WL Toys New Model V929 Review
WL TOYS V929 Not-So-Mini Review
After my successful review of the new WL Toys V911: http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1773059,
the same fellow from TMart contacted me again. This time he wanted me to review the WLToys V929 Quadcopter. Of course, I said yes! Again!
The package arrived in good condition via USPS Express Mail in 5 days; shipped from their N. Brunswick, New Jersey warehouse. My reviewed V911 from this warehouse also arrived in 5 days; definitely better than waiting on China Air Mail.
Product page from TMart.com: http://tinyurl.com/TMart-V929-RCGroups
WL Toys V929 New(ish) Model Review
In Summer of 2012 WL Toys released an update to the venerable and much-loved V929 Quadcopter; this update included the V929/V939 LCD-Backlit Transmitter, a new mainboard, and a now-functional top RH button on the TX.
1) What's in the box
The box: Retail packaging just like my V911, not shipped in plain generic brown box like my orders from AliExpress. Package comes wrapped in giant mailing baggie so no shipping stickers all over it; ready for gifting:
Here's the back, which shows the manufacturer clearly does pay attention to the forums; it advertises the fact that the TX is compatible with the V911.
This packaging does not present the goldmine of linguistic amusement that the V911 box does; the best it has to offer is this side panel demonstrating a "4D Flip Stunt". I imagine if you flip it fast enough, you might be able to travel through time...
Like my V911 from TMart, the box is designed to function as a field carrying case; the lid flips out backwards to lock at the top which has a carry handle, and the inside had fitted pockets to keep everything safe & snug. Again, tucked under the plastic liner, I found a User Manual printed in the now-familiar Chinglish dialect. Included in the kit were: V929 Quad, V929/V939 LCD Remote, single 3.7V 500mAH LiPo battery for the V929, AC battery charger and a set of 4 spare blades.
As with my last review, the first thing I did was to put the battery on to charge while I began my technical teardown; this is where I hit my first of two snags:
The plug-in battery charger which shipped with my unit was the 220V EuroPlug version; I live in the US, so not exactly compatible. I eMailed my contact at TMart; he Express-Mailed me one of these:
Installed on the charger, it looks like this:
A bit ungainly, but still preferable to the AC cord with alligator clips I used in the meantime; I have small kids so I have to wait until they're in bed to mess with dangerous things like that.
The Data Plate on the charger says it's made for 110-240VAC input; so I hooked it up to 120VAC and... it took 1 1/2 hours to charge fully!
By the time the 220V plug adapter arrived I had crafted a 220V dryer plug to 110VAC socket adapter; I was ready to get things rolling with the correct voltage and see my battery charge in the 30 min promised in the manual. It STILL took 1 1/2 hours, even operating on 220V. This timeframe became the second snag; it typically meant that with a normal busy workday, I could squeeze in 1 or 2 sessions a day since I only had the single battery. Extra batteries are a DEFINITE MUST for this bad boy! I eventually found a compatible generic battery for Blade 120SR at my LHS; it cost too much, but I couldn't wait for extras to arrive by mail since I wanted to fly it at my Club meeting the next day.
This is the second version of the WL Toys V929 QuadCopter; the quad itself appears unchanged cosmetically, however it does come with a new TX and new functionality: It has the "Flip Stunt" mode which made its sibling the V939 so popular. Like it's cousin the V911, it is small, nimble and inexpensive, with parts readily and inexpensively available from many internet vendors. This fact is one of the things which helps it blur the line between toy grade model aircraft and hobby grade; sure it's all plastic, but it's cheap to buy, cheap to repair and at approx $52 delivered RTF from the US, it is an AWESOME lot of fun for very little money!
The excellent gyro system in this unit makes it incredibly well-mannered, even flying in ground effect. I found I could drive it around like a car on the smooth gymnasium floor; it has 20%, 40%, 60% & 100% rate modes so you can find exactly the right rate for your level of expertise and the flying environment.
Unlike the V949 reviewed by FyreSG, the top RH button does not appear to have any effect on flight. I can do flips in both 60% rate (requires rolling in one direction, then hard roll in opposite direction) or 100% rate mode (requires only hard roll from level flight) without applying this button; it appears that it only toggles the lighting circuit (more on this later).
I found it could recover from a flip as low as 6 feet / 2m altitude; it will "tap down" on the floor then bob back up as fast as you apply correcting throttle. I found that most of the time due to the very stable gyro, I really only needed to manage altitude; it has a tendency to bob up & down until you get the hang of it. This tendency becomes very pronounced just before the end of battery life, which has been 10 minutes almost to the second except when I put my KeychainCam on it. The additional 20gr made it bob constantly as if at the end of battery life; I was unable to test flip mode successfully with this setup. I will try again after modding the cam and post results here if I am able to collect any useable video.
As I've told many people, I am in no way what I would consider to be a pilot. I'm a hardcore stick-banger, and no longer fast enough to get myself out of trouble a lot of the time. In short, I crash. A LOT. This thing has survived impact with walls, asphalt, floors, basketball goals and ceilings, even got caught by the kite-eating tree a few times and survived recovery, all with no more than some scuffs on the blades and canopy. I have not yet (knocks on wood) had to replace a single part after 2 weeks of daily abuse... err, flights.
I know it's normal to end with the summary; but I'm an Engineer, and as such my review is... long. And verbose. And full of technical... things. Most average readers will probably get bored by the end of the 5th bullet point; so I'm going to put the important stuff here first and let the people who want all the nitty-gritty details read on afterwards.
1) Inexpensive. Both to buy and keep up.
2) About as easy to fly as is possible for a quad. I can fly it. Out of the box.
3) Complete kit with carrying case.
4) Upgrades! New Firmware LCD TX, Flip-Stunt mode and lighting circuit for those of us who want to hack.
5) Tough as trees. It has survived me flying it every day for 2 weeks.
6) Incredibly stable due to excellent Gyro system; smooth flying even in ground effect. VERY n00b friendly.
1) Toy grade price, toy grade precision.
2) "Sad-Beetle" face. Meh. It's growing on me.
3) Parts only available online, not OTC.
4) Included 220VAC EuroPlug charger takes 1.5 hours to charge. 120VAC US version MAY behave differently.
5) You MUST get extra batteries; don't even THINK about not doing it.
All told, if you have even the tiniest bit of interest in flying a quad or are looking for a gift for someone with such interest, this is a great toy. Maybe not a great thing for someone already flying a Hobby-Grade Quad, though interest at my flying club even by those who have very nice Hobby-Grade quads indicates otherwise. They may like it too, if for nothing else than to have something small & light enough to fly inside the house.
Most certainly, it is a helluva lot of fun for a very small amount of money!
Here are some videos I've taken:
This was my first pack through the quad; I've never flown one. I had a hard time keeping it in frame due to n00bness and a bit of wind, so I edited out the long periods where it was offscreen.
This was my first night with it at my flying club meet; it's still pretty new to me, so I flew it then let one of the other members fly it for the last half of my second pack so I could shoot some video.
And this was with another club member this week; just flying and blathering. My camera shut down due to a full card about 30 seconds before the battery tanked; still some excellent video of it flying and flipping.
I received one of the 808 #9 keychain cams as a Xmas present; I've experimented with it quite a bit and have several videos now on YouTube. I currently have it stripped out of the shell and attached to the bottom of my Quad like this:
I have it attached to the battery holder with servo tape; power is connected directly to the Quad battery at the Quad mainboard to eliminate the Cam's battery weight.
This is one of my first videos from my model 808 #9 Keychain Camera*; at this time, I was using the cam complete and just attached to the top of a clear dome shell with sticky-back Velcro. It added approx 19 grams to the top of the Quad; making it very bobbly to fly. But you can see rotate, hover, pitch, yaw and forwards and sideways flips from FPV; this vid is one of my favorites because I'm just scooting around seeing how the quad handles instead of blathering and worrying about video quality and whether the camera is working.
This is one of my first flights with the Cam in its current configuration; mounted on the bottom and powered by the Quad's battery to save weight. Nothing exciting; just a quick hover to see if the drain of running the Quad made the Cam shut down. I was very encouraged by the decent video quality at the time, but even here you can occasionally see the horizontal lines caused by occasional dips in the battery power.
This was one of the first flights with my new Lectron Pro battery packs purchased from the local HobbyTown; I didn't realize at the time how much difference there was between them and my single OEM pack. Here, the horizontal banding is more pronounced, and the camera actually shut down from a voltage dip caused by hard acceleration after only a minute or so.
Just a little blathering before a short flight; here the banding has even started rolling. This is Lectron Pro battery #2; it died puffy on the charger after only a few cycles charging at 1.25C, even though the label rates it at 35C Discharge/3C Charge. After seeing this video I decided to work on some isolation filtering for the Cam; probably a Schottky Diode and a capacitor. I may also look into a Buck DC-DC converter; I've seen one mentioned in the RC Groups Forums that's only a half a gram.
This video was actually taken before Keycam Video #2; it was uploaded last because I got the quad hung up on a Basketball Goal like a total spootyhead. While the other videos uploaded, I had to edit out the several minutes in the middle where the Quad just hung there looking at a cable while we got the retrieving pole to bring it down. :P
This flight was also with the OEM battery. You can see how much better the video quality is, and I've since noticed a big difference in the way the Quad flies. It has much better stability with the OEM battery, and it is able to correct itself better after a flip. I'm not sure if that is caused by the battery itself, or what appears to be much thinner power leads; I'll update after I put better ones on the battery and try it again.
* See ChuckLohr's website for details on the MANY 808 Keychain Cam variants: http://www.chucklohr.com/808/C9/index.html
Keychain camera received as a Xmas gift; purchased from TMart.com:
Tech Stuph: Full Review
6) What's New, What's Old
This model shares the same basic chassis design with the original V929; center chassis, arms, gearcases, blades, gears and canopy remain unchanged.
It measures 350mm from bladetip to bladetip as shown; the chassis measures 248mm corner/corner and 180mm square with an overall height of 55mm. All Up Weight is 77.75 gr. Later on, I'll have some detailed component weights in the TearDown section.
7) The TX
Similar to the Summer 2012 version V911 remote, it is LED backlit and has a moving graphic representing the blades of the quad.
The LCD has indicators showing Signal strength, Battery Strength, trim and the factory default Mode 2 configuration. Instead of graphical display of the Throttle and "Cyclic" controls, it has a % meter which shows the value of whatever input has been moved most recently; when you switch between 20%, 40%, 60% and 100% Rate Modes, that value is displayed here. The LCD is backlit in blue during 20%, 40% and 60% Rate Modes. When you switch to 100% Rate mode...
... the backlight changes to Amber and the TX emits a constant medium "blipblip" sound to let you know you're in that mode.
Bound to my V911, it offers 4 different Rate Modes instead of just the two found on the V911 TX, but I found the lowest 20% setting to be essentially useless; not enough throw to get the heli out of its own way. Pressing the right top button executes a clockwise piro at the maximum speed for the selected rate mode.
8) The Quad
The Quad has the familiar "Ladybug" plastic shell; while the printing is evidently an attempt to look like a real LadyBug's mandibles, it does kindof have the "Sad Beetle" face others have commented on.
The motors operate in pairs of CW & CCW rotation to counter torque reaction, and there are Red & Black blades to clarify which end of the quad is which. This means there are 1 each of Red CW & CCW blades, and 1 each of Black CW & CCW blades.
New for this model and the V949 are the motors; the original V929 had 4 motors all like this, with Red/Blue wires:
Now they have different motors for CW & CCW rotation:
The CW motor has Red/Black wires...
...while the CCW motor has White/Black wires. There are two of each on the quad.
While this may seem confusing, there is a good reason for this; in two words : Motor timing. The original V929 used the same motor for CW & CCW rotation. This means that motor HAS to have 0° timing; it will operate the same in either direction.
By advancing the timing (the relationship between the brushes and the centerline of the magnetic poles of the neodymium magnets) you can get more efficiency, torque and RPM out of the same motor without adding any weight. The drawback is that these factors are diminished when the motor is reversed. Hence, the need to have motors with timing optimized for CW and CCW rotation; I'm sure the improved performance was necessary to make the flip stunt mode possible.
Be very careful when ordering replacement motors!
Make sure you don't get motors for the original V929 (these will NOT be advertised as CW or CCW rotation or "Motor A"or "Motor B" and will usually have Red & Blue wires) and make sure you get the correct rotation for the motor you need to replace. Also note that CW/CCW is noted with respect to rotation of the blades, NOT the motor itself. Since there is a single gear in the drivetrain, the motor operates in reverse of blade rotation. Best is to refer to wire colors as noted above.
When binding, the function LED on the mainboard blinks; once the quad initializes, that LED glows solid. It is bright enough to make the shell glow softly in low or no lighting conditions.
This V929 has a mainboard similar to the V949 mainboard reviewed by FyreSG here: http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1758501
It has a slightly older Revision # and Date code; otherwise it appears identical. It is definitely a completely different animal than the MB for the original V929:
Out of curiosity, I took some measurements with my DMM; the extra sockets appeared to be connected on the board. After determining the correct polarity, I stuck some LEDs on the sockets as a test.
They work! Power to the LEDs can be toggled on & off by pressing the Top RH button on the remote; at least on this firmware, it appears that is the button's only function as detailed in the in the Flying section.
I've purchased a set of replacement V949 LED Light Bars for my quad; as I expected, they are Plug & Play on this model V929. See my video here:
My new model V929 with V949 LED Light Bars installed. Solid red at front, sequential-blinking multicolored at back. They toggle on/off with RH shoulder switch.
If you want to use them on other devices, remember that they need a current-limiting resistor in series with EACH strip. They use a 47Ω resistor for single 3.7-4.2V LiPo cell; you'll need to calculate correct value for higher voltages.
9) Maintenance & Repair
As seen in the pics above, the Motor Arms are modular; the motor wire unplugs from the mainboard and the carbon fiber shafts just press into the plastic center chassis. Once unplugged, the entire arm can be removed for easy service.
The blade is held on with a single screw...
...which goes through the Carbon fiber Mainshaft.
The main gear is pressed onto the end of the shaft with a "D-shaped" flat; the original appears to also be glued for added security.
Shaft & Gear are sold separately.
Disassembling the motor case to replace a motor is easy; insert the tip of a knife or thin screwdriver between the wire end of the motor and the motor retainer cap...
...and pry gently.
The motor case will separate, revealing the detents which hold it all together.
We're almost there; slide the retainer cap down the CF arm to reveal the gearcase with the motor plug nestled into it's own little recess which can easily be unplugged.
Now, it's just a matter of pressing up on the motor body with a thin screwdriver or pick and sliding the old motor out.
Reverse this process to reassemble. This end of the CF arm is also press-fit into the gearcase if you need to replace that.
11) Component Closeups and Details
Crucial to any aircraft's ability to fly is the production of parts with uniform and minimal weight. Here is an itemized breakdown from my teardown:
Component Weight In Grams Notes
All Up Weight 77.75
Motor Arm Complete 12.75 - 12.85 Avg 12.70gr x 4 = 50.80gr Total
Mainshaft Bearing 0.25 3mm ID x 6mm OD x 2mm Th; Qty 8 Total
Mainshaft & Gear 0.80 3mm Diameter x 41mm long; Gear 64T
Bare Chassis 3.52
Screws 0.04 .04 x 8 = 0.32gr; Qty 4/MB + Qty 4/blades
Blade 1.82 - 1.84 Avg 1.83gr x 4 = 7.32gr Total
Motor 5.31- 5.35 0820RS W / 11T Pinion - 8.42mm x 20mm
Motor Cap 1.01 1.01gr x 4 = 4.04gr Total
Gearcase 2.13 2.13gr x 4 = 8.52gr Total
CF Arm & Wire 1.39 3mm Square CF tube x 90mm long
Note the wire is captive in the shaft due to terminals; I had to disassemble connector from shell to remove motor cap for this pic.
Motor has 11T Pinion; with 64T main gear, final drive ratio is 5.818 to 1.
10) Hacking & Mods
I've not had any time to actually do any hacking or mods of any note on this Quad; though the working Lighting Circuit can toggle any small load of approx 80-120mA per port, a slightly complex circuit would be required to use it for the momentary contact required to use as a camera trigger in most cases.
Here is how I've figured out to install T3 LEDs into the nacelles already built into the motor cap:
First drill out the nacelle with a 7/64" drill bit. This will give a press-fit for the 3mm LED.
This is very thin plastic inside; I recommend doing it by hand as shown to prevent damaging captive motor wire.
Now you can install the LED; bend the leads & trim short to keep from interfering with reassembly of the motor case:
Here I'm just showing the LED in place; you'll want to solder your wires on first, then turn the leads the other direction for clearance. I haven't finished this mod yet; I haven't decided yet if I'm going to do it this way or search out the V949 LED strips from the internet for a Plug & Play solution.
I have attempted to install one of the cheap keychain cams on this unit; I put a thin foam rubber pad on the bottom of the battery holder, then used a velcro battery strap from one of my 450 Heli kits to hold it in place. The pressure of the strap kept turning the keycam off, and the extra 20gr really made it bob and wobble a lot. It DID lift it pretty easily, however. I believe stripping the shell off of the keycam and mounting it differently may make it possible to get this beast flying right with the cam; I'll update with video if I can get anything useable from it.
Merry Christmas everybody,
No, you can't use it to take pictures of Santa Claus. Unless you want to be on the naughty list.
Very good review. There is one thing I found out the hard way though. When you are pushing a motor out of it's housing, if you push on the gear and shaft, you can pop the endcap with the brushes attached off of the motor. I pushed several motors out that way, but after one of them came apart I decided it would be a lot safer to push on the motor can or body than pushing on the gear or shaft
I have not yet experienced this on any of my micros, but of course it is possible. I'll update the review to reflect this insight.
Another very nice review, I have read your v911 review, well done. Hopefully Tmart starts selling the newer V929 receiver boards. This link still shows the 4 plug version....
Joined Feb 2007
I bought two last July and have done many, many flight on them. Batteries still fly it 8 minutes. Replaced nothing and still flys very well. I use T9X and very imporessed with this quad. This and V911 have given me many hours of flying.
WL toys has done well with these birds.... Brovo.
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