Battery: Built-in 100 mAh, 3.7 volt
Flight time: 5½ mins
Charge time: 20-25 mins?
Transmitter rates: 2 (changing yaw rate)
Transmitter compatibility: ?
Headless mode: Yes
Competitors: DHD D1, Cheerson CX-10
I know, I know! I’m late to the party with this one. When the FQ777-124 was first announced sometime in May of this year, I already had a long list of multirotors I was interested in and – honestly – this didn’t place high on it. As returning viewers know I do carry a fascination for anything portable, but to me there was just something off-putting about this particular model. In the months since, I’ve gotten several both recommendations about and requests to review it, so when I found myself in a situation where I could get it for cheap I thought to myself: “This is a sign, the time is now.” …and here we are!
Come to think about it, what I did – and to some degree still do – find so off-putting about Pocket Quadcopter is probably its looks. There’s something almost unfinished about… at least the transmitter. Just look at it compared to the transmitter from the Helic Max Sky Bomber I happened to have on hand! I’m not saying I would’ve liked the latter, I’m saying I would’ve liked a something looking like a finished product as opposed to a prototype or mold used in the factory to produce the actual transmitters.
The quadcopter itself is a different story: Identical to the Cheerson CX-10 in terms of size and weight, but with a distinctive, vaguely futuristic design. It’s available in black, white, blue and red and – in hindsight – I regret getting the white because it feels like the most boring looking of the four. A nice touch is the unique decals associated with each color. Even though the aircraft itself is not ugly by any means, it still fails at some extent due to its clean design being so different from the industrial roughness of the transmitter.
On a positive note, “industrial roughness” can – in my experience – also be used to describe the quality of the Pocket Quadcopter. Due to different circumstances (of course none being pilot error, hehe… come on guys!), mine has been put through some serious crashes and still flies perfect without any manual intervention. This sense of sturdiness carries over to other aspects of the quadcopter, like the transmitter which exhibits no sign flimsiness and – even – things like battery and range which I’ll talk about later.
Functionallyspeaking, it’s pretty much business as usual with the Pocket Quadcopter. There’s a 100 mAh 3.7 vol t LiPo battery inside it, a charging connector and an on/off switch in the back as well as four LEDs in two different colors (one on each rotor arm), making flights in the dark very possible.
I’ve covered pocket quadcopters… wallet drones… quadcopters-in-a-box… Whatever you call them! …before and as far these go, the Pocket Quadcopter stands as one of the more complete, thought through solutions. Just as with all of them, the transmitter can store the quadcopter inside it, but this one also offers a compartment in the back for storing spare propellers and a prop guard. You even get a strap for attaching the whole thing to your bag or backpack (‘cause despite its name, it’s unlikely to fit in your pocket). In the back, you’ll also find a charging cable. Yes, you can charge the quadcopter off the transmitter’s batteries in the field. This is convenient and – it should be noted – can be pulled off (although rather awkwardly) even while the quadcopter is stored inside the transmitter. “Where does the batteries go when basically the whole transmitter is used for storage?” you ask. There are 4 AA batteries required and they go behind these black pieces here, 2 on each side. Pretty nifty!
…but wait, the original ideas don’t end there! Thanks to its symmetrical nature, the transmitter can be turned and used upside down, thereby catering to both mode 1 (right hand throttle) and mode 2 (left hand throttle) preferences. I find this very clever and am surprised it’s the first time I’m seeing it done, it’s just too bad it trips on the finish line in terms of execution by not remembering which mode was most recently used, instead starting in mode 2 each flight.
Instead of having removable sticks like some other implementations of the carry-along idea I’ve tested, the Pocket Quadcopter have solved the height profile problem by instead miniaturizing them. While by no means a complete failure, I’m not exactly in love either: You don’t get a great sense of precision and they’re a little bit slippery. I do hear they are replaceable though. Speaking of things I’m not exactly in love with regarding the transmitter: the trim buttons. They are present, but I find their placement very confusing. Let’s say the quadcopter drifts forward and to the left, which trim buttons would you press in order to compensate?
The FQ777-124 comes generously equipped with accessories, some of which I’ve already mentioned in passing: There’s not one but two full sets of spare propellers, a one-piece style prop guard (which I haven’t gotten around to test), a set of landing gear (for whatever reason), the already mentioned wrist strap, a sheet of instructions in English and Chinese and even a regular USB charging cable separate from the built-in charging mechanism.
Full disclosure: I have had some issues with the just mentioned “regular” charging cable. For one, it’s really difficult connecting it to the quadcopter so that it actually charges. For another, my “USB Charger Doctor” indicates it’s actually charging long after the indicator light has gone out. What’s the real time to charge? The manual specifies 35 minutes, but in my experience it’s closer to 20-25 minutes.
Taking the Pocket Quadcopter airborne, it’s easy to see why people have recommended it to me. Once you get use to the unusually short sticks, it reveals itself as a solid flyer.
There are only two rates, which I’ve named “quite fast” and “real fast”, and the yaw rate changes when you switch between them. Because of its speed, my conclusion – after trying it both in- and outdoors – is that it’s better suited for the latter. Although it works fine indoors, it just feels a little misplaced in too cramped environments. Like a sports car on a go-kart track. It’s really unfortunate it doesn’t come with a proper beginner’s rate as well, since it could otherwise – at least based on the flight characteristics alone – have been recommended to just about anyone.
Flips are tight and reliable, but the Pocket Quadcopter has an annoying habit of giving extra throttle after completing the maneuver (supposedly to help the pilot compensate). This gets really frustrating indoors where you tend to either hit the ceiling or – trying to avoid just that – end up shutting off the throttle mid-flip, in turn crashing instead. The usual rule of thumb for nano quadcopters, to be high up when flipping, does not apply with the Pocket Quadcopter.
With a fully charged battery the Pocket Quadcopter offers around 5½ minutes of air time including a generous LVC warning, which is respectable. It feels like that maybe used to be the norm for nano quadcopters, but with the recent advances in size and features it has suffered. Regardless, it feels good to get to fly what by nano quadcopter standards at least has to be considered “a good long while” with each charge.
Lastly, it should probably also be noted that the Pocket Quadcopter does have headless mode and “return to home” functionality, controlled by what would otherwise have been the throttle trim buttons. Headless mode was all the rage at the time this was released and I believe the Pocket Quadopter was one if not the first nano quadcopter to offer the feature. Anyway, I’m not a big fan. Did try it out briefly and it seemed to work fine.
In summation… I have very little to complain about. It might not blow you away with its looks, it might not be the most beginner friendly and it may have some minor annoyances with regards to its sticks and flips, but – overshadowing all of this – the SBEGO FQ777-124 Pocket Quadcopters very much delivers in terms of flight characteristics, quality and price. …and it’s portable in a way that works!
If you already own a nano quadcopter this may not offer anything different enough to warrant a purchase, but for anyone who – for whatever reason – haven’t yet taken the leap it should be a candidate seriously considered.