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posted 2 months ago by
lousygolfer
Senior Member - 3K

The Cheerwing CW4 quadcopter drone is on sale today through Amazon (sold directly by Cheerwing, who I believe commission other companies to make their designs, and shipped by Amazon ) for $35.99, regularly $49.99. 

Cheerwing CW4 $35.99 @ Amazon 

This is a clone of the venerable Syma X5C quadcopter that is generally acknowledged as the best first drone for beginners, and in fact it might be made by Syma, but it improves on the X5C's design and adds some significant upgrades and extra features, including:

​a) Auto take-off - with the push of a button, automatically sends the drone aloft about 4' to start one's flight.
b) Auto-landing - safely lands the drone with another push of a button.
c) Altitude hold - allows the drone to hover in place or maintain a constant altitude with no hand on the throttle stick, very useful for capturing smoother videos and photos.
​d) A better quality HD camera that does significantly sharper video than the camera on the original X5C with less jello (shaking and blurring from lack of camera stability) - it's one of the better 720p cameras I've seen from sample videos on YouTube.

Here are the specs and features: 

  • Equipped with 2MP (720P) HD camera to take aerial photos and videos while flying! Bring a new perspective to your photos and videos from the air. Movie resolution has been upgraded to 1280 × 720 at 30 frames per second. With removable Micro-SD (TF) card stores enough for several flights.
  • ​ ONE KEY TAKE OFF and ONE TOUCH DOWN function: allow beginner to easy to fly the drone without any skill. One Touch Down function is most important to protect the drone when it is out of control or low battery power, the drone will fly down slowly and land on the ground automatically before the motors stopping.
  • Headless mode makes easier flight: Once the fuselage direction can not be recognized, it can enter headless mode so as to continue the flight. One key 360° roll, continuous roll for perfect action and wonderful performance.
  • Hover / Altitude Hold Mode: Drone altitude specified a flight mode. Beginners easy to manipulate; Aerial photography more stable.
  • 2pcs Batteries Included, double your flying time! It can be swapped or charged in place easily via USB with your power bank or car charger!

Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 36 x 35.6 x 10.8 cm* Aircraft Weight: 120g / 0.26lbs (no need to register with FAA)
  • Camera: 2MP 720P
  • Max Flight Time: 6-8 minutes
  • Charging Time: Approx. 60mins
  • Control distance: 50 meters
  • Battery for quadcopter: 3.7V 500mAh Li-Po battery
  • Battery for controller: 4 "AAA" batteries required (not included)


​Quadcopter 101, one of the most-followed and best quadcopter and RC model reviewers on YouTube, raved about this drone as a first quadcopter for beginners:

Quadcopter 101 Review of Cheerwing CW4


 

I've been researching quadcopter drones for about a month, spent dozens of hours shopping for them and watching video reviews, and my conclusion from this research is that this Cheerwing is not only the single best drone for a first one to learn to fly quadcopters, but this is an outstanding price and there is virtually nothing else on the market with this many features under $50, let alone for $36. I got a couple of smaller, faster quadcopters, one off eBay, one from a local hobby shop, and discovered that small, speedy drones are hard to learn to fly because of their size (harder to see, to susceptible to winds this blustery March) and very touchy throttles that turn errors into crashes too quickly.  So I decided it made sense to get a larger, slower drone and learn how to fly quadcopters on it. I placed an order for a CW4 at about this same price via an Amazon -affiliated seller ten days ago, but the transaction was suspicious (new seller, extremely cheap price, no shipment listed in DHL tracking) and this morning I got a refund for it from Amazon, with no explanation.  I had resigned myself to order another one at the regular price of $50 when I saw the present price marked down to $36 with free shipping via Amazon Prime, and unlike the prior order, Cheerwing itself is the actual seller.

​I've had two dealings already with Cheerwing and I will say that they are extremely responsive.  I posted a question on Amazon about whether some more colorful props and accessories for sale on Amazon would work on the CW4, and Cheerwing customer service responded affirmatively in just a few hours.  I then placed the order with Cheerwing fulfilled by Amazon for those items, and the props and extra accessories came very quickly and look very nice.   

​To head off some commentary or questions by the less knowledgeable, No, this is not a DJI Phantom, the ones on display prominently at Best Buy stores that most people think of when they think of a quadcopter drone.  The DJI drones are upscale hobby-class quadcopters and this Cheerwing is what is known as a toy-class drone.  The CW4 is smaller, it is slower, it has a worse camera, it has a far worse range, and its build quality is not as nice as a DJI.  Its slower and more stable flight, though, makes it easier to learn to fly, it is under the .55 pound weight limit so no need to register with the FAA, and it is also quieter and better suited for backyards (it's a good idea to go to a wide open field the first few times, though).  It also will set you back $36 instead of $500 to $1500 if you have a bad and unlucky crash.  There are quite a few genius-in-there-own-minds type of internet gurus who will try to tell you that one or the other of the DJI drones is the "best beginner's drone!" and they are flat out ignorant and making a very Marie Antoinette-sort of recommendation.  Flying a drone is not as easy as it initially seems and ​everyone crashes multiple times when they first start out.  A cheap drone can teach a beginner 100% of the fundamentals of flying a quadcopter, can potentially survive a crash much better, and is not a big financial loss if it does not survive such a crash, than a DJI or another of the bigger, faster, better and much more expensive hobby-class drones.  All reputable drone channel YouTubers recommend getting an inexpensive drone for your first one.

Some miscellaneous Pros and Cons:

​PROS:

- Spare parts are readily available for this quadcopter and at least some of them are interchangeable with the original Syma X5C.  Propellers apparently break pretty readily and are available cheap, as are motors, which burn out over time or when they encounter resistance, such as when a drone crashes, flips over pinning the propeller to the ground, and the flyer does not turn off the throttle.
​- It comes with two LiPo (lithium polymer) batteries, which is quite rare - most drones come with only one.
​- Upgraded third-party batteries are available to give more power and longer flight times - the stock ones are 500mAh and I've seen some X5C batteries on Amazon that will fit the CW4 that are in the 720 to 800 mAh range, maybe even stronger.
​- Has an actual radio controlled (2.4GHz) controller with actual control sticks and buttons, rather than the more gimmicky Wifi control through one's cell phone's touchscreen, which seems much more difficult.  The CW4's transmitter is the more compact game controller-style transmitter, rather than the more traditional RC model black box, but it seems big enough for adult hands. The transmitter also has an LCD screen that tells you rate (beginner, intermediate, expert), camera on/off, and other info.
​- Has an audible low-battery warning on the transmitter to give you plenty of time to land it before the battery dies.  Actually, with LiPo batteries, it's bad for the battery life to drain them completely, so one should always land a drone before the battery is totally dead.
​- Auto lands if connection with the transmitter is broken, so no fly-offs (I've read lots of reports of people having issues with their new drones, only to watch them fly off and disappear into the distance no longer under control of the transmitter, never to be seen again, so no risk of that with the CW4).

CONS:

​- This is a really boring drone, from an appearance standpoint.  It's all-white with only a little "Cheerwing" logo on the top.  I ordered a new set of prop guards and landing gear in black and props in black and lime green to liven-up the appearance.
​- The name "Cheerwing" is kind of goofy, but at least it is a lot more pronounceable than some of the other toy-class drones, all of which are made in China and most of which are sold by companies with either hard-to-pronounce Chinese names or have goofier-sounding names.
​- The range is a bit limited at a claimed 50m, but it seems like some of the YouTube reviewers were going out to 80m, maybe even 100m.  However, for learning, a 50m range wouldn't be a bad thing to keep it reasonably close.
​- Speed can also be a bit sedate once one gets the knack of flying, but the drone can be made a lot sportier by removing the added weight and wind resistance of the prop guards, landing gear, and camera.  And there are quite a few quadcopters that cost under $50 that are quite sporty - fast, maneuverable, and fun-to-fly - so it's no big deal to buy an inexpensive drone like this to get over the beginner's learning curve and then move on to something faster.
​- Its camera records only to a micro-SD card.  It does not have FPV (first person video) that would play on your cell phone, a separate mini-monitor, or on FPV goggles.  However, that's more hindrance than help for learning to fly quadcopters and will cost more bucks to get a decent FPV system.

​Finally, there are a number of really good quadcopter/drone/RC model channels on YouTube that any beginner should check out, including, but not limited to, Quadcopter 101, RCSaylors, Dustin Dunnill, and Frequent Flyer RC.  They have not only review videos for many dozens of different drones, but some how-to-fly instructional videos and other interesting and informative videos.

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rated:
Seems to have a flaky radio. Many reports of losing control of it and it flying away.

rated:
Slickone said:   Seems to have a flaky radio. Many reports of losing control of it and it flying away.
  A couple of things in response to that:

​1) Fly-offs shouldn't happen with this drone because its programming is set to go to auto-land mode when it is flying and the connection with the transmitter is broken.  However, this is a sophisticated piece of electronics and aeronautical engineering that costs probably all of $5 to make.  Accordingly, quality is not brilliantly reliable on this or any other sub-$100 drone, so there will always be somewhat of a risk whether or not you'll get a winner or a lemon.  You can find similar reports with many other sub-$100 drones.  Some people have even had similar experiences with drones costing several or many hundreds of dollars.  It could well be that the antenna was not properly soldered within the transmitter case - I've heard that's a pretty common problem with the cheaper drones.

2)  The CW4 averages about a 4/5-star rating on Amazon, which is about as good as it gets for cheaper drones that have more than a handful of reviews.  Note that at least one or two drone manufacturers (e.g. Holy Stone - read some of their Most Helpful reviews, which are 1/5-star reviews), load the Amazon reviews with 5-star ratings that are compelled or coerced, or are just shill reviews.

​3) Almost all of the reports of fly-offs in the Amazon reviews seemed to have occurred with flyers who were complete beginners who likely let the drone get too high and too far away (something that as a beginner myself, I can attest happened quite easily the first few times I took out my smaller drone) and the wind likely carried it off. If a drone got up to 100m or more, there were higher winds aloft than on the ground, it could well be that the wind took a drone too far out to be visible before it auto-landed, if that function was working. 

4)  Here's Cheerwing's reply to those 1-star reviews on Amazon :

"We apologize for all trouble may caused, please kindly tell us the order id , we can replace the copter at free for you .
You can send the mail to us, sales@cheerwing.com.
We will response your mail within 24 hours,
Thank you for your review , We will try our best to do better .
Looking forward to your reply .
-- Cheerwing Customer Support
"

I can't say I can recall many other manufacturers offering that kind of support, particularly with a product that suffers from a high level of issues arising out of owner/user error.

​When I placed my order this morning, Amazon was offering 1-day shipping upgrade free for Prime members, so hopefully the weather will cooperate for me tomorrow and I'll be able to try out my new drone tomorrow evening, fingers crossed that everything works well.  If I encounter problems​ I'll certainly not be shy about being candid and objective in reporting on them and either way, I will check back here and post about my experiences within a day or two.  Hopefully they'll be good but if not, I'll post about any problems I encounter.

​Quadcopter drones have become quite popular over the past few years.  When I first started looking into them a month or two back, I looked here on FW to see if there were any deals or other helpful posts and found very little, other than some older deal posts on expensive hobby-class drones like DJI.  I've spent a lot of time researching them and wanted to give back some help to others just getting in to this hobby, hence the lengthy OP above with referrals to YouTube reviews and channels.

​If anyone can find better or equivalent deals on entry-level drones, shipped from an American seller (there are several dozen different drone manufacturers, all from China, and many models are only available from Chinese venders like GearBest, TomTop, LightTake, BangGood or one of their eBay stores), please, by all means post about those deals here. 

rated:
Well, I got two batteries's worth of flight in on this drone Tuesday evening before it got dark, but rains plus high winds since then have prevented me from any further attempts. So far, I like the CW4, but there may be a problem with it.

The packaging was more than ample to protect it and it did appear to have at least the quality of my first drone, a Dromida Kodo HD, and better quality than my small, recently acquired JJRC hexicopter. The manual is pretty detailed, well-written, and mostly error-free by someone with at least a high proficiency, if not complete fluency, in English, as opposed to the often-encountered semi-gibberish in manuals of Chinese products generated by a poor auto-translation from Chinese to English. I swapped out the all-white props for a pair of bright lime green propellers for the front (to help distinguish the front from the back of this drone which has a completely symmetrical body), plus rear propellers, propguards and landing gear all in black from a Cheerwing accessory pack I bought off Amazon to give this drone some color. Here are my thoughts:

PROS:

- Very stable and much, much easier to fly than the smaller, quicker Dromida and JJRC drones I own. There was a pretty hefty breeze (at least 5mph with gusts of double that speed), so after cycling through the speeds, I kept it on intermediate speed to be able to make progress against the wind, and it was relatively easy to control. I like how the throttle is not overly touchy and it was easy to get the CW4 to hover, even without the altitude hold, whereas with my other drones the throttle is so touchy that it seems like there is little middle ground between not enough throttle to keep the drone aloft and full-throttle. This drone is indeed a very good beginners quadcopter for learning how to fly a drone.

- The red and green lights do a good job of helping tell which end is forward and which is reverse.

- Pretty decent flight time - I'd say it was about 8 minutes, and the low battery warning beep is a nice feature, compared to the more typical flashing lights on the drone, which can be hard to notice in daytime or at night if the pilot is not particularly experienced.

- Auto landing works well with a single button push, out to at least 80 meters (and the range is pretty decent and longer than the advertised 50 meters)

- Emergency power-off (holding down the auto-launch/auto-land button for 3 seconds) works well to kill the motors and works out to at least 100m, as I found when my daughter lost control and a big gust of wind took the drone.

CONS:

- As it was getting dark and I was on my second battery, the drone became difficult to control and at one point started flying away from me without wanting to respond very well to input from the controller. I think that what may have happened was that when I was letting my daughter fly it, she confused the auto-land button on the top right with the headless mode button on the top left, put the drone in headless mode with the drone facing toward the transmitter instead of away, and that may have explained why it was not returning when I pulled back on the right stick on the transmitter. This problem did not arise when I was flying the drone during the first battery and only arose after my daughter was flying it. However, it might have been less responsive than merely having headless mode on and facing the wrong way. At least the emergency power-kill function worked perfectly to prevent a fly-off. I will recalibrate the drone the next time I fly it (hopefully tomorrow afternoon) and report back on whether this was an issue merely with the settings or if the drone was malfunctioning.

2) The propguards (at least the black replacement ones, which seem identical in construction and quality to the original white ones) are not overly durable. At the end of the night, after the last crash, I notice that one of the props was not spinning freely and the reason was because one of the attachment arms on its propguard had broken and the propguard was now dangling a bit into the path of the propeller. Maybe this contributed to the flight control problems above. I'll try to glue it but might have to switch to either a partially or fully white propguard scheme.

Fingers crossed, the next flight will have all aspects of the drone working well again.

The price on this has gone up $4 since I first posted to $39.98. That's still quite a good deal.

​EDIT 4/1/17:  OK, I spent about 20 more minutes this afternoon flying this drone and I do think the issue I previously had was that the drone was in headless mode with the direction reversed, as that problem did not occur again today.  This drone flies well and I think having a slower, large, stable drone is the way to go to learn how to fly. 

rated:
I'm not sure anyone has time to read all that.

rated:
Slickone said:   I'm not sure anyone has time to read all that.
Oh I've got the time. I'm just lazy.  

rated:
Price went up to about $43

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