Remote control vehicles have always been a favorite of mine, but remote control helicopters have a steep learning curve so I have avoided them. Interactive Toy makes easy to use remote control vehicles including easy to use helicopters. The Firefly is the smallest of their helicopters and it is not all that hard to fly.
- Dual-Rotor design
- Built-In Lithium battery
- Helicopter Length: 6.5″
- Weight: 20 grams
- Available in 27MHz and 49 MHz frequencies.
The reason that helicopters are so hard to fly is because they can move in three-dimensions, hover, and rotate. To help make those movements easier the Firefly uses a dual-rotor design. That alone eliminates a lot of difficulty because you no longer have to worry about a tail rotor. The tail normally keeps the helicopter from spinning out of control; instead, using the dual-rotor design with rotors that spin in opposite directions the Firefly achieves the effect.
Another control that was removed was the controls for forward and backward movement. This movement is usually controlled by tilting the blades in the front or the back to provide more lift in the direction you want. Instead the helicopter is fitted with a couple of weights under the motors that tilt the Firefly forward. This means the helicopter will always be moving forward.
The Firefly also has a built-in battery that charges from the controller. All you need to do is plug the controller into the wall with the included plug and then plug the helicopter in the controller. It may have been easier if you could just plug the helicopter into the wall.
The Firefly is extremely small; it only weighs about 20 grams and is only 6.5″ long. You can easily hold it in the palm of your hand. The Front of the Firefly has two LED lights that come one when the helicopter turns on. In between the two lights is a small switch and a plug. The switch turns the helicopter and the plug is for charging it. Directly behind the lights are two motors. Each one of the motors powers a rotor. It is important that each motor is controlled separately because this is how you turn the helicopter. Without the tail rotor the Firefly turns the top or bottom rotor more or less to get the Firefly spinning. The light above the dial is the power and charge indicator. When the remote is turned on the light will be red and when it is charging the light will flash on and off and stay off when it is fully charged.
The remote has three controls on the top and a light. The left control causes the rotors to start spinning and raises or lowers the Firefly. The right controller is for spinning the helicopter right or left. In order for the right and left spinning to work correctly the rotors must be calibrated so the helicopter will not be spinning when it is hovering. To do this you use the dial that is in the center. When you first start flying the Firefly you need to turn the dial until the helicopter stops spinning. Right under the dial is a power switch for turning on and off the remote. If you turn the remote over then you will see two covers. When you open them you will discover a space for a 9V battery in one and a charging cable that plugs into the helicopter in the other.
As soon as you get the helicopter you are going to want to fly it. Fortunately, this is really easy to do and it does not take a lot of time to get started. The initial charge time is really quick; all you need to do is wait for the charging light to go off. Once that is done you unplug everything, turn on the remote and helicopter and get ready to fly. Before you can actually fly the helicopter you must push the left controller all the way up and realize it once and then the controller will work.
When you begin flying the helicopter you will want to start by lifting off the ground just a little and if it starts to spin you want to turn the dial so that it stops. Then you can practice taking off and landing. I would make sure you are good with that before you try actually flying around the room. Once you feel comfortable with taking off and landing you should try flying around a room. I would recommend that you fly in a carpeted room so that if you crash, the Firefly will have a softer landing. For taking off on carpet I recommend that put down a book or something so that you can take off from a smooth surface. If you try and take off from the carpet the legs sometimes get stuck in the carpet and it will tip over.
Once the helicopter is flying you may notice that is starts to spin again. This is normal due to the battery running out. All you need to do is adjust the dial on the remote to stop it from spinning. Flying the helicopter is really easy, but you must make sure you make small and slow adjustments. If you get the Firefly moving to fast it could start to oscillate and you will lose control. The only option is to quickly land it and start over. On a full charge you should be able to get a good 3 to 5 minutes of flying time. I also found it much easier to fly the helicopter while behind it. This way when you push the control to the left it goes left. When the helicopter is facing you then those controls are reversed.
When you are flying the helicopter you need to avoid walls and ceilings. The reason you need to do this is because the lift that the blades produce will cause the Firefly to stick to the wall or ceiling. If this happens the helicopter will probably crash.
While the Firefly is tough, it is inevitable that you will probably break it. If you do happen to break it you can buy replacement parts online or at Radio Shack. The only problem with the replacement parts is that they can cost you as much, or more than the actual Firefly. If you break enough parts you may want to just buy a new helicopter and use the old one for spare parts. As you can see from these pictures I broke my firefly is several different locations. The rotors are probably the parts you will break the most and I broke mine is several places. I also managed to break a chip off the motor pinions that spins the rotor.
After I had broken all these things the Firefly didn’t fly very well. It would only stay up in the air for a couple of seconds and then fall to the ground and hover about 2 inches above the ground. Because of this I bought a new set of rotors for my Firefly and went through the trouble of replacing them. Even with the new rotors the Firefly didn’t fly any better. Perhaps it was the broken gear or the battery has lost some of its ability to hold a charge. If it is the battery then I am out of luck because the battery is not replaceable. My only option would be to replace the entire body of the Firefly. You can actually find replacement parts for just about everything, just don’t spend more on the parts than you did on the actual helicopter.
Warranty and Support
The Firefly only comes with a 30-day limited warranty. While I understand that it is easy to break the Firefly it would be nice if the warranty was a bit longer to cover things like the battery going bad or something.
I really had a lot of fun with the helicopter when it was working. Unfortunately for me, the Firefly only lasted about a month before it stopped working. I am sending it back to Interactive Toy to see if they can find out why it would not fly even with new rotors. If they get back to me I will post something in the forum and let you all know. The one positive thing is that the cost of the helicopter is not really expensive so I could buy another one if I wanted to. You can find the Firefly online and at most stores that carry it for about $69.99.
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