Gadgets 661

Published on October 21st, 2009 | by Greg


Small Plane, High Flyer with Plantraco

When you first see the Micro Butterfly, you might think it insubstantial. It’s tiny. In fact, many product pictures show it fitting into the palm of a hand. The materials look to be just wire and paper and love. The very adorable Plantraco Micro Butterfly is certainly advertised as one of the smallest of its kind.

If you look closely, however, you’ll find that the propeller is attached to a 4mm motor, that the rudder has a magnetic actuator allowing for steering capability, and that there is a small receiver, ready to take commands from the remote control.

This makes the Micro Butterfly one of the world’s smallest remote-controlled airplanes. But don’t be fooled. It may look petite, but it is a surprisingly sturdy machine. We tested it out on some mild winds on our neighborhood hill. It took a few times to get it to take off, and the trick seems to be giving it a mild push. In the outdoors, it is quite a good flyer and stood up against drafts I didn’t think it could take. My own skills with the craft were less impressive. It does not do well in tight spaces, which is no surprise. We tested it out in our living room and it just crashed (funnily enough, they do have a living room version). But even outdoors a larger area was needed for my inferior flying skills, as it goes fast enough that my reaction time could not keep up with it.

The plane stood up very well to crashes and apart from the concern of sitting on it or crushing it in some way, I would say it is a sturdy machine that should last a while. My main complaint is that the lithium polymer battery is very easily lost when it hits the ground. The battery is magnetized and stays on the plane through that connection- very cool when attached, and a pretty strong connection when it is just soaring through the air. However, every time the poor plane crashed (and that’s about the only way it stops) we ended up spending time with a flashlight looking for the tiny, dime-sized battery that had flown off. Extras are $15 each, but are kindly available online.

The battery lasted for longer than I expected, considering the size. We timed it at about five or so minutes of flying, and it recharges pretty quickly when attached to the controller. You do get two batteries though, an absolute necessity. This makes it very good for testing out on the lawn, but harder to center a day at the park around. Also, the design of the controls seemed to center on the theme of the plane: small. Too small, in our opinion. The control box is solid, and could be whatever size it wanted, but the control sticks were quite tiny. We disliked the fragility of the plane during travel- you certainly can’t throw the Butterfly in a bag- and the included box is ugly, hard to carry, and not really weather-proof.

Overall, the design is solid and made for a fun day on the hill. The Plantraco Micro Butterfly plane runs at $150 on Amazon or directly from Plantraco, which seems a little pricey, but is rather good for a very portable remote controlled plane.

About the Author

Greg dreamed up the idea for the Truly Network while living in Hawaii, which began with a single site called TrulyObscure. In 2010, when advertisers and readers were requesting coverage beyond the scope of that site, TrulyNet was launched, reaching a broader audience over a variety of niche sites. Formerly the head technology correspondent for the Des Moines Register at age 16, he has since lived and worked in five states and two countries, helping a list of organizations and companies that includes the United States Census Bureau, TripAdvisor, Events Photo Group, Berlitz, and Computer Geeks. He also served as the Content Strategy Manager for HearPlanet, a multi-platform app that has reached over a million users and has been featured in the New York Times, Hemispheres Magazine, National Geographic Adventure, Fox Business News, PC Magazine, and even Apple’s own iPhone ads. Greg has written as a restaurant critic and feature journalist for a number of national and international publications, including City Weekend Magazine, Red Egg Magazine, the Newton Daily News, Capital Change Magazine, and an arm of China Daily, Beijing Weekend. In addition, he has served as a consulting editor for the Foreign Language Press of Beijing, as well as a writer and editor for the George Washington University Hatchet, the school newspaper of his alma mater. Originally from Iowa, Greg is currently living in the West Village of Manhattan.

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