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Quadcopter x Sunken Garden Saturday

Louie and I rarely celebrate our monthsaries, but for this particular day we made an exception. The reason? We have a new toy! Well, actually he does. For his birthday, my parents gave him a quadcopter! So, technically it is his. But being the kind and generous person he was (or rather, the pushy person that I am, hahaha), we decided it's a toy we'd share. The drone arrived about two weeks late, since it had to be delivered from abroad. Once it got here, however, we just couldn't wait to get my hands on it!

And of course, where else to try it out than in our most favorite place in the city? UP! Fun fact: We had our first official date in the Sunken Garden three years ago.

We had lunch somewhere along Maginhawa first, and then, off to the Sunken Garden we went!


The drone he got was a Syma X5SW FPV, which is a low-cost, toy-grade quadcopter with WiFi-enabled first person video. It can take photos and videos in real-time, while you control the drone itself through the remote transmitter. It has an accompanying app (available both on iOS and Android) which you need to download on your device in order to view and save the captured images. Since the gadget is officially classified as a "toy," it goes without saying that the video quality is pretty sub-par. With just two-megapixels, you can't expect stunning visuals or crisp images at all. It also cannot capture sound. BUT, the truth was, the fun was in flying the drone itself. It was super enjoyable trying to launch the drone and figuring out how to move it around!

We've actually wanted a drone for the longest time, and we've spent days drooling over unboxing and testing videos of different kinds, particularly the DJI Phantom series. I think we spent an entire date just going through all the reviews of the Phantom 3! We have super different YouTube marathon tastes: he can watch about cars all day, meanwhile I'm happy to watch calligraphy videos and late night show interviews non-stop. But one thing we do have in common: gadgets! CNet and Engadget is our friend. Lol. Anyway, we were so into drones, we promised ourselves it'll be a long-term couple-goal to actually save up for one eventually.

It was so nice of my parents to go out of their way to look for this as their birthday gift for him I think my mom and dad noticed how much we obsessed about drones, considering the number of times I've brought it up randomly. (Hehe.) So as a cool little present for him (and, consequently, me, LOL), they decided to order one online. Man, it was the hardest secret to keep from Louie! Especially because I was so, SO excited about it! And that I really can't keep secrets from him because he knows all my "tells." :)) Talk about sacrifice!

Lakas maka-JaDine! Hahaha!

Anyway, the above photos were taken using my phone, a Lenovo S90-A. I took a lot of photos and videos on my phone because the battery life of the drone itself was just around 5 minutes (and recharging it takes about 120 minutes), so actually the flying part was so much shorter than the hang-around-and-tambay-in-the-Sunken-Garden part. :))

Learning to fly the drone was quite simple; but it was adjusting to its controls that was a bit tricky to master. Since it's a toy-grade quadcopter, it isn't as smooth as we expected. It launches up pretty quickly, but quite challenging to hover since when you lower the throttle even for just a teeny-tiny amount, it descends at full tilt. Suffice to say, we've had a lot of crashes :)) But it's alive! And I think it was really built to last sudden drops like the ones we had. If you look at all the footage we saved, it's about 40% falling shots, 50% lupa shots, and 10% decent ones! Funny thing though: sometimes, when it falls to the ground and we try launching it back up, the propellers end up cutting some grass! Quadcopter and lawnmower in one! :)) When it was finally my turn to try out the controllers (since my first job was to be in charge of the video-taking in the Syma app), it took me about three tries before I finally got a successful flight. Sadly, though, the battery konked out just in time :)) So bitiiiin! Time to save up for a spare battery!

The video below is nothing close to the resolution of my phone, obviously. But these are the best shots we had considering the short battery life. I've been obsessing about Jadine the last few months, so I thought, hey why not make a quadcopter cheesy-couple video just like theirs??? Only we're not in Lake Tahoe and the resolution is super grainy! Hahaha! It even has an old-school, mauve-toned filter. Hence, the background music! Dear James and Nadine, kala niyo kayo lang may #Always? Kami rin! Rainbow Unicorn / 90s UMD version nga lang :P