A show of hands, please.
How many readers would have pounced upon a compact, transmitter-ready, hyper-fast brushless racing quadcopter brimming with the latest technology and firmware back in the early days of FPV?
Ah, ha. Pretty much all of you, myself included.
For you FPV enthusiasts both new and experienced, GearBest.com now has such a model. It’s the Aurora RC BFight 210 brushless FPV racing drone and is it ever an impressive piece of work.
For US$156.99 with free shipping to the US via unregistered air mail, the buyer receives a fully assembled, carbon fiber-framed model with two sets of Gemfan three-bladed props, an installed SBUS receiver in any one of four popular protocols or, for $154.34, a PNP version. Mine is the FrSky receiver-ready version for use with my Taranis X9D Plus radio.
Since its recent introduction, the BFight 210 has set the internet ablaze and for many a good reason as I’m about to discuss.
Span: 8.27″ (210mm)
Weight: 9.4 oz (267g)
Size (LxWxH): 7 x 7 x 1.5″ (178 x 178 x 38mm)
Construction: 3K carbon fiber with 4mm arms and baseplate; 1.5mm top plate; machined and anodized aluminum electronics mounting posts
Flight Controller: OMNIBUS F3 Pro with on-screen display
Receiver: FrSky-compatible SBUS multirotor
Motors: FLOVEFLY F2205 2300Kv multirotor outrunners in both CW and CCW directions
ESC: Aurora RC 4-in-1 30A brushless with BLHeli firmware
Propellers: Gemfan 5152 three-blade multirotor
Camera: Aurora RC HS1177; 600 TVL color; on-screen display; 1/3″ color CCD sensor; 2.5mm lens; selectable PAL and NTSC video formats
Video Transmitter: Aurora RC 5.8GHz 40-channel with 25mW and 200mW output; up to 1km range
Radio as Tested: FrSky Taranis X9D Plus 16-channel open source spread spectrum
Skill Level/Operator Age: Intermediate to advanced; 14+
Available From: GearBest.com
Price (USD): $156.99 for the transmitter-ready version; $154.34 for the PNP version with free shipping to the US
Two sets of propellers in random colors
Two battery straps
Zip ties and shrink wrap tubing for the supplied VTX cable antenna
SMA cable adapter for use with other VTX antennas
Manuals for the FC board
Required for Completion:
3 – 4S lithium polymer battery with XT60 connector, approximately 1300mAh capacity
Transmitter to match the choice of receiver or complete computerized SBUS system for the PNP version
Computer with free Betaflight configurator and charge/sync cable with micro USB connector
Optional micro SD card for use with telemetry tracking
Technician Class amateur radio license or higher to operate the FPV
The first thing one will see upon opening the plain cardboard box are two bags of Gemfan three-bladed multirotor props in the factory’s choice of colors. Gemfan makes a great product, but it appears that the company has recently discovered the power of marketing! One bag had a picture of a racing pilot wearing goggles and the other, well, let’s just say that it paid tribute to a famous whiskey distilled in Lynchburg, Tennessee.
The buyer has no choice when it comes to propeller colors, so the one with the pilot’s face on the bag contained opaque pink propellers and the “whiskey version” contained clear amber props. As for the model itself, it was beautifully assembled and all twelve solder joints coming off the ESC were perfect. Online research showed that early production runs had problems with poor soldering, but that wasn’t the case on mine.
If I may jump ahead, the factory failed to apply threadlocking compound to the metal-on-metal attachment points. I found that out later when it started losing hardware after a few flights.
I opted to use the amber props and before I installed them, I would first need to bind the model to the Taranis. As first viewed when removed from the box, the BFight looks as if one spent several evenings soldering and assembling.
The battery was shipped in its own box:
Seen next to the quad, the battery is perfectly proportioned and fits nicely on the top plate.
Documentation is, to put it charitably, nearly non-existent. A button was visible through one of the holes in the top plate, but it wouldn’t allow the receiver to bind. Plugging the model into Betaflight showed that the FC board was working, but no receiver response. In such instances, the internet is definitely one’s friend.
This photo pretty much sums it up. The manual is almost exclusively dedicated to the connections on the FC.
The “mystery” button turned out to be the band selector for the video transmitter located in an easily accessible area. As for the receiver button, it was nowhere to be seen. Again, a video revealed its location. With the top plate removed, the bind button was clearly visible.
The bind button is the one just below the VTX at lower right.
There was no printed documentation regarding the binding procedure; the factory could save end users a lot of frustration by not installing the plate in the first place. This time, I was able to bind the model to the transmitter, but still no reaction in the receiver mode.
Further research suggested simple changes in the GLI mode to switch the receiver to serial SBUS. Here are the commands:
Still nothing even after re-flashing the OMNIBUS firmware. The fault, it seems, was mine. I hadn’t switched on SBUS on the Betaflight receiver menu since I hadn’t scrolled down far enough. Now we had something! I don’t know if the GLI settings and firmware flash helped, but they certainly didn’t hurt. I assigned the arming to the AUX1 switch, popped on the props and battery, mounted the VTX antenna with one of the zip ties and the shrink wrap tube and I took it out for a test flight.
Firing up the BFight 210 is similar to other quads of its type. Transmitter on, model on level surface, plug in battery, wait for alert tones, done. The long connector leads coming off of the power distribution board are plenty long enough to allow them to be strapped in with the battery. The supplied hook-and-loop straps are at least adequate; some hook-and-loop tape on the battery and top panel is something I recommend and which I did a bit later on.
Four-cell power and brushless motors in a lightweight quad equal one powerful little machine. Simply hovering the 210 showed the promise of a lot of speed. Before I wrung it out, I activated the ANGLE mode via Betaflight to come on when the model is armed with the plan of assigning it to a separate switch at a later date. I like having a multirotor level itself, especially when flying line-of-sight for the first time.
A quick blast up and down my street immediately proved that the 210 is made of special stuff. The OMNIBUS and BHeli firmware combined to make it a wonderfully stable, fun and great handling quad. Hovering was virtually hands off. Blipping the throttle really showed how much power that a four-cell li-po spinning four 2300Kv outrunners and 5″ propellers can generate. This is an insanely fast machine on four cells; three is a great choice for casual flying or indoor racing in close quarters.
The entire reason for a machine like the 210 is FPV. That said, I wanted to try out the FPV function in its most basic form.
The 210 comes with a wire aerial which, as I’d indicated, stands upright with the help of a zip tie and shrink wrap tubing. That results in a flexible, unbreakable antenna. For those wanting the best possible transmission, the quad comes with an SMA adapter for an omnidirectional antenna which takes the place of the aerial.
I elected to use the aerial and a pair of entry-level RC-007 5.8GHz goggles with the stock antenna. These goggles are no longer carried by GearBest, but any 5.8GHz unit will work. Unfortunately, these goggles have no provision for recording, but there’s no shortage of videos demonstrating this quad’s capabilities from a pilot’s point of view. There’s a port for a micro SD card on the FC board, but it’s for telemetry tracking.
Once the goggles found the frequency, a sharp, clear, wide angle picture with on-screen information regarding flying time, flight attitude and battery charge popped up. I knew the RC-007 had good picture quality for such an inexpensive unit, but linking it with the BFight’s excellent camera really showed how good it is.
Important note: The proliferation of high-powered 5.8GHz FPV video transmitters means a Technician Class or higher amateur radio license is required here in the USA and likely in other countries as well. It’s a relatively easy multiple-choice test and many area ham radio clubs offer classes. The American Radio Relay League has practice tests and plenty of other info for budding ham operators.
I might also add that the on-screen display can be programmed to be changed via the transmitter for racing applications. Ditto the VTX transmission frequency. Nice features indeed, but for casual use, they aren’t really necessary unless one is practicing for or participating in a race. There’s a button behind the camera which is supposed to change the OCD, but it didn’t work for me. No matter; I was ready to fly.
The grassy parade grounds and overflow parking area shared by Southwest Community Church and the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, California is a popular spot for electric flight. It’s open to anyone with current AMA membership as long as no events are taking place.
The fun began with the BFight rocketing upwards and out with yours truly watching from its vantage point. I’ve something of an FPV “noob” and I’m getting better at it despite using the self-leveling mode to keep things from getting twitchy.
The speed of the BFight added an entirely new dimension. It’s a good thing that the Taranis is well known for long range operation and it really came in handy in this case; this little quad gets away very quickly and line-of-sight orientation would be difficult if not impossible. What added to the fun was the video itself, completely free of latency and most signal dropouts despite the coax transmitter aerial and “rubber duck” receiver antenna. Slowing down for more casual flight didn’t diminish the fun one bit. The solid control and excellent video signal make the BFight a fun choice for simply flying and enjoying the view through the goggles.
I wanted to record the FPV video, but the RC-007 goggles have no DVR capability. Instead, I fired up my Tactic FPV-RM2 goggles with a 2GB micro SD card for a video shoot at the nearby Coachella Valley Radio Control Club. My grandson Stephen accompanied me as my production assistant. Stephen worked the DVR function on the Tactic monitor while I flew the 210 via line of sight. The results are in the video below. Once more, with little more than the stock VTX antenna and a Tactic cloverleaf antenna, the signal remained strong and clear if not better than before. Video is far clearer when viewing live than the recordings would indicate; that signal is compressed for writing to the micro SD card.
Landing an FPV quad via the goggles is difficult at best and this model was no exception. I mention that because the battery would pop out from beneath the strap and yank the XT60 connector when landing at the church’s field. That’s probably not a bad safety feature if one is racing. As I’d mentioned earlier, I opted to further secure the battery with a small strip of hook-and-loop tape which does its job well for the flying I’ll be doing.
That is, at least for now. I seem to have been bitten by the FPV racing bug!
This is onboard video recorded with the Tactic monitor:
I mentioned at the onset of this review that the Aurora RC BFight 210 racing quad has been a popular topic on the online R/C world and I’ve now seen why. Here is a fully assembled and nearly flight ready machine with state-of-the-art components while selling for an almost impossibly low price. All is not sunshine and lollipops since Aurora RC has a long way to go regarding documentation and parts availability. That won’t stop me from giving this amazing machine a full two thumbs up. I can’t recommend it highly enough.
A great deal of thanks are due to “Anny,” my latest contact at GearBest who offered this model for review. I’m privileged to have a great working relationship with GearBest and their marketing reps are fantastic. This quad has been a very hot seller and Anny worked like crazy to get one my way the moment they were back in stock.
Thanks to Nathan Maat of the admin’s desk here at RC Universe who gave the green light to review this model on behalf of you, our R/C audience. As for yours truly, I do believe it’s time for a bit of FPV fun!
Pluses and Minuses:
- Incredibly low price
- State-of-the-art firmware
- Rugged, all CF construction
- Props are readily available
- VTX antenna is easily upgraded
- Standard VTX aerial works very well
- Fantastic flight charateristics
- Well made
- Easily programmed via Betaflight
- Choice of multiple radio protocols or a receiver-ready version
- Virtually no documentation
- No replacement parts listed, although other discrete quad electronics should work
- Metal-to-metal attachment points need to be reinforced with blue threadlocking compound