Australia & New Zealand's favourite electronics retailer and specialist supplier to the electronic engineering community, Jaycar Electronics, just uploaded a few videos showing the latest addition to their extensive product range - The Skymaster Professional Quadcopter.
Jaycar Electronics have been slowly growing their RC category over recent years with toy boats, Gas and EP buggies, planes and just about every type of micro copter imaginable. In the lead up to last Christmas they introduced the Mega Quadcopter and initially couldn't keep them on the shelves. This year they are offering something much more serious.
Looking at the product shots (which appear to show the gimbal installed backwards), Jaycar's Skymaster bares an uncanny resemblance to Walkera's popular QR X350, putting it on par with the likes of CXHobby's Cheerson CX20 Auto Pathfinder, Hobby King's Quanum Nova and DJI's immensely popular Phantom 2.
Faux telescopic legs and oversized landing pads give the Skymaster a rather toy like retro sci-fi look, while a large LED indicator provides visual confirmation of pre-arm and GPS status. Two colour prop nuts suggest self tightening CW and CCW prop mounts are provided, offering convenience and reliability over lesser alternatives. A standard camera mount is available which is suitable for a range of action cameras and a 2-axis brushless gimbal (which appears to be the Tarot 2D V2) is also offered for Hero 3 users who seek out-of-the-box stabilised aerials.
The product copy reveals little about the flight controller, but it is a pretty sure bet to be something like the APM 2.52 V2.0, Devo-M or simular. Firmware is no doubt a custom variation on Arducopter 3.1.5
It doesn't look like a telemetry radio is included, limiting functionality somewhat while making it a simpler, easier and cheaper proposition for new flyers. With a little luck bluetooth or UHF link might well be possible. Jaycar fans will make short work of an easy hack so to unlock all the added convenience and advanced functionality Mission Planner and DroidPlanner can provide. What options exist in regards to firmware compatibility and upgradability remains to be seen, but it would be great if the Skymaster could be tweaked to offer all the polish and power afforded by the recent 3.2 release of Arducopter , a solid UHF radio link and Droidplanner 2 (and, by extension, the added functionality of tools like DroneShare).
Priced at an RRP of $699 for the bare RTF system, the Skywalker is not exactly priced aggressively. Nevertheless, Jaycar will not struggle to find a demand among their legions of tech-hungry gadget-friendly fans. In fact, I reckon the Skymaster is going to absolutely fly off the shelves in the lead up to and beyond the holiday period - introducing thousands of new users to the wonderful world of drones over the weeks and months ahead.