MJX Bugs 3: An affordable brushless drone
Drones like the MJX bugs 3 are no longer a niche product. Like smartphones, they are everywhere. And just like smartphones, it took them only a decade to go mainstream. Apart from their obvious uses in military, defense and scientific research, drones or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) are being increasingly employed in other businesses as well. The media, the cops, firefighters, construction companies, utility companies all use these machines in their work these days.
Hell, they have gone so mainstream, even real estate agents use them to show off property listings! But beyond its boring practical applications, flying a UAV is a legit hobby as well. All you need to do is slap on a decent action camera on one of these fliers, and you have your very own eye in the sky!
Whether you are a serious vlogger or an amateur video enthusiast, or you just want to create cracking home videos of your outdoor adventures, having a drone can seriously amp your creative potential. And with constantly falling prices, you no longer must shell out a fortune to get your hands on a capable flying machine these days. Check out this review to find out why the Drocon Bugs 3 may be the perfect solution for you, or not.
MJX - The Brand
Before you make any buying decisions, you need to know about the manufacturer of the product. MJX is a brand that has been in the business of radio controlled toys and drones for over 30 years. MJX is short for Guangdong Meijiaxin Innovative Technology, its parent tech company established in 1983 in China.
Though relatively new to the western market, they are an established international brand who focus a lot on innovation and R&D. Their sales arm is based in Hong Kong. Make no mistake; you probably won't find the absolute best in class, top dollar-priced products in their range, because that is not what they are about. If you want an inexpensive drone with a healthy feature list and robust build quality, MJX is a very reliable brand to consider.
Drocon Bugs 3 – The Spec Sheet
The Drocon Bugs 3, also called the Drocon Blue Bugs or just the MJX Bugs 3, is a very popular drone from the MJX stable. It is an inexpensive drone, one of the cheapest in the MJX range at a sub-$150 price range, with the following features:
- Design: It sports a quad-copter design, meaning it has four independent rotors that help it rise and fly.
- Material Used: The body is sturdy, made from high-intensity pure Nylon Fiber.
- Motor: Under its hood, the Bugs 3 sports an MT1806 Brushless Motor, rated at 1800kv, and with a capacity to lift a maximum pf 230g of extra weight.
- Battery: The large high-energy Li-ion battery that powers this UAV has a capacity of 1800mAh at 7.4 volts. Amazon has spares batteries here!
- Comms: The Bugs 3 uses a two-way 2.4GHz transmitter to take care of the radio control features.
- Controls: The remote controls of this machine is intuitive and easy to use, with some smart functionality thrown in for good measure. There are dual alarms, one for low signal and one for low battery.
- Range: The maximum effective range of the Bugs 3 is between 300-500 meters.
- Flight Time: With its large battery, it has a commendable flight time of up to 18 minutes on a full charge.
- Flight Modes: There are two basic flight modes, a high-speed mode as well as a low-speed mode.
- Accessory Slots: The Bugs 3 has a specially designed slot at the center which can hold an action camera. The compatible models according to MJX are the GoPro and the Xiaomi Xiaoyi action/sports cameras. Another great 4K camera to use on this quad is the Wimius Q4 4K that goes for around 50 dollars on amazon.
So how do all these fancy specs translate into real world usage of the Bugs 3? Let's find out in a highly detailed pros and cons section.
Here is some sample footage from the Bugs 3
The Best Features Of The Drocon Bugs 3
This UAV model from MJX has a lot of features that propels it well above the competition its price point. They include:
The Power Of Brushless Motors
Brushless motors are a big deal when it comes to portable aircraft. They were one of the factors that made creation of high -powered UAVs possible. Older brushed motors suffer from reduced power, reduced efficiency, less torque, need for more maintenance, and increased susceptibility to frequent failures. Brushless motors have less moving parts and operate based on a power magnet. They require less maintenance and will last longer than older model brushed motors.
In the Drocon Bugs 3, the quadcopter is propelled by four separate brushless motors. The extra power provided by this motor enables the machine to carry the maximum weight of 230g. For a brushless drone of its size, this is an excellent figure and more than enough for your average GoPro action camera. And since these motors are also very energy efficient, you get the maximum performance from available power, helping the UAV stay in the air longer.
And it's not just longevity that you get from this brushless drone. The motors can give out some serious speed, especially in the high-speed mode. Just push the throttle, and watch it fly! That added juice available on tap is especially useful in real world flight conditions, where you may need to quickly pull up or avoid obstacles in mid-air.
High Capacity Batteries
The 1800mAh battery is a better than average configuration. The reported maximum flight times of between 15-19 minutes may not seem too impressive if you are new to the world of UAVs. But it is a good figure when you remember that you can carry a heavy action camera on board the whole time, which is something that many quadcopters struggle to maintain. Sure, there are other top line models with similar size and weight specs that give anywhere up to 25 minutes of flight time on a single charge. But those models tend to be very expensive. When you look at its direct rivals in the sub-$200 price range, there are few models that can keep up with the Bugs 3 regarding flight duration.
The batteries are new high energy cells with advanced power management functions. And beyond efficiency, MJX has also added some much-needed durability to the equation. The battery pack is housed in a sturdy covering that provides added armor and protection. And you will certainly need that extra armor, especially if you are a beginner learning the ropes of flying UAVs! Crashes will happen, and in those unavoidable situations, the batteries of this device stand a better chance of surviving.
Superior Radio Transmitter Technology
As we all know, our skies are these days crowded by UAVs. So when you are out there flying your quadcopter, you need a reliable communications system in place to maintain complete control over your device. This model uses 2.4G frequency for the signal transmitters. This particular frequency is more stable than others and is quite resistant to signal interference from the remotes of other fliers out there. And 2.4G is one of the few frequencies that offer complete control over longer ranges of up to 500m. And on top of it all, this frequency puts less stress on the battery since it is very economical on power consumption. This enables the machine to stay in the air longer.
Extremely Rugged Design for Stable Flight
The pure nylon fiber body can withstand a lot of stress and impact shocks. The overall design of the body is also very rugged. This is no featherweight machine, and you can see it in the way it is built. The quadcopter is designed in such a way that the center of gravity is located at the dead center of the "X" shaped body, which helps keep the machine remarkably steady in mid-flight.
Smart and Easy to Use Remote
The remote has an intelligent functionality which warns you when the Bugs 3 is flying out of range, and when the battery is getting low, giving you time to get it back home promptly. The controls are not overly complicated, with dual sticks, trimmers, a dedicated, 3-D flips, and rolls toggle, high/low-speed switch, and a lock button completing the available buttons.
Led Homing Light For Navigation
The machine has bright LED lights for better visibility during flight in case you want to do a spot of night flying, or when you encounter low light/visibility conditions.
Dedicated Slot For Action Cams
This is hands down the best feature of the Bugs 3 regarding real world utility. If you have a GoPro or Xiaomi action cam, you can mount it on this flying machine and get your own eye in the sky for some great HD videos/pictures. The long flight duration guarantees adequate time to capture your shots exactly right. And with the insane range, you can even get some amazing approach shots from far away.
MJX Bugs 3 : A Wind Eater
We must say we are pretty impressed with the Bugs ability to handle a windy day. During our testing of the Bugs 3 it handled a 15 mph considerably well. A smaller lighter drone such as the Syma XC5 may not have fared as well.
The Main Weaknesses Of The Drocon Bugs 3
Since this is an affordable baseline model, it understandably misses out on a few advanced features:
No Altitude Hold:
This is a common request for this quad, maybe one day MJX will add this feature. Update - one day has come!
Lacks a dedicated camera:
If you have the money to spend, higher spec models come with a dedicated camera on board. With this one though, you must buy your action camera separately to start clicking pics and videos. Although this could be looked on as a pro since you can choose the camera you want.
No advanced GPS or stabilization features:
With higher priced UAVs, you get advanced flight stabilization functions, sensors and navigation aids like GPS/GLONASS. Many of them feature onboard flight control software that allows the machines to keep a stable flight path on their own. You get none of that with the Bugs 3, nor should you expect to, at its price point!
No extra batteries, and slow charging time:
You will have to buy extra batteries separately online since the 18 minute flight time on a single charge will not be enough for extended use of this device. And this is compounded by the slow recharge time of the battery packs since they offer no quick charging.
Who Should Buy The MJX Bugs 3 drone?
Say what you will, the Bugs 3 cannot be faulted for having any identity crisis. This is a straightforward machine, crafted for a particular type of user in mind. It provides acceptable performance and rugged build quality comparable to high-end models but misses out on the bells and whistles.
You should buy the Drocon Bugs 3 if:
- You already have a GoPro or Xiaomi action cam and need an inexpensive drone that can get your camera airborne for more than 15 minutes at least; you should buy the Drocon Bugs 3 without a second thought. This machine is mainly aimed at individuals who want to get their cameras in the air on a budget, and don't mind the extra weight.
- You want an affordable machine to learn how to fly a quadcopter and take videos and pics from the air; this is a safe choice. It is rugged enough to take a few hits and crashes and still keep flying. The controls are straightforward and easy to learn.
- You have a better, expensive model for serious photography or videography, but would still like a fun, capable quadcopter to do some crazy stunts with. The Bugs 3 lacks advanced stabilization software, so throwing it around the sky is an absolute blast, as long as you are careful enough to do it in wide open spaces. It is very cheap, so you have the freedom to try things with it, the kind of things you wouldn't dare to try with a more expensive UAV.
If your looking for some of the features missing from this drone, such as GPS, built in camera or altitude hold for just a little more money you should check out the MJX Bugs 2.
You should NOT buy the Drocon Bugs 3 if:
- You have money to spare and want the best specs and features in the market. Things like advanced navigation assistance from GPS, extra stability from advanced flight software, and advanced sensors are lacking in the Bugs 3. It is not in the same class as other premium models in the business.
- You want a machine with a built-in camera and added functionality like a display attached to the remote.
- You want a very lightweight device to carry around in your backpack and fly mainly for fun, not pics and videos. This is not one of those copters. Its is heavy and designed to lift heavy cameras.
MJX Bugs 3 Reviews
Here are what Amazon reviewers have to say about the Bugs 3:
"This is the best drone hands down for under $150"
"There is not another quad copter or drone that I have found in my exhaustive search for bang for my buck options that can even come close to this thing."
"This drone is awesome. The drocon blue bugs drone is now my favorite drone."
The MJX Drocon Bugs 3 is a very likable device. It has tons of character, is very affordable and easy to maintain, and can give you a wild ride. Yes, it lacks some of the more premium features. But honestly, that bare bones attitude actually works in its favor. It provides maximum bang for the buck and comes highly recommended if you like RC flying machines and aerial photography, and have a couple of hundred dollars to spare.
Remember if you decide to purchase this drone you will need to register it with the FAA if living in the United States.