Walkera TALI H500 UAV Review – Six Shooter
Better than four; not as bulky as an eight. Hexacopters are in my opinion the best compromise between the two ends of common multirotor form factors. This Carbon Edition H500 comes with everything in the box for you to start playing right away and at a price that’s far from the craziest we’ve seen. The H500 has a real chance to be the entry-level star for the pro segment of aerial video drones.
Just look at this thing. I’m a sucker for black and menacing, which I get is not everyone’s thing, but damn – is it cool. The curves are right and the main shell looks great. In my book this drone’s looks hit all the right notes.
What’s especially striking is how polished it looks. In the videos and pictures I’ve seen I can’t make out any of the inner workings. Every cable is hidden, with every motor and gear behind a panel of some sort. This looks like a real 21st-century machine and not something a bunch of guys threw together in a garage. Not that there is anything wrong with that, mind you.
The TALI is designed to carry cameras in the weight, size, and shape class of the GoPro products. It’s small enough to require no folding (which cuts on frame costs) and is therefore much easier to transport.
Included in this package is the iLook action camera and G-3D gimbal package. That gimbal is also compatible with GoPro cameras, so if you feel like upgrading later, the path to do it is pretty straightforward.
Fitting and removing this gimbal is a piece of cake. The TALI has a quick-connect rail and a single port you plug it into. A 3mm thumbscrew keeps the whole thing together. You may think you’ll only need to fit it once and never remove it, but to travel it may be necessary to remove the gimbal, so this is a nice plus point.
Since this is a 3-axis gimbal it means you have a generous range of motion. This is a yaw-dampening gimbal. When the aircraft yaws it smooths out the panning effect you get, making at all look much nicer. It’s not going to wow any pros with its compensatory abilities, but for many aerial video jobs in construction or real estate it will do just fine. Just note that this is not a 360-degree panning gimbal, although Walkera will sell you one, making the retractable struts a good investment for the future.
The iLook isn’t too shabby. There’s a 12MP/1080p sensor at play here, and when combined with the G-3D you should get some nice smooth and clear shots.
Here is some footage from the iLook:
That looks pretty good for the money I think; as a total package for someone getting into the upper echelons of camera drones it’s a great start. Later you can swap out the camera for a future GoPro or Xiaomi camera that will grow with your requirements. No muss, no fuss.
EFF PEE VEE
The Carbon Edition comes with the DEVO F12E FPV transmitter. That means that you don’t need to use a smartphone or tablet as a screen. The F12E has a sun-shaded, five-inch screen built in. The F12E also shows you a range of information on screen such as the battery voltage, altitude, and GPS coordinates.
The control transmission range is up to 1.5 miles and the video reception range is 0.3 miles. The video preview resolution is 640×480. You can change out the 5.8 Ghz antenna on the radio for a directional one, though, and boost the video transmission range by a bit.
Time To Fly
The claimed flight time of the H500 is a maximum of 25 minutes. Not bad, considering it’s burning juice with two extra rotors.
One thing that should be noted is that although Walkera says you can use a Sony RX1000 camera with this drone, those who have tested it warn against this. Apparently the RX1000 is too heavy for this drone to handle it safely.
The retractable landing gear looks and works great, according to those who have flown this hex.
Pilot reviews are very positive about the TALI’s flight performance and, as you’d expect from a hexacopter, it’s got a bit more flying ability than a quad.
Like most GPS drones the TALI has a “return to home” feature that will bring it back to the spot that it took off from. Pretty useful for those of us who are not crack pilots.
There are several flight modes, and full manual flight is possible. When in manual mode the only help you are getting is stabilization from the onboard gyros.
If the TALI gets too far away or the radio loses its connection, the craft will automatically come home – a wonderful sight when you think your 2K investment has disappeared over the hill forever. If the battery gets too low, though, the TALI will try to land rather than crash on the way back. Also good.
The best part is surely the intelligent orientation mode. One of the hardest things for pilots to learn is absolute orientation, where you have to keep in mind where the nose of an RC craft is pointing. When it’s nose-in to you, for example, the left and right sticks reverse from your point of view. Well, with IO mode that’s not a problem. The TALI knows where you are and so will always move relative to you. Pull the stick towards you and it comes to you, push it away and it moves away – regardless of which way it’s actually pointing.
It also has a super useful GPS-lock flight mode that parks the TALI wherever you move it. This is the mode photographers and videographers will likely want to use.
It’s (Almost) All Good
I like just about everything about the TALI and, given its sub-$2000 price, this is likely where my money would go if I were getting into it. This is not that much more expensive than a Phantom 3 and I think this product outclasses that. Also, it’s just plain cooler than the Phantom. The picture quality won’t ever be broadcast-grade until a company gets GoPro-sized cameras to that point, but other than that you couldn’t ask for a better platform to build on at this price.