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Old Jun 16, 2016, 12:09 AM
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Mini-Review
Walkera Rodeo 150 - "Bumpy Ride" or "Slick Racehorse"? (review, work in progress)

Not every quad that Walkera released in the past, had been an instant hit. The 210 has been well received, even though it appeared to have had (resolved now?) issues with a non-working fail safe. The 150 looks a bit like a shrunk 210, but good thing, it's still brushless. Will this one tick all the boxes?


Disclaimer: I don't get paid, or in any other way make money with reviews like these. Product specifications and quality may vary at the manufacturer's discretion, and are beyond my influence. I cannot guarantee you will get a product that performs exactly the same as seen and described in this review. There is always room for a general discussion on the reviewed item, feel free to comment, but if you are planning to add a long review instead of some summarizing remarks, it would be appreciated to put these in a new review topic. And please, no affiliate links!



For easy navigation, here's a list of contents:

1: Specifications (posting #1)
2: Unboxing (posting #1)
3: Transmitter (posting #1)
4: Flying Performance (posting #1)
5: Preliminary Verdict (posting #1)
6: Suitable for a Beginner? (posting #1)
7: Camera & FPV Performance (posting #2)
8: Hints, Tips & Modifications (posting #2)
9: Suggestions for Improvements (posting #2)




1 - Specifications:


First, let's start with a link and a picture,




http://www.gearbest.com/rc-quadcopters/pp_356605.html



2 - Unboxing:


The package from Gearbest arrived in good shape, with a strong cardboard box protecting the Rodeo box.




I wish more sellers would use these extra boxes. Even review samples often arrive in nothing but a plastic bag with some thin foam wrapping, so the retail boxes are often at least mildly crushed. Anyway, back to the R150. The box doesn't just look good on the outside, but the inside is even prettier. On top is a foam insert, securely holding the quad, with props installed, a bag with spare props, the FPV antenna, some small tools and the battery.






When you take this insert-layer off, underneath we find a second insert, holding the Devo 7 transmitter, and a 2S/3S battery charger, charging through the balance plug.




The quad itself looks somewhat insect-like, personally a name like "Locust" might have been more fitting:




The battery is inserted on the rear, in a bay secured by a sliding cover. The plug used is EC2, not very common in the quad world, but at least better capable of higher currents than the red JST for instance:





3 - Transmitter:

The RTF Rodeo comes bundled with the Devo 7 transmitter. This is a rather bulky unit, with 5 switches, and a rotating knob. Using 8 AA type batteries, makes it on the heavy side. The battery holder can be removed though, and replaced with for instance a 3S LiFe battery pack. The transmitter uses the red JST for connecting the battery.

Since the Rodeo is quite a sleek looking quad, it's a little odd to see it bundled with such a big radio. The 7E would have been a more subtle "partner" for the R150. A possible reason could have been that the 7E has it's max transmission power capped, so it has lower range than the regular "7". Maybe it's time that Walkera removed the "range crippling" on the 7E, and release it as 7E+ or something.



4 - Flying Performance:


Getting the R150 ready for flight, involves installing the FPV antenna (if you don't, you will likely burn out the FPV transmitter) as well as extending the receiver antennae, and installing the battery. The 2S LiPo is a snug fit, I found it to fit best when having the balance connector at the rear, and at the bottom of the battery bay, when holding the quad upside down. Sliding the battery cover back in place you can feel a little resistance just before it locks in place.

When the quad is right side up, it will emit a confirmation beep. Arming the throttle is contrary to what I've gotten used to, in mode 2 it needs left stick to lower left corner to arm, and lower right corner to disarm. I'm pretty sure this can be adjusted to match the pilot's preference. The same applies to motors idling when armed, or not. Some Rodeo owners reported the motors starting to run idle when the throttle is armed, but mine apparently has "motor_stop" enabled. You do get a beep when arming or disarming, and the red leds around the camera, either turn off, or on, to indicate throttle arming status.

Once in the air, the Rodeo feels smooth but agile. Not what you would expect from a real life rodeo. Despite running on 2S, it's got plenty of power, and the rates and PID's in first flight mode are very well tuned. It's fast, turns on a dime, and does a good punchout too. Even if you fly it roughly, and throw it around, instead of trying more to fly smooth, I couldn't get it to wobble, or break from a turn.

This video hopefully shows how nicely it flies:

One of the first flights with the Walkera Rodeo 150 (2 min 43 sec)





5 - Preliminary Verdict:


The Rodeo 150 combines a lot of neat features in a compact size "package". Despite being only 2S, it's got great "punch" and the stock flight controller programming gives it good speed, and smooth handling. And with plenty of options to adjust the handling to the pilot's preferences.

The heavy and large Devo 7 transmitter might be a little off-putting for some, but it has good range, and the sticks have a smooth feel. And the custom plastic frame may not be as durable as a CF based frame, and make it harder to take it apart to make repairs.

But if you want a cool looking FPV "drone", that performs much better than you would expect for a 2S based setup, the Rodeo 150 will be a great "ride" without having to be afraid to get "thrown off the saddle".



Pros:

- Sleek design
- Flies smooth and fast with stock settings
- Great punch power
- Programmable flight controller
- Good radio range
- Bright headlights, work well for LoS flying


Cons:

- Proprietary plastic frame and components
- Big and heavy Devo 7 transmitter
- EC2 connector is not very common for quads (though can handle current much better than the more popular red JST for instance)




6 - Suitable for a beginner?





(to be continued)
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Last edited by SoloProFan; Jun 28, 2016 at 03:26 PM.
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Old Jun 16, 2016, 12:09 AM
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7 - Camera & FPV Perfomance:

The tilt on the camera of the Rodeo 150 can be adjusted. Image is quite colorful, but a bit soft focus. Other Rodeo owners have mentioned this too, so it seems to be a common thing.

The FPV antenna is a simple wire, no clover leaf. A first test, recording the video signal with a monitor with DVR, shows some static at relatively close distance. A better antenna should probably give better results.

To make things a little more complicated, there are 2 versions of the video transmitter, one with reduced power, to meet more strict VTX power regulations. I haven't checked yet what version my Rodeo came with, but if it's the lower power version, that would also explain the static on the video signal.




8 - Hints, Tips & Modifications:






9 – Suggestions for Improvements:


Though the Redeo 150 is very good right out of the box, a few things could have made it even better.

- The location of the FPV antenna makes it necessary to each time remove and install, when you store the quad in the original box. If you forget, chances are the VTX won't survive. If the connector would be fitted more to the rear, and have the top of the body make a 45 degree angle, or even point straight to the back. That way the antenna can be kept installed even with the quad stored inside the box. Or make the antenna mount also able to swivel up and down, like the receiver antennae.

- There is no on/off switch, and with the battery connector at the bottom, this means the quad will start some of the inializing sequence while you are still holding it. Though it should not have the motors spinning etc, it's still a little risk. A power switch on top, would make it possible to connect the battery, put the quad down on a level surface, and then turn on the power.

- Smaller size transmitter for the RTF. The 7 has good range, but the form factor of the 7E is more convenient, and it doesn't need 8 (!) AA batteries. However, the 7E has a transmitter power limit installed, which reduces range. If Walkera would stop crippling this transmitter, and make it full range, it would be a great partner for the Rodeo 150 and any RTF. Maybe install an extra 3 pos switch, and call it the 7E+ or so.
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Last edited by SoloProFan; Jul 03, 2016 at 03:11 PM.
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Old Jun 16, 2016, 02:50 PM
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Solo, I have been reading and watching every bit of info I can find on this quad. I am now waiting on your review. I am deciding between this and the Inductrix 200. I know most of the problems of the 200, and want to see what you think of the 150 and its durability.
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Old Jun 16, 2016, 03:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sleb View Post
Solo, I have been reading and watching every bit of info I can find on this quad. I am now waiting on your review. I am deciding between this and the Inductrix 200. I know most of the problems of the 200, and want to see what you think of the 150 and its durability.

I'm not sure if I can give any comments on the durability pretty soon, as I don't intend to crash it often, but it's great flyer. Seems like I am getting some Walkera goggles (likely the 4 Advanced) as well, with another R150. That one might see more abuse, when I start to fly it FPV.
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Old Jun 16, 2016, 05:54 PM
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Added flight video. This may become my favorite brushless flyer.
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Old Jun 18, 2016, 03:06 AM
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Added unboxing pictures and some more content
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Old Jun 18, 2016, 04:10 AM
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I have no less than 3 Devo 7 TXs now lol, a smaller model with non-gimped ranged would be appreciated.
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Old Jul 03, 2016, 05:18 AM
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Why would no antenna burn out the tx? I've flown a bunch without waiting for my fpv gear....
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Old Jul 03, 2016, 06:11 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Number2 View Post
Why would no antenna burn out the tx? I've flown a bunch without waiting for my fpv gear....

The video TC can get very hot, and gets hotter when there is no antenna to emit the 5.8 GHz signal with. Apart from not being able to dissipate the transmitter's energy, the antenna also acts a little as heatsink maybe. It's not like your video transmitter will fry within seconds, but it can get hot rather quick, and be damaged beyond repair.
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Old Jul 03, 2016, 11:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Number2 View Post
Why would no antenna burn out the tx? I've flown a bunch without waiting for my fpv gear....
Solo is referring to the VTX video transmitter, not the radio transmitter
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Old Jul 03, 2016, 01:01 PM
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both vtx and actuall 2.4ghz transmitters are risking damage when being powered without antennae
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Old Jul 03, 2016, 02:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Happy|Harry View Post
both vtx and actuall 2.4ghz transmitters are risking damage when being powered without antennae

Correct. With most 2.4 GHz transmitters, the antenna is not easily removable though, so rarely an issue. But most 5.8 GHz VTX have an antenna that can easily be removed, and thus forgotten.


Flew the Rodeo a little more lately, in between the rain showers. Turned out I was rarely using full throttle, because the sticks on the Devo 7 are longer than on my other radios. With stock settings, and 6 axis mode, when giving full forward pitch, and full throttle, the Rodeo can even climb easily. Might have to look into tuning the flight controller to allow steeper max pitch, or have a look at the radio settings. I switched the DR rate switch, but didn't see any difference, so it could be that no different rates are set for this switch.
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Old Jul 03, 2016, 03:50 PM
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The stick travel is pretty large. It takes big thumb movement for my Trump-sized hands. It even gives reason to think of putting on a lanyard and converting to pinching, or something.
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Old Jul 03, 2016, 03:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LittleFish View Post
The stick travel is pretty large. It takes big thumb movement for my Trump-sized hands. It even gives reason to think of putting on a lanyard and converting to pinching, or something.

I'm considering doing a range mod on a 7E, and use it instead. More convenient transmitter for people without XXL hands.
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Old Jul 09, 2016, 12:59 PM
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Anyone tried it on 3S battery yet?
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