Yuneec Typhoon Q500 Drone Review
The Yuneec Typhoon Q500 quadcopter is a photography drone capable of recording 4K video and capturing still photographs with a 12MP camera. This affordable model comes with premium features such as a controller with a built-in touch screen, a CGO three-axis gimbal, and a powered SteadyGrip handheld camera mount. The Typhoon Q500 has several automated modes that enable users to start capturing aerial footage straight out of the box, regardless of their level of flying skill.
What is the Typhoon Q500?
The Typhoon Q500 is a mid-range drone made by Yuneec, a Hong Kong-based consumer aviation company that has operated for more than 15 years. The company launched its first drone in 2014, and its current line of quadcopters and hexacopters features high-definition cameras and innovative flight technology.
The Q500 is a full-sized drone that operates quietly and is relatively easy to control. This model does not include the Intel Real Sense Obstacle Avoidance feature that is available in the higher-end Typhoon H hexacopter, but it has several top-of-the-line features sought by customers. The Typhoon Q500 achieves flight times of between 19 to 24 minutes and has a flight range of about 400 to 500 meters (437 to 546 yards) with sufficient responsive control and thrust to fly in up to 15 mph winds.
Typhoon Q500 Specifications
The Yuneec Typhoon Q500 measures 16.5" x 16.5" x 8.3" (420 x 420 x 210 mm) and weighs 3.75 pounds (1.7 kg) fully assembled and loaded. The base model ships with one 5400mAH 3S 11.1V lithium-polymer rechargeable battery capable of powering a flight of about 22 minutes on a full charge. This drone lasts longer on a single charge compared to other drones with similar features and price points. It takes up to three hours for this battery to fully recharge. Many bundles and packs come with an extra battery to extend the length of an average flight session to over 40 minutes with one battery change.
ST 10+ Ground Station Controller
The ST10+ controller is an all-in-one, Android-based, 10-channel 2.4GHz transmitter that supports a 5.8GHz video downlink for streaming FPV footage directly to the screen with minimal lag. Pilots can control the drone and adjust camera angles during flight. The ST10+ boasts a built-in 5.5" touch screen display that shows controls, telemetry data, and FPV footage in real time – a feature typically found in much more expensive drone models. There is no need to bring a tablet or smartphone on flying excursions. This display allows a pilot to easily reference the current speed over ground, distance from home, flight mode, altitude, GPS position coordinates, camera status, and aircraft battery status.
The ST10+ controller is compatible with all Yuneec drones, including the Breeze and Typhoon H, but is customized to work with the Q500 model. The automated modes on this model include a Smart Mode with Follow Me and Watch Me functions. The drone will either follow the pilot or stay focused and framed on the pilot. This model also features an Angle mode for experienced manual pilots as well as Home mode. If you do not want to manually navigate the drone back, rely on Home mode to safely land the craft automatically within 13 to 26 feet (four to eight meters) of the pilot. The controller also vibrates to alert users when the battery is low.
A 115-degree, distortion-free, wide-angle lens allows users to capture UHD footage that has up to four times the resolution of standard HD video. The Q500 can also record slow-motion video in 1080p at 120 frames per second. Fine-tune the camera performance by adjusting the tilt angle and easily access the shutter buttons and pitch controls. Both photography professionals and novices who want to sharpen their aerial capture skills will appreciate the ability to control the video resolution, white balance, and light exposure either automatically or manually.
The camera in the Typhoon Q500 captures high-definition still photographs in RAW (DNG) and JPEG formats. All of these features enable aspiring photographers to capture the most professional-looking aerial footage possible for a relatively low price.
This model comes with a CGO three-axis gimbal. This component combines a gimbal, camera, and digital video downlink for live FPV footage. Users can adjust the tilt angle of the camera from the Yuneec ST10+ Ground Station controller. Late models come with an audio recording feature that users can control from the ST10+. All models also ship with the detachable SteadyGrip handheld camera mount.
Some combination packs come with additional accessories, such as the Yuneec Skyview headset and the Wizard Wand controller. The Skyview headset is designed for use with the Typhoon H and Tornado H920 models, but it is also compatible with the Q500. These goggles enable pilots to immerse themselves in 720p HD FPV footage captured by the Typhoon Q500. The lightweight wireless headset has a USB port for charging and an HDMI port that allows this headset to connect to any device with the same port. This universal input allows users to watch movies, play video games, and transmit sound via HDMI to a matching socket headphone. This headset has a 75.5-degree field of view and a 16:9 aspect ratio. Purchase this headset as a separate accessory or in a specialized FPV bundle.
The Wizard Wand remote-style controller provides pilots with the ability to control the drone one-handed. This ultra-light remote has the ability to start the drone's motors, shift flight modes, control the craft manually, and activate smart modes such as Watch Me, Follow Me, and Return Home. This controller also allows users to manage the drone's point-to-fly functionality. The remote is designed to function like a wand, allowing manual pilots to experience a uniquely intuitive control scheme.
Pointing or changing the angle of the Wizard Wand, which is equipped with gyroscopic sensors, is equivalent to moving the control sticks on the ST10+ controller. Pilots can take off by tilting the remote up from 40 degrees to 90 degrees and using the flight control arrows. Tilting the remote in other directions and using the control arrows makes it possible to change altitude and direction or land the drone.
The Yuneec Wizard Wand features illuminated LED lights indicating the status of the craft, a directional pad with a central point-to-fly button, handy camera tilt controls, a red button that starts the motors of the drone, and a button that allows users to power the device on or off. This controller also comes with an arm strap to support hands-free action recording, which is particularly handy for biking, hiking, and water or snow sports.
The Yuneec Typhoon Q500 can be purchased on Amazon. The basic new model of this drone comes with the remote controller, a battery, two sets of blades, and the SteadyGrip handheld mount. Versions sold with the aluminum carrying case come with two batteries to allow a user to fly for up to 40 minutes with only a quick pit stop for a battery change.
If you choose a model that comes with the aluminum case, you can easily protect your drone when it is being transported, packed, or stored. This case features a high-density foam core and fits the Typhoon Q500, two included batteries, a charger, the SteadyGrip handheld camera, the ST 10+ controller, two sets of propellers and other accessories.
The DJI model most comparable to the Q500 is the Phantom 4 Pro Quadcopter, which also records 4K video and has a 12MP still camera but also features obstacle avoidance. Obstacle avoidance is only available in the models of Yuneec's higher-end Typhoon H Hexacopter that feature Intel Real Sense technology.
Obstacle avoidance aside, the DJI Phantom 4 Pro is more expensive than the Typhoon Q500, and the DJI model requires users to attach a phone or tablet to the controller to use as a screen. The Q500 comes with a remote that has a built-in touch screen. This feature is found in the Phantom 4 Pro+, which costs more than this Yuneec model.
Some retailers sell Typhoon Q500 bundles or combos with additional accessories that new owners are likely to need. The Ultimate Bundle priced more than the base price – comes with a reinforced aluminum carrying case, two batteries, two complete sets of rotors, eight propellers, a 32GB MicroSD high-speed memory card for saving footage and flight data on board, a one-year extended warranty, a sun shade, a car charger, a USB adapter and charger, and a bonus microfiber cloth. This model also ships with the newest firmware that allows users to activate the smart Watch Me and Follow Me modes via controls on the touch screen.
The Fly More combo pack comes with the standard drone package and accessories, including two batteries for up to 45 minutes of flight time with one pit stop, the Yuneec Skyview FPV Headset with a built-in five-inch display screen, a Wizard remote-style controller, and a backpack designed to fit the drone. This bundle also comes with a car charger, a USB adapter and charger, and two extra sets of propellers. Most sellers who offer this package do so with the early version of the Q500, which only comes with a 12MP camera, rather than an upgraded 12.4MP version, and may not feature audio recording controls on the touch screen.
The Yuneec Skyview headset retails independently of the Fly More combo pack. The prices of these peripherals make the bundle packs a great deal. Still, if you want the updated version of the Q500 with a slightly enhanced still camera and audio recording ability, you may want to purchase a newer release and buy these accessories separately.
Some users experience serious crashes and need to replace the full body of the drone. If you need to do this but don’t want to buy a new remote controller, camera equipment, or other accessories, you can purchase the body of the drone itself on Amazon or choose a refurbished model for a lower price.
How the Yuneec Typhoon Q500 Compares
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Pros and Cons
The Typhoon Q500 is a perfect camera drone for novices or advanced pilots seeking an affordable model capable of recording in up to 4K resolution and capturing high-definition still images. This model has features that go far beyond those of toy or beginner drones and is a better value than high-end photography drones. Skilled pilots can obtain great-looking footage with the Q500.
In addition to the quality of the on-board camera equipment, the relatively lengthy flight time and the ease of controlling this model manually or automatically make this quadcopter an outstanding buy at its current price point. The ST10+ Ground Station remote controller with a 5.5" touch screen allows pilots to focus on controlling the drone and capturing footage without having to juggle multiple display devices.
The Yuneec Typhoon Q500 is much more affordable than DJI models with similar features. If you are looking for a drone with top-of-the-line video recording and still-capture technology, intuitive controls, and helpful automated flight modes, you will be satisfied by the features of the Typhoon Q500.