Hubsan X4 FPV Multirotor Review
Image Credit: Hubsan
Review by Nicholas Turner, Staff Contributor
Hubsan X4 FPV Stock
- Great little flyer
- Comes RTF minus TX batteries
- Beginner and expert modes available
- TX runs on 4 “AA” batteries
- Included prop guard
- Manual is inclusive and not terribly
- LEDs and colored props to help with orientation
- No audio tones, only flashing lights and HUD info for low voltage
- Extremely short flight times in expert mode with stock 380mAh 1S lipo
- Battery polarity is reversed compared to all my other 1S lipos that use the same connector
- LEDs are hard to see in the day
- Battery gets really warm
- Can’t get the battery lead to tuck in per the instructions
- Disconnecting flight pack needs a power
Late August and into early October 2015 I was on a mission to find an FPV capable multirotor for under $100 USD with a goal to try FPV on the cheap. Unfortunately the units that kept popping up were Syma brand and rebranded units with WiFi support. If you’ve been around this part of the hobby for anytime (or understand networking, routing, and WiFi signals), then you’ve heard about the lag over WiFi and the lack of ability to fly by WiFi. So I got dejected, and didn’t search near as much. Thanks to the CrashCast podcast, the hosts have mentioned Banggood periodically for stuff. So on a whim I checked out the site and found a sale on the Hubsan X4 FPV that was good through October 10, 2015. For this limited time the multirotor was only $69.99 USD compared to their normal $139.99 USD (and Amazon’s $150 USD). I hesitated for many days, being skeptical of this Chinese seller, even with having a new US warehouse. I asked questions about the company and was convinced to take a plunge. I also ordered a pack of five 500mAh lipos for the unit with USB charging cord as I had seen the stock battery was giving short flight times. My wife loves to use RetailMeNot.com to find coupon codes, so I searched the site and found coupon code for Banggood and saved even more (8% I believe). So for less than $65 USD I was getting my first FPV unit.
The multicopter shipped from their US warehouse in a week’s time while the batteries are shipping from China. Banggood spared no expense on the packing material. The quadcopter was placed in a grey bag, resembling that of an ESD bag in color, with the shipping info stuck to the outside. There was very little air in the bag, so no extra padding or protection. Taking the unit’s box out of the shipping bag showed a big dent in the box on one side. My concern was raised as to the damage internally to the unit. However, this concern was not needed.
Inside the quadcopter’s box was two thing white plastic trays stacked on one another. The manual, lipo safety disclaimer, and prop guard was underneath the last tray, loosely in the box. The first tray contained the multirotor, lipo, lipo charging cord, set of spare props, and the prop removal tool. Each had its place in the tray it sat in securely. The bottom tray contains the TX. I was highly surprised at the lightweight feel of the TX due to the size with the video screen. The USB lipo charging cord had me concerned as it looks like it wasn’t put in squarely in the mold at manufacture time. With everything accounted for and found to be in good shape, it was time to charge the battery.
Charging the battery is simple; plug the USB cable into a USB port then connect the battery. I found charging to take approximately 45-50 minutes. Once the battery is charged, be sure to wait about five minutes as to not subject the lipo to abuse. I find the battery does not become warm during charging, but it’s still good practice to wait after a charge. While the battery charged I installed the prop guard. There was no indication of front and back, so I installed and hoped for the best. The prop removal tool is nothing but a small crowbar/lever with a cutout for the prop shaft that pushes the prop up and off the shaft from the bottom. Installation of the props is simply pushing them back down on the prop shaft.
I turned on the TX, the startup splash screen and sequence completed and the text “Bind to plane” flashed until I got the battery connected to the multirotor. The lights on the quadcopter continue to flash until it has sat right side up and still for a few seconds, to complete calibration.
Take off was nice and easy. Hovering is super stable. Beginner mode, low rates, default mode, whatever you want to call it provides easy control, predictability and enough response to easily fly the quadcopter. The video transmitter is very limited in range and penetration, just having the product box in between the quadcopter and the TX caused video loss. First flight was about 5 minutes, according to the TX. The HUD on the TX shows how long the video link has been established, flight pack voltage, amount of battery capacity left in the TX, and trim settings. More flights indoors yielded the same flying style and duration of flight.
I finally ventured outside and pushed the elevator stick in once to activate expert mode. Now this little quadcopter sprang to life. She was zooming and whipping around everything, carrying a good amount of speed. The quad gets a much steeper nose down angle, I’d guess about 45*
or just under. This first flight in expert mode swerving around trees in my yard lasted about 3 minutes. Next time out I went into expert mode and a high hover to try flips. To flip the quad quickly same your elevator or aileron stick opposite directions. So to flip to the right (aileron roll right) quickly push left followed by quickly pushing right, to stop the flip just let go of the stick. On a flight consisting of multiple flips in all directions and fast flying, I only got one minute of flight time.
The TX has jacks for firmware update via USB cable, micro SD slot, and two ports for video and audio output. The manual states if they decided to do a firmware update it will contain audio at that time. I haven’t seen anything about a firmware update. I tried hooking the video output to a TV and input of a VCR, all to no avail. To record the transmitted signal, there is a square button to the left of the screen that will start and stop the recording. Pay very close attention to the manual as the video is stored at a different size than expected and you have to use third party tools to convert to a standard size. As stated earlier the TX is super light for its size, the gimbles do feel cheap and not as large as a range of motion as a Spektrum or Futaba TX (or so it feels to me). There are many reports online about the TX eating through the “AA” batteries quickly, especially with recording on. I have about 20 flights now and the TX batteries are hanging around 50%, but I haven’t recorded any flight.
* Is this for a beginner? Yes
* Is it a blast to fly? Yes
* Do I regret this purchase? No
* Do I recommend this quadcopter? Yes
* Is it a racer? NO, directional FPV antenna is problematic with obstacles.
In my opinion this is a great way to get into FPV on the inexpensive side. Many places carry parts if needed and this quad has survived a lot with me. I’ve had it tumble down a flight of 15 wooden stairs, slammed into walls and ceilings and ground, so it’s very sturdy and rugged. Just be sure to check the prop guards and props are pushed down in place after each incident. I have a blast flying full throttle weaving around trees in my yard via line of sight (LOS). I’m finding after I fly a pattern outside LOS I’ll then use the LCD screen for FPV’ing the same pattern. I’m getting better, heck that’s why I got this, was to try and learn FPV.