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Quanum Nova from HK First Impressions

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After building over six 3DR APM 2.5 based quadcopters I thought I would try the Quanum Nova from Hobbyking. It is my first APM based quadcopter built by someone else. Here are some first impressions of the quadcopter/drone.  

Firstly I would like to point out that I have not adjusted any of the PID's (Parameters).  Right out of the box the quadcopter seems to be well built.  Three of the propellers went on fine but the last one must of had a molding issue because it would not go on easy.  Had to use the propeller nut to tighten it down.  It is hard to take the prop off now but it does not effect the flight.  I did not to a preflight propeller balance.

After calibration of the compass the first flight was perfect.  The quadcopter held a steady position in GPS hold (position hold) only moving about a meter while sitting in the air.  Changing modes was easy but I noticed with the throttle at half the quadcopter would drop when changing modes.  Be sure to have a height buffer to be able to correct the altitude drop when switching modes. 

I calibrated the compass after the first flight using mission planner for my second flight.  I also added some propeller guards and later found that they are a must have. This time when in GPS hold the quadcopter moved a little more and after about 30 seconds started to toilet bowl.  I tried correcting the toilet bowl effect while still in GPS hold which made it worse.  By the time I had a chance to put it into stabilize it was too late and it hit a tree falling out of the sky, hit the ground and cut the grass below before motors disarmed. Luckily the propeller guards prevented any major damage to the quadcopter and propellers.  

After the crash I downloaded the logs from the flash for analysis.  By the looks it was bad compass health.  I did a re-calibration and took it out for another few flights.  It flew well even when hitting a tree.  I hit the tree and was able to recover it.  After a couple excellent flights I decided to try the range a bit and lost the quadcopter into the trees.  It got about 25 meters away at a height of 20 meters and would not respond to my controller.  I tried RTL with no response.  I figure the wind about the trees was too strong for the stock settings of the quadcopter and or the battery did not have enough juice to fight the wind.  Either way it hit the ground hard and caused the case to split along the top and bottom half seem.  No biggy because with a little pressure it snapped back into place.

The controller is simple with not too many knobs and switches.  Flight modes are controller by two toggles at the top of the controller.  There is also two knobs for accessory control (Gimbal).  The Throttle/yaw and tilt/roll controls worked well but are very sluggish with the default PIDS.  The quadcopter needs to be made a little more aggressive to be able to fight strong winds. 

For the price the Quanum nova is a good practice drone/quadcopter but it is too risky to use for professional use.  I am going to add a telemetry radio and a gimbal to see how it performs with computer/tablet control.  I think I will also change the receiver to a FRSky for more reliable range.