Category: Review

SonicModell AR Wing Pro Review

Sometimes history goes in circles. Back in 2018 my first ever wing was good old AR Wing 900 (you can read more here). Two years later almost to date I have a brand new AR Wing Pro on my bench ready to build. Slight larger and slightly different design than AR900.

Is it a wing for Pro’s? Is it the wing for you ?

In this review I will show you my AR Wing Pro build in detail and also take it to my usual flying spots for some flying and

Big shout to SonicModell for sending a sample to me before it officially hits the shops shelves.

Box content and overview

My sample PNP version come with:

  • AR Wing Pro
  • SunnySky 2216 1400KV motor
  • 40A SonicModell ESC with 5V 3A BEC
  • Metal Gear 9g servos
  • 8×5 Prop
  • Additional foam nose inserts and main compartment cover (for DJI FPV gear)
  • Servo attachments and hardware
  • Stickers
  • Manual
  • Carbon Fibre rod

AR Wing Pro comes in 3 main parts including main fuselage and detachable wings.

Main fuselage is made of moulded EPP with plywood sandwiched in the middle for additional strength. This can be visible when looking through the components side bays.

There is a lot of cutouts for cooling inside all compartments.

Plywood GoPro mounting plate installed

PNP version doesn’t come with any components pre-fitted.

AR Wing Pro has 4 main compartment in the central fuselage:

  • Rear one for ESC and GPS
  • Main one at front for Flight controller and battery
  • One on each side for other components like VTX, RX, air speed sensors etc.

Similarly to ZOHD planes/wings there is a dedicated spot for GPS and plastic cover is included.

One of the interesting features of this wing is a wing connector allowing to pass trough 6 separate signals:

Provided servo linkages have metal rods threaded on both ends and ball joints. They are relatively short and servos are flushed with the foam protecting them from all sorts of damages from landing.

Winglets come separate. They need to be screwed in onto wing. Much the same as the AR900.

PNP kit includes 40A ESC and SunnySky 2216 1400kv motor. ESC has bullet connector with motor – this can help changing motor direction without much of a hassle.

Guys at SonicModell have done fantastic job on predicting what would typical wing builder do when building a wing and best example is below:

Underside of the wing has pre-made canals for wires to feed through. Also there is small compartment on the bottom side of both wings where you could for instance fit RX or VTX. Thanks to wing connectors there is 3 signals to utilise for connecting anything from the wings but usually 3 signals will be occupied by servo leaving us 3 for RX or VTX. While its possible to use VTX via 3 wires, TBS Crossfire receivers have 4 wires so bear that in mind.

To sum up wing assembly: it was straight forward with clear instructions included. I had zero issues with it.


DJI HD and HD Cameras

AR Wing Pro has many options for mounting HD cameras. It comes with two covers for main compartment: standard and DJI HD. The latter has a dedicated place for mounting DJI Air Unit. In such configuration DJI camera is fitted in supplied foam nose tip. I am not DJI user but I still used DJI top cover to mount old fashioned (but still cool) RunCam 2 facing rear capturing cool footage from a different perspective.

Wing nose is also a perfect place for GoPro camera. It can take Session or Hero style.

Marc Hoffmann (@b14ckyystech) has designed some really cool nose options and I helped him testing them out. Here’s the one I use with my Session, it’s totally removable and can be swapped for another mount dedicated for a different camera like Hero 7. Very cool stuff:


AR Wing Pro build

Parts used for my build:

  • Matek 722-Wing with INAV 2.5.1
  • TBS Crossfire Nano
  • TBS Unify HV VTX
  • RunCam Phoenix camera

I am huge fan of Matek boards and here I used Matek 722-WING recommended by Mr. Paweł Spychalski (INAV developer) and I normally trust him A LOT 🙂 This is pretty awesome FC with tons of UARTs for pretty much anything you might want to add to wing. Quickly flashed it with latest INAV 2.5.1 and done the ACC calibration before fitting it in.

As for the rest of the parts, I use crossfire so Nano RX was the best option here. Also I went for TBS Unify video transmitter because it always worked for me and I’m the most familiar with it.
When it comes to FPV camera this is important choice because in analogue video feed we can have either very bad video quality or too candy (popping colours). Phoenix fives amazing HDR quality image and I prefer it the most.

I have finished build in one evening. It was THE QUICKEST wing build I’ve ever done hands down.

First started with fitting motor and ESC inside the rear bay. ESC was fixed to the bottom of the bay by double sided tape. Tucked away cables with zip ties.

Flight Controller is fixed to fuselage by 3M double sided tape. Some of the connections to FC have been soldered on the bench because its easier that way. Tucked away wires with zip ties. Cable management – very important thing 🙂

Inside of main bay with Artpack Li-Ion fitted (more on that later)

I have decided to use left side compartment for Video Transmitter and right one for Crossfire. Using small compartments on the wing tips was out of question for RX because we only have 3 wires spare (3 occupied by servo) and crossfire is using 4. I could have move VTX there but wanted better cooling which only side compartment could offer. Fitted Pagoda antenna and used 3D printed attachment to secure it in the compartment cover. VTX itself sits in 3D printed PETG tray so it doesn’t melt foam below if it’s roasting hot:

Cooling for the VTX bay

On the other side I’ve added Crossfire Nano with Immortal T sitting though the left wing on 3D printed plugs which work like a charm. Wire from FPV camera goes through that same compartment into the main bay to the FC:

AUW of AR Wing Pro with GoPro Session and LiIon 6000mah battery was about 1220grams.


Artpack

I wouldn’t have done any of AR Wing Pro flights without my “Artpack”. What is it? Well, its my hand made 4S2P Li-Ion pack. I have made quite few 2S packs for ZOHD Drift but never pack of this size which is 6000mah – 8 x LG H2 cells in total.

I’ve spent roughly 2 hours making this pack and worst part was to find some really good instructions for it (here). End product was great and looked even better with a proper label 🙂 It works so well I am in process of making another pack for more fun 🙂


Centre of Gravity

Wing wouldn’t fly well if CG was off the design location. AR Wing Pro has this point marked on both wings by a moulded mark with CG written on it.

After few flights I came to conclusion that if we move CG to about 3-5mm in front of that mark she will fly more stable on pitch axis.

Worth mentioning is the fact that without HD camera in the nose wing wont hit CG unless more weight is added do the front. That’s du to design and the fact that battery sits in one, non-adjustable position inside fuselage. I have bought 5 and 10 grams leads with sticky tape and its easy to adjust CG with them. Whatever works for of course so even coins can be used.


Flying experience / Test flights

Flight 1 / Maiden: Stock PIFF settings, overhead launch in ANGLE mode and she went off successfully. I didn’t have much time before rain came back but at least this flight gave me confidence that build worked and wing flies correctly. I came back home happy after this flight:)

Flight 2: in windy conditions. Side launched. She flew really nice. I tested landings in a very limited space on the top of the dune and yes, I am a master of it 🙂

Flight 3: Same location as Flight 2, simmilar conditions but this time a little bit of low pass over the dunes.

Flight 4: I called it breakthrough flight because I had big banana smile after that one when I got home 🙂 Nearly 0 wind conditions and I have enabled AUTOTUNE via INAV. Damn, this was smoothie flight and from that moment I started looking at AR Wing Pro in slightly different way, like at the wing you just really want to fly when you’re going for some FPV

Flight 5: Very breezy conditions this time but I have experimented and flew it with 9×5 APC Sport prop. Fantastic performance. I was blown away with performance in such conditions. I literally didn’t expect such stable flight in such wind. I have made my mind after this flight.


Conclusions

Here’s my list of things worth mentioning to those considering buying AR Wing Pro. There is A LOT of points I like about that wing but not everything is always perfect and here’s what I found out.

Pros:

  • Comes in small-reusable box
  • Very well thought with big attention to detail. Seems like it was made by pilot who knows what people normally need and do with new wing build
  • Detachable wings
  • Wing 6-pin connectors are super handy – no more messy wiring
  • Tons of space inside for components
  • Very good ventilation inside the fuselage
  • Multiple camera nose options for mounting GoPro or any other HD cameras at the front
  • Designed to work with DJI Air Unit out of the box with supplied second main bay cover
  • Dedicated cut outs on both wings for fitting Radio Receiver or Video Transmitter + pre-made canals for wires
  • PNP kit comes with very efficient motor, good quality ESC and fantastic servos
  • Very quiet during flight with PNP motor and prop. Ideal if you (like me) fly in the area where dog walkers can take revenge on you for being noisy! 🙂
  • Large Li-Ion packs can be fitted without any issue. 4S 7000mah Li-Ion, even 4S 5200mah LiPo fits without a problem
  • Very nice flight characteristics. Even better after INAV autotune
  • She flies very will in pretty much *any wind conditions (*not hurricanes of course!)

Cons:

  • Supplied servo push rods are little bit too long making it a slightly difficult to add reflex to control surface because it’s impossible to screw plastic attachments more. Easy fixable, but worth pointing that out
  • I thought that box AR Wing Pro came with can be used to store it once wings are removed but it isn’t the case. It wont fit the box with motor and winglets attached which is a bummer if you (like me) go on holiday in your car filled up to roof and planning to take a wing as well 🙂
  • Winglets are thin and they chip easily from landing. Mine already lost a bit of foam
  • Winglets tend to detach or even rip the plywood bit off on landing unless they are glued or secured by tape etc.
  • Plywood plate that is meant to hold HD cam can crack after few landings

Final thoughts

Enough with bullet points. Time to tell you my own personal opinion about AR Wing Pro.

So short answer is: Yes, I like this wing. And here’s why.

It is very well engineered product. SonicModel has listened to pilots, they checked their preferences, their typical build techniques etc and made this wing in such a way that when you build it you’ve got a lot of things already done for you and you only have to worry with decisions like: “should I fit VTX in the wing, or in the bay, if so, left bay or right bay?” , stuff like that.

Personally this made me super happy because finishing wing build in one evening is a huge achievement, again, because of good design.

Another thing is options. You’ve got two top plates for either DJI/HD Cam or just plain cover. You can use different types of GoPros or any other HD cams in the nose. You can choose from many different batteries to use and they should fit making it a good option for ultimate long range, DJI HD “eagly eye” type of cruising wing or fast screamer to burn 10000mah in under 5 minutes 🙂

There is huge amount of space inside for the build. Literally space is the last thing to worry when it comes to building AR Wing Pro.

She also flies very nice. I was lucky enough to test her in different flying weather and apart from the maiden I was super happy with every flight. I didn’t like maiden because CG was possibly knocked by a bit and she didn’t fly as nice as during next flights.

I am by no means a fanboy here, just genuinely think it’s a good product, even for beginners (if they can side launch a wing !).
There is always room for improvement (see Cons list) of course and I am sure that SonicModell can do their best and address those issues in the future.

Hopefully my review will give you few answers about this wing.
If you want to discuss it more head over to my YouTube channel and stay in touch!

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


TBS Tango 2 Review

There has been nothing but speculations circling around, since the first mention of Tango 2 during one of the TBS live streams. Well, it’s here finally and I had a chance to get one early before the actual release to write this review.

Without a further ado let’s take a look at Tango 2.

Small disclaimer: I have never used first TBS Tango remote, so in this post I won’t be comparing Tango 2 to its predecessor – TBS Tango.

I will be reviewing a pre-release version, so final box content for instance might be different from what I’ve had.

Tango 2 comes in two versions – Tango 2 (150$) and Tango 2 Pro (200$). Pro version includes foldable sticks and that’s the only difference. I’ll be reviewing Tango 2 Pro.

Link to the TBS website: www.team-blacksheep.com/tango2

Tango 2 can be purchased from HobbyRC in UK: https://www.hobbyrc.co.uk/tbs-tango-2-pro-transmitter

Specification:

Built in Crossfire link with 10mW, 25mW and 250mW available power settings
Weight: 345g
Size: 17 x 14 x 6 cm
Battery: 1S 5000mAh
Charging: 5V @ 2A, USB Type-C (Runtime approx. 8hrs)
Display: 129×96 pixels OLED panel
Audio: 3.5mm headphone jack
Antenna: Standard full-size TX antenna with switchable vertical or horizontal polarisation
Gimbals: Hall with adjustable spring tension and vertical range. M3 thread. Foldable sticks in Tango 2 Pro version
Switches: 2 x 2 position, 2 x 3 position and 2 x momentary

In the box

  Tango 2 box is very tiny compared to typical full size transmitters. 

Inside the box I received was:

  • Tango 2
  • Gimbal Springs Set
  • U.fl to SMA Adapter with 3D printed bracket
  • Neck strap 

Physical appearance

Tango 2 is a gamepad style controller, very compact and light. It has a rubber grips at the back which can be removed to access screws underneath for opening the shell. 

The shape of transmitter is comfortable and ergonomics are good. I am a hybrid-pincher and had no issues when using it that way. It fits pinchers and thumbers too.

There is no physical trim buttons but it is done after double clicking the scroll wheel and selecting each trim by another double click. Straight forward.

Charging is done via USB-C.

Foldable sticks

Tango 2 has folding sticks for ease of transportation. You need to pull the stick off the gimbal and then it folds towards the centre. I haven’t seen this feature on any RC remote yet. That’s pretty cool stuff.

Foldable antenna

 Antenna on Tango 2 is fixed, there is no SMA connection (unless you put one one that can be purchased separately). It can be folded close to shell but when its set vertically it can act as radio stand. Neat feature 

Switches (or shall I say buttons)

Unlike most conventional radios on the market, Tango 2 has buttons acting as switches.  No more broken switches I guess (happened to me many times before !) 

Number of switches should be enough for most pilots

User interface and screen

TBS managed to squeeze very tiny screen letting you to configure OpenTX, set the models, channels, crossfire options and so on. It’s monochrome – little bit like the screen found on Crossfire TX „big” module but slightly larger.

Unfortunately I have noticed that some OpenTX messages didn’t fit on the screen and partially were not displayed.

Below the screen there is super bright status LED. There is no way to adjust the brightness (unless its changed in the future firmware update), so reading the screen in dark conditions is a bit of a struggle.

There are 3 buttons and one scroll wheel used to navigation through radio menus. It doesn’t take long to get used to the layout.

Build in crossfire

Tango 2 has built-in Crossfire Micro TX and there is no bay at the back to fit external receivers. Crossfire only. This means simplified communication via LUA script and no more „mods” to get the full speed baud rate when using LUA scripts and telemetry.
To access the Crossfire menu you need to press MENU button once and it’s on the first page.

Freedom TX

Tango 2 comes flashed with FreedomTX which is OpenTX fork customised by TBS and is OpenSource. Interface and settings are accessible via screen. It’s pretty much the same OpenTX most of FPV pilots is already familiar with. 

User serviceable 

It takes 6 screws to open back plate and to access Tango 2 internals. Battery, gimbals are user serviceable so they can be removed if required. 

Battery is completely removable. It’s held in place by strong velcro patch

MicroSD card is not accessible without radio disassembly.

Compared to other transmitters and PS3 gamepad (Photos only)

Using Tango 2 – my impressions

I will make positive points first:

1./ Build quality is excellent. Tango 2 is manufactured in China but nothing squeaks or cracks and transmitter feels very solid.

2./ Smaller form factor is the most noticeable and at least in my case it changed how I pack and travel with FPV gear. It’s so light that it’s easy to forget that you carry a radio transmitter on your neck during flight session : )

3./ Now I will make an important statement: Tango 2 is hands down the best transmitter when it comes to handling in my opinion. I am by no means a TBS fanboy but I take full responsibility for above statement : ) It feels amazing in hands. I am a hybrid pincher and had no issues when using it that way. It fits pinchers and thumbers too. Worth mentioning is that Tango 2 is perfectly balanced when handing on the lanyard. No additional tweaks are needed.

4./ Gimbals feel solid. I didn’t even have to adjust the stick height, it was good out of the box. Worth mentioned – those are full size hall effect gimbals for better precision. They are spaced little bit closed than other transmitters due to the smaller form factor but they still feel very nice.

5./ Folding antenna –  moving it in horizontal or vertical position works without a problem. Using it as a radio stand – brilliant idea.

6./ Switches –  this is my favourite part because they work really well! On the other hand It’s also a little bit of learning curve because, so far using toggle switches is like a muscle memory. 

I only fly FPV wings and my assignment (as an example) is:

  • A button for Arming 
  • D button for RTH
  • B switch for various things like autolaunch for instance
  • C switch for flight modes
  • F switch for buzzer

7./ Tango 2 can be charged by USB-C port – pretty easy to charge from laptop in the field for instance. Very convenient

It’s not all unicorns and flowers, there is a list of things I didn’t like about Tango 2:

1./  OpenTX general issues. After testing I noticed some OpenTX messages were not completely displayed on the screen because of its size. Im sure this can be fixed by OpenTX team but at the time being it looks like glitch.
Also I was unable to set the date in the system for instance and setting was erased after reboot

2./ Standard versus Pro. Foldable stick are a great addition – stop making the Standard version!  🙂 Also I’d expect at least a carrying case as an extra with Pro version. One of those cases would make a better justification for spending more on Pro too.

3./ 250mW maximum output power for crossfire. 250mW power is plenty for most plots but long range pilots would welcome having option for little bit more. I don’t know if its ia hardware limitation or it is possible to get more power but having more is always better right ? 🙂

4./ Supplied lanyard is simply too short. I had to use longer replacement because there was no way to move Tango 2 lower with the neck strap from the box.

5./ One thing I noticed with the A and D large buttons is that when they are pressed the edge around it on the shell is pretty sharp and you can feel it by your finger. Would have been nice if there was a little more fillet etc. on that part of shell.

6./ Super bright LED. It’s difficult to read the screen with the LED on. Trappy already mentioned that this will get adjusted in the future software release though so hopefully it won be an issue soon.

7./ Rubber grip at the back is nice but it’s rather flushed with the surface of the transmitter. It would have been nice if it was slightly more substantial for even nicer feeling.

8./ The antenna mount is a bit plasticky and it seems like it wont take much to crack the plastic / break it. Some reinforced material would be nice in that specific location to make sure it doesn’t break easy.

Final word, yay or nay?

Tango 2 is a definitely yay from me. It’s smaller, feels good in hands, easier to carry, has crossfire built in, OpenTX, and foldable sticks – good features making flying FPV little bit more pleasurable experience : )

If you’re not an extreme long range pilot requiring 2 Watts of power for your radio Tango 2 should be good enough for most flying scenarios.

Brother Hobby SpeedShield 2207.5 1750kv motor review

BrotherHobby Speed Shield 2207.5 1750kv motors review

SpeedSheld is BrotherHobby new series of 2207.5 motors and I’ve had an opportunity to test the 1750kv version.

They can be purchased from GetFPV or local suppliers depending on availability.

Testing motor samples were supplied by Brother Hobby.

Specs

Speed Shield motors have one size – 2207.5 but they have quite few available KV options:

  • 1750
  • 2108
  • 2400
  • 2700
  • 3400

As you can see some of the KV options are a bit „extreme” 🙂 I have chosen 1750v „low KV” to test because I feel there is a hole in the market for that speck of motors, predominantly made for 6”or 7” cruisers but also for high voltage racers with 5” props. Unfortunately I don’t have such racing setup and I only checked the long range cruise option with those motors.

Speed Shield come with titanium alloy hollow shaft, Japanese NMB 9x4x4mm bearing, 7075 aluminium bell, N52H arc magnets, support 4-6S voltage and weight around 32g out of the box (around 29g with shorter wires).

At closer look

Motors are packed in the plain and simple box as any other BH motors I’ve seen.

From the first look they feel like a premium product. Finish and material quality is very good. They come with around 16cm of 20AWG wires. When spun by hand they are very smooth. The magent resistance is not as strong as previous returner R3 series though. Bearings are smooth and quiet. Shaft is held by a screw as opposed to C-clip still commonly used in motors.

What’s interesting with those motors is that the bell design is very different to any of the previous motors done by Brother Hobby – they are made to look like Captain’s America shield. Even colours are the same. Big plus for all the Marvel fans out there 🙂

Motor Testing and flight performance

I was extensively testing Speed Shields on my 7” cruiser:

  • TBS Source One 7”
  • KISS FC V1
  • KISS 32A ESC
  • TBS FPVision
  • TBS GPS
  • TBS Crossfire
  • GoPro Session
  • various 4S and 5S lipos
  • Gemfan 7042 props (my personal favourites for 7”)

Prior to testing this motor I’ve had R3 2206 1720kv installed on this particular machine.

So what was the flight performance of this motor? What can I say – I really like it. It was smooth from the first second. No visible oscillations in FPV feed and GoPro footage was clear! That was really good bearing in mind that it was 7” quad and they are really hard to tune and to get satisfactory footage.

1750kv is a little bit higher KV for 7” meaning that it can make quad flying fast but at the cost of higher amperage. That was a case here. I was cruising at around 70-80km/h using around 13-15 amps on 4S. With 5S amps draped by around 3 and this is actually my recommended voltage but it didn’t feel slow with 4S either.

My quad felt very responsive and the overall flying experience was very pleasant. 7” machine is all about having good cruise without any of that freestyle nonsense moves and in my opinion SpeedShields can be used for that purpose without any issue.

Flying footage

My two flying videos:

 

Conclusion

Time to gather positives and things to improve about Speed Shields

Good things about Speed Shield motor:

  • good build and materials quality
  • reasonable price
  • they are smooth!
  • good performance on 7” with 1750kv
  • interesting bell design with the Captains America shield
  • no C-clip

Things to improve:

  • can we get Iron Man bell design please? : )

BrotherHobby yet again came out with an interesting motor for mini quads. Good build quality with reasonable price plus smooth flying performance – that’s exactly what one would expect from a good motor.

Flyduino KISS 25A 2-5S ESCs (single and 4in1) review

I’ve been flying Flyduino KISS products ever since I bought their first Flight Controller (V1) and 24A Race ESCs back in 2016. Last year I have tried their newer products: 32A ESC and KISS FC V2, so I’ve got good knowledge regarding their flying properties and performance.

This time I will take a look at the latest ESCs from Flyduino:

  • KISS 2-5S 25A single
  • KISS 2-5S 25A 4in1

Testing samples were kindly supplied by Flyduino.

KISS 2-5S 25A

Main features

  • 12 x 26mm and weights 3g
  • 32-Bit-ARM Cortex M4 MCU running at 80 MHz
  • Supporting 2S to 5S LiPo
  • Max continuous current 25A, protective current limiting of max 40A
  • Dshot 100-2400, Oneshot42 and Oneshot125
  • Turtle mode, 3D mode and rotation direction change supported
  • sinHybrid for smoother performance
  • Motors „talking feature”

ESCs come without any wires, so you might need to purchase them separately to avoid surprise. That’s how it always been with KISS ESCs.

25A ESCs are noticeable smaller than previous generations: 24A and 32A which shared the same form factor. New ones are better suitable for compact builds or frames with thing arms.

At closer look

New ESCs are made from a separate PCBs stacked together as it appears on the photos. Soldering pads are small but still comfortable enough to solder. 3 FETs are at the bottom along with current sensor.

 

Compared to 32A ESC?

All features of 32A are incorporated in 25A ones apart from the obvious continuous current value. Form factor change is the biggest difference as far as I can tell.

32A versus 25A (heatshrinked)

Depending on the thickness of wires soldered to ESC the weight reduction between 25A and 32A, considering the size difference was around 1g.

KISS 2-5S 25A 4in1

New 25A 4in1 is essentially four single 25A ESCs fitted on one PCB. Features are the same between single and 4in1 version.

4in1 weights around 12g.

 

At closer look

25A 4in ESC has XT-60 pigtail pads, motors signal pads and socket allowing for connection with KISS FC and also soldering pads to motor signals plus additional VBAT pads.

Motors are numbered as per KISS standards meaning front left is 1 and rest follows clockwise. Numbers are written on the board so it has to be installed in a specific orientation.

I am not aware if it is actually possible to remap the motors on KISS though. M3 holes spacing is 30mm exactly so when this ESC is fitted into the standard frame using 30.5 you might want to use a file to make the holes little bit bigger.

It is the same as with KISS FC where holes never match perfectly because of that 0.5mm difference.

 

Installation

I used my current build based on DemonRC Blaze frame and fitted 4in1 in there. Apart from the mounting holes adjustments there was no issues. I used longer screws to make sure there was enough thread for the soft mounting bobbins and stacked KISS FC V1 on top.

To connect ESC signals with FC I used supplied harness, although it is (unnecessarily) pretty long wires so I had to fly them in-between ESC and FC. VTX power was taken from directly from ESC Lipo pads and FC power from VBAT pads.

Initial power-on revealed that ESC is flashed with the voice firmware, so it „talks” when you power the quad on.

Flight performance tests

KISS 25A single ESC was fitted in the 6” Reverb

Specs:

  • ImpulseRC 6” Reverb
  • ImpulseRC ReverbPDB
  • NorthAero 2207.5 2450kv
  • KISS FC V2
  • KISS 25A ESC
  • TBS Unify
  • TBS Crossfire
  • RunCam Swift V2
  • Turnigy Graphene 1300 4S
  • HQ 5.5x4x3

It is a great cruiser quad and previously it did have KISS 32A esc installed.

I have tested various props but found that HQ 5.5” are the best for smooth footage. New 25A escs fit Reverb arms so much better than previous 32A and nothing was sticking out of the arm.

So how was the flight performance? I won’t going to lie – it was great.

Very smooth since the first second in the air. I didn’t even have to re-adjust pids (which were only increased slightly from stock). Performance was „sharp”, rolls and flips had no bounce backs. I feel that KISS ESC performance has the best out of the box effect compared to any other ESCs and firmwares I’ve tried over the years.

KISS 25A 4in1 ESC was fitted in 5” DemonRC Blaze

Specs:

  • DemonRC Blaze
  • NorthAero 2207.5 2650kv
  • KISS FC V1
  • KISS 25A 4in1 ESC
  • TBS Unify
  • TBS Crossfire
  • RunCam Sparrow Micro V2
  • Turnigy Graphene 1300 4S
  • HQ 5×4.5×3 V1S

I had HelioFC and Blheli32 ESCs installed on the machine prior to this test with KISS. It was never performing as I would hoped for. Ive had all sort of oscillations and weird things going on.
ButterFlight works well on my 7” cruiser but here I simply couldn’t get it to work or I was doing some user errors with filter settings etc. I don’t know, maybe it was my fault.

First flight with 4in1 ESC literarily dropped my jaw to the ground – it flew sooo nice. Very „sharp”, no oscillations, absolutely no trace of vibrations in the footage and butter smooth performance.

Please bear in mind Ive had „old” KISS FC V1 installed because I didn’t have V2 spare for this test. Blaze flew great again and I have made few clips from the flight footage to show it.

Flight Videos

 

 

 

 

 

Conclusion

25A single ESC
Positives:

  • Butter smooth performance
  • All features of 32A ESC but in a smaller form
  • Improved form factor for frames with narrow arms (fits perfect to Reverb)
  • Supports up to 5S
  • ESC telemetry

Negatives:

  • Price. I wish they were a bit cheaper
  • No wires included and they need to be purchases separately (always a case with KISS ESCs)

25A 4in1 ESC
Positives:

  • Butter smooth performance
  • 41in form factor so possible to use with stacked builds
  • Supports up to 5S
  • ESC telemetry

Negatives

  • Price. I wish they were a bit cheaper
  • No wires included and they need to be purchases separately (always a case with KISS ESCs)
  • Included wire harness is a bit too long, I think 5cm would have been enough
  • No plug’n’play solution for powering the KISS FC off the ESC since there is no second socket (similar like on Alien Steele PDB). I had to solder the VBAT to KISS FC directly

New KISS 25A ESCs are a good option for those who want a very smooth flight performance with minimum fuss and configuration required to make it to work.
Smaller form factor is a great bonus, also having 4in1 option is good too.

My biggest complain however is the price still. I understand this is a top quality products but competition isn’t sitting tight and ESC proces dropped over the last few years. If it was a bit cheaper that would be a massive bonus.

Also worth mentioning – new ESCs worked well with new Reverb PDB I was testing but that’s for another article 🙂

Testing TBS SourceOne 7″ (Trappy’s quad)

In May 2018 TeamBlackSheep announced an „open source frame” called Source One.
Raphael „Trappy” Pirker offered sending his own Source One 7” version across for testing purposes and in this article I will take you through testing and share my thoughts about it.

Open Source Project

Source One files are available via GitHub

It is very unusual project in FPV world where frame design is basically shared to the people to make it better. At the same time frame at the current revision is being sold under the TBS brand for very cheap  – around £25 in UK – same price as the chinese’s no-name or cloned frames!
Very different approach to the frame design compared to anything else currently on the market currently.
My colleague and fellow blogger Philipp Seidel is the guy who manage this project.

Source One 7” RTF

Source One quad I was testing had the following specs:

Frame: Source One with 7” (6mm thick) arms

Motors: TBS Endurance

ESC: Flycolor 30A 2-4S blheli-s dshot

Flight Controller: TBS Colibri Race

Video Transmitter: TBS FPVision with TBS Triumphs

RX: TBS Crossfire Nano with Immortal-T antenna

FPV Camera: TBS ZeroZero (replaced by me with RunCam Swift V2)

Quad came completely ready to fly, so I had to bind my radio with crossfire nano and it was all ready to go. Trappy mentioned during TBS couch episode that he crashed this quad from rather high altitude and I saw the marks on arms ends  🙂 FPV camera wasn’t working properly so I replaced it before my first flight. I can only assume it stopped working after the crash.

Lipo on this particular machine is meant to be attached at the bottom. S1 came with Ethix lipo strap and battery landing protector taken from Oblivion – clever solution. There are also foam pads isolating battery from the frame.

Immortal-T antenna was attached to the underside of the arms by 3D print. Video pigtail antenna was also attached to the frame by 3D print and zip ties. Very neat and functional .

Source One with 4S 2200mah lipo attached weights 664g.  Around 750g with GoPro Session 5 and 3D printed GoPro mount.

Frame quality

I can’t say a bad word about carbon fibre quality in this frame. Top plate is 2mm thick, bottom plate 3mm and arms have impressive 6mm thickness. Plates looks very solid and I haven’t seen any imperfections in carbon fibre or anything that would indicate cheap quality or cutting corners.

Frame is very very stiff thanks to thick arms

Testing

Before flying Source One I’ve added a GoPro mount and TBS GPS puck. I had to make the BST splitter harness.

Also, in addition I’ve added the 25V 470uf caps to all ESCs. It was fitted just in case to remove unwanted electric noise.

Flycolor ESCs dictated lipo voltage I could use and it was 4S maximum. Normally I fly 5S on my 7” Reverb but I gave it a go.

Test lipos:

  • Turnigy Graphene 1500mah 4S and
  • Turnigy (blue, cheap) 2200mah 4S

Firmware: Butterflight 3.5.1 / Betaflight 3.3

Test props:

  • HQ 7×3.5×3
  • HQ 7×4.5
  • Gemfan Flash 7042

In my tests Betaflight performed better actually. Strangely enough quad experienced much less oscillations. Don’t ask me how 🙂 I have flown in both cases with all filters on and PT1 enabled. ButterFlight had fast-kalman turned on.

With HQ 7×3.5×3 quad was shaking pretty bad. There was no jello in the footage, just shakes. PID tuning, filters had no impact on that.

After putting HQ 7×4.5 on I have immediately noticed that shakes were gone and I had a silky smooth footage on that one.

Gemfan 7042 gave me a little bit of visible oscillations (in FPV cam and GOPro footage) but it wasn’t too bad overall.

HQ 7×4.5 (strangely) won this test. On this prop quad was flying „sharp” if you know what I mean. I enjoyed it.

As for flight times. I had 11 minutes from 2200mah pack when pulling 8-10amps and with cruise speed of around 50km/h

I managed to fly 7-8 minutes on 1500mah 4S  pulling the same amount of amps.

Those were very satisfying flight times. Looks to me that it is possible to have 15-20minutes flight time with 3000 or 4000mah lipo. I haven’t got one that big yet, so can’t prove it though.

Flying experience with this machine depends greatly on props used but overall, compared to my other 7” rig I was very satisfied with it. Endurance motors are not super powerful but this is not actually needed in the machine that is made for a mellow cruise and not floppy floppy ripping 🙂

Oscillations are common on 7” builds but the right prop / motor combination can make it to work. Oddly enough I had nothing but just bad experience with HQ 7×3.5×3 on this quad. Maybe there is a weird resonance between frame and that prop on Endurance motors causing it? I don’t know – it simply didn’t work for me.

Flight video will be posted as soon as I get some nice material to share.

Conclusion

I would like to say big thanks to Trappy for sending his quad across to Scotland for testing. This allowed me for first hand experience available before frame even hit the shops.

Overall I was happy with how it flies and there will be more flights (and videos) published here as the summer goes on.
It is great to have a frame at this price point and with such good quality. It may not be to everyones taste when it comes to look but design DXF file is available to download so literally everyone can make it to desired look. Sky is the limit 🙂

To the Source (Infinity) and beyond! / Buzz Lightyear – Toy Story

Cheap motors perform well? RobotDog RD2205 2500kv review

I’ve had an opportunity to take a look at the 9$ motors being sold by FPV Model – > RobotDog RD2206 2500kv.

What is so special with those motors? Price for sure. It is around £6-7 which is half price of the cheapest motors in UK shops.

Specs

Stator diameter: 22mm
Stator heigh: 5mm
KV: 2500
Weight with long wires: 28g

At close look

RobotDog motors despite low price have (surprisingly) premium feel. Shaft is held by a C-clip. Material feels solid. Bell has thick cooling fins and coils are winded nicely. Motor feels smooth when spun by hand.
They come with 11cm length wires.

Magnets don’t have too much resistance and it would be fair to compare their resistance to Lumenier RX2206 2350kv which were my favourite smooth motors for a long time.

There is no vertical play in the bell at all.

Test quad

I have tested motors on my 5” „Steele” Alien

Specs:

  • KISS 32A Esc
  • KISS FC V2
  • ImmersionRC Tramp VTX
  • RunCam Swift V2
  • Crossfire Micro RX V2
  • Turnigy Graphene 4S 1300mah
  • HQ 5×4.5×2

After flight impressions

I flew over my usual flying spot – open space fields. Motors performed very well. They were very very smooth. There was no shakes or oscillations during the flight (I had some on the same setup with LeDrib motors for instance). Low end of the throttle had plenty power. On the other hand when punched (above 60% throttle) motors were not that much powerful. It comes down to the stator heigh and 5mm is not enough for motors to be very powerful. My flight was snappy enough but was lacking that extra kick you get with 7mm stator motors.

I had some bounce backs on that setup and that definitely needs tuning to get rid of.

I was getting almost 4 minutes of pretty snappy cruise and acro flying. When I pushed more throttle battery lasted me 2 minutes.

On average I have seen between 13-17amps and even 30 when punched.

My flight video:

Conclusion

Positives:

  • Price! Only 9.99$ (£7.5) which is around half of what motors usually cost
  • Low weight
  • Excellent build quality
  • Very smooth when spun by hand and in the air
  • Efficient

Negatives

  • Stator could have been taller to give more of top end speed
  • Mine came without the bolts for some reason

My summary:

I didn’t know what to expect from motor as cheap as this but after the test flight I was  positively surprised. Very smooth performance and great efficiency.

I can’t comment on durability at this stage though. Will update this post after more testing.

RobotDog motors can be recommended for those who want to build on budget as well as for new pilots just getting into the hobby. They are cheap enough to replace when needed. On the other hand I wish they could have been made with a taller stator and somehow low price or at least at similar level. That would make them even better choice.

NorthAero Typhoon and Phoenix motors review

Over the recent weeks I was testing two new NorthAero motors: Typhoon and Phoenix. Motors are designed by Sean Cox of NorthAero and manufactured by BrotherHobby.

In this article I will put down my thoughts about them.

Unboxing

Motors are packed in standalone boxes and have their specs printed on the label. Typhoon and Phoenix come with a set of four high quality M3x6 screws and a lock nut. They come with wires of approximately 17cm long which is very generous.

NorthAero motors are „bottomless” which means that there is less protection from the bottom but on the hand it is easier to keep the motor clean.

Design is all black with silver markings with cooling fins at the top of the bell. Shaft is held by a screw instead of C-clip.

Specification

  • 2207.5 2650kv Typhoon
  • 2207.5 2450kv Phoenix
  • Stator: 0.2mm Kawasaki silicon steel
  • Titanium Alloy hollow shaft
  • NSK 9x4x4 bearings
  • N52h arc magnets
  • 16x16mm screw holes
  • 34g of weight with long wires (around 31g with shorter wires)

Both Typhoon and Phoenix share the same specs apart from KV.

Build quality

NorthAero motors are manufactured by well known BrotherHobby and their build quality doesn’t disappoint. Windings are neatly done and there is no vertical play in the shaft. Just another well made motor.

Motor Testing

I was extensively testing both motors on my favourite freestyle quad:

  • Impulse Reverb frame
  • KISS V2 FC and KISS 32A ESCs
  • TBS Unify VTX
  • Crossfire RX
  • RunCam Swift V2 camera

Typhoon

I had very high hopes for this higher KV motor and I was not disappointed. Typhoons have a very smooth throttle response. There is a lot of torque at the lower and but when the punch is needed there is a very good top end here. I was blown away with the speed of those motors. Pretty insane.

As for battery life I was getting solid 3 minutes of flying on 4S 1300mah graphene lipo which is not bad at all. Lipo was a little bit warm at the end. I guess its because those are high KV motors that can actually squeeze every juice from the battery.

Little clip from on the first flights is here:

Phoenix

Lower KV option, should in theory give better efficiency and thats exactly what I noticed. Phoenix motors had loads of torque on lower end of the throttle but also top end wasn’t bad either. Lipo battery didnt sag as much as with typhoons and I had nearly extra minute of flight time making it 4 on my testing rig which. Of course, no two flights are the same but just take it an indiction.

/Flight video will be added later here/

Conclusion

NorthAero motors are pretty powerful. In fact, they are actually the most powerful motors I have personally tried so far.

On a negative side, they are little bit more expensive compared to competition. I have also managed to damage the shaft screw during bell removal. Somehow the thread disappeared and I couldn’t remove the screw.

Both Typhoon and Phoenix impressed me a lot. Excellent build quality and generally smooth performance is making them a very good choice.

Shopping link 

Motors can be ordered directly from NorthAero @ https://www.northaero.uk/shop