***VIDEOS AND FLIGHT PHOTOS WILL BE UPDATED CONTINUOUSLY***
Introduction (and a little bit of history)
Ever since I saw a replica of the Horten Ho229 in the San Diego Air and Space Museum, the story of the Horten brothers and their flying wings has always fascinated me. When the most advanced aircraft of it's time were piston pounding Spitfires and ME109s, the Luftwaffe's requirement of building a fighter-bomber that flies at 1000km/h, carries 1000kg worth of bombs and has a range of 1000km must have brought along a few dismissive chuckles. Yet the Horten brothers came up with the Ho229, a turbojet powered flying wing that met exactly those requirements. World War II would end before the aircraft ever saw mass production or service though, and the aircraft was slowly forgotten in the history books. After World War II, Northrop evaluated the Ho229 and some of what was learned was used in the eventual development of the B2 spirit, the most advanced bomber in the USAF arsenal.
The Hoten-X from Walkera seems to be a stylized nod to the Horten brothers and their work...Although it's a r/c quad-copter and not a flying wing, the futuristic, out-of-this-world lines of the Ho229 are still reflected in the quad's canopy. You can probably imagine then, how excited I was when Aaron from Banggood asked me to review this quadcopter. I hope you will enjoy this review...and if it sparks your interest, I would really recommend that you watch the NGC documentary βHitler's stealth fighterβ.
My review items- the Hoten-X and the mini pet!
The Hoten-X is a 200 sized brushless quad featuring a 6 axis gyro. It runs on a 1000mah 7.4V Lipo that provides around 10-11 minutes of flight time unloaded. The protocol it runs on is compatible with all Devention radios. You can fly it on 4 channels but I would highly recommend that you fly the quad with a computer radio so that you can dial in dual rates, gyro gain and expo settings etc. The telemetry function (which is VERY useful if you want to protect your battery) is also only available on 6+ channel Devention radios. (Only if you upgrade the software do you get telemetry though, which I found to be quite annoying).
The flight software is upgradable using the UP02 module.
Extensive use of composites in the arms and on the main frame of the quad ensures minimum weight while still being very strong.
The receiver and the escs are well protected by a composite frame. There are rubber grommets that dampen vibrations within the structure...the receiver features the same plug functions as the QR Ladybird's, like an outlet for lights/cameras etc and for other attachments.
If you look into the main frame of the quad, you will find that there are three PCBs stacked on top of each other. The top one is the esc while the bottom two are the escs. It doesn't look overly complicated to replace if (God forbid) you damage a part.
The landing gear is very sturdy too, and it's long and wide stance makes landing on uneven surfaces quite easy.
Overall, I think the quad was designed without overlooking any details. The structure isn't overly complicated but it is quite strong and light. The only weakness I could possibly see is that the motors may be damaged in an inverted crash... which I will not test out for the sake of my beautiful quad :P
The sample that arrived at my place was a BNF set, which includes the following:
1x Hoten-X quadcopter
1x 1000mah lipo battery
1x lipo charger
spare blades, assorted wires and tools
Manuals and CDs.
I was a little bit daunted by the size of the Hoten X at first, so I decided to take it up very slowly and do slow circuits while trying to get the hang of the quad's flying characteristics. I bound my Devo 8S to it and used the exact settings as my Ladybird. At about 1/3 throttle, the Hoten X lifted gently off the ground... (it produces this low pitched whirl that is very different to the ladybird's high pitched whine... and is much quieter than I thought it would be.) I found it to be so stable that sometimes I only had to control the throttle to maintain a constant altitude... the accelerometers are certainly doing their jobs and the Hoten X was hovering dead still in front of me.
Now onto circuits. I eased the stick forward and started to move forward slowly...once I let go of the stick, it will get back to a stable hover... this was interesting because none of the quads I've had so far (even the six axis QR Ladybird) would fly with such composure. Under six axis mode, like the QR Ladybird, the Hoten X will not flip even if you give it full elevator/ aileron... so I started to do circuits and it was very very easy... when I throttle down a bit it seemed to flutter ever so slightly for a second or two, but with better throttle management I think this could be eliminated completely.
Usually I am extremely cautious and reserved when it comes to first flights, but I was so comfortable with the Hoten X (this was before I took all of the pictures) that I decided to try out the 3 axis gyro mode and see what it can do. I throttled up to about three mistakes high then switched to three axis mode. It flipped as easily as my Ladybird did without a lot of drop in altitude. Rolls were also as easily accomplished. If you fly the small quads or the V929/mQx though, I would advise that you do some practice on the Ladybird first because it certainly changed my thumb movement (The rtf quads mostly have an automated flip sequence..if you get used to that you might crash the Hoten X because flips are done completely manually.)
Overall, I think the best way to describe the flight characteristics is that it is a giant QR Ladybird...but a more stable one at that. There aren't any bad characteristics as far as I see...but (via a hard landing and a damaged ego) I found out that the telemetry function is only available IF YOU UPDATE YOUR QUAD!!! Which really gets me quite worked up as all the other products have this function already built in.. but now I have to order the UP02 and wait for it to arrive... and that really annoys me but what else could I do... anyways, will update when I update the software to let you guys know how it goes.
Here's a short video of a few of my flights
***Something to watch out for is that the orange props are at the rear of this quad instead of in the front as is on most quad copters.***
I think Walkera's products have matured a lot and I truly do like some of their recent products. The Hoten-X has very predictable flight performance characteristics. Now, since this quadcopter uses non-standard parts, the prices and availability of the parts really depends on Walkera...and I can see how expensive it might get. The battery also uses a non-standard plug, which should be (in my opinion) swapped out for a JST plug or something similar.
Let me know if I have missed out on any detail that you would like information on. This review was written on August 5th, 2012 and is accurate per my findings. Special thanks goes to Aaron and Banggood for providing the sample, and I appreciate your time spent on reading my review.
Pros & Cons
-6 axis stability
-Well built airframe
-Relatively long flight time (10+ minutes)
-Upgradable flight software
- Proprietary non-standard parts
- Non standard battery plug
- High acquisition price
- Telemetry is available only through upgrading
Well, I'll add to this as time goes on and when questions start to trickle in...but off the top of my head...here are some questions that people might ask.
1. I haven't flown a quad before, is this right for me?
A: Not a very easy question to answer, but I always get asked this question! It varies from person to person but I would say no. It's not because it's hard to fly, but because it's quite large and powerful... it might not be the best quad to train on. I'd suggest first having some 4 channel heli experience, then some micro quad experience and then this. It is the perfect 2nd quadcopter.
2. Where can I get one?
A: This sample is from the good people at Banggood.com, but it will be also available at various hobby stores too.
3. Can I use my _________ transmitter with it?
A: It is ONLY compatible with Devention radios, it will not work with any other 2.4Ghz system.
4. When is this quad available?
A: August, according to reliable sources (Walkera)
5. Where can I purchase this quad?
A: The Hoten X is available here: Banggood- Hoten X
6. I need a second opinion, where can I read more about this quad?
A: For those, like me, who like to read about a second opinion (very important!!) here's Thwaitm's review on the multicopters thread. I enjoyed reading it quite a lot and hope you will enjoy it just as much. =]
Thwaitm's Hoten-X review