Battery: Built-in 250 mAh (3.7 volt)
Flight time: 4-5 mins (w/ vs w/o prop guards)
Charge time: ~60 mins
Transmitter rates: 3 (fixed yaw rate)
Transmitter compatibility: ?
Headless mode: No
You know I love making these videos, but when talking toy grade multirotors I think I have the lay of the land figured out at this point at this point. Yeah, I’ve pretty much identified the key players and what they’re about: Syma got their geared quadcopters, MJX got their hexacopters… but wait! What is this?
NEW CHALLENGER APPROACHING!
Who are you? Reveal yourself! Ah, Top Race. Well, apparently they’ve actually been around since 2010, but to me and – I think – many others they just recently popped up on the radar. It’s a New York based company targeting mainly the US market. Their website boosts “uniquely designed RC vehicles”, but from what I can tell their catalogue consists mostly (if not exclusively) of rebrands of already existing and often very recognizable models. Their TR-MQ1 looks a lot like the Cheerson CX-10, their TR-MQ3 is very reminiscent of the H1 “Ninja”, their T-Drone bears a striking resemblance to the JJRC JJ-1000 and… Is that the Cheerson CX-12? No of course, it’s the Top Race TR-MQ4!
Don’t get me wrong though! There’s nothing wrong (or new for that matter) with companies rebranding Chinese RC products for their respective local markets, especially if the products happens to be good and the prices fair. There’s just nothing new for an enthusiast to get excited about… but wait! What is this?
NEW CHALLENGER APPROACHING!
Sorry no, I won’t do the same bit again. Anyway, welcome to this review and flight test of the Hoverdrone Nano from Top Race!
First thing’s first: Despite its name, the Hoverdrone Nano is not a nano hexacopter. The MJX X900 is a nano hexacopter, the Revell Nano Hex (which I will try to review shortly) is a nano hexacopter. This, this is more akin to a micro multirotor in size. Here it is compared to the Huiying Toys HY-852 micro quadcopter. Again, there’s nothing wrong with that. I’m not saying it has to be nano sized to be any good! It’s just a little confusing to the consumer, that’s all.
With regards to what is actually good or bad with the aircraft: design. To the extent you – like me – actually care about this aspect, I do find it nice. In fact, it’s what got me to notice it in the first place. What’s the word I’m looking for here? Majestic, gracious… olympic? Does that make any sense? Mine has a white body with red details and this neat logo on its back, judging from the box there’s also a green version with dark green details. As an added bonus, notice the rubber landing feet!
Not so good is the included transmitter. You’re thinking: “Oh it’s just one of those standard nano transmitters, that’s… standard!” That wouldn’t have been exactly “good” either, but no see this is even smaller! Here it is compared to a more standard sized CX-10 transmitter. The CX-10 is the world’s smallest quadcopter! If it can have a transmitter this size, then why can’t the Hoverdrone Nano which isn’t even a proper nano? Anyway, it’s a mode 2 transmitter which uses two AAA batteries and offers shoulder buttons for flips and rates (the sticks do not click) as well as trims for pitch and roll. Except for the fact that it’s unnecessarily tiny impeding precision flying and making it difficult for an adult to grip properly, it all works as expected though.
The Hoverdrone Nano comes with its battery built-in, which in not only negative (because you can’t replace it if it fails and you can’t keep spares to keep flying when one runs out) but also unusual for a multirotor of this size. Charging the hexacopter takes upwards of an hour, which also seems long. Maybe it has to do with the included charger: It looks suspiciously similar to many of my nano chargers, which are meant for charging smaller batteries in the 100 mAh range.
Before I move on to the flight test, I just want to quickly go through the rest of the included accessories. Apart from the transmitter and charger, you get a full set of spare propellers including a prop removal tool and one of those one-piece prop guards. The prop guard comes pre-installed and screws on and off the body of the hexacopter, so no risk of it popping off in a crash. You also get an instruction manual in understandable English (one of the upsides of buying a rebranding I guess) and a sturdy, reusable box. Only downside is the aircraft is held in place by straps, which you have to reattach each time if you want to prevent it from tumbling about in there.
Oh and about this being a rebrand, check this out: I discovered Top Race has literally just put a sticker with their logo over the original brand’s, which is apparently “Helicute”. So without a doubt this is also a rebranded Chinese model, although I’ve never seen it for sale anywhere.
Now onto the flight test, before it’s time to sum up and give a verdict!
Since it came pre-installed I started of flying the Hoverdrone Nano with the prop guard on, but with this setup I only got around 4 minutes of flight, the aircraft felt generally sluggish and lost a lot of altitude when flipping, so I took the prop guard of.
The aircraft still feels a little underpowered, but flight times, responsiveness and flips did improve. My flights now average around 5 minutes before the LVC warning goes on, at which point you still have time to get back and land. Still, a bit on the short side I think.
Even though the flips are much improved with the prop guard off, you don’t get away from a delay between when you press the button and when the actual flip occurs, during which the hexacopter gives thrust in an attempt to compensate and avoid losing altitude.
Overall, the aircraft’s handling is passable but unimpressive. The pitch is not particularly deep, meaning it’s not particularly fast (all the footage you see here is on the highest of the three rates). The yaw rate is static and while not bad, a bit on the slow side. “So?” you think. “It just means this model is geared towards beginners”, right? It would seem so, except!
The main offender with regards to flight characteristics is the Hoverdrone Nano’s apparent inability to hold a steady hover (ironic, considering its name). No matter how much calibration and trim I apply, this thing will just not be still in the air without constant adjustment. This – I would say – makes it less suitable for beginners and less suitable for indoor flying, where precise maneuvering is generally a concern.
On top of that (or perhaps an extreme manifestation of that), you have the number of instances when this hex has just totally freaked out mid-flight and taken off in a random direction. Once this happens, only way to stop it is by killing the throttle. Most flights it’ll work just fine, but once in a while it strikes and at that point you might just as well call it a day because it’ll just keep happening again and again.
I’ve really tried to get to the bottom of this issue: calibrating it, disassembling it to check soldering and motor mounts, exposing the transmitter antenna hoping to eliminate interference… but no luck. I bought mine from Amazon and when I checked back I did find at least one review there (out of a total of 7) where the reviewer had the exact same issue I do. I won’t call this a general issue (meaning you may not experience this at all), but instead choose to write it up as shoddy quality assurance.
In summation, the Top Race Hoverdrone Nano isn’t really a “top racer”, can’t hold a proper hover and isn’t nano sized. When it does work it still gets beat by smaller, cheaper, better handling competition, but somtimes – at least mine – doesn’t even do that.
Should I get it? I would advise against it. If you’re crazy about the miniature hexacopter form-factor, instead check out the MJX X900, Revell Nano Hex or the rest of the competition currently in the pipeline (the JJRC H18 and H20).