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Estes Proto-X Nano Quadcopter RTF

By Hal Miller
Published: April 14, 2014
Estes Proto-X
Product: Quads continue to be a hot commodity. The Proto-X Nano Quadcopter RTF is one that’s not going to take up a lot of room on your store’s shelves — but could make a big impact on your bottom line.
The copter itself is about 2.5 inches square outside its props. The “body” is just a little bigger than a thimble. The frame is PC-board material and quite sturdy.

The unit is boxed with a small 2.4-GHz transmitter, four spare props and a USB cable to charge the quad’s battery. The user will also need two AAA batteries, which aren’t included.

The attractive packaging allows the user to see the quad in the box. The container can also be used to store the item.

It’s easy to get the Proto-X in the air. The first step is to find a USB port to charge it. Computers usually have several, and you can also charge it with a commonly available wall-wart charger that has a USB port — or even a car charger that has one.

I plugged mine into my desktop computer, and the other end into the receptacle on the Proto-X Nano. The USB plug has a red LED that remains on while the unit is charging and goes off when it’s done.

While the quad was charging, I put batteries in the transmitter. I needed a jeweler’s screwdriver to open the battery door; tell your customers to be patient with it, be-cause it’s somewhat fragile and can snap off if forced. Once off, install the AAA batteries, put the door back on, make sure the screw lines up with the hole, and then tighten.

Once the red charging LED goes off, the Proto-X Nano is ready for action. When you turn the transmitter on, a red LED illuminates. Move the switch under the quad to the “on” position, and red and blue LEDs will blink. When the quad “binds” to the transmitter, the LED on the radio will turn green and the lights on the quad will stop blinking. Then you’re ready to go.

The quad is equipped with blue LEDs and gray propellers at the front of the unit, and red LEDs and black props at the back. This allows the user to know quickly which way the craft is oriented. Trim buttons near each stick on the transmitter allow the user to get the Nano in a stable attitude. When clicking the trim buttons, listen to the tones; when the controls are centered, you will hear a higher-pitched tone.

The Proto-X is little and kind of cute, so it’s really easy to fly, right? Well ...

Let’s just say right off, this quadcopter is recommended for someone who has some experience flying quads. It’s not hard to fly, but it does take some time to master. A lot of the challenge lies in the size of the craft itself. Flying in my office, the downdraft of an overhead vent is enough to knock the Proto-X off course. You do have to actively fly it to keep it going where you want.

It has a gyro stabilizer, so movement is relatively smooth and fluid. However, it can get away from you quickly because it’s so small. The great thing is, even with several hard landings and even a slide into the abyss between my desk and the wall, the Proto-X Nano kept coming back for more. If one of the blades gets a little bent, gentle finger pressure is all that’s needed to put it back in place. If the props need to be re-placed, simply pop them off and press-fit a new one.

Marketing: This is one of those products that doesn’t take a lot to sell it. First off, the attractive packaging and the ability of the customer to see it in the box is good. Second, the boxes are small and can go anywhere you have some room, like a checkout counter or endcap. However, due to their size, you might want to keep them somewhere visible for security reasons.

Demonstrating the Proto-X Nano in the store is a snap and doesn’t take a lot of room. Let your customers give it a whirl, since there’s nothing like a good experience to help push sales along.

Product: Proto-X Nano Quadcopter RTF
Maker: Estes
Stock number: ESTE4606
MSRP: $59.99
Availability: Hobbico

• Attractive looks and packaging
• Quadcopters are hot
• Easy to set up and use