Tuesday, 08 March 2016 09:31

Droning on is addictive


Imagine the thrill of piloting your own drone – and I mean a proper drone that can fly for ages, take interesting streaming video, and cover large areas.

- Parrot, the inimitable, quirky French maker of classics like the Zik headphones, all manner of drones, Flower Power, and smart car devices - has made what is probably the ultimate prosumer drone – the Bebop 2.

I had the pleasure of a test fly at Sydney’s Rushcutters Bay park where I could practice responsible drone piloting according to the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA). It is important to make that point because unlike consumer drones this one can fly for 25 minutes, rise to 120 metres, reach speeds more than 60km/h and stray up to 2km from home with the aid of an optional Skycontroller.

Warning: reading on could affect the health of your bank account and get you out of the house on weekends.

Drone piloting – any drone – is fun. I reviewed the Parrot mini-drone in November 2015 and the only downside was that it only flies for less than 10 minutes – easily fixable by buying a spare multi-charger and batteries.

Bebop 2 is all grown up and while it has four propellers it has little in common with its smaller siblings.

Out of the Box

  • One drone (red/black or white/black)
  • 1 x 2700 mAh battery
  • 1 USB charger and cable
  • 8 propellers

Smarts wise it has a quad-core processor, 8GB RAM, GPS, ultrasound sensor, pressure sensor, 3-axis gyroscope, accelerometer, and the camera is used for vertical stabilisation. It uses dual-band Wi-Fi to connect to the smart device.


Smartphone/tablet app and range

The smartphone or tablet app is downloaded from Apple’s app store or Google Play. The app will do almost everything you need but there are some in-app purchases to give you the ability to develop and save repetitive flight plans etc.

In standard use, it has about a 300 metre, line of sight, signal range so that can be a combination of up to 120 metres above the ground and around.

Flying is simple. The app uses the smart devices accelerometer/gyro - tilt up, down, sideways and forward/backwards. It is absolutely foolproof and if you stop controlling it will simply hover. It has auto-landing and GPS homing as well.

It also has streaming video and you can pan and tilt through 180° to see all angles. The image is remarkably stable due to its 3-axis stabilisation.

The flashing red LED at the rear is great to see its orientation.


Parrot says that you should focus on the images, not the flight. The focus of this drone is taking images via its 14MP, f/2.3, 3-axis image stabilised camera. It is a fisheye lens that captures more ground and less sky – you can film at 90° to the ground. It will take 4096 x 3072p still images and 1920 x 1080p x 30fps, H264 video. It has 8GB of onboard storage.

Optional Skycontroller

The Skycontroller has a large aerial that extends control distance up to 2km. It cradles most tablets and has traditional joystick and gimbal controls. It uses the same battery as the Bebop 2 so you may need to get a couple of spares.

It will connect via HDMI to FPV (first person view) glasses and another person can see the flight.


A$899 for the drone and bundled with the Skycontroller for $1299.


You have to have a hobby right? Why not one that takes you into the healthy outdoors where you can have hours of fun exploring the great outdoors. It is remarkably easy to pilot and the optional Skycontroller opens up so much more opportunity.

Twenty-five minutes is a great flying time and with a spare battery (and perhaps an inverter in the car to power the charger) you could fly all day.

The camera is good - perfect for looking around and I can see commercial uses like roof inspections, aerial photography of homes, maybe in emergency services, on the farm, boat and car races, and more.

It weighs 500g and is robust – I would not be afraid of breaking it.

Go on - you know you want it!






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Ray Shaw

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Ray Shaw ray@im.com.au  has a passion for IT ever since building his first computer in 1980. He is a qualified journalist, hosted a consumer IT based radio program on ABC radio for 10 years, has developed world leading software for the events industry and is smart enough to no longer own a retail computer store!

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