Estes Proto-X Micro HD FPV Quadcopter Drone RTF Review
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Review by Nicholas Turner, Staff Contributor
All stock equipment
- Wide field of view
- Plenty of LEDs for LOS night flying
- RTF package
- 4GB SD card and USB reader adapter included
- Sunshade for TX screen included
- Separate on/off button for quad
- Color scheme is not for LOS flying
- TX is a rebranded Hubsan TX
- 2.5 hours to charge battery with stock charger
- TX recording on card formats card weirdly and odd format/resolution
- SD card slot on quadcopter is not spring loaded
In the unboxing video I say 550mAh 1S lipo. I've since relooked at the lipo and it's hard to read due to the wrapper, but I beleive it's actually a 650mAh battery.
I'd like to thank Microfasteners for the giveaway they did in the summer of 2016. I was the lucky winner of the Proto X FPV unit they were giving away on their Facebook page.
The quadcopter was tied down via two twist ties on opposing arms. The TX was tucked under flaps with screen protector in place. The box of additional props, charging cable, sunshade, and SD card was tucked up under a folded over flap. The box had a big red sticker alerting me to this. The manual was tucked in between the inside box contents and outside box. Nothing was out of place or damaged. The battery came pre-installed in the quadcopter but not plugged in. The first thing I notice is the TX being an exact copy of the TX for the Hubsan X4 FPV quadcopter I have. Reading the manual confirmed my thinking as the details and use of the TX is identical.
Install 4 "AA" sized batteries in the TX. Connect the battery lead to the lead from the quadcopter. Plug the USB charger into a USB port on a computer, mobile device, or mobile device charger then connect the T shaped plug to the quadcopter and wait until the red light goes off (about 2.5 hours). The sunshade comes in 5 pieces and can be disassembled for storage. The instructions are clear on how to install the pieces. When completely put together it creates a tunnel to put your face to, but you can also leave a side off if you'd prefer.
Turn the TX on and wait for "Bind to Plane" to display on the screen then turn on the Proto X FPV. The Proto X FPV flies like any basic quadcopter. After all it is a quadcopter, so I wasn't surprised and there was no surprises. Expert mode (aka high rates or acro mode) is achieved by clicking down on the aileron/elevator stick. To perform flips push this stick one way then quickly back the other way, same way as the Hubsan X4 FPV unit flips. Flips are tight and quick. In Expert mode the quadcopter really scoots along with some decent speed.
Since I'm still fairly new to FPV I found currently using Expert Mode to fly FPV challenging due to the speed the quadcopter carries. A more experienced FPV pilot will have no issue though. My next task was to use the screen on the TX for FPV flying. I had my hesitations doing this because my experiences with the Hubsan X4 FPV, TDR Robin Standard Edition, and TDR Robin Pro Edition left me disappointed due to the field of view being so small/narrow. This is NOT the case for the Proto X FPV. The Proto X FPV has a much larger field of view that makes true FPV flying easy to do. The 5.8GHz video transmission is compatible with other goggle sets if using the TX screen is difficult. I confirmed this with my Eachine VR-007 goggles. Not the quadcopter battery voltage information is not displayed on the goggle set like it is on the TX screen, so it's not an OSD on the quadcopter.
There are LEDS on the arms (blue in the front and red in the back) to help with orientation up close and during darker hours. The LEDs will flash for LVC as well as indications of what may be wrong with the quadcopter (read the manual for details). I did have one arm bend a little due to a high altitude fall after becoming unstable from a front flip. I was able to bend the arm and prop back to continue flying. Depending on the type of impromptu landing/crash the props may fly off. Being red/green color blind, finding the grey props is much easier for me. So far I have been able to push the props back on and keep flying. Flight times are around 5-7 mins.
There are two ways to record the video to micro SD card: on board the quadcopter and on the TX. Both recording methods don't record audio. Recording via the TX requires the SD card to be formatted every time the TX is turned on. This formatting partitions the SD card into many small partitions that makes the SD card unusable in the quadcopter without using a utility on a computer to reformat the card. I followed the steps in the first response on this stackexchange thread: http://raspberrypi.stackexchange.com/questions/1446/how-can-i-reformat-my-sd-card-to-use-it-normally-again
The TX video recording is really bad in my opinion. First it's lower quality, kind of blurred/fuzzy. Secondly it's a really weird resolution of 480x270. I found only VLC can play back the file, other players complain about it be corrupt/broken. The Hubsan X4 FPV manual mandates downloading third party conversion software to get it back to a more normal resolution, I do not recall seeing such a statement in the Proto X FPV manual. Once the SD card is in the TX and the quadcopter is turned on, press the square button to the right of the screen to start and stop recording.
Recording on board the quadcopter is the way I highly recommend. This gives you an HD recording of 1080p 29.97. To record this way, push the SD card in (contact side down) as far as it will go, turn on the quadcopter, then press the record button on the quadcopter to start and stop recording. The SD card slot on the quad does not have a spring, so to remove the card use your fingernail to grab the lip of the card and pull out. This may take some practice depending on the size of your fingers.
To the trained eye the grey props can be seen some in the upper corners of the video. I for one don't mind this as it helps me know about where the quadcopter is while flying FPV. Once spinning, the grey doesn't show up much unless you know to look for it. The larger field of view gives the video a little fisheye look, but I much prefer this than a narrow field of view.
I am really impressed with the Proto X FPV. In my opinion it is the perfect micro/mini FPV quadcopter I have been seeking for the last year. When I compare the Proto X FPV head to head with my other mini/micro FPV quadcopters (Hubsan X4 FPV gen1, TDR Robin Standard Edition, and TDR Robin Pro Edition) it wins hands down for two main reasons: 1) largest field of view 2) HD recording on the quadcopter. I've primarily been flying LOS, but after carefully trying out all the features, I know I'll be relying more on the screen for FPV flying.
The only negatives I found were the TX formatting of the SD card, TX recording format/resolution, and the SD card slot on the quadcopter not having a spring to assist in removal. The stock charging cable and charge time is HUGE disappointment. But since the battery polarity is the same as that of the Hubsan X4, I have a cable that allows me to use my Hitec X1 or Onyx 235 charger with the battery. My one try at this showed a 50 minute charge time instead of 2.5 hours.
Is this for beginners: Yes
Will it break the bank: approx. $180.00 USD (accurate at the time of writing this review) it is something to consider heavily. But for cheaper FPV micro quads in this class, the field of view will be much smaller and harder to fly FPV.
Do I recommend it: Definitely!
Modifications I recommend: Buying an adapter cable to charge with a traditional lipo charger, and even parallel charging additionally purchased packs.