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First flights with the XIRO Xplorer Drone Quadcopter w/ 3 Axis GoPro Gimbal


I was asked to evaluate the Xiro/Zero quadcopter and have been doing so for a short time. I actually didn't know what to expect in the mail but was surprised to find a very well constructed and professional looking craft. I currently fly a phantom 3, so inevitably i will draw a lot of comparisons. The model i received comes with an empty gimbal for a gopro.

My early impressions after fiddling with it for a few flights are overall positive, but with a few concerns/issues. The flight quality thus far has been overall nice, but i've been having issues getting the compass calibrated. They are working on having the app help with this, but at the moment you only get flashes to indicate what's going on. I was able to get calibration in my cramped back yard, but it refused to calibrate in a more open space but surrounded by bridges(i was at least a few hundred feet from anything metal) After walking around and turning in circles for a half an hour i finally got a calibration and it flew very nicely.(more on this later)

The fit and finish of the product are very nice, and i love that it breaks down to a smaller package. You can easily disconnect the gimbal for storage or to just fly without it. I did find that the craft becomes back heavy without the gimbal attached, and may account for some of my finicky flights. The landing gear has two positions, lower and upper, you only need the taller upper if using the gimbal.

The Controller

Overall really well thought out: there is a hidden retractable smartphone holder with ball joint(but only large enough for phones, not tablets), and the antenna's are very short little stubs (range?) There are several buttons for flight control/RTH, and some dials for gimbal control and other functions. The range extender is a handy little snap on box, no extra wires or things sticking out.

There is a switch for 1/2/3, and they are just different levels of limitation, mode 1 will yield a much slower and distance limited craft, good for learning, and the upper modes speed things up/unlock it's potential.

The Gimbal 

I love that it detaches, and accepts a gopro, im told it's designed for a hero4. I currently have a hero3 black, and was told it may experience some jitters, which was totally accurate. The overall gimbal performance test was great, a bit more floaty than the very locked on phantom 3, and i only experienced the jitters during sharp movements. It has a plug for the gopro to allow FPV live view on the smartphone, but you cannot control the gopro, and i didn't see any indication that it was providing power either. Could be that it has less function with my hero3, as it's intended for the hero4. Thus far i have not been able to get the live feed to work.


Some concerns:
The first is the battery pack, or rather, the way it connects to the craft. It has tiny little notches which you have to align to tiny slots on the underbody, and if you aren't careful it's easy to wear down those notches. I recommended that they figure out a much simpler/less tedious mechanism for attaching the battery. It also requires a great deal of force to attach/disconnect, and I've had to be very careful not to damage it.

The second is the compass calibration. On the phantom 3 it's super simple: tap on the screen, it shows you what to do and registers very quick(within 1 rotation) But with the Xiro, the app doesn't come into play, it's button presses and light flashes. I've read through the manual several times and can't for the life of me make sense/find reference to some of the blink sequences i have seen. The compass seems very finicky in calibrating and it took me numerous times to figure out just how slow to rotate and how long to wait for confirmation blinks. Hopefully this can be improved in firmware, they did mention they're working on more app functionality.

Another thing i noticed was that the charger and battery get very, VERY hot when charging. there is a spot on the bottom of the charger which gets hot enough i cannot touch it for more than a half second.

Firmware updates
Since i received it, there have been several updates, it's good to see they are pushing development more, and have informed me the app is being updated as well.

Overall i'm very intrigued bu this device, it's certainly not perfect, but i'll be doing lots of flying with it and will update here with new discoverys

   
           
   
Added on 2015-08-13 by
Darren Levine

Darren Levine

Stimulus Video

DP/Videographer, Video/Film Editor
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