The UDI U816 RC Quadcopter, Proof That You Can’t Judge A Cool Gadget By Its Manual

by nessel on September 10, 2012

UDI U816 Quadcopter

Man o man, it just rolls off the tongue doesn’t it… The UDI U816 4CH Mini Quadcopter UFO RTF 2.4GHz with 6-Axis Gyro. If I just had a nickle for every time I head a kid running around the mall begging for a Remote Controlled UDI U816 4CH Mini Quadcopter UFO RTF 2.4GHz with 6-Axis Gyro…I would have enough money to buy a computer and look up what in the world is a UDI U816???

Luckily, the fine folks over at UDI sent us the U816 and it turns out it is a really cool, tiny remote controlled flying UFO  (sort of looks like a flat helicopter, but is technically a quadcopter) that has four rotors and can do 360 degree flips at the press of a button.

Let’s take a look at our hands on video review of the R/C UDI U816 Quadcopter…

Clearly we had a blast flying and flipping the R/C UDI U816 Quadcopter!

If You Don’t Like Reading Manuals, You Will Love Not Reading The U816 Quadcopter Manual

Does it drive you crazy when your kids get a new toy or gadget and despite your advice, refuse to read the manual?  They jump right in, inevitably have questions and you then get the satisfaction of saying – “I told you to read the manual!

I have bad news Moms and Dads, the U816 will prove you wrong.  There is no reason to read the manual.  Oh, not because the U816 is so easy to use, but because the manual is so poorly translated from Chinese it makes absolutely no sense.  Here is a direct quote from the manual…

“Put the UFO on the flat floor steaditly, And let the led light on the receipt board shinning quickly to slowly.The UFO has enter into the remote cobtroll condition.

After connecting the power,pls check the rolling direction of the blades.Ahead of the left/the back of right blades clockwise roration.,Ahead of right and back of left side anti-clockwise roration.”

Got that?  We are not making this up, that is a direct quote, with the exact spelling, punctuation and grammar used in the manual and it is not the exception, it is the rule.  So the manual is a nightmare, luckily, if you are familiar with RC helicopters you will be able to figure things out and flying the U816 is a million times more fun than trying to read the manual.

The Full Specs on the UDI U816 Quadcopter

The UDI U816 is not a toy you are going to find at Target or Toys R Us.  This is closer to a hobby grade R/C toy that is imported from Hong Kong and available via the RC-Fever.Com website.  Let’s quickly go over the specs of the UDI U816 UFO -

  • 4 Channel Mini R/C Quadcopter
  • 6 Axis Gyro Stability
  • 2.4 GHz Remote Control
  • Item Size : 9.6*9.6 CM
  • Weight: 34g
  • Battery for Helicopter: 3.7V 240mah Li-po Battery (2 included)
  • Battery for Transmitter: 4 AA (NOT included)
  • Flight time: around 6-9 minutes (per battery)
  • Charging time: around 60 minutes (to fully charge two batteries)
  • Function:Up/down, Right/left turn, forward, backward,fly upside down (Loop)

Our Impressions, Once You Trim the UDI U816, It Is Incredibly Fun To Fly

When we first tried to fly the UDI U816 it was a frustrating experience.  The UFO kept taking off to the right and it was very hard to control.  On the plus side, this lack of control gave us a chance to test the durability of the UFO – we extensively crash tested it and and it did not break!

Luckily, we quickly figured out we needed to play with the trim controls on the remote and once we got the U816 trimmed right it was like night and day.  Properly trimmed, the U816 is a pleasure to fly – indoors and outdoors.  As the video shows, we were able to control the U816 and had a blast doing 360 spins and zipping it all over the yard.   It still takes practice and patience to become an ace pilot (recommended for ages 14 and up), but once you get the trim right, it is a fun little UFO to fly around.

Long Live Gyro Technology and Spring Free Altitude Levers!

We first became fans of gyro stability and spring free altitude levers in the Air Hogs Heli Replay.  The UDI U816 also features 6 axes Gyro technology and a wonderful spring free altitude lever on the remote.  The fact that we could fly the UDI U816 outside, in light wind and still have great stability and control was very impressive.  In truth, you really want to fly the UDI U816 outside since it can go so fast, it is hard to enjoy it in a small indoor space.

A Nice Touch, A Remote Control With an LCD Screen

As the video shows, the U816 comes with a remote that has a large LCD screen.  Yes, you can see the level of the altitude lever, but we found it most helpful when trimming the helicopter.  A nice visual display shows how far off center you have trimmed the helicopter.  Of course, there is the cool factor of just having an LCD screen – the kids loved having the display on the remote, even if they didn’t look at it much.

One other cool feature of the remote, it is a radio frequency remote, not an Infrared remote like some of the other consumer RC toys use.  The advantage of a radio frequency remote is that you don’t need a direct line of site with the helicopter and it is not effected by bright lights.

The UDI U816 Quadcopter, A Great Deal of Bang for the $43 Bucks

Given the LCD on the remote, the quad rotors, the 6 axes Gyro, the two batteries and the super cool ability to just press a button on the remote and have the U816 do a full flip, you might expect to pay handsomely for this RC toy.  In truth, the UDI U816 currently sells for about $43 and at that price you definitely get a great deal of R/C flying fun for your buck!

The Catch? The UDI U816 is Rough Around the Edges, Literally and Figuratively

The manual is not kidding when they say “Remote controll UFO model is of high dangerous product,operater need to fly far away from crowd” and I have the cuts on my leg to prove it!  Yes, I did manage to fly the UFO into my leg and get a cut, so the UFO is literally a little rough around the edges.

The bigger issue is how the U816 is rough around the edges from a production stand point.  Here are some of the issues we encountered in testing -

  • Manual is poorly translated and very hard to understand
  • No on/off switch on the UFO (you need to unplug the battery)
  • Sync Issues With Remote, We Had to Try Multiple Times to Get The UFO and Remote to Work

UPDATE: Read the very helpful comment below from John Nevill. He was able to decode the manual and explains how to avoid any problems with sync and trim issues. Thanks John – this makes the U816 UFO even better!

Conclusion:  The UDI U816, Despite Some Issues, Would Be A Blast For RC Hobbyist

To be honest, after opening the UDI U816 and reading the manual, we were prepared to write a scathing review.  The manual is terrible, the UDI U816 looks like something that would break after the first crash, the remote did not immediately synch with the UFO and once it did sync, the UFO was hard to control.  Not a good first impression, but then we trimmed the quadcopter.  Once we got the U816 trimmed, we quickly forget about the manual and remote issues as we were having too much fun flying the UDI U816 all over, inside and outside and doing incredible 360 spins with just the push of a button.

We have been flying the UDI U816 over a week and have crashed it multiple times, got it stuck in a tree and somehow it is still working.  So, while it may not look durable, it is.  The remote sync issue still gives us trouble, but somehow after a few tries it always does sync up. [Update: Read the comments below from John Nevill, explains how to avoid any sync issues. Thanks John!] Is the UDI U816 rough around the edges and does it require patience?  Absolutely.  Once you get everything figured out, is the UDI U816 a super fun, inexpensive and stable quadcopter, that has the incredible ability to do 360 flips with the push of a button?  Absolutely! If you have kids, 14 and over, who are RC hobbyist, they will have a thrill piloting the UDI U816.

More Information:

The UDI U816 Quadcopter Sells for About $43 at RC-Fever.Com

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  • Mary

    perhaps “homework” for the kids would be to correct the grammar in the manual — it’ll be a hard name for the teenagers to remember when it comes time to make “the Christmas list”

  • Anonymous

    I want to buy this for the toy, but I have a feeling the manual will be pretty entertaining.

  • John Nevill

    Great Review! I just got one of these for myself and it is an AMAZING little toy. It’s insanely fast and flies like a dream. Two things though.

    1. The remote sync’ing issue you experienced really isn’t an issue. It’s clearly written in the manual “To open the remote controll,The light will shinning.You need to push the throttle to the biggest controlling position.And then turn to the bottom position.the guiding light will shinning.that means the controller had entered into the normal controlling condition.” Translated from whatever language that is: “After connecting the battery on the UFO, push the remotes throttle control all the way up, then all the way down. Then your controller will sync, make a funny noise, and a light will come on. Hooray, you are connected.”

    2. The need to trim. I’ve found that if you follow the instructions in the manual, namely: “Put the UFO on the flat floor steaditly,And let the led light on the receipt board shinning quickly to slowly.The UFO has enter into the remote cobtroll condition” then trim won’t be needed until you knock the ufo around a few times on the ground. Again, translated from whatever language that is: “After connecting the batter, place your UFO on an even surface and leave it there until the little light under the ufo stops blinking rapidly. Once it slows to a stop your UFO has found ‘level’ and will fly nice and straight. Happy flying, Yank.”

    Lastly, that bit about the “rolling direction of the baldes”. Its really just telling you that the motors rotate in opposite directions from one another, so when you replace the blades or snap them back onto their shaft, don’t mix and match otherwise your UFO will just spin wildly.

    Cheers!

    • http://www.daddoes.com Dan Dad Does

      John, You The MAN! THANK YOU!!! We have just updated the review, telling people to read your comments. That thing about the remote sync was driving us crazy, but we tried what you said and it works! Trim info – also great. We did manage to figure out the blade thing, but forget to include in the review – so very happy you brought it up.

      Thanks so much for taking the time to comment, really makes for a much better review of the UDI U816 Quadcopter!

      • http://profiles.google.com/5up.mushroom 5up Mushroom

        I’m glad you found it useful. I suppose I should rent my Engrish translating skills to all these little Chinese companies that are struggling with their manuals.

    • Heisenberg

      When you sync the remote, did your throttle register on the display? When I move the throttle to the top and then to the bottom, the display never changes. Leading me to think the throttle control is broken on my remote but I am not sure.

      • http://www.daddoes.com Dan Dad Does

        Hi,

        I am doing this just from memory (don’t have the U816 in front of me) but I believe the LCD does NOT show any numbers when you first push the throttle to the top and then back down to do the sync.

        I did try John’s advice last night and it worked. So, the order – you plug the battery in on the UFO and place on a flat surface. Give it a few seconds to power up and get all set. I think turn my remote on, – red light will be blinking. I wait a few seconds and then do the throttle all the way and then down, should then here a little musical chime telling you things are in sync. At this point, when you raise the throttle, the numbers on the LCD will go from 0 to 100%.

        I will double check all this later when I am holding the unit in my hand.

  • http://twitter.com/ignoblegnome Andrew Terranova

    Really well done! I had a friend recommend this toy as a great quadcopter for a great price. Your review was really helpful!

    • http://www.daddoes.com Dan Dad Does

      Thanks very much Andrew!

  • Julio Gómez Díaz

    I have opened today the box and I’ve followeb the steps you provided (great work!).

    Remote only sync if it’s 5 centimeters away from UFO. If there is more distance between them, I can do the “throttle-up-down sequence” but it does not find any signal to sync.

    Batteries are full of charge (UFO and remote). Any hint? Defective item perhaps?

    5 centimeters is useless because when UFO starts to fly, it loses sync inmediately and fall on the floor :( :( :( :(

    • http://www.daddoes.com Dan Dad Does

      Hi Julio,

      Sounds like you have a defective item. We can sync from across the room and then stays in sync to about a 100 foot range. Sorry, but it sounds like something is wrong with your unit.

      • Julio Gómez Díaz

        Hi Dan,
        thank you very much for the advice. I am trying to issue a RMA to focalprice. They are asking me to record a video to demonstrate the malfunctioning… A little bit difficult :) I hope they’ll replace the defective item. Thanks again

    • scott taggart

      Just got mine and flew it outside to at least 100 feet. Works perfectly. I hope you got yours fixed. Also, mine will do initial syncs 3′ away.

  • TimInMass

    I just got one of these and the first day it was fine, now the thing just wants to flip over as soon as you give it some thrust. I’ve tried all new batteries, trim, new blades and nothing seems to matter, it simply just wants to flip over within 1/2 second of take off. Any suggestions?

    • Eric C

      TM, don’t know if you’re monitoring this blog, but I had the same issue. Turns out the four screws that hold the circuit board to the plastic frame may be overtightened – torquing the board enough to make the gyro’s act batty.

      I removed the screws, lifted the board up, then put it back together, but going just finger tight on the screws. There should be a very slight amount of play on each of the bars going to the motor. Once I did this, it flew rock solid again.

      • http://www.daddoes.com Dan Dad Does

        Hey Eric,

        That is a great tip – thanks so much for sharing with us! Very helpful!!!

      • Tony Dazzo

        Also a good tip. Thanks!

      • Brett

        You sir deserve a medal, this fixed my issue in less than 60 heart beats. Simply amazing is the feat to which you have performed in my eyes.

    • zcured

      Ever find a fix? I’m having the same problem – even tried the fix Eric offered. Holding it in my hand with the throttle up, it clearly thinks that level is somewhere on its side. I’m thinking one of the gyros is hosed from slamming into the wall a couple times, so I put in an order for a new receiver board. Any other ideas?

      • http://www.daddoes.com Dan Dad Does

        Hey Zcured,

        Sorry to hear of the problems. If you have tried Eric’s fix – you may well be right that the gyro board is blown. I am sure you have tried this, but restart everything – make sure the U816 is on a flat board (not launched by hand) and try to fly it. The gyro is supposes to syn based on its power up situation, so if you power up the U816 while holding it at say a 15 degree angle, it will think that is flat and then be oriented all wrong. By starting on a flat surface, you make sure the U816 knows what level is for reference. Like I said, I figure you have tried this, sorry, it was all I could think of besides the board being bad. Thanks for reading!

      • http://www.daddoes.com Dan Dad Does

        Hey Zcured,

        Sorry to hear of the problems. If you have tried Eric’s fix – you may well be right that the gyro board is blown. I am sure you have tried this, but restart everything – make sure the U816 is on a flat board (not launched by hand) and try to fly it. The gyro is supposes to syn based on its power up situation, so if you power up the U816 while holding it at say a 15 degree angle, it will think that is flat and then be oriented all wrong. By starting on a flat surface, you make sure the U816 knows what level is for reference. Like I said, I figure you have tried this, sorry, it was all I could think of besides the board being bad. Thanks for reading!

  • jimmy

    how do yo u take out the battery without harming the battery?

    • scott taggart

      I took an razor knife and completely trimmed away the small tabs on the battery end of the connector. Then the connectors slid together and apart easily (the connector will not come apart during flight). Prior to cutting off the tabs, I had to use two pairs of pliers to disconnect.

      • Tony Dazzo

        Excellent tip. Thanks!

        • Tony Dazzo

          Funny! That’s not my picture. I used a fake email because I wasn’t sure if it would be visible after I posted and that must be the picture associated with that email address.

  • scott taggart

    I just got one of these and I have a dumb question. The remote control appears to have FOUR trim switches – two horizontal and two vertical. Three of my switches slide and seem to work (I get the beeps) but the “vertical” switch on the left side (near the throttle) seems stuck and does not work. So, the question is: is this a functional switch or is it just for show to make the unit look symmetrical? If it is supposed to work, what is its function (throttle trim?). Thanks

    • Aidan

      No, this is a dead switch. It doesn’t show up in the manual.

  • Sugam Jain

    Thanks for this review. I got this for my nephew and we cant figure out how to sync up the remote. Sounds like there are several different steps

    1) Turn on the controller
    2) Plug in the battery
    3) Place the copter on a level surface

    4) Throttle Up, then down.

    What’s the right order? Also, do I have to wait for anything? When I do throttle up & down, the blinking red light on the remote turns solid, but thats it. Please help!

    • http://www.daddoes.com Dan Dad Does

      Hi Sugam, thanks for the comments. Doing this from memory but I believe the order is -
      1. Plug battery in on copter.
      2. Place on flat surface.
      3. Give copter 30 seconds to powerup
      4. Turn on remote control
      5. Push throttle all the way and then all the way back down.
      6. If all worked, you should hear a musical chime and get a solid red light.
      7. You are now ready to fly, just throttle up and off you go.

      Hope this helps!

      • Geo

        I’ve been doing the opposite. Turn the remote on with throttle down, then connect the battery on the quad, then throttle up and down to bind with handshake chimes. That’s the way it been working for me.

  • shisse

    Just got my unit and I’ve tried everything. No sync :(

    The light under the unit doesn’t rapidly blink then slow to off, it just blinks twice quickly and that’s it.
    I’m very irritated as this is the second item I’ve purchased from a company I won’t name that’s either been defective or the wrong product. Back to back fails.

    Anyway, has anyone had this issue? It seems the unit won’t calibrate the gyro at all. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    • Kevin

      I have the same problem has anyone figured this out

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