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Cameras and iControlled helicopters take flight from Swann

By

January 7, 2012

Swann Sky Eye RC helicopter with camera

Swann Sky Eye RC helicopter with camera

Image Gallery (2 images)

An iPhone app and a camera take flight in the new remote control helicopters from Swann. Three models include i-Fly Micro Lightning, Sky Eye and Black Swan. The i-Fly Micro Lightning lets you control the helicopter via an app for the iPhone, iPod or iPad. The Sky Eye and Black Swann models house a camera capable of taking still and video images.

Swann, a company known for its security monitoring and home surveillance kits as much as fun gadgets (like its underwater camera and baby monitor), makes a line of helicopters for indoor flight. The helicopters use gyro technology, a trim adjustment that adds stability and makes it easier for someone to pick up and fly the RC helicopter without spiraling into an untimely crash.

The i-Fly Micro Lightning is meant for use with an iPhone or other iOS device. Pilots control the helicopter using the Swann iFly app. It comes with a transmitter that plugs into the audio jack on an iOS device. Users can control flight by pushing the button controls on the iPhone screen, or using "tilt" mode, which lets users fly by tilting the iPhone with gesture-based controls. This feature uses the accelerometer to control the helicopter. A 3-channel infrared control operates the directional functions including up/down, forward/backward and left/right turns. While the iPhone is the recommended way to fly, a remote control is included and also charges the i-Fly Micro Lightning for eight minutes of flying time.

Swann i-Fly Micro Lightening, Sky Eye and Black Swann RC helicopters

The Sky Eye has a camouflage paint job for that military helicopter look. It has a camera that can shoot video and still photos, stored on 512 MB memory built into the helicopter. The aircraft gets charged by the remote, which takes six AA batteries, and can fly up to eight minutes per charge. A 27 MHz radio frequency lets the helicopter fly up to 110-feet from the remote. That's enough to do some spying, though the 3-channel infrared controls mean it still requires line-of-sight to fly.

The Black Swann takes on a stealth helicopter look with shiny black details. The aircraft stores photos and video on a Micro SD, which can go up to 32 GB. The limitation still remains the eight-minute flying time per charge, and the infrared line-of-sight controls.

Swann did not give details on the megapixel density of the camera in the Sky Eye and the Black Swann helicopters.

Swann helicopters sell at Fry's Electronics. The i-Fly Micro Lightning sells for $69.99; the Sky Eye and the Black Swann each retail for $99.99.

About the Author
Enid Burns Enid began her freelance writing career reviewing video games after spending several hundred dollars upgrading a DOS-based machine to get Syndicate to run. Since then she's added coverage of mobile phones, consumer electronics and online advertising to her writing portfolio. Essentially, she's fascinated by shiny objects and making them light up.   All articles by Enid Burns
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6 Comments

If it is a dual rotor helicopter, why does it still have both a tail and a balancing bar on to top? It seems kind of redundant, could someone please explain that to me? I never did understand toy helicopters that had that.

Ethan Brush
7th January, 2012 @ 08:58 am PST

As far as I understand, the bar on top acts as a gyro stabilizer twisting the main rotors in pairs to keep it from pitching in any one direction achieving stable flight. The way the craft moves forward and back is by the tail boom which has a vertically orientated small prop that when activated overrides the physical gyro pitching the craft forward or back. Left and right turns are achieved by a slowing of one of the main rotor pairs. For example if the user wishes to turn right, the clockwise turning main rotors slow down and the proportional increased drag by the counterclockwise main rotor still rotating at the same speed make the body turn right. I imagine the reason you don't see that on larger craft is the lack of efficiency. But it does make them very easy to fly.

01000111
8th January, 2012 @ 08:56 am PST

I wish they'd stop calling infrared toys "iPhone" or whatever controlled - belittles the extreme coolness of the ones that really are (eg: AR Drone)

christopher
8th January, 2012 @ 05:10 pm PST

I know a lot about these coaxial helicopters, I've owned about 5 of them and flew 4 of them until they wore out.

You don't need the tail but they look more realistic and help balance out the front heavy layout. My latest one has an electronic "gyro" that detects yaw (rotating left-right) and instantly applies more torque to one set of blades to stop the yawing if you're not telling it to turn.

The bar on top is called a "fly bar". It's free to "teeter-totter" and it's connected to the top blades and its gyroscopic inertia when spinning gives one blade more pitch and the other less so it tends to tip the helicopter in a way that counteracts any commands you give it. This makes it stable. It still does what you tell it to but in a damped way. You can make the model more responsive by lightening the weights on the flybar but it's then harder to fly.

warren52nz
15th January, 2012 @ 06:07 pm PST

Also this is a 4 channel helicopter probably, I can't see a propellor on the back to lift or drop the tail (3 channel). It will have a swash plate under the lower blades which controls the direction it will go in (left, right, forward or back). You have to look at one to get the picture but when the swash plate is tilted the blades change their pitch continuously as the blades rotate causing an imbalance which tilts the helicopter.

If you want it to go forward, the blades have more pitch as they go around the back than they do as they go around the front so it lifts the back of the heli.

Real helicopters work like this too. Really cool idea.

warren52nz
15th January, 2012 @ 06:12 pm PST

Re: Sky Eye RC with camera.

a) Flight time is short

b) 110 feet of MHz range is very much over stated.

c) When at margin of range, power quits, and she drops like a rock.

d) When power resumes during a power-less drop, the main rotor blades curve

sufficiently to whack into the counter rotating balance blades... you need new blades.

e) Inexpensive parts, and superior blades are not on the market.

f) Camera is actually quite impressive IMHO; focusing distance-shots nicely, as well as lawn bugs when you crash.

Tatter Salad
24th May, 2012 @ 02:12 am PDT
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