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Well it had to happen, the multirotor market are getting bigger and bigger each year and we are constantly seeing new players jumping on the market. Anyone in their right mind would want to get into the "drone" action.
Clearly TRAXXAS' core-competence is RC trucks with cool plastic bodies, and the new ATON+ is absolutely stunningly beautiful in terms of design and execution. These guys know how to make great plastic, no doubt about that, but how about aircrafts.
To check out the TRAXXAS' offering, Frank from CarolinaDronz.com send me a ATON+ I was particularly interested in this model as Im typically interested in Aerial Video platforms and the ATON+ promised quick swap in-out of the legs and snap-on 2 axis gimbal. this seems like a perfect platform that can be a sports flyer and in a minute or two turned into a aerial video platform.
NOTE: Before you read this review or watch the video, please realize that I review VIDEO DRONES. Im reviewing the TRAXXAS ATON+ because it is advertised as a convertible video-drone / sports flyer. my opinions are based entirely on the drones ability to fulfill its promises of being a video drone first. pilots who mostly want a sports flyer and just sometimes a video-quad, is likely to have a completely different perspective on this quad.
This is a GPS sports flyer with a modular video gimbal system, capable of flying a GoPro.
Featuring video and acro modes,
In video you can fly headless / IOC mode or you can fly traditional orientation.
The 2 axis video gimbal have no control options, you can set the pitch angle on the gimbal before flying.
TRAXXAS' have chosen to go with a 2 axis gimbal which is a straight plug on design.
The gimbal is a simple swap in system and have a safety-cage for the camera, you basically snap the camera into a bend piece of plastic and then snap it into the bottom of the gimbal. this feels solid and I'm not concerned about flying my GoPro on the gimbal.
TRAXXAS have made some rather unusual choices for this gimbal.
For starters thee gimbal ONLY have power connection and there are no pitch control for the gimbal, meaning you can not in-flight adjust the gimbal to look down or up.
Further more, there are no camera controls, thats not so bad as we have long gotten used to GoPro's not being controlled while in flight. but it would have been nice if they had included a system for live downlink of video from the gimbal. Again, this is not the end of the world, we can easily stick a video link on the belly of the quad and power it from the JST plug on the belly of the quad.
Im somewhat puzzled by the lack of a gimbal pitch axis control, the top left switch on the RC control is un-assigned and one would think they could have used that channel for pitch control.?
This all should work well, however the gimbal feels almost under-powered, and tend to drift in fight. this is disappointing as the gimbal is such a central piece of the value of a camera quad, I can only hope TRAXXAS update the gimbal ASAP. (PS TRAXXAS, WHEN you get a new working gimbal, please let me know so I can update the reviews)
This is a straight forward solution, thankfully TRAXXAS have chosen to use off-the-shelf GoPro 3 and cameras, this is brilliant because there simply are no better cameras and unlike so many drone manufactures who push low-quality generic cameras, TRAXXAS have no problems with image quality. Good Movie TRAXXAS.
The GoPro form-factor gimbal will also accept many GoPro Clones, so if you got one of the "look-a-like GoPro" cameras, you should be able to use these as well.
TRAXXAS have chosen a quite un-common controller for a $400 quad, its not that its a bad controller, just that we are used to more traditional looking radios.