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Old Jan 04, 2013, 12:22 PM
KDS450QS(ZYX4),V977,CX-20
FyreSG's Avatar
United States, CA, Monterey
Joined Apr 2012
4,421 Posts
Mini-Review
WLtoys V959 Quad (with Video Recording Function) Mini-Review




Introduction

My first quad was the V929. I could still remember the moment that I hovered a quad for the first time in my life. It was also my first product review here in RCgroups. When I mastered the art of flying the V929, I knew the next thing I had to do was to capture onboard videos. I bought several keychain cameras but the videos were unbearably poor. The quad was unstable and vibrated while in flight and that severely affected the video quality. In one of my first YouTube video, I sent my V929 carrying a “heavy” camera up into the sky, then it was rocked by the winds before I lost full control of the quad as it crashed onto the ground. I gave up recording onboard video since then.

When my V949 came, I knew it is going to be a better platform for aerial videography. It is extremely stable and the it like a totally different beast. It’s graceful and elegant, and the best part about it is the mesmerizing lights. With the V949, I’m so contented with flying it that I didn’t bother attaching the keychain cameras to it. I was worried that the already heavy V949 may not take the additional load of the camera.

When I got to know the next generation of the V949, i.e. V959, would come with a built in onboard video camera, I knew I MUST get it. Weeks flew passed and I finally have a quad that is specially designed for recording flight videos.

The focus of this review is to examine the aerial videography function of WLtoys V959.


Packaging

The V959 comes in a long box.



No parts were damaged and the quad looks great even while in the plastic packaging.



Other than the quad and a new version of the transmitter, there is a spare battery, a charger, and a set of spare rotor blades.


V959 Up Close

The quad looks stunning. I love the metallic look of the canopy! Yes, the canopy is a blatant copy of Walkera Hoten-X, but I’m not bothered by that.



I compared with his older brother, WLtoys V949.



The two quads are of the same size.



This is clear when the two quads are stacked on top of each other.



V959 is taller due to the new landing skids. I believe the tall landing skids is to accommodate the video camera.



Not only does the plastic canopy looks like the Hoten-X, it also comes with two sets of LED lights that really help with the orientation of the quad.



The white headlights are bright and can be seen clearly from far. It has red tail lights just like cars that we are all familiar with.



If you find the lights on V949 to be overly-flamboyant, then you may like the lights on the V959. The white and red LEDs are sufficient to help with the orientation but not too attention grabbing. Moreover, the quad is designed for taking aerial videos, so it does not need to be a flying Christmas tree.



The receiver board is very different from the V949 board. The board is labelled as:

12.11.10
REV:02
JR-WL-V929R-1




The Chinese words below the attachment / module sockets read: Video Photo / Missile / Water Spray / Hook. Honestly, other than the camera module, I don’t think the rest are fun. If I have to get a second module, I may get the Missile module to scare dogs, cats or birds in my neighborhood.


Build Quality

I wanted to balance the blades but I discovered that the carbon fiber shafts are glued to the plastic gears. This is good as they will not be detached during hard crashes but makes balancing the blades harder. I have to unscrew and remove the blades, then balance them with another CF shaft.

To my surprise, all four blades are perfectly balanced. I’m not sure should I be relieved knowing that no balancing is required. After all, I had painstakingly removed them from the shafts. If I had known they are balanced, I’d save the time for flying.

One of the pinions came loose. As I increased throttle, the quad flipped. Then I discovered that the pinion was missing and luckily, I found the tiny metal piece. I stuck it back but it fell off at 60% throttle. I had to use CA to permanently glue it to the motor shaft. As a precaution, I glued the other 3 pinions.


Transmitter

The transmitter is a nice upgrade from the E728 despite looking very similar to the previous version.



The button at the top left corner starts or stops video recording. When the video camera is not recording, the green LED beneath the camera module lights up; when it is recording, the red LED lights up.

The button at the top right corner is to flip the quad. To flip it, switch to the rate of 100%, hold down the flip button, and give it full elevator or aileron. The need to depress the flip button implies that accidental flips at 100% will not be possible. Nice!

The buttons to the left of the LCD screen are to activate the respective rates, i.e. 40%, 60%, or 80%.

The top button to the right of the LCD screen is to activate 100% rate; the middle button is to toggle lights on/off; and the button at the bottom is to take a photo or start taking photos until you stop it (I’m not exactly sure here).

On my TX, the light bulb indicator is wrong - when lights are off, the light bulb indicator is shown. Strange.

I’m disappointed that the transmitter did not come with a hook for me to attach my neck strap. I have to put the TX down when I change batteries or memory cards.

I'm rather surprised it could bind with my V939. Somehow WLtoys have not switch to a different wireless protocol.


Flight Experience

I’m not sure why but there are times when I gave it throttle fast to lift it off the ground, the quad flipped. If throttle was applied slowly as the quad lifts off, it will be fine. I need to remember I have to be gentle with the throttle stick.

V929 is quick and agile. V949 is easier to handle and some of us felt it has accelerometers because it can level itself automatically. V959 takes autolevel to another level.

I can’t put a figure to how much more “autolevelness” the V959 is, but it is definitely more pronounced than the V949. If you hated the autolevel characteristic of V949, you should avoid this quad at all cost. For comparison sake, the V959 is like a big, heavy cruise ship; the V949 is like a yacht; the V929 is like a speedboat; and the V939 is like a jet ski. (OK, I’m exaggerating!)

To put it simply, I find that the V959 “refuses to move”. It feels like it has a mind of its own, trying to stay in a spot instead of moving anywhere. To move the quad, you need to make large stick movements. It dips forward/backward/sideways slower than the V949, so it takes a longer time to set it in motion. As it moves, you can “feel” its weight as it drops more altitude during forward flight (need to apply more throttle) and it takes a longer distance to slow down.

Perhaps this is the reason why it doesn’t have 20% rate like its younger brother - it is just too stable (or slugglish to some). At 40%, it is impossible to fly it outdoors. Full stick movements will not be sufficient against gentle winds. At 60%, the quad behaves nicely. It is hard to fly fast. This is good for recording videos from a small area. At 80%, the quad is able to pick up significant speed. It can be hard to control at that speed because of its weight. At 100%, it gets moving really easy and fast. It is easy to get into a steep dive or bank and recovery may not be possible. Special attention is required when flying such a heavy quad at high speed.

Yaw rates are reasonably fast at all rates. Banked turns and figure-8s can be executed easily.

Like V949, it doesn’t suffer from the Wobble-Of-Death (WOD). V959 wobbles slightly as it descends but it will not be uncontrollable. I’m waiting for the GWS blades so see if the wobbles can be eliminated completely.


Aerial Photo Taking and Video Recording





The high stability of the quad makes it less fun to fly. However, this is not another V929 or V949, this quad is for taking photos or recording videos! Stability is a good thing! It may not be apparent during flight, but when you playback the recorded videos, you’ll realize the slower the quad fllies, the better the video.

How bad can the video be? Well, how about making me dizzy? I actually got “car sick” / “sea sick” while watching the onboard video of my V959 doing figure-8s. It was so bad that I would vomit if I had continued watching it.

Then, I discovered that main culprit is the high rate yaws. Flying forward, backward, or sideways is fine, but when the quad yaws, the world appears to be spinning and the next thing you know, you feel awfully sick. I shall demonstrate this in my YouTube video.

To take good aerial videos, I must learn to turn the quad gently and slowly. Pay attention to descend as rapid throttle reduction will cause nasty wobbles ruining the video (and possibly cause audiences to puke too).

Let’s examine the video quality now. I’m very impressed with the video quality. It surpassed my expectation by miles! Inside the AVI container, the video stream is encoded as Motion JPEG, at a resolution of 640x480, frame rate of 60, and decoded format: Planar 4:2:@ YUV full scale (that’s what VLC says); the audio stream is encoded as PCM S16 LE (araw), mono, sampling rate of 22050 Hz, and at 16 bits per sample.

The 60fps framerate makes the videos come “alive”. I can’t describe it fully and I am sure YouTube will downgrade it to 25fps. I need to find a place to host these 60fps videos. Seeing is believing.

Color reproduction is surprisingly well for such a cheap camera. I couldn’t notice any noise or artifacts in the videos.

I’m a little disappointed that the video aspect ratio is not 16:9. The videos would look so much better on TVs and newer monitors that are 16:9.

I had hoped that the camera came with wide-angle lens as that is the best for capturing scenery. I don’t have any measurements of focal length or field of view, but I’m sure fitting wide-angle lens or fish eye lens would be make this camera perfect.

I couldn’t get audio to be recorded. I’m not sure what’s the problem. If you listen to the video, you should be able to hear “sounds” but definitely not the sound of the motors or the blades. Maybe the microphone came loose and was disconnected. Any other ideas?


Conclusion

WLtoys V959 is a easy-to-use quad that supports aerial video recording. Some may find it slow and boring but this is the reason why it is suitable for aerial video recording. The record videos are clear and smooth. As this quad rather affordable and suitable for beginners, I'm think we may be seeing many aerial videos captured by V959 on YouTube real soon!


Gallery

After heavy rain, at 7pm in the evening:
WLtoys V959 Quad for Aerial Video Recording (0 min 0 sec)


I took some aerial videos of Downtown Singapore and Resorts World Sentosa:
WLtoys V959 @ Downtown Singapore & Resorts World Sentosa (8 min 25 sec)


Short flight at around old Chinese shophouses:
WLtoys V959 @ Old Chinese Shophouses & Alleys (4 min 38 sec)


Late evening flight to test out how well it handles low light conditions:
WLtoys V959 @ West Coast Park (Evening Flight) (2 min 46 sec)


Flying around at Marina Barrage & Gardens by the Bay (stabilized)
WLtoys V959 @ Marina Barrage & Gardens by the Bay (with Stabilization) (16 min 35 sec)


Flying around at Marina Barrage & Gardens by the Bay (original)
WLtoys V959 @ Marina Barrage & Gardens by the Bay (no Stabilization) (16 min 35 sec)



Photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/fyresg/...7632429807621/


Pros
+ Reasonably priced all-in-one, “Ready-To-Record” solution for recording aerial videos
+ Very good video quality
+ Extremely stable for beginners and for recording aerial videos
+ Able to start/stop video recording from the transmitter


Cons
- Wobble during descent
- Video is not 16:9 aspect ratio and not recorded via wide-angle lens
- Does not record audio (to be confirmed)


Useful Links

V959 RTF: http://www.banggood.com/Wholesale-Wl...a-p-59263.html
Review of V949: http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1758501
Review of V929: http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1680188
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Last edited by FyreSG; May 14, 2013 at 07:41 AM. Reason: Added aerial video #5
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Old Jan 04, 2013, 01:10 PM
Shelter Kitty "Orange Death"
bartricky's Avatar
United States, FL, Monroe
Joined Jan 2008
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FyreSG, Thank you very much.

Glad to hear they fly a little different as I have a V929 and have a V959 on order.
It will give me an excuse to take them both to the field.
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Old Jan 04, 2013, 02:31 PM
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cool, good quality, without any jello... I can send this places I'm to nervous to send my ar.drone, because I know this can take some punishment... because I abuse my v929 daily...
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Old Jan 04, 2013, 02:48 PM
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Joined Jan 2013
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Thank you for the review.

I have ordered a V959 from Banggood few days ago and it is still somewhere between China and France.

Being my first quad after a very unstable Walkera 4#3b, I hope it will not be to slow for me.

By the way what is the difference in weight between v959 and v949 ? Is it the camera that makes it so heavy ?
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Last edited by ventgeo; Jan 04, 2013 at 04:01 PM.
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Old Jan 04, 2013, 06:29 PM
Shelter Kitty "Orange Death"
bartricky's Avatar
United States, FL, Monroe
Joined Jan 2008
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This is a link to an original 959 video, if it works.
Not sure how many quads it will sell but it does have sound.

WLtoys V959 Original Film Download
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Old Jan 04, 2013, 07:13 PM
KDS450QS(ZYX4),V977,CX-20
FyreSG's Avatar
United States, CA, Monterey
Joined Apr 2012
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Thanks for the compliments! I don't have a weighing scale so I can't provide any weight measurements. In addition to the camera, this quad is heavier than the V949 because of the tall landing skids.

I'm gonna check with Aaron to get audio recording working.
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Old Jan 04, 2013, 08:15 PM
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United States, SC, Irmo
Joined Sep 2011
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Great review. I might have to get one. Just wish it was a bit cheaper! If that video is indicitave of the quality, then that is pretty good. I was laughing at it thought, these pilots cannot fly! What, was he holding the Tx upside down?!?!?!?
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Old Jan 04, 2013, 09:47 PM
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So can the 959 do video and fly like this ?


best toy ever (multicopter) (2 min 25 sec)
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Old Jan 04, 2013, 09:50 PM
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the postman left me 2 packages today! this is my fastest Banggood delivery ever! Fyre I have sound also, but it's muffled (no big deal for me).. also, my light indicator works properly.. the Infra X is a replacement, for a defective one I received...
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Old Jan 04, 2013, 09:51 PM
Shelter Kitty "Orange Death"
bartricky's Avatar
United States, FL, Monroe
Joined Jan 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tomofono View Post
So can the 959 do video and fly like this ?

That's the video that sold me on quads....
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Old Jan 05, 2013, 01:38 AM
...you hear that, Mr Anderson?
Inevitability's Avatar
South Africa, GP, Johannesburg
Joined Dec 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tomofono View Post
So can the 959 do video and fly like this ?
Wow! That is just incredible!
...One day, when I'm big!
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Old Jan 05, 2013, 01:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bartricky View Post
That's the video that sold me on quads....
That's the video I showed my dad and sold him on quads. Lol. At first when I showed him the quad I wanted, he said I didn't need it. Then, I showed him that video and his exact words were, "Yeah. You're definitely getting one of those." Then he drove me to the LHS and I bought one. And that is my story
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Old Jan 05, 2013, 02:59 AM
KDS450QS(ZYX4),V977,CX-20
FyreSG's Avatar
United States, CA, Monterey
Joined Apr 2012
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SD cards

I used a 8GB class 4 micro SD card just now. Somehow, the recorded video was jerky. I feel like I've wasted made my trip. When I used the default 2GB card, it was fine.

I'm gonna try micro SD cards that are of higher speeds. Perhaps class 4 is not enough.
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Old Jan 05, 2013, 03:03 AM
...you hear that, Mr Anderson?
Inevitability's Avatar
South Africa, GP, Johannesburg
Joined Dec 2012
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This thread is very interesting reading.
FyreSG, how would you compare a V929/V949 + keychain cam against the V959 in terms of flight characteristics and video quality?
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Old Jan 05, 2013, 06:57 AM
Its true... A MAN CAN FLY
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Joined Nov 2005
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Very pleaased you posted this review too. Been looking after playing with the 92 for a while. The keychain cam doesnt cut it for me either.
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