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Unbelievable RC

Flytech WowWee Dragonfly

September 2007

Street Price: $59.99 US
Manufacturer: FlyTech / WowWee
Mfgr's recommended min. age: 8+
Our recommended age range: 8+
Primary use: Indoors
Radio: 49mhz
Includes:

  • Assembled dragonfly
  • Controller
  • Optional tail ribbon
  • Spare tail propeller
  • Instructions
Requires:
  • 6 AA batteries for the controller/charger

Initial Impressions

This is certainly one of the more unique RCs I've seen yet. What can I say? It's... really interesting! It has little feet up front, brightly glowing eyes, a soft, bulbous body (don't try squeezing it too much though), a helicopter-like tail rotor (propeller), and of course, four insect-like translucent wings! The wings have stiff struts going through them, but most of the surface area is a single layer of thin, very flexible plastic. Two sets of wings are included, one with a robotic circuit board design, and then the more life-like green veins set shown above. The controller looks like something for a video game, and it's somewhat large (smaller children beware), but feels very well-built and high quality.

 

A very well-written, illustrated, thorough instruction booklet is included as well.

Preparing to Fly

As is very common these days, the Flytech Dragonfly has a built-in rechargable battery that you charge from the controller. An extra nice touch is that there are matching tiny magnets on a post on the controller and in the belly of the dragonfly, so the whole thing sits very neatly together when charging, like so:

 

 

Testing

First off, yes, the Dragonfly flaps its wings, all four of them, just like the real insect, and yes, that is how it actually flies. There are no hidden helicopter rotors or fans for lift -- it's truly inspired by nature!

There are four different ways to configure the Dragonfly for flight. If you have ample space to fly in, the best way to start out seems to be with the extra tail ribbon not attached, and the controller set to "Beginner" (via a switch on the front of it). In this mode, the controls are smoothed out and not too sudden, and if you don't steer at all, it goes in a steady clockwise circle, practically flying itself. If your space is constrained to around 15' square or so, you can add the extra tail extension to make it fly more upright and slowly.

Once you get the hang of the controls, you can switch to Expert mode, which turns off the automatic turning and lets the tail rotor spin much faster, so you can turn very, very sharp and suddenly. You have to be careful to not turn too much too often, though, as a complete change of direction makes you lose lift ant altitude. It's good to practice using small inputs on the steering control, and adding throttle (the left stick) when you turn. Fortunately the controls are very, very smooth and the sticks/knobs have wide surfaces that make it easy and comfortable to operate them.

The instructions mention that you can get up to 8 minutes of flight time, but I found that the battery's charge became a little dull after 4 minutes, and I wasn't able to hold altitude for more than 30-45 seconds at a time after that, until it went dead. It's a very fulfilling first four minutes, though, and the last few flights are enjoyable too. Best of all, a full recharge takes less than 20 minutes.

The only thing I didn't like about the flights in general, and nothing really helped this much, is that the dragonfly tends to "porpoise," meaning it dives slightly, then suddenly pulls back and up, slowing to a stall before repeating the same thing again. In this way, it bobs up & down like a porpoise or dolphin swimming at the surface of the ocean. It's not a debilitating problem by any means, it's just not as smooth as it could be.

 

Video

(Click a video a second time to view it larger in a new window.)

 

Conclusion

Well there you go! WowWee, makers of the RoboSapien, have created an actual, working RC dragonfly that really flies! It's great for large, open indoor spaces, but it can also be flown outdoors if there is little to no wind. It's cool to look at and a real crowd pleaser. There's certainly no competition for the Dragonfly as it stands in a league all of its own. I like it!

A

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