Parrot Disco Drone with Skycontroller and FPV goggles
With the Parrot Disco Drone, the French drone manufacturer launched a completely new type of drone on the market in 2016. Its appearance and flight characteristics are more reminiscent of a classic model airplane than a multicopter. Nevertheless, the Parrot Disco Drone has a whole range of features that are otherwise only known from multicopters.
After the successful Parrot Bebop Drone 2, the French drone manufacturer now wanted to bring something very special to the market with the Parrot Disco – and in our opinion, they succeeded.
A drone as futuristic as it is innovative
The look and shape of the Parrot Disco Drone are unique. The slightly curved wings with a wingspan of around 3.77 ft (1.15 meters) look elegant and completely different from what you are used to from classic quadcopters. They are partly made of polypropylene, a very stable and flexible foam plastic that is also used in the front of the drone.
The wings can be easily removed for transport. The Disco Drone is powered by a relatively small propeller at the rear. For its size, the drone is relatively light at about 750 grams.
The front of the drone is rounded and equipped with a camera. Together with the included FPV goggles, spectacular flights are possible as if you were sitting in the cockpit yourself.
The assembly is very simple and quickly done. All you have to do is plug in the two wings and connect the battery. All you need now is a smartphone or tablet and the free “FreeFlightPro“ app for Android, iOS and Windows Phone. Then connect the smartphone or tablet to the Skycontroller via USB cable and to the drone via Wi-Fi.
And this is how the Parrot Disco takes to the skies
Take the drone in one hand, press the start button on the remote control and wait for the propeller to start. Then throw the Parrot Disco Drone straight forward and slightly upwards into the air like a paper airplane. The drone will now automatically begin a climb to an altitude of about 165 feet (50 meters) and then swing into a circular path with a radius of about 100 feet (30 meters). Now you can take control of the gliding drone and enjoy the flight.
A completely new flying experience
Unlike multicopters, which allow vertical ascents and descents as well as various maneuvers such as standing still or flying backwards, the Parrot Disco Drone is all about gliding capabilities.
How to operate the Disco Drone
There are three ways to control the Parrot Disco. First, only with the included SkyController 2 remote control. Second, with the SkyController 2 and an attached smartphone and third, with FPV goggles specially designed for this drone, a smartphone and the SkyController 2.
When launching, always make sure to throw the drone against the wind direction. This increases the lift forces that can act on the wings of the drone. Thanks to the integrated autopilot, which also switches on from time to time during flight, the drone first does everything on its own after takeoff.
Autopilot and control in detail
The Parrot Disco flies independently to an altitude of 165 feet (50 meters) and then makes circles with a diameter of about 196 feet 60 meters. If you decide to buy the Parrot Disco, you should be aware that this drone is not suitable to stay in one place. The Parrot Disco is always on the move. Either it is making circles or it is in a descending or climbing flight.
When the Parrot Disco Drone reaches an altitude of 55 yards (50 meters), you take over the controls. Now you can break out of the given 66 yards (60 meter) circle and give your own control commands. Here, rapid flight maneuvers, such as swoops followed by fast ascents back to lofty heights are just as possible as a simple glide over a beautiful landscape that you’ve always wanted to see from the air.
The aerodynamic drone is controlled with the help of two control sticks. These can be found either virtually on the smartphone in the FreeFlight Pro app or quite classically to touch and operate on the SkyController 2.
If you change the altitude or speed and then switch to autopilot, the drone will first turn circles again with the new inputs. Steering left or right, as well as accelerating and decelerating, work with the left control stick. The right joystick is used for altitude control and the option to turn the drone to the right or left in flight.
Return to Home function
No modern drone in 2017 comes without this function. Of course, the Parrot Disco is also equipped with a Return-to-Home function. However, this is designed a little differently here, if you compare the Parrot Disco and a classic multicopter.
Where a “normal” drone simply starts from the point where it is at the moment of the command and then lands near the remote control, the Parrot Disco returns, but first remains at an altitude of 165 feet (50 meters) above the ground and goes into glide flight, in which it again draws its circles around 66 yards (60 meters) in diameter. From here, you can now switch back to manual control mode and take control of the gliding drone again.
If you look at one or the other Parrot Disco test on the Internet or review, you will quickly notice that the maximum speed also surprised experts at first and finally thrilled them. Ultimately, the Parrot Disco Drone reaches a top speed of about 50 mph (80 km/h). A fact that means that rapid swoops in FPV flight mode should only be done by pilots with an insensitive stomach.
The flight duration of the Parrot Disco Drone
The flight time of the Parrot Disco Drone is another selling point. Unlike multicopters whose motors eat up a lot of energy, a battery in the Parrot Disco Drone lasts much longer, allowing flight times of around 45 minutes(!) Since only one propeller needs to be driven, power consumption is correspondingly low. In addition, there are the large wings and the aerodynamic design of the Disco Drone.
Landing is also something extraordinary with the Parrot Disco Drone. Find a suitable landing area and point the glider into the wind. Now simply press the start-landing button. Now the fully automatic landing starts. The glider aligns itself in a straight line and sinks faster and faster towards the ground. Despite the spectacular appearance of the landing, the maneuver, which is also completely executed by the autopilot, is very safe and absolutely harmless for the drone.
During the landing process, you can continue to influence the drone on the SkyController2 and steer it left, right, up or down. By pressing the start/landing button again, you can also abort the landing if desired. In this case, the Parrot Disco Drone independently climbs back up to an altitude of 165 feet (50 meters) and circles again.
For those who want to experience an extraordinary landing in autopilot mode, Parrot has added a whole special variant: The circular landing. Here, the Parrot Disco steers completely independently in spiral circles towards the ground. The drone itself recognizes the wind direction and in which form it must align itself – you are left here only with the role of the silent and amazed observer.
While the gliding drone flies slowly in circles towards the ground, adapting thrust and steering to the conditions, you should only make sure that there really is sufficient surface area for this maneuver. The landing area should have a diameter of at least 87 yards (80 meters) so that the drone has enough space for the complex landing.
The camera of the Disco Drone
The front camera is an on-board camera, which means it is already integrated into the drone and cannot be replaced. The three-axis stabilized front camera comes with a resolution in Full HD quality with 1080p (resolution 1920 x 1080 pixels). The pictures are digitally stabilized and are therefore free of image noise or shakiness – and that despite a fisheye lens. The camera stores both photos, which are taken here with 18 megapixels, and videos in the internal memory, which comes with a relatively small 32 gigabytes. However, the files can be easily read from the memory via the app and saved on the smartphone.
Taking aerial photos with the Parrot Disco Drone is generally a bit different than with other drones with cameras. Since the Disco always has to be in motion, certain settings and shots are simply not feasible. Neither flying slowly away from buildings nor camera movements in reverse flight are technically possible.
Nevertheless, impressive camera shots are possible in gliding flight and the long flight time of the Disco Drone makes extended flights possible without any problems.
The FreeFlight App
The “FreeFlight“ app does not have to shy away from comparison with other apps from the competition. If you look at the various tests of the Parrot Disco on the Internet or in relevant magazines, it is usually even the app that is highlighted once again. Here, you not only get a first-class view from the cockpit of the drone, but also all important telemetry data like altitude and speed. The actual distance to the smartphone is also displayed.
This way, you can always check if the drone is still within range. With the FPV screen of the app, you also have the option to easily trigger a photo shoot or start a video recording. In addition, a paid version of the app is available with maps and options for saving flight routes.
FPV goggles and other accessories
For a special kind of flight experience, we recommend the included Parrot Cockpitglasses FPV goggles. Simply insert your smartphone into the goggles, put them on, connect them and enjoy the perfect FPV flight. Even the simple circling in the autopilot becomes an experience. See the world from above and experience the breathtaking feeling of an FPV racing drone.
Also on offer, Parrot has a backpack tailored to the needs of users of the Parrot Disco. This backpack makes it easiest to transport the drone. Realistically, once the wings are removed, any normal bag with enough interior space will do as well.
Scope of delivery
Even if you only opt for the drone without further accessories, the scope of delivery is quite extensive. Besides the drone itself, the following items are included:
- 1 x rechargeable battery
- 1 x charger with cable and 1 USB cable
- 2 x additional propellers
- 1 x Parrot SkyController 2
- 1 x Bracket to attach the smartphone to the controller
- 1 x additional USB cable for the remote control and a suitable charger
- 1 x The Parrot Cockpitglasses
- 1 x Carrying strap and smartphone case
The most important data at a glance
- Weight: 750 g
- Max. Speed: 50 mph (80 km/h)
- Flight duration: approx. 45 minutes
- Range: approx. 1.25 miles (2 kilometers)
- Span: 3.77 ft (1.15 m)
- Internal memory: 32 GB
- Camera type and quality: on-board front camera (1080p/18 MP)
- App: free (Pro version chargeable)
With the Disco Drone, Parrot has launched a completely new drone that combines elements of model airplanes and classic multicopters. 45 minutes of flight time, a highly interesting design, FPV goggles and autopilot make the Parrot Disco Drone more than just an insider tip for modeling enthusiasts. Even beginners will have a lot of fun with this drone.
The radical new design brings a breath of fresh air to the drone scene. Apart from innovative RC aircraft like the TobyRich Smartplane, there are currently hardly any similar projects. It remains to be seen when other manufacturers will follow suit with similar products. So far, the Parrot Disco is unique and a real tip for all hobby pilots and those who want to become one!