A Full-Function Quad That’ll Fit in Your Pocket … Literally!
Words: Tony Phalen Photos: Walter Sidas
Upon initial inspection of the Proto X when it arrived at my house, I was amazed at just how small it actually was. I read some pre-release specs and reviews of it and was anxious to see how well it would perform given its small size. The quality and construction of this diminutive quad is very good considering its price. The transmitter on the other hand, left a little to be desired since it was so small, but I reserved my final judgment until I had completed a flight or two.
NEED TO KNOW
DISTRIBUTOR: Hobbico, Inc.
MINIMAL FLYING AREA: Indoor small spaces
NEEDED TO COMPLETE/GEAR INCLUDED: 2 “AAA” batteries for the transmitter
FLYING WEIGHT: 11.5g
LENGTH: 45 x 45mm
PROPELLER DIAMETER: 30mm
RADIO: Estes four-channel 2.4GHz
MAIN MOTOR: (4) micro brushed
BATTERY: 100mAh 3.7V LiPo
CHARGER: USB charge cord
DURATION: 3-4 minutes
When I first saw the images of the Proto X prior to its release, I couldn’t believe that the little machine was for real and if so, that it would actually fly well and/or be any fun to operate. Seriously, the spy shots that Estes released featured the tiny machine next to a quarter (as in a quarter dollar) for size comparison. The transmitter looks like a cheap knock-off video game controller as well, but hey, it’s forty bucks so there’s really nothing to lose either way.
IN THE AIR
Being a fella who is not terribly dependent on his PC, I wasn’t all that happy about a USB-only charger, but after flying the quad, it was worth the effort trekking back to my PC to recharge. Within 15 minutes or so, the little red light on the cord went out, signaling that it was time for the maiden flight. Powering up the transmitter first, I flipped the switch on the Proto X and was instantly dazzled by the LED lights that adorn the four corners as well as the front of the canopy. Blue lights up front and reds in the rear offer a highly visible way to gain orientation of the little machine. Once the lights went from blinking to solid, it was ready to go.
Since the Proto X is so small, I thought I might have a tough time dealing with ground effect, so I mashed the throttle. Surprisingly, the little quad lurched upwards and almost rebounded off of the ceiling in my living room. The micro quad was perfectly trimmed right out of the box and would hang in place with almost no corrections. A few pirouettes had me quickly grinning at the stability it offered. I was amazed at how well this little Estes machine performed. Not only were figure eights and funnels predictable and easy, but they were fun as well and had me smiling from ear to ear.
Another aspect of the Proto X that surprised me was the overall flat-line speed. It may be small in size, but it’ll turn a large room into a closet if you’re not careful with high-speed maneuvers. In this aspect, I quickly gained a good deal of respect for its durability. A few brushes with the wall and even a slow spinning ceiling fan had me chopping the throttle, sending the little buzz saw tumbling to the ground. Each time, the little quad brushed off the crash and was right back up in the air. I did manage to send one of the props flying across the room, but a quick press fit and she was back in action. Estes provides a spare set of props in the box. If you need to change the props, be sure to note the letter markings on each of them so as to use the proper rotation when replacing one.
• Tiny size means flights can be performed in the most confined spaces
• Multi-colored LED lights to gain orientation as well as cool factor
• At forty bucks RTF, you really can’t go wrong
• Available replacement parts for everything except the main frame/board
• USB-only charge lead included
• Teeny, tiny transmitter
THE LAST WORD
I have to admit; when I first saw the Proto X I did not imagine that it would do any of the things it was advertised to do so well. Boy was I wrong! This little bugger is a hoot to fly, is durable as any quad out there and is backed by a full line of replacement parts. The transmitter is a bit on the small side, making minute adjustments a little tricky at first, but I got used to it in no time. An additional bonus to the Proto X was the fact that I could use the transmitter that Estes includes with its larger sibling, the Dart, making the feel of the sticks much more familiar than the stock transmitter. All in all, I’d say Estes knocked this one out of the park and I’m sure there will be many, many of these little machines flying off the shelves!
The Estes Proto X was reviewed in the Spring 2014 issue of MultiRotor Pilot. We’re reproducing this article here to introduce our online readers to the Proto X series of multirotors. To get the latest multirotor news, please keep following MultirotorPilotmag.com and pick up the latest issue of the magazine at your local newsstand, hobby shop or online at shop4rc.com.