March 2016: Eachine H8 mini quadcopter
I thought it would be cool to send a drone out, and this is the best one I could find for less than $15 US. It's the Eachine H8, a super-mini RC quadcopter! I spent the weekend playing with this thing, it's a lot of fun!
When you get it, you'll need to charge it for a bit – 2 hours should be fine. Just plug the USB end of the yellow charging cable into one of the half-dozen phone chargers you probably have lying around, or your computer as a last resort, and plug the other end into the copter's battery pack. You'll also need 3 AAA batteries for the controller.
Once you're ready to test it out, plug the drone into itself (that is, the battery pack into the rest of it) and put it on the ground. The red and blue lights should be flashing. Make sure not to touch any of the buttons or joysticks on the controller, and that the right joystick is all the way down. Turn on the controller with the switch on the bottom, then steadily move the right-hand joystick from the bottom to the top, and back down.
After some beeping, the lights should stop flashing and you're ready to fly. From the point of view of the controller, the two red lights are forward. Start gently easing the right-hand joystick up – that's the throttle. If you find the quadcopter is moving left or right by itself, you can use the button below the left-hand joystick to trim; press left if it's veering right, and right if it's veering left. If it's going forward or back, you can trim that using the middle pair of adjustments. The one below the right joystick can similarly correct any rotation.
Do your best to get the quadcopter hovering, then start practicing! It took a few solid hours of practice (with some charging in between of course) before I could really control it all that well, but after that I had a grand time buzzing my wife and flying it around the house.
So how did we do this month? Let us know on Twitter: @onestrangething