I have flown countless inexpensive quadcopters from a variety of manufacturers who are usually based in China. While each one has some unique features, generally they tend to fly and behave similarly. That said, I thought I would give a six-bladed craft, known as a hexacopter, a shot to see if it flew any differently. Having heard from a few different drone pilots that the MJX X600 was a good one, I thought I’d give it a shot. It’s available on Amazon.com for around $50 US dollars and also has spare batteries, propellers and motors available to order.
It arrived and I opened the box to find many of the usual items that are included with this class of toy drone – a screwdriver, a poorly written instruction manual, and some spare props. But after I got the drone assembled and into the air, I discovered that there are some important differences between flying a hexacopter and a traditional quadcopter!
The first thing you’ll notice (aside from the six propellers) is that this is a very sharp looking aircraft. I believe it comes in black or white. Mine is the black model and it’s quite good looking. The paint is a matte color and it has minimal decals, giving it a stealthy fighter jet kind of feeling, which I personally like. The fuselage is a sleek shape and the six LED lights on the bottom are bright and cool blue and orange colors.
This hexacopter features three flight modes (beginner, intermediate, and expert) as well as a headless mode with a “return to home” button. Now don’t be fooled, there is no GPS in this drone, so the “return to home” button does not actually know where home is exactly, so it is more like a “fly in the general direction of home” button. I tested it and found that it would get close, but you quickly have to take control of the craft back before it runs into an obstacle or flies past where you are standing.
The hexacopter has lightweight landing skids and six prop guards that you can install. And it features a 7.4V 2S 700mAh battery, which is actually a pretty good sized battery for a drone this light weight, so it gives the craft some good power. You can order an optional camera (model #C4005) and FPV software called MJX FPV for iOS or Android, but I did not and stuck to the basic hexacopter flying-for-fun experience.
|Camera||Optional #C4005 or #C4008|
|Video Transmitter||Optional Required Download of MJX FPV Software for iOS or Android|
|Max Flight Time||Approximately 11 Minutes Without Prop Guards or Landing Skids|
|Flight Battery||7.4V 700mAh 2S LiPo Battery|
|Length & Width||386 mm Square (with prop guards)|
|Height||135 mm (with landing skids)|
|Flight Modes||Beginner, Intermediate, Expert & Headless|
Quality of build
The MJX X600 feels pretty solid for a copter in this price range. It has a rigid plastic frame and the cable management from the flight controller to the motors is very clean. The prop guards and landing gear is light weight and easy to install. And the remote control, while still cheap, feels better and more substantial in your hands than most sub-$100 US dollar drone remotes feel. Generally it seems that MJX has a good quality control system in place to ensure that the craft arrives in good working order and ready to assemble and fly with minimal trouble!
Assembly and tuning
Putting the hexacopter together is quite easy. It comes with the propellers preinstalled, which is nice. The plastic tray that comes in the box holds the quad with its propellers on, so I recommend holding onto that tray to store the hexacopter in the long term. The prop guards and landing skids come with some tiny screws and a screwdriver to put them on. Personally I am not a fan of the prop guards because they tend to decrease the performance of the craft. But if you are just learning or plan to do a lot of indoor flying, I definitely recommend putting them on, at least temporarily.
One small thing that I don’t like about the design of this craft is that you must remove a screw to insert the battery into the craft itself. While the manufacturer has done a good job of making the battery compartment big enough to accommodate the battery easily, the fact that you must get out the screwdriver each time you want to swap out batteries is a bit of a pain. Why can’t they simply make a cover that snaps into place? I’m actually planning to affix some Velcro to the battery cover and use that in place of the screw to keep it secure.
Once you have assembled the hexacopter, you plug in the battery and place it on a level surface so that the accelerometers can calibrate. This simple means that the aircraft is “leveling itself” for smooth flight. One very nice feature of this hexacopter is the big, easy to use on/off switch on the top. So once you have it plugged in and on a level surface, first turn on the remote control and then turn on the aircraft. The LEDs on the aircraft will blink rapidly and then slowly. Once they are blinking slowly, you push the throttle on the remote all the way up and then all the way back down. With this, you will hear a beep and the lights on the hex will glow solid, indicating that you have bound your remote to it and you are ready to fly!
This hexacopter is truly fun to fly. It is very level and smooth. I attribute this to the fact that it has six motors, instead of four, keeping it in the air. A couple of important notes about flying it. First, there are two buttons below the throttle stick. One is to change from beginner to intermediate to advance (or expert) modes. This is a simple thing to do as each time you push the button, it cycles through those modes. The other button is used to change the configuration of the sticks, meaning that it is used to swap what the left and right sticks do.
When I first flew, the sticks were reversed from what I’m used to and I immediately crashed. For me and most other flyers (I believe) the left stick is for throttle and yaw (rotation) and the right stick is for going in a certain direction (left, right, forward, backward). One word of advice from me is to be sure that the aircraft is in the mode that you are most familiar with before you first take off. “Stick Mode 2” is the one that works best for me. The good news is that the small monochromatic LCD screen on the remote tells you which stick mode you are currently in and you can cycle through them by pushing that “stick mode” button.
The different “skill level” modes (beginner, intermediate or expert) are also indicated on the LCD screen by a small circle icon. If the icon is hollow, you are in beginner. Half-filled means intermediate. A fully filled circle means you are in expert mode. One other note about expert mode – in it you don’t use the “flip” button (upper right bumper button) to flip, instead just pushing the right stick all the way in a single direction causes the hexacopter to flip. I didn’t know this at first and kept flipping when I didn’t mean to. Flying in beginner or intermediate modes requires you to push the flip button. Personally, I enjoy intermediate mode the most because it is quite aggressive but still self-leveling.
The final flight mode to consider is headless which you achieve by holding down the top right bumper button (usually used for flips) for two seconds. You will hear a beep and then you are in headless mode. In headless mode the top left bumper button acts at the “return to home” button. And while this feature sort of works, without GPS to support it, you are best not to trust this feature too much.