– This is snake checking in, I’m nearingthe extraction point.
– Snake, you magnificent bastard! Be careful, we’ve got intel the alien lifeformis closing in on your location! – Roger that, colonel.
– It’s quiet out here… – How quiet is it, Snake? – Too quiet.
– What’s going on, Snake?! – I’ve got company… Being chased by the alien lifeform.
– Get to the chopper, Snake! – Alright, ready for takeoff.
Here goes nothing.
As someone who loved building and playingwith Legos as a kid and loves flying and tinkering with multirotors now, I knew as soon as Ilearned about it that I had to check out Flybrix, but because it doesn’t really fit with myusual video structure (and other reasons that will soon become obvious) this won’t beone of my usual full-length reviews, but more akin to a “quick look” or “mini-review”.
As understood of from the official website,Flybrix is the name of both the company and its product, the company being a three personSilicon Valley startup and the product a kit – of which there are a two varieties – forbuilding multirotors out of Lego: A basic one with smartphone control only and a “deluxe”one with a DSM2 receiver module and a re-branded Blade transmitter.
Included in both kits you’ll find… A moderate assortment of Lego bricks neededto assemble the three suggested models: Some original and some obviously custom, like thesemotor mount pieces An all-in-one flight controller, voltage regulatorand power distribution “flight board”: I believe this is a custom Teensy 3.
2 Arduinocompatible development board 8 brushed motors with pin headers for easyattachment to the flight board An assortment of propellers and a wrench forremoving them 2 single-cell 380 mAh LiPo batteries withLosi Micro connectors A USB charging cableA USB-to-micro USB cable for connecting the flight board to a computer (more on this later)What you won’t find included in the kit is instructions of any kind, just a leafletinstead redirecting you to the official website which hosts these in both printable and interactiveform.
The instructions are written with emphasison experimentation, creativeness and learning-by-doing.
I think they strike a good level of information,informative while still keeping things moving, and – for the most part – do a good jobof guiding you through the process of building the three suggested models: a quadcopter,an octacopter and a hexacopter.
Whether based off the provided designs oryour imagination, the process of putting a multirotor together is easy thanks to thecustom pieces that fits nicely with both original Lego bricks and the RC components includedin the kit.
The actual building process takes only 15-20minutes, with the possible exception of the octacopter with its 8 motors and as many wiresto keep track of.
Flying your finished creations can be doneeither with your smart device of choice over Bluetooth or – if you got the “deluxe”kit – the included (or any DSM2 compatible) transmitter.
This is where you could say things, both literallyand figuratively, start coming apart.
Two things kept me from enjoying the flightaspect of Flybrix: Firstly, out-of-the-box (at least when usingthe transmitter) none of my creations (not even designs straight from the instructionmanual) flew well: Responding either not at all or way too much, making flight for morethan a couple of seconds at a time practically impossible.
I figured this was a software issue and – sureenough – by changing a few parameters of the flight board via the official Chrome app,I was able to mitigate most of this.
Secondly, more often than not the multirotorsI build fall apart, either gradually in the air or completely at the point of takeoff.
I don’t know if this is the custom bricksbeing ever so slightly off in terms of fit, if the included bricks wear down a littlewith use or simply that Lego brick in general don’t have the right properties to supportthe weights and forces involved for long.
What I do know is that this was the pointwhere Flybrix started to feel less like play and more like a chore to me.
This is also the point where this review kindof runs out of steam, not least because I’m out of usable footage and a little tired ofspending 15 or so minutes of building for every attempt to capture more.
As you've probably already surmised, I can'trecommend Flybrix.
At the same time, I dont take any pleasurein bashing a small start-up that seems to genuinely care about their product.
While individual aspects, like the well-writteninstructions and reliable apps for both computer and smartphone may stand out, basics, likemultirotors that fly right and don't disintegrate are just not there.
There are also higher level problems, likewho Flybrix is actually for.
The tone and level of depth varies a lot betweenthe different apps and sources of information.
While this is spun as Flybrix being a productfor everybody, I'm more inclined to think the opposite (except possibly people intoelectronics or coding due to the programmable flight board and open source code): If you'rea beginner, the instructions won't cover all available features and if you're more experienced,you probably won't see the point as you can just as well build a better "real" multirotorfor less money.
Flybrix isn't crowdfunded, but feels likeit could have been.
It has a great sounding idea and a very polishedpitch, which is fine as long as that idea works as well as it sounds and all that emphasison selling you on it doesn't come at the cost of the actual product being delivered.
Sadly, I don't feel this is the case withFlybrix.
Thank you for watching this short review ofFlybrix! I hope you feel I did my due diligence, but– as always – if you've had a different experience with the product I would be veryinterested to hear about it and would try to work it into the video somehow.
Alright, see you soon in another review! Stay tuned for the post-credit bonus scene! Bye! – Ho ho ho ho ho! Happy holidays!.