Electronics and water are two things that should be kept far apart unless you have the splash drone from swell pro. This is an IP67 waterproof drone that rocks a 4k camera on a 2 axis brushless gimbal (and yes, the camera and gimbal are also waterproof). This is something a bit different when it comes to drones but the high price tag makes this drone hard to recommend. Read on for our full review.
- Can fly in all weather according to MIL-STD 810 in terms of rain and snow. The Splash drone is designed and manufactured to withstand a wind up to Beaufort Force 4
- The camera/brushless gimbal are waterproof (rated IP67), so you can film underwater.
- R/C controller with built in FPV screen make it easy to use
- Runs a version of ardupilot firmware (MAV link compatible)
- Uses a standard RC battery, so replacements are cheap and easy.
- Overpriced drone for what you get in terms of tech when compared to other non-waterproof drones.
- The flight battery is hard to insert and remove.
- Only get a two-axis gimbal (no yaw stabilization).
- Video feed is analogue so no HD video streaming
- No smart batteries, so you need to look after the lipo batteries yourself (check our or Lipo care guide).
- Can not change camera settings like exposure, white balance while flying
- No smartphone mount, so makes using the phone app a real pain.
Why should you (not) get it?
The only thing really going for the splash drone is the fact that it is waterproof. The price tag of $1,699.00, is in my opinion ridiculously expensive when you compare it to other camera drones. So I would only suggest you get this if you need to have a waterproof drone for whatever reason. Otherwise, there are much better options that use newer technology and cost less such as a DJI Mavic Air. That said, the splash drone is well built, so there is still a few niche categories that make the swell pro could be a valuable tool. These include water-based search and rescue operations, all-weather drone inspection jobs, or drone fishing.
Where to buy
- Swell Pro
What you get
The splash drone 3 auto that we reviewed arrived in a nice, albeit large carry case that included all the parts. It also made it easy to carry around.
These parts included the drone itself, camera, landing gear, carbon fibre propellers, Bluetooth telemetry module, charger, and remote control.
Setup and flight
Getting the drone in the air was quite easy and you don’t need any tools to do this, the landing gear slide into the holders, the gimbal is easily attached with a single thumb screw and watertight connector. Attaching the propellers also fairly easy using their quick attachment mechanism
Want to fly a Retro drone?
If it was 2015, and we were comparing the splash drone to the phantom 2, then this drone would have been quite a cool drone. But given that we are in 2018 this drone definitely feels a bit like you are flying am antique. The gimbal is only 2 axis, and you only get an analogue FPV video feed. Sure you get a decent 4K camera but having it on a 2 axis gimbal kind of defeats the purpose as you still see some yaw osculations in your video, especially on windy days. That said that even though it does feel a bit outdated, it was by no means frustrating to use, it was actually the overall user experience was pleasant. You just turn it on, wait about 30 seconds for a GPS fix and you go fly. Nice and simple. You are not bombarded with warning messages when you turn it on saying you have to update the firmware, as it just works.
The drone itself does have some 3515 620Kv motors that give this quad plenty of power, which lets the drone fly in stronger winds. The extra weight of this quadcopter also means it is not affected by gusts of winds.
Waterproof Camera and Gimbal
The camera sensor on is a 4K 1/2.3″ CMOS sensor which does record high-quality videos, with decent pictures. This is about as much as you would expect from a 1/2.3″ sensor and is comparable with something along the lines of a phantom 3 pro. However, unlike the phantom drones, you cannot edit the camera settings while in the air. This is a slight disappointment as you cannot adjust/lock exposure. In general, this is not a massive issue as most people keep the settings on auto, but under certain shots (like the sunset) you might want to lock the exposure to get a nice photo, but this is not possible on this drone.
To change the camera settings you need to land, press a button on the back of the camera to enable WiFi, which then lets you change the camera settings via an App. You then need to remember to disable the WiFi settings before flying as this can cause interference with the R/C controller.
The second disappointment here is that the gimbal is only a dual axis gimbal, so you don’t get any yaw stabilization. Although from a filming point of view is not ideal, you might forgive this since the camera and gimbal are waterproof so it opens up a bunch of possibilities for getting some unique shots.
What would you use it for?
Since we can agree there a two primary applications that would make the splash the ideal drone. The first is inspection and search and rescue, and the second application is drone fishing, which we will discuss.
Inspection and SAR
Having the ability to fly in all weather coupled with a 4K camera, make the swell pro the perfect drone for inspection and Search & Rescue activities.
Here, having an IP67 waterproof rating means that you can fly when it is raining which is vital for search and rescue, and some inspection operations. You also have the option of adding a payload release mechanism to carry and release up to 1Kg of equipment such as a self-inflating life vest.
In this space, you would be comparing something like the Matrice 200 from DJI which is more than 3x the cost, not as waterproof (IP47), but can fly 7Km away for about 38 minutes. This is about 5Km further, and 20 minutes longer than the splash drone.
If you want to geek out on fishing with tech, then the swell pro fisherman edition will take your fishing to the 21st century. The fisherman version includes the payload release mechanism and a fixed HD camera. This lets you drop your line at a precise location using the onboard GPS sensor of the drone. You can also land your splash drone on the water to see where the fish are thanks to the waterproof camera. With a casting range 1.4Km range, the fish will not stand a chance!
We did not get a chance to review the swell pro fisherman configuration, also I am not a fisherman so I cant say for certain if it will actually improve your fishing results…
If the cost of this drone was three times cheaper at about $499, then maybe it would be something you should consider as having a waterproof drone definitely has its uses. Other than the waterproof feature, this drone uses tech that is outdated. You could overlook this if it was cheap enough, but the fact they are charging top tier prices, the product falls seriously short compared to the competition. You can buy a DJI drone with more features, better camera for less than half the price. Based on this you should not get it unless you get a serious discount.