My clumsy foray into the world of R/C flight begins with the LaTrax Alias (#6608) small quad-copter.
This is a Ready-To-Fly (RTF) kit which means it’s good to go out of the box once the battery has been charged.
- Auto-leveling 6-axis flight system
- 2.4GHz radio
- 1C, 3.7V 650mAh LiPo battery
- Controller displays battery level of the controller -AND- the Alias
- Low battery warning and automatic cut-off
With 3 modes:
- Easy (auto-leveling, damping)
- Fast (auto-leveling, more aggressive)
- Expert mode (full control, one-button auto-level)
- 650mAh LiPo Battery Pack
- USB-powered LiPo Charger
- 1.5mm Hex Wrench
- Traxxas AAA Alkaline Batteries (4)
- Spare Rotor Blade Set
- Thumb Sticks
Physical : Blade Circle: .................... 14.78" (375.30mm) Rotor Diameter: .................. 5.51" (140.00mm) Width: ........................... 12.07" (306.50mm) Overall Height: .................. 1.69" (42.90mm) Ground Clearance: ................ 0.47" (11.90mm) Overall Flight Weight (w/ Batt): . 3.53 oz (100g) Main Frame Structure/Material: ... Molded Composite Systems : Flight System: ................... Auto-Leveling Six-Axis Radio System: .................... 2.4GHz 6-channel Multi-mode Motor : Motor Type: ...................... Brushed, Coreless Gear Ratio: ...................... 11:78 Power : Battery Type: .................... Lithium Polymer (LiPo) Battery Voltage: ................. 3.7V Battery Capacity: ................ 650mAh Battery Discharge Rating: ........ 20C Battery Charger Rate: ............ 1000mA (high), 500mA (low) Est Flight Time: ................. Up to 15 Minutes
The box comes with a handle so you could use it to transport your Alias if you were taking it for a trip. Everything was packed compactly and neatly. There was no rattling around.
The Mode 2 controller feels well-built with what I would say is slightly above average plastics. It resembles a gamepad. If you don’t like the mushroom sticks it comes out the box with, you can swap them out for more traditional thumb sticks.
It has buttons for :
– trim adjustments: the yaw, pitch, and roll
– aux 1 (left side)
– aux 2 (right side)
– pressing on the left thumb stick accesses the menu
– pressing on the right thumb stick switches between the different modes
And it beeps to provide audio feedback when arming, trim levels are neutralized, and low battery.
The display shows a lot more information than I was expecting :
- Transmitter battery level
- Alias’ battery level
- Throttle %
- Auxilary button status
There’s also menus that you can navigate to :
- Adjust the sensitivity for the three different modes
- Reset accelerometer
- Recalibrate control sticks
- Re-assign the two auxiliary buttons (for attachments)
The Alias feels very solid. I’m really happy with the build quality and durability. I’m a little concerned about the amount of strain put on the power cables when connecting/disconnecting the battery but that should be relatively easy to replace when the cable breaks.
It has a pair of blue LED strips at the front and a pair of white LED strips at the back. Making it look pretty impressive in day or night. These can be turned on/off using the default right AUX button at any point when the transmitter is connected.
The chassis is removable with the supplied 1.5mm hex key. Four screws for the bottom and three screws for the top.
There’s a 11:78 gear reduction between the engine and the propellers :
The copter itself: .. 81g The battery: ........ 19g Total: .............. 100g
At first I thought it was kind of cheesy, but its looks have grown on me. I was impressed at how solid it feels and how durable it is as I bumped (crashed) into a lot of things.
The first flight was kind of rough as the controller would not bind to the Alias. It’s lights were flashing a little faster than 1Hz and after running through the trouble-shooting section of the manual, I found out it was in an “over-current” state. I reconnected the battery, the flashing went off, and the tail LED began behaving like it was supposed to.
It also looks like the four LaTrax branded AAA batteries the Alias was shipped with were pretty low, because I got less than one full flight in before the transmitter ran out of juice. A quick swap with some fresh AAA’s and I was on my way again.
I’m not sure if it’s my clumsy thumbs, but it is difficult to maintain a specific altitude. The throttle stick is quite sensitive. It hovers at around 30-33% throttle, leaving a lot of throttle room for really interesting stuff.
Also the trim settings seem to be a bit coarse. I can never get it to do an absolute hover, but I guess that’s fine considering the IMU it comes with at this price point.
The charger has two settings, “Fast” at 1000mA, and “Slow” at 500mA. It takes about 40 minutes to charge from empty to full at the “Slow” setting. The red charger LED has a few states :
- Blinks slowly when ready to charge
- Solid red when charging
- Off when complete
I’m using a 2000mA USB charger (that I got for my RPi) on the other end and I also bought an extra battery to keep the fun going.
A small gripe I have with the battery charger is there’s not much to grip on to pull the connector out of the charger once inserted. I just keep a small set of pliers around for this now.
4 flights in, I can finally control a hover and move around clumsily. But it’s still exciting ! I’m looking forward to taking it outside once it gets warmer. My average flight time sits somewhere between 10-15 minutes. So far most of my flying is pretty tame flying indoors while trying to master the basics.
I haven’t played much with the Fast and Expert modes. From what I’ve read/seen, in Fast mode, the flips and pirouettes are pretty easy to do with the left AUX button (hold the left AUX, and move the right stick to do something).
In Expert mode, the left AUX function enables temporary auto-stabilization for the duration its pressed. This can probably help save the Alias if things get a bit too wild.
For my first multi-rotor, I read up on the :
- LaTrax Alias (this one)
- Hubsan X4
- Ares Ethos QX 130
- Blade 180 QX
I think the LaTrax Alias was the most expensive version. However I could buy it without shipping, so the instant gratification won out on me. I heard it offered a little bit less of the safety net than the others and that also appealed to me as I wanted to develop some skill holding it steady.
It also has great support, an active forum (that helped me out within an hour after I unknowingly entered controller recalibration mode), and other accessories like a camera and LED lightbar.
I’m pretty happy with the Alias and have been eye-ing some FPV mods to increase the fun. I can see it becoming quite an expensive hobby …