Convergence™ VTOL PNP Basic, 650mm Review
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Review by Adrian Apodaca, RealRCReviews Owner
- Stock PNP w/ Spektrum satellite rx
- Gens Ace 3s 2200mah
- Spektrum DX9
- All stock settings
- Easy to assemble
- Small enough to transport assembled
- Good looking
- Drifts forward in multirotor mode
- Transitions are scary
- Low quality links for motor tilt
I am going to start this review by telling you I have spent ZERO time on the Convergence VTOL thread on RCGroups. With new planes, you often end up with a two-hundred page cesspool of misinformation and impressions from people that don't own the product yet. I simply do not have the time to read through the entire thread to see what other people are saying. Here I will be sharing the impressions I have had with having owned this plane for about a month.
Aside from that, I was excited when this product was announced, especially when they showed a real, unedited flight video. The impression I got from that video is that Horizon Hobby had been successful with a true VTOL that other companies had failed to fully realize. Shortly after Horizon Hobby opened up pre-orders, I ordered mine and started the waiting game.
Unboxing and Assembly:
As one can expect from Horizon Hobby, all shipments are double boxed and stuffed with bubble wrap to avoid shifting and damage to the goods. The first thing you’ll notice with the VTOL is how small it is. Of course we all read over the specs when it was announced, but when you hold see it in person and hold it in your hands, you realize just how little it is. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a micro, and it’s not tiny, but if you are used to the other E-flite park sized offerings, you’ll find it will fit in the smaller end of your collection–at least that will help with transport. The quality of the aircraft feels pretty good as is expected from Horizon Hobby. Upon inspection of the whole craft, the only things that made me a little nervous were the links that go from the servo to the wing motors to tilt them up and down. For this kind of application, I expected something more robust. I hope this doesn’t end up being an issue in the future.
Assembling the VTOL is quick and easy. Screw in the vertical stabilizers and install your props. Since I ordered the PNP version, I had to install my Spektrum satellite receiver also. You can use a normal receiver also, but I figured I’d save a few bucks using a satellite receive, not to mention, it is what is included in the BNF version. Programming the VTOL is also a cinch since the bulk of the programming is already in the flight controller. The final step is balancing the plane with a battery installed. This is also an easy task, but I did find that there is not much room for the battery leads inside of the battery slot. Also, the lead from the esc is definitely on the shorter side so after plugging in your battery, you’ll find you have to mess with the wires a little bit for the canopy to sit flush with the rest of the fuselage. It was a little frustrating but not anything I haven’t dealt with before. One last thing I noticed was that when the motors were in multirotor mode, they did not go 90 degrees up. That left me wondering if the plane would pitch forward in hover or if it would correct itself once airborne
1st test Flight hover:
With all that out of the way, it was time to take it out front for a little test hover (video below). As you see in my video, my parking lot isn’t exactly a wide-open space, which made me a bit nervous not knowing how well the VTOL flies in multirotor mode. After familiarizing myself with the switches (I didn’t want to hit airplane mode in my parking lot), I installed my battery and took a deep breath. As I still had a bit of concern on the motor tilt, I faced the plane in the direction I had the most space. Sure enough, on take-off, the plane pitched forward. It really scared me because with full backward input, it took a second or so to stop drifting forward and to start moving backward. I don’t know if this is normal or if this is an issue, but at least it gave me an idea of what to expect in multirotor mode. In my parking lot hover test, I didn’t dare put it in acro mode as I didn’t want my inexperience with this craft to lead to it’s demise. As you can see, I flew it for a few more minutes just to get more familiar with the VTOL. It is definitely stable in multirotor stability mode, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say it flies like a quad. Maybe in the right hands it could, but not in my hands.
One last thing I wanted to test in the safety of a low hover was low voltage cutoff (LVC). I put in a half discharged battery to see what reaction the plane has when it goes into LVC. Let me tell you, the result is terrifying. Unfortunately I didn’t get it on video, but the VTOL drops very quickly once LVC kicks in. I was only about 3 feet high over grass when it happened so there was no damage, but I’m pretty sure if you did it from 20 or so feet up, you might see some damage to the wingtips. I can’t say with certainty though as I am unwilling to abuse my own plane. Just know to be conservative with the timer you set. I currently have my timer set to 6 minutes and I finish off with plenty of battery left to be on the safe side.
Airplane Mode Flights:
As I received this plane in early December, it took a while before I was able to get to my flying field with decent enough weather to get some more VTOL flying in. Again, I took some deep breaths, installed my battery and set the VTOL on the runway. Hovering in an open space was a lot less stressful than in my parking lot, though with the breeze we had that day, I found the VTOL even less responsive in backward flight than what I had experienced at home (second video below).
After I flew a few small circuits, it was time for the moment of truth, FLIP THE MODE SWITCH! HOLY S***!!! I think that was one of the scariest moments I have had since I started flying RC 6 years ago. In retrospect, I don’t think I had enough throttle going because the transition was abrupt. The plane shot up several feet, shimmied like crazy as the gyro tried to keep the plane level, then darted down the flight line. With the transition complete, I noticed how nice and speedy the plane is. As I prepped for my first turn, I was again startled as I found the auto-leveling didn’t want to let me turn as sharply as I needed to avoid hitting the trees surrounding my flying field. I got through the first turn and decided going into acro-mode would likely give me more control of the plane. There is a massive difference in this mode and you’ll find that the VTOL gives you the familiar feeling of flying a normal plane in this mode. You’ll also notice how darn fast it is. I didn’t measure the speed, but it at least looks fast for it’s size. Speaking of size, you will have to keep the VTOL a little closer in than with your larger planes as it can get really small really quickly as you fly away from yourself. During my flight, I cut the throttle to test the VTOL’s glide characteristics. Though it doesn’t drop like a brick, it doesn’t exactly turn into a glider either lol. Not that you’ll ever need it to glide since you won’t be landing in a normal fashion, but it is something to keep in mind. I did like how responsive the roll-rate is and also like that it flies inverted pretty nicely.
After some enjoyable flying around, it was time to transition back to multirotor mode for landing. Again, I scared the crap out of myself because it hadn’t occurred to me to switch back into auto-level mode before starting the transition. Because acro-mode in multirotor mode is so responsive, my transition was a more sloppy than normal. In my later flights, I did indeed find that transitioning to multirotor mode is much smoother if you flick the auto-level switch beforehand. Aside from the limited responsiveness on backward flight, landing of course is pretty easy.
I hope my review of the Convergence VTOL doesn’t come across as too negative, I don’t mean it to. I think you’ll see that a lot of what sounds negative is me just being nervous or scared of something new, or just being inexperienced with a very new and unique platform. From what I have experienced, despite some concerns, Horizon Hobby has created a great new product with this plane. The VTOL works, and it flies really nicely. My links have held on well, but only time will tell if they withstand 10s or 100s of flights–a linkage failure would definitely result in a pretty spectacular crash. As I mentioned before, I haven’t read the forums in RCGroups, so I don’t know what other people are experiencing with this aircraft. I intentionally did not read the forums because I didn’t want to taint my impressions of this plane or get things in my head that aren’t really issues. As with any new plane, you’ll always have legitimate issues followed by guys that have just crashed their planes who want to blame someone else for their wreck. Because it is a new platform and a new kind of plane altogether, I will continue shooting video of my flights with it for the time being. I won’t post them, but if there is a failure, I want to be able to show what caused it. If you get one, I would say to do the same for now until we know exactly how things like the linkages and flight controller hold up. I would also urge Horizon Hobby to make an addendum to their manual to give people a better idea of what to expect when they transition or fly in both multirotor and plane mode. It is not as straightforward as they make it sound. Also, though there is plenty of room for FPV gear, I will likely not ever try FPV on this platform. I honestly don't see it as an ideal plane for FPV.
As for me, I am pretty happy with the Convergence VTOL. It looks great, flies great, and is a head-turner at the field. I would definitely not recommend this as a first plane or recommend that you fly it in a tight area. You’ll have a much better time flying out in the open. I would recommend it for folks with a bit of flying experience under their belt. I am glad to see a company innovate in the now crowded RC market where everyone seems to be copying each other. Great job Horizon! I look forward to tons more flights with my VTOL and I will update this review with any new developments.