First looks: The Eachine E010 drone is a fun and cheap way to learn how to fly

I’d played around with drones before, so I thought I’d do alright with the Eachine E010 mini quadcopter drone. I was so wrong.

I’d take off and bang the drone into the ceiling, and then crash it into the floor. I couldn’t make it go the way I wanted and kept ramming it into the wall. Top Gun it wasn’t.

The E010 is small enough to fit in the palm of your hand.

It turns out I suck at flying drones. The guys at Performance Rotors, who introduced me to the palm-sized Eachine E010, explained it to me this way: The drones I’d flown, like the ones from DJI, were like automatic cars. They could do things like hover and stay level automatically.

On the other hand, Drones like the Eachine E010 and racing drones are like driving manual. They need you to direct their every little move. Push the controls a little too hard, and you’ve got a failed takeoff. Can’t figure out the difference between turning and moving sideways and you’ve got a crash.

My E010 is a little nicked after my frequent crashes, but otherwise still working.

Crashing the Eachine E010, however, was great fun. The E010 survived many of my bad flights, and it just kept working. The plastic body is a little nicked, but none the worst for wear. I learned how to take off, hover, land, go forwards, backwards, left, right, and turn, all while torturing the little fellow.

The Eachine E010 is relatively safe to fly, rings surrounding the blades both protect the blades but also from hurting anyone who it might bump into. The blades also automatically stop whenever they jam against something, I tried sticking my finger inside and it didn’t hurt.

But the E010 does have its weaknesses. For one, because it’s so small and light, it doesn’t do well outdoors against the wind. With my neophyte piloting skills, I had enough trying to figure out the controls without having to fight the wind. I ended up flying the E010 indoors most of the time.

Speaking of controls, don’t expect much from the E010’s. The box advertises a ‘one touch automatic return,’ but don’t bet on it. Unlike more advanced drones, the E010 doesn’t have a GPS, so there’s no way it can figure out where you are in relation to itself. When you press the return button, the E010 just starts fumbling in what looks like a random direction.

The E010 uses a standard USB charger for its small batteries.

As you’d expect from such a small battery, flying time is short. I usually clock in about five to six minutes on a full charge, so I’d recommend you buy extra batteries (I bought two more). There’s no charging light on the charger or battery, so there’s no way to know when they’re done. My friends at Performance Rotors say it usually takes about 30 minutes or so, but I just leave them to charge for about an hour each.

The E010 has blinking LED lights to orient you towards front and back. Only useful in dim places, though.

The best part about the Eachine E010 is its price. The quadcopter costs US$20.99 on Amazon (but does not ship from Amazon to Singapore), I got mine for about S$40 in Singapore. It’s not cheap cheap, but it’s not that expensive that you’ll hurt at crashing it. At a relatively affordable price, it’s a fun way to dip your toes into the world of drones and learn the in-and-outs of flying one — the manual way.

Ever wanted to start flying drones but never knew how to start?  Our video’s got you covered.

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