Since half of the planet is currently having weather that is forcing people indoors at the moment (not me haha!) I've reviewed some All In One (AIO) camera and VTX combos. Traditionally these have been used on tiny whoop style indoor brushed quads and smaller micro brushless quads although more and more brushless quads are using slightly heavier micro CCDs as standard.
Weight is still very much the name of the game in brushed quads as you'll struggle to get a 4:1 power to weight ratio even on the larger 8520-based brushed micros. This means CMOS-based AIO cameras are still the norm because they are so light. In this round up I've gone for some of the lightest cameras I can find and best of all, 2 include video in / video out so that no tricky wiring hacks are needed to run betaflight OSD.
Note: This is clearly not an exhaustive test, I happened to have a number of AIO camera at the same time I ordered for various micros so had a chance to compare. I though the improvements over the Eachine TX01 were impressive so thought it would be work sharing.
Clearly discussion on image quality is missing here - I found the 4 CMOS AIO camera above very similar and wouldn't be able to tell apart in a blind test. The only AIO I've picked up which is clearly inferior is the VM2751 standard on the leader which is not included in this shootout. I thought this camera/vtx was the weak point of the Leader 120 quadcopter.
For a micro brushed quad without an OSD I'd recommend the LST S2. For goodness sakes it is only $9!!! Further to that it is light, easy to change channel / band / video format and small.
For a micro brushed quad with OSD or if you are after every milligram of weight savings, get the CM275T. It is CRAZY light at 3.2g and has a very convinient video/in out so that you don't need to mod your cam just to enjoy betaflight OSD - assuming your FC supports it. I know it's at odds with what I said about brushless and ccd cameras but this will be going on my Eyas X2 rebuild going for the lightest 2" possible - targetng 35g with props. Here is my original X2 eyas build on rotorbuilds if your curious.
For a brushless quad 2s and up just get the micro swift or equivalent and the TX200 VTX. The video quality is just so superior in all but the best lighting conditions. VTX can be a little tricky with band / channel display but transmission quality is excellent and you have the ability to bump the transmission power up to 200mW.
The Beebee 66 is a micro 1s brushless powered quadcopter which is essentially a brushless Tiny Whoop. It is made by Full Speed RC, the same company that produced the highly successful Leader 120. (review here). Gearbest kindly supplied me a BNF Beebee 66 to review. I was desperately hoping for this to be the brushless answer to the tiny whoop but I'm really bummed out that it just isn't. Read on to find out why.
Adding a receiver
Since this was supplied as a BNF model, it came without a receiver. I opted to use the lightest FRSKY receiver I had on hand - an XM that I'd finally figured out how to fash with the RSSI channel 16 firmware. In most models this is a matter of soldering wires to the exposed pads on the top of the flight controller. However,since the FC and ESC are part of the structure of this quad AND the FC is flipped upside down to sit the ESC connector in a manageable location, the prop gaurd, 4 nylon nuts and the flight controller itself had to be removed before I could access the receiver solder pads. Then I needed the help of a multimeter to figure out ground, +5v and signal wires. Once soldered up with a short length of silicon wire to the receiver it was easy enough to re-assemble and tuck the XM reciever underneath the canopy behind the AIO camera/VTX. Pics below of course can explain this better:
It's not the end of the world wiring in a reciever here but can be fiddly with particularly small hardware. I'd recommend if you did buy this model that you purchase with the receiver of your choice pre-fitted.
Kept it pretty simple here. Because this is quite a different steup than I am used to I retained the stock settings on Betaflight 3.1.7 that it arrived with. All I did was set an arm switch and a mode switch for angle-horizon-air. Below are the default settings from Betaflight 3.1.7. Oh yeah, receiver had to be set up too. Like most f3 boards receiver is on UART 3.
The only other preparation was pretty straighforward. The included GNB High Voltage 1s 260mah Lipo battery was easily charged using the included USB adaptor and a micro usb cable I had on hand. Only 1 set of props was included that are press-fitted on the tiny 0705 fullspeed branded (Sunny Sky made) 0705 brushless motors. I left the VTX on the default channel for the initial flight that my Aomway Commanders (review here) picked up as 5905MHz.
Please look away if you love your Beebee 66 because it starts to get a bit ugly here. After fully charging the LiHV batteryand confirming everything was working ok I armed and found the props were fouling on the TPU canopy. Minor annoyance down to the tight tolerance in the slightly flexible TPU canopy. Easy enough to bend out of the way and I was back in action.
The first thing I noticed how loud the motors are - not in idle where they are practically silent but under any sort of load. Next as part of test with line of sight attempting a 'punchout' I could clearly see the quad dipping (pitch/roll) and twisting (yaw) under load. I'll attempt to tune this out later on and will post another review if successful. Moving on to line of sight I found the flight performance dull and uninspiring. What's worse was that after just one and a half minutes flight my battery was sagging down below 2.7v - the motors were clearly very demanding for their relatively mild output. I really wanted this quad to be a success and in fairness there is a chance I could have a less than perfect unit but my experience is my experience and I was disappointed. I do have some thoughts on how to improve though and I'll cover this in my Next Steps section below.
Comparison to a brushed micro
Please understand that these comments aren't made from isolation - I've had some experience with tiny whoops based on 7mm motors (like the JJRC H67 or Eachine E011) and although these are cheap brushed toy grade quads, they offered equivalent or better power and a flight time of 4 minutes plus on the same size battery with much smoother flight performance. A quick note that I actually tried the stock battery from the JJRC H67 (260mah non-HV) and got only 1 minute flight before it sagged below 2.7v under load. After recovery it bounced back to 3.65V but this same battery give my 4 minutes plus in my E011 FPV or santa whoop.
At this point I can't recommend this quad. The performance I experienced was poor and the flight time was unacceptable. My guess it that the brushless motors do not scale down well to 7mm, at this size the brushed motors seem to be more approprate. I'd recommend going in one of two directions:
I'm not content to leave things be with the Beebee 66 and the latest version of this model (Beebee 66 lite) has shown the direction I want to go in - removing weight. I'm skeptical of getting to the level of improvement I want but with some of the parts below I think I can replace the canopy with a simple camera holder. remove the propgaurd and TPU supports and save up to about 4g. Will this make enough difference? Not sure but will report back when I'm done. Make sure you bug me about the follow up in the comments if I'm too slow! Below are some of the weights of the components I'm interested in:
The HGLRC Flame 1105 motors have been out for a while now and I've always wanted to put into a decent build. That build is covered here in my Komori review but here I'll just cover the motors specifically.
These motors are available for Gearbest for around $8-10 each making them a mid-price motor. On the bench they feel well made and smoother than the DYS 1104 motors I've reviewed previously. They have a lightweight 'naked bottom' design and come in at 5g each which is very similar to the aforementioned 1104 DYS motor even though they have a 1mm taller stator.
For the purpose of this review you will find me making many comparisons to the fullspeed branded 1104 7500kV motors that come standard on the Leader 120 (review here) because this is something of a performance benchmark and a popular model that many can use as a reference point. As above my test rig is the flexRC 3" komori lightweight frame using as fairly standard 20a ESC / F3 flytower combo and Gemfan 3025 twin blade props. Both the Komori and Leader were 71g dry.
Performance on 2s
For 2s flights I used my trusty Turnigy Nanotech 2 950mah batteries. Performance with these batteries on the HGLRC flame motors were smooth and predictable but lacked the top speed of the leader motors. This understandable as the 7500kV rated leader motors are better suited to 2s than the 6000kV HGLRC flame motors, even though the stator on the HGLRC is 1mm taller. I'd suspect this gap would be even smaller if you went with a more agressive prop like the Gemfan 3035 3 blade.
Performance on 3s
This is where I thought the HGLRC Flame motors would be most suitable and I was not disappointed. The power delivery was smooth, linnear and very controllable with a top end speed comparable or faster than the Leader 120. By comparison the leader 120 dips and feels less controllable at the upper end of the throttle. My guess is this is because the kigher kV and lower torque due to the shorter stater means it doesn't have the force to spin up the propeller to it's maximum speed like the HGLRC motor can. Later on down the track I'll try with the Gemfan 3035 triblade props as I suspect the motors still have a little more to give. I got a 4:30 flight time compared to 4:00 on the Leader 120 which leads to further weight that the 6000kV motors is more in it's ideal power/efficiency range compared to the 7500kV motor.
Overall on 3s the flight experience with the HGLRC FLame 1105 6000kV was really nice, very predictable and linnear and no sacrifice on top speed. By comparison I think the kV is slightly too low for 2s but a more agressive prop than the 3025 I used would probably be a noticeable improvement. Importantly the motors are well made, sell for a fair price of approximately $10 each and have silicon multistranded wires that make them sooo much easier to work with!
I'd recommend these for a high power 2" quad on 3s, any 2.5' quad or very lightweight 3" quads like the Komori
My motors came from Gearbest (use RC18off to get them for $8) but can also be found at Banggood or HGLRC directly.
Other parts mentioned in this review:
Gemfan 3025 propellers (Definitely recommend these for this motor)
Gemfan 3035 propellers (I'd like to try these on 2s but current draw may be too high on 3s
Gemfan 2540 propellers (My favourite prop for the leader or any 2.5" quad)
Ever since I saw the first image of the first FlexRC Ascent I've been impressed. It is a simple micro quad frame that accepts 2" propellers, is super lightweight and has a cage that is designed around a micro CCD camera (runcam micro, foxeer micro, caddx micro, furibee micro etc.) This was one of the first frames designed around these superior cameras and in my opinion still one of the best.
Dmitry from FlexRC has since expanded on this winning formula and this has given birth to the 2.5" Ascent, 3" ascent desinged around the runcam split and most recently the Komori 3". The Komori is essentially based on the original 2" with a baseplate embiggened to take 3 inch props and extra torsion supports between front and rear arms to allow for minimal flex whilst stick with thin (but lightweight) baseplate. All up weight of the frame is 15g with included hardware. Shape is a squashed x - front and rear motors are closer together than left/right motors. *Theoretically* this should mean more stability but slower movement on roll and faster but less stable in pitch.
After spending a lot of time with the Leader 120, I was looking forward to a frame that better fits the micro CCD camera and can take a genuine 3" prop rather than 2.8".
For build components I essentially transferred my gear across from the Furibee X140 (review here) where I felt the heavy frame (although durable) was letting the performance down.
After initial flights I decided the 1306 weren't suitable - performance was dull on 3s albeit and improvement on the Furibee X140 owing to roughly 30g less weight in the frame. This is when I switched motors to the HGLRC Flame 1105 6000kV (reviewed here).
The build on this was really simple - FC/ESC/VTX were all bolted on to the baseplate as were the motors. I just love the way the side plates clip on with no fuss and still had plenty of room for the 3-layered stacks. Once in place itwas easy to add the 2 nylon standoff supplied which can be used place cable ties on as additional support for receiver and VTX antennas.
@s Betaflight setup
Since this is a custom setup I won't go into betaflight setting but to summarise I went with
I went into more detail on the performance of the motors here but overall 3s paired with these motors and overal setup was excellent. My Leader 120 on 3s was always very quick but was a tad unstable and highly strung. The Komori I felt fixed this feeling of instability - flight was a lot more predictable with linnear power and no twitching. What this translated to in reality was more enjoyable less stressful flight with no loss in top speed compared to the leader. 2s on this quad is ok - not as fast as the leader on 2s but I think some more agressive props like the Gemfan 3035 triblades would be better, This is primarily a 3s quad - I have no interest in 4s.
I've not yet put a lof of packs through but have already had a reasonable sideways landing on to rough chip tarseal. From this the carbon fibre that extends beyond the motors for production has had a slight delamination but nothing that affext performance. There is however a lot of material that extends beyond the motor meaning I could file back to removethe delaminated portion. It also means the motor was well protected in the crash - not a scratch on it.
It's no secret that I am a fan of light builds - going lighter means better agility and longer battery life as well as better resistance to crash due to less mass. The FlexRC Komori frame fits my desire for a 3 inch frame perfectly - super light with frame designed natively around a micro CCD camera. The komori does sacrifice a bit of durability for it's light weight but given I fly over grass mostly I'm happy to compromise a bit of durability for weight. Since the frame is light this then allowed me to choose lighter duty motors and batteries - which makes the entire build light. As well as the benefits above, lighter motors and batteries tend to be cheaper too.
Flight characteristics were excellent andI felt the combination of 3s 450mah - 1105 6000kV - Gemfan 3025 offered a well balanced combination of power, agility, stability and efficieny (i.e. longer flight times. I think my favourite Leader 120 has finally been bettered.