All in the Family of My Drones

This Post started as a listing of all of my drones that have crashed and are no longer in existence.  However, with my Armattan drones, the definition of dead and gone is not really accurate.  You will see that with an Armattan warranty when you break carbon fiber, their Warranty and $5 will get you a replacement.  This happens when you fly with exuberance and crash.   Over time the carbon fiber will splinter, delaminate, and break.  So, most of my drones are just upgraded with new carbon fiber base plates over time.  A few of my drones have been completely obliterated or lost (I am thinking Duluth Bay, 2017.  RIP Armattan SCX200), but this is a listing of my drones through time.  

So, this post puts together all of the drones and quads that I have owned since I started the hobby.  This covers all of them and will continue to grow over time.  I try to describe when I got the drones, what I think of the drone, and what has happened to the drone.  It will include a gallery of images of the drones and some videos of the drones flying.  

Table of Contents

Hubsan 501S X4, DOB 12/25/2016

This Hubsan is where my quad interest and flying started.  Actually, it is a long story about Top Gun and trying to fly for the Navy.  But that is another story for another time…  

This is the Hubsan 501s X4 that my wife gave me for Christmas 2016.  I was so excited to be able to fly a quad and get it into the air.  This drone at the time was a mid-level quad with 1080p video.  Unlike the more expensive DJI models, it did not have a gimbal, but it provided a view as I had never seen before.  It was so freeing and liberating to get up in the sky and see the world from a different perspective.  I was so excited!  I had to fly all of the time.  It was winter and cold, but it was a lot of fun.  It was great until it wasn’t.  My first crash damaged the body and made it unflyable…  

The following image is my first real crash that broke a major part of the drone.  

I broke the arm of the quad, which resulted in me having to do what I dreaded…  tear it apart and replace a major section of the body.  This meant literally taking everything off of the drone and putting it back together.  For a novice, this seemed like a daunting task.  As my personality defines me, I dove into it without questioning myself.  I reassured myself that anything could be fixed! It depends on how much you are willing to spend and how much time you are ready to put into it.  Again, I jumped in to see what happens… 

Here is some additional information / reviews about the Hubsan 501 X4:

  • Manual
  •  Hubsan Site (Hubsan H501S X4 Air 4 Channel GPS 5.8G FPV Brushless with 1080P HD Camera Follow-Me Mode RTH Function RC Quadcopter RTF Black)
  •  Review /

This is the Lumenier QAV-X!  This was my first racing / FPV drone.  At the time, Lumenier had some great drone frames! What a newbie I was at the time, which was also earlier in my FPV hobby experience.  Costs and size of components would get better and better.  What a significant change to the sport!  The one thing about the Charpu, which was very difficult for a new hobbyist, was the limited space inside the body for components.  This is my first build of the Charpu with the 5.8G video transmitter attached to the outside of the body.  It is in the above image.  Little did I know what a problem would be, i.e., if you are flying to improve, you will crash!  When you crash, things get hit at very high speeds.  Thus the antenna is prime for getting ruined in a crash. 

I ended up moving to the SCX200 since it provided more space inside the body for all of the required components (5.8G transmitter, 2.7 Receiver for control, PDB, flight controller).  Here are some pictures after its last crash (9/2017).

Armattan SCX 200 - One of my last pictures before it plummeted into the Duluth Bay.

Armattan SCX 200 – One of my last pictures of it before it plummeted into Duluth Bay on 7/29/2017.  RIP! It crashed due to flying between a metal bridge and me, which caused my video transmission to fail.  I was too new to the hobby to wait it out and try to fly it up into a position where I would get a better video transmission.  I literally fail-safed the quad, which caused it to immediately crash into the muck between two bridges.  I literally spent 45 minutes trying to find it in a lot of overgrown vegetation and trees.  If I had seen a location in the muck, I would have gone after it.  Ugh!  Since this was my fault for losing it, no Armattan warranty for this one!

Here is where the SCX 200 met its demise…  Duluth Bay between the two bridges in the muck near the Allouez Marine Supply. 😭. This is an image from the last video transmission that I recorded.  You can see the bridge that I went under behind the bridge in the forefront (in the break on the first bridge /  right above the “200” on the image).

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Diatone Grasshopper 130

Diatone Grasshopper

Diatone has some great designs and frames!  This was my continued work in trying to build a smaller drone to fly around my house.  At the time, my skills were not good enough to navigate the trees and tight spaces in my back yard.

This Chameleon frame is a tank! This picture after it crashed on the ice is an example of how strong this frame is.  Thanks, Armattan!  See the video below for a crushing hit it took at Independence Lake!  Of all of my frames that I have built over several years, this one continues to impress me.  The camera cage is a brick house!  See this video (flying full speed into a park grill cemented to the ground with only a scratch on the titanium frame).  I literally hit the grill and started flying again… And Yes, it surprised the hell out of me…

Diatone Crusader 150/175/200

When I first started getting into drones, this was my dream drone frame!  I watched a video from UAVFutures that totally wowed me!  The video is here.  Ok, here it is…

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With three Armattan frames in the Chameleon lineage (yes, the Marmotte is part of the series), I haven’t bought a new frame since 6/11/2019.  With the Armattan warranty, the goal is to keep all three drones working and running with the latest gear.  When one breaks, I have 2 other drones to fly!  The sad thing about the Marmotte is that it isn’t as tough as the Chameleon Ti.  It isn’t even close.  I think there are a few design flaws in the Marmotte, but the good things first.  I love that the camera cage is adjustable.  It is simply remarkable that you can easily change the angle, and it is made so that you can quickly get a hex wrench in there without doing contortions.  The length of the body is also great!  You can get 2 rows of components inside without too much fuss.  It is also a beautiful frame…

OK, the bad:

  • The cage is a lot weaker than the Chameleon Ti.  I hit a volleyball post, and it cracked and contorted the camera cage. When I hit something much harder with the Chameleon Ti, nothing but a scratch.  On the Marmotte, the Titanium broke, the cage standoffs were bent, and the camera holder broke (it was supposed to absorb some of the concussion).
    Marmotte Camera Cage destroyed
    Marmotte Camera Cage destroyed.
  • I literally have broken the carbon fiber base plate within a couple of weeks of putting the Marmotte back together.  The design flaw is the holes where the camera cage attaches to the base plate.  If you fly as hard as I do, you hit the arms and other surfaces. 

Broken Arm at the screws Broken Arm at the screws[/caption

When I finally decided to upgrade to 6S batteries and motors (Zing Camouflage), it was the Chameleon Ti that got the nod since it is so strong of a design.  I don’t have the confidence that the Marmotte will last with the additional power.  As of 2/2021, the Chameleon Ti is holding up…

DJI Mavick Mini / Purchased Used 11/2020

I have to laugh, as of today, there are the only pictures that I have of the Mavick Mini.  I find the look of the Mini bland compared to the FPV quads that you build and are unique.  It may be that the Mini is so good at taking pictures and video, that those pictures speak for themselves.  See this link. IDK.  I will have to get some more pictures…  As is my personality, the night that I received the Mavick, I pushed it further than my skill set could handle and I crashed it.  I broke the plastic holder for the gimbal.  Meh, with my FPV experience in hand, I took it apart, used some epoxy and a piece of plastic, and I “fixed” it.  Lol!  Hasn’t been an issue since.

Burning ESC while fighting the resistance!

What do you think?