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Old Jun 13, 2013, 08:59 PM
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Heli Pad Review Series: Production WL-Toys V222 6-Axis Mini Quad with Camera



Kudos to James Chen, who brought us the pre-production review, the V222 has become one of the most anticipated mini Quads. After some factory delays, the production version of the V222 has finally hit the market. My unit was provided by Banggood for this review. Please note that Banggood has two SKUs for their V222. SKU065514, which recently became available, has a Mode 2, V959 style Tx, is featured in this review. The other, SKU077236, is not yet available at the time of writing, but will feature a V922 style Tx like the one James reviewed.



The V222 package contains:
  • V222 Quad
  • Stock Transmitter (Tx)
  • One 1S 3.7v 500mAh Lipo Battery
  • AC Wall charger with JST connector with optional wall adapter
  • One set of replacement props (Qty 4)
  • VGA Camera module with 2GB micro SD memory card
  • USB memory card reader
  • Instruction manual


V222 Quad
The V222 is the updated version of the best selling V959 camera Quad. It basically has the same hardware of the V959, including the frame, arms, motors, props, skids, HotenX canopy and even the same camera module. The key differences between the V222 and the V959 are the Gyro and the Tx/Rx protocol. The V222 sports a 6-axis gyro, meaning a 3-axis gyro plus a 3-axis accelerometer. The V959 is known for its stability. The V222 kicks it up a notch with this new gyro. In this production version, the V222 uses a compact size Tx that looks identical to the V959 Tx, but of course, the electronics are different. The V949 uses the FlySky protocol. The V222 uses a new protocol, common with the V2xx series.




Transmitter
Since the Tx is the biggest difference between the prototype and production version. Letís take a closer look at the Tx. This Tx is strictly Mode 2. Please donít get confused by the instruction manual. Although the display may suggest that the Mode could be change, it really couldnít. If you require a Mode 1 Tx, you will need to wait for SKU077236. The layout of the buttons is the same as the V959 version before. In addition to the control sticks and the trim buttons in the usual locations, the V222 Tx features a large, backlit LCD screen. To the left of the screen, you have 3 direct rate select buttons that gives you 40%, 60% and 80%. The default rate at power up is 40%. On the right, you have 3 more buttons. The top one lets you select 100%. The middle one turns the LED lights On/Off. The bottom one triggers the camera to take 3 successive still photos. In addition, you have two shoulder buttons. The one on the left starts/stops the video recording. The one of the right is used in conjunction with the cyclic control to flip the V222.


Binding Procedure
Binding the Tx to the V222 could not be more simple.
  1. Always zero out the throttle and turn on the Tx first.
  2. Connect Lipo battery (The LED lights are ON. The red LED on the FC board flashes rapidly first, and then goes into a slow steady blink)
  3. Push throttle stick all the way UP and then back Down to Zero (Tx will beep. The LED lights go out, and youíre ready to fly)
Gyro Initialization and Calibration
The beauty of having a 6-Axis gyro is that it doesnít require you to set the V222 on a level ground to initialize. You could initialize it on an uneven plane, or even do what I do: initialize it upside down, so you could easily see what the on-board LED is doing! The 6-Axis Gyro couldnít care less. It will stabilize itself. Amazing! But in the rare event that the gyro is confused, you could perform a calibration and reset it. Again you could do this part with the V222 completely upside down, so that you could see the on-board LED.
  1. On the Tx, select rate to be either 80% or 100%
  2. Pull BOTH control sticks to the LOWER-LEFT corner and hold them there until the on-board LED begins to flash.
  3. Let go of the sticks, and the Gyro will be reset within 2 seconds, and the LED will stop flashing.
Lights
One of the things I love about the V222 is its lights. Right out of the box, without any modifications, the lights were there to help illuminate the Quad tastefully. Like the V949, a row of red LEDs lined the underside of the front arms. A row of cascading red/blue/green lights lined the bottom of the rear arms. In addition, two very bright white LEDs in the front of the canopy serve as headlights. And two bright red LEDs on the tail section serve as brake lights. Orientation is very well assisted by these lights whether you fly by day or by night. You are going to love them!




Flight Characteristics
Another thing I love about the V222 is its flight characteristics. Whatever you ask it to do, it will do. The flight is very stable and compose, excellent for a video platform. You may find the rudder a bit slow, but when you look at the video you took, you would appreciate the slow turns. While the rudder is slow, the cyclic is extremely fast. If you are new to the V222, 40% rate would seems like 80% or 100% of the other Quads you own. I like flying at 80% the best and you can pull off some really nice bank turns. All the while, maintaining altitude because the V222 is not going to do a nose dive and force you to pull out of a run. The FC is programmed in such a way that you wonít get accidental flips even at 100%. The Flip button must be engaged to do flips. I love that!



Specifications:
Dimensions: 190x190x94mm
Weight: 83.73g or 95.43g with battery
Lipo: 1S 3.7v 500mAh
Motor Size: 8.5mm

This behemoth weighs almost as much as my Blade 120SR (94g), and thatís a foot-long helicopter! I was expecting it to fly like a dog, but it doesnít! It cuts wind and it jets! Iím very pleasantly surprised by the performance of this bird. And I was expecting to hit LVC within 4 minutes hauling that much weight. But the flight time was very respectable.


Dropouts
My biggest gripe about my V222 is the random signal dropouts. Youíve heard about dropouts from V202/V212/V222 owners. Some reported severe dropouts. Others reported none. But for me, it is a reality. Straight out of the box, it dropped in front of me, just 3 feet away while I was doing a hover. Then it has drop in 10-15 feet. Other times it flew for 100 feet with no real issues. The dropouts are so random, but frequent that it is hard to explain and harder to work with. It could be a matter of location and interference, but honestly, I feel that the Tx is to be blamed though. As it is, the stock Tx is under power. My advice is to use good Alkaline batteries and do not use rechargeable batteries to power the Tx. Before you have a feel about how severe the dropouts are at a location, keep altitude low. Otherwise, your V222 could fall a great fall.

According to James, WL-Toys have revised the design. New design without dropouts are coming. This might be one of those cases where early adopters pay the price (it wouldn't be the first, or the last time this happens). I'll post mods and remedies in post #4 when they become available. Stay tuned.



Flight with 7E
I said that the Tx is to be blame, not the FC, because I was able to bind the V222 with my DeviationX modified Devo 7E (A big shout out to Daryoon for his help). With the 7E, I could fly the V222 to as far as I could see it, and no issue at all, tested at the same location, of course. So, for those who are interested in investing into a good programmable radio, Devo 7E is a great choice. After all, you would notice that the V222 Tx was really ďinspiredĒ by the Devo 7E. One look and youíll say that they are brothers.



Spots (Lights), Camera, Action!
Actually, I think most of you have been waiting to read this section because you have already seen those black shots on the images. Is the myth of V222 cameras having black spots to be confirmed or busted. The answer is confirmed. Right out of the box, my V222 camera was showing black spots on the shots, too. I apologize for this high quality shot of my TV. But that was when I didnít know yet how to use the camera. Nonetheless, the spots were very visible.




But that was not the end of the story. No need to call Customer Service, yet. Because 2 days later, the spots have completely disappeared on their own! I believe what happened was that during transit, moisture and condensation due to change of temperature and humidity has formed tiny droplets of water on the image sensor. If you just let your V222 air dry for a couple of days. The problem will be resolved by itself. In my case, Iíve been taking my V222 around to demo, and I left it in the parked car. The slow heat just dried the droplets off. And my V222 camera looks perfect now. Whatever it was, it was clearly not something permanent. And it was clearly reversible. So, before anyone overreacts, just give it a chance to dry. Check out the Photo Gallery below and see a few more sample photos taken from the same camera where spots used to appear. I tried shooting a few of white scenes so that the black spots (were they there) would show up easily. I also tried several low light (high amplification) shots. No problem.

Another thing to note about the camera is that the lens could be rotated from the default flat position to a negative (down) angle. This is useful if you want to shoot high altitude birdeye's view. But I will caution you that before you do that, know where you are flying first. Make sure you're not surrounded by trees and houses. It is not too windy. You have a good handle of the Quad flying against wind. And you are not experiencing dropouts. A lot could change when you are flying 30-50 feet high.

Alternate Batteries

As you would notice, the V222 frame is very strong and sturdy. The battery compartment is tight, even for the stock battery. I have tried several alternatives. The Hyperion G3 550mAh, is small and fits easily. The NanoTech 600mAh is slim and long, and it fits perfectly (see picture below). Stay away from "fat" 600mAh cells.

Conclusions

The V222 could easily be the most enjoyable and most versatile mini Quad on the market today. The V959 is already a best seller. The V222 adds a 6-Axis gyro and makes a wonderful video platform. You could buy optional modules (water cannon, bubble machine, missile launcher, or hook) to it, or make your own. I could see the V222 takes over the best in class.

Pros
  • Stable 6-Axis gyro
  • Excellent flying characteristics that are both smooth and agile
  • Very functional and tasteful LEDs
  • Useful landing skids that protect the camera and give clearance for the gears, especially when flying in a grass field.
  • Durable construction
  • Uses standard 500-600mAh Lipo with JST plugs
  • No accidental flips
  • Camera and 2GB micro SD included
  • USB Card reader included
  • Support optional modules
  • Replacement parts are inexpensive and available

Cons
  • Dropout issues still being worked out
  • Image sensor spots that seem to work themselves out
  • A bit heavy
Where to buy?


At press time, Banggood.com is the only available seller.

I'll update this list when more sellers become available.


Photo Gallery
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Last edited by Heli Pad; Jul 20, 2013 at 03:48 AM.
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Old Jun 13, 2013, 09:00 PM
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Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How to I re-bind to the stock Tx?
A: If your V222 is bound to a different Tx and you need to re-bind it to the stock Tx, follow this procedure:
Connect Lipo
Quickly turn on Tx
Push throttle stick to 100% and then back down to 0%
Ready to fly

Q: If my V222 is already bound to the stock Tx, do I need to re-bind every time I replace the battery?
A: No, in fact, if your V222 has been bound to the stock Tx, I would suggest reversing the first two steps above, meaning that you should turn on the Tx first, then connect the Lipo.

Q: Do I have to find a perfectly horizontal plane to initialize my V222?
A: No, with the 6-axis gyro, you are not required to initialize the V222 in a level plane. You could initialize it in an angle, or even upside down. It would make any difference.

Q: How do I change Rates of the V222?
A: The V222 has 4 rates: 40%, 60%, 80%, and 100%. The default rate is 40%. There are three buttons to the left of the LCD screen, from top to bottom are 40%, 60%, and 80%. 100% button is the top bottom on the right side of the LCD.

Q: How do I Calibrate the Gyro?
A: To calibrate the Gyro, first select the rate to be 80% or 100% on the Tx. Then pull both controls sticks to the lower left corner and hold them there for 2 seconds. Then let go of the sticks and your Gyro is calibrated.

Q: Can I manually switch the LED lights On/Off?
A: The Middle button on the right of the LCD is the light switch.

Q: Can I take still photos with the stock camera?
A: The Bottom button on the right of the LCD is the photo switch. Press it once and it will take three(3) 1280x960 still photos.

Q: How do I start/stop video recording?
A: Use the Left shoulder button to start/stop video recording. When the camera is on standby, there is a green LED at the bottom. During video recording, the light turns into a slow blinking red light. Be sure to stop the video before unplugging the Lipo, so that the video file is properly closed.

Q: How to I flip the V222?
First, you must be on 100% rate. Any other rates is flip-prohibiting. Climb to at least 3m high. Press the Right Shoulder Flip button. Then move your cyclic control stick to the desirable direction of Flip (Front, Back, Left or Right).
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Last edited by Heli Pad; Jun 17, 2013 at 06:56 PM.
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Old Jun 13, 2013, 09:01 PM
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Mods and Upgrades

Patricklupo's V212 Tx Signal Boosting Mod
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Last edited by Heli Pad; Jun 14, 2013 at 12:55 AM.
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Old Jun 13, 2013, 09:01 PM
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Reserved for Troubleshooting
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Old Jun 13, 2013, 09:56 PM
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I have a couple of questions regarding the camera. When I look at the time stamps on my files, everything is in August of 2018. The date and year were all wrong.

Is there a way to configure the date on the camera module?
Is there a way to choose the picture size? Or is it fixed at 1280x960?
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Old Jun 13, 2013, 10:37 PM
Learning more each day....
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Heli Pad View Post
I have a couple of questions regarding the camera. When I look at the time stamps on my files, everything is in August of 2018. The date and year were all wrong.

Is there a way to configure the date on the camera module?
Is there a way to choose the picture size? Or is it fixed at 1280x960?
On the v959 I never heard a fix for the camera date being off.

You'd think it would have been fixed. I tried various ways to erase and format the card, but nothing worked. I assume the firmware in the cam is off and no matter what you do to the card, it ends up being written wrong.

Perhaps James (are you there?) can inquire about this if he visits the factory. In fact, I think he mentioned asking them in an old v959 thread....but I don't follow these threads closely, so I didn't see a fix.

Anyone? Has anyone had better date formatting with v959 or v222

Helipad - also, you mention v959 style TX. I assume the protocol is still the new one and it does not mate with the old TX nor a 9x, etc.? You should perhaps clarify this.
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Old Jun 13, 2013, 11:03 PM
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Thanks, Craigiri. The V222 Tx and V959 Tx are not compatible. When I said "style", I meant external features like shape, size, form, layout, etc. The internals, i.e. the electronics are different. Thank you for helping me clarify that.

p.s. James has a tough long day yesterday, a tough week in fact. So, I think he is relaxing or recuperating. He'll be back.
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Old Jun 14, 2013, 03:27 AM
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I have the v212. Can it be calibrated on an non level surface as well? I have been placing it on the floor or other flat surface until the red light stops blinking.
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Old Jun 14, 2013, 03:58 AM
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@Heli Pad, terrific review man! There are many differences between the production model that you've received and my prototype, so I'm glad that you went through the trouble of pointing them out! I saw your Viber messages this morning but I've yet to have time to reply to them.. I still have my clinical skills trial on Sunday (WHO PUTS A HUGE TEST ON A SUNDAY!?) so I'm still in the boiling pot.
I did receive my graduation gown and robe and what not, so that really did add a little color to my otherwise monochromatic week.

just hopped on here to read your review before diving into my pile of books again

I'll place a link to your review as I think it'll be more relevant than my own as this is the version the guys will get!

Again, thanks for the great review my friend..keep em' coming!

@craigiri, I've added that to my list of things to talk to WLToys about. I think I might open a thread dedicated to WLToys and focusing it on the questions the guys want answered when I head over to the factory in a few weeks

over and out! -James
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Old Jun 14, 2013, 08:16 AM
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So, over a hurdle, but not out of the woods, yet! Okay, my friend. More prayers for you, James.
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Old Jun 14, 2013, 08:18 AM
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Awesome review. Keep up the good work.

Fly safe. RQ.
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Old Jun 14, 2013, 08:23 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ryan93civic View Post
I have the v212. Can it be calibrated on an non level surface as well? I have been placing it on the floor or other flat surface until the red light stops blinking.
No reason why not, because the V212 has the same gyro technology. So far, I have flown 3 Quads with 6-Axis gyro. I could initialize them at any angle I want, which is a great departure from the MUST Initialize on FLAT surface practice. That's why I want to point that out to people.

One of the Quads tested was the HuaWei 3195. You could find my review on this special "Quad", too. With it, I know I could do inverted launch. Basically, I would put it in the palm of my right hand Upside Down. I'd throw it up in the air like so, give it throttle and it will right itself. I believe I could also do it with the V959, but I'm a little chicken about it.

Let me finish a few more other tests first before I risk it. Just in case it doesn't work and dives into the ground full force. LOL.
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Old Jun 14, 2013, 08:58 AM
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Excellent review HP!!! as always. All the info someone can need I think, with links of parts, upgrades troubleshooting etc etc.

One question. So the v222 comes with lights on the canopy and the strips under the booms like the v949/v212? or you added them?
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Old Jun 14, 2013, 08:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Heli Pad View Post
No reason why not, because the V212 has the same gyro technology. So far, I have flown 3 Quads with 6-Axis gyro. I could initialize them at any angle I want, which is a great departure from the MUST Initialize on FLAT surface practice. That's why I want to point that out to people.

One of the Quads tested was the HuaWei 3195. You could find my review on this special "Quad", too. With it, I know I could do inverted launch. Basically, I would put it in the palm of my right hand Upside Down. I'd throw it up in the air like so, give it throttle and it will right itself. I believe I could also do it with the V959, but I'm a little chicken about it.

Let me finish a few more other tests first before I risk it. Just in case it doesn't work and dives into the ground full force. LOL.
It works, give it a try
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