It’s my pleasure to review the new Syma X9 combination quadcopter and car from Tmart.com. This ingenious, entry level little quad combines the ease of beginner’s quadcopter flight with the fun of a basic, easy-to-drive R/C car.
For under fifty bucks with free shipping from Tmart.com and available in either black, white or red, the lucky young recipient will receive a name brand model aircraft which will be the talk of the neighborhood.
People have been dreaming of flying cars ever since the invention of both cars and aircraft. Although there are still no practical, affordable, full scale flying cars, there’s no reason a practical, operating model wouldn’t be possible.
Dimensions (LxWxH) 7×8.5×2.5″ (180x215x65mm)
Transmitter: Syma 2.4GHz proprietary four channel with digital trims and LCD display
Receiver: Syma proprietary receiver/ESC combination with six-axis gyro
Battery: 600mAh 3.7V lithium polymer with JST/Team Losi micro connector
Motors: Four 8mm coreless with gear drives; motor for surface operation not specified
Propellers: Proprietary 4″ (102mm) diameter, pitch not given
Typical Flight Duration: Five minutes
The X9 comes ready to drive and fly with the following:
Fully assembled model
Four-channel 2.4GHz transmitter with digital trim tabs and LCD display
600mAh 3.7V lithium polymer battery
Illustrated instruction manual
Needed to fly:
Four AA-cell alkaline batteries for the transmitter
Syma does a great job of presenting their models with really nice artwork and graphics. The X9 is no exception, adding the benefit of a clear window which allows the model to be seen inside the box. My blue and white example looked fantastic.
Once out of the packaging, the X9 looked like a cross between a car one might have found in an old Speed Racer episode, an electric racing buggy and just a mere hint to my eye of a classic Bugatti Atlantic in the fastback styled rear.
Speed Racer fans may recall that a robotic, radio controlled car called the Melange and numbered “X3” was Speed’s nemesis in a 1967 episode titled “The Race For Revenge,” but I digress. I was reminded of that when I was searching for pictures of a car which might have looked similar to the X9.
Very, very cool, even if the wide, fenderless track with its squared wheelbase and narrow tires look kind of odd when viewed head on. Not a problem since the X9 is primarily a sideways H-configured quadcopter with the extra added benefit of surface operation.
The battery is an strange 600mAh 3.7-volt unit which wasn’t even close to being stocked in my local hobby shop, although it’s available through Syma dealers. It’s a nice fit in the compartment with its door held in place at one end with a flexible strap and at the other with a camlock retainer. No loose wires, either. The X9 has a built-in receptacle with the proper polarity molded on either side.
The supplied USB charger does a good job of bringing the battery up to full charge in roughly an hour. A red LED in the unit glows while the battery is charging and extinguishes when charging is complete. Simple enough, but I wish manufacturers would come together on a standard. Many USB chargers work in the opposite manner.
Less impressive was the transmitter. It’s a fairly typical, toylike unit with simulated buttons on either side of the LCD display. I don’t know whom Syma thought they’d impress, but they certainly didn’t impress me. The two functioning buttons atop the unit select either high or low control rates and the airborne flip function. The transition between land and air modes is automatic.
Flying and Driving
Getting started is typical of most quads.
Once the transmitter is switched on, the X9 is powered up next via the on/off switch beneath. After the model is placed on a flat surface to give the gyros a chance to calibrate, advancing the throttle to full and then back arms the system which is confirmed by a beep from the transmitter. Advancing the throttle spools up the motors for takeoff.
Flying the maiden flight indoors on low rates went off about as well as I expected. The X9 is very stable, very quiet and with enough power to instill confidence in a beginner. In other words, not too much power.
It’s no racing quad and this is actually a good thing given the target audience. Controls are gentle as well. Syma does a great job on their entry level models and the X9 follows suit. Orientation is easy; the X9 has two white headlights in the front and two red taillights in the rear, all of which show up exceptionally well both day and night.
If the model doesn’t properly hover, the gyros are easily recalibrated by setting the model on a level surface and holding both transmitter sticks to their lower right positions for a few seconds
Of course, surface operation is a benefit as well.
The rear-wheel-drive surface mode is operated with the right stick only. Pushing the stick forward proportionally moves the X9 forward and, of course, pulling the stick back engages reverse.
Steering is accomplished on the right stick as well, but it’s done via a magnetic actuator. Full left, full right, no proportion. No suspension, either. The rear carbon fiber axle is straight across with no differential and the steering knuckles attach directly to the body. Speed on low rates is good for indoor use and at least on par with a small toy R/C car and can be improved by switching to high rates. The quick steering and straight rear axle made it truly fun to go slip-sliding across the hardwood floor! On low rates, it actually handles pretty well on a smooth surface with little tendency to oversteer but on high rates, it naturally wanted to spin out given the narrow tires and lack of a differential. One simply has to remember that advancing the flight control throttle via the left stick engages the quadcopter mode.
Outside on high rates, the X9 was even more fun. With some practice, I was able to drive on the driveway toward the approach ramp and throttle up the quadcopter function as the X9 came to the crest of the ramp.
In short, it’s actually possible to do ROG takeoffs with just a bit of coordination. I did much the same on the street, coordinating the flight control throttle in such a way as to keep the front wheels rolling for a few feet before lifting off fully.
The X9 is certainly a better quadcopter than a car. While surface operation is on par with a toy car as I’d pointed out, the quadcopter function itself is much better, especially on high rates. Control is excellent, but it simply needs more power. It sometimes has problems coming out of very steep turns with a straight-up climb rate best described as “adequate.”
Regardless of its shortcomings, the X9 simply looks fantastic in the air and truly looks the part of a flying car.