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JJRC H12C Review and Flight

When it comes to drones for beginners, few of them offer as much as the JJRC H12C for under $100.

I was curious to see why the JJRC H12C Camera Drone was so popular among beginners, so I ordered one to do an extended review on. I did some shopping online, and found that BangGood was the best place to order from at the time. The drone was on sale so I just made the purchase. Coming from China, the package took 15 days to arrive, which seemed like a really long time.

Unboxing the JJRC H12C

When the package got to me, I found that it was completely wrapped in something like a black trash bag. Of course, it was just black wrapping plastic, but it was also wrapped with about 10 feet of packing tape. I was impressed with the wrapping job as the box had encountered water at some point, but the plastic had kept all the moisture out.

JJRC H12C Price: $45-$80 online

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Opening the box, I found the following:

  • The JJRC H12C Drone with rotors already installed.
  • 2.4gHz radio controll (req. 4x AA batteries, not included)
  • The 1080p, 5MP camera module
  • 1x 4GB MicroSD Card, Generic, class 4
  • 4x Rotor Guards
  • 2x Landing skids
  • 1x 3.7 volt 780mAh Battery
  • 1x USB Charger
  • 1x micro screwdriver (Size 0) for attaching rotors
  • 1x users manual

The one thing that I immediately noticed was that the drone was advertised as coming with a box radio control, but it actually came with a PS2 "DuoShock" style controller. Not a big deal, but the box controller looked like it gave you more control over the fine tuning. In the end, I actually really like the Duoshock style controller because it feels "old school" in the hand from my "Grand Turismo" days.

JJRC H12C Quality Of Workmanship

Inspecting the JJRC H12C as I pulled it out of the box, the drone felt pretty solid (as much as a plastic toy drone can feel). The seams where the top and bottom halves come together fit together well, and there is no "flash" hanging off, nor is there overhang from misalignment, both of which can cause drag.

On the bottom of the drone, you'll find a red charging port. Conveniently, you do not need to remove the battery to recharge. Just attach the USB charger to this red charging port.

There is also a white plug port. The 1080p camera plugs into this port for power. Right next to the white port, there is an on/off switch. Very convenient to not have to open the battery door in order to disconnect the battery when you can simply just turn the drone off with this switch!

The rotors are held in by tiny screws. This is a good thing -- other drones that have push-on rotors have a tendency of losing the blades in crashes, but you don't have to worry about this on the H12C.

The motor gears are exposed on the bottom of each of the rotor arms, which is one of the only things I don't really like, but I do suppose that it makes cleaning very easy. I had some Tamyia #87099 Cera Grease, originally used on those old Mini4WD cars laying around, so I lubed the gears for quieter flight and better operation.

The landing skids need to be installed, which only requires you to get the pegs into the holes and screw them in. I like the fact that they are securely held in. Other drones that I own do not have them secured down, and they tend to fall out if they're not glued in.

The Camera Module clips to the bottom of the drone, but the mount is loose. I got a LOT of wobble in the video before I solidified the mount using Scotch brand wall putty (the reusable putty for temporarily putting up pictures) and stopping the camera module from being able to move around due the drone's vibration. This got rid of over 90% of the wobble. The other 10% is pretty much unavoidable due to the cheap manufacturing process.

On the other hand, what I do like about this camera is that you can manually adjust the vertical angle that the camera points. You can point it about 30 degrees up and down, depending on the type of flying you're doing, and what you want to get video of.

The last thing are the rotor guards. I initially put them on but it seems that they detract from the drone's stability, so I took them back off. I don't actually recommend using them on this drone because of that, even if you're a beginner.

The Rotors themselves have never broken. The drone has dropped from heights of 20 feet, and both drone and rotors were unscathed. I haven't flown the drone over concrete... just in the grass, so that's probably a big reason that the drone has done so well.

Even though this drone is an older drone, the small updates they've done over the past two years have really made a difference in quality, and with it's maintenance free operation, it makes for a perfect beginner drone.

Preflight Prep on the JJRC H12C

As mentioned in the list above, the controller requires 4 AA batteries. These are not included, so I just ran up to the dollar store to pick some up. I tried using a set of Energizer Lithium batteries while I was creating the video review, but I really noticed no difference between the premium batteries and dollar store batteries.

The JJRC H12C comes with a 3.7 volt 780mAh battery. Like most drone batteries, it comes in the box with a partial charge. I use this to make sure that all the LED Lights and motors work on the drone.

The battery takes an average of 40-45 minutes to recharge using the included USB charger on a 2.4 amp (Newer iPhone/Android) charger, and about 70 minutes to charge on the older 1 amp chargers.

I check each rotor to make sure that it's securely attached to the drone, and that the landing skids aren't going to fall off.

Flying the H12C

First thing that I notice immediately is that this is one of the easiest drones for manually taking off. There is no auto takeoff, but it doesn't matter. The drone lifted off and hovered just as I wanted it to on the very first try. I also didn't need to trim the drone much at all because it held in place almost perfectly.

Beginners will find that the drone, when flown in beginner mode, is very forgiving, and that when you over correct the movement, the drone doesn't just veer off or fly away uncontrolled.

In fact, even in intermediate and advanced modes, the drone is very manageable if the beginner is flying in a wide open space, over 100 meters around. The drone does get a bit squirrely in Expert mode, so you might not want to use this until you have some flight skills under your belt.

Flying in a straight line is ridiculously easy. The drone just doesn't veer off. Any slight wind that pushes the drone can easily be corrected, and the beginner drone pilot will find that it's a really fun drone to fly.

Headless Mode and Return to Home Features

These features are pretty much useless, and here's why: 

The drone only remembers the original direction that it was facing when it took off. It doesn't remember location because it doesn't have GPS. When you fly around, the drone will lose the original heading because it doesn't have a compass either.

When you use headless mode, and you push the joystick left, the drone will go to the left of the original bearing it was facing, not to the left of the direction it is currently facing. Now, if the drone's forgotten what direction it was facing in the first place, then this feature is useless.

With the return to home feature, the drone depends on the original bearing that it was facing when it took off. Just like above, the drone can easily forget which way it was facing as you fly around. All the return to home really does, is fly the drone in the reverse direction of the original bearing (if it remembers correctly). It does not actually bring it back to the take off point. You'd need a GPS enabled drone that saves the location to memory so it can return.

This is true of ALL non-GPS drones, not just the JJRC H12C.

Funny thing is that I completely forgot these features existed because I never use them. I had to edit this review to add them in after realizing they were there.

Maximum Range and Altitude

The box says the drone has a 100 meter range. I was a bit skeptical that the H12C could actually reach that distance while you still would have a stable connection to the drone from the controller.

I found out that this drone, as tested right out of the box has about a 70-75 meter range in full unobstructed line of sight flight.

I have been able to reach about 60-70 meters straight up, and probably could have gone a bit higher, but since the drone isn't that big, it gets pretty hard to see at that altitude, and I decided not to push my luck.

Landing the JJRC H12C was just as easy as taking off. Lowering it down to about five feet was very easy, and then gradually pulling back on the throttle to land the drone softly makes every landing look like a pro is flying!

When the drone is flying, it's easy to see what direction the drone is facing, thanks to the blue and red LED light covers on the underside of the rotor arms. In daylight, you can easily see the two brilliant blue LEDs mounted in the cockpit, and you instantly know the drone is facing you.

I had no problems with knowing what direction the drone was facing with the sole exception of the full altitude test where the drone was about 60 meters high and against the bright sky. A quick tap of the right/left joystick instantly let me know which direction the drone was facing in that situation, so the lights weren't even needed.

JJRC H12C Flight Times

The H12C has given me about 6 minutes of runtime pretty reliably per full battery with the camera recording full time. That's enough time to have fun, get a feeling for how the drone flies, and learn the controller.

The drone maintains a steady flight that the beginner can anticipate all the way up to when the drone's LED lights begin to blink, signaling that the H12C's batteries are getting low.

Once the H12C's LEDs begin blinking, you'll get about 1-1:30 minutes of runtime before the drone just quits. Hopefully by this time, you've already landed the drone safely. If not, at least try and be as close to the ground as possible so when the motors do quit, the H12C doesn't have far to fall.

Once the drone reaches the point where the rotors just won't spin anymore, shut down the battery as quickly as possible. Lithium Polymer batteries should not be fully discharged. Fully discharging a Li-Po battery could result in damage to the battery, or explosion. Again, when the rotors just won't spin anymore, power down the controller and drone, then disconnect the battery immediately to avoid damage.

H12C Payload Capacity

If you decide that you want to try carrying something, the drone really can't carry that much. It struggles hard with a GoPro, barely able to lift off the ground. Best to stick to the stock 1080P camera, use an 808 keychain cam or a Mobius.

Final Thoughts about the H12C

As I said before, the JJRC H12C is a really good drone for beginners to consider if they want a good drone that has a decent on board camera. It gives you plenty of flight time and recharges quickly. The flight is smooth and beginners can anticipate the drone's movement pretty accurately.

I highly recommend this drone for anyone that wants a worry free, fun flying on a drone that needs very little maintenance.

JJRC H12C Price: $45-$80 online

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Pros


  • Ridiculously Easy To Fly
  • 1080P HD Camera (Not the usual 720P found on toy drones)
  • Long Flight Times
  • Quick recharge times (on a 2.4 amp charger)
  • Screw-down rotors and landing skids
  • Charging port on drone itself (no need to pull battery out)
  • On / Off switch (no need to disconnect battery)
  • Reasonable price for excellent toy drone

Cons


  • Lots of video wobble with stock camera mount - see above for solution for better video
  • Cheap 4GB generic Class 4 microSD card... Couldn't they have at least included a class 10 card?
  • Return to home and Headless mode don't work as anticipated. Pretty much useless features.

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