JJRC H37 Elfie Selfie Drone Review
2 - 9
Review by Nicholas Turner, Staff Contributor
- Motorola Moto X Gen 1
In the box:
-1S lipo for quadcopter
-Small instruction booklet
-Soft bag for storage and transport
-Set of spare props (4 props)
- Wi-Fi controlled (no need for separate TX)
- Can perform flips
- Fairly durable
- Foldable arms to help with storage and transport
- Wi-Fi controlled (limited range and latency)
- Gyro control didn't work for me
- Low quality camera
- Drifts way too much in a hover
- Loses altitude coming out of a loop
- Struggles in winds unless 100% control throw is enabled
- My phone couldn't playback the recorded AVI files
- Images are saved twice on my phone
- Battery compartment door is tough to get locked/unlocked
- Pulling on the battery lead to unplug will eventually damage the battery lead
- Flip button on app got stuck and quadcopter would constantly flip
The box is slightly larger than a dollar bill in length and was taped shut. Inside the quadcopter set in a plastic tray. Under the tray was the storage bag, spare props, screwdriver, USB charger, and small instruction manual. The quadcopter was secure and undamaged and the small items were in a self-sealing plastic bag.
The arms are folded into the quadcopter and the 1S lipo was installed. I find it very concerning that manufacturers are sending r/c aircraft with lipos installed and connected. An accidental bump that can cause the aircraft to turn on will cause the lipo to puff and possible explode. I'd much rather see safer handling by having the lipo in its own compartment within the box.
The manual states charge time is about 2 hours. This is typical of these little 1S USB chargers. I found the first charge took this long, but after that flying down to LVC (low voltage cutoff) the charge time is closer to an hour. Charging is simple, plug USB charger into the laptop or wall wart, plug battery into the charger. The light on the charger will turn off when done charging.
The Elfie flies via Wi-Fi controls using the JJRC app. I installed the app via Google Play Store without issue. While the battery charges, be sure to read the manual on the app controls. I found the app to be cluttered on such a small screen. So cluttered that a button icon will hide/expand more buttons and trim tabs. I found I used just a handful of buttons on the app. To use the app first turn on flight sticks by pressing the "off/on" icon accordingly. This puts sticks and easy throttle controls (start, stop, emergency stop) buttons on the screen.
Once charged plug the lipo in accordingly. Press the power button on top of the quadcopter. This will cause the lights on the quadcopter to flash at a fast rate. Now connect your phone to the Wi-Fi signal being broadcast by the Elfie. Open the app and connect. Once the controlling device is connected to the quadcopter, you will see the video feed on the phone via the app. To take off press the up arrow to start the motors then push the left stick up. To land press the down arrow, this will cause a decent and once on the ground stop the motors. To kill the motors instantly, press the red stop sign.
The app starts you off in 30% rate mode (as noted by the 30 icon). Pressing the icon will cycle you through 60 and 100% settings. At 30% rating the quadcopter felt lethargic to me and the yaw input seemed very mechanical, so much so I couldn't get the nose to point exactly where I wanted. Being an experienced r/c pilot once I got used to the touch screen sticks I moved up to 100% and was surprised to find the quadcopter to be a little sporty.
Since this quadcopter is billed as a selfie drone the first test was a hands off hover test. Outside in the wind of 3-5mph this test FAILED! The drone drifted constantly, wouldn't event stop long enough to get a clear still picture. I tried the test again in my garage with even less wind and found the Elfie to drift a little less, perhaps it's less enough to get a better image. But in order to be a good selfie drone the hover must be rock solid.
Flying around LOS is decent, it flies like a traditional quadcopter. However, I found winds over 5 miles per hour required the speed setting of 100% in order to overcome the wind and to power through it. There is a button on the app to snap still images, just push the button to take the picture. The video recording button works the same way (press to start and stop), and when recording will flash red text with the current length of record time.
The app has a circle looking button, this is the flip option. Press it, then push the right stick in the direction of the flip. I found the JJRC H37 loses a lot of altitude coming out of a flip, especially front and back flips. The quadcopter bottomed out many times on me, doing what I refer to as a butt stomp. There was an instance when the flip button got stuck in the on position (noticed by turning yellow on app) and thus anytime I tried to fly with the right stick after a takeoff the quadcopter would flip and crash.
Given the quadcopter is thin and black, orientation issues will occur at far distances, and you are limited to the range of the Wi-Fi. But since this is billed as a selfie drone, it's not designed to be flown far away. There is an option to use the gyros on your mobile device to control the quadcopter, unfortunately this never worked for me. Given the light weight of the quadcopter, I've slammed the ground and into the side of a house without causing any damage.
Being this is a selfie drone the image quality is really important. Sadly this is another big area of letdown. The image quality is only 720x756 25fps. So it's nothing to write home about, but it's better than some others on the market (not by much though). Bright areas do cause some blinding/white wash issues with the camera, such as the sun reflecting off a light house or white wall. Another let down I experienced with the video is my phone not being able to playback the recorded AVI files. Even some other people have found some players don't like the file. I've used VLC Player without issue. Another annoying issue is how the app saves a copy of still images in both the normal gallery folder and a JJRC folder, thus taking up twice as much storage space on the phone.
When I was looking at the JJRC H37 Elfie (and Eachine 50 selfie drone) I knew the form factor and Wi-Fi controlled comparison to the Yuneec Breeze and ZEROTECH Dobby is probably where the comparisons ended. I was correct. Being used to a traditional TX and haptic feedback it's really different flying with "virtual" sticks on a touch screen. I didn't have a sense of how far the sticks were moving and how the quadcopter was responding. The smaller the touch screen, the more difficult this is going to be.
I found it a novelty item to say "look at me fly this with my phone" and with that this is not going to be a main stay in my quadcopter arsenal. I may keep it around as I can throw it in my work bag and get a quick flight on the office grounds at work, but that's going to be the limit for me. It's so light weight winds over 5mph are going to be impossible to really fly around in. The camera quality is low, lower than the UDI U845 hexacopter I have. So if I'm going to want aerial shots I'll probably something else.
I don't recommend using this as a selfie drone as the props are wide open, just asking to cut you if you fly too close. Since the quadcopter would drift badly in any type of wind, trying to take a still selfie is going to be really rough/nearly impossible. I can't think of anywhere a normal person would be day to day that has zero winds. Maybe control would be easier with the gyro control method, but it didn't work for me.
Do I recommend the JJRC H37 Elfie selfie drone? Not really.
Is it for beginners? I'm going to say no. It's a bit clunky to fly at 33% and not stable enough to hold a hands off hover.
Should I buy this instead of a $300 selfie drone? If you want high quality images and video, absolutely not.
Why would anyone want to buy this? If someone is just die hard wanting a cheap selfie drone that folds up into your pocket, I can someone not caring about reviews and buying this. Someone who knows nothing about aerial photography in general will probably end up buying this quadcopter.
NOTE: the Eachine E50 and JJRC H37 are the same quadcopter and will behave the same way.