DM007 Quadcopter Review

Quick facts:

Battery: Replaceable 400 mAh (7.4 volt)
Flight time: ~7 mins
Charge time: ~75 mins

Transmitter rates: 2 (fixed yaw rate)
Transmitter compatibility: ?
Headless mode: Yes

Competitors: Mould King Super-S, Syma X5 (and derivatives)

FAQ:

Can it lift an 808/Mobius/GoPro camera?

The question is perhaps not so much “Can it lift my camera?” as it is “Should I really be using it to lift my camera?”. Remember that even if it takes off, putting excessive stress on any motor will cause it to fail (a little or a lot) sooner than it otherwise would have. I would draw the line at the 808 cam weight class (~17g).

Video review:

Transcript:

The DM007 is such an odd aircraft. It is as if it was designed by someone – albeit competent – who heard about the concept of quadcopters 5 minutes before they went to work, either actively disregarding or simply unaware of most major design conventions the competition abides to. The upside of this is that it makes the DM007 unique, potentially something to check out for seasoned enthusiasts who’ve started to feel they’ve seen it all before. The downside is that these conventions often have developed for a reason, also giving the DM007 a novel set of complementary problems.

Contents
Size-wise the DM007 is neither micro nor mini, instead landing (pun intended) somewhere in-between. Here it is compared to a JJRC JJ-1000, exemplifying the micro size class, and a Syma X5, exemplifying the mini size class. The size of the propellers is definitely closer to those of a micro though, giving it an impression of a scaled up micro rather than vice versa.

You know what the design reminds me of? The “Banshee” aircraft in the video game series Halo! Imagine that, but black and with motors and propellers instead of unknown alien propulsion. Pretty close! Anyway, returning viewers will know I’m a sucker for minimalist design and very much in line with that, I dig the look of the DM007 a lot. It might not be the most practical as I’ll have reason to get back to, but leaving that aside for now it’s undeniably original, elegant and tasteful.

Another point where the DM007 blazes its own trail is LED placement. While it’s customary – standard even – for multirotors to have these placed along the rotor arm, the DM007 instead houses all of its LEDs in the main body. There are two “windows” in the canopy through which a kind of Kit-from-Knight-Rider or perhaps Cylon effect is emitted whenever the craft is powered. The effect is admittedly striking, but – considering the lights are not nearly visible from all angles and that completely black body – it comes at the cost of problematic night, or even dusk flying capabilities. Believe me, I’ve tried!

Another LED related point of concern is the fact that there’s no discernable LVC – Low Voltage Cut-off – warning, meaning there’s no easy way to tell when the battery is about to run out. All the lights are basically doing their little show regardless of what’s going on and you instead have to rely on throttle feedback to determine when flight time’s up. This is not only annoying, but can also lead to over-discharging which can shorten the lifespan of or – in a worst case scenario – completely ruin the battery.

Continuing down the list of points where the DM007 just does things differently than the competition, we’ve got the fact that it’s direct drive. Direct drive means there is no gearing between motor and propeller, in turn meaning the propellers spin at the same speed as the motors. While not so uncommon for micro multirotors, it’s practically unheard of in the context of minis. Having a geared setup means there is gearing between motor and propeller, often to allow a weaker motor to work a larger propeller at slower speed. I don’t know why the manufacturer have made this design decision, but regardless it makes the DM007 the largest direct drive toy multirotor I’m aware of.

It also goes in line with some other curious details about the aircraft: As mentioned, the propellers are significantly smaller than on most minis. This is so as to make them feasible to drive directly by the motors. Also, the LiPo battery is a 2 cell, 7.4 volt instead of the more common 1 cell, 3.7 volt. This is to provide the necessary voltage for the motors to take off with such small propellers.

The battery compartment is a ridiculously tight fit: To get battery and cable in there and then getting the door to shut properly often takes upwards of a minute of fidgeting. This is especially unfortunate since there is no on/off switch, meaning the craft is powered as soon as you plug in the battery and all the time between then and when you’re actually ready to takeoff comes off your flight time. Likewise once installed, the battery is almost as difficult to get out. I’ve often had to use a key or pen to pry it out of there.
This was working itself up to be more than a mild annoyance to me until I happened upon an easy – and apparently quite popular – fix: Simply making two indentations in the battery door large enough to fit the cables through. This allows for the battery to be both connected and charged without removing it from its compartment or even opening the door. Highly recommended!

The DM007 comes with a – for the money – very nice, hobby-style transmitter. It uses mode 2 (which I don’t think you can change) and does all the things you’d expect it to: Bind, trim, flip, cycle between rates, trigger photo or video capture (if you happen to have the official camera attached), beep, blink… Yeah, all that good stuff! There’s even headless mode which is activated by “clicking” the right stick.

It also comes with a mains charger which charges the aforementioned battery in around 75 minutes, spare propellers and an instruction manual that’s – albeit understandable – not 100% in sync with the actual product. For example it mentions four rates when there are really only two and LVC warning indicating low voltage while I have noticed no such thing.

Flight test
Something with this power to size ratio must pack some serious punch, but with another stroke in face of both expectation and – maybe – popular demand, the manufacturer have opted to significantly limit the DM007’s rates. The result is a very easy-to-fly as well as perfectly behaved and reliable, if somewhat docile flyer. This goes for both of the two rates, which don’t differ much and range from slow to moderate in terms of pitch. Despite its somewhat larger size, flips – regardless of direction – are equally consistent and the craft generally keeps level throughout.

Some people may be disappointed to hear the DM007 is not ideally suited for aggressive flight (…and it really isn’t, if that’s your thing just give it a pass), but instead I ask you to consider it an entry level camera platform: It’s slow, stable and reliable, but also powerful. Perfect, right?

There is actually a version of the DM007 that comes with a camera attachment. The upside of this official camera is that you can control capture of photos and video directly from the transmitter, the perhaps overshadowing downside is that toy multirotor cameras are almost unanimously disappointing in terms of picture quality and – while I haven’t tested this one myself – there’s a risk it’s not the sole exception to that rule.

I didn’t get the camera version, so instead I attached my 808 keychain camera (the same I shot this footage with) to the bottom of the quadcopter with a piece of Velcro. What you’re looking at now is the result!

Due to some details on the battery door, which would be the most natural place to put the camera, I was initially unable to get a horizontal angle. To get around this, I fashioned a super-simple mount by stacking pieces of plastic from a disused commuter card I happened to have laying around. Height is not an issue, since the landing gear (which are removable, by the way) provide ample clearance.

From there on out, it was smooth sailing! The aircraft handles the payload of the 808 camera very well. In terms of flight characteristics, I noticed practically no difference with versus without camera attached. Flight time is more difficult to get a read on since there’s no LVC warning, but at least it was not terribly reduced from the around 7 minutes you’d get normally. Based on this my guess is that it could possibly also lift a Mobius or similar camera (verify this though before taking off over water or into the stratosphere!), but, just because there’s enough clearance underneath, don’t be tempted to try strapping a GoPro or alike to it because that’ll either just not work or overload and break the motors.

Conclusion
In summation, the Daming DM007 is a unique craft with many interesting design aspects. With that said, its closest relative is probably something like the Syma X5: A stable rather than sporty, easy-to-fly quadcopter with some spare payload capacity to carry a smaller camera, either included or self-provided.

If you’re a beginner or looking to take your first step towards aerial photography the DM007 is a definite alternative, but there are many competitors and so is – for example – the mentioned super-popular Syma X5 with its proven track-record abundance of spare parts. Where does this leave the DM007? As a good but not the best alternative in an overcrowded niche of the market.

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