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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Tested both 2S and 3S configurations.
– Li-Ion 3000mah made from LG HG2
– HQ 5×5 prop (came with the kit)
– 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.
Flight in windy conditions:
Chillout field cruise:
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.
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