Democratizing The High Ground

The quadcopter in the video is the Hubsan H107c v2, which is an HD camera quad not much bigger than a cellphone, and costs only $80. I have one of these on order after playing with the standard definition version, and finding it fun, but somewhat lacking in video resolution. While many on here will consider this quadcopter a toy, I consider it to be a step towards democratizing the high ground. Let me explain.

While this quadcopter does not have features found in higher end devices, it is able to fly, record HD video, and fit into a persons pocket. Think about that for a minute. Even a decade ago, that would be technology only dreamed about by all but the richest of governments. And, it wouldn't be cheap for those richest governments, let alone the average person. Now, for less than a hundred dollars, anyone can pick one of these up.

What does this mean? It means that almost anyone can carry one of these almost anywhere, and record HD video from above. Sure, it is not the highest of quality, but it is definitely good enough for video sharing sites, social media, and even news broadcasts. Citizen journalism is becoming more and more accepted by media outlets. Imagine the possibilities which open up for a citizen journalist with a pocket-able, "chopper cam."

We have recently seen the use of UAS in documenting protests, and natural disasters, among other things. The systems used in these instances had their benefits, and drawbacks. Benefits include the ability to carry higher quality video equipment, and a certain level of flight autonomy. One of the biggest drawbacks, as I see it, is size. In the instance of the protest situation, the quadcopter was able to be shot down by police. Certainly a smaller quadcopter would be harder to bring down. In the case of the disaster scene, someone had to take the time to pack their gear up, go find a place to launch and land, and then begin flying. Imagine if someone could throw their aerial camera in a pocket and go, and the launch and landing pad was their hand. In both instances, a less expensive platform would also be a benefit, due to it being virtually expendable. If the situation changes, a person could literally drop the controller and go, with very little financial loss. Finally, in any situation, these quadcopters are safer than a larger system. Even a 350 size quad dropping on, or running into a person can cause damage. A micro quad would be barely felt if dropped on you, and the blades don't even carry enough force to break skin. Believe me, I know.

So, while the Hubsan H107c is a very sophisticated toy, it may also be a glimpse of the future.

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  • Without the guard. Not with.
  • Here is a video taken from this quad with a wide angle lens installed. The little nibs seen on the outer edge are from an optional prop guard. I imagine they could be sanded down to be eliminated from the picture, but I have been flying my previous generation version with the guard and have never had problems.

    The lens unit can be found here:

    I would be lying if I said this little quad didn't make me think high quality micro camera quads have a big place in the future of RC. Given recent events involving even 350 size quads, I think more people could be better served by something this size or slightly bigger. It would be good enough quality for showing online, or even on your HDTV to friends, without the risk of dropping a three pound machine on someones head.
  • I believe these 500mah batteries should get you between 10 and 12, minutes flight time.
  • Is it possible to upgrade the battery?  Flying time 7 minutes( for 40 minutes charging) is so short. 

  • Gary...I couldn't agree more on all your points. Smaller, cheaper, more efficient, less threatening

    Advances in various technologies helps make this possible of course. Smaller camera sensors, smaller control systems, smaller sensors for position and attitude, more powerful compact batteries, etc. I honestly think we owe a debt of gratitude to smartphone manufacturers.

    Something I have been wondering about is, what I have mentally dubbed at least, is a virtual gimble. Sensor data is attached to a video file somehow, and then image stabilization in post process occurs based on the sensor data collected during flight. If a 4k video stream was used, for example, the post process image stabilization could easily be at full HD resolution even after heavy post production. The benefit is there would not be the weight expense of a mechanical gimbal on-board a palm sized micro quad. Anyone have any thoughts? I know Samsung is bringing out a 30fps 4k capable phone in the next couple of weeks, and GoPro's next camera will probably have 4k 30fps, minimum. How long before comparable tech trickles down to a micro camera capable of being flown on a palm launched quad? A year or two, maybe?

    Interesting times!
  • I have a freind with the no camera over priced Traxxas version of this little copter and he loves it.

    He has a DJI F550 Flamewheel Hexacopter with a camera and an APM 2.5, but for shear fun, the little Traxxas / Hubsan is hard to beat.

    With a camera and soon apparently FPV, the little Hubsan will be very popular this Christmas.

    Getting one for the Grand Kid (and a spare for me).

    And If you think about it, the Phantom or new Blade quads are still pretty small and light and they can carry a GoPro and a Gimbal so the trend is definitely to smaller / safer and more capable and cheaper and that is a good trend for everybody.

    If you can make them small enough to where they are physically non-threatening, that will make legal and social acceptance a lot easier to obtain.

    It may have cost the military several million dollars to make a hummingbird, but they will be in Amazon next Christmas for $39.95.

  • A basic rundown on the H107 series.

    H107...the original. No camera. No lights.
    H107L...the upgrade to the original. No camera. Lights (hence the L)
    H107C...the first camera version. Standard Def camera. Lights.
    H107C HD...the upgrade to the camera version. HD camera. Light.

    Future iterations planned by Hubsan:

    H107D...the FPV version. Specs not set in stone on this yet. It is still in testing.
  • This is one gripe I have with some manufacturers. They have naming conventions which make it hard to know which product is which version when there are similarities.
  • Earl,

    That is the H107L...that version does not come with any camera. If you do not need, or want a camera, then this is a great little flyer. I do have one of these, and it is a lot of fun. It would also be great for someone just starting on quadcopters.

    The one in this blog post can be found at this link:
  • It says upgraded. Here is the url

    Is this the one?


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