Yes, it’s yet another helicopter post! This time, the Lucky Boy 9961. It’s a strange brand name… but it’s an awesome heli! Not only does it look nice, it also carries a camera capable of capturing photos and video with audio.
I had originally purchased a smaller, infra-red model, which looked equally good. However, I could not get it properly trimmed; it kept rotating clockwise, no matter how much I turned the trim control to try and correct it. You could keep it steady by holding the stick left, but then you couldn’t actually turn left at any decent rate. So, that had to go back for a refund.
Searching for a replacement model, I found the Silverlit Spy Cam, and considered buying that. Then I noticed that another seller on Amazon was selling the same model helicopter I’d just returned, which had one review. That was when I first became aware of the Lucky Boy 9961. The review author claimed he’d bought one for a similar amount of money, and that you got “a lot more spec”.
I Googled the name, but couldn’t find anyone in the UK selling that heli – no model shops, not even on eBay. Then, just on the off-chance, I omitted the brand name and simply searched for ‘9961’ on Amazon… and one seller had them available, with only a few left, so I ordered. On its arrival, it was clear that this was a much better heli. For starters, it’s about three times the size, and it’s radio controlled rather than infra-red, so weather permitting, you can use it outside – unlike both the previous faulty model and the Silverlit I’d been considering.
With the smaller model I had originally purchased, flight problems aside, what little video I managed to capture while it was spiralling around the living room was quite dark, recorded at 320×240, and the recorded audio was horrendously out of sync; it played too quickly and finished well before the end of the video. With the Lucky Boy, there are no such problems; video is much brighter, recorded at 640×480, and the sound is perfectly in sync.
The heli is amazingly easy to fly, and very stable in a hover, which is not only essential for capturing decent video, but also – given its size – a very good thing if you want or need to fly indoors. It flew perfectly straight out of the box, with no adjustment required to the trim control on the radio transmitter. Width and height are about the same as the Blade CX3, but the 9961 is about two inches longer. There’s also more metal and more rigid plastics used in the bodywork, so it doesn’t get blown around quite as easily as the CX3.
That said, it would still struggle in anything more than a moderate breeze. As you can see in the video below, there is occasionally some sideways drift, even though the breeze on the day was not strong enough to move the bushes or trees very much.
This video shows the footage from the heli’s camera much smaller than its actual size of 640×480. The audio has also been removed so that only the audio captured by the camcorder can be heard.
This is the raw footage from the heli’s camera, uploaded to YouTube directly from the AVI file produced by the on-board camera unit. Please be advised that the audio is LOUD, so please adjust your speaker volume accordingly!
Accessing the video
Once you’ve recorded your flight, getting the video on to your PC is easy. Simply connect the camera unit to the PC with a standard mini-USB cable and copy the AVI files across. The helicopter doesn’t even need to be switched on, as the camera unit will draw power from the USB connection.
You can then either watch the video as recorded, using your favourite media player software, or as I have done here, load it into some video editing software and edit it as you wish. The only thing to be aware of is that, although sound is recorded, you will have the relatively loud drone of the motors, as you can hear in the raw footage. They may call it a ‘Spy Cam’, but you’re never going to sneak up on anyone with it!
All in all, it’s a great helicopter, and I’d thoroughly recommend it. It’s great for indoor use, providing you have a reasonable amount of space – even better when you get the chance to use it outdoors on a calm day.