The Diatone 2019 GT R249+ is one of the newest series of micro quadctopers from Diatone that is built around the Mamba mini f4 stack.
The full range from smallest to largest includes:
As you can see there is a high degree of modularity - for all except the largest they share the same 1105 5500kV motors. All sizes feature a 3mm thich carbon baseplate except for the R239 which uses and injection moulded plastic chassis and prop-gaurds. All models share the same injection moulded lightweight canopy and mamba mini f4 stack.
I've chosen to review the R249+ since my experience with micro quadcopters has lead me to believe that this is the 'sweet' spot in terms of performance and staying small and discrete when flying.
Overall look and feel
The first thing I'll say is that this is a very polished looking quadcopter. The build is well put together and includes some thoughtful parts like buzzer, spare screws, cable ties etc. although sadly only one set of propellers are included. Most impressive is perhaps the canopy that ties everything together. This is not a 3d printed canopy (like on the Leader 2.5) but an injection moulded one meaning a tidier finish and lighter weight as well as providing much more torsional strength. The design is clever and ingregrates with the quad well and includes well though-out features like the camera protection moulded in. The canopy is common across all of their 2019 GT range and is available in clear, white or black. No doubt other colours will be available later too. A quick shout out that the kit also includes 2 battery straps - these are my new favourites - lightest I've come across at a hair over 2g and 150mm long.
A closer look at the specs (my comments in red)
Wheel base: 115mm A good tight frame for 2.5" props. carbon fibre thickness is 3.0mm
Propeller: 2.5 inch. These are gemfan 2540 props, simply the best 2.5" prop available
Color: lucency / black / white
Weight: 77g This is the weight without receiver or props. Weight with receiver, props, battery strap is just under 83g.
Lipo battery: support 4S (not included) Can support 4s but I feel more comfortable with 3s on 5500kV
Flight controller: Mamba F405 mini; MPU6000; AT7456 OSD; 16M flash; 5V 1A BEC. Very pleased for this to have F4 and blackbox flash for tuning. 1 spare UART available outside those used for receiver and vtx control
ESC: Mamba F25 / 25A 4S ESC Dshot600 2-4s capable. Pleasantly suprised that this has a current sensor - my first 20 x 20mm ESC to have one.
Motor: Mamba Racing MB1105 5500KV Good kV choice for 3s. These are made by BBB (3BR) - a well recognised motor manufacturer
Camera: RunCam Micro Swift. The original micro CCD cam and still very capable. A testament to reliability
VTX: RunCam TX200U 48CH 25 / 200mW - Piggback VTX that runs off 5v. Has OSD control. Needs unlocking - more below.
Setup prior to flying
Before anything else I'd recommend unlocking the video transmitter which is a Runcam TX200U. By default this is locked to 25mW transmission power and many of the channels cannot be accessed. By holding down the button for 10 seconds you can unlock the vtx meaning all available channels plus 200mW transmission power will be available via betaflight OSD (tramp protocol).
Next you'll need to add your own receiver and I use the XM+ (FRSKY) fairly exclusively. I don't use telemetry because the XM+ has a great feature that sends RSSI over an auxilliary channel so that it can be displayed in betaflight OSD (once firmware is updated). It's cheap too - Hobbycool.com have this permanently on sale at less than $10 here. Its very easy to wire up with the flight controller already pre-wired. The receiver can then easily be stuck to the top of the flight stack thanks to the plastic cover that is included.
Lastly I've captured the default betaflight settings below both in screenshot form and as a diff file but spoiler: This tune is awful, at least the version I have. Further down in the flight section I'll show updated screens and diff file.
First flight impressions?
Awful! After getting excited that there was a custom tune I was very disappointed to find out this tune was just rubbish. I switched to stock PIDs in betaflight OSD but this was even worse. I think someone has much about with the filters meaning it oscillates like crazy, even with extremely low (single digit!) P and D values on pitch and roll.
Resetting betaflight and next flight
Before taking to the sky again I updated to betaflight 3.5.3 but more importantly, reset all the custom settings. I then followed the betaflight 3.5 tuning guide here to enable all of my favourite settings like I-term relax and RC interpolation. Screenshots on the tune below and a diff file as well.
After tuning (using Albert Kim's betaflight tuning guide) I managed to get rid of the oscillations but still have some work to do in tightening it up. All of my tuning was done with a GNB 3s 450mah battery which I feel is a good match although anything up to about 650mah 3s would offer a little more flight time without compromising performance too much. Update: I now have my final tune in the gallery above. I'm pretty happy with it on 3s. It's conservative but not osciallation or Jello. Please make sure you run PID loop at no more the 4kHz.
The first thing I noticed about this quad it how quiet it is. I think this is because it is lighter than most and props aren't spinning as fast running 3s on a mid kV motor. Although not as quick as the Leader 2.5 (reviewed here) it was a lot more gentle on the battery meaning I could get a fairly comfortable 2.5-3 minutes from the 3s 450mah battery with low and fast flying which is reasonably intensive for a battery (vs. say floaty freestyle). That said I found throttle on this very linear with plenty of thrust up high in the throttle range where I'm used to it levelling off and just making more noise. Grip, cornering is all getting familiar now and assuming nothing strikingly wrong with the quad is more down to the software setting and tune than anything else. In terms of feel thought with was really good and given I have a preference for lower kV and lighter weight this suited my tastes well.
Although I prefer this quad with 3s it can most definitely handle 4s. I used my China Hobby Line Ministar 4s 650mah battery and dropped Ps and Ds a little to compensate. It is noticeably faster but I'm not a fan of this flying style where it is hard to scrub off momentum in a corner - it essentially becomes a flying bring (albeit a very fast flying brick). I'd still recommend 4s for wider open spaces if this is your only quad and yes it will perform well but I personally think wide open spaces are more suitable for larger quads. Again this is my bias showing through but I like this R249+ best on 3s and threading through smaller and more technical gaps. If you are looking for a 4s battery for this though I'd recommend a light 4s 450mah like this one from china hobby line. Update: PIDs finalised for 4s. I did quite a bit of work with D to make sure that motors were only slightly warm with a full, hard run on 4s 650mah.
Since I unlocked the VTX above, all of my flights have been on 200mW. Performance is good but not great. At first I was really impressed by the runcam VTX but after more high throttle runs I found out that there was noise coming through at high throttle. Given the runcam TX200u runs off the 5v supplied by the flight controller, the flight controllers' BEC may well be the culprit which is typical - this is what I found with the Leader 120 when I ran the vtx off the 5v line compared to battery voltage. Unfortunately though the TX200u only runs on 5v. Don't get me wrong though, it was fine, just not as clean as the Leader 2.5 or babyhawk R
Comparison to other 2.5" micros
The 2.5" brushless micro market is now relatively crowded so it's hard to stand out. I've been lucky enough to review a number of these so feel like I am in a good position to make these comparisons. There is enough differences between them in weight and motor spec to suggest some maybe more suitable than others (particularly if you have existing batteries you wish to use) but for a large part they are interchangeable.
So you can see by comparison this is relatively light for a modern 2.5" micro, only the Leader 120 is lighter. The components on the Leader 120 are now getting rather dated (although it can be greatly improved) so will take no further part in this comparison. The 1105 5500kV Motors for the 249+ are slightly smaller and lower kV than the other modern 2.5" quads and personally I find them more suitable for a light-ish 2.5 inch propeller. I also like the fact that I can get the bulk of the performance out of it on 3s unlike the skystars bolt that really needs a 4s, although it is nice that the option is available. Although the babyhawk r pro and leader 2.5 have electronics capable of managing 4s, their motors are too high in kV to be practical here.
For me the R249+ hits a nice balance on price, weight and power meaning it's not the fastest, lightest or most powerful but it is a good balance of these which makes for respectable battery life, good performance less noise during flight. In the end you'll probably be driven more on promotional prices than any specific features here and unless you are very passionate about something specific it would be hard to argue with that reasoning. I think the last word on this would be that the quality of Diatone, FullSpeed, and EMax are somewhat on par with the Skystars bolt somewhere behind. Same goes for availability of spare parts - Fullspeed, Diatone and Emax support their products well.
2019 GT R249+ Conclusion
Diatone have done a Diatone and released a very nice quad on paper but this time at a much more competitive price than the previous 2018 GTR90. The R249+ reviewed here shares the same electronics and motors as the 1.9 inch R239 and 2 inch R249 but the 1105 5500kV motors suit this size best rather than adding unneccessary weight with the smaller-propped versions. It's a very predictible flyer that is far from slow on 3s which I this is where the sweet spot is on this quad although you can run on 4s for more speed but also more weight.
Would I recommend it? Sure it's a good quad but no better or worse that the Leader 2.5 or Babyhawk R Pro. Diatone, Fullspeed and Emax all have a strong brushless micro pedigree and resultant support for these models so that is a wash too. Really it will come to price and that will change from time to time depending on promotions so at the prices listed above. For now, the Diatone GT R249+ and Leader 2.5 look to have the best offering and for me personally the Diatone edges the Fullspeed Leader 2.5 with a faster F4 processor and motors that better suit my flying style. See my leader 2.5 review here to compare. For me the Babyhawk R pro is just too expensive AND heavy.
The Diatone GT 90 (Rabbit) R249+ is available from Banggood here as a plug and fly model
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I'll cover this quad over 3 blogs. This first part will cover the build walkthrough, the second the software (betaflight/blheli32) setup here and the last part the flight review.
The Hobbymate Comet Kit is a premium 5" quadcopter that is currently available as a kit for $180 but will soon be available as a bind and fly version. Update: it is now available as a pre-build pnp or bnf with xm+ or r-xsr receivers. In the days since the Holybro Kopis 1 was released there have been some excellent ready to fly models (along with some not-so-great models) available including the Emax Hawk 5 (review here) and the HGLRC Batman (build here) which have been standouts because they have been well balanced, well built and good value for money overall. Since this is a kit, this particular blog is to walk you through the build and then software setup including a betaflight 3.5.1 cli diff.
The Hobbymate Comet from HobbyCool.com (or Amazon) is a kit the consists of higher quality parts than even the HGLRC Batman at only a fraction of the cost. Infact when bought on their own the parts come to $257 which is clearly much more than the $180 the kit costs (or even the $200 PNP kit). The Electronics are rated 6s from the factory (unlike the Hawk 5) and come with motors suited for either 4s/5s operation (2500kV) or 6s operation (1800kV). I'm especially excited that this include a genuine airbot ESC and flight controller. More details on the parts below:
Extra parts and recommended for the build
Firstly you will need extra parts for this build. I've used the following with links to Hobbycool as they tend to have the sharpest price:
And tools/sundry items:
On with the build
Captioned images below should walk you through the build process and I've noted anything tricky as I've gone through. Click on images to zoom.
The Leader 3 (SE) is a follow up to the hugely successful Leader 120 which I have reviewed and documented modification extensively, most recently with a summary here. Both are available from Fullspeedrc.com This has been a highly anticipated release not least of which because there has been no releases from Full Speed since last years' Beebee 66 light. The good news is that a big chunk of that wait has been spent working on the Leader 3. FYI two of the main guys are pilots from Full Speed RC are pilots and do a lot of work testing before release which is a welcome change in this hobby compared to many models that come out half-baked.
Firstly the Leader is available in 2 variants. The standard model (Leader 3) can be seen below and weighs 87g with regualar standoffs. The Leader 3 SE is exclusive to Fullspeedrc.com and comes with a 3d printed canopy instead of the standoffs. It is 6g heavier but offers several benefits that I'll cover a little later on.
A run through the components
First the frame. Like the Leader 120 the base plate of the frame is 3mm thick although it has been stretched to 130mm motor to motor diagonally rather than 120mm This means it is capable of accepting a true 3" propeller rather than 2.8" maximum on the Leader 120. The frame is most definitely still a 'deadcat' shape meaning the two motors are further apart (107mm) than the 2 rear motors (98mm). Additionally it is a 'squashed-x' compared to a 'stretched-x' meaning the front and rear motors on the same side are closer together. This means it should be more stable in the roll vs. pitch axis but modern flight software somewhat negates this. Compared to the leader 120, sideplates have increased from 2mm to 3mm thick which should aid durability. More imporatantly a 19mm gap rather than 17-18mm means the leader 3/SE now natively fits a 19mm micro cam. It's worth nothing that the baseplate is only 1 piece so you cannot replace single arms. Personally I think replaceable arms are unnecessary on any quad size less than 4" since there is much less leverage for breaking on a smaller quad. The frame can be purchased separately here.
The canopy (Leader 3SE only). When I first saw the canopy I wasn't keen because it adds 8g weight however I think the functionality may just offset that - jury is out until I fly it some more. The 3d TPU print is of very high quality available in black,white, red, purple, blue or yellow and performs the following functions:
The motors are 1106 4500kv which is the same specs as those found on the Emax Babyhawk R 3 inch and the Skystars X120. They are not open bottom and have mounting holes for regular t-mount props and the emax 2.3" avan props. Most importantly they are rated for up to 4s.
Like the original Leader 120, build quailty is excellent. Solder is clean, wires are cut to length. Not much more to say here, it is well beyond my ability! With the quad assembled there is plenty of room behind the camera to adjust tilt (45° and beyond are capable) and the receiver is mounted in this void. with plenty of room left yet. This is speculation but I'd like to address anyway since it seems like a common thread: my best guess is the caddx turtles HD FPV/DVR (not yet released at time of writing) will fit but not without a little modification. My reasoning is that there seems to be 2-3mm 'spare' room between each stack layer. If these standoffs are trimmed by this amount you will be able to save 6-9mm in height which should be enought to fit the turtles board. It will require some fine wire management and a steady hand to trim the standoff but I do think it may be physically possible - a project for another day. That being said, the double stack of the runcam split micro definitely will not fit.
Plenty to talk about here although most can be foundin commentary of the Betaflight screens below. If you don't choose to read these however:
Final thoughts pre-flight
As you can see from above this looks to be a very well thought out quad and not something slapped together from a spare parts bin. The Babyhawk R and Skystars bolt X120 have both shown that 1106 4500kV motors perform well on 4s in 2.5" and 3" so I am excited to see what the Leader 3SE will add here with all the work that has gone into development from a hardware and software perspective. On paper this looks to have the edge on both of those models in terms of weight, VTX capability and ESC current overhead however the real test will come in flight - stay tuned for part 2 of this review where I will cover flight in full - I already have 3s and 4s batteries charged for tomorrow :)
The Fullspeed RC Leader 3/SE can be bought directly from Fullspeedrc.com and is also available at other retailers however buying from the source is your best chance to get your hands on one quickly.
Firstly, thank you to Gearbest for supplying this model in exchange for a full review including my observations and recommendations from having built a very similar quad from parts. I'll review here and then run a series of tip, tricks, mods depending on how it flies stock. You can find the PNP version (no receiver) here. As at September 2017 try code HarvestRCnew7
to get this for only $US93.99!
I'm going to skip the unboxing, I don't have anything to add other than the picture of all the parts included below, so straight to the good stuff.
The parts included and build quality have improved...
First off the motors are no longer and unbranded red 1104 7500kv. They are now branded SZ speed and full speed but are still rated the same. From what I can see the shaft length extending through the bell is shorter. Great idea - the only job this does is to centre the prop which the screws hold on. Less stress when trying to put tight props on (looking at you Gemfan 2035) and you don't have a 1.5mm drill bit. Below is a comparison to my DYS 1104 7500kV. You can see my review on these here
The comparisons to these motors don't stop there. Both are similar external size, and the magnets are simlarly strong - very notchy compared to the racerstar motors. From there the leader 120 motors are better. Wires are multicore, slightly thicker and much more flexible and easy to manager. On spin up in betaflight they are so quiet and smooth! Not noisy like the DYS even when they were new. In fairness the DYS are powferful so if the stock leader 120 motors get anywhere near this I'll be happy, especially given the improvements.
This flight controller and ESC is ubiquitous and first appeared on the ARFUN90. I've reviewed one in full here - in short reliable and well featured. What impressed me here was the quality of soldering and the cable managent, just so clean - see below. I wasn't going to compare my efforts but I'd already soldered in the receiver and the macro image makes me feel inadequate! From what I can see of the earlier reviews, this looks to have improved substantially.
Betaflight setup and the Flip of Death
This model shipped with the full release at the time of writing - 3.1.7 (3.2.0 still in release candidate). Interestingly along with the physical changes the software settings have been changed to address some of the brownout/flip of death issues the early reviews had. Most notable digital idle is set at 10%. Since I'll maiden this with stock settings I'll go with that and see if moving back to my standard of 3.5% is still viable. 10% is not ideal for me as you will never be able to fully chop throttle for flips and whatnot. Cool to see that they have addressed it and looking forward to seeing if this issue may have gone altogether.
I'll post some pics of the key betaflight screens for prosperity below (flip through them) but I intend to move to 3.2.0 as soon as I have completed initial flights and can confirm everything is functioning as expected.
I'm something of a lightweight jukie when it comes to miniquads, benefits include longer flights, better agility, greater crash resistance through lower intertia. See the gallery below for the various weight measures but in short 64g dry, 94g AUW ready to fly with the stock 2s 500mah battery. This include an ibus FS82 1g receiver which was not present when I too the photos.
This is a very respectable weight for a micro that swings 2.8" props as these props generate a significant amount of lift in combination with a motor of this rating.
All this and it includes my favourite beeper/led combo (reviewed here) - a beeper is a must for micro quads as you can loose them even in short grass! I can anyway.
Size comparison to other micros
This is not a big model by any stretch. The beauty of these micros - and to be clear this is still a micro - is you can fly in small areas (not indoors!) with less danger and concern to the public. They are also quick to get in the air and consumables like batteries and props are cheaper too. This model measures 120mm diagonally motor to motor and offers most of the experience of a 5" FPV quad. Picture below compare to an E011 typical tiny whoop and an 80mm EYAS x2 with 2" props