Attop YD-829 Sky Dreamer Plus Review

Quick facts:

Battery: Removable 1S 380 mAh LiPo
Flight time: 7 min
Charge time: 80 min

Transmitter rates: 3 (variable yaw speed)
Transmitter compatibility: Eachine CG023, DeviationTX

Competitors: Mould King 33041 Super-S

Video review:

Transcript:

Although they’ve been around for a while, Attop perhaps isn’t one of the better known toy grade multirotor brands. The company – which is still active by the way, currently retailing their “A” series of quadcopters and hexacopters, has put out many models over the years, but their main claim to fame is undeniably the YD-829 Sky Dreamer Plus (not to be confused with Sky Dreamer period, which is a completely different model).

This was never a classic in the sense that it was ever a huge seller or staple of the hobby, but rather in the sense that it was very positively received by the people that did check it out, developing somewhat of a cult following. I don’t doubt the Sky Dreamer Plus has some merit to it, you know what they say, no smoke without fire. The question instead becomes, can it live up to the hype? Let’s find out in the second installment of RCview Classics!

For a name you’re going to be hearing about a million times in this review, it’s strangely absent from the box. It clearly says YD-829, but then just “Cyclone” – which seems to be on all the newer Attop boxes – and “Top Flyer” – which is either just a description or some of the least imaginative naming in history. The quadcopter still says “Sky Dreamer Plus” on it though. I don’t know what’s going on!

Anyway, apart from the uncommon colors it comes in (blue, orange and green, as seen here), there are – in terms of design – two main things I think sets the Sky Dreamer Plus apart: its size and its propellers.

The Sky Dreamer Plus is smaller than your typical mini quadcopter (exemplified here by the GPToys H²0), yet bigger than your typical micro quadcopter (exemplified here by the recently reviewed Syma X11). With models like the DM007 and Mould King Super-S having come and gone, we’ve gotten pretty used to multirotors between conventional size classes now, but when the Sky Dreamer Plus was released back in February of 2015, it raised some eyebrows. It’s quite a convenient size too: small enough for transport but also big enough to house a small gear system in each arm, just like its bigger counterparts.

Unlike many of its bigger counterparts though, the Sky Dreamer Plus uses three instead of two-bladed propellers, which is pretty uncommon for toy grade quadcopters regardless of size. While I’m out of my depth on the science, an agreed-upon notion seems to be that two-bladed props offer better efficiency while three and up-bladed props is capable of generating more thrust. I don’t mind spoiling a later part of the review by revealing that neither flight times nor thrust is an issue, so the three blades are obviously more than a gimmick. My guess is that it comes back to the size: Three-blades allows for smaller propellers that still generates the same amount of thrust, which fits the Sky Dreamer Plus’ limited clearance.

Excluding the aspects that set it apart, the Sky Dreamer Plus’ design comes across as fairly unremarkable and the few details worth mentioning are kind of a mixed bag: On one hand, the lights of the quadcopter are absolutely exemplary thanks to their differentiated colors and the quadcopters shine through body. On the other though, there is no on/off switch (though this annoyance can be alleviated with a simple mod that allows you to connect the battery without opening the battery bay) and – while both prop guards and landing gears can be removed – the quadcopter won’t sit flat on the ground without the latter in place.

The Sky Dreamer Plus uses single cell LiPos with the common Losi Micro connector and while the included battery is adequate with its 380 mAh, its compartment can fit significantly higher capacity batteries (especially with the mod shown earlier). I’ve mostly been flying using a 500 mAh LiPo from a Syma X5 quadcopter with significantly longer flight times and no noticeable adverse effects on flight characteristics from the added weight. I have noticed the LVC warning does become somewhat unreliable with some alternative batteries, but I can’t really fault Attop for that.

The Sky Dreamer Plus comes with a hobby grade style toy grade transmitter I hadn’t seen before. Ignoring the fake buttons and antenna, it’s actually pretty good! The sticks have decent travel, resolution and feel designed to accommodate both thumb and pinch flyers. It even has a picture of a quadcopter on it in case you forgot what one looks like. My only major gripe with the transmitter is that Attop has assigned headless mode – which I basically don’t use – to one of the prominent shoulder buttons but automatic flips – which I actually do use – to an inconvenient click of the right stick.

The Sky Dreamer Plus can also be flown with the Deviation TX alternative firmware for Walkera Devo transmitters using the “CG023” protocol.

The flight characteristics of the Sky Dreamer Plus really took me by surprise! With the look and approximate size of a – generally more docile – mini quadcopter I went in expecting it to handle a certain way, only to discover it in fact handles a completely different way, much more akin to a – generally sportier – micro quadcopter.

It’s tempting to draw parallels to the earlier reviewed but later released Mould King Super-S, another brushed and geared micro-mini hybrid. Just like it, the Sky Dreamer Plus – instead of picking a niche for itself – seems to try to appeal to every possible skill level with its wildly varied rates. The difference is that where I felt Mould King’s model wasn’t entirely successful at balancing its rates (on top of a number of quality control issues), Attop pretty much nails it with the YD-829.

The Sky Dreamer Plus transmitters cycles between three rates, called 40, 70 and 100% and ranging from ridiculously slow (possibly useful for complete beginners who tend to really yank the sticks without necessarily wanting a big reaction) to pretty fast, close to what is usually reserved for sportier micro quadcopters.

The yaw speed increases with each rate and stays in very good step with pitch and roll throughout. On the 100% rate the yaw is fast, but not so fast as to become a hindrance in normal flight or reduced to one of those stunt modes familiar from the H8 Mini and the like.

The Sky Dreamer Plus has a “headless mode”, which was much more novel at time of its release than today, and while I usually brush past this in my reviews it was a big selling point for the model (so much so they put it front and center on the box), so here we go:

In short, in headless mode the aircraft tries to track and compensate for its orientation, so that forward pitch always moves the craft in the original forward direction and so on, regardless which way it’s actually facing. I remember this being very appealing to me as a beginner, but learning to fly headless mode is kind of like learning to drive automatic… if automatic gear shifts were much less common and reliable. Chances are your next step in multirotors won’t have headless mode and it turns out you’ve just been putting off the unavoidable.

Anyway, credit where credit is due: The Sky Dreamer Plus’ headless mode is pretty good considering it doesn’t have an actual compass or other sensor to track its orientation (it basically just remembers your turns). It keeps its heading well and – as an added bonus – spares your ears from the incessant beeping many early implementations used to have to indicate the mode was active.

Out of the box the Sky Dreamer Plus has a flight time of between 6½ and 7½ minutes depending on whether you leave prop guards and landing feet attached, which is already perfectly acceptable. As mentioned earlier though, you can fit bigger capacity batteries for even longer flights. The 500 mAh LiPo I’ve been using gives me roughly 9 minutes and according to a credible source 600 mAh (probably about the limit) provides flight times well over 10 minutes!

In conclusion, despite thinking long and hard I can’t, apart from a few minor annoyances here and there, come up with much negative to say about the Attop Sky Dreamer Plus. I wish it had an on/off switch, they’d swapped the buttons for flips and headless mode on the transmitter and it didn’t need the landing gears to sit perfectly flat on the ground, but other than that it’s pretty much as good as it gets in this size class and price range.

Thanks to the well balanced and varied rates, the Sky Dreamer Plus is an in and outdoor flyer with something to offer for practically everyone, from absolute beginner to seasoned pilot. If you’re just starting out, the YD-829 should give you plenty of room to grow and a good enough transmitter that what you learn with it is still applicable on more hobby grade like equipment.

The biggest criticism you can really point at it is that – like with the recently reviewed Syma X11 – judged by today standards, the Sky Dreamer Plus is “just” a great flyer, lacking all the WiFi FPV, smartphone control and altitude hold many of the latest toy multirotors seems to be all about. If this is something you feel you need, it’s really the one legitimate reason I can think of why not to at least consider this quadcopter.

So yeah, turns out in this case there really is no smoke without fire.

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