Your Next Great R/C: Odyssey Drones

Image: Rory Bristol
Image: Rory Bristol

The rise of the drones is upon us, and more remote control (R/C) air vehicles are on the market all the time. With this deluge of personal aircraft, the FAA has placed new restrictions on personal drones, and even requires registration of all units over 0.55 pounds. So how does one get started, without having to register with a federal agency, and without too much cost? I turned to Odyssey Flying Machines. I recently put my hands on a pair of their drones, and was pleased to note: None of Odyssey’s drones is over the 0.55 pound benchmark, meaning you don’t have to register any of their units. Let’s take a look at the Microlite X-7 and the Photon X-9.

X-7 Microlite ($99.95)

Image: Rory Bristol
Image: Rory Bristol

“Dive, dip, and dart through the sky like a pro! With its precision controls and 2.4 Ghz transmitter, the remote control X-7 Microlite will light up the sky up to 100 meters high – approximately 328 feet! Take off from any surface and have fun doing 360° rolls and flips at the touch of a button.”

The X-7 is a neat quadcopter with four propellers lit up with LEDs that make it stand out in the night sky. This is great for evening parties or late night kid-time. Most drones have few lights, and none are the beacon that the X-7 is. The two different colors of lights mean that you can also distinguish which end is the front at any time, a real boon in even light winds, which can send a drone skittering off course. With a practiced pilot, the X-7 has the footprint and power to hold to its course, thankfully.

Image: Rory Bristol
Image: Rory Bristol

The size of the remote control is unfortunately large, with the area marked in pink being completely useless. With controls for speed, throttle, speed trim, rotation trim, roll, forward/backward trim, direction, and side trim, it’s no wonder the drone needs a substantial remote unit, but it probably needed to be about half the size it is. As it is, I have to stretch my fingers pretty well to operate it, and my kids just can’t control it properly. That being said, it is well made, and the signal is quite strong, even at a distance. The many controls also mean the pilot can adjust every setting they might need in order to execute brilliant flip and nose-dives.

This image shows the LEDs lit up. The unit pictured here has blue and green LEDs, while the unit I reviewed has red and green LEDs. Image: Odyssey Toys
This image shows the LEDs lit up. The unit pictured here has blue and green LEDs, while the unit I reviewed has red and green LEDs. Image: Odyssey Toys

As much fun as the drone is to use, though, the 3.7 rechargeable lithium battery is quite difficult to manage. I really wish they had refitted it a bit, as I thought I was going to break the cable the first time I charged it.

X-9 Photon ($59.95)

Image: Rory Bristol
Image: Rory Bristol

This small, compact quadcopter fits in the palm of your hand and has six rotating blades for added stability. Move forward, backward, or side-to-side swiftly with the accelerometer – just like a real plane! The X-9 Photon includes multi-color LEDs and Bright LITE Search Light for added fun. A single charge allows for 5-8 minutes of flying time.

The Photon X-9 is a much better unit, in my opinion. Less than 3″ across, it is compact, light, and very easy to control. This unit also has LEDs, but they are much more subtle. Two yellow lights indicate the front, and six blue lights provide visibility in any level of lighting. Pulling the X-9 out the first time, I knew exactly what to do. Plug it in to charge the battery, snap some AAs into the (sensibly sized) remote, and off you go.

The remote itself is similar in size to an XBOX controller, and has all the functions you might want to control your drone. The X-9 is also capable of great feats, and even has a stealth mode. If you flip the unit once, all the lights go out, making the small black unit all but invisible. To turn the lights back on, simply execute another flip.

The control is also much smoother for the X-9, and I was able to hand it off to kids without much explanation, knowing that its use wasn’t terribly technical. None of the kids had trouble learning to use it, other than interference from winds. It is by far and away my preferred R/C unit.

Charging the X-9 is very simple, and it lasts for about 7 minutes, though your mileage may vary.

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The TL;DR:
The X-7 is a more expensive unit, with great controls and stability in flight. Its remote is too big for kids, but should be easy for adults to use.

The X-9, on the other hand, is faster, more compact, and better at executing flips. It is easy for all ages to use, and the one I would suggest if you’re looking for somewhere to start.

Odyssey Toys are available in Toys R Us, Target.com, Walmart.com, Brookstone, and other retailers.

Disclaimer: The author received sample units for review purposes.

Rory is a newly appointed stepparent to two awesome geeklings. He also writes for mental health awareness at Terminally Intelligent.