Readers who checked out our recent article on the Seahorse human-powered airboat may have noticed something at least as impressive in the accompanying video – a camera-equipped quadcopter that can land on the water to shoot underwater footage. It's called the QuadH2o, and is made by a Thailand-based company of the same name. Now, that drone is about to be joined by a companion that sports another two propellers, along with some other extra features. It's time to say hello to the HexH2o.
Like the QuadH2o, the HexH2o has an epoxy fiber/carbon fiber waterproof body that floats. This means that users can fly it out to a spot on a reasonably calm body of water, land it, get shots of whatever's lurking below the surface, then take off again.
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According to one of the company owners we spoke to, however, the HexH2o has several advantages over its smaller sibling. For one thing, its extra props/motors offer some reassurance in the form of redundancy – if one of them fails, the aircraft can still keep flying. An internal fan and exterior-mounted heat sinks keep things from getting too hot while the drone is in flight.
Additionally, its larger body houses a DJI Zenmuse H3-3D gimbal, upon which users can mount their own GoPro Hero camera. By remotely tilting the Zenmuse up and down once the copter has landed on the water, it's possible to get both above- and below-surface footage through the domed acrylic viewing port – with the QuadH2o, users are limited to one underwater-facing camera angle.
It's also reportedly easier to repair and transport (thanks to its folding carbon fiber prop arms) and has a longer flight time of 25 minutes per charge, if the recommended dual 6,500-mAh lithium-polymer batteries are used – although a single battery can also be used for shorter flights.
The gimbal isn't the only thing sourced from multicopter manufacturer DJI Innovations. Among other things, the HexH2o also uses DJI motors and props, along with its GPS-augmented Naza V2 flight control system.
So ... do you want one? Well, if you'd like a HexH2o that's fully assembled and ready to go, it'll cost you a total of US$3,658 plus shipping. That includes almost everything you'll need, including the RF remote control unit, but excluding batteries and GoPro. If you're more the DIY supply-your-own-parts type, a kit containing the main body components and electronics can be had for $895.
The QuadH2o co-owner told us that the company will begin accepting preorders starting in the second seek of January, with shipping starting three to four weeks after that. In the meantime, you can see footage shot with the HexH2o in the following video.