Review: iPhone Controlled Cobra by iHelicopters

Review: iPhone Controlled Cobra by iHelicopters

As a child, I dreamed of soaring through the clouds flying a Blackhawk helicopter and I’m pretty sure Blackhawk Down had a lot to do with my obsession to be a pilot.  Well, many years later, I have a regular 9:00 to 5:00, but iHelicopters.net has fulfilled my desires of swooping through the air – even firing missiles at the bad guys!  Making the dreams of children everywhere come true, the company offers several iterations of military aircraft and a plethora of additional vehicles, all controllable through an iPhone/iPod app.

Design

The UDIRC Cobra AH-1 Cobra helicopter is excellently intimidating, similar to the actual build.  If you are a military replica buff, I am sure it is not an exact scale model, but lighten up!  The thrill that courses through your veins as soon as the rotors spool-up will melt away any anxiety about its scale-model deficiencies.

The prop contains 5 separate blades on 3 tiers.  Each of the bottom tiers contains two separate blades, which all move independently.  The top-most tier contains a gyroscopic weighted solid beam that rotates with the lower blades for balance.  In addition to the prop, the tail rotor, unlike a real helicopter, tips or dips the helicopter to move forward or backward.  Below each of the wings, the missiles tuck away into a spring loaded cannon, which is recessed into the body of the AH-1.

The on/off switch is located on the bottom next to the charging port.  Unfortunately, this requires the helicopter to rest on its side while charging, but no harm done.  The transmitter, which plugs into the headphone jack, also charges on the same USB dongle.  For better or worse (you decide), the chopper and transmitter must be charged via USB.  Personally, I found it annoying to always have a computer around when I wanted to recharge; however, my Power2U and U-Socket USB wall outlets came in handy!

Functionality

After downloading the correct app, UDIRC-Pro (Free, iTunes link), I was patrolling the living room and kitchen on-the-regular.  However, do not let me give you the impression there was no learning curve.  I have flown a similar model in the past (shout out to my college roommate!), but it was controlled by an actual hardware remote.  It takes a good 15-20 minutes to have decent control of the AH-1 and, during the flight-school part of your experience, keep the rotors away from anything breakable.  When flying, remember the controller is a software app and does not behave the same as an actual remote.  The throttle will remain at the set speed, even if your finger is off the screen, which causes the propellers to continue to rotate, even if the chopper crashed into your  collection of expensive baseball cards.

Unfortunately, to keep the unit light enough for flight, the battery is very small, with a constant flight time of about 4-5 minutes.  Fortunately, the charge time is also short, leaving you grounded for a mere 10 minutes between bombing runs… please enjoy the video imbedded below!

The control app is simple to use and offers three different IR frequencies in the event of interference.  The throttle is located on the left and the forward, back, rotate left, rotate right, control is adjacent.  If you prefer, the app has a gyroscope mode, which allows you to control the unit by rotating your iDevice, although, I preferred to use the virtual joystick for a more definitive control experience.

Conclusion [rating: 4/5]

Overall, I love the remote controlled Cobra.  The AH-1 stirs a seemingly insatiable childish excitement as I continue to patrol the house in a relentless pursuit of invaders, much to the chagrin of my wife.  Tearing through the air throughout the house will certainly be hours of fun, … even if it is only several minutes at a time.  Unfortunately, the cost to enjoy the fun is $69.95 (order page), which is the sole reason why I did not give the unit a 5/5 rating.  There are many similar models, but they are controlled with an actual remote, as opposed to an iDevice.

Pros

  • A remote controlled helicopter? Common’ what isn’t to love?
  • Comes with targets for your missiles!
  • Comes with two extra props and four missiles
  • USB dongle charges both the helicopter and transmitter simultaneously
  • Control the helicopter with virtual joysticks or use gyroscope-tilt control

Cons

  • First, and foremost, price.
  • Only charge able via USB, no AC adapter
  • Flight time
  • The directions are straight forward, but the translation is dicey

Video Demonstration

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