Honest Review of Yuneec’s Typhoon G: An Aerial Drone Platform for GoPro Enthusiasts
BY Alan Perlman15 December 2015
Shopping around for an aerial platform?
Odds are you’ve heard of drone manufacturers like DJI, 3D Robotics, and you may have even heard that GoPro plans to launch their own drone sometime next year.
But if you haven’t heard of Yuneec, you’re missing out on some high-quality aerial platforms that may very well be the perfect fit for your recreational (or business) needs.
A pioneer in electric aviation, Yuneec has been around since 1999 and holds hundreds of patents. These days, they’re manufacturing more than one million units per year.
Next to drone powerhouse manufacturers like DJI, 3D Robotics, and Parrot, Yuneec holds a top position in the UAV industry and continues to impress me with their product innovations (and their quick-to-pick-up Flight Team Extra Support phone line).
Yuneec offers a number of entry-level quadcopter drones for those looking to take their aerial photography / videography needs, whether in real estate, agriculture, 3D mapping/modeling, etc. to the next level:
- Yuneec Typhoon G (see specs + see price)
- Yuneec Typhoon G500 4K (see specs + see price)
- Yuneec Typhoon G500+ (see specs + see price)
For an in-depth look at 3D mapping/modeling, check out our Mapping and 3D Modeling 101 training course.
Inside the Yuneec Typhoon G
In this post, we’ll be taking a closer look at the Yuneec Typhoon G, their only model that’s fit specifically for a GoPro action camera.
First, let’s start with the basics. The Yuneec Typhoon G boasts:
- A battery life of 25 minutes. A couple of caveats here. For one, if you’re flying in colder weather, you’ll get a shorter battery life, which is true for any LiPo battery. Also, safe pilots know that you’ll never be airborne for a full 25 minutes. You’ll always want to start returning home when your battery voltage is low, ideally landing with no less than 25% of your battery life remaining. What’s cool about the Yuneec Typhoon G is that the included ST10 transmitter will start buzzing when your battery voltage is low, letting you know when it’s time to come home.
- An ST10 “smart” transmitter / remote control. Also known as Yuneec’s Personal Ground Station, the ST10 transmitter has a built-in touchscreen and direct “first person view” (FPV) video feed, meaning you’re able to see exactly what your GoPro is seeing from the air, in real-time. You’ve got a range of 400m with this digital video link. Remember though, while flying FPV is fun, you’re going to want to always keep a direct line-of-sight with your drone while flying. Don’t lose sight of your bird!
- A 3-axis precision gimbal for GoPro. If you’re looking for smooth, buttery footage from your GoPro, you’ll need a 3-axis gimbal. This stabilizes your GoPro mid-flight. Glad to see the Yuneec Typhoon G has this included already, unlike the 3D Robotics Solo which charges separately for the gimbal. Big plus.
- An additional SteadyGrip to capture stable footage from the ground. What a great bonus from the Yuneec team. The SteadyGrip can connect directly to the included 3-axis gimbal to help you get that same smooth footage from the ground. It’s kind of like the DJI Osmo, which lets filmmakers capture great shots from the ground.
Getting Started With the Yuneec Typhoon G
I’ve got to say, this was one of the quickest, easiest, and most straightforward unboxing experiences I’ve had with an advanced aerial platform.
There are basic multicopters, and then there are more advanced systems like the Yuneec Typhoon G.
I’ve flown dozens of training multicopters, and those are all easy to get started with, but typically, when you’re talking about more advanced aerial systems, there’s a lot of reading, calibrating, software installation, etc. before getting started.
The Yuneec Typhoon G came in a padded box, each accessory bagged and organized. Once I had charged the battery for about 30 minutes, I took it outside, powered on the aircraft first, then the transmitter, and then was airborne less than a few minutes later.
Here’s a video that walks through the setup process:
As far as advanced aerial platforms go, this model was really easy to get started with.
Yuneec Typhoon G Flight Modes & Configurations
Like other advanced aerial platforms, the Yuneec Typhoon G comes with a few different flight modes and configurations I’d like to point out. Note: these aren’t ALL the modes, just a few I ended in my test flights.
Turtle vs. Rabbit
On the side of the ST10 transmitter, you’ve got an option to flip between a turtle and a rabbit. This sets the speed of your directional control, meaning that when you throttle your drone up into the air, if it’s on turtle speed, it’ll rise up slowly, and if it’s on rabbit, it’ll rise up much faster. The same goes for yawing left and right, or pitching and rolling.
Smart mode is good for first-time pilots and also features Follow Me, which I’ll write more about below. In Smart mode, the Typhoon G will always move in the direction the right-hand control stick is pushed relative to the pilot (and no matter which way the front/nose is pointed). So if you push the stick to the left TYPHOON will always move to the left, regardless of the direction the nose is pointing and even if it’s spinning.
This mode can be helpful for pilots that lose orientation while flying in Angle (Pilot) Mode.
The Follow Me function enables the drone to follow the pilot, adjusting its location to the location of the ST10+ transmitter. In Follow Me function, the aircraft will maintain a constant altitude and cannot detect obstacles. Pilots who change their altitude by for example, moving to higher ground, during flight should be mindful of this.
Here’s an example of Follow Me in action:
Hat tip to roosterscreations for shooting the video. Note that while the Typhoon Q500 4K is being used in the video instead of the Typhoon G which is being reviewed in this post, the Follow Me functionality is exactly the same. Pretty cool, eh?
Angle Mode is the preferred mode of experienced multicopter pilots. In this mode, the Typhoon G will move in the direction the control stick is pushed relative to the front/nose of the aircraft. So, if you push the right-hand stick to the left (and the drone is facing away from you), the drone will bank toward the left side and move to the left. If the front/nose is pointing at you, the drone will move to the right.
When you’ve got a suitable GPS lock, even in Angle Mode the Typhoon G will self-level and hold its position and altitude when the right-hand stick is centered.
As long as you’ve got a GPS lock, Home Mode enables the drone to fly in a straight line in the direction of the pilots’ current location. It’ll then automatically land within 13-26 ft (4-8m) of the pilot. This can be very helpful for first-time pilots who aren’t quite ready to land the Typhoon G themselves.
But of course, you have to have open space for this mode to work.
One thing I did in my training--I was on the verge of losing orientation and switched to Home Mode so the drone flew back toward me. Then, once I confirmed orientation I switched the Typhoon G BACK to Angle Mode and landed it manually.
Should I Buy the Yuneec Typhoon G?
If you’re looking to purchase your first serious aerial platform, either for recreational or business purposes, and you already own or like working with the GoPro cameras, then I’d highly recommend taking a look at the Yuneec Typhoon G.
Personally, I think Yuneec is one of the most underrated drone manufacturers right now. Their customer support is top-notch, and their products, at least the ones I’ve flown / tested, are impressive.