Wohooo - UPS just dropped me a box from Walkera with the new X350. Its not like we did not see that coming from a long distance away, just did not know who would have the first in-your-face phantom clone. Click through for the UNBOX video and pictures.
First impressions.. This thing is pretty nicely made, so far, fit and finish looks and feels OK. At first glance its hard to avoid noticing that the arms have vent holes and even the stribes around the arms exactly like the Phantom, even the LED lights under the arms is just like the phantom.. hmm. But on closer inspection there is some differences, some of which suggest that this in some regards may be a second generation product and have improved on some of the Phantoms "issues".
UPDATE - Was informed that the QR X350 is IN STOCK at WalkeraHelicopterSupply.com and at WOW Hobbies in California - both US distributors of Walkera goodies.
BNF $324 RTF with radio and battery $450 Pretty good deal realy.
UPDATE 2 - PDF MANUAL ONLINE
UPDATE 3 - sep 10th
Walkera have added course orientation lock to the GPS system.. YEAH.
Seems new 350's are now shipping with a JST power plug under the belly.
and Walkera is releasing a video cable to connect GoPro 3 to the Video TX in the FPV kit. NICE. with that you can see what the GoPro records directly on the F7 screen.
UPDATE4 - Oct 30th
Dave now have dedicated GoPro hero3 cables for the TX5803 that come with the FPV version of the x350 - if you are anything like me you prefer a serious camera like the GoPro. CLICK for product page.
This is maybe where it gets interesting, because the RTF version with the DEVO-7 radio is said to cost roughly$450 (USD) this is with a complete kit, GPS, battery, charger, and the standard no-video radio control DEVO-7. essentially matching the DJI phantom kit for $450. Thats about $225 less than the cost of a bare bones Phantom. You could add a TeamRebel Design brushless gimbal for rock solid aerial video and still save $50 over a standard Phantom. While I do not expect the Walkera to be a feature by feature match to the Phantom, Im sure the money aspect will apeal to lots of users and video shooters.
First things first. YES it is RTF = Ready To Fly out of the box exactly like the DJI Phantom, you are required to mount the legs, put some props on the thing and charge the battery and stuff batteris in the F7 transmitter. Oh and calibrate the compass before going flying.. exactly like a Phantom, not more and not less.
Second things... second. ? The thing is naturally born to carry a GoPro, and Im told it will ship with a suspended camera mount, however my prepro box did not include one. More important for me, the legs are MUCH more camera friendly than the notorisly unstable Phantom legs. the x350 legs are mounted at about 45 deg angle and deliver a very stable platform for landing a heavy camera gimbal with a GoPro upright. somebody at Walkera must have been measuring a bit also, seems the legs are about 15mm taller so there is about XXXX more space for the gimbal underneath.. YEAH. This is good news.
*I am also told that James at TeamRebelDesigns.com is almost done preparing a X350 specific mount for the BeholderLite brushless gimbal I started reviewing last week.
40mm mounting hole pitch.. meaning.. you can stick ANYTHING gimbal made for Phantom here.
NOTICE the 8mm extra battery space in the rear. there is extra space to the side and also in the lenght so it is a lot easier to stuff the battery and cable in there.. (as a matter of fact, i might stick some foam to keep the battery from floating around)
Proof of concept - the Beholder Lite gimbal mounted with 1/4 inch foam tape. need a long screw for safety. but its on there and have enough clearance to the ground. BTW.. I measured the clearance of the X350 to be 95mm.
NOTE NOTE - The leg is vissible in the GoPro video because I mounted the GoPro upside down in the gimbal specifically to see the leg in the video, I wanted to see directly in the GoPro video the movement of the x350.
Not perfect, but we all know "the proofs in the pudding. and here is the pudding flying with a GoPro, a Beholder Lite Gimbal and a KeyCam 808 over 250grams of payload. there is a little vertical jello, thats because I need to tune the gimbal a little, but it have not bearing on the quality of the gimbal or the x350's ability to carry it. and Sorry about the sync, the GP shooting 24fps and the keycam 30fps... sorry.. Pudding served. enjoy.
UPDATE - Walkera confirmed that the dial AUX2 on the radio is not used and can be used for camera pitch angle control. and I got a quick-start guide, I will try to upload it in the morning and link it here for those interested.
The Walkera X350 is at the moment the lowest priced RTF package for a GPS supported quad, but while the price is attractive, let us also realize that it do not match a Phantom feature by feature, the quad offer RTH, and GPS position lock style flying. This is great comfort when flying, what is missing compared to the more expensive phantom is the smart orientation style flying like "home lock" and "compass lock" The GPS system is simply not as "full featured" as the DJI NASA system, but then again, you can buy a BNF X350 for the cost of a NAZA control alone.
The budget RTF kit at $450 is a pretty darn good deal for a GPS quad.
The Walkera vs the DJI do about the same job for less money, hauls the same payload and are enough alike to confuse the casual bystander.
For the cost of a Phantom, at $679 Walkera include a video-reciever and screen in the radio.
* However I have concerns about the FPV kit, I have tried the included DV04 camera before at lat time I tried it, it was simply not up-to-snuf, video was buffering and would pause, the camera is NOT suited for actual FPV flying. and I would recommend getting a FatShark starter FPV kit instead. HOWEVER. the F7 radio with video screen is cool for doing video work at short range while flying LOS. and it is compattible with FatShark transmitters. so you could use a FatShark or Immersion RC radio to down-link video from a flightcam or your GoPro to the screen for framing shots.
I doubt Walkera will appriate my opinion about the DV04, and I am always open to change my opinion, simply show me.. Walkera, send me a FPV kit that works like a rock-star, and I will both install it on the quad, fly it, review it and post the proof that it works right here. (if it in fact works)
Dressing this thing up with the BeholderLite gets you a Aerial Video platform for only $450+175= $625 That is about $200-300 less than the Phantom with same setup. Not entirely true as you can get a bunch of very cheap components but it generally applies to both of the quads at the moment.)
I did a quick flight with the ReplayXD mounted directly to the bottom of the X350, not much jello.
First flight with GPS position hold engaged, the x350 flight-behavior is growing on me.
Soo, what am I learning? Well after calibrating the x350 a few times, it s really flying quite nice and is turning to out to be a pretty predictable and easy to fly quad.. but it is still mushy compared to a phantom, but that is turning out to be maybe a good thing, look at the video below, a Phantom would be constantly twitching to stay in exactly the placed it was parked, the x350 makes fewer and smaller corrections, resulting in two things. first of all it drifts a little more around the spot.. but secondly it do not change its angle as dramatically and constantly as the Phantom.. resulting in quite smooth video. Basically the x350 is starting to look like a quite good video platform.
JELLO warning - the little camera is mounted on the bottom of the motor.. sorry its full of jello. ignor the jello, the interesting part is the gentle movements of the GPS stab. ;-)
Talke a look at the interior of the X350 here. GEKTOR from Germany cracked it open and did a bunch of pictures.. check here for the pictures.
Awesome set of settings - GekTOR strikes again with improved radio settings for Devo-8 and Devo-8s
These settings improve control and have a extreme option if you want to flip or 3D the quad.
Thank you to Dave from Walkera Helicopter Supply for getting the X350 to me.
I know he have 6 of these arriving to ship next week click here for daves x350 page.
Some related links:
RCgroups - very clean FPV setup with Moebius camera
RCgroups - Walkera QR X350 GPS Phantom GoPro RC Drone
YouTube in German - Walkera QR X350 intro
OnlyFlying Maschines $125 GoPro3 Video downlink.
COOL video from Germany, you can see Gektor having fun with the GPS position hold.