I started this blog entry to tell you a little about the nice-looking Eachine E520S GPS WIFI FPV With 1080P HD Camera Quadcopter which I received from Banggood Back in June (but read on) – I’ve added some VERY short videos further down – and I have an upgrade.
My original Eachine drone was a basic model with 1080P camera (they also have a 4K camera version and that’s what I have now) and there is an optional carry bag and other extras. I’m just happy that I now have something that doesn’t seem to take major skills to operate.
The overall plan is…where we live in Spain there is a vast amount of countryside with few trees and even fewer animals or people so I can learn all about piloting this thing without smashing it or damaging anyone.
However, being me I just could not wait – we were supposed to go to Spain in April and ended up still in the UK until early July. My first attempts in our Northumberland front garden proved interesting as I was in such a rush to get this device up and running, I hit our garage wall – no harm done thankfully.
My very first attempt at using any kind of drone was a couple of years ago, a little pocket device, no stability – hard to use – it was so unstable, I didn’t even blog it. By contrast, the E520S, once started up, needs only a nudge UP of one control to have it sit there at eye level without any effort.
The drone has it’s own GPS receiver and handles one-button return, headless mode, “follow me”, altitude-hold and more. With a 4K camera this would (will) be great for taking videos of our Spanish lake without actually having to get wet. At this early stage I’d yet to understand every mode of operation but finally I cracked the streaming camera and APP-based control – simply point the phone’s WIFI to the access point automatically provided by the drone.
The remote controls are easy and there are IOS and Android APPs to help you capture video and stills. The Eachine E520S comes with 3 rechargeable batteries (the remote uses 4 AAA batteries).
With 5G WiFi (claimed 150-250m range) I’d been REALLY looking forward to this drone arriving. So, firstly, a little info and some photos of my first (Wright Brothers style) flights while still in the UK. By the time I took the drone out into the street for a brief low-height spin, I’d (sort of) mastered the controls but I really wanted to give it a good run and that meant finding a large unpopulated area given the potential for damage in the hands of a novice.
The tilt on the camera is manual (what do you want for £80) and the drone comes complete with safety guards around the folding blades (the guards are detachable for transporting). Initially I screwed up so many times, those safety guards have proven to be worth their weight in gold.
You can, of course, store videos on an SD card (not supplied but dirt cheap from Amazon etc. for a decent Sandisk or Samsung, up to 32GB can be used). My first attempt at taking high altitude video failed as I simply formatted the SD card and nothing else. The drone LOOKED like it was recording, but on later trying to play back the video on my PC I ended up with error messages and no files.
Once we arrived in Spain, I started again with a Samsung Ultra 16GB freshly PC-formatted (quick format – FAT32) standard class 10 SD card and 3 folders – photo, tmp and video.
Batteries take a couple of hours to charge using the supplied USB lead – you may recall I wrote about the monster RavPower Powerhouse battery pack a little while ago – that now has a proper job for the summer – it will be coming with me into the hills to keep my drone batteries charged up – the batteries are 1200maH each and are good for 16 minutes (quoted – but in reality it all depends on speed and whether you are flying with or against the wind etc.)
The drone comes complete with spare props and a screwdriver so you’re ready for (almost) anything. It is probably a good idea to take a spare set of alkaline AAA batteries for the remote control if you’re off on a long trip (though after a week of UK testing, mine still showed full capacity) – oh and make sure your phone is charged.
Bit by bit I pushed the envelope a little further in the back garden which faces a field. I ran the drone up to 6 metres or so off the ground for several minutes to gain some confidence then decided that giving the batteries a proper charge might be a good thing to do.
After my first attempt to fly the drone at low-level I started to get brave and sent it out over the farmer’s field behind our house – far higher than you see in the photos above and much further away. All good stuff but I had no idea there was one-metre+ high dense growth in the field.
The drone was doing just nicely when all of a sudden it started to drop and eventually landed in the field, as you will see later it was definitely not a flat battery. It should return home if out of range and I heard no local beep to indicate battery failure (advice from drone wizards welcome). So we spent the next half hour in very hot sun (I know, unusual for the Northeast of England) searching for my new toy.
No harm done (other than my ego). Next morning I streamed the shots above while experimenting at controlling the 248gm E520S from my mobile phone.
At the weekend we headed off to see our friends at Lemmington Hall (Alnwick) with a view to capturing some aerial photography of their place on SD. Of course I’d not done my research and it turns out either I’d not formatted the SD properly or not created the right folders – SO an entire day’s shooting was lost. The next morning having realised my mistake I decided to have a peak at our flat roof sections back home to see if I could spot any problems as we were about to get some work done on them and I HATE climbing up on ladders.
Days later, my second attempt at a very short video of Lemmington Hall – worked – shame about the weather this time around.
Once we got to rural Spain in July, I had plans for a really high quality video for you – until I lost the drone in an impossible-to-reach area – watch the video….
A short time later having exhausted every avenue for finding the lost drone, I contacted Banggood who kindly put a replacement in the post.
And that brings us to September 9, 2020 – armed with my replacement drone I tried again today, this time keeping well away from any deep holes.
I’m now fairly sure there are a couple of design flaws in this drone – one being the phone holder – the bottom edge is not very secure – would I want to trust my expensive phone to it? No. I got around it by using a little tape. Of course the designers have to cope with all kinds and thicknesses of phones so maybe that’s a little unfair – but the next point needs more attention. When I lost my last drone it was partly down to stupidity – flying near a crevace – but the main issue was a tendency for the drone to fall out of the air – possibly due to the slight breeze.
So this time I made sure the area was safe – I sent the Eachine up in the air with a full battery (and fresh batteries in the remote) and everything was just fine until after maybe 5 minutes the drone started to fall out of the sky – just like the one I lost. Attempts to raise it met with mixed responsiveness – once it landed I could send it back up in the air again – but this tendency to all of a sudden fall out of the sky is undoubtedly why the first drone ended up deep in a crevace, never to be found again.
I can say with certainty that at worst there was only a mild breeze when I took this new unit out for a spin. I’ll keep working on this and checking for upgrades. This might take some time – while it is very warm here in Southen Spain, it is also quite windy much of the time.
Now- while I’m here, I’ll point you to a short out-take video to let you compare the above videos of the Eachine with a really cheap GoolRC T33 drone – still fun to use, but the difference is outstanding.
There’s a point to this out0take – if your drone is BLACK – get the spray can out – a spot of fluorescent yellow might save hours of searching….