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Dualsky Hornet 460 - Review

Chris Mulcahy reviews the new Dualsky Hornet 460, an ARF quadcopter with preinstalled night lights.

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Introduction


Arm Span:460mm
Height:110mm
Weight:780g
Max Flying Weight:1800g
Prop Size:9" x 4.7"
Motors:XM2830CA-Hornet (830 RPM/V 55g 200W)
ESC:XC-22-Hornet (22A continuous, 2-3S)
Flight Controller:Dualsky FC430
Battery:2200mah - 5000mah 3S Lipo
Manufacturer:Dualsky
Available From:2dogRC.com
Price:$299.99


The multirotor hobby is booming. With more companies producing electronics and airframes specifically for this niche of the hobby, it is becoming more common to see multiís at your local flying field. These platforms are hugely popular with first person view style flying (FPV), as well as aerial video and photography. While there is great satisfaction in scratch building your own multicopter, a few companies are now starting to provide quadcopter ARFís that requires very little assembly by the end user. One such company is Dualsky. Designed from the ground up to be modular, easy to work on, and easy to assemble, the Hornet 460 can get the pilot in the air in about thrity minutes. With a custom designed flight controller included, all you need to do is add your receiver and flight battery to go fly.

In The Box



The Hornet 460 comes packed in a neat little box that is subdivided by four other internal boxes. Each of the internal boxes are labeled A through D, and a quick cross check with the instruction manual verifies what each box is supposed to contain. There was also a small sheet of high quality Dualsky decals with the manual.




Box A
Starting with Box A, the largest of the four boxes, this contains the assembled lower case, canopy, upper deck, flight controller, wire sets, self adhesive pads, battery Velcro, and battery fastener.



The 3-axis Flight Controller (FC430) is a small unit that is very reminiscent of any number of helicopter flybarless gyros. It features two status LEDs, as well as three adjustment pots for the aileron, elevator, and rudder channels. These have been preset at the factory, and shouldnít need to be changed. There are two wire sets that go with the FC430, one set goes from the FC430 to the lower case, and the second set goes from the FC430 to the receiver.




The lower case is a preassembled power distribution board that features pins to connect to the flight controller, and slots to connect each of the four arms to. This makes for a very neat installation.

The canopy is vacuum formed plastic, with a protective clear plastic wrap over it.



Box B & D
Box B & D both contains two of the arm sets. With the quadrotor setup, two of the arm motors spin counter clockwise while the other two spin clockwise. Each of the arm assemblies contains the motor, ESC, and an array of LEDs around the inside of the arm. The LEDs on the front arms are white, while the rear arms are red. The base of the arm is also a power distribution board, eliminating most of the wiring from the motor and ESC. Each are soldered directly to the board, and the board plugs directly into the lower case.






Box C
Box C contains a small hardware pack, propellers, prop mounts, and landing gear. The two front props are white, and the rear two are black, which helps with orientation in flight. As with the motors, two of the props spin clockwise, and the other two are designed to spin counter clockwise, it is important not to mix these up!




Also provided for the review was a Mad Dog 2200mah 35C 3S Lipo battery, courtesy of 2DogRC. I provided the receiver in the form of a Futaba R617FS, using my Futaba 8FGS transmitter to fly.



Assembly

The guarantee on the outside of the box is that you can have the Hornet 460 ready to fly in thirty minutes. While I believe this is true, I spent about an hour assembling it, mainly because I kept changing my mind on how I wanted the receiver and flight controller arranged. Had I made up my mind beforehand, the build would have taken much less time!

Assembly started with the four plastic landing legs. Each one was held in place by three Phillips head screws, and I found a ratcheting screw driver to be my favorite tool throughout the build.




The arms were then connected to the lower case power distribution board. Some attention must be paid here, even though the four arms look the same it is very crucial that they are connected to the correct slot. To aid in this, each arm has a dot marked on the bottom of it. One dot for arm number 1, two dots for arm number 2 etc. These correspond to the numbered slots on the lower case. If the arms are plugged into the wrong slots, the Hornet will not fly correctly, so I double checked to make sure I had the right arms in the right place. Once the arms were plugged in, four screws secured them to the lower case.




At this point I should have decided where to place my electronics. The manual gives a few selections, and I opted (eventually!) to mount my receiver on the lower case, and the FC430 on the upper deck. My reasoning was to have easy access to the flight controller if I need to adjust anything. In retrospect, I could have placed both units on the lower deck as no adjustments were needed. The wires are color coordinated, and it is a simple case of following the manual to see where they go. One set from the FC430 to the lower case, and one set from the FC430 to the receiver. There are also two small jumpers that need to be placed on to the lower case. There are no indications as to what these jumpers are for, and I suspect they could be for the addition of some accessory not included with the kit.




I foam taped my receiver in place, and did the same using the included pads for the flight controller. The upper deck is held in place by four screws that tap into the corner of each of the four arms, making for a very rigid design.




The four prop adapters were installed the motor main shafts, and I took the liberty of checking the balance of the props. Two of the props needed a slight adjustment, but they were all basically ready to go right out of the box. All that was left was to attach the canopy mounts, and then the canopy with two screws.






The flight battery is held in place with Velcro on the bottom of the Hornet, with a looped Velcro strap wrapped around it. I also had some old 3700mah packs that strapped to the bottom without any problems.





Transmitter Programming


The manual gives specific instructions on how to set up your transmitter, including channel settings for Futaba, JR, Spektrum, and HOTT. The transmitter is set to standard airplane mode; with the 5th channel assigned to a 3 or 2 position switch (I assigned mine to a 3 position switch). This 5th channel is used to adjust the sensitivity of the sticks. The low position is very stable; where as the high position is extremely maneuverable, so much so that it is near impossible to take off Ė but more on that later.

The FC430 has a cool built in safety feature. When you first power up the Hornet, the four motors chirp to let you know they are ready, and the status LED on the flight controller remains red. At this point, even if you move the throttle stick, the motors will not spin. To initialize the ESCs, you have to hold the throttle sticks in the lower left corner, and the aileron/elevator stick in the lower right corner for a few seconds. The motors will all spin at idle for a second to let you know it has initialized, and then you are good to go. If the throttle remains at the low position for more than five seconds, the ESCs will disarm, and you will have to repeat the procedure to arm them again.

There are a number of settings that you can adjust on the FC430, but it is already optimized for the Hornet 460 so that no programming is required. However, if you do want to change these settings, here is a list of parameters you can adjust: D/R, ESC PPWM Freq., Gyro Direction, Potentiometer Lock, Factory Reset.

Flying


The day of the test flight was particularly blustery, but I headed out to the field anyway with high hopes. The Hornet 460 did not disappoint. I plugged in the battery, listened for the chirp to let me know that the ESCs were initialized, and then armed them using the stick inputs described earlier (each stick to a lower corner). The props all spun at idle for a second, and I knew it was time to go. I started with my channel 5 switch in the lower position, and lifted off. It was immediately apparent that the Hornet was a very stable machine, even in the gusty wind. I started off with some pirouettes, and found that the Hornet performed the same in either direction. I tilted the Hornet forward, and began some forward flight. I did some figure eights, and transitioned into backwards flight, and then some sideways flight, as well as travelling pirouettes. I can honestly say that no matter which direction the Hornet was flying in, it performed exactly the same. It felt stable, no matter how fast I sent it going.



I sent the Hornet up vertically, and found it had an impressive climb rate. Descending fast, straight down, showed a little wobble as the gyros adjusted to the rate of descent. I donít know if this is a common thing with quads in general, or just with this one, however it was not an issue Ė just something I noted. If I slowed the descent a little the wobble went away.



I really wanted to flip the Hornet, but didnít want to try it in the more stable mode, so I landed and flipped my switch into the high ďgainĒ setting. I tried to lift off and found the Hornet too unstable to keep under control. To remedy this, I reduced channel 5ís end point from +100 to +80, and added 50% expo to the aileron and elevator. This made the Hornet much easier to control, while still having the quickness in the controls I was looking for to do some flips. I took the Hornet up to a safe altitude and pulled back on the elevator. The Hornet did a quick flip without any problems at all, and was kind of uneventful. Pretty soon I was doing forward and backward flips, left and right aileron flips, and my favorite so far Ė the corner flip. The corner flip is a combined aileron and elevator flip, which results in the Hornet spinning around the axis of two of its arms. These are the tightest flips of all, and can be performed fairly low to the ground. I discovered the best way to flip was to throttle up initially, then reduced the throttle a little as the flip is induced, bringing the throttle back up again once the flip was complete. It was also important to hold the stick you were using to flip until the flip is complete, otherwise the Hornet will scoot off in the direction it is pointed in. It became a fun game of trying to perform the perfect flip, with as little recovery needed as possible at the end of the flip.



With the 2200mah battery, I found that I could safely get seven minute flight times, reducing the battery to about 25% capacity. I had some old 3700mah batteries, and these yielded about the same time, but again, they were pretty old. The Hornet didnít seem to notice any difference in weight between the two. With several flights under my belt, I packed up and headed home to recharge in order to be ready for some night flying!



Night flying is awesome with the Hornet. The LED array under the arms is very effective, and actually light up the arm pods like a little fluorescent bulb. There is no difficulty in figuring out orientation, two arms are white and two arms are red, front and back. Iíve had some night flying experience in the past, so it didnít take long at all to get used to how the Hornet looked, and I was soon flying it around and doing flips and rolls. I sent the Hornet as high up as I could see it, and the LEDs made sure that I knew which way it was pointing. It was a lot of fun, and added an extra dimension of fun for the quad.



Is the Hornet 460 for beginners? Iím kind of torn with this one. The Hornet 460 is so stable that it could be used to learn to hover. At the same time, my helicopter experience definitely came in to play for the more advanced flying I was doing. Donít be fooled by its look, if you want to fly it around it definitely behaves more like a helicopter than an airplane, so bear that in mind.

Durability
I had the chance to check out the durability and crash survivability by letting my good buddy RJ fly the hornet. RJ is an excellent pilot, but got a little disoriented when he tried a very unique maneuver with the Hornet! Unfortunately, it crashed, so we walked over to pick up the pieces. It actually crashed half on the road, and half on the grass. One arm was completely detached, and it turned out the only damage was the broken plastic housing of one of the arms. It had snapped in two, allowing the more important electronics board with the motor and ESC to simply unplug safely from the lower case. It literally took no more than ten minutes to replace before it was back in the air. Speaking of parts, they are readily available from dealers, or directly from 2DogRC. I spoke to Mark at 2DogRC about parts availability, and was impressed to find that they have a good stock of all parts on hand.



Sound Proofing
I discovered that in forward flight, the Hornet was making a sort of vibrating rattle type noise. I realized that the plastic cover was vibrating in the wind causing the noise. I fixed this by running some old fuel tubing around the cutouts, as well as a little foam tape around the lower edges. This reduced the noise, and also looks pretty cool too.





Video & Photos













The first video below is a time lapse clip of my actual build. As mentioned, I took a little longer than necessary, but you could definitely get the Hornet built in thirty minutes. The second video is a collection of clips from the first few flights, then progressing to aerobatics, and finally night flying at the end.

Youtube Link

Youtube Link

Conclusion

The Hornet 460 is an incredibly fun machine, and very versatile. Night or day, you can have a lot of fun with a very stable, yet aerobatic quad. I was able to fly the Hornet very comfortably in tight spaces, up and down my porch, weaving around trees, no problems at all. Then, with the flick of a switch, I got as close to 3Díing a quad as I could! Now that Iíve got the initial flying experience out of my system, Iíve started designing a GoPro mount specifically for the Hornet, and canít wait to try some aerial video. The Hornet is a perfect size to take with you most places, and yet handles gusty winds just fine. For a quad newby like me, it was nice to not have to put too much thought into what motors and ESCs to use, and to just take it out of the box, build it, then fly. Iím a big fan of the Hornet, and truly think that Dualsky have a winner.

Iíd like to thank Dualsky for provding the review model, and 2DogRC for the battery, as well as their support in making this review a reality.

Pros:Cons:
Easy to assemble/setupRattling sound in forward flight
Modular design
Night lights installed
Great flier

Last edited by Angela H; Jan 09, 2013 at 04:45 PM..

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Old Jan 09, 2013, 05:56 PM
Transmogrified.
DismayingObservation's Avatar
Southern California
Joined Feb 2006
2,896 Posts
Clean, classy and cool. That's easily one of the nicest looking quads on the market. Great job as always, Chris!
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Old Jan 09, 2013, 08:12 PM
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CSpaced's Avatar
Oak Ridge, NC
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Thanks Ralph, it sure is a fun quad!
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Old Jan 09, 2013, 08:31 PM
2dogrc's Avatar
WHere Flight Was Born, North Carolina
Joined Apr 2005
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Thank you for the review! I am glad you had the skills and desire to get those flips and rolls in. I do think giving me a call first to make sure we had spare parts available was a good idea too! Enjoy yours as much as I am enjoying mine.

Mark
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Old Jan 09, 2013, 08:39 PM
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Thanks Mark! I'm working on that GoPro mount, I'll post up some photos once I get it built!
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Old Jan 09, 2013, 10:03 PM
"Hey yall watch this"...
Planecraazy's Avatar
United States, NC, Raleigh
Joined Aug 2012
73 Posts
My first experience with a quad, and love it!! With the heli flying iv done I had no problems flipping and rolling also the crazy combo of the both. It can do all the manuvers described with very little loss in altitude. I recomend 100% !!! Now to call hobby shop in morn to order two arms I broke today from smackin the ground....ooooops lol
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Old Jan 09, 2013, 10:14 PM
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Matt Gunn's Avatar
United States, OH, Parma
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nice review Chris, I like this little quad
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Old Jan 10, 2013, 07:39 AM
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United Kingdom, Bracknell
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Quote:
Descending fast, straight down, showed a little wobble as the gyros adjusted to the rate of descent. I donít know if this is a common thing with quads in general, or just with this one, however it was not an issue Ė just something I noted. If I slowed the descent a little the wobble went away.
This is normal with multi-rotors ... descending into the turbulent prop wash causes some instability. If you want to come down fast add some horizontal movement (in any direction), rather than making a pure vertical descent.
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Old Jan 10, 2013, 08:05 AM
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CSpaced's Avatar
Oak Ridge, NC
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Planecraazy View Post
My first experience with a quad, and love it!! With the heli flying iv done I had no problems flipping and rolling also the crazy combo of the both. It can do all the manuvers described with very little loss in altitude. I recomend 100% !!! Now to call hobby shop in morn to order two arms I broke today from smackin the ground....ooooops lol
That's cool! I know Anderson R/C has parts in stock.

Quote:
Originally Posted by webdr View Post
nice review Chris, I like this little quad
Thanks Matt, you should give one a try!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Glover View Post
This is normal with multi-rotors ... descending into the turbulent prop wash causes some instability. If you want to come down fast add some horizontal movement (in any direction), rather than making a pure vertical descent.
Thanks Bill, I figured as much and discovered exactly what you suggested. A little forward motion and it smooths right out.
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Old Jan 10, 2013, 08:30 AM
I hate waiting for parts
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United States, NC, Garner
Joined Apr 2001
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Great review Chris! I'm enjoying my quad so much for FPV that my poor EasyStar doesn't really get flown much anymore. Hope to see it at a field near me soon.
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Old Jan 10, 2013, 08:31 AM
2dogrc's Avatar
WHere Flight Was Born, North Carolina
Joined Apr 2005
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Well,
Just flew another pack. I got 10 minutes on a 3s3300 with the stock props. We will have more mulit color props in soon. I put a FPV system on and now have a little "tail" sticking out the back of the blue dome. Gives it some character!

I talked with Dualsky and they are working on a camera mount as well. Might have some more info in Feb when they return from the New Year.

Mark
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Old Jan 10, 2013, 08:35 AM
2dogrc's Avatar
WHere Flight Was Born, North Carolina
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One note.
In the picture with the FC on the metal board with all the wires.
You can use this as a reference for what colors go where, BUT when you mount the FC you want it aligned with the arrow pointing in the middle between the front two legs. What ever way you point this is front so make sure it is centered well. Also you DO NOT want to use velcro for mounting this. You need to use two sided tape. If it moves around you Quad will be very hard to fly.

These are some issues I have seen so far. Being an airplane guy this is pretty new to me, but the heli guys have some good experience in this realm, so good idea to listen to them!

Mark
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Old Jan 10, 2013, 08:38 AM
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this thing has a bunch of great things going for it. Dualsky motors are really nice. My next multi rotor purchase...
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Old Jan 10, 2013, 09:41 AM
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Oak Ridge, NC
Joined Jun 2006
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No doubt about it, it's tough to beat this kind of ARF at this price point. It is a great tool to actually learn how to fly a quad, rather than rely on automation.
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Old Jan 10, 2013, 02:32 PM
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United Kingdom, Bracknell
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TBH the new generation micro quads are a great solution for learning to hand-fly, or for general fun stuff including flips & rolls. They are unbelievably cheap (with proper 2.4 GHz r/c), and very robust due to the small size and weight.

Larger (350-450 size) ones score if you want to lift a decent camera, but for photography it is nice to have GPS ... particularly if you're not flying FPV.
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