Up Up… and away?
December, 2015… It was a pretty exciting time for me. I was surfing around on Facebook having a chuckle at all the posts of people claiming to actually hate the holidays. I was scrolling by scrooge after scrooge when a neat looking little helicopter thing appeared before my eyes. “Big Drone Features in a Small Drone Package” it said, my eyes brightening as they soaked in the orange and white goodness. One easy click and I was whisked through the interwebs to an article telling all about the ONAGOfly. I sat straight up, almost spilling my Coke as my heart was pounding. Excitedly, I read on. The features were mind blowing.
- Smile detection… you mean this thing would know if someone was having fun and automatically take a picture?
- Smart phone control… no need for an expensive radio!
- Auto Follow… Thing thing will actually follow me around recording all the awesome stuff I do
- A Virtual Reality Headset?! OMG it will be like Tron!
- Auto take-off and landing? Perfect for a schmuck like me
- Throw and fly?! I don’t know what the hell that is but it has to be amazing
- Intelligent obstacle avoidance… I know that will come in handy
- GPS and barometric sensors to help it hover, just what I need
- P2P live streaming?!?! Of course everyone wants to watch me fly!
- Nano.. that just means its highly portable, right?
- Indiegogo crowd funding??!! You mean I get to help a startup…. whoa whoa whoa, pump the brakes, stop the clock
If you are not familiar with Indiegogo, it is a crowdfunding platform. If you are not familiar with crowdfunding, it is a way for people with big ideas to raise money to get them off the ground. Yeah, I said get them off the ground, but I digress. People who help fund the project are called backers and there are different levels you can help. The more you help, the more you get.
The base price for the ONAGOfly was I believe 200 bucks. For an early bird addon you could get a carrying case and the VR headset for 250. I had to get in quick since they would be shipped out on a first come first serve basis. I opted in for the 250 bucks even though I wouldn’t be receiving the drone until March. The next 90 days were some of the slowest I have ever experienced. I checked YouTube constantly for updates on the ONAGOfly channel. Other backers started receiving theirs and posting videos of their amazing little drones hovering around their house, following them around the neighborhood. All the things I couldn’t wait to do.
I’m sure you are all familiar with watching the mail man every day to see if he pulls out the brown box from the back of the truck when you are excited to receive something. It finally happened in March and I got my drone. I had that little sucker open and on the charger in less than 2 minutes I swear. When it was charged I installed the propellers as directed. I had seen plenty of videos of this thing flying inside of peoples homes under complete control so I had no fear of trying it out in the living room.
I installed the app and waited for all systems go. I touched the auto take-off soft button on the screen and it started to wind up. 1 second later it was pitched at about a 33 degree angle and screaming toward the wall. I could do nothing but watch as it slammed into the wall. Ok, I must’ve done something wrong? I got online and found out as much as I could. Possible the propellers weren’t on tight. I checked and rechecked, they were fine. Perhaps my phone needed calibrated so I put it on the table and calibrated the sensors. Now it was time for a second flight. 1 minute later and I was staring at the same result. A lifeless drone laying awkwardly on the floor.
Ok, what was I doing wrong? Oh I know! Maybe it needed the GPS signals to fly correctly. Never mind the videos I’ve seen of others flying inside of their homes. Perhaps they had glass roofs or some other trickery was afoot, right? That had to be it. This thing just had to work. It wasn’t like the 2 Air Hogs, the drugstore copter or the copter I bought that time from the mall concourse. I mean, this thing I costed 200 hard earned dollars and I’ve seen video proof of its functionality.
Outside I went. I did the auto take-ff and it just flipped over. Ok… maybe I did something wrong. I tried again. It flew straight up and slowly drifted over my roof. I may have had control of it for a few seconds or that just may be wishful thinking I am not sure. I was afraid to tilt he phone too much to find out so I just let it hover over the roof for a second gaining confidence. Then it took off. Over the neighbors house and down the street she flew, magnificently. The only problem was I had 0 control over it. Within 10 seconds I no longer was getting the video link from the drone. The app was merely showing a digitized black and screen. Luckily I could still see it so I went after it, but you have to remember this thing can move much faster than I can.
I saw it hover around a house down the street. It is an L-Shaped 2 story house and just kind of meandered inside of the L. My belief is he obstacle avoidance sensors had i trapped there. Good I thought, I can recover it. As I approached it went straight up then off towards the local college campus. About this time the lady who lives in the house comes running outside and asking if that was my drone. My exact words were, “it was“. Emphasis on the the was. She asked if it was taking pictures and I told her no, I yelled that it did not even have an SD card inside of it. I can only imagine what she was so concerned about that it may have seen. I kept walking hurriedly, rudely even not bothering to stop and explain anything to the woman. As I rushed away I think I heard the husband telling her he thinks I had lost the drone. I did not have time for this shy, concerned couple. My precious drone, all of 2 hours in my possession, was leaving me!
The drone zipped across the street and I lost site of it while it was over the college. I followed on at the fastest pace I could muster….
Great, now what. Intermittently I got a video signal from it, then finally it showed only one image, blue sky with some grass. These were not the greatest landmarks for tracking it down. I walked around in concentric circles trying to determine where I was getting the strongest signals from but to no avail, the ONAGOfly app just didn’t work well for tracking down its lost drones. I had used other apps in the past to view WiFi signal strength so I downloaded one as quickly as I could. Time was of the essence, the battery would die eventually.
The signal kept getting stronger as I walked towards the L-Shaped house… Great.
As I crossed the road, towards the L-Shaped I seen the little sucker. It was upside down on the bank in front the L-Shaped house. Directly under a telephone wire. I don’t know if it hit the wires or not but I would have to think that something made it fall out of the sky. I didn’t see the couple from early so I swooped the drone up and scurried home.
Ok, so what the hell was wrong with this thing? I got on ONAGOfly tech support and sent an email. I honestly figured they would send me a new one, I mean, I was one of the original 1000 backers. That should mean something, right? Well the response that I got was to make sure the propellers are on tight and if it happens again to take a video of it flying away. LOL! Take a video of it… that was the response. I explained that the only device I had capable of taking video was my phone and that would be running the app. I never received another response from them. I realized right then and there they were going to be of no help so I gave up and packed the little bugger away. It’s been in the box ever since. I do use the VR headset from time to time, but it is only a cheap $5 dollar headset. Oh well, lessons learned.
From that point onward I decided to research drones much more before buying another one. Fast forward a few months and I got a DJI Phantom 3 standard. Just wait for the next post to hear my less than perfect first impression of that thing…
At the time I wrote this posting the Indiegogo crowdfunding for the ONAGOfly has reached over 3.5 million dollars, or 1785% more than they were originally seeking. That is remarkable considering the hundreds of bad reviews on YouTube and other blogs this thing has received. There are even entire websites dedicated to helping people get their money back. Check out onagolies.com for more information.
I would like to say plenty of people appear to be happy with theirs. The real issue is that those of us that got duds weren’t given satisfactory customer service.
If you have any feelings on the ONAGOfly be sure to leave a comment below. Also, feel free to join our growing community and have fun with other drone enthusiasts.
Take care for now, drone responsibly.