The Larva-X is a new lightweight micro FPV quadcopter made by Happymodel, a company who are very well known now to innovate new trends and hype in micro quadcopters. The Larva-x looks to be a more robust and refined evolution of the "toothpick" class of ultra light weight quads, this time with a more robust frame, better receiver options and a better FPV system, which addresses complaints on some of their earlier models.
The Larva-X is available now from many retailers. Below is the link from Banggood who ship internationally from $0 and up. At time of writing (9 September 2019) they have their big anniversary sale on and have the Larva-X on Special for $83 using the code "BGANLX" and this link: Happymodel Larva X 100mm 2-3S 2.5 Inch FPV Racing Drone
100mm carbon fibre frame - Although a spindly design, this is 3mm thick carbon. It feels rigid and very robust, a big improvement on previous frames which were light but prone to breaking.
Happymodel EX1103 7000KV Motor - An extra 1mm stator height gives 50% volume over the 1102 motors found on the sailfly-x. 7000kV is a good rating for 3s primarily or 2s for smaller areas.
Crazybee F4 Pro V3 Flight Controller - V3 of this flight controller no longer requires the additional capacitor as seen on the sailfly-x and eachine red devil
Onboard 10A 4in1 ESC - The extra current overhead (10a vs 6a) and voltage overhead (up to 4s) means that this should be MUCH more reliable on 3s... it is well away from current and voltage limits with 1103 7000kV motors
Multiple receiver options - Have options to choose onboard frsky/flysky/dsmx which have typically poor range but for the first time they are offering discrete receiver options including XM+, R-XSR and even TBS crossfire!
Happymodel Diamond VTX - Not only does this offer 25mw-200mW OSD selectable transmit power but it also includes an onboard DVR for static-free recording.
Runcam NANO2 FPV Camera - Hooray! A better camera. The rancam nano 2 is currentl recognised as the best price per performance nano size cam at present.
What is included in the kit (other than the quad as specced above)?
What's in the pack?
A closer look at the specs:
A closer look at the quad itself
Recently I've built a 5" Freestyle quadcopter based on the best value components - not the cheapest but the best price/performance ratio (i.e. bang for buck). The components I've chosen plus comparison to alternatives can be found in the component selection article here. As it stands the build cost of this one is around $150-$170 depending on which specials you can take advantage of. I see the RC Addict (His YT channel here) has done a similar thing for a race build and he refers to it as the "The cheapest quad worth building"
This quad has since been built, setup, flown, adjusted and then flown a lot more. I'm now in a position to pass judgement over all of the components and will then cover as the quad in total. For each I'll look at the positives and negatives and then go into a little more discussion with my recommendations
Discussion and recommendation
At the time these Emax Eco were chosen as they were the standout budget motor. They have been available for $10-$12 and based on how they perform represent outstanding value - the top equal standout recommendation for this parts list. Emax had the original breakthrouhg brushless motor in the quad scene - the RS2205s which changed the industry. While others have caught up since they still make well-researched high quality motors. The Eco series draws off the learnings from the LS and RS2 series - they remain VERY light but have increased the bearing size from 8mm to 9mm to improve durability significantly. Retained from the RS2 and LS series however are the thin magnets. Although these mean the motor doesn't make the same peak thrust as heavier motors with larger magnets, it does gain in improvements through being lighter, more efficient and smoother at throttle transition. This makes it a great match to freestyle where these positive attributes tend to be preferred over peak thrust @ 100% throttle. In use these are very nice motors to fly. They are quiet, smooth and cause less battery sag and longer flight time than more expensive motors I use such as the brother hobby returner R6 2306.
Interesting that based on the success of the Emax Eco, iflight and brotherhobby have followed suit. 3bhobby also have the training motor although this may have just been out when the emax eco was launched.
The Turbobee 120RS is an ultra-lightweight micro quadcopted that loosely fits into the new 'toothpick' class. It is available in 2 variants below (2-3s and 4s), each offered with multiple receiver options (frsky, flysky, dsmx, futaba ad even TBS crossfire:
My review is based on the 2-3s version with 1103 10,000kV motors as above
iFlight is a brand that is rapidly growing and is going some impressive things in the FPV space - everything from micro quads to the Giant X-Class rigs. They have always been middle range for value but now they are bringing polish to their products. Here I've reviewed the Turbobee 120RS 2-3s micro. It does fall into the toothpick class and yes, although it comes with Gemfan 2540 props it does fit the 65mm bi-blades.
This review is for the Fullspeed Toothpick Pro, the more robust 4s-capable micro quadcopter made by Full Speed RC. It is available from the following retailers that will ship internationally with options for FRSKY, Flysky, Spectrum and now TBS Crossfire as well:
If you are looking for the the standard 2-3s Fullspeed toothpick, the full review of that can be found here and is available below:
Fullspeed RC were the first to market with a bind and fly quad inspired by Bob Roogi's "toothpick"design - an ultralightweight quad based on small motors and 65mm props suitable for park flying. This was a very good park flyer - quiet and well built with good performance on 2s or 3s. It does have a full micro camera and VTX meaning it has a very nice FPV feed but is slightly on the heavy side. This model has obvioulsly been successful for them so they have quickly followed up with the Fullspeed Toothpick PRO. Specs compared with the standard toothpick below which I will discuss further:
I'm a scientist by training so not usually one to use hyperbole (especially where it feels click-baity in titles) but I really do mean it here: This is the best value quad I've reviewed so far this year. It is not the best long range, it is not the best free-style and it is not the best racer. But for those occasions where you are looking to fly in a small to medium park, empty office or commercial area out from your back yard which is 90% of my fling, this is the ideal tool for the job.
The HappyModel Sailfly-x is a "toothpick class" ultralight micro quadcopter. It has an all up weight of 38g without battery and can take 1s, 2s or 3s batteries. It is available with onboard FRSKY, FlySky or DSM reveivers or without a receiver where you can add crossfire or anything else. It is a fairly complete kit (see below) and is available for just $88 at full retail. Availability seems to be somewhat limited to Banggood at time of writing but my guess is that many retailers will pick this one up.
For this review I'll break down what is included, the specs, document differences from the stock betaflight and then cover off in the actual review performance on 2s, 3s, FPV performance and close with a summary and my recommendations. I'll also list spares and upgrade parts as the become available.
Specs and what this means
The Hobbymate Asteroid is a new 3 inch quadcopter that is available in kit, BNF or PNF formats that is available with motors and electronics suitable for 4s or 6s (!) operation. Following on from the awesome Hobbymate Comet (built here and reviewed here) this is another premium set of components at a spectacular price. It is available exclusively from HobbyCool.com here:
In part 1 of this blog here I looked at the build and betaflight setup process in full. In this part 2 I'm taking a closer look at the components and review in general.
On the bench
From a specs standpoint this is a pretty special kit but that only tells half the story. I'll walk through the components and talk about their strong and or weak points
After quite a bit of teasing on their site, Banggood have released the Eachine VRD3 goggles for sale. These are a well-specced low cost 5.8GHz Goggle with DVR aimed at beginners or as a backup pair. On to discussion of the specifications below and what it included
The Leader 2.5 is a recent release from FullspeedRC and as well as being available on their own website, is also available from Banggood and Gearbest. If you do decide to purchase, Fullspeed over many more customisations and offer free shipping till Jan 2019. The Leader 2.5 follows the recent Leader 3 but is limited to 2.5 inch rather than 3 inch propellers. My objective for this blog is not to write a tradtional review due to the similarities to the Leader 3 but to cover the keys settings and physical changes I'd strongly recommend to enjoy this quadcopter.
So the Emax Hawk 5 has been out for a couple of months now and it has really captured the imagination of community. This is because it was an EMax-USA driven initiative that started as a way to sell more parts (Magnum stack, LS motors, Avan props) but ended up so much more. Where the Hawk 5 separates itself from all other bind and flys that have come before (except perhaps the holybro kopis) is that is more than the sum of it's parts - the development that has gone into matching the components, developing a strong, stiff yet lightweight frame and then tuning the whole package means it is a bind and fly that is genuinely competitive for racing out of the box. Listening to HyphPV and Sean Taylor in various channels they both believe this is a bonafide racer which is high praise coming from them.
I'll try keep this review brief because there has already been a lot said about this quad but I'll try to address the aspects that struck me as peculiar or aspects I don't thik have been well covered.
I think the component choice looks solid but unspectacular however the way that this comes together in for flight is super impressive.
Rather than going through the setup step by step in boring text, I've screen-grabbed all the relevant tabs from betaflight below. In short this quad includes custom filters setup, PIDs and rates so that you have an excellent tune right out of the box. This perfectly matches the specfic frame geometry, weight, motors and props that are used. Confident tuners will no doubt be able to adjust to their specific feel but I can say that I've come across no better custom tune in any quad yet, it is comparable to the babyhawk R (my review here) which makes sense - it was tuned by the same team.
Early flight performance
Wow. I had preconceptions that the 2206 low kV motors would be underpowered but was completely wrong. This is a fast, highly manouverable quad that is well tuned. To date it is the quickest quad I've flown and objectively has been found to hit over 100mph consistently. More than that though it corners well thanks to the 'grippy' props and light weight. I won't carry on here about flight but it felt well and truly locked in, the best quad I have flown.
In terms of FPV the signal was excellent on 25mW which is what I'm limited to on racing. There was absolutlely no sign of electrical interference or noise on my go-to channel (F2 - 5760MHz) at any throttle level. Just as importantly the image from the foxeer arrow micro pro is surprisingly good. This camera is a surprisingly good improvement over the micro arrow 1 or 2 and the micro swift 1 or 2 - I believe the presets were greatly approved on. I've actually ordered 3 more of these cameras to replace my others with because so far have not been a fan of the newer CMOS cameras.
One thing that felt unfamiliar to me were the way the props delivered power and the noise or the lack thereof. Additionally they pull a lot of current -I peaked at 110A on a 1500mah 4s pack. My guess is that in order to take advantage of the relatively low kV motor they went with a VERY agressive propeller with a distinct geometry. After swapping over to a HQ 5x4.8x3 which is stilla fairly agressive prop the Hawk 5 felt much more familiar and predicable to me with a power delivery and audible feedback I'm much more familiar with. I didn't feel I lost anything in speed or grip but peak current draw dropped off to 97A, i.e. 10% improved efficiency at high throttle. I need to note that props are a personal thing and this is my preference. You may find you like the stock Avan Flow props much more, I'm more of a HQ/Dal guy.
Lastly I'll say the efficiency on this is very impressive, again probably down to their choice of motor.. Everyone flies differently so will get different flight times depending on what they are doing but this I founf that even with my most tired 4s 1000mah pack I was able to get 3 minutes of flight which outperformed my lighter Floss 2 build which hand 'only' 2205 motors. On a good 1300mah I got 4 minute sof hard flying and from 1500mah about 4.5 - 5 minutes.
If you are looking for a 5" bind and fly quad quite simply this is the one to get. $250 sounds like a lot compared to other cheaper ones but as I've said before this is so much greater than the sum of it's parts. The clever choice of components, lightweight frame and wonderful tune make this a great quad and it shows - at the time of writing it is always in and out of stock depending on where you shop. Since so many have sold there is also a very big community - more people to solve problems and enhance. For example customs canopies, go pro mounts and recommendations for budget meaningful modifications and customisation is much more readliy available than for less common quads that tend to come and go. I'll bet this quad will be around and supported well for a long time.
Support is great - as you can see above all parts are available from many retailers so replacements are not just available but commonly available.
I can't speak to reliability yet since I haven't flown enough but since they haven't gone with the very latest and leading edge technology and hardware, that means there have been time to iron out the bugs. I'm expecting few problems but will certainly report back if there are.
Lastly I'll make a note again on the efficiency. In the race for power with bigger motors and steeper props this often gets forgotten but EMax seems to be going down the path of optimised efficiency and it shows here. The rhetoric from them is the the LS and newer RSII series are motor were not developed for all out power but more for efficiency which is what racers have really been demanding - making sure that on fast tracks that they still have battery left at the end. This is a benefit to the racer of course but for the casual pilot more efficiency = longer flight time = more stick time for learning and more of the the fun part of FPV... actual flying!
In summary this is a great model and comes highly recommended from me. Of course I'll be looking to improve where I can do so effectively and cheaply and will write about this where it's meaningful. Gearbest kindly supplied me this model and I'd encourage you to purchase from them as per the link below. Using this affiliate link comes at no cost to you but will help me to continue making and publishing reviews like this and recommendations for improvement.
Updates! I've new written a blog on bang for buck upgrades and also a comprehensive walkthrough on a VTX upgrade to allow DVR, smart audio, great power options.