Parrot Bebop Drone And Skycontroller: HD Video Eye In The Sky

Skycontroller Use

The foldable sunshade cover for your mobile device included with the Skycontroller is a nice addition, but I found it somewhat difficult to use.  The problem is that when piloting, I am almost always looking directly at the drone, which in most states like California is required.  I found dropping my head into the cover for more than a couple moments left me feeling uneasy.  I do like the sunshade cover when I am out by myself and I am shooing something like a stationary 360 degree panorama, however, because I am less worried about the drone being pulled off course by a wind gust.

The Skycontroller is generally pretty great, although it is big and heavy.  I enjoyed using it, but when the included neck strap left me a bit sweaty and fatigued on warmer days.  That being said I would not ever want to hold the Skycontroller in my hands without the strap like Parrot depicts in their marketing photos.  I would guess that the whole assembly, including my Nvidia Shield tablet, weighs upwards of 8 - 10 pounds and that is just too much to handle for more than a little while without additional support from the strap.

The best thing about the Skycontroller from a user standpoint is the accurate and convenient flight controls.  The joysticks on each side look like aircraft quality aluminum and are topped with prongs to make sure your thumbs do not slide off the joystick.  The left handle sports several buttons for navigating Android devices while using first person view glasses, along with the video record button.  I recommend leaving the auto record video option in the application enabled because I ended up forgetting until a substantial portion of the flights that I did not manually start recording video.  Also on the left side are bright LEDs for the recording indicator and the Wi-Fi signal strength to the drone.


The right side of the controller sports the digital pan button, the takeoff and landing button, the home button and the dreaded emergency landing button.  Unfortunately for me, the emergency landing button was tested unknowingly by the first person I let pilot the drone. He meant to use the takeoff and landing button, but smashed the emergency landing button instead, which immediately cuts power to the drone resulting in a free fall.  We were testing in a field so the emergency landing from about 10 feet was luckily buffered by long grass.  The digital pan feature is one I would like to practice with as I become a more experienced pilot, but at this point I have not found the time to unlock the benefits of this feature.

The high power Wi-Fi antenna is easy enough to adjust or lock into position with a thumb screw.  The clamping mechanism that holds in the mobile device is nicely padded and worked seamlessly with my Nvidia Shield tablet even with the Shield Cover flipped to the back side. Again the battery connection on the rear really needs a Velcro strap to keep it from being bumped off, but other than that Parrot has done a good job with the design of the Skycontroller.

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