The mysterious FrSky R9 Mini antenna – good for EU 868MHz?

FrSky R9 radio system is storming the RC hobby. It's super cheap after all. But there are problems: EU version is facing a lot of problems and people like to replace original antennas with something else.
Last week I was asked to check what is going on with antennas shipped with FrSky R9 Mini. After all, the same hardware can be used both for FCC 915MHz and EU 868MHz version. Is the antenna tuned somewhere in between? Or not so much?

iFlight ION Raaange/ION Drive 2506 1250KV Motors

220x motors are the workhorse on the RC hobby right now when it comes down to mini quads. Sometimes they are joined by 230x too. But 2205 and 2206 brushless outrunners have a serious problem that limits their use with propellers bigger than 5 inches. They might still be fine with 6-inch props, but on 7-inches problems begins. What 220x lack is torque! They are just too small to have enough copper wire and diameter to deliver enough torque to drive much heavier 7-inch propellers.

Let's welcome something much more powerful: ION Drive / ION Raaange 2506 1250KV!

Matek F722-SE hands on – the best flight controller of 2018?

Is Matek F722-SE the best flight controller of 2018? Perhaps it's "slightly" too early for such statements, but for sure, it looks like one of the strongest pretenders for such a title (if the title existed).

In a meantime, a video showing brand new Matek F722-SE flight controller and most of its features.

Matek F722-SE – brand new flight controller that brings STM32F7 closer to the needs of many

At the beginning of 2018 I've stated that Matek F722-STD is the first F7 flight controller that makes sense. Today, I have in front of me I have the first F7 flight controller that has all you need (and more) when 4-in-1 ESC is not what you are looking for.

It is Matek F722-SE!

Matek F722-SE Flight Controller

Matek F722-SE Flight Controller

Matek F722-SE Flight Controller

  • STM32F722 processor
  • MPU6000 and ICM20602 gyro/acc – user selectable to match the needs. Personally, I'm not the biggest fan of dual gyro design. From my perspective, MPU6000 is enough for everyone. Really!
  • OSD compatible with INAV and Betaflight
  • BMP280 barometer
  • 5 hardware serial ports
  • possible 1 software serial
  • 8 outputs
  • I2C bus

This is the standard data. Nothing super fancy at a first glance. Until you go into the details:

  • PDB with a current meter is integrated into the design
  • you can connect 2 separate FPV cameras and select the one that will be connected to OSD and VTX with your radio without any additional hardware. Super option for fixed wing flyers
  • power VTX on/off from your radio as well (I really will have to test that soon)
  • TX6 is conveniently positioned at every corner for ESC telemetry setup
  • F7 means that you can connect anything you want to any serial port you want. F7 series have integrated serial inverters, so SBUS and SmartPort is no longer a problem

I'm super eager to put this baby on one of my racing quads

Matek F722-SE is coming soon!

Mamba F405 and F40 40A 3-6S 4-in-1 ESC combo hands on

I have to honestly admit, up to the beginning of 2018 summer I was rather against 4-in-1 ESCs and flight controllers combos. The reason was quite simple: 4-in-1 were a rather new thing, had a tendency to burn without a reason and were quite expensive. Pretty much a normal state of a new technology. In comparison, FC + PDB + 4 separate ESC had more flexibility, were cheaper to replace when something puffed the magic smoke and seemed to be a reasonable choice when few extra grams of weight was not a problem. Lately, things started to change…
4-in-1 ESCs are no longer a new thing, manufacturers learned their lessons and prices went down! And that means you can get a decent quality flight controller and 4-in-1 ESC for less than $50. That's cheaper than 4 ESCs! C'mon, things ARE happening.

Today let's take a look at the example of a new age FC + 4-in-1 combos: Mamba F4 Power Tower.

Mamba F405 and F40 4in1 ESC combo

Mamba F405 and F40 4in1 ESC combo

Mamba F405 and F40 4in1 ESC combo

What comes inside the package?

  1. Mamba F405 flight controller
  2. Mamba F40 4in1 ESC

Mamba F405 flight controller

Mamba F405 and F40 4in1 ESC combo

Mamba F405 and F40 4in1 ESC combo

Mamba F405 comes preflashed with Betaflight 3.3 and uses target FuryF4 OSD (FY4O). It comes in standard 30,5×30,5mm hole spacing.

  • STM32 F405 processor
  • SPI connected MPY6000 gyro
  • 3 hardware serial ports: UART1, UART3, and UART6
  • LED support
  • built-in OSD
  • built-in 16MB flash memory for blackbox logs
  • I2C pads

Mamba F40 4in1 ESC

Mamba F405 and F40 4in1 ESC combo

Mamba F405 and F40 4in1 ESC combo

  • 40A constant, 50A peak current
  • DSHOT support
  • uses QN3109 MOSFETs
  • current sensor

Pros and cons

Some pros and cons after taking a "static" look at Mamba F405 and F40 4in1 ESC

Pros:

  • pretty good quality PCB, I would even say surprisingly good for a price
  • FC comes with rubber grommets for vibration damping
  • side mounted DFU button instead of flat buttons or just pads on some lower quality boards
  • c'mon! $45!

Cons:

  • FC can be used only with 4in1 ESC, no separate soldering pads for ESCs
  • There are many versions of QN3109 MOSFETs, and depending which PDF you take a look at, 40A rating is either overrated or underrated… hmm…
  • location of pads for motors on the 4in1 is problematic. It collides with mounting standoffs. Careful soldering required!

Overall verdict? So far, positively surprised! Really, this thing goes to one of my mini quads immediately!

Betaflight 4.0 – improved dynamic filtering on 7 inch quad

The next major release of Betaflight will be 4.0 with new and improved Dynamic Filtering. For now, today I only did a quick test of **Betaflight 4.0** running on my TBS Source One 7-inch FPV drone. No tuning, no playing with settings. I only flashed, set modes and radio and that's all. I pretty much like how it feels. This quadcopter was mainly doing cruising, no freestyle, and it felt good to put those props into more demanding use. Yes, Betaflight 4.0 has a good chance to be just awesome…

Hardware

A note about the sound. It indeed sounds like a V8 engine. Bear in mind, that those are default settings and Gemfan FLASH 7042 props are light and do not like to have too much D gain.

Ritewing Mini Drak – The Mist

Ritewing Mini Drak is a very stable airplane, but when the air is bumpy, the flight will be bumpy as well. This is why I'm experimenting with a soft image stabilization.

For video editing, I'm using Magix Movie Studio 15 and it has a built-in video stabilization plugin. But it does not work: waste of time. So, I've got me something else: newBlueFX Stabilizer.

In this video, some of the takes are stabilized, some are not. You should not have much trouble finding which ones I've stabilized with newBlueFx Stabilizer and which not. I've tried to find the settings that are soft enough not to make it look super strange or something. Did I succeed? Not me to judge.