Dream Fly HC 268 Selfie Drone Review
1 - 13
Review by Nicholas Turner, Staff Contributor
- Stock equipment
- 4x "AA" sized batteries for TX
- Orange Color
- 2.4GHz TX as well as Wifi app
- Follow a drawn path via app
- Phone holder is not part of TX battery door
- Appropriate lipo charging time
- Manual doesn't mention arming sequence
- English translation in the manual is not the best
- Manual doesn't explain how to perform flips
- Manual instructions are wrong for lipo charging
- Severely drifts
- Range limited to about 50 feet
- Voice control is limited and not perfect
- Battery and motors come down extremely hot
- Red and Green LEDs are not red/green color blind friendly
- Only 2 extra props instead of 4
- Arms don't easily and nicely fold in
- Screws on both the quadcopter and TX battery hatches
The Dream Fly HC 268 quadcopter is packed nicely, the unit itself is folded up and in a plastic tray. The battery is inside the unit, but not plugged in. The second layer plastic tray housed the bag of goodies, 2.4GHz TX, and phone holder for the TX. Under the last plastic tray layer was the manual and a piece of paper explaining the preferred app. I found nothing missing and nothing damaged.
Remove the screws on the quadcopter and TX battery hatches. The screw on the quadcopter battery hatch makes no sense to me. This is an extra pain to deal with every flight, so I pulled mine out and left it. The TX requires 4 "AAA" sized batteries. Again, I took the screw out and left it out. I found the AAA battery wells to be an extremely tight fit, causing me to struggle with getting the batteries in and out. While charging the lipo read the manual! I struggled with the manual because it is small font and the English translation is not one of the best I've seen.
Charging the Lipo:
Here's my first warning about the manual. The manual states the LED on the charging cord will be red when charging and green when charged. This is NOT true. Instead the charger's red LED will turn on when the battery is fully charged. I figured this out by paying attention to the charger's LED as I plugged it into a USB port. When plugged in to a USB port with no battery attached, the red LED was lit. When the discharged battery was connected, the red LED turned off. Once charged the red LED was lit. Charging takes about an hour to hour and half. This is expected and appropriate charging times for these 1S 600mAh lipos.
My first 3 attempts to fly this quadcopter had me highly mad, upset, and disappointed. I chose to use the 2.4GHz TX to get familiar with the quadcopter. According the manual once powered on and paired to the 2.4GHz TX, I either move both control sticks to the lower outside corners to start the motors or press the corresponding one key take of button. None of these methods worked for me. Eventually I accidently moved the left stick up and back down and heard a beep on the TX. Then the motor start or take off sequence worked. Gripe number three about the manual: the arming or link binding sequence with the 2.4GHz TX was not mentioned or covered. Without this knowledge one would write this quad off as a dud and the consumer would want their money back.
With the quadcopter properly armed/linked the one button take off sequence worked flawlessly. I expected the location of the control sticks to be odd and unnatural being near the bottom center of the TX, but that was not the case. Flying the quadcopter with the TX was just like flying my hobby grade FPV 220mm quadcopter. I was so comfortable flying it around I was flying it farther away until it flew off on me. I had these "flyaways" happen three times when flying with the 2.4GHz TX. I am certain I was flying beyond the range of the link (roughly 50 feet) and the quadcopter was trying to return to home. Being a non-GPS quadcopter the return to home function is dumb. It just flies in a straight line based on its current orientation the opposite direction. For example, if you take off with the quad pointed away from you, then spring it on the yaw axis to point at you, return to home will have it fly backwards away from you. So it will fly away until you chase it down and are back in range to shut it down, or it will hit stuff. There is a return to home button, but I never used it because this type of return to home is stupid and in my opinion return to home should only be there if using GPS. Another feature I never used was headless mode. Having 30 plus years in the r/c aviation hobby, headless mode feels wrong to me and I hate that flight mode. To be a selfie quadcopter the quadcopter needs to hold a steady hover. The only way I could get a steady hover was to use a lot of trim. My quadcopter unit wanted to drift forward a lot. I was also flying in 8mph winds, to which the quadcopter struggled on any power setting less than 100%/speed mode 3. Using the 2.4GHz TX the quadcopter can flip by pressing the top right shoulder button and then the corresponding direction on the right joystick. I found flips to be quick and easy. This brings up another gripe concerning the manual, the overview of the TX does not mention which button enables flip mode, but later the manual mentions doing flips. In the TX, the left stick is on a spring and returns to center to create altitude hold.
After this flight the battery came down extremely hot/warm as well as the motors. With the amount of heat on the lipo my concern is a limited life for the lipo. There are red and green LEDs on the bottom of the arms to signify front and back as well as the quadcopter’s status (low battery and link not found). But my red/green colorblindness did not let me see these well or at all and since they are on the bottom of the arms unless the quad is flying higher than your head they can't be seen.
The wifi control app works well. There are many ways to control the quadcopter: standard stick inputs, voice, gyro sensor, and follow a drawn path. Follow the path mode requires the quadcopter to be up in a hover at the desired altitude first, then with the mode enabled on the app, draw a simple path on the right side of the app. I found my quadcopter's severe drifting impacted how well the quad flew the path. But it did attempt to follow the drawn path. Path mode on the phone is unaware of the quadcopter's motor state, so if a path is drawn with the motors off, the app will show the quad following the path even though it is not.
Standard Stick Input:
This works just like the 2.4GHz TX. There are 2 sticks on the screen and thumbs are used to control the quadcopter. I found the controls worked well, no visible lag from input to the time the quadcopter moved accordingly. The one issue I did have was not recognizing two thumb inputs. For example I wanted to do a climbing circular turn, I either got the climb or the move right. I'm not sure if that is a limitation of the app or my phone. I kept the quadcopter in close, less than 50 feet and had no issue.
Voice control in the app is limited to 7 commands. These commands show up for a few seconds on the screen when voice control is first enabled. There are two issues I have here in the app: first how short of a time the commands stay on the screen, and secondly the text is in red so when the camera is looking at green grass or green tree the 20% of the male population with red/green colorblindness may not be able to see the text (as was in my case a few times). The commands listed are: take off, right side, left side, backup, forward, and landing. I found if I kept the phone close to my mouth (like on a phone call) and I spoke clear and precise the voice commands worked. Yelling made things worse, it had to be a nice calm, just the right speed, cool speak. Again, the severe drift in my quadcopter caused some issues, but the commands worked. Voice control was cool, a novelty item in a way because I'm sure I looked silly to my neighbors. But it's not perfect as it didn't take into account my dialect or how fast I can talk.
Gyro Sensor Control:
I did not try this mode out, but will later. This mode allows you to tilt your smart device and the movement picked up by the accelerometer will be translated to the quadcopter. My past experience with this type of control on another brand's selfie quad was not positive. I'll update the review after I test this flight mode.
Videos and Photos:
The app has a button to snap a still photo and one to start and stop video recording. Still photos are quick and easy, being stored in the standard photo album on my Android device. Taking videos is just as easy with the video button. There is also a button for video playback in the app. However, I found the app to store the videos not in the standard photo album where the phone's camera stores videos. I ended up having to install ES File Explorer to find the videos and then use Bluetooth to transfer them to laptop for use. A big negative in my book because the whole idea of taking video with a quadcopter is to share cool footage with others online. The pictures are a 720x576 resolution at 0.3megapixels. So not the highest quality, but the lowest. If the quadcopter is about three feet away (arm’s length) I found the images to look halfway decent (maybe too much exposure or white balance) but flown farther away the quality degrades. The videos are 720x576 resolution at 25 frames per second at 0.3 megapixels as well. So again, not the worst quality but not the greatest either. If viewing at the native size/resolution it is watchable and items are actually recognizable, unlike other quadcopters in the sub $50 USD price point. The camera on the quad can be pointed straight down or forward facing at a max of about 15-20 degrees. The camera had to be manually positioned prior to take off, so it is better to fly line of sight (LOS) to get in position, then use the app to position for the picture/video.
The Dream Fly HC268 is NOT for a beginner because of the horrible instruction book and the severe drift. Honestly, if it wasn't for my profession, I would not have spent as much time figuring this little quadcopter out. Its light weight design really limits it to fling in a max of 5mph winds (which is hard to find days like this) and the limited range is disappointing at first. But taking a step back this is a sub $50 selfie quadcopter. It's not meant to flown or used like a hobby grade FPV or free style quadcopter. With this in mind: what does the Dream Fly H268 excel at? Well, nothing in reality. It'll fly ok once properly trimmed (and maybe gyros need to be recalibrated before every flight) but at a max of around 50 feet from the controller. Wifi app control is fairly standard and worked well for me. Voice control and path following modes to be highly effective need improvement, but does provide basic functionality. The video quality does not compete in the world of HD and 4k videos, but for the price point isn't terrible (it's like the camera quality that was on the early early camera phones).
Do I recommend this quadcopter? As plain as I can put it, NO. It's not for someone without experience that doesn't mind figuring out the quadcopter due to the horrible manual. The lack of airflow over the battery with the battery coming down very hot is going to cause a lipo fire eventually. I threw my pack into a lipo sack immediately for this reason.
Is this for beginners? No, the manual is horrible and the range is highly limited.
Is this a Wingsland S6 killer? NO, the only similarity is the color scheme.
Is this a DJI Spark killer? No.
Overall, if you like to figure out how things work, you don't read manuals, and you want a toy grade quadcopter to fly at no more than 50 feet away that is portable and can be flow without the 2.4GHz TX, then maybe you'll have fun with this quadcopter. But for the masses who don't want to fiddle with it and to just fly as they expect, you'll be upset.