performance?
Welcome to this review of the D1 nano (or is it pico now?) quadcopter from DHD RC!
Since I’ve already shown a size comparison, I’ll try not to dwell too long on the smallness of the DHD D1. Just know that it’s hard to properly convey the size of something in a video like this. I too had seen it on pictures beforehand, but was still both surprised and amazed when I saw first-person.
Trying to look past the size wow-factor, the D1 is quite boring-looking. It basically looks like a shrunk down Cheerson CX-10. One detail to note is the external charging connector, a design decision probably taken in order to save on size versus having a more traditional, internal port. To accommodate this, the on/off switch has also been moved to the right side of the craft. Another detail to note is the relative height of the body in relation to its size. It’s almost a cube!
As opposed to its perhaps foremost competitor – the JXD 502 – the DHD D1 features four LEDs in two different colors, making night flights (at least indoors) a definite possibility. Inside of it, it allegedly carries an 80 mAh battery (as opposed to the JXD 502’s 70). Those extra 10 mAh was apparently very well spent (or there’s some power consumption optimization going on) ‘cause with the D1 you get a full minute longer flights, totaling in a little over 4 minutes. The time to charge is the same, somewhere between 20 and 25 minutes.
If you’re anything like me you’re tired of tiny transmitters crippling the potential of many a promising multirotor. The reason seems to be that manufacturers feel pressured to miniaturize the transmitters of nano aircrafts in order to save on package size (and by extension, warehouse and shipping costs). Fortunately the DHD D1 avoids this pitfall by instead making the transmitter house the quadcopter inside of it.
This solution is not a first, there has recently been a wave of “pocket quadcopters” (for example, I did a review of the German product Jamara Poky not too long ago) which all implement the transmitter-as-case idea in various ways and with varying success. Here it’s pulled off rather nicely: The operation is not terribly finicky, nothing gets squashed and once the quadcopter’s in place, it’s pretty well protected. I also like that the function does not come at the cost of the transmitter’s ergonomics: Sure, it isn’t a proper-sized, hobby-style thing, but it’s sufficient for you not to feel limited by it.
I do have some reservations though. For one, the hatch feels a little delicate. Although it hasn’t happened to me, I wouldn’t be surprised if this thing broke off without much force. For another, I wish there’d be a way to store the included USB charging cable with the transmitter similarly to how you store the quadcopter.
The transmitter uses mode 2, takes 2 AAA batteries and has trims for pitch and roll (the trim buttons on the left don’t do anything). You click the left stick in order to switch between modes and the right to perform flips. The transmitter can and will emit a beeping noise to indicate it’s powered on, have bound successfully to the aircraft, changed modes or are expecting flip direction input.
In flight is where the JXD 502 really shone. Does the DHD D1 deliver in the same way? The short answer is simply: not really. While the D1 is a perfectly fine flyer, the experience of flying it somehow doesn’t carry the same fun and excitement.
There are two “normal” rates to the D1 (“one” and “two”) and there’s not much difference between them. One is a bit faster than the other, but yaw is the same and they’re both pretty dialed down – both in terms of pitch and yaw.
The third “rate” is actually headless mode, where the aircraft remembers its original orientation so you don’t have to keep track of your heading when flying. Returning viewers will know I’m not particularly interested in this feature, but I did try it out and it seems to work fine except the yaw becomes incredibly slow. The slowest I’ve ever seen on any multirotor!
On a positive note, the D1 hovers nicely and flips even better: very elegantly and reliably! A word of caution, though: While most multirotors loose (or at best, maintain) altitude in a flip, the D1 seems calibrated (or maybe mis-calibrated) in such a way as to actually gain altitude with every flip. Therefore, don’t be hovering right below the ceiling when pressing that button or you’ll crash and burn!
Speaking of crashing, I’ve done so quite a bit when trying to get a feel for the flight characteristics of the D1 (it’s just part of the process) and have noticed no ill-effects from this. Therefore, my preliminary conclusion is that there’s no reason to suspect quality or durability issues with it, like some people have reported with other pico quadcopters.
In summation, the DHD D1 is – to me – the tamer, more polished pico quadcopter. This would be a suitable first quadcopter for someone, and a pretty neat one at that with its petite size and carry-along quality. More seasoned flyers will probably find it a little dull and should instead have a look at the wilder, more rough-around-the-edges JXD 502.
Regardless, it cannot be denied that technically the DHD D1 is a definite step up for pico quadcopters. Over the JXD 502, it has improved LEDs, flight times and – seemingly – durability, all while pushing the envelope even further in terms of size. That is truly impressive!