Walkera Rodeo 150 White

Introducing Walkera Rodeo 150, a unique and slick looking 15 cm size quadcopter, with a mix of  racing drone aerobatic features from the F3 flight controller, and the classic Devo 7 radio transmitter programmability.  The quadcopter was designed to weigh less than 0.55 pounds for hobbyist who rather not register with the FAA in the USA.  It is not a full fletch racer but a speedy mini quadcopter with brushless motors, a category of mini quadcopters gaining popularity recently.walkera-rodeo150-top.jpg

First Impression, we love the Rodeo 150 design and the color scheme, a mini-me of the Walkera F210.  Kudos to the Walkera drafting engineers.  You can use an external receiver, which means you can use any programmable radio transmitter you may already have, making this a popular BNF quadcopter.  The material used is light-weight Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS), a common thermoplastic polymer (also used by Lego).  It is impact resistance, but not strong enough to take a direct impact against a tree or slamming onto concrete.

Target Users
Keen Beginners, Park Flyers, Ready To Fly, Off the shelves, Collectors, Budget USD$229 MAP (May 2016 source: GearBest)

What To Expect If This Your First

You can easily spend 11 minutes on each flight, setting up and flying. The actual flight may last 6-8 minutes. On a Mode 2 radio transmitter, throttle stick is on the left.

Power on your radio transmitter first, make sure your throttle stick is at the lowest point or you will be reminded with beeps to do so. Check to make sure all your switches are up (position 0). Connect your battery to your copter, lay the copter flat on a hard surface immediately. This will allow the copter to self-level the gyroscope.

Once the red light flashes slowly, you have successfully bind with the radio.  Move your left throttle stick down to the lowest point and to the left, to unlock (arm) the motors.   The copter is now live.  To lock (disarm), move your left throttle stick down to the lowest point and to the right.

The copter LiPo battery may get a little warm after each flight. When the voltage is low (7 volts), the copter red lights will begin to flash quickly and begin to sound an beeping alarm at the same time.  You should manually land within 30 seconds to prevent the battery from over-discharging. Over-discharging a LiPo battery below 3 volts per cell, can permanently damage the battery. It is best to let the LiPo cool down before the next charge.

There are three flight modes, Stabilize, Intermediate and Advance assigned to the Mix Switches. You can only flip and roll with ease on Intermediate and Advance mode.

Flight Characteristic

The Rodeo 150 is agile.  We are currently completing a few more flights before reporting back.  Standby.

Similar Model Aircrafts

Users have recommended these 2016 alternatives:  the XK 251, Cheerson CX-91, JJRC X1

Camera

The camera is a sharp 600 TVL camera, capable for night flying. PAL/NTSC.  See video for results.

rodeo-150-frequency.jpg

Factory Specifications
Main Rotor Diameter: 96mm
Overall (LxWxH): 137 x 148 x 77mm
Weight: 215g, 0.47 lb (with battery)
Stock Radio Transmitter: DEVO 7 / DEVO F7
Receiver: DEVO-RX716
Main Flight Controller: FCS-Rodeo 150
Transmitter: TX5832(FCC)/TX5833(CE)
Camera: 600TVL DC 5-12V
Brushless motor: WK-WS-17-002(CW/CCW)
Brushless ESC: Rodeo 150
Battery: 7.4V 850mAh 30C 2S LiPo
Flight Time: 7-8mins
Working Temperature: -10℃~+40℃

What We Like About It

  • The speed and agility
  • Credits to the unique and futuristic design
  • Almost everything about it!


What We Would Like To See On the Next Version

  • DVR recording
  • Tail LED lights

In terms of ranking, I would say it is in the top 7 favorites during this release recorded May 2016.  An update to follow.   (Current Picks dronemission.com/top5).

Living Blog.  source: http://youtube.com/diydrone
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Contribution by the DroneMission.com R&D Team, a voting member of the Linux Foundation dronecode.org and board member of Walkera USA

FQ777-126c Spider Drone Hexacopter

Made by FQ777 (yes, that is the brand name), model Spider 126c is quite a unique radio control hexacopter.  Made to be portable, it is stored in a self-contained case / radio transmitter along with all the accessories in a compartment.  A nice showpiece if you are a collector and this hexcopter flies amazingly.

00033.MTS.Still001.jpg

 

First impression, we like the radio transmitter travel case, it keeps the copter away from dust, stores a set of spare propellers, dual chargers and propeller guards.  At first glance you will also noticed there are too many buttons, the most buttons we have ever seen on a radio, unlabeled.

Target Users
Beginners, Park Flyers, Ready To Fly, Off the shelves, Collectors, Budget under USD $37 (2016 source: GeekBuying)

What To Expect If This Your First

You can easily spend 11 minutes on each flight, setting up and flying. The actual flight may last 6-8 minutes. On a Mode 2 radio transmitter, throttle stick is on the left.

Connect your battery to your copter, lay the copter flat on a hard surface immediately. This will allow the copter to self-level the gyroscope. Power on your radio and move your left throttle stick up and down once to bind the receiver.   The copter is now live.

The copter LiPo battery may get a little warm after each flight. When the voltage is low, the copter four lights will begin to blink slowly and will begin to descent to prevent the battery from over-discharging. Over-discharging a LiPo battery below 3 volts per cell, can permanently damage the battery. It is best to let the LiPo cool down before the next charge.

There are three speeds, Low, Middle and High. You can set the speed to High (H) rates for outdoors, but we were able to fly with Low rates with 5 miles wind gust.

With a 6-axis gyro flight controller, you can toss your copter in the air and throttle up in full to self-level.  Lower your throttle stick to about half once you regain control to hold the altitude. You will than need to yaw around to identify the front or back, to regain your orientation.  If it helps, mark the back with white painter tape to make it more visible.

To complete an auto flip, fly to about 10 feet and push the right stick inwards on your radio, you will a click and move the stick in the direction you want it to flip. It will auto flip.

spider126-aa

Flight Characteristic

The Spider 126c tends to yaw at a high rate, a little movement on rudder stick will rotate the copter, go easy on the yaw.

Being hexacopter, it very stable in forward flights and hovering.

Camera

The camera is capable of 2.0MP but don’t expect too much out of it.  It seem to be focus at close distance and out of focus anything over a meter.  Since the radio transmitter buttons are not labelled, we recommend that you put sticker on the middle right button.  To start or stop recording a video, hold the button down 2 seconds for the sound of a beep.  A short press will take a photo.

Factory Specifications
Item No.: FQ777-126C
Hexacopter dimensions: 108x98x25mm
Transmitter dimensions: 181x114x48mm
Colors Available: Red, White, Black
Range: 50M
Camera: 2.0MP
Charging time: 30 minutes
Flying time: About 8 minutes
Frequency: 2.4Ghz
Flight battery: 3.7V 220mAh Li-Po battery
Transmitter battery: 4 x AA battery
Charging voltage: 3.7V

Find Sellers: http://dronemission.com/find/spider-126c.php

spider126-unbox

fq777-126c-buttons

Conclusion, this copter flies without doubt, stable.  If you are a beginner who wants to fly something small indoors or outdoors, we will recommend it.  It is light, so it does not break on a hard landing. Once you master yawing around and orientation, this copter is definitely a collectors piece.

FQ777, the areas we would like to see improve are the buttons, they should be labelled.  The sticks are are also little short and close to the buttons.

In terms of ranking, I would say it is in the top 10 favorites when it was released April 2016  (US$37), but not on the top 3 because of the tablet app and the signal glitches. (Current Picks dronemission.com/top5).

Living Blog.  source: http://youtube.com/diydrone
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Contribution by the DroneMission.com R&D Team, a voting member of the Linux Foundation dronecode.org and board member of Walkera USA

DeviationTX Walkera Devo Transmitter Hacking

One of the best kept secret of a Walkera transmitter is the ability to support multiple protocols using deviationtx firmware. So if you are flying a selection of models, such as e-Flite Carbon-Z, Walkera F210, Blade QX, Yuneec Typhoon, Parkzone Micro Warplane, Spektrum DSM2 plane, JJRC Tarantula x6 or Hubsan X4; you can turn your affordable Devo transmitter into a power house that supports multiple protocols, all you need is the provided Walkera USB transmitter cable.

x350-premium-osd.jpg

Specification:
The Deviation hacking project supports multiple protocols without any modifications to the transmitter:
● Devo 6/7e/8/10/12/F12e WK2401/WK2601/WK2801
● DSM2/DSMX JR, Spektrum, Turnigy
● Nine Eagles J6 Pro (with telemetry module)

It also supports other popular protocols with easy transmitter modifications
● Turnigy 9X
● Hubsan X4
● V202
● Skyartec
● Tactic SLT/Anylink
● Hisky

What’s more, you can store up-to 255 different models and you can select the transmitter power up-to 150mW.  Easily setup multiple customized timers, for example countdown and total time stopwatch.

We began our transition to Deviation when we were looking to purchase an external OrangeRX DSMX/DSM2 2.4Ghz transmitter module for our FrSky Taranis and realized we can do it for free with a Devo 10 on hand.

Pros:
1) Free and easy to upgrade
2) Programmable timers, scales, curves, failsafe, personalized icons, etc.
3) Stores 255 models in different protocols instead of 30 models on devo protocol only
4) Output power: long range 150mW power instead of 100mW limitation
5) Easy backup and reversible to Devention firmwares

+ Plus: We always had difficulty recovering in mid-air while flying a Walkera QR x350 with the stock firmware, but with Deviation you can overwrite the throttle warning messages, resume connectivity without bringing down your throttle.

Cons:
1) Setting up Dual Rates 3 way switches and exponential curves took a few more steps.  Best way to learn is to download sample models from the forum and try them.  Don’t get intimated, I suggest you take your time to learn it and will love this conversion.

Notes:  When you change between DSMX and Devo receiver, make sure you reassign the SRC Channels 1 & 3, Elevator and Throttle are switched around.  Make sure no props are in place when you first test your setup or be prepared to stop your model from flying, if you forgot to assign these channels properly.  A warning message may show 3% channel error.

Devo Receiver Channel Map
1-Ele
2-Ail   (Expo 20% as an example)
3-Thr  (with Safety Switch RUDD D/R)
4-Rud
Switch = Devo = Deviation = Cleanflight
Mix switch = Gear = Gear = Aux 1
FMOD switch = Flap = Ch 6 = Aux 2
Gear switch = Aux2 = !Ch 7 = Aux 3
RUDD D/R switch = Aux3 = !Ch 8 = Aux 4

On Devo 10, AUX4 default setting is AUX4 knob, AUX5 default setting is AUX5 knob.

Walkera Receivers

You may have to clear and rebind existing receivers with fixed ids.  If you change the number channels of a model, you may have to rebind.

When you create a new model, make sure you go to Mixer, set Throttle Simple SRC = THR, before binding. Check the rest of the channel AIL. ELE and RUD assigned to the right source too.  Be careful of throttle when binding, just in case you had it reversed.   Set a safety switch to your throttle, example set Safety = RUD DR0, Safe Val = -100.  A good old fashion technique, a safety switch disables the throttle so you don’t accidentally bump the throttle.

receivers-walkera.jpgdeviation-rx1002.jpg

Living Blog.  source: http://youtube.com/diydrone
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Deviation Firmware & Forum: deviationtx.com
Supported Model Database: Google Repository
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Contribution by the DroneMission.com R&D Team, a voting member of the Linux Foundation dronecode.org and board member of Walkera USA

FreeX MCFX-01 Drone Review FreeXgroup.com

FreeX MCFX ! It seems like the FreeX is being revived, now the 4.0 edition, in a nut shell reading the specs, what caught my eyes are:

  • Lost signal: Automatic return or hover at last known position
  • Reduces speed as it approaches launch point during return home, when near 80m
  • Stock Range: 1 km
  • Onetouch4 configuration tool software
  • Channels: 7
  • 6 Axis Gyro
  • FREE quality 2-axis gimbal with pitch control
  • Estimated price: $200!

freex-mcfx-unbox.jpg

History
FreeX is not new in the market, the SkyView has been in the market since 2014, marketed and backed by several prominent labels such as OFM, Xaircraft, manufactured by Skyartec ; along the way, Firmware V4 was released. I am not sure what else is different, but read on for everyone’s updates in the coming weeks.

It is also interesting to revisit the history behind this model. Back in 2014, when DJI Phantom1/2 and Walkera x350 Pro were selling like hot cakes, any new models entering the market was welcomed with great excitement. Everyone, including distributors and dealers were craving for more and claiming their territory to be selling the next hottest “drone”. You will notice there are several threads in the forum (several privately moderated thread) on the FreeX SkyView and lots of ranting, bickering at the start, and even today with scare tactics to brush any new sellers entering the market. After 2 long drone years, the FreeX has been revived from the grave, there is no need to carry those orange and white stripes dji-looks anymore, all that can be left behind, as a new chapter unfolds.

 

Factory Specifications
Model No.: FreeX MCFX-01
Country of Origin: Taiwan
Width & Length: 280mm
Height: 191mm
Diagonal base: 396mm
Propeller Size: Standard 9 inch (Supports upto 10 inch)
Flight Time: About 15-20 minutes with 3000mAh Battery (supports 3S only)

Flight Characteristic
The forward flight is fast, easy to handle.

User Segments
Beginners, Video Platform, Ready To Fly, Off the shelves, Budget USD$189.99 (May 2016 source: GearBest)

Tip
Tested propellers compatible with the original Phantom 3 Spare Part No 9 self tightening (available at BestBuy).  You can flybbeypnd your geofence on manual mode.

 

freex-mcfx-djiprop.jpg

What To Expect If This Your First
You can easily spend 15 minutes on each flight, setting up and flying. The actual flight may last 10-15 minutes. On a Mode 2 radio transmitter, throttle stick is on the left.

You must complete a compass calibration on your first flight outdoors.

  • Move both stick up and together, immediately begin to rotate the quadcopter horizontally, side and forward, quickly non-stop.
  • Set it down flat and move both sticks up and apart to complete the calibration.
  • Disconnect the battery to reboot, to use the new adjusted magnetic north.
  • To test the compass, find north and point the quadcopter north, a blue light should come on the left rear LED. Tilt it 45 degrees down and up, it should stay blue.

When to cailibrate:

  • When you change venue a long way from your last flying location (greater than 100 miles).
  • When your quadcopter is drifting or rotating in a “toilet bowl effect” fashion. The inclination and deviation has to be corrected through compass calibration. The inconsistencies between GPS and compass will cause that swirling motion, in a tug-of -war for direction.
  • After a firmware upgrade, as it may carry the factory magnetic values.

Connect your battery to your quadcopter, close battery door and power on, lay the quadcopter flat on a hard surface immediately. Power on your radio and wait for the GPS blinking green light, signaling enough GPS has been acquired. I found that I will only receive GPS outdoors, so fon’t a green light indoors always.

START
When you are ready to fly, move your left throttle down and to the right, to arm the motors. The propellers will begin to rotate slowly, the quadcopter is now live, any movement on the throttle stick will accelerate the motors.

STOP
To stop the motors, lower the left throttle stick to the lowest point and to the left For 3 seconds.

Further digging, led me to believe this quadcopter carries the new 4.0 firmware with added 2 failsafe design.

  • the flight controller will detect a loss of signal from the receiver and will auto-return home.
  • the new receiver will send signal to flight controller every second, if MCU of receiver has any problems (faulty), the quadcopter will auto-return (whereas the old version receiver doesn’t send any signal to flight controller).

Similar Model Aircrafts
Users have recommended these 2016 alternatives: the XK x380, Hubsan X4 Pro H109S, UpAir Chase

What we love about it

  • Good Forward speed
  • Stability and easy to fly
  • True North Indicator for Compass Calibration

What is essential we hope to see in the next version

  • Improve on Gimbal, as it tends to pitch down for no reason

In terms of ranking, I would say it is in the top 5 budget GPS quadcopters with cameras during this season, recorded on May 2016.

 

More videos. source: http://youtube.com/diydrone
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Contribution by the DroneMission.com R&D Team, a member of the Linux Foundation dronecode.org and executive member of Walkera USA.

Volantex Ranger 757-4 Review

Synopsis Ranger 757-4

TODAY I took a look at the Volantax Ranger 757-4 that we purchased online for just over a $100. The 757-4 is a scale down version of the popular 2m Ranger Ex 757-3 FPV Drone plane. It is resized to 1.4m 1380mm, just small enough to fit into a standard size car trunk/boot without taking it apart.

ranger-00001.MTS.Still001

One of the more interesting feature of the plane is that it is designed for GoPro or FPV cameras.. it comes tail heavy, so you can install multiple fpv cameras and large batteries. A weight is even included in the event you are not ready to fly with a camera. We had to fly it with a 3S 5000 mAh LiPo battery without a GoPro weight on the front, to get the correct center of gravity (CG). It is quick, easy to assemble, no glue is required.

I would say that for the most part, all the things looks good, and well-built. The decals look fantastic. I have a few minor concerns that I would like to take a further look at, but i think it is well designed. I will reserve my judgment on anything that I think might be an issue until I get the chance to take it in the air for a few test flights.

ranger-757-4-Still020

The inside of this plane is enormous, a warehouse fuselage to store all your fpv gadgets. There should be no complaint of a lack of space. As I began to inspect the plane, i did noticed that there is no way to attach or hold the high wings down. After a few days of research, I realized that a bracket is missing to bolt the wings. My favorite dealer was quick to promised to get me a bracket, but in the mean time i will have to build it out of a popsicle stick and re-enforce with velcro on the front and sides. The only other thing to adjust is the tail wheel which was not perfectly align straight for take-off, other than that, those wheels are very strong.

Factory Specifications

  • Brand Name: Volantex
  • Item Name: Ranger 757-4 Airplane
  • Wingspan: 1380mm
  • Flying Weight(without battery): 800g
  • Motor Size: 2812/1400KV powerful out runner brushless motor
  • ESC: 30A brushless ESC
  • Servo 9-gram Servo * 4pcs included
  • Recommended Battery: 11.1V 1800mAh Li-Po
  • Charger: Not included
  • Flaps: Yes
  • Retracts: No
  • Recommended Radio: 2.4Ghz 6-Channels
  • Experience Level: Beginners ~ Expert
  • Recommended Environment: Outdoor
  • Assembly Time: Less than half hour
  • Is Assembly Required: Yes
  • Requires: PNP requires Radio System, Battery and Charger

O

Conclusion

To conclude, the Volantax Ranger 757-4 is well-engineered, there are some minor quality concerns. Love the color scheme and the decals are professionally designed. It is simple to assemble and flew very well without any modifications. Take-offs will need some space, and landings are easy. We do recommend the Ranger 757-4 for anyone who is looking for a perfect trunk size FPV plane.

In terms of ranking, I would say it is in the lower half of what’s new in the market April 2016, unfavorable flying characteristics out of the box. (Current Picks dronemission.com/top5).

Living Blog.  Be back shortly. source: http://youtube.com/diydrone

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Contribution by the DroneMission.com R&D Team, a member of the Linux Foundation dronecode.org and executive member of Walkera USA

Eachine TX250 Mini 250mw 5.8G 40CH

If you are looking for an ultra light 250mw AV Transmitter Module for your racing drone, the Eachine TX250 Mini weighs only 8 grams and just slightly larger than an American quarter.  This transmitter  is able to receive 40 channels with the raceband channels, a perfect size for any model aircrafts requiring something small and light.

eachine-vtx250-miniweight.jpg

During a race, the ability to change to an assigned video frequency easily is important.  No more dip switch, a long press on the button changes the frequency group and a short press on the button changes the channels.

What Comes to Mind
Beginners, Racing Drones, Weight Matters, Budget under USD $20 (2016)

What To Expect If This Your First
It will feel relatively hot after 5 minutes, on the other hand this is quite common for tiny video transmitters. With the amount of heat generated, it should be placed outside where you can get as much airflow. Another option is if you can fit a tiny heatsink on it. Always keep the antenna attached, as it helps dissipate some of the heat. Don’t remove the plastic wrap, it is there to prevent accidental contact with another component. Typically the vtx are manufactured to withstand a signicant amount of heat, so not much to worry, just follow the suggested common sense best practice.

There is a misprint on the label listing it as 32 channels instead of 40 channels. 

The Eachine TX250 Mini can support a wide range of batteries from 7 volts to 26 volts (2s-6s LiPo) on a JST connector. Even though the vtx supports 2s-6s, a jst cable is more suitable for a 2s LiPo battery. 

You will need a RHCP receiver antenna to match the transmitter, Banggood did not label them and should take the time to label circular antennae to stop the guessing game. If you not sure, open it up following this guide: Is This Antenna LHCP or RHCP Can I tell? Circular polarization

 

Range Test Results and Performance
TBD, we will take it up on a plane or hexacopter and find it’s range limit.

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Factory Specification:
Brand name: Eachine
Item name :Eachine TX250 Transmitter
Power: 250mw
Operating voltage: 7V-26V
Channels :40CH
Maximum transmit power:26db
Size: 21X32.5X8.1MM
Weight: 8.0g

eachine-vtx250-mini-rhcp.jpg
Right Hand Circular Polarization Antenna (RHCP)

 

                                                           Frequency Table
Band A 5865 5845 5825 5805 5785 5765 5745 5725
Band B 5733 5752 5711 5790 5809 5828 5847 5866
Band E 5705 5685 5665 5645 5885 5905 5925 5945
Band F 5740 5760 5780 5800 5820 5840 5860 5880
Band R 5658 5695 5732 5769 5806 5843 5880 5917

Search : http://dronemission.com/find/eachine-tx250-mini.php

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Related Topic
Is This Antenna LHCP or RHCP Can I tell? Circular polarization

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Contribution by the DroneMission.com Usability Test Team, a member of the Linux Foundation dronecode.org and an executive board member Kinglea UAV and Walkera USA.

Is This Antenna LHCP or RHCP Can I tell? Circular polarization

The most common question asked when you are serious about flying FPV, “Is This Antenna LHCP or RHCP Circular Polarized?” There are a few ways folks do to tell if a circular polarization antenna is Left Hand Circular Polarization (LHCP) or Right Hand Circular Polarization (RHCP), and a simple way is to just see which direction it points to, by following the copper wire from the bottom –> up.

Why is it important to know?  The rule of thumb is to use the same matching direction of antenna for transmitting and receiving.  If you don’t match the antennae, the range will be reduced up to 75% than a matched antennae.  If one is right hand and the other is left hand, there is a 30 dB drop in gain right away (that’s about 1/1000 of the signal getting through).

circular-polarization.jpg

I just open up if there is a cap, and look directly at it.  If it curves to the right from the bottom (1) to the top (0), it is right RHCP; if it curves to the left from the bottom (1) to the top (0), it is left LHCP

checking-circular-polarization.jpgrhcp-tx.jpg

lhcp.gif

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