Walkera introduces the QR X350 Phantom a new contender in the RTF GoPro carrying quad market.
By Stephen Cinch | Sep 19, 2013, 03:22 PM Introduction
Walkera QR X350 GPS Phantom FPV Version
Main Rotor Diameter: 556mm
Main Rotor Blade Length: 206mm
Main Motor Size: WK-WS-28-008A
Battery: 11.1V 2200mAh 25C Lipo
Approx Flight Time: 10-15 min
Channels: 5 and up
Rotor Type: Quad-Copter
Experience Level: Intermediate
Completion Level: RTF/BNF
Environment: indoor & Outdoor
Available from: www.Hobbycart.com
As the world of multirotors expands, many different aspects of the hobby are stating to take shape. There are the heavy lift aerial video rigs, smaller purpose built FPV rigs, acrobatic rigs and recently the smaller RTF/BNF GoPro carrying rigs have become very popular.
The multirotor hobby can be quite confusing for someone just getting started. I have witnessed many people make mistakes when trying to build their first rig. And yes, I too have made many mistakes over the years as well. The RTF/BNF multirotor market allows a noob the chance to get a built rig that they know will work. Open the box and the motors, ESCs and flight controller will work properly. There is limited set up of the flight features so you have a recipe for potential success for the new pilot. This "readiness" is a very attractive feature and can be very beneficial for a new pilot to ensure success and in turn that pilot diving deeper into the hobby.
Walkera is no stranger to the RTF helicopters, and they have become a recognized name over the years. With the QR X350 Walkera is now making its mark in the GoPro carrying Quad market by having features of other available rigs, but Walkera kept the price reasonable.
In The Box
The QR X350 arrives in a nice sturdy box.
The first look at the rig!
The package is very complete.
Everything you need is included. it is truly RTF.
The Walkera QR X350 arrived from Hobbycart.com in a sturdy outer box that when opened revealed the Walkera's packaging. The outer box showed signs of traveling half way across the world, but the internal box was pristine. The box has a nice illustration of what lies inside. I have to admit at this point I was pretty excited to get the box open! A plastic holds everything in place, and a clear cover holds everything in the plastic holder. Overall the packaging should ensure that the unit arrives in perfect condition where ever it is shipped. A quick inspection of the box shows that this is truly a RTF package. The QR X350 main rig, landing gear, Devo F7 Radio, 2S lipo for the radio, 3S 2200 mAh lipo main battery, lipo charger, two complete sets of propellers, cables, tools and instructions are all included. Our review model happens to be the FPV edition, so on the underside of the plastic holder I found the FPV camera and attachment bracket as well as the 5803 Devention TX unit.
The unit is almost complete out of the box. The landing gear use thumb screws to attach them to the main chassis. So to affix them a few turns of the thumb screws and the landing gear are attached.
thumb screws to attach the gear!
Then to keep everything neat and tidy a few tiny screws with little metal wire keepers hold in the antenna wires and mount into the landing gear.
Wire holders help to tidy everything up!
Next you need to attach the propellers. This is made easy by Walkera as the propeller direction is modeled into each arm. Just double check to make sure the propeller is in the proper direction and you are done. Completing these few steps took just a few minutes and the stock unit was ready to rock.
Since this is the FPV version, I had to attach the FPV camera, plug in a few extra wires, tidy up the FPV wires and in just ten more minutes the FPV version was completely assembled.
The FPV Camera and TX.
The Walkera Qr X350 comes out of the box pre-set up. To fly the pilot does not need to change anything anything in the radio. The rig will work as it comes from the factory. I am a pilot who always like a bit of expo in my radio, so I read the Devo F7 TX manual and added some expo to all the flight channels. On the Devo F7 my setting was -30 in the Ail and Ele channels and -25 on the rudder channels. Again, this is just a personal preference, and the unit will fly fine with out adding expo. The radio is already set up out of the box and bound to the QR X350. IMPORTANT NOTE: you must calibrate the compass, gyro and accelerometer before you take to the sky.
Once the calibrations are done, to operate the QR X350 simply follow the procedure shown below. (Illustration taken from the manual)
How to get the QR X350 Airborne!
Since the QR X350 comes pre-set up from the factory, a quick and easy thing to do to ensure a successful first flight is to familiarize yourself with the radio. make sure you know what switch positions will take you from manual flight mode to GPS flight mode and then if you ever need it return to home mode. On the Devo F7 the 3-way switch used was the 'mix' switch. And the flight modes set to this switch followed the manuals description perfectly.
Mix Switch to access modes on Devo F7
Modes description in manual
After the calibrations I simply had to charge the TX lipo and then the flight lipo using the included AC charger and the Walkera QR X350 was ready for flight.
Ready to Fly!
Flying the QR X350
I read the instructions one final time, checked the props and headed on out the door. I turned on the radio, plugged in the main flight battery and let the radio find the QR X350. It took a few seconds and a link was established. Instantly the FPV screen on the Devo F7 came to life and showed me the grass in front of the QR X350. There is NO set up top get teh FPV up and working, it just works.
The little FPV screen on the Devo F7
I set the mode switch to manual, pushed the sticks to the corners and then spooled up the motors. The props spooled up evenly and the motors were very quiet smooth. At about 40% throttle the QR X350 took to the air and settled into a nice controlled hover. With the little bit of expo I added to the radio I was very impressed with the stability of manual mode. I flew a few circle patterns out in front of me and then brought the rig in to settle into a hover again. I was checking the right LED on the back of the unit. This is the GPS satellite indicator. The more flashes you get the higher the satellite count your rig is seeing, and the better the GPS hold will perform.
The GPS LED Indicator Chart
I was getting a single LED blink telling me the GPS was seeing five satellites. So I took a chance and moved the mode switch to position hold. The QR X350 leaned back a bit dropped about twelve inches and then started to wander about a bit. it was a bit of a startle and I quickly switched back to manual mode. After checking that everything was alright with the rig, I went a little higher and flipped the switch to Position hold again. Again the rig slipped backwards a bit wandered a little and eventually found a three to four foot range of position hold. I chalked this up to the lack of satellites and started to fly around to see how the GPS mode was working. In GPS hold the flight characteristics seemed to be a bit choppy compared to manual mode. The auto centering was almost fighting me to fly the craft around. It's not horrible, but it is not completely smooth. On a later flight in a more open area I was able to lock into ten satellites, and this really helped the position hold. In fact the QR X350 just say where ever I placed it. I could even carefully go up to the rig, grab a landing gear pull the unit away from it's holding spot, and it would quickly fly back and resume it's hold. But even with this improved GPS position hold, flying while on position hold was not as smooth as I would have hoped for. Don't get me wrong: It's acceptable and I may be spoiled from the smoothness of some of my professional AV rigs, but I would really like to see Walkera improve the smoothness of the QR X350 in Position hold mode for future firmware updates.
While I had so many satellites locked in I thought it was time to try out the return to home feature, called 'One Key Go Home' in the manual. I flew out about 50 yards and took the X350 up to about fifty feet, hit the switch and hoped for the best. The QR X350 slowly rose a bit, turned itself around and pointed it nose directly at the home location. It then very smoothly and slowly flew nose in towards home. When it was a few feet away from home, but still at a fairly high height, the QR X350 turned itself to face away and slowly descended. it reached around one foot off the ground and then bounced a few times before finally settling on the ground. I tried the return to home feature several times after this, all with a good number of satellites and although it worked every time, it was very inconsistent on how it returned home. one time it didn't rise up at all and just came home and another time I was almost convinced I was about to experience a fly away. The QR X350 rose to around one hundred feet came towards home, climbed a bit more and then finally and very slowly descended to land.
Important notes in regard to the 'Return to Home' mode.
1: Once the QR X350 lands, you will need to pull the throttle to the bottom or the propellers will continue to run.
2: In 'Return to Home' DO NOT pull the throttle to the bottom before the unit lands. If you do, this will result in the QR X350 shutting off the propellers and the unit will crash.
After putting around twenty flights on the QR X350, I feel Walkera was a bit generous with the estimated flight time of ten to fifteen minutes. I found that with no GoPro attached I was able to get around eight to nine minutes max out of the included 2200 mHa Lipo. When the GoPro was attached I was lucky to get more than a five minute flight. Since the battery could be a factor, I changed out the included pack for a Gens Ace 2500 mAh Lipo I had laying around. This battery added around one to two minutes to the flight time. Still not the claimed time, but still sufficient.
Flying the QR X350 FPV Version with a GoPro
The QR X350 FPV version has a GoPro style clasp on the bottom of the FPV camera that allows you to attach a GoPro to the quad. Unfortunately the FPV camera takes up an extra inch of under chassis real estate, so the GoPro ends up being about 3/4 of an inch too big and hanging below the front landing gear.
The GoPro attached to the QR X350 FPV hangs about 3/4 of an inch too low!
This is not too much of an issue if you are taking off and landing from grass, but I could see a problem with scratching the GoPro case if you were taking off and landing from Cement or blacktop.
The QR X350 can carry a GoPro with no issue!
The QR X350 handles the GoPro's additional weight with no issues in manual mode, but when I switched to GPS hold the quad seemed like it wanted to drift backwards quite a bit. Correcting for this drift made for a very 'twitchy' flight and yielded useless video. When flying the QR X350 with the GoPro attached in manual mode the video turned out much better with minimal amounts of jello. But a little was still present. Walkera offers a GoPro anti-shock camera mount that I am sure will take care of any of the jello problems. That being said but I'm not sure if you would be able to keep the FPV camera mounted, add the anti jello GoPro mount without modifying the landing gear.
The Walkera QR X350 is a very stable quad for a decent price. The ability to pick which version you want makes this quad very appealing. Overall I think the QR X350 offers an exceptional value compared to some other units on the market. I would recommend this quad to a person with some multirotor experience to purchase and fly by themselves. If the pilot is a complete beginner I would suggest that they seek some guidance from an experienced pilot. Or if that is not a possibility then I would suggest reading the manual several times and really get to know the functions of the quad before getting airborne. If your looking for a fun sport-ish quad to fly about and occasionally carry a GoPro then this rig is for you. if you are looking to start an aerial video business I'd look elsewhere.