To tell you the truth, I avoided Parrot for years because all their drones were controlled by bluetooth from a smartphone... This was clearly not practical nor precise, and the range was pretty small.
But you may not know that the core DNA of Parrot is bluetooth, especially car connectivity and they're quite good in this domain, and they work with major car manufacturers.
A new hope
Last December, I visited Parrot website because I was looking for a indoor drone and I discovered the Mambo which looked great. Still using bluetooth, BUT Parrot also created a great controller called "FlyPad".
And it's Awesome, like PS4 paddle but heavier.
Parrot Mambo Drone
The Parrot Mambo is an excellent quadcopter to start with to fly indoor because it offers a great stabilization, the size is perfect (not to big/small), works perfectly with the FlyPad, has software upgrades, some with pre-configured flips and rolls, 6 minutes flight time which is cool for drones in this size range.
It also offers 2 lightweight accessories plugged with powered LEGO connector on the top of the drone, the "cannon" and the "grabber". I did not spent a lot of time using them but they may let you imagine some challenges with your friends.
You will really have fun flying this drone.
But few things are still missing
- a configuration option to disable stabilization. Doing a front-flip using a button is cool, but we'd like to do it manually after some time. I opened a feature request on Parrot Forums (french) in case you want to support.
- a FPV cam/vtx! This may be an option in the future...
But the good new, is that you can easily do it yourself!
Here are the steps I followed to add a FPV cam/vtx to the Parrot Mambo:
- order the Eachine TX02 5.8G 40CH (~25€, weight is only 5g). Exists in 25/200/600mw
- get 2 small bullet connectors from one of LEGO (yes you have to destroy one, I was not able to find them on the market)
- solder the bullet connector to the red and black camera wires
- get small LEGO bricks and use double-sided tape to place the camera on front
- plug this on the front LEGO row, and then plug the bullet connectors into the last row (when looking to the drone from the rear, red wire on the left hole, and black on right)
- configure the FPV channel on the video transmitter and on your receiver (goggles or screen)
You're done. Enjoy immersion flights with your Parrot Mambo FPV!
- Note that this does not really affect the flight time, perhaps one minute.
- Since I wrote this article, I found the BoosterDrones Eye FPV Mambo which seems to be a good alternative. That said, the 3d printed part seems pretty cheap.
- UPDATE: in september 2017, parrot released a FPV version of his Mambo mini drone, available on its official website.