The Yuneec Typhoon Q500 drone is among a very special breed of drones that provide the user with a lot of options.
It’s the kind of drone that was not only planned out and designed thoroughly without ignoring any single detail, but was also made to combine the latest technology and features on the market today with the idea of choice and a multitude of solutions as well as path that the user can take in order to achieve something or solve a problem.
With that in mind, we can now understand why the Q500 was also dubbed the “mermaid drone”. This drone seems so inviting and so friendly from afar. But, the moment you take it out of the box and get a closer look at it, you realize that there is a lot more to this drone that meets the eye, making it rather difficult and complicated to grasp from the very beginning.
The main thing that it sports is the fact that it is able to record and capture images in 4K, a resolution that is not only far greater than anything that we were used to before but also difficult to be captured properly by a lot of recording equipment to this date.
Another thing that it manages to do properly, which puts this drone a clear cut above the rest is the fact that it is able to quite easily record in slow motion (60 frames per second), meaning that the footage that it captures can be slowed down significantly in post-production or while viewing and still retain the clarity and sharpness that comes with a 60 frames per second frame rate.
Another feature that is not exactly unique to the Q500 however it is the best sign of execution for this idea so far) is a simple 3 axis gimballing mechanism, allowing the camera itself to remain stable and leveled regardless of the position and level of the drone.
Thus compensating for tilting, banking and even minor turbulence caused by things like cross wind and other meteorological phenomena.
The camera in of itself can be removed from the drone with its gimballing mechanism and can be mounted on a handheld device that connects to any smartphone. Thus allowing the user to use the camera, and all of its features, as a personal camera without using the actual drone itself.
One of the things that really got our attention when it came to this drone was not only the design but the way in which it flies. It’s smooth and flexible, quite nimble and agile, managing to overcome every single obstacle or problem that mother nature is able to throw at it. It even manages to fly through rough weather conditions that would ground other drones, but it comes with a catch.
- Personal Ground Station with built-in touchscreen
- Integrated 3-axis precision gimbal camera
- 4K/30fps ultra high definition video, 1080p/120fps slow motion video
- User controlled video resolution, white balance and light exposure, 12 megapixel photos with No-Distortion Lens
- Handheld SteadyGrip for capturing video footage
It is not the easiest drone to operate, and it is by no means recommended for beginner or inexperienced pilots. The very first thing that gives us the idea is the controller itself, which displays a lot of advanced flight information that a seasoned experienced pilot would immediately understand and take advantage of in order to get the most out of the drone and give it the best flight ever.
Not to mention the fact that the drone itself, by default, on clear weather, is not the easiest thing to control, and an inexperienced pilot will undoubtedly struggle.
It’s not all grim sunsets though because the drone has had a lot of automatization done to it and the way it flies. This gives the pilot options such as auto pilot, auto landing, return home features and even face targeting and automatic following.
Indeed we have been saving the best for last because the camera comes with integrated facial recognition software, making it capable of identifying faces, then targeting and locking on to them. If the pilot wishes, he or she can opt to give the drone the command to follow these faces around from afar which will enable the drone to automatically circle and follow the face or faces that it has locked on to.
It might take a fairly skilled pilot to take advantage of all these options and features, but at the end of it all, it’s more than worth it.
As with most of the drones on the market, the Q500 comes with a rather basic package to begin with.
It is ready to fly out of the box kind of drone, which means that you will not have to deal with any soldering, any wires or any circuitry. However you will have to deal with just a bit of assembly.
The basic pack contains:
- 1x Drone
- 8 x Drone propellers
- 1x Propeller mounting tool
- 1x camera
- 2 x Batteries
- 1x Battery charger
- 1x Memory card
- 1x Set of instructions
- 1x Remote flight controller
- 1x Handheld camera controller
- 1x Remote Flight controller strap
So right off the bat we can see that the basic kit comes with spare parts, more or less. A spare set of propellers and a spare battery to be more precise. This is something that not most drones come with, the vast majority of them actually requiring you to purchase parts in addition to the drones themselves.
There will be a bit of assembly required though, mostly requiring you to mount the propellers on the drone itself, insert the memory card into the camera and charge and mount the battery onto the drone.
This takes up to roughly 5 minutes, excluding the battery charging time, and then the drone is ready to take to the skies.
Design and durability
The idea behind the design of the Q500 was to take as much work out of the post production part of the filming process as possible.
Let’s get a little more into detail here.
Usually when filming things with drones, the filming part itself is not enough because there is a lot of shaking, a lot of vibrations and a lot of compensation that takes place. Not to mention the fact that sometimes the maneuvers that are made are not exactly the ones that you would like to be featured in the final cut.
So there is actually a lot of post-production work involved, basically cutting and pasting different sections of the film in order to leave out what you don’t want people to see or experience and promoting what you really wanted to achieve.
The Q500 was designed to drastically reduce this time, and you can see it with every single design element.
- The body is aerodynamic, designed to cope and flow with find coming from all directions.
- The camera gimbals and keeps the picture and focus steady even though the drone might be fighting the forces of nature in the background.
- The resolution is 4K, the highest resolution available so far, and the frame rate is a steady slow-motion 60 frames per second.
- The lens has a slight side angle so that the aspect ratio of the image stays the same whether on the ground and in the air.
- The software that comes already installed in the drone allows it to do amazing things like recognize faces and lock onto them, follow them around, and even respond to simple commands and visual cues.
The Q500 sports a CGO3 4K 3-axis Gimbal Camera which allows it to take some stunning pictures and capture some high-quality moments as high-quality video.
- Picture/frame resolution: 12 Megapixels
- Video Frame rate: 60 frames per second
- Slow motion: 120 frames per second fluid slow motion capture
- Maximum video resolution: 4K
- HD capabilities: 1080p
- Lens: Slight wide angle no distortion adjustable crystal lens
Added design features:
- 3 axis gambling
- Heavy duty weather resistant casing
- Easy to mount/dismount mechanism
While, in theory, the Q500 is capable of working with other controllers, by far the most recommended controller is the Yuneec Q500 flight controller that the drone comes with by default. The reason for that being the fact that the drone and controller come already calibrated with one another, making it a lot easier to fly and control the drone as well as take advantage of the multiple features that it comes with.
Another good reason why you should stick with the default controller is the touchscreen at the bottom of the controller which allows you to control the camera and set it up by cycling through the various options and features that it has mid-flight.
The controller itself has a better flight control layout than on other drone controllers, making it a lot easier for the pilot to access features and flight options such as the autopilot commands and auto landing options.
The controller itself is rather easy to use and the drone is quite responsive when using it. However it will still require a bit of practice in order to get used to.
This is where the Q500 really stands above the rest, mostly because of the fact that it can go a long way above the legal 400 ft. drone flight altitude, and there have been reports that, in clear weather and optimal conditions, the drone can reach double that altitude. However it is illegal to do fly that high, especially in populated areas, so it is not advisable to try it out for yourself.
It has a 26 ft. smart circle radius in which it can perform its smart functions such as facial recognition, targeting and following the target around, as well a 300 ft. radius geo-fence, meaning that if the drone flies outside the 300 ft. radius the signal starts to lose its strength and can drop at any moment.
It’s ok though because the drone itself is programmed to return “home” or back to the pilot whenever it detects any signal loss.
One last thing to mention here is in regards to the 26ft. radius smart circle. The drone itself should never take off when placed inside the circle. For calibration and functionality purposes, the drone must always take off outside of this circle of both the target that it will be following around and the remote flight controller.
Value for money and guarantee
As it stands currently, the Q500 and the various models in this line, are currently being retailed for between $549.99 and $599.99, depending on the product or kit that you opt to go for.
There are a lot of spare parts and components that have been made available by the manufacturer and can be found on the market, as well as optional extras that you can order when ordering your Q500 drone.
The base value for a fully functional, flight ready, high-performance drone is $549.99, because of the fact that the very basic kit comes with everything that you need in order to make the most out of the drone.
As per guarantees, the different retailers offer different guarantees, often taking it upon themselves to sort the problem out if it ever arises. The manufacturer, on the other hand, does not mention anything of any money back guarantees, however it does provide you with a hefty and detailed warranty for the drone, as well as a lot of support for any kind of problem or question that you might have about the Q500.
When we think about unique features, we often look for unique things and design choices that make the drone in question stand out above the rest.
In the case of the Q500, there are not that many actual unique features but rather a very large list of features that it adopted and improved dramatically.
The actual unique features that are present on this drone are mostly minor design decisions like the placement and accessibility of the battery and memory card.
The improvements on the other hand are nothing to be scoffed at, because the designers and engineers at Yuneec have looked towards advanced military grade hardware for inspiration rather than what is currently present on the civilian market, and while we can say that these improvements are unique to the Q500 from a civilian point of view, they are actually very close in design to their military counterparts.
That being said, features such as:
- Facial recognition
- Gimbaling adjustable camera
- The ability to automatically compensate for atmospheric changes and weather shifts
- The ability to track its own signal limitations and operate within them on an automatic flight operation protocol
These features are unique to the Q500 from a civilian standpoint, but all too familiar from a military standpoint, being closely related to the same features that are sported by the military UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle).
Similar models or main competitors
DJI Phantom 3
The DJI drones have always been within the upper bracket of the drone market, and the Phantom 3 is said to be a rival that can match the Q500.
This is true only from a flight performance standpoint, managing to reach the same limits as the Q500, however it falls short when it comes to camera performance, not being able to reach the 4K maximum resolution.
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Autel Robotics X-Star Premium
The X-Star is probably the best match out there for the Q500, matching it in camera performance and flight performance.
The thing that sets the 2 apart is the price range. While the X-Star is more or less on the same level as the Q500 in the performance department, the price tag associated with it is significantly higher.
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UDI U818A has been presented as a new entry to this bracket and a more user-friendly drone that is aimed more towards the beginner pilots and the inexperienced drone users.
It is priced accordingly, being a lot cheaper and more accessible, with cheaper spare parts and extras, however it still manages to live up to the expectations that this bracket brings to the table.
The camera performance is not as powerful as the Q500 but it is still able to provide quality footage and a lot of the options that other drones in this bracket provide.
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It is quite affordable and accessible from a pricing point of view considering what it is able to bring to the table, and it will be a great addition for the people that want a drone that offers them the options and features that will more or less ensure that they will spend a lot less time in post-production than with any other drones.
Overall it is a very good drone, it is made to withstand a lot of stress and punishment as well as take full advantage of the technological advances that the designers and engineers have invested into it.