Category: FPV Wing

ZOHD Drift Review

ZOHD spoiled us a little bit lately by releasing quite few interesting FPV RC planes like Dart 250 for instance. Their latest creation called Drift is not following exactly what they’ve been doing in the past and now they have made a small glider.

As a wing pilot I never tried gliders before. They always intrigued me but I never took a bite of that yet. Till now. ZOHD was kind enough to provide a sample of Drift (PNP version) for this review.

What’s in the box?

My version is PNP which and it comes with:
– Drift plane kit with hardware
– SunnySky ZOHD 1406 2600kv motor
– 30A ZOHD ESC with 5V BEC
– 4.3g x 2 and 8g x 1 servos preinstalled
– HQ 3x5x3 and HQ 5×5 propellors
– Stickers
– Manuals

Plane comes dissembled in 5 main parts. Assembly doesn’t require any glue. Everything is done with supplied plastics screws.

Worth mentioning: box in which Drift comes in is made of pretty thick cardboard and has a handle on top – it’s perfectly suitable as a carry on / storage box for the plane during transportation. That is a bonus!

Servos area already installed with all attachments being in place. Wing servos are connected with fuselage by 3 pin connectors – they make contact when wing is attached and in place.

Wing servo
3 pin connector on fuselage
Servo tail attachement

There are 3 bays in fuselage, two on top and one on bottom.
Top ones are to access camera, battery, flight controller and GPS.
Bottom one allows access to ESC and rear servo. That location can also be utilised for other components like Video Transmitter for instance.
PNP version comes with ESC and motors installed and there is wire harness coming off ESC for connecting battery via XT-30, radio receiver via 3 pin servo connector and also 5V BEC connector.
Total weight of PNP kit is around 170g.

Bottom opening
Top front opening
Top rear opening

Quality of EPP is very god. All parts came together nicely, including the wings. There is only one screw holding the wings together in place.

Servos are fitted firmly and cable management is spot on in PNP version.

There are carbon fibre spars fitted in various parts of fuselage and wings to make them more stiff and structurally solid. In some YouTube Drift reviews there was mention that spars are not glued properly and they required additional glue to keep them in place better. My copy of Drift didn’t have that issue at all.

Whole fuselage is glued from two foam parts and I noticed that area above the FPV camera location wasn’t held by glue 100% and I had to reinforce this seam with more glue and additionally just a transparent sticky tape. This was the only area I would say wasn’t done properly out of the box.

Drift build

Now the exciting part which is the actual build of the plane 🙂

I wanted full iNav setup on this plane and here are the components I used:
– Matek F411WSE FC flashed with iNav 2.5
– TBS Crossfire Nano Radio Receiver
– TBS Unify Pro32 nano with TrueRC Singularity Stubby
– RunCam Split 3 Nano

First thing I had to do was to remove the wires from ESC because not all of them were necessary. I only left the power wires and signal cable to connect ESC to Matek F411WSE.
Soldered ESC wires and XT-30 pigtail to the bottom layer of F411WSE. This board is made of two layers – first acts as PDB (plus servo connectors) and second has all other connectors to GPS, RX, Camera, VTX etc. That design helps a lot because the top rear bay is super small and is only good enough for FC of this form factor.
I have used double side 3M tape to stick it on the plywood inside fuselage and then soldered other wires for everything else that comes attached to second layer of FC.

ZOHD came out with clever solution of how to mount GPS on Drift – it goes inside the foam cover for the FC bay. They even included some sort of black plastic cover to hide the GPS. It looks very neat and well thought of.

Bottom bay has a lot of space and I decided to put Unify Pro32 Nano inside there. Drift has air inlets at the front and sides providing air flow inside the fuselage, so VTX should get enough cooling.
I decided to design a small 3D printed adapter that would hold it better for cooling. Printed it in PETG because of high temperatures this components normally gets.

My small 3D printed mount in orange inside bottom bay

Only thing I spent a bit of time thinking of was how to install the VTX antenna in a good location. After scratching my head for a while I decided to use 10cm SMA pigtail so route it to the top of fuselage – punched the hole in foam and put the SMA connector in there. Very neat solution and I was super happy about it.

Front bay was much easier to complete. RunCam Split 3 camera fits perfectly though the camera mounting hole. Unfortunately there isn’t much that would hold it in position apart from the opening itself.
For that I designed small 3D printed bracket that held the camera so it wasn’t moving. Unfortunately it was another 3grams added to the nose and as I found out later it was making the plane nose heavy (yes, only 3 grams 🙂 ) so in the end decide to remove that and replace with DIY solution of foam and tape 🙂
Runcam Split 3 PCB is held loosed at the front without addiiontal mounts etc. It doesn’t need anything because every battery that goes inside the bay always sits further to the back of the bay to achieve CG. No issues here. Cooling is also sufficient.

Fitting Crossfire Immortal-T was a bit a head scratch too. I wanted to keep it vertical for best reception. Normally I out crossfire antennas through the wing by punching hole in there. On drift I wanted to have alternative approach and installed it at the rear of fuselage, near the motor mount, also by creating small canal in foam to feed wire and securing antenna T section with a blob of hot glue.
It looks best visually and also wings are untouched so thats a bonus.
For those who will say right away: “What if antenna will get into prop?” my answer would be: that shouldn’t be an issue since those antennas are pretty stiff.

To get the CG right I used marks in foam located on the underside of the wing. I balanced plane just about 5mm in from of those marks as advised by Matt from RagTheNutsOff. It is achievable easy by shifting battery in the bay back and forwards.

I need to mention that during build I damaged the stock ZOHD ESC….In order to calibrate throttle range this ESC needs to be connected to RX directly. Unfortunately I had everything soldered already absolutely no way of getting RX connected directly to RX without de-soldering stuff.
In the end managed to calibrate the throttle range but when I put ESC back into the bay and soldered wires it was only beeping. After taking it apart again it wouldn’t do any sounds strangely meaning something was very wrong with it. I’ve got lots of soldering experience etc but had no clue what happened to that ESC.
In the end I swapped ESC to my spare 35A blheli_S which can be calibrated in iNav but also ESC settings are accessible via passthrough using blehli configurator app. Its more convenient so bad thing turned out good.

Below is a screenshot with my configuration in iNav:

Total weight of my finished Drift without battery was 222g and 320g with 2S Li-Ion 3000mah which I am planning to use the most due to huuuuge capacity.
My build is by no means under 250grams. Im sure it would have been possible to shed at least 30-40 grams off my build but I didn’t really care.

Flying experience

Tested both 2S and 3S configurations.

2S setup:
– Li-Ion 3000mah made from LG HG2
– HQ 5×5 prop (came with the kit)

3S Setup:
– 850mah, 1000mah
– HQ 3x5x3 prop

I wasn’t lucky with the weather initially because there was very foggy week in Scotland and since I live at the coast “Harr” was pretty bad. Maiden flight was carried out in very foggy conditions but successful 🙂

Drift launched successfully during first launch. Immediately I used iNav’s servo autotrim to get the trims right since I never fly in manual anyway.

3S performance was actually quite close to 2S. It was cruising at around 2amps which is really good results and speed easy 30-40km/s with about 50% throttle.

2S performance is pretty good too. It was cruising at around 3amps with speed of around 30-40km/s.

Of course amperage and speed depends on throttle management. During my second flight I flew against wind gusts of around 40-50km/h and speed was reduced to around 15-20km/h when flying against the wind bu also I used higher throttle of around 80-90% where current was up to about 6-7 amps.

Rough estimation of flight time gave me about 1hr on 2S Li-Ion and 20 minutes easy on 3S 1000mah. Very decent flight times.

Drift glides very well without much effort. It was so different to a wing guy because wings don’t really glide much. ESC was set to stop the motor with zero throttle so there is no drag on freely spining prop.

Maiden flight:

Flight in windy conditions:

Chillout field cruise:

Fog surfing:

In short very enjoyable experience. It flies slower than typical FPV wing but is super relaxing. I had zero experience with gliders before so this is just a beginning of exploring this area.

Conclusion

I have to admit this little plane surprised me. Positively. Compared to wings where I had many failed launches this one flew off my hand right away.

Good things about Drift:

  • Good materials quality as a whole
  • Easy to assemble
  • Everything is detachable so its easy to carry around and travel with
  • Good price for what it is
  • Attention to details is at very heigh level
  • Easy to launch
  • Easy and relaxing to fly
  • Very quiet in flight
  • Good cooling thanks to the air intakes at the front and sides
  • This plane is fun for the whole family

Things to consider:

  • Can be difficult to fit all components inside because of limited space inside the bays
  • Cant use larger batteries than 2S Li-Ion or 3S (1000mah tops)
  • Batteries have to be fitted on the side rather than flat becuase main bay is not wide enough
  • Quality of glue in fuselage. There was area in mine where I had to re-apply uhu-por because seam wasn’t working any more
  • Additional bolt to hold wings in two locations would give more security and rigidity. Not 100% necessary but would be nice to have a second attachment
  • Would be nice to have additional means of holding FPV camera in the front of battery bay
  • It’s a slow flier so if you seek thrill you’ve come to a wrong place with Drift
  • It’s a plane for calm days although it can take wind to some extend


E-Wings experience

For almost a year I’ve had a chance to fly FPV wings designed and made by Ewan Harwood from E-Wings – Scotland based pilot who decided to make his own aircrafts and sell them to masses.
I have built and flew every single wing Ewan has designed and also I helped him with beta testing. In this article I will put my thoughts on each of the wing to shed some light on their flying properties and so on. Let’s get started!

Vortigaunt (Vorti)


This was my first E-Wings creation purchased as an upgrade from AR Wing which reached it’s limit of crash resistance ha ha (see my previous post for details).
It is 1200mm big bird with generous fuselage holding compartments  for components and large battery, both of which are super spacious giving lots of options during the build.

My Vorti setup:

Turnigy SK3 3536 1400kv with 8×6 Graupner prop
60A YEP ESC
Matek F405 Wing
M8N GPS
Crossfire Nano RX
RunCam Eagle
GoPro Session/ Hero 7
Multistar 5200mah 4S

How does it fly? If I could use one description it would be “flying bus”. It is a large wing and gives very stable flying performance. Wind does very little to the overall stability so it’s perfect wing for unpredictable flying conditions.
I flew Vorti in 30mph gusts and I noticed that I was being pushed off the course but there was no additional shakes etc often visible on smaller wings during windy weather.
Due to it’s size and lack my neat wing building skills it turned out on a heavy side. 5200mah 4S packs gives me rather modest flight times of around 10-15 minutes but it’s by no means a slow cruise. Vorti can do around 160km/h easy but large motor consumes amps easily because it’s not a light aircraft. Mine including battery weights around 1.6kg.

Who is Vorti best for?
Vorti is without a doubt best suitable for more experienced pilots who like to have very stable aircraft that can go fast.

Below few flight videos from Vorti:



 

Firefly


This is a different style of wing to Vorti. It has 1000mm wing span (same as Mini Drak) but battery bay is big enough to accommodate Multistar/Turnigy 5200mah 4S LiPo which is great bonus.
It is a very versatile wing suitable for general flying as well as long range adventures.

My Firefly setup:
SunnySky 2216 1400kv with 8×6
YEP 40A ESC
Matek F405 Wing
Crossfire Nano RX
Partom 1.2Ghz / TBS Unify VTX (I switched between the two)
RunCam Eagle 2
Turnigy TGY9018 Servos
Multistar 4S 5200mah

How does it fly? Firefly flying performance depends on the motor choice but the one I chosen for this wing gave me very fast performance while maintaining good efficiency throughout. I clocked 165km/h with this wing so far. Average amperage was lower than Vorti so I was getting slightly better flight times on the same battery (5200mah 4S), purely because Firefly is simply smaller.
Firefly is very stable in the air – very similar to Mini Drak although it is not as agile as MD because of a different wing style.

Who’s Firefly best for?
Firefly in my opinion is a very versatile wing, suitable for beginners as well as advanced pilots.

Below few flight videos from Firefly:


Vortini

Here comes the recent addition to the E-Wings family -> Vortini. It’s Vorti little brother or child if you wish 🙂 Scaled down version of the mighty Vorti. Ewan asked me if I could do some test flying / beta testing this little bird so I was actually flying Vortini No. 00001 weeks before it was actually released! Lucky guy am I? 🙂
Anyways, Vortini is approximately 690mm small wing that can be build to meet 250g weight restriction (proven by GizFPV).

It has pretty generous battery bay but components compartment i rather small so bet suited for tiny bits like Matek F411. Please bear in mind that I didn’t get the final revision of Vortini, so my flying experience is purely based on the prototype kit I was flying.

My Vortini was not built with weight saving in mind so I ended up with rather heavy aircraft. I have started this build to be run on 2S and F20 T-MOtor with 4″ prop but it didnt even lift so after testing 3-4 different motors and props I settled with 3S batteries and F80 motor + 7″ prop. That gave me plenty of speed (120km/h tops) and pretty good efficiency (cruising at 4A and 50-60km/h). My aircraft has RunCam Split 2S fitted at the front as a second camera just for HD so I am still able to get HD footage of decent quality.

My Vortini setup:
T-Motor F80 1900kv + APC 7×5
LittleBee 35A Blheli_32
Matek F411 Wing
Crossfire Nano RX
TBS Unify Pro SE
Emax ES9051 4.1g Digital Servo
RunCam Phoenix „Oscar Liang” FPV camera
RunCam Split 2S HD Camera
3S 1550-2200mah

How does it fly? Vortini has the smallest wingspan out of all wings I talked about and as a result it doesn’t fly as stable as the bigger siblings but….with really calm weather it is possible to get this bird on rails. Overall I find Vortini stability in the air to be even better than popular AR Wing which is 900mm!
It doesn’t take much effort at all to launch it which is huge bonus. You can fly that thing for a long distance as well as do close proximity fast flying.
One note worth mentioning – Centre of Gravity (COG) location has big impact on performance. It should be around 1-1.5cm from the wing front edge. If it’s shifted to the back Vortini will show “pitch jumping” which is super annoying.

Who’s Vortini best for?
This is easy question – for pretty much everyone. It’s great for long range pilots as well as occasional close proximity wing fliers. Depending on the setup it can be super lightweight as well as more powerful with big prop – all depends.

Below few flight videos from Vortini:





Summary

I wrote about Ewan’s wings in the same order I got the build. Vortini is one of it’s kind with fantastic stability. Firefly can be easily treated as Mini Drak alternative for those who need cheaper wing but offering similar performance. Vortini, as the smallest here offers a lot in a small form. In my opinion E-Wings aircrafts offer wide variety of flight performance and everyone can find one that would suit the most.

(I can tell you a secret: my favourite one is Vortini 🙂 ) 

Miniquad guy flies FPV Wings

Miniquad guy flies FPV Wings

I thought about this article for a long time now. My idea was to tell the story, explain the reasons for choosing to fly FPV Wings and to describe the process of switching. Hopefully my journey will shed some light for those who want to start flying FPV on an aircraft that has (usually) just one motor 🙂

Why on earth one would want to fly wings?

My reason for wings was simple – I was never into flying quad between flags and gates. Partially because of lack of time for constant practice sessions, also it become very boring to me over time. I even stopped watching racing clips on social media etc. Boring boring boring.

What I wanted to do was to fly in its purest form which is – straight forward 🙂 Flying mini quads is kind of pushing the pilot to change flight direction all the time, to do lots of YAW movement, to flip, to roll, to go through gaps, to the point where it becomes more of a „jumping in the air” contest or „trick show”.

Flying just for sake of flying is actually very enjoyable and relaxing. It’s pure chill, also I could fly for longer distance and just enjoy the views.

Before I decided I wanted flying wing I looked at the last strong argument – drones are not always positively recognised in places where we normally fly. Fixed wing aircrafts on the other hand make people more curious and less angry. Old school RC flying was all about planes and not multi rotors, drones, whatever you call it.

I decided to go for it and I built my first wing.

My First wing choice

There is many wings to choose from. I wanted to utilise mini quad parts I already had and was looking for something to buy in UK shop upfront. I’ve chosen AR Wing sold by HobbyRC. Aircraft cost was around £50 with postage. Plan was to use the following parts:

  • ZMX 2207 2140kv motor with 6×4 prop
  • Aikon 30A BlheliS ESC
  • Matek F405 FC
  • TBS Unify HV
  • TBS Crossfire
  • GPS
  • RunCam Swift V2
  • 2 x MetalGear 9g Servos
  • 1300/1500mah 4S lipos used in mini quads

AR Wing has lots of space inside for electronics. Also I was able to push ESC, 5V Servo BEC inside bay in front of the motor. It didn’t look pretty (see photos) but worked. I was able to fit 2 x 1300mah 4S lipos in parallel too.

First attempts

It was almost year ago in November 2017 and we were heading with kids to Scottish highlands for the weekend. My wing was ready and I decided to take it with me for a maiden in epic location.

During my first launch what the wing did was just going own hitting the ground with the nose. Each throw was unsuccessful. The more I was throwing the more damaged it caused to the front section. Decided to put the wing down and fly quads instead. Later on I checked that prop was put incorrectly on the motor.

As a result there was no push and wing didnt fly because it couldn’t fly without any thrust 🙂 Lesson learned the hard way. Back to the bench for repairs.

Next try was month later after our local FPV race. My each throw was cracking the aircraft frame, also I nearly lost both wingless as a result of that. This time I’ve asked someone to throw the wing for me because I still couldn’t do it.

Wing launched and I flew! It flew for about 20-30 seconds before someone turned on his quad and instead of being my wing I saw his FPV feed in my goggles 🙂

Maiden footage:

My next try was during quick lunch session. I launched it myself. I was in LOS for a moment when my phone rang and I got distracted. Lost control and went straight into ground. Wing cracked almost in half and I destroyed the front HD camera attachment.

Back in business

After that unfortunate flight I have glued the wing back and left it for months only to come back to action during summer 2018 during my holidays in Poland.

I gave it a try again. There are some nice open fields 50km east of Kraków where we’ve got a house.  Weather was nice and I tried to launch it again and again till I got it right. What was crucial was COG (Centre Of Gravity). I have set it correctly by putting the small stones to the front of the wing 🙂 It worked!

Footage:

 

Wing flew very smooth. I tried ANGLE mode first but then ACRO (with gyro) and that’s how I fly it now.

Few days later my mate managed to record our 6am chase video with his quad: Wing chase

During visit to my parents house I flew my wing there too. Even got it stack on the tree 🙂

Those successful summer flights got me thinking that wing was a good choice. It suits my flying style, it gives me a lot of fun and satisfaction from flight.

I’ve made a small cut at the bottom of my AR to allow for better grip when launching. I still don’t know how to launch a wing by holding the actual wing as weird it may seems. I only toss it by holding the bottom of fuselage.

 

I watched a lot of YouTube footage from folks flying bigger wings. What appealed to me was that bigger wing meant more stable flight, even in windy conditions.

My AR was perfect on a calm day:

With the strong wind my flight was like this one:

 

That was enough reason to build another one 🙂

Second wing

One would say: „With bigger wing comes bigger responsibility” and that’s the truth 🙂 Those are a different pair of shoes. Also I couldn’t use my mini quad parts there any more which brought some challenges because of my lack of knowledge of parts that were not in mini quad world 🙂

After speaking to Greg on FPV Scotland he suggested checking new wing from E-Wings (local Scottish manufacturer) called Vortigaunt. At first I couldn’t even spell it’s name and quickly started referring to this wing as Vorti.

I’ve ordered a kit incuding everything required to build it and also got the laminate to make it nice. Ewan – Ewings owner is a very helpful and nice chap. Him and Greg talked me over the parts needed for this project and the final part list looked like that:

  • Vorti wing
  • Turnigy SK3 3536 1450kv motor
  • Graupner 8×5 prop
  • YEP 60A ESC
  • Matek F450 wing FC
  • Turnigy MG 12g servos
  • RunCam Eagle 2
  • TBS Crossfire
  • 1.3Ghz for video (Partom from BG)
  • Multistar 5200mah 4S battery

I entered totally unknown territory when it comes to parts, also this wing required assembling which was totally new to me. AR wing didnt required that much of work.

Also I used 1.3Ghz for video here so needed to make a ground station with 5.8Ghz repeater to my goggles:

 

It took my over a week, working on Vorti in the evenings when kids were in beds 🙂 I watched Gregs video about assembling Vorti. He has made the whole series: E-Wings UK Vortigaunt FPV Build Series | Part 1 | Fuselage & Wings

Vorti was laminated, glued, and made nice. I’ve gotten few 3D prints with the lipo tray and camera „nose”. It was a long process required a lot of DIY.

What I liked about this wing was the separate bays for FC/ESC etc and the lipo bay. Vorti offers tons of space for building – another advantage of bigger wings.

TOP TIP: for laminating you can just use your house iron set to lower temperature.

First big wing flight

Maiden day came through. Conditions were nice, all systems working in place, servos passed „high five” and I was mentally ready to launch that thing of beauty into the sky.

And I did. At least I tried, because what happened was this:

The core of the failure was that I set throws too much .They were wayyy too much and even my slightest stick movement was causing wing to be very unstable – impossible to fly properly. Vorti was smashed during landing upside down and one wing was slightly detached.

I’ve done necessary repairs and was ready for second try a week after. This time I have adjusted servo throws, added expo and reduced servo rates. All seemed to work on the bench. During second flight it launched properly but I have had an impression that motor wasn’t producing enough trust at all (compared to my AR Wing). I launched it regardless and after 20-30 meters it didnt have power for more lift and smashed the ground hard.

Damaged was eyesore:

After conversation with Ewan (Vorti designer) we came to conclusion that lack fo trust was the biggest failure here and that was caused by the ESC default setting which is „HELI” setting allowing for different throttle curve, called „slow start”. At the moment I am in the process of repairing Vorti and once thats done will have third take and I am expecting nothing but good from that wing 🙂

THIS ARTILE WILL BE UPDATED AS THE STORY CONTINUES 🙂