Late last summer/fall, I can’t remember when exactly, a Kickstart campaign popped up promising a copter that anyone could fly called the Hex Bot. It came in quad and hex models and was built around a 3D printed shell. There were videos showing the copters in flight, people easily controlling them via their smartphones, and even great looking video supposedly shot from the copter itself. Little did I know, that upon contributing to the kickstarter campaign, I would be forced to wait through months of delays only to be served with a severely disappointing product, that barely delivers on it’s promises.

After months of waiting my “Flexbot”, as it was now referred to as, finally arrived in the mail. Funny enough, I have a direct connection to the reason the name was changed from Hexbot to Flexbot as well, but that’s not what this is all about, the name doesn’t matter. The first part of my Flexbot kickstarter reward arrived in a very well designed package that appeared to be better designed than the actual product itself. The camera module for the copter hasn’t been completed yet, so that hasn’t come in the mail, but I have already put in a request for a refund on the camera module part of it, so hopefully that request is honored as this thing is nearly impossible to fly.

The assembly wasn’t difficult, but there’s a certain way to put the motors in apparently and the instructions aren’t very much help. They say to put them in according to the numbers on the frame, but there definitely aren’t any numbers on the frame. The instructions have numbers on them in the following step, but it’s hard to really tell which order they go in.

After getting everything together and attempting to fly it for the first time, I wasn’t having any luck. I could get the app to connect to the copter, but nothing would happen; it was then that I read you need to charge the battery fully first… that and there were no real instructions regarding how to use the poorly designed smartphone app.

After charging the battery and getting everything ready to go, I tried again. Still nothing… Some of the propellers would spin at a very low rate of speed, but nothing happened when you pressed up on the accelerator in the app. I soon realized that there was an “on button”, so to speak, in the app that you needed to hit. Again, not instructions for the app, so it was all trial and error. As soon as I gave the copter some juice it immediately flew hard to the right and smashed into the wall. No problem, I knew there would be some sort of learning curve to flying the thing, so I gave it a few more tries. The only thing I was able to accomplish with the copter itself was pissing off my dog. There is a super-annoying hum that happens constantly as soon as you plug in the battery which drove the dog nuts. Not to mention it’s impossible to fly, so I kept crashing it into him, and the walls, and the tv, and the ceiling and my wife, and just about everything else in my apartment. I decided to give up for the night, charge the batteries (since it only gets 6 minutes of flight time on a charge), and bring it to the office the next day where we have more room.

At the office the following day none of us had any luck. I got it to hover a few times, but not for very long before crashing. This was definitely not the “copter that anyone could fly” I was promised. After a few more attempts at the office, I lost control of the copter and flew it hard into the brick wall, cracking one of the arms that holds a propeller; that was the end of that. I’m sure I can super glue it back together, or find someone to 3D print me a new frame, but what’s the point if the thing is impossible to fly. I’ve already emailed them asking if I can get a refund on the camera module as there is absolutely no way that I’m going to be able to use any of the video that this thing would be capable of since I can’t fly it for more than 10 seconds without crashing it.

So needless to say, I’m extremely disappointed in the Flexbot and this will probably deter me from contributing to any sort of product based kickstarter campaigns in the future (for a while). Did anyone else receive their Flexbot and have troubles with it? Is there a trick to it that I haven’t figured out? I’ve read through the comments on the Kickstarter page and none of the tricks I’ve seen on there are helping.

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  • SuperRoach

    Just wondering what your prior multicopter flying experience is? While it has been pitched as a copter anyone can fly, It does have a curve as a flying device like all of them do. I’m putting together a brief video, but in short for me it flys very well – although much more stably indoors. It had the same curve like other micro sized quads though.

    • I have basically no multicopter experience outside of trying to fly the Flexbot, so I’m the definition of “Copter anyone can fly”. I’ve calibrated it on a flat surface, plugged the battery in on a flat surface, gone through all the comments on the kickstarter page to no avail. I already requested a refund on the camera module I originally ordered since I can’t even fly the thing let alone fly it to get useable video of any kind.

  • Fraser

    We struggled a lot with ours at first but since reading that you have to keep it perfectly flat when you first connect the battery has helped it a lot. Gradually each flight seemed to get better. The controls are very sensitive though so maybe something that can be improved with software.

    Half a day with the copter so far so more time will tell.

  • Graeme Bell

    I only just received my copter yesterday and had 6 mins attempting to fly it last night. I too found it was difficult to control and was very cautious with my fledgling attempts !
    I had the most success on my first few minutes flying. I think this was because I made sure it was on a flat surface when I connected the battery and calibrated the app. Its very powerful and can move pretty fast as you are probably well aware.
    I still see potential in the copter. Although I also see a bigger potential to crash the thing beyond repair before I am able to get the required practice in !
    I think I will leave mine for a Sunny/ Wind free day in the garden(hopefully an update to the app while waiting) before I try stretching my wings again. We dont get many wind free sunny days in Scotland so Flexbot have bought themselves a little more time before I can say what I really think

  • neotsn

    This is exactly my experience as well, up until the request for the camera refund. I did figure out the order to put in the motors, and plugged it in while sitting on the floor, but the thing still instantly flipped, or listed once 5/6 of the wings left the ground. I did get it to hover once ~4ft off the ground, and then it took off out of sight, hit the wall, came crashing down and broke a motor. I swapped for one of the extra motors, and that one had a short, and burned out in 2 minutes.

    Now I’m trying to find replacement motors – but only this one time. After this, it’d be cheaper to buy a REAL hex/quad-copter than to keep buying replacement parts for this fragile device. Super disappointed in what was finally delivered on my most anticipated kickstarter backing.

  • TimeHunter

    Granted, the included instructions could be a little better, especially related to actually getting it off the ground after assembly.

    My first flight was almost a disaster, but then I stepped back and did a little research. Once I got the information on how to calibrate the copter, and how to adjust the app, I am able to achieve stable successful flights lasting more than a minute. And please note, I just received mine yesterday evening. I look forward to getting enough practice to not only have flights that will last the entire 6 minute suggested fight time, but also to be able to safely operate it indoors and not destroy the copter or my wife’s knickknacks.

  • Flexbot

    First, thank you very much for your support for the Kickstart campaign.
    And your feedback is very important to us. We have already begun work on the next version of Flexbot, redesigning the hardware and the app to make it easier to fly for beginners. Also, we will keep updating the instruction and tutorial (BTW we got a lot of help from bankers who created their own “beginners’ guides”).
    For the camera module, we really sorry for have kept you waiting so long. We are testing on the sample unit, for better quality. Please kindly send your request via message in KS or to info@hexairbot.com.

    As it’s an open-sourced hardware, we need more hackers/makers to join us to make it better. Please share your advice and ideas with us. The next version of FlexBot won’t keep you waiting too long.

    -FlexBot

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