It's the board, Jim!

After obsessively watching the few videos I've shot from the drone, I nailed down that a lot of the flight issues are coming from the props not all lighting off at the same time.  There is a setting to control this, but it did little good.

I decided to dive deep into this part of the interweb and came across a forum post from mid-2014 describing my issue.  The basic gist is that the firmware that ships on the KK2.1x is buggy and most folks flash a new ROM.

Diving deeper still, I found the tool to do it with (after installing Java 6, yuck) and a rather long video showing the nuts and bolts (I mainly needed to know how to plug in the USBasp I have for the board).

I have to recalibrate the board, but that's not a big deal.  My new set of props arrives tomorrow, this time with many, many backups.

So, hopefully, we'll have the Ugly Duckling Too in stable flight in a day or so.