Since half of the planet is currently having weather that is forcing people indoors at the moment (not me haha!) I've reviewed some All In One (AIO) camera and VTX combos. Traditionally these have been used on tiny whoop style indoor brushed quads and smaller micro brushless quads although more and more brushless quads are using slightly heavier micro CCDs as standard.
Weight is still very much the name of the game in brushed quads as you'll struggle to get a 4:1 power to weight ratio even on the larger 8520-based brushed micros. This means CMOS-based AIO cameras are still the norm because they are so light. In this round up I've gone for some of the lightest cameras I can find and best of all, 2 include video in / video out so that no tricky wiring hacks are needed to run betaflight OSD.
Note: This is clearly not an exhaustive test, I happened to have a number of AIO camera at the same time I ordered for various micros so had a chance to compare. I though the improvements over the Eachine TX01 were impressive so thought it would be work sharing.
Clearly discussion on image quality is missing here - I found the 4 CMOS AIO camera above very similar and wouldn't be able to tell apart in a blind test. The only AIO I've picked up which is clearly inferior is the VM2751 standard on the leader which is not included in this shootout. I thought this camera/vtx was the weak point of the Leader 120 quadcopter.
For a micro brushed quad without an OSD I'd recommend the LST S2. For goodness sakes it is only $9!!! Further to that it is light, easy to change channel / band / video format and small.
For a micro brushed quad with OSD or if you are after every milligram of weight savings, get the CM275T. It is CRAZY light at 3.2g and has a very convinient video/in out so that you don't need to mod your cam just to enjoy betaflight OSD - assuming your FC supports it. I know it's at odds with what I said about brushless and ccd cameras but this will be going on my Eyas X2 rebuild going for the lightest 2" possible - targetng 35g with props. Here is my original X2 eyas build on rotorbuilds if your curious.
For a brushless quad 2s and up just get the micro swift or equivalent and the TX200 VTX. The video quality is just so superior in all but the best lighting conditions. VTX can be a little tricky with band / channel display but transmission quality is excellent and you have the ability to bump the transmission power up to 200mW.
The Beebee 66 is a micro 1s brushless powered quadcopter which is essentially a brushless Tiny Whoop. It is made by Full Speed RC, the same company that produced the highly successful Leader 120. (review here). Gearbest kindly supplied me a BNF Beebee 66 to review. I was desperately hoping for this to be the brushless answer to the tiny whoop but I'm really bummed out that it just isn't. Read on to find out why.
Adding a receiver
Since this was supplied as a BNF model, it came without a receiver. I opted to use the lightest FRSKY receiver I had on hand - an XM that I'd finally figured out how to fash with the RSSI channel 16 firmware. In most models this is a matter of soldering wires to the exposed pads on the top of the flight controller. However,since the FC and ESC are part of the structure of this quad AND the FC is flipped upside down to sit the ESC connector in a manageable location, the prop gaurd, 4 nylon nuts and the flight controller itself had to be removed before I could access the receiver solder pads. Then I needed the help of a multimeter to figure out ground, +5v and signal wires. Once soldered up with a short length of silicon wire to the receiver it was easy enough to re-assemble and tuck the XM reciever underneath the canopy behind the AIO camera/VTX. Pics below of course can explain this better:
It's not the end of the world wiring in a reciever here but can be fiddly with particularly small hardware. I'd recommend if you did buy this model that you purchase with the receiver of your choice pre-fitted.
Kept it pretty simple here. Because this is quite a different steup than I am used to I retained the stock settings on Betaflight 3.1.7 that it arrived with. All I did was set an arm switch and a mode switch for angle-horizon-air. Below are the default settings from Betaflight 3.1.7. Oh yeah, receiver had to be set up too. Like most f3 boards receiver is on UART 3.
The only other preparation was pretty straighforward. The included GNB High Voltage 1s 260mah Lipo battery was easily charged using the included USB adaptor and a micro usb cable I had on hand. Only 1 set of props was included that are press-fitted on the tiny 0705 fullspeed branded (Sunny Sky made) 0705 brushless motors. I left the VTX on the default channel for the initial flight that my Aomway Commanders (review here) picked up as 5905MHz.
Please look away if you love your Beebee 66 because it starts to get a bit ugly here. After fully charging the LiHV batteryand confirming everything was working ok I armed and found the props were fouling on the TPU canopy. Minor annoyance down to the tight tolerance in the slightly flexible TPU canopy. Easy enough to bend out of the way and I was back in action.
The first thing I noticed how loud the motors are - not in idle where they are practically silent but under any sort of load. Next as part of test with line of sight attempting a 'punchout' I could clearly see the quad dipping (pitch/roll) and twisting (yaw) under load. I'll attempt to tune this out later on and will post another review if successful. Moving on to line of sight I found the flight performance dull and uninspiring. What's worse was that after just one and a half minutes flight my battery was sagging down below 2.7v - the motors were clearly very demanding for their relatively mild output. I really wanted this quad to be a success and in fairness there is a chance I could have a less than perfect unit but my experience is my experience and I was disappointed. I do have some thoughts on how to improve though and I'll cover this in my Next Steps section below.
Comparison to a brushed micro
Please understand that these comments aren't made from isolation - I've had some experience with tiny whoops based on 7mm motors (like the JJRC H67 or Eachine E011) and although these are cheap brushed toy grade quads, they offered equivalent or better power and a flight time of 4 minutes plus on the same size battery with much smoother flight performance. A quick note that I actually tried the stock battery from the JJRC H67 (260mah non-HV) and got only 1 minute flight before it sagged below 2.7v under load. After recovery it bounced back to 3.65V but this same battery give my 4 minutes plus in my E011 FPV or santa whoop.
At this point I can't recommend this quad. The performance I experienced was poor and the flight time was unacceptable. My guess it that the brushless motors do not scale down well to 7mm, at this size the brushed motors seem to be more approprate. I'd recommend going in one of two directions:
I'm not content to leave things be with the Beebee 66 and the latest version of this model (Beebee 66 lite) has shown the direction I want to go in - removing weight. I'm skeptical of getting to the level of improvement I want but with some of the parts below I think I can replace the canopy with a simple camera holder. remove the propgaurd and TPU supports and save up to about 4g. Will this make enough difference? Not sure but will report back when I'm done. Make sure you bug me about the follow up in the comments if I'm too slow! Below are some of the weights of the components I'm interested in:
The HGLRC Flame 1105 motors have been out for a while now and I've always wanted to put into a decent build. That build is covered here in my Komori review but here I'll just cover the motors specifically.
These motors are available for Gearbest for around $8-10 each making them a mid-price motor. On the bench they feel well made and smoother than the DYS 1104 motors I've reviewed previously. They have a lightweight 'naked bottom' design and come in at 5g each which is very similar to the aforementioned 1104 DYS motor even though they have a 1mm taller stator.
For the purpose of this review you will find me making many comparisons to the fullspeed branded 1104 7500kV motors that come standard on the Leader 120 (review here) because this is something of a performance benchmark and a popular model that many can use as a reference point. As above my test rig is the flexRC 3" komori lightweight frame using as fairly standard 20a ESC / F3 flytower combo and Gemfan 3025 twin blade props. Both the Komori and Leader were 71g dry.
Performance on 2s
For 2s flights I used my trusty Turnigy Nanotech 2 950mah batteries. Performance with these batteries on the HGLRC flame motors were smooth and predictable but lacked the top speed of the leader motors. This understandable as the 7500kV rated leader motors are better suited to 2s than the 6000kV HGLRC flame motors, even though the stator on the HGLRC is 1mm taller. I'd suspect this gap would be even smaller if you went with a more agressive prop like the Gemfan 3035 3 blade.
Performance on 3s
This is where I thought the HGLRC Flame motors would be most suitable and I was not disappointed. The power delivery was smooth, linnear and very controllable with a top end speed comparable or faster than the Leader 120. By comparison the leader 120 dips and feels less controllable at the upper end of the throttle. My guess is this is because the kigher kV and lower torque due to the shorter stater means it doesn't have the force to spin up the propeller to it's maximum speed like the HGLRC motor can. Later on down the track I'll try with the Gemfan 3035 triblade props as I suspect the motors still have a little more to give. I got a 4:30 flight time compared to 4:00 on the Leader 120 which leads to further weight that the 6000kV motors is more in it's ideal power/efficiency range compared to the 7500kV motor.
Overall on 3s the flight experience with the HGLRC FLame 1105 6000kV was really nice, very predictable and linnear and no sacrifice on top speed. By comparison I think the kV is slightly too low for 2s but a more agressive prop than the 3025 I used would probably be a noticeable improvement. Importantly the motors are well made, sell for a fair price of approximately $10 each and have silicon multistranded wires that make them sooo much easier to work with!
I'd recommend these for a high power 2" quad on 3s, any 2.5' quad or very lightweight 3" quads like the Komori
My motors came from Gearbest (use RC18off to get them for $8) but can also be found at Banggood or HGLRC directly.
Other parts mentioned in this review:
Gemfan 3025 propellers (Definitely recommend these for this motor)
Gemfan 3035 propellers (I'd like to try these on 2s but current draw may be too high on 3s
Gemfan 2540 propellers (My favourite prop for the leader or any 2.5" quad)
Ever since I saw the first image of the first FlexRC Ascent I've been impressed. It is a simple micro quad frame that accepts 2" propellers, is super lightweight and has a cage that is designed around a micro CCD camera (runcam micro, foxeer micro, caddx micro, furibee micro etc.) This was one of the first frames designed around these superior cameras and in my opinion still one of the best.
Dmitry from FlexRC has since expanded on this winning formula and this has given birth to the 2.5" Ascent, 3" ascent desinged around the runcam split and most recently the Komori 3". The Komori is essentially based on the original 2" with a baseplate embiggened to take 3 inch props and extra torsion supports between front and rear arms to allow for minimal flex whilst stick with thin (but lightweight) baseplate. All up weight of the frame is 15g with included hardware. Shape is a squashed x - front and rear motors are closer together than left/right motors. *Theoretically* this should mean more stability but slower movement on roll and faster but less stable in pitch.
After spending a lot of time with the Leader 120, I was looking forward to a frame that better fits the micro CCD camera and can take a genuine 3" prop rather than 2.8".
For build components I essentially transferred my gear across from the Furibee X140 (review here) where I felt the heavy frame (although durable) was letting the performance down.
After initial flights I decided the 1306 weren't suitable - performance was dull on 3s albeit and improvement on the Furibee X140 owing to roughly 30g less weight in the frame. This is when I switched motors to the HGLRC Flame 1105 6000kV (reviewed here).
The build on this was really simple - FC/ESC/VTX were all bolted on to the baseplate as were the motors. I just love the way the side plates clip on with no fuss and still had plenty of room for the 3-layered stacks. Once in place itwas easy to add the 2 nylon standoff supplied which can be used place cable ties on as additional support for receiver and VTX antennas.
@s Betaflight setup
Since this is a custom setup I won't go into betaflight setting but to summarise I went with
I went into more detail on the performance of the motors here but overall 3s paired with these motors and overal setup was excellent. My Leader 120 on 3s was always very quick but was a tad unstable and highly strung. The Komori I felt fixed this feeling of instability - flight was a lot more predictable with linnear power and no twitching. What this translated to in reality was more enjoyable less stressful flight with no loss in top speed compared to the leader. 2s on this quad is ok - not as fast as the leader on 2s but I think some more agressive props like the Gemfan 3035 triblades would be better, This is primarily a 3s quad - I have no interest in 4s.
I've not yet put a lof of packs through but have already had a reasonable sideways landing on to rough chip tarseal. From this the carbon fibre that extends beyond the motors for production has had a slight delamination but nothing that affext performance. There is however a lot of material that extends beyond the motor meaning I could file back to removethe delaminated portion. It also means the motor was well protected in the crash - not a scratch on it.
It's no secret that I am a fan of light builds - going lighter means better agility and longer battery life as well as better resistance to crash due to less mass. The FlexRC Komori frame fits my desire for a 3 inch frame perfectly - super light with frame designed natively around a micro CCD camera. The komori does sacrifice a bit of durability for it's light weight but given I fly over grass mostly I'm happy to compromise a bit of durability for weight. Since the frame is light this then allowed me to choose lighter duty motors and batteries - which makes the entire build light. As well as the benefits above, lighter motors and batteries tend to be cheaper too.
Flight characteristics were excellent andI felt the combination of 3s 450mah - 1105 6000kV - Gemfan 3025 offered a well balanced combination of power, agility, stability and efficieny (i.e. longer flight times. I think my favourite Leader 120 has finally been bettered.
This is not a typical review, there are plenty of those around. Bruce from RCModelsReview and Seth from RCAddict both do a good review on these as do many others. The aim of this review is to detail my experience moving from box goggles to a set of crap binocular goggles to a set of good binocular goggles.
When I first jumped in to FPV quadcopters in March 2017, box goggles were all that fitted into my budget and at the time the Quanam Cyclops V2 from HobbyKing was one of the better models going. I've really enjoyed my time with these - an immersive 5 inch screen, useful OSD and pretty good reception for a non-diversity receiver. The only downside for me in practicality was the large size that was difficult to stuff into a backpack and to a lesser extent the reception for short-mid range flight. Looking dorky doesn't really matter to me, I have kids so a large set of box goggles doesn't even register on the shame scale.
My first move into binocular goggles was unsuccessful. Like thousands of others I jumped on the Eachine EV100 preorder from banggood. They felt and looked good at an excellent price, the lens adjustment was great and I so wanted them to be good but they just weren't. They failed on the most important feature of all - the viewing experience. Possibly because of the innovative lens system but more likely due to cheaper optics, the field of view was tiny. There was a lot of hyperbole around the lovers and the haters but it was just too hard to see the small screen, *especially* coming from box goggles. I really hope that Banggood/Eachine get this right, there is a lot of potential to take the market away from Fatshark in particular who offer great customer service but have offered little innovation in the last few years.
Naturally I was therefore hesitant with the Aomway Commander V1, even with the glowing reviews around. The hesitation was short lived though. After speding sometime to figure out the menu options I found the field of view to be good, even after transferring from the quanam goggles which have some of the biggest fields of view on the market. The most important measure for me was that I could fly just as well (no worse anyway!) than with the box goggles - a completely different experience from the EV100 goggles.
By now, these goggles have been well reviewed but I'll cover of the points that were important to me as succinctly as possible:
Thanks to Gearbest for providing the sample for me to review and use. A link for the most up to date (revision 2) of the Aomway Commander V1 goggle is below, currently available for around $300. Check out my coupons and discounts for the latest flash sale or coupon for these.
I've now had the Furibee X140 for about 3 months (at time of writing) and have probably put 50-60 lipo packs through it. I've written this final part of the review to draw some clearer conclustions.
Part 1 review (bench) is here
Part 2 review(inital flights) is here
Minor changes since purchasing
I've only made very minor changes since purchasing, more for durability rather than anything else:
I never did get the smaller 4s packs because I ended up being happy enough on 3s. The performance of the quad was never what you would call fast and when pulling out of freestyle manuevers and covering distance I'd find myself hitting full throttle fairly often. Battery life has been nothing short of outstanding though. Even on a 42g Turnigy Nanotech 3s 450mah I had such a tiny amount of voltage sag and I'd regularly get 4 minutes of flight pushing hard. Additionally the lack of power to weight compared to my 5 inch or leader 120 quads gave me a whole lot more control - on a large race track with the camera angle set to around 45°C I was the most smooth, stable and consistent I'd ever been and was able to fly more consistently low (gate height) than I ever have before. At a guess what I lacked in top end was more than made up in smooth cornering and accurate lines. That being set it felt like a chore flying freestyle on the 3s because of the amount of throttle needed to recover. I think a freestyle experience on a 450mah or 650mah 4s would be very good.
This is a tank! On my way to consistent high speed low flying I went through a few high speed barrel rolls and the X140 took it like a champ. Other than replacing bent props (with the Gemfan Flash 3052 hopefully arriving soon) Nothing else has broken. The camera is really well protected in the frame - no mishaps there nor for any other of the electronics. Not much to say here other than this is the quad that is always running when the others are being repaired.
50-60 packs in and nothing to report - it all just goes.. Although the VTX does take some thinking to change channels and power I tend to fly this one alone so don't change channel or power. 25mW work fine where I fly. I've just seen a replacement ESC / FC / VTX stack listed here but at the current price of $ I'd just replace with the HGLRC F428 TX20 set if it came down to it.
Improvements to make
Not much left to improve on but these are on my list
I can currently think of no better quad for a beginner. The price is currently around $110 but has been as low as $80 but perhaps more importantly they build quality has been good and the quad is highly durable and forgiving. Batteries are cheap compared to a 5 inch and it is gentle on them meaning they do not get stressed and will give you good flight times. Furthermore this is very upgradable for not a lot of money. There are some simple changes here I've suggested but this quad can grow with you. Changing props and batteries will get you more speed and if you change these in combination with higher kV motors you will give a 5" a run for the money. That being said this performs just fine as is and is probably the most complete quad I have come across for anything like that kind of money.
I talk about the leader 120 a lot in comparisons and yeah, it is faster and more agile but it is also a lot more fragile and the stock camera and VTx straight up sucks. The Camera here is a CCD and performs just as well as a mirco swift or arrow. The VTx is fiddly to set up but once programmed runs well. Being more of an inermediate pilot I'm surprised how much this quad has taught me about what I should expect from throttle control (altitude management) and cornering lines.
I think this would make a great starter quad for a step into proper quadcopter FPV. Conversely for a more experienced pilot this is a great backup for flying in small spaces, especially when all your other quads are busted!
Link to the different versions:
Furibee X140 no receiver
Furibee X140 flysky receiver
Furibee X140 frsky receiver
Furibee X140 futaba receiver
Check out my discount page for the latest deals and voucher codes
Gemfan have recently released the 2540 Flash propeller to add to their growing library of micro propellers. This time rather than sticking with their 'Hulkie' naming on the 1940 and 2040 propellers, they have gone with 'flash' from their popular 5" 5152 prop.
The design is stylistically similar to the 5152 in that it is a swooping 3 bladed propeller with a pronounced wingtip. Colours currently available as below. I like the yellow as they are easy to find!
The material feels very much the same as the gemfan 2040 Hulkies which I reviewed here but the design is much more refined and so will not make any further comparisons as design will impact performance and durability more than material.
For testing I used my Leader 120. This is a popular model and I have put 80 odd packs through this one making it a good test mule. Also, I have experimented with other props like the Gemfan 3025 alongside the stock King kong 2840 for more than one point of reference.
Since this frame will fit a 2.8 inch 2840 prop there is plenty of room on a 2.5 inch 2540 without losing too much blade area. No issue installing so will move on to flight performance.
Performance on 2s
The first thing I noticed about these props is that they were very quiet. I flew in a reserve where there were several people enjoying the sun and very few people even noticed the quad flying about. The noise made was even less than the 2840s which are already very quiet. On 2s the performance was almost on par with the 2840s. I was able to hover at around 25% throttle with a 47g 950mah 2s battery and had flat out speed close to the 2840s. Cornering (grip) felt about 90% as good as the 2840s which is the grippiest quad/prop I have - even more than my 5" racing floss 2. Balance was excellent with no increase in jello at high throttle over the 2840s which have always been well balanced for me.
Battery life was definitely superior to the 2840 props. As you'll see from my pics below I got around 6 minutes from the 950mah battery with fairly heavy throttle flights as I was in a large reserve. This is about a minute more the the king kong 2840s with similar flying and comparable times to the Gemfan 3025 (although the 3025s were slower on 2s). It was an enjoyable 6 minutes too - the quad felt tight with these on.
Performance on 3s
For 3s testing I used my Turnigy Nantoech 3s 450mah 65C batteries that weigh approximately 45g.
The performance gap between the stock 2840 and new 2540 propellers were even less pronounced than on 2s. If there was a difference in performance compared to the 2840s in top speed or cornering grip I could not tell. The advantages did remain though - 2540 propellers were again more quiet and I had a similar increase in battery life: from roughly 3 minutes of hard flying to roughly 3.5 minutes+ hard flying (see below). Lastly at higher RPM I actually had less jello than any prop I have used on this quad before. This suggests they have excellent balance.
In short I got all of the benefits I enjoyed on 2s with none of the downsides.
Oddly enough I haven't had a crash worth speaking of yet. I'll update here once I've had a view and can give more of an opnion on this.
Simply put these are now my favourite prop on both 2s and 3s for the Leader 120. I can only guess that the more modern design helps get the efficiency up over the 2840 on 2s with very nearly the same top speed and grip through corners. On 3s the gap was even less and I'd struggle to tell the difference between these and the 2840s. The only real change was that there was less noise and more flight time.
In conclusion these will be my go-to prop from now on my leader 120 on 2s or 3s. The slight downside of marginally less top speed and cornering grip is easily outweighed by the reduced noise and improved battery life. Give them a try for yourself, they are inexpensive.
In part 1 of this review we looked at the specs of this quad and setup with betaflight 3.2.0. In this part I'll review the flight performance and any quirks.
Setting up the VTX
Before I get into the flight, just a word of warning that the VTX is set to 150mW to start. This may be fine for you but I like to start on 25mW as a baseline and if there are any antenna issues I know there will be less chance of cooking the VTX. Changing the channel and power is probably the most difficult I've found so far although the roomy frame at least makes access easy. I've put the original instructions below for reference but will also put my own notes as a native English speaker:
,When you power up the number of flashes of the green led indicates the channel and number of flashes of the red LED indicates the channel according to the designations to the left. Now, forget what the red and green leds mean.
Hold down the button for 3 seconds only till the red light goes off. The red light will flash once periodically meaning you are in 'channel' mode. Each short press of the button will change the channel as indicated by the number of flashes from the green LED.
Next hold the button again for 3 seconds as above. The red light will now flash twice periodically meaning you're in band mode. Now, each short press of the button will change band as indicated by the number of flashes by the green LED
Lastly, hold down the button for 3 seconds again. 3 flashes of the red LED now means you are in power set mode. Short pressing the button will cycle you between 25mW (1 green flash) or 150mW (2 green flashes). Finally holding down the button for 3 seconds again will take you out of setting mode indicated by both green and red LEDS blinking 3 times in unison. So confuse. Just set and never adjust again!
Setting up the camera - just use the stock settings
Good news: The CCD camera is actually a CCD camera and is fully adjustable via OSD. Bad news: no remote included. A compatible remote is only only about $3 from Banggood. You can argue that it should have been included but in reality the stock settings will satisfactory for 95% of the people that are likely to buy this quad. Chances are if this is not your first quad you'll have one or more floating around anyway.
Performance on 3s
Starting out using a 3s 450mah battery that I typically use on my Leader 120 (review here), I found performance to be fairly docile which is not surprising considering the low 3100kV rating of these motors. However, motors were quiet and smooth and flight performance was responsive and predicable - even with the mostly stock settings as covered in part 1. The LEDs on the back are nice and bright and certainly make it more interesting for spectators, particularly in the evenings. Flight time was very good given the battery capacity making this combination pretty usefully for someone new to FPV. However the combination of low motor kV and a fairly gently 3030 4-bladed prop felt me looking for more as an inermediate-ish pilot. I have some new props on order (3052 Gemfan flash) and I think these will make the 3s option more viable for me but I needed more instant gratification and went to 4s.
Performance on 4s
Unlike the small 3s batteries I don't have a small 4s. The smallest I currently have available is a 4s 1000mah turnigy graphene which weighs in at approx 140g. Ideally a 600-800mah battery at around 70-80g would be a better choice here - such as the 75g 4s Tattu 650mah.
Moving on though flight performance was much improved however the extra 75g weight penalty was noticeable, especially when pulling out of freestyle moves etc. To be fair though I have been flying the Leader 120 a lot recently which is a very 'floaty' quad. Much like on 3s performance was smooth and predictable but with better top end. Like on the 3s though I think there motors would benefit from a more agressive prop. The stock 3030 4-bladed props are better suited to a high-kV motor that needs additional grip from the extra bladed. With the right battery weight I think the Gemfan 3052 props I have on the way will offer the aggressive pitch along with a more modern design and greater efficiency but dropping 1 blade. The good think is though that here we are talking about changing props which are a disposable item rather than anything flawed with the frame, motors, esc, flight controller etc. They are the good kind of boring in that they all just do their job without fuss.
Flight time was pretty epic on these batteries. Check out the summary shots from my batteries below. When I got home the batteries will still measuring 3.75v per cell after resting!
On first impression, this frame is tough . I had a few crashes on some fairly hard-packed earth without any sign of issue although I'll really need more time to make a definitive conclusion. All of the components seem to be well enclosed and protected, no drama there.
This is a very well priced quad with a good performance range for a beginner stock. Although the realtively low kV motors will limit top speed, they give excellent efficiency which will translate as extended flight time and/or the ability to run a lighter/lower capabity battery with more nimble flight performance. For a more intermediate user some basic changes like a shift to more aggressive props will reward you with a solid flight experience. The equipment on board is well thought out and balanced. This means it is able to do that job that is expected of it at a very impressive price point. The frame appears to be exceptionally durable especially given the compact size and I am hopeful that this will withstand a lot of abuse.
Looking for a negative though the tradeoff of a durable frame in this case is weight. Combined the stock props performance is ok but certainly not face melting. I do have some ideas to improve on that though...
I think if you were looking to tinker, a lighter frame and the props as above would make this truly exceptional. I have some of the Gemfan Flash 3052 props on the way and think this will really improve things. Keep an eye out in my tips and tricks section as I'll review these more agressive props when they arrive.
The Furibee X140 is exclusive to Gearbest and at the time of writing is exceptionally good value at $105 for the model without the receiver or $113 with a frsky/flysky receiver:
The Furibee X140 is a traditional style 3 inch quadcopter as opposed to a lightweight 3 inch like the Leader 120. It is available as a Plug N Play (PNP) with no receiver or as a Bind N Fly (BNF) with either a flysky receiver, frsky receiver or futaba receiver.
Some of the key features of this quad are:
The box it came in is small brown and very boring which is good because on a budget quad I don't want to be wasting my money on that. What I am most happy about are the components:
FPV: Micro CCD and switchable VTX
They key points for me is that this has a real CCD camera (Furibee micro) and a vtx that is switchable between 25mW and 150mW. I'll cut to the chase and say the camera is excellent and like the HGLRC elf which also appears to be a clone of the micro swift, you would not be able to tell the difference. Combined with the VTX this 'hits' the right FPV feed where other micros miss.
Frame: Good luck trying to break this one.
Straight up the frame is a tank. It uses separate 4mm thick double chamfered replaceable indicular arms and is incredibly stiff. It has been designed in the streched - x style (less space between left and right motors than front and rear) which gives better pitch fine control and less turbulent air to the rear props in forward flight. One challenge with the streched X is that props are in full view in FPV (like the floss 2 frame) but a taller set of standoffs and camera mounts elevates the camera mostly above the prop disc line making for a nice FPV view. It is not a light fram however because of this but is crazy durable. I don't doubt gearbest will be listing arms soon but don't think they will be selling many...
Electronics: Well balanced
Really glad they went with 20mm x 20mm here, I really think this is the way of the future. I'm even trialling a 20mm x 20mm stack in my 5" race build here. Flight controller is an Omnibus F3 with betaflight OSD, a proven unit. ESC is 20a which will have no problem on this quad even if you put much bigger motors on. Best part is that it is 4s capable. Also it is nice they included a real buzzer/led combo. Buzzer is handy but not vital now that we have the motor buzzer on betaflight 3.2.0 and up. Leds are nice and connected to the DIN so there is are limitless options for how you wish for these to light up. Nice to have but in truth I'll probably remove to try save some weight (4g for this unit).
Motors: Efficient but need a 4s battery
It's a good thing that the ESC can do 4s because I feel a 4s battery is really needed since the motors are of a fairly low kV (3100kV) They should however offer excellent flight time (update in part 2 review: they do). For the record they are Ready to Sky branded 1306 3100kV motors that appear to have smooth bearings and no obvious visual defects.
Propellers: Easy upgrade here
The props included are 4-bladed 3030 meaning they are 3.0inch with a 30° pitch. This is a fairly low pitch, ESPECIALLY for the 3100kV motors. They will get you flying but when you get replacement I would definitely go for something more aggressive like the excellent Gemfan Flash 3052. I think this will be an excellent upgrade and will make a 3s battery more relevant.
Weight: Bit of a tank
This is not a light quad at 125g dry (no battery). By comparison the Leader 120 was 64g but this is a different class of micro with bigger motors, much more durable frame and superior FPV camera/vtx. In addition it will lug a 4s battery unlike the leader which is 2s or 3s at a stretch. I'd expect this to be more "chuckable" than the leader which has more "floaty" flight characteristics.
Betaflight 3.1.7 came sock on this flight controller. After looking through the settings it was dead stock without even an arm switch set up. Rather than setting up and flying on 3.1.7 I jumped straight to 3.2.1 which is the latest release at time of writing. It is a step change improvement - in particular dynamic filters. Below is a gallery of screens where I changed setting from stock. Clich through and see the captions to help with your own setup.
Early pre-flight conclusions
I really like the components on this one especially at the price point ($105 currently for PNP on the discounts page). I think it was unecessary to build the frame with removable arms and heavy 4mm thick ones at that. Micro quads tend to be more crash resistant because they are lighter so this looks like an overkill. In saying that it should be VERY VERY durable and should offer good flight times with the more effcient low kV motors it has. I'll comment after part 2 of this review on mods but I have a few in mind that should really make this move.
Link to the different versions:
Furibee X140 no receiver
Furibee X140 flysky receiver
Furibee X140 frsky receiver
Furibee X140 futaba receiver
In part 1 of this build we looked at the JJRC H36 quad and LST All In One (AIO) camera/VTX to make a budget yet powerful tiny whoop. One of the limitations of this build is the small remote that, although proportional has poor fine control due to size and low quality 'gimbals'. In part 2 I'll turn this from a toy quad to a hobby quad with the addition of the Furibee F3 flight controller which will allow you to use your proper transmitter (Frsky, DSM or Flysky) and have the full control of betaflight.
The advantage of running a full size remote is for better finger control. The advantage of running a betaflight flight control system is absolute control over all flight functions - angle, horizontal, acro modes, multiple rates set to switches and the least sexy but probably key is a proper failsafe system to prevent fly-aways
First a word of warning. The Flysky version of this board only supports AFDHS and not AFDHS 2a. This means you cannot use the Turnigy evolution nor the FS/TGY-i6s. I made this mistake and so have had to add the RX2a pro receiver which thankfully there are at least pads for. Bad news is that this adds about $6 in cost and 0.8g in weight but the good news is I now have the faster speed and failsafe of an ibus rather than PPM system. For those using FRsky this does support RSSI and VBAT over telemetry.
Physical install is simple and probably best described by the pics below with captions. Unfortunately I couldn't keep the sound module as only the speaker is external - the music source is integrated in the stock flight controller. Click to embiggen the pictures and see commentary
In terms of setup in betaflight, I updated to the latest version of betaflight (3.2.1 at time of writing) and captured a few screenshots below where I made changes, particularly because I had never before set up betaflight with brushed motors - there are some specific differences.
So how does it fly? The standard flight control will no doubt get you off the ground with a respectable ability to buzz around but the being able to use your own remote and run with all the options of betaflight it is like a whole new quad. It feels more agile and surprisingly much faster - probably because you have complete control over all angles. To be fair though acro is challenging indoors and I tend to stick with angle or horizon mode but with a greater maximum angle. Good news is on a still day this can easily be flown outdoors and since it has a decent reciever can get very good range.
Flight time on the stock battery is around 4-5 minutes on the stock battery which is actually pretty awesome compared to the 2-3 minutes you get on the 6mm motor whoops. I think this is because the 7mm motors hit a sweet spot in efficiency that allows the larger 260mah battery. I don't really feel agility is significantly compromised either - especially with the extra power and flight time that is gained. That is because these larger motors spend less proportion of energy just getting the quad and FPV gear (and santa!) off the ground leaving more in reserve for actual flight and manouvers.
Will it powerloop? No, that is more the realm of micro brushless but I'm still yet to see and indoor flyer that is as practical and safe as the ducted whoop style.
My final conclusion is that the JJRC santa quad and LST AIO camera is a lot of fun on it's own but for the extra $20 or so for the furibee flight controller, it really comes alive.
Final note: It is possible to bind a taranis or flysky remote directly to the stock flight controller using a multiprotocol module. These can be more expensive and fiddly than a betaflight flight controller however they can be used with multiple toy models. Futhermore the stock flight controller can actually be 'hacked' to insert dual more angle/acro software but some basic hardware and software fiddling is required. I'd recommend googling silverxxx acro firmware, notfastenuf and CaninoRC for more details, particularly on RCGroups, Micro Motor Community and Youtube. Some great resources put together by talented people if you are willing to put the time in to implement.
Just a guy reviewing RC Quadcopter stuff