DRONES REVIEWS

Parrot Disco: Experience Immersive Flying

Jack Brown
Written by Jack Brown

With the majority of today’s consumer-level drones being quadcopters or hexacopters, appreciated for their vertical takeoff and landing, Parrot decided to go down a less travelled rode with the Parrot Disco, a fixed wing UAV with a very different flying style.

It was designed for anyone who ever dreamed of becoming a pilot, stepping into a cockpit, soaring high in the sky and taking in all the beauty of the surrounding landscape. This dream was made possible with the immersive experience offered, thanks to the very intuitive and accessible controls, such as takeoffs and landings at the push of a button.

The Parrot Disco has all the advantages of a fixed-wing UAV, with bigger payloads possible, meaning more sensors and technology in general, all while being able to cover longer distances at higher speeds. The simple but rigid structure means less maintenance and more operational flight time.

Let’s see Parrot Disco official video.

Note: You do require quite a bit of space for safely flying and landing the UAV. Parrot recommends the equivalent of two football stadiums. Also, as a beginner, you should watch a few YouTube videos before considering turning it on, just to be on the safe side.

Product Specifications:

  • Disco Fixed-Wing Drone
  • Cockpit glasses FPV Headset
  • Sky controller 2 Remote Control
  • Unified FPV System
  • Traditional FPV Experience
  • Intuitive Piloting
  • Fly, Spine, and Glide

Check the price on Amazon

Build Specifications

Packaging

When you get your Parrot Disco, you notice the fact that it comes in a rather big box, caused by the fact that the drone’s dimensions are 1150 mm x 580 mm x 120 mm, with a wingspan of 1150 mm (45 “). Despite the size, it’s both lightweight and robust, at just over 0.7 kg.

If you opt for the full package, the kit contains the UAV itself and the FPV bundle, consisting of a Cockpitglasses headset and a Skycontroller 2 with a size adjustable support for holding your smartphone or tablet.

The Cockpitglasses Goggles are not really video goggles. The user inserts his smartphone into a tray inside of the headset, and then streams live video from the 14 Megapixel Full HD Camera. The camera provides a fully immersive wide-angle HD view of the flight.

Parrot Disco Packaging

The Parrot Disco can be flown with precision using the Parrot Skycontroller 2, which is very similar to an actual gamepad.. Among its features, it has a start and land button, and also room for an adaptor to hold your phone or tablet.

The Parrot Skycontroller 2 can connect to Android or IOS devices using the FreeFlight Pro application, providing high quality video streaming and access to the settings of the drone (geofencing, limiting altitude and distance, recording video on a 32 GB memory card, taking pictures, etc.)

Also in the box, you’ll find the main body made out of Hard Plastic/EPP (Expanded polypropylene) foam reinforced with carbon tubes. Inside there’s the Parrot C.H.U.C.K system (Control Hub & Universal Computer Kit), which is your drone’s autopilot. The main body also fits a 2700 mAh battery, with a standard slow balance charger.

When you get to the wings, it becomes apparent that Parrot has a lot of experience making high end products; the white part of the wing is much harder than the black part. For this reason, the leading edge of the wing (the front) is made out of white foam, in order to better withstand the impact in case of a crash landing.

Parrot Disco

Note: It is recommended to apply scotch tape to this leading edge, so that the energy of an impact can be better distributed and absorbed. After a few flights, if you find yourself with damaged foam, you should use shipping tape or foam safe glue only.

Design & Durability

What’s cool about this design is that it is fly-by-itself (not fully autonomous, because you do have to interact with it), meaning you can take the Parrot Disco out in any open field such as a soccer stadium, toss it in the air, fly it around for over 30 minutes, bring it back and hit the land button for the autopilot to kick in and gently guide it to the ground in one piece. Very few things on the market can do that.

The wings of the aircraft are also interesting because they are optimized for stability and speed in flight. They have aerodynamic airfoil which reduces drag and improves lift. The winglets from both tips of the wings improve performance while the ailerons from the trailing edge provide the control of a traditional aircraft.

Parrot Disco Design

The major part of the assembly of the aircraft is attaching the wings to the main body trough carbon fiber rods. Before pushing the rods all the way in, you need to make sure the wings and the little adaptors from the servos of the body, which control the ailerons, are properly aligned.

The Parrot Disco is also powerful, with a 1280 kW brushless motor helping it reach speeds of 50 mph and to withstand winds of 24 mph. It also has 5V servo motors and is RF Receiver ready for SBUS, SUMD, CPPM.

For flying the aircraft through FPV, the Cockpitglasses headset is compatible with a wide range of smartphone brands, thanks also in part to the adjustable dock the package comes with. It leads to compatibility with screen sizes from 4.7″ to 5.7″, with the thickness interval between 6 and 9.5 mm.

Camera

The Parrot Disco uses a 14 Megapixel 1080p Full HD camera with 360p / 720p video streaming, the same Parrot used for the Bebop 2, although there are software improvements for better image quality. It is connected to the C.H.U.C.K, and there is a 32 GB internal storage, with data transfer possible to a PC or Mac via a micro-USB port.

Parrot Disco Camera

The camera can be tilted digitally 180° towards the ground, and with its 45 minute flight time, the drone could also have commercial applications or perform SAR missions, while other more powerful drones are being prepared.

Battery & Flight time

The battery is a 2700 mAh / 25 A 3-cell LiPo Battery. It connects to the C.H.U.C.K (Control Hub & Universal Computer Kit) via a XT60 connection actually called XT60 Plus.

At first glance, it looks a little different, because it has been packaged in a nice black box with Parrot written on it, but it’s still possible to change it to any other XT60 connectable battery.

Parrot Disco Battery

Battery life is normally 45 min, although there are cases of people putting in bigger batteries and going beyond an hour and a half of flight time, and more than 40 miles of total flight.

Controller

The flight controller is called the C.H.U.C.K which stands for Control Hub & Universal Computer Kit. It’s an orange package which contains all of the equipment needed to make the Parrot Disco work:

  • Airspeed sensor (Pitot Tube)
  • 3-axis gyroscope
  • 3-axis accelerometer
  • 3-axis magnetometer
  • Altimeter
  • Dual core Cortex A9 CPU
  • Internal Flash Memory 32 GB
  • Linux & Open source SDK as software

Parrot Disco Controller

Parrot does advertise you can hook up an R/C controller and fly, but you would be losing a lot of the advantages of the C.H.U.C.K. This is called flying the drone in manual mode.

Due to the rigidity of the package, it could be possible for the flight controller to still be functional after the UAV has been totally wrecked, in which case just the body would need to be replaced. The Parrot Disco bundle also comes with the FPV Cockpitglasses and the Skycontroller 2 to provide immersive first-person-view flight.

The Parrot Skycontroller 2 is an enhanced version of the previous Skycontroller. It’s a Wi-Fi MIMO remote control with a theoretical reach of 2 km. Parrot chooses to use its own proprietary wireless bands of 2.4GHz and 5.0 GHz respectively. It has a weight of just 700g, so it’s light and easy to hold. It also has its own rechargeable battery which seems to last longer.

Anyone used to an Xbox controller will have no problems using this controller. It can be connected with an Android or iOS mobile and tablet devices using the FreeFlight Pro app, even providing access to the device’s camera with the “direct view” function, allowing the pilot to see in front of him, even with the Cockpitglasses on.

Parrot Disco FPV Controller

The Cockpitglasses headset is similar to other goggles which use a smartphone to offer 360 degree views; it allows the connection of a smartphone to the Skycontroller 2 via a USB cable and streams seamless 720p resolution video (for most devices, although the 14 Megapixel front mounted camera is capable of 1080p, and uses a 3-axis gimbal for stabilization).

The headset shows a hud, offering telemetric and radar data. It is mentioned that the goggle’s holder can accommodate a large number of popular phone brands; actually, most Android or iOS phones within the 4.7 – 5.5 inch screen interval will work.

Flight Performance

The Parrot Disco was designed to fly with the plane always facing right side up, with no tail and no elevator. The ailerons working together can act as an elevator, so you can roll the drone, with the lift turning it through the turn. However, it is clear it was not designed with aerobatics in mind.

Parrot Disco Flight Performance

That being said, the flight characteristics are impressive, with a top speed of 50 mph due to the brushless motor, a max altitude of 492 ft, 45 minutes of flight time and a range of 1.2 mi. The stability of the flight is due to the algorithm for assisted piloting developed for the C.H.U.C.K, which always monitors flight parameters and prevents stalling while the user makes critical maneuvers.

Airspeed is provided to the flight controller thanks to the Pitot Tube, making it possible for the engine output to be modified in real time so that the aircraft always has the lift. Direction, altitude and speed are maintained through an inertial navigation system (accelerometer, altimeter, gyroscope) and a GPS + GLONASS module. All of these features greatly simplify flying.

There are two landing modes for the Parrot Disco. One is a straight in landing, where you come into the wind, push the land button, which reduces the power while bringing up the nose, which plops the thing down perfectly; the other option is a circular landing, with the UAV coming back to where the home point is, going into a huge spiral, and gradually landing. The second option does need an area at least 80 m across.

Parrot Disco Landing

Right before landing, it uses sonar sensors on the bottom, so the aircraft brings its nose up and then safely touches down. The spiral landing is also performed when the drone gets disconnected for some reason, or exits the designated flight area (geofencing), in which case it will “return home” and initiate the landing.

Value for money and guarantee

It is worth pointing out that the Parrot Disco comes ready-to-fly directly out of the box, apart from a few settings you can make through your phone with the FreeFlight application.

There are cheaper solutions, like just putting a couple of servos on a wing and flying it. However, In the case of the Parrot Disco, you are really paying for ease of operation. It allows you to start flying or land at the push of a button and use your phone as goggles for an immersive experience. You can even take the goggles off, have a drink, and come back to flying at your leisure.

Parrot Disco and FPV

You can find the Parrot Disco and the FPV kit for around $1000 & FREE Shipping on Amazon. You also have the ability to buy spare part or accessories such as a backpack for some 200€ at the Parrot official website.

Unique features

The aircraft just needs to be on a flat surface and you simply push button on top of the Pitot Tube. At this time, the button flashes blue, the UAV goes through some self checks, and once it’s flashing green, it means the aircraft systems are ready, the GPS is enabled and it’s prepared for takeoff. At that point, you are able to connect to the phone/tablet, and level out all configurations.

Similar models

TBS CaipirinhaTBS Caipirinha 3s

Team Black Sheep are well known for their quality products. The TBS Caipirinha is specially built for FPS flyers. The wing is made out of EPP, so it is similar to Parrot Disco in this regard. It has a wide speed range, low drag, and despite it being a very small wing, you are able to mount a full feature HD camera such as the GoPro.

The aircraft is manufactured in kit form for about $100, meaning all the electronics need to be bought separately. For this, TBS made available an electronics package. They also offer two special ready-to-fly versions: TBS Caipirinha 3S Starter Set (5GB Video, 2G4 RC) with 25-30 mins of flight time and speeds of up to 90 km/h, with a 2 km range, for $1.095, and also the TBS Caipirinha 3S Long Range Set(2G4 Video, Crossfire RC) with a TBS Yagi antenna, offering 15km of range  for $1.469.95.

The wingspan is 850mm with an airframe weight of 180g initially, which grows to 620g-700g with all components attached including camera. The design was updated to carry the GoPro Hero 3 cameras. 3S Lipo batteries have also become more popular than the initial 2S batteries.

Theory Type W 760mm FPVTheory Type W

The Theory Type W is a very nimble FPV ARF (almost ready-to-fly) drone with a  2205-2350kv detachable mounted motor, making it a powerhouse capable of reaching speeds of over 90 mph.

It uses SAFE technology (Sensor Assisted Flight Envelope) to allow for greater stability at high speeds and even some acrobatics, meaning it’s a faster pace and more adrenaline filled ride that the Parrot Disco.

Like the Disco, the wings are also detachable, making it a breeze to put the machine away and take it with you to your favorite racing location. With a 1300 4S battery, the Theory W can sustain racing speeds for 7 to 10 minutes.

However, the battery is not included with the initial punches. Neither is the R/C system, nor the FPV headset. You can find the Theory Type W on the Horizon Hobby website for $299.

AeroSky RC Delta FPV WINGAeroSky RC Delta FPV WING

The AeroSky FPV Wing comes in a very affordable package giving you all you need to get in the air for $519.95. It sports an EPO (Expanded Polyolefin) foam body with an elegant blue and black finish.

Because it is a delta wing, you get excellent stability with predictable flight patterns and greater lift, offering the possibility of adding heavier loads. It has a nose mounted Sony CCD 600 TVL camera for surveillance. The 880kv motor and 40A ESC give an excellent power-to-weight ratio, with a maximum speed of 90 km/h and a possible payload of 1.3 kg.

The AeroSky Delta comes equipped with GPS and autopilot, allowing you to select an altitude holds function for focusing just on surveillance, or to return to the starting point of the flight. The 3000 mAh 3S battery can provide 10 minutes of average flight time.

Overview

If you can’t decide to buy this product, then look at the pros and cons, and the short review of Disco Parrot.

PROS:

  • It comes ready-to-fly out of the box
  • The C.H.U.C.K offers telemetry and configuration data easily accessible through your Android or IOS device
  • The 45 minute flight time offers a wide range of applications

CONS:

  • You need a lot of open space to land safely
  • Manual mode with R/C takes away most of the flight controller functionality

Now let’s see small review on Parrot Disco.

Amazon-Button-2

If you want an aircraft that’s fun and easy to fly, fully autonomous, with little to no input required while in the air, this is the ticket.

About the author
Jack Brown
Jack Brown

Jack is the Chief Pilot at MyDroneLab.com bringing experience, expertise and knowledge in this quite new industry. He is a graduate of the Drone/UAV Pilot Training Certificate program and member of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International. Besides having all the necessary technical knowledge when it comes to drones, Jack and his team love to spend the time outside by the ocean, working on new features and teaching others how to pilot these amazing and exciting new robots.

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