UDI U818A 6 Axis RC Quadcopter Review

We all dream of the multi-thousand drone Ferraris that get all the attention and the press, but most sensible aspiring drone pilots start off in the nano-drone class; flying indoors and learning the ropes before they venture into more expensive territory.

When it’s time to move onto a bigger craft though, and maybe do some flying in light winds, there’s a definite need for a beginner-friendly quadcopter that won’t break the bank and can take a fair bit of punishment. The UDI U818A seems to fit that bill to a tee, but before you rush out and buy it, let’s give this multicopter a thorough look over.

Design Challenged

Look, I know that there are really only so many ways you can design a quadcopter and I appreciate a functional, cost-saving design, but the U818A’s design is as boring as its name.

At least there’s a very sensible full-frame shroud to protect against those inevitable bumps into trees, walls, and anything else unlucky enough to get in the way.

When switched on, the U818A is liberally sprinkled with LEDs. There are two white LED strips under the center unit, blue and red motor-mounted LEDs to indicate front and back, and finally a single forward-facing white “headlight” LED.

Other than that it’s just black and square, no fanfare, not even a cute sticker. Basically there’s not much to say about the looks of the U818A, so let’s move along swiftly.

Nutritional Information

The back of the box stuff is pretty good at the price. It has a solid 6-axis gyroscope with a four-channel receiver. It has a relatively teeny 500mAh battery slid into a bare holder at the bottom of the craft. The camera – yes, there is one – is attached to that same holder. Obviously the microSD slot is also here.

The rotors are 5.25 inches which, unfortunately, make it ineligible for spec class racing. It’s a pity, since otherwise it could have been a nice starter race drone. In fact it could still be if you swapped out the rotors for slightly smaller ones, although who knows how that would affect flight performance.

The claimed charge time is 120 minutes and the claimed flight time is 7-9 minutes. So you’d do well to stock up on additional batteries.

Under Control

The radio that comes with the U818A is, ironically, quite a bit more fancy than the drone itself. It not only has the standard joysticks and four trim switches, but also buttons to operate the various LED lights.

There are controls to put the drone into stunt mode. There are also controls to operate the included camera; you can snap a photo and start and stop video recording.

Camera Obscura

At this price I don’t expect much of the camera. Obviously it’s not FPV, so it’s not like you have much control of the shots you take. The camera sensor also only allows for 640×480 footage. Not great, but it can be cool just for fun. Still images are a little bit better at 1280×960. Either way, the camera isn’t stabilized.

Frankly, I think UDI should have just dropped the camera from the U818A. It would have shaved some more cost from it and, apart from playing around with it for a little while, most people are basically going to forget about it and just fly the drone.

Flight School

One thing that almost everyone who has flown the U818A agrees on is how well it flies. It lacks outright power and weighs almost nothing, so it can’t fly in anything but the lightest winds. It is, however, very stable and responds snappily to flight inputs.

Once you’ve finally trashed your UDI U818A you’ll be a seasoned pilot, and I doubt any $2000 semi-autonomous drone will give you trouble. Above all else, it’s fun. Even if you move on to bigger, more expensive machines it’s likely there will be a U818A hanging around for a quick practice flight or to keep you sharp in the off-season.

The low price of the U818A gives you the freedom to concentrate on flying as well as possible without constantly worrying that your life savings are hovering overhead. Crash it, smash it, buy another one. Cannibalize parts from your broken ones and keep the batteries. This is a drone that will keep you in the air for a long, long time. It gets two thumbs up from me.