More than Meets the Eye

As a child, I grew up in the RC car era. You had the smaller/cheaper kits available through Kay-Bee Toys or Toys-R-Us. They may or may not have had forward/reverse and a steering button.  Or, they may have solely had a forward button. If released, the vehicle would move backward and rotate in a circle. We have probably all played with those beginner RC cars, at one time or another. My children still have one or two of these laying around. From this, I grew into a young adult and moved into an actual RC RTR (Ready to Race) 1:10 Losi Desert Truck. Talk about fun and fast! I really enjoyed the mechanical side of the racing, fixing parts that broke. Then other hobbies grabbed my interest and I moved away from radio controlled vehicles. I briefly moved back into the helicopter craze that occurred a few years ago. This past weekend, I had the pleasure of watching one of my friends fly a rather large and impressive drone. It looked amazingly fun.

METAKOO Bee Intelligent Altitude Mini Drone REVIEWI was given the METAKOO Mini Drone for review. The packaging is rather unexciting, as a brown cardboard box with a small brown slip cover around it. The top of the box shows the name in the top right and the slip cover has a pen outline copy of the drone. The bottom of the slipcover provides the product label markings and the made in China label. Opening the box, you are greeted to a black mini-drone with orange propeller X 4 and red writing. This is held in place by a silver elastic band. The cardboard is easily removed and you get to the accessories. Included are the controller, with dual thumbsticks (Left and Right controller mode), a yellow USB A charger, 4 extra Propellers (Very important as I broke one on my second flight) and a user manual that is written in English, Italian, German, Spanish. I want to provide Kudos to the company on this manual, at least the English version. This is well written, and actually very useful to understand the flight of the drone and great for troubleshooting.

Use:
Starting out, you will need to get #2 AAA batteries for the controller. Follow the labeling inside the back and place the batteries, making sure to close the back fully. Next, plug the USB A charger into a USB port and plug it into the drone. You will see a Red LED inside of the charger illuminate. This will turn off when done, approximately 10-15 minutes. The light will turn off when the drone is ready to fly. The default setting on the drone is left trigger throttle mode (This review will assume default). If desired, you can change this by holding the trim button along the bottom right, turn on the transmitter, release the trim button and then allow it to beep once. If you turn it off and then turn it on again, it will resume left handed mode. This controller has more functions than you will likely discover the first time, which is quite amazing. It has a one touch take off/landing button, or as I like to call it a prevent crashing button, located between the two throttle sticks.

It is recommended to have a lot of room for this one, at least until you get good. It took a good 15 minutes, or just about the full flight time to get used to the sensitivity of the flight. Luckily, I did not break a propeller, crashing this thing into the walls of my basement. This is no fault of the device, it is amazingly strong for such a small device. Rather, the fault is all mine. Truthfully, it is part of the fun of learning a new device. Each has a learning curve and some are definitely steeper than others. When the LED turns off, remove from the charger and set on a flat surface. Slide the slider on the front of the drone to on, and then repeat with the controller.

Next, slide the left trigger up once, listen for the beep, slide it towards you and listen for a beep. You are now ready to fly.

There are 2 different ways to get the drone off the ground. First, arm the motors by pushing both of the thumb sticks towards the down and out position. This will start the motors spinning, but provide no lift. Slowly push the left thumb stick forward and the drone will elevate from the ground. Here is where I caution you to only make small adjustments to prevent veering uncontrollably into a given direction. To disarm the rotors keep the thumb sticks in the down and out a position for 3 seconds and the blade rotation will cease. The second way to get the drone off the ground is to press the up arrow in the middle of the controller and the drone will hover at about 1.5 meters off the ground. Press the down arrow and it will land for you. The left stick controls the height and will rotate the drone either clockwise (right) or counter-clockwise (left). The right stick controls forward/backward, left and right motion.

METAKOO Bee Intelligent Altitude Mini Drone REVIEW

These are the basic features that the drone can complete. These are the maneuvers that you may be able to discover, without reading the manual. There are some advanced features, which are really quite extraordinary, for this little drone. To change between the modes, you need to press the throttle stick (Right thumb stick) once and you will get one beep, noting beginner. Press it again and it will beep 2x for intermediate, press a third time and you will hear 3beeps for advanced. Fast rotation is only available in advanced mode. To access this, press the thumb stick on the right into the controller (yes there is also in/out a position for the thumb sticks). Lastly, this will also complete 360-degree rolls and flips (all modes). To use this feature, press the left thumb stick into the controller and then listen for it to beep once, entering flip mode. You will then move the left stick quickly into a given direction to make it perform the flip/roll of your choice. This will maintain height if you have both of the thumb sticks in the middle. There is a trim adjustment and instructions to add paper. The drone is stable enough that I did not have to add any paper to mine, to get a relatively stable hover in place. However, for a 0.5ounce drone, this is quite an amazing feature.

I have charged, used and charged this thing at least 5 times today alone, getting about 10-15 minutes per charge and requiring about 10-15 minutes to charge. The more you do with it, the faster it will burn through the available charge. I am really impressed with this little drone. It has some pretty advanced features for a device this size and is quite stable. I am very thankful for the extra rotors, these do come in handy. There is a trim set button, there is a calibrate feature (push both sticks down and right and wait for the flashing to stop). If you notice that the drone is moving quickly one direction, place it on a flat surface and recalibrate. This works well. I am really pleased with the flip and roll feature. The flight is smooth and after a short while you will be able to not only lift up/down and move left/right/forward/backward but actually navigate with it. There are no waypoint/return to home features, but expecting this to have that ability is ridiculous. It does have the auto up/down feature, however. The last piece of information that I find really nice is that the drone charges via USB from wall power and not from controller batteries. Unfortunately, many of the helicopter toys charge from the 6AA batteries inside the controller, using and draining multiple AA batteries. I really like this drone and rate it at 5/5. It is a really fun device, one with more features than you would imagine.
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For more information, visit metakoo.com/bee.
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