Kaiser Baas Alpha Drone
Kaiser Baas, www.kaiserbaas.com
Easy to set up; lots of fun
A little fragile
Drones are the go-to geek toy of the moment. The Kaiser Baas Alpha Drone ticks most of the boxes when it comes drones with the ability to take photos and videos while flying high above our head.
Although it’s 33cm across, the Alpha Drone weighs just 109g – barely noticeable when held in the palm of your hand. We made the mistake of doing some of our initial testing in the front yard. We’d suggest starting out on an oval or other open space. Although the Alpha Drone is reasonably easy to control, it does take some practice.
Once we had the hang of the controls – the remote unit uses six AA batteries – we were able to hover, change direction, shoot pictures and video, even carry out some rudimentary stunts. However, on one crash landing, we did manage to bend one of the propellers. Fortunately, we were able to get it back into shape. Kaiser Baas includes spares in the box.
The underbelly of the Alpha Drone has a small hatch that houses the battery compartment. Hooked to the outside of that hatch is the on-board camera. It records footage in HD 720p at 30 frames per second and shoots pictures at 2MP. Starting the camera is done with buttons on the transmitter. Images are stored to a microSD card that can be read either by USB connection to the Alpha Drone or by extracting the card and using the supplied card reader.
The light weight of the Alpha Drone comes from it being made of plastic. Despite our poor piloting skills, at least they were poor when we first started, and testing over solid surfaces, near trees and occasionally flying into walls, the body didn’t sustain any damage. There was one occasion where the battery compartment opened but, once we secured the hatch, it didn’t happen again.
The 600mAh (milliampere hour) battery did a great job of keeping the Alpha Drone flying for a little over 10 minutes in our testing. The battery is probably the heaviest single component in the entire device, so there has been a clear compromise made between flight time and weight. Fortunately, you can buy extra batteries, so you can keep playing.
The remote control transmitter is easier to use than it looks. The two main controls are joysticks for moving in all three dimensions. There are also buttons for shooting video and pictures.
The LCD display puts a lot of information in front of you. Although it’s good to have, we found it was a little distracting initially. We ignored the display a lot of the time, as we focused on learning how to use the controls by watching the drone rather than a screen. However, the battery meter is worth keeping an eye on.
It’s tricky to offer criticism of such a precision instrument. It’s worth noting technology like this was out of reach for most people just a couple of years ago.
The Alpha Drone is a precision instrument. We found the controls to be very sensitive. It took quite a bit of practice to find the point at which we could hover steadily and fly accurately. At one point, after a ‘forced landing’, the drone and controller lost contact and it took a few restarts for them to find each other.
We had a great time with the Alpha Drone. We’re pretty sure our neighbours were less impressed by our occasional crash landings into their gardens and fishing the aircraft out of the occasional tree with a broom looked pretty funny. But the Alpha Drone is a relatively inexpensive entry into the world of drones.
Just make sure you operate it in an area with plenty of space until you master the controls.