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The Drone Diaries, Part 12…

…Cheerson CX-23 : The Great Unboxing.

Yesterday I mentioned that, having dropped Izzie – the Cheerson CX-35 – in the sea, I was planning to upgrade. Izzie is almost rebuilt, but I felt it was time to take a small step towards a more professional drone.

The Cheerson CX-23, I hope, will prove to be that step. The major difference, aside from cost, is that it has GPS. That’s why I’ve decided to call it “Gippy.” Because it has Gippy S. Geddit? And the cost isn’t too much higher.

drone diaries, cheerson cx-23

The drone industry seems to be moving towards providing more features without a huge increase in price. If you like what you see, you should be able to find one in the US$200-250 price range. Gippy was somewhere in between.

I ordered it Tuesday from Lazada Thailand, and it arrived three days later by what they call “Standard Shipping.” That’s impressive, and as you can see on the right, it’s nicely packaged.

I can’t figure why a newer model of Cheerson would have a lower number – 23 vs. 35 – it seems strange. A bit like Apple suddenly introducing an iPhone 2S. No matter.

Anyhoo, what’s this about GPS? Well, the proof of the droning is in the flying, but in theory, the drone knows exactly where it was when it took off, and exactly where it is at all times, which means it will return to its staring point with just the press of a button. And when I say exactly, it can lock on to as many as twenty GPS satellite signals, so it should be accurate to within a few centimeters. As I write this, I’m impatiently waiting for the three different batteries – drone, remote and screen – to charge up, so I can put this GPS theory to the test.

And I’m happy that everything is rechargeable. No more need to carry around dozens of AA batteries – just in case. But, this is about unboxing, not flying, so let’s see what’s inside the packaging…

drone diaries, cheerson cx-23

A nice solid box, with cleverly cut foam to fit the drone, and then below that, neatly packaged small boxes with everything you need. I’m a bit worried about the “14+” top right of the box. If that refers to mental age, we may have a problem…

drone diaries, cheerson cx-23

I have to say though, Cheerson is becoming very professional. The packaging quality is way above what I found when I opened the CX-35 box. It’s almost Apple-like.

And inside all the boxes we have – going roughly clockwise from the top left – the antennæ that fit on top of the remote; the gizmo to hold the screen to the remote; the remote itself; the screen; the chargers; the CX-23; cables for chargers; the landing gear; spares, tools and micro SD card reader…

drone diaries, cheerson cx-23

Which reminds me. Where is the micro SD card? Hmm, can’t find it anywhere. It’s supposed to come with an 8GB card, which is pretty good as most are shipped with 1GB or 2GB cards, but I seem to have 0GB! Oh well, I have spares.

You may have already noticed a few things…

The rear props on the drone are upside down. I’m sure there’s a good reason for this. And; there’s two screens. Why? The one on the remote is for telemetry. It will tell me battery voltages (although nowhere can I find out what they are supposed to be) height, distance away, speed, etc, et cetera. More info than one can absorb. But for sure, important figures. Also; there’s no prop guards. That’s a bit ominous. The screen that attaches to the top of the remote is for FPV – First Person View. It shows me what the camera is seeing. I don’t have to fit this screen, but I will, because I like FPV.

The main battery just pops out of the bottom of the drone…

drone diaries, cheerson cx-23

…but unfortunately it’s a proprietary design, which means spares will be expensive. I’m hoping for a flight time of 12 to 15 minutes, so I guess I’ll only need one or two. And I no longer need to frantically check the battery’s level, as, if it gets too low, and I ignore the warnings, it will return to home and land. The drone that is, not the battery. Well; hopefully both!

Despite the fact the instruction booklet (which by the way is very informative and well written) opens with details of how to fit the props, you don’t need to. They’re fitted. The only assembly required is the two parts of the landing gear, which snap into place…

drone diaries, cheerson cx-23

The first impression is the fact this thing is small. Minute even. Here it is alongside a partially built CX-35, which doesn’t even have props and guards. However; it is heavier and sturdier than it looks, so hopefully it’ll fly well…

drone diaries, cheerson cx-23

Darn. The batteries are still charging. I’m a bit suspicious of the instructions for the main battery. Supposedly the indicator lamp changes from green to red when charged. That seems very back asswards. I might have to leave it overnight to find out.

My only other comment at this point is about re-boxing. Keep the foam. Tuck it back in the box, and you have a perfect carrying case. The CX-35 is a real nightmare. It barely fits on the back seat of the car. But the CX-23 is super compact and portable…

drone diaries, cheerson cx-23

Right. Excitement is building. Stay tuned.


...has been travelling the world for more than sixty years; having lived and worked in five countries and travelled to many many more.

He likes to write about his travels - present and past - along with his other main interests of Drones, Information Technology and Motorsport, and he adds a few general twitterings along the way.

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