Walkera QR X350
[ATTACH]I have been flying home brew quads for two years. They have all been MultiWii types and very simply made from pine and ply. They flew well and taught me a heap but they looked like "Blitzwaggons" which was fine at the usual price of about $120.
But as I got better and the crashes got fewer I was really keen to try something that looked good too.. I wanted a good GPS system and I wanted to carry FPV and I bit the bullet to the tune of $400 and bought a Walkera QR 350.
The reviews were pretty sad. Complaints about soldering, plugs, the legs, aerial position, transmitter battery pack, transmitter functions etc etc. But I had paid the money so I had to grit my teeth and look big while I waited three days for delivery (I think that's a record for me.)
Today I flew it with all those thoughts in mind. AND I LOVE IT !!!!:ws:
Oh Yeah. This is the real thing. I'm gonna propose; not to crash it.
If there is anything about this model you want to know I will be happy to tell you the good and the bad. Like I do hate the legs and I will have to take more care with landings.:eek:
But it looks like one tough little critter to me.:D
Walkera QR 350
I'm so glad you are loving this Quad. I've been looking for some to do a review of this model warts and all so if you feel you would like to give me a straight up honest account with pics or videos then please mail me firstname.lastname@example.org
It has taken one "full-on" week ......
.... to unravel the mysteries of this beautiful Quad. It has been a very real challenge for my 70 year old brain, but I suppose that the strain has heightened my sense of achievement. No parts are broken or scratched and it still flies beautifully.
So what are the secrets.
1) If the receiver does not respond to the transmitter it is most likely that it is not bound. In that situation, arm yourself with several hours and a supply of the preferred drink and find out how to achieve "FIXID". In the transmitters range of files which can be tweaked this one, to me, was among the most puzzling of the many weird new concepts.
The factory technicians produced a machine which was capable of all the claims made for it but they have since been constantly upgrading the control files and the latest version automatically goes into each new transmitter.
When you do a standard "bind" between most transmittesr and receivers it only opens the right channel for the communication. In this case that process is quite different and the paperwork did not help very much at all. But the sales team did. It was their vital suggestion that I take the FIXID route. The abbreviated title means FIXED IDENTIFICATION CODE INSTALLATION.
The transmitter has a unique identification code built into it and when you install that key it does much more than open the communication channel. It brings the flight controller up to date with all the latest refinements to the programme, as they were installed in the transmitter.
And it really made a big difference. Do not ignore this advice. I found that out the hard way. The manual does not clearly state that the FIXID process is significantly different to a "standard bind".
Now the hard part of all this is that installing FIXID is not just a "pressing the buttons" procedure. You have to dismantle the clam shell body to erase any bind code which you might have put in there, or which might have got in there in the factory, or at the retailers.
It is not really hard and the tools are in the kit, but you will need a spare hour (the first time) and you will need to be free of distractions in that hour. The instructions are not, first time, self explanatory from the transmitter screen. You should download the Devo 7 manual. My new Windows 7 had issues with the disc in the kit. My XP machine could handle it but I decided to go for "the latest version" as I was getting neurotic.
2) This post is getting too long but let me say that the control system in the transmitter needs to be checked and the critical section is in the "OUTPUT" section of the Model Files. This section controls the switches which turn on and off the GPS functions. I had trouble loading the sequence. I think the difficulty was due to a printing error. The required input information for the Gear and Flap switches fails to tell you to "exit" after "confirming".
It could be that these files would not have needed ammendment if I had done the FIXID trick before I started programming the transmitter.
3) When you think it is ready to fly and when you intend to try the GPS you must never ignore any feed back from the LED's which does not conform with the written description. This is most critically important for the calibration steps. I would suggest that the three calibration procedures become part of your pre-flight checks every time. If the lights are not showing you what you were told to expect you would be advised to either; solve the mystery or only fly in "manual mode".
4) I wanted to know if there was any way of proving that the GPS functions were correctly switched. And there is, "sort of". The manual says that you cannot arm the motors if the GPS functions or the IOC switches are on. The reverse of that logic is that, if you can arm the motors with either of those switches on, then the GPS is not ready to go. That is a useful double check.
I am certain that most of the stories told about mysterious events with this machine are due to pilots imagining that the control systems were the same as in other manufacturers' products. That is a most dangerous assumption. In the future these "eccentricities" such as these are likely to be more common, so get used to it and proceed carefully.
Like me you will be SO GLAD YOU DID !!!! :D
Thank you Birdmanpete for the update and info on the Walkera...I had looked at this one when it first came out for retail.......some of your review confirmed my doubts and reinforced others.......after having made a few academic researches and test flying both the similar Phantoms and Blades....I'm now convinced the best bang for the buck (IMO) will be the Blade QX 350....!
I've owned (more than I can remember) Walkera's, both co-ax, fixed pitch and CCP's....even though they were many times the first on the market, they where seldom "state of the art" after 6 months of circulation...seems that has held true with their Quads as well.......
Thanks again for the heads-up!
A worthy contender
I had not seen the Blade when I placed my rather impulsive order. It does look good. More importantly my experience with the mQX, has taught me that Blade really invests in their hard copy manual. That is a lesson Walkera might well follow but it is an expensive detail. The Technology revolution has made it possible to provide all that support at much lower cost and I urge Walkera to rise to that challenge.
I noted the Battery to aircraft plugs. Walkera has that problem too. I fitted my preferred type (XT60) as soon as I got it. I also saw the flight duration issue, which is common to high energy quads. Set up your transmitter timer. It provides a very useful backup.
I look forward to hearing how it goes for you; it surely does look neat. :D
I'll let you know birdmanpete.....it will be awhile, I'm slowly moving up the size scale, just like I did with heli's....looking at the various 180-200 size right now. There are some very interesting models out....almost all have somekind of "smart" technology that seems outstanding. most seem durable as well......I'll report back as I progress.
Not too clever to be too smart.
It seems like a month but I have only been flying my QR X350 for ten days and largely it has been incident free.
There were two ugly moments when I accidentally flicked the GPS (mix) switch into its Return Home position. On the first occasion I simply flicked it off (back to manual) and flew on. Not so good on the second mis-switch. It roared up the sky and my first reaction was to drop the throttle (bad) nothing good happened. It was still on its way to heaven when, for my second, much worse, trick I flicked off both GPS settings and it was heading straight for hell. It got there very quickly but was almost unmarked. After a small adjustment to the battery hatch, I was back in business.
That's when I chose to make the mix switch a little less accident prone. I am still convinced that it is badly positioned.
But last night it got much worse. After two successful hover holds I had a weird loss of control. I was lucky that this happened while mere inches above the ground and flying very slowly within four metres. I was turning left around myself when it seemed to resist the turn and then lurched into the ground. I'm not sure if I added power as it went but it cartwheeled hard and fast. After re-calibrating I launched twice more and exactly the same thing happened. Once to the right and once more to the left. I had no idea what was wrong and took it home, very frustrated. Until I knew what was causing the problem I felt it had to be retired. (The only damage a slightly bent prop. They are very tough props).
When I got home I thought about unplugging all GPS functions but eventually decided to switch off the FIXED ID. This took 40 minutes. (I am getting quicker) My thinking was muddled. I am not sure there is any benefit in going back to random ID. But while I was re-calibrating I noted that the IOC switch (Intelligent Orientation Control) which I have never understood, was in its "on" position and I had no idea when it had been tripped.
In the picture you will see that the three switches Mix, Ail D/R and IOC are close together. I have marked the mix switch and inhibited the other two with blue tac. I never use D/R in a Quad and I don't have a clue about IOC.
More than ever I feel that this very "smart" system has some very "unclever" details, all of which need much better explanation. The use of function switches complicates flying the model and demands confident application.
Today I flew again and all went well. It is still super smooth and looks fabulous (to me). I am happy again but anxious. :concern:
Forgot the Picture
I still seem a bit muddled.:roll:
Can I help ?
I am now convinced that my QRX 350 is doing exactly what it was intended to do. The irritating difficulties I experienced in the first ten days are attributable to poor documentation on the manufacturer's part and poor judgement on mine.
For the moment I am checking switches and then doing a full calibration before flying, after each battery change. It takes about one minute but that is no burden because it takes almost exactly that time before I pick up the 5 satellites needed for reliable GPS function.
If you have had problems with one of these or if you know someone who has please get in touch with me. I am feeling confident that I can lead you through the maze.
I have never found any fault with the actual flying and really enjoy how smooth and quiet it is. I am also pleasantly surprised to find how easily I am reading the flight trajectory. In daylight it has the least visual references of any of my 12 quads (currently flying) and yet that slightly off centre, black canopy tells me most of what I need to know. In low light levels and at night the illumination from the LED's is fabulous.
I wonder what effect those LED's have on flight duration. They must have some impact. A switch which turns them on and off might be a very good variation in future models. But duration does not worry me. I always turn on the TX timer for six minutes when I first arm the motors and have never had a forced landing.
Before going to hover hold, I fly to a clearly identifiable spot, at shoulder height. Then I level the roll axis and hold a little forward pitch before flicking to the first mix switch position. There is usually a tiny shift in height with the switch. This variation depends on whether the model was actually rising or falling when the switch was made. If it was descending, it rises; and if rising, it descends. But these "twitches" never exceed a metre. I have never had to "rescue" the mission with more throttle. Once I am certain it has "locked on" I take care not to change any of the stick positions. On releasing the GPS mix switch to manual, the transition has always been smooth.
I am not planning to test the RTH feature just yet. My park is a bit small and I can never be certain that the area is clear of passers by and wandering dogs.:rolleyes:
I am slowly getting used to the QRX. It is very different to most of my scratch built Multi-Wii types. It is super critical at startup to being level. Today I went out on my grassy field with a stiffish card base and a spirit level to be a little more precise. I have always known that the spirit level (my grandfathers- pre WW1) was not entirely accurate. The Walkera thought it was an improvement on my usual guess but still had its own sense of level.
I am trying to understand why it is that when I go to "hover hold" it sometimes fails to lock the position but it always holds the height. Today was a case in point. I had not done a full calibration and that might explain it.
I did my usual "arm" test to see if the GPS was refusing to allow arming and then forgot to reset the mix switch before opening the throttle. Never done this before. It lifted about a foot and then set itself firmly down with the tell tale Led doing its "not now, you idiot, blink." Well that is very surprising but I can live with it.::o
The trail got tougher.
While I have been having a ball with my QR X350 in its regular flying (manual) mode I have run into some real difficulties with the GPS functions. These problems went much deeper than the position of the switches. I was having less than ten percent success with the hover hold. For me that is the base camp for this assault on Everest. If you cannot achieve a reliable hover hold, you must not (in fairness to the rest of the world, the love of your life or your bank manager.) go any further with the GPS functions. This has to be sorted. If it is working just fine right now; save your time and forget you ever saw this page.
The reason for the difficulty I had, pivots on the distinction between this programme design and the Multi-Wii versions. Those systems have an intermediate stage between Acro/Manual and Hover Hold. It's usually known as Level or Angle mode. Walkera decided that that was not strictly necessary and for lots of happy campers I am sure they were right. But mine simply did not play ball. It is hard to know how widespread this problem might be but I am sure I was never the only pebble on the beach. The reports of first flight disasters are a clear sign of a worrying issue.
Without a level/angle mode to serve as a buffer, the relationship between the "launch site" and the flight controller's "level axis" becomes very critical. In effect the aircraft is designed to be "calibration tuned" and launched with a true vertical lift off with no trim bias on any axis. After dozens of failures and only five successful hover holds, I suddenly wondered what would happen if I adjusted the leg lengths until the aircraft lifted straight up in still air with all trims in their mid position. The Devo 7 has a very curious trim system and this should have aroused my suspicions much earlier. It does not give a very positive visual sense of any positions other than the mid points and the extremes. But they give a huge audio cue when centered. That's because that is where they are really meant to be. The spacing of the control throws is also very finely tuned and tiny amounts of off centre trim make calibration uncertain or impossible. I could never trim the accelerometers without first recentering the pitch trim from it's almost constant far forward position. That should have set the alarm bells ringing a fortnight ago.
So my lovely Alien now wears build-ups. Tonight they look a bit clunky but I will find a smart version very soon. In my case the correction needed was 4mm on the rear right leg and 2.74mm on the rear left. That was what it took to straighten up the "power-up, horizontal reference measurement" and thus remove a still air drift (in neutral trim) rearwards and right.
And the effect was instant. Four batteries were flattened in quick succession. In each case the hover lock was entered at 2 metres altitude, ten metres up wind of me (in a ten knot wind). In each case it was obvious that the lock was established within fifteen seconds. Then I rose to the challenge and paraded my lovely body in front of the on board camera while holding the position (no hands) for more than a minute.
As a general principle I would urge this test (for thirty seconds) as the first step after take off with each and every battery change. On this occasion I did no calibrations at all between batteries as I have been testing in this part of this field (and no-where else) for weeks.
With respect the badly positioned switches. My advice is that the GPS switch should not be operated with the index finger alone. Move it with the thumb and finger, slowly and deliberately. This will reduce the real risk of accidentally engaging Return to Home. That disaster is instantly recognisable if you deliberately make the Hover Hold location significantly to one side of the calibration site. Given that approach there will be a vigorous flat yaw turn from the model as it realigns for its trip home. It will almost certainly want to gain a lot of height at the same time. In such a crisis your thumb and index finger should still be touching the switch. Do not adjust the throttle ever, while any GPS function is being performed. It will create other problems too awful to be mentioned here.
With my confidence hugely boosted it will soon be time for me to get my head around IOC (Intelligent Orientation Control). I will report in detail.
29 days, 75 battery charges, a little worry and a lot of fun. No crsahes, one "arrival" no obvious scratches and no damaged props. That has got to be good and it is gonna get better.
Always remember though; RTH is not an ejector seat and slack flying is much too expensive.
Short and to the Point.
1) Since launching with neutral trims from a proven level surface I have had 100% hover hold locks:D
2) Altitude in Hover hold varies (average + or - 500mm) but you can trim it, without changing the hold point. Add or subtract a little power and confirm the new height achieved with a micron of opposite.:D
3) IOC is great but the pitch and roll response is different (reversed) when engaged at a point aft of the Start Up Calibration. Try to always fly in front of that "Start Up Home Calibration".:D
4) RTH really does the job in aircraft with working batteries, proven Hover Hold and the current field's, "Start Up Home Calibration":D
5) 3 Low battery forced descents show me that it can work.:D But there is a risk that the ground may not be clear or level. I am averaging 8 mins from 2200mah batteries. The transmitter's 7 min alarm is much better.:D
ONE MONTH. 45 battery charges, two heavy landings, no crashes, no spare parts. All good.:D:D:D
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