DRONES REVIEWS

Yuneec Tornado H920: At the Cusp of Copter Technology

Yuneec Tornado H920
Jack Brown
Written by Jack Brown

You will find the Yuneec Tornado H920 to be a nice machine, although a lot to take in at once. It is situated at the forefront of drone design, capable of capturing amazing aerial videos and photos. The Tornado H920 is a hexacopter, meaning it uses 6 blades for lift instead of the 4 props of a quadcopter. The Tornado’s appeal will compel buyers such as professional cinematographers.

It also has other commercial applications and you can go as far as law enforcement or search and rescue. The appeal does not stop here; even a regular person with a desire for a cool camera platform can pick up the Tornado and it would be like a dream come true. The wide range of camera movements provided by the 3-axis gimbal will give you full creative freedom.

Yunees Typhoon H920

You can seamlessly capture 4K video footage or sharp 16 MP photos with the click of a button. The compact design and the weight that does not exceed 5 kg means you can easily carry the hexacopter with you. Flying is very easy and anyone can do it. For takeoff and landing, the retractable landing gear is placed at the periphery of the camera, which does not impede vision.

Product Specifications:

  • Hexacopter
  • Works with GB603 gimbal
  • Aerial Shooting with Panasonic GH4
  • Carbon Fiber Frame
  • Retractable Landing Gear
  • ST24 Transmitter with 7″ Android Device
  • Ready To Fly
  • 2 Flight Batteries
  • Landing Gear
  • Fail safe folding arms
  • Return to home capabilities

Buy Yuneec Tornado H920 on Amazon

Build Specifications

Packaging

The box of the Yuneec Tornado H920 and the ST24 controller has some weight to it.

The props are huge 17 inch carbon fiber attached blades (no quick release mechanism). However, the screws are 5 mm Allen screws; in fact, you can put together the whole thing with just one Allen wrench, which is included in the package, and that’s all there is to it.

You also receive a quick start guide with LED sequence cheat sheet, and links to where you can download the full manuals.

Yunees Typhoon H920

You have a whole assortment of cables, not only for plugging in the charger itself. You also get balance leads, alligator clips for charging out in the field, a couple of extra leads for soldering and using with other batteries, some additional cables, the balance lead and charger for the battery of the Pro-Action Grip , and a Micro-USB connector for charging up the ST24.

You’ll also receive a LiPo charge checker for viewing you high-voltage, low-voltage, overall voltage, etc.

Design & Durability

The build quality of the Yuneec Tornado H920 is outstanding; it is apparent it takes a lot to build it. It takes a lot of time for the carbon fiber to be molded and then put together. There are 17 screws just for the canopy itself.  The whole thing is like a work of art.

When you pull the drone out of the box, it is not as heavy as you would initially think, because the platform itself is all carbon fiber. However, the quality of the sturdy design is evident. You can tell it is carbon fiber when the material feels like plastic, but it’s durable.

Yunees Typhoon H920 Carbon Fiber

Concerning the arms of the aircraft, what you do with them is you raise them (because they come folded), and you lock them with a simple mechanism. You don’t need the box when carrying the drone; you can just place the frame and the controller in the back of your car and set off for happy times.

Camera

This model can be bought in various configurations.  The Yuneec CGO4 Panasonic driven camera is the proprietary camera used; it is basically a Panasonic GH4 camera purposely built for Yuneec housing. The camera is very solid, it works great and it has a 3x zoom on it, all controlled through the ST24.

You can buy a Tornado with or without a gimbal. If it has  a gimbal, it works on both the Panasonic GH4 and the Sony V18.

Yunees Typhoon H920 With Camera

The Pro-Action Grip is an excellent solution for photos on the ground. It is also a 3-axis gimbal system, perfect for your hands. It weighs 890g without the camera, so you can hold it for long photo sessions, without getting tired.

Battery & Flight time

Yuneec Tornado H920 takes two 4000mAh 6S 22.2V Lipo batteries, with the capability of fitting 3 of them. Hovering with two battery packs in place will give you 25 minutes of flight time. Heavy winds, or flying around and taking pictures will drop that time down to 18-19 minutes, as you are working the motors harder.

Drop in that extra battery and you’ll find yourself with 30-35 minutes of actual flying. It should be noted these are dedicated batteries which slide in specially designed slots molded into the top part. The Tornado comes with two batteries, so you need to purchase the extra one for the added flight time.

Controller

With this drone you’re going to get the ST24, a 24 channel radio with a built in 7 inch Android tablet. You also have 5.8GHz video downlink, and a 2.4GHz radio link. It’s got a lot of functions built into it:  retractable landing gear, mode switches, tilting the gimbal, zoom the camera; it’s even got a built in flight simulator.

Yuneec ST24

It’s a really slick radio controller, very compact, and although it’s a bit on the larger side, it’s actually very balanced and has a nice feel in the hands. The three sided lens hood is spot on, with the bottom part left out for easy access to the on screen menus. It even comes with a 4 point neck strap.

With the ST24 you can monitor your signal and you will have full camera control for the CGO4 (zoom, aspect ratios, etc.). With the GH4, there are some manual things you have to do: you need to turn it on, set the zoom the way you want it; so it is not fully autonomous, being more similar to the way you use the GoPro on the Typhoon G.

Flight Performance

As far as flying goes, in the worst case scenario of a crash, the Yuneec Tornado H920 has specially designed arms which most likely break midway, and not at the joints. Furthermore, the bullet connector plug, right on the main board of the drone will allow for easy replacement of the wires. It is however recommended to take it to an authorized dealer to be repaired or contact Yuneec directly.

Yuneec Tornado H920 Flight

If you are a conservative flyer and have been piloting quadcopters for some time, but you feel you want to upgrade to a better camera, you will find that learning to fly a hexacopter safely, will not baffle you at all. Once you get past the fact that “ok, this is bigger” and you have the surprise of just how stable the platform is, and how easy it is to use, with the retractable landing gear and all the possibilities the ST24 controller offers, you will find it enjoyable.

For solid video feed, and to keep with the FAA rules, it is recommended to keep the Tornado in sight within a 600-700ft radius, although you could push it out as far as 1000ft. If you find yourself in trouble, you can always push Home.

Yuneec Tornado H920 Flight

Speaking of which, the safety features of the Tornado include Smart Mode, Angle Mode and Home Mode. The GPS can be turned on and off, the landing gear is retractable and the gimbal can rotate 360° and has a 90° vertical tilt. The same Rabbit Mode and Turtle Mode are still here. With all these features, the Yuneec Tornado H920 gives the impression of a Typhoon on steroids.

Value for money and guarantee

This model retails for some $3500. You then have to add a gimbal for some $1500, or if you don’t have a camera, you can add the CG04 for around $2700. The last camera option is the V18, specifically built for law enforcement or search and rescue. It has an 18x Sony chip zoom camera built into it; not really made for film making. It retails for around $5000.

Yuneec Typhoon H920

With the CGO4 camera, you will be getting a 6 month warranty, but again, it is highly recommended you contact the manufacturer directly, and they will try and get you back in the air asap. They have a very good reputation.

Unique features

The Yuneec Tornado H920 comes with a new, high-end  2 channel AC/DC battery charger for balancing your two battery packs simultaneously, which will take about an hour, or less if your charging just one and you’re turning up the amperag. You can also charge the controller with it.  It can handle LiPo’s, LiFe’s NiCd’s, discharge, charge, just about anything. If you are familiar with digital screen chargers, you will be able to handle this one with no worries.

Similar models

Yuneec Typhoon HYuneec Typhoon H

The Yuneec Typhoon H is boasting some new features which the competitors do not have, like retractable landing gear, a 360° camera gimble, a built in video monitor, and other stuff, all very similar to it’s close competitor, the DJI Phantom 4.

On a quick unboxing, the Typhoon comes with a lot of different parts and pieces. They included some extras you would normally expect them to charge for, such as a neck strap for the controller, a sunshade and even a car adaptor to charge your battery on the go.

The foldable hands are a nice and a needed feature, given this is a large hexacopter. The battery promises a flight time of 22 minutes while the Phantom 4’s flight time is rated at 28 minutes. The battery becomes somewhat of a hassle, given that even the app on the controller has no battery level indicator.

On the Phantom 4, not only is this feature present, it even gives you an estimate flight time in the app, a huge safety feature and a clear oversight on the part of Yuneec. This model comes with an all in one ST16 controller with a ton of dials and switches. By comparison, the Phantom controller’s charm is in its simplicity.

The biggest feature is a monitor built into the controller, running Android 4.4 KitKat. The downside is the greater size and the added time it takes for the controller simply to boot up. You could however, appreciate the built in HDMI output.

The app’s user interface is a bit clunky and has confusing controls, lacking some polish. Remote displaying of capture footage is also not possible. You can take out the SD Card on the Typhoon and insert it directly into the controller and view your files via the file manager, but all of this is unneeded overhead.

One of the best Typhoon H features is the Follow Me mode, having the drone and camera, follow you via GPS everywhere you go. Keep in mind, this mode does not have object avoidance turned on. You have your retractable landing gear at the flick of a switch, adding to the overall esthetic of the drone when flying around. With the landing gear up, there is no chance of obstructing any of the camera views.

When it comes to the included camera, it is capable of 4K video capturing, the same as the Phantom 4. You might find the colors of the Typhoon’s camera to be soft, and auto white balance is clearly off.

DJI Phantom 4DJI Phantom 4

DJI Phantom 4 is a drone that simply works, straight out of the box, intuitive and user friendly. There are no gimmicks or useless features, or complex color coded LED signals.

The case in which the Phantom 4 comes in also has a strap, allowing for easy carrying. This would have been a welcomed feature also on the Typhoon H. The carbon fiber makes the Typhoon H lightweight, although it is still bulkier and heavier than the Phantom 4.

One of the biggest differences between the two aircraft comes regarding batteries. There is a charge indicator on the Phantom 4, with even cheaper models having battery indicators. This allows quick and safe checking of battery levels, anytime, anywhere. The Typhoon is lacking in this basic department.

This model allows you to quickly and efficiently fly with confidence, making for amazing aerial photos and videos. With this quadcopter, you have immediate access to the captured visual data, allowing you to immediately download it to your mobile device.

Overall, the this quadcopter beats out the Typhoon H, being a more refined platform which offers a better, safer flying experience. With the prices being so similar, not even this category presents an issue. You can get your hands on a Phantom 4 for around $1,000  on Amazon.

DJI Inspire 1DJI Inspire 1

DJI is a Chinese tech company founded in 2006. It manufactures commercial and recreational UAV’s for aerial Photography and for Videography.  It has a series of products like flying cameras and platforms, flight controllers for multirotors, accessories for multicoptes, etc.

This quadcopter gives you everything you need for aerial filmmaking. It has an advanced ready-to-fly design. It will have you up in the air within minutes. Concerning the specks, it comes in at around 3kg, with battery included. The 6000mAh battery will allow 18 minutes of flight time.

The camera supports 4K video, and it also takes 12 MP photos in compressed JPEG, RAW or DNG. The outside operating temperature for the DJI Inspire 1 is situated between -10 and 40°C. Watching the drone take off is exciting, as it transforms mid-flight, with the arms folding up after takeoff, allowing for 360° of unobstructed video.

The drone is controlled via a mobile app, compatible with either iOS or Android systems. It is a clear choice for professionals looking for an all in one RTF system.

Overview

Now let’s see the pros and cons of Yuneec Tornado H920.

PROS:

  • It is an excellent lightweight carbon fiber platform for high quality cinematography
  • The software and hardware are well integrated, allowing you to get in the air faster
  • You will grow into it with each new flight experience

CONS:

  • Prior flight knowledge is welcomed, particularly if we are talking about the Typhoon series
  • Intimidating for newcomers

The Yuneec Tornado H920 is one of the best drones of the market.

Amazon-Button-2

You do need to use your common sense when flying one of these. Although an excellent platform, it’s not a toy, it is a serious machine.

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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