So after just over 50 successful flights on my 2014 Steadidrone QU4D, I had the opportunity to fly and review Steadidrone’s newest multirotor, The Flare. It’s been a mad rush over the last week for me between visiting Steadidrone, converting a QU4D to a Flare, helping out with photography at mountain bike/trail running event, packing, then driving for a full day up to Pretoria to attend annual courses and flight checks for my day job before I head out again to the dodgier parts of the world.
This article came about after Duran from Steadidrone invited me over to their offices last week to have a look at the replacement for their QU4D line, the Flare. He showed me around their facility and I got to sit down with him and chat a bit about the Flare.
Remember to watch the below video in HD 😉
They used the experience gained from their Mavrik quadcopter, their mid-sized system which came out earlier this year (designed for larger cameras), as a base to produce the replacement for the smaller QU4D quadcopter range. Side by side the Flare is basically a smaller version of the Mavrik. The Flare now shares the Mavrik’s features, such as, amongst others, an identical impact resistant ABS quick access top dome with an external status LED and Micro USB port, both for the Pixhawk flight controller. It also features a new rail mounted camera gimbal and battery plate (i.e. the tail is mounted on back end of the rail system) for added camera stability.
The Flare also comes with two mounts for the camera gimbal, one for GoPro’s and one for point and shoot cameras. It is quite useful depending on what mission the system is used for.
The Flare’s motor arms are slightly longer than the QU4D and features APC 12 inch slow flyer props instead of the APC 10 inch Multirotor props. The arms also, fold away for easy transportation, a feature Steadidrone calls Rapid-Deploy, highly useful and practical feature.
Duran kindly provided me with a Flare airframe kit in order to convert my RTF 2014 QU4D into a Flare for review. I removed all the electronics and motors from the QU4D and moved it over to the Flare airframe. The only cutting and re-soldering necessary to do the conversion was to the camera gimbal’s power switch. This was required firstly to remove the switch from the QU4D airframe as well as to rewire the switch into the Flare for the wiring to work with the new quick access plate in the top carbon fuselage plate under the top dome. The only additional equipment required to convert an RTF 2014 QU4D fitted with a 3DR Pixhawk flight controller to a Flare from the Flare airframe kit is the I2C to micro usb port cable and the I2C to Status LED cable.
After getting the Flare set up and ready to fly I did a couple of test flights to get feel for the Flare and make sure everything was working as it should. I then had the opportunity to field test the Flare on an real world mission. I was invited to test out the aerial video capture capabilities of the Flare for a Trail Running/Mountain biking event at Eight Bells Mountain Inn in the the Western Cape of South Africa, about 30km from where I live. What a beautiful place!
The Flare performed beautifully overall and I managed to get a few good shots with a GoPro4 Silver mounted to it (in a GoPro3 skeleton casing as I was using the lighter GoPro4 waterproof housing for other purposes at the time). See the video above. The system is slightly heavier than the QU4D, but is noticeably more stable with the longer 12 slow flyer props and slightly more responsive. The added stabilization provided by the new dampened rail mount system was also evident in the footage I took with the Flare.
During the past week I also had the chance to interact with Duran’s drone technicians at their facility. I was very impressed by his young team. Their high level of knowledge/training and enthusiasm is evident in their work and it was great to see them in action.
I am looking forward to many more flight hours with this system and find it to be a very professional (with a lot of fun thrown in) platform with great after sales support from the manufacturer, Steadidrone.