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HobbyKing Bixler II FPV Review

It may not win any speed contests or duration awards, but the Bixler II's no-nonsense design has launched many an armchair pilot into the clouds and back safely.

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Introduction


Product:Bixler II
Retail Price:ARF $69.99
Material:EPO foam
Wingspan:59"
Length:38"
OSD used:Skylark Tiny III
Camera used:540-line FPV camera
Video frequency:1280mHz
Antennas used:Circular Wireless SPW x2
Transmitter used:Futaba 9CA Super w/ Dragonlink
Battery:Turnigy 3S 2000mAh
Motor:2620-1300kv Brushless Outrunner (Included)
Prop:7x5 (Included)
ESC:Turnigy Plush 20a (Not included)
Servos:(4) 9-gram micro servos (included)
Available from:HobbyKing

Anyone with a few fpv flights under their belt will know HobbyKing's Bixler airframe is synonymous with video piloting; rugged foam construction, decent space for gear, blended winglets for increased stability and efficiency, and a pusher prop for an unobstructed view all add up to a plane that can do almost anything you need it to for first-person-view flying. It may not win any speed contests or duration awards, but it's no-nonsense design has launched many an armchair pilot into the clouds and back safely. Building on the battle-hardened Bixler I, HobbyKing listened to the masses when developing a 2nd generation of the EPO foam pusher, known aptly as the Bixler II.

In this review, we'll explore the Bixler II's performance with relation to fpv flying. I've setup the Bix to be as light as possible without sacrificing flight time or safety (yes, we've installed a Skylark Tiny III osd w/ gps). No upgrades or performance modifications have been made to the airframe, it's all stock. We're not going to cover wiring of the fpv components, but I will give a few tips and tricks throughout the review. Let's get started.

Kit Contents

The Bix2 is currently available in kit or arf form, and I received the almost-ready-to-fly version. With the kit, you will be joining the fuselage halves, which will give you a number of choices with regards to running wires, antennas, and electronics placement. With the arf, I was forced to utilize the front space under the hatch and run some wiring outside the fuse; the open space under the wing and motor were just not accessable without doing some surgery. This was honestly not a problem, as the coaxial antenna for the Dragonlink UHF doesn't kill the flight performance.

The fuselage has some decent space up front, but once you cram in a battery pack and a small OSD, not to mention the esc, receiver, and all the wiring associated with fpv flying, it gets tight in there. Again, you have more component mounting options with the kit version, but since I received the arf, I'll be using the front end to store all my gear.

The Bixler II has only one cooling inlet under the nose, and expels that air from the motor's air intake. The two small servo horn slots on each side could assist in keeping the airflow moving inside the fuse, but don't count on them providing any real cooling benefits. We're using a relatively tame power setup, so overheating any of the components isn't going to be a factor. Lastly, it should be noted that the Turnigy Plush 20a esc was warm, but not hot to the touch, post flight.

It's worth noting that all the included electronics (motor and four servos) come installed and setup. The servo horns were installed correctly and only a few turns of the pushrod connectors at the tail were needed to get the elevator and rudder leveled out. The motor wires run through a tunnel above the wings and are ready to connect to your esc of choice.

The Bixler II comes with a canopy that's held in place with two rare-earth magnets. It sports a clear lexan windshield that looks great, but doesn't have much use for fpv; the view through it isn't crystal clear. I tried to make it work by cutting a hole for my camera, but in the end I just decided to remove it. With the canopy removed, theres just enough of an opening to get your gear installed. If you're planning on using a larger twin-board type OSD/autopilot such as an Ardupilot or RVOSD, you will find it difficult to fit one under the canopy. The Skylark Tiny III osd fit very well when attached to the inside wall with some hook and loop tape.

The Bixler's wings have those classic blended-winglets that are common on most pusher airframes of this style. They increase lift while reducing the stall tendency at slow speeds. Moving in, we see the ailerons are connected through a live hinge, and come with control horns installed and connected to each servo. The wing also features flaps, but don't swing down unless you cut out the foam tab at the wing root. The flaps use plastic hinges which are also used on the rudder and elevator.

Since the wing is designed to be separated, you will need to make a decision during the build: keep them separate which allows for excessive wing flex, or permanently attach them to the fuselage, which stiffens the wings considerably. I chose to attach them permanently, and we'll go over the how and why below.

Keep it light

As I stated above, I will be building the Bixler II to be as light as possible, as I wanted to use the stock motor and prop that came with it. We won't be using a large capacity battery, pan and tilt for the flight camera, or a GoPro on this rig as all video will be recorded on the ground from the receiver. An overweight Bixler, or virtually any plane for that matter, will fly like a pig. Keep the Bixler II light, and it will reward you with good climbing performance, glide rate, and slow landing speeds. You'll also get very acceptable flight times by using a 3s 2000mAh pack. But building light doesn't mean you need to sacrifice an inflight data stream; the Skylark Tiny III osd is the perfect on screen display for small ships. With the included gps, it gives vital information on direction to home, altitude, speed, as well as battery voltage and receiver signal strength. We'll cover the Skylark Tiny III later in the article, let's get back to the airframe.

The Bixler II arf builds very quickly. Your main assembly steps involve gluing on the tail surfaces, and attaching the wings. Once that's complete, you can place your flight and video gear wherever you see fit. As I noted earlier, you need to make the decision whether to keep the wings permanently attached to the fuselage or separate for transportation. With a 59" wingspan, the Bixler II should squeeze in the back of a sedan and will easily fit in the back of an SUV.

In the above picture, you will notice a green pcb (printed circuit board) in the top left. It's a 12v power filter that supplies clean power to the video equipment from the flight pack, and you can pick them up from many fpv vendors. There's no need to use a separate battery for flight and another for your video system. A single pack keeps weight down and simplifies your setup. The power filter, installed between the battery and the camera/vtx, produces clean power with no interference from your esc or motor.

Skylark Tiny III OSD

The Skylark Tiny III osd was recommended to me by RCGroups member Sentry, who has logged some extensive time with this unit. I chose it because it's one of the lightest units available that still has gps. There are many advantages to using an on screen display, with the most important ones being battery pack voltage/milliamps used, distance from home, and a way-home arrow. When the plane is powered on and the Tiny III initializes, it begins hunting for satellites. When it locks onto enough, it will store its current location as home. As you fly, an arrow will always point to the direction that the Tiny III initialized. This feature is a great safety measure due to the high likelihood that you will get lost at some point during your fpv career. The Skylark Tiny III pdf instructions can be found HERE

The Tiny III installs quickly and doesn't require any special programming. You can, however, set the measurement units between metric and imperial, as well as customize your osd view from the minimalist all the way up to the heads-up-display style ladders on each side showing airspeed and altitude. All adjustments are done in the Skylark osd software, that is downloadable from their website. After the flight, it will display a summary of the flight's gps data stream.



The best tape you didn't know you needed for fpv
I'm going to come right out and say it: buy a few rolls of this tape now! 3M clear electrical tape, also called 3M "5-Tape" is an extremely strong polyester tape that's perfect for attaching fpv components to foam. It leaves no residue, pulls up easily without damaging foam, sticks to just about anything, and is impossible to pull apart. I use it to attach all my electrical components with no worries of it pulling off. 5-tape will stay fixed for years and comes off as easily as the day it was put on. You can purchase it for $12 a roll, and it should last you well over a year. If all that wasn't reason enough to buy some, it's waterproof! I discovered this tape years ago when racing gas-powered rc boats as a hatch and radio-box tape, and I've been using it ever since.



Flight performance

Launching & landing

The Bix2 doesn't need much of a throw to get on the wing. Even with goggles on, it's easy to launch the plane due to it's light weight. You can also try ground takeoffs on short grass or even pavement thanks to the plastic belly protector/skid plate. However, it may take a bit of a run to get off the ground. As I stated earlier, the Bixler II isn't very powerful in stock form, so hand launching is advised over a ground takeoff - or in this case a slideoff.

Landings are uneventful and quite manageable in confined landing zones. Even if you have to come in a bit high and point it down to lose altitude, the Bixler II will bleed off speed quickly after you level out for landing and give you a nice and easy touch down on it's belly. If you've never landed full fpv, the Bixler II is a great plane to practice with.

Rate of climb and general performance

Keep the Bixler II as light as possible and it will reward you with decent flight characteristics. The rate of climb in stock form is more than acceptable, and you could easily climb to higher altitudes with plenty of battery to spare. However, don't expect much of a vertical up line, as the Bix runs out of thrust rather quickly if you point it up too high. If and when you do stall (power on or off) the Bixler II will drop its nose predictably without dropping a wing, thanks to those giant blended winglets.

In the air, the Bixler II is nimble, but not fast. Top speed is somewhere in the 50 mph range, straight and level. Reactions to control inputs are pretty standard; no out of control movements when you bang the sticks, but it still has a good locked-in feeling. I felt very confident getting the plane down low on the deck and banking it around obstacles. Flight times with a 2000mAh pack are in the 20 minute range with varying throttle.

Flight Video

Conclusion

The Bixler II from HobbyKing is a great beginner fpv platform due to it's predictable flying characteristics, and is equally at home as a fun rig for the more experienced pilot. It's simplistic design, rugged construction, and decent flight performance have made the Bix2 a go-to plane in the fpv community. In stock form, it's capable of lifting the basic video components and scooting around the sky efficiently. But for those of you wanting to push your piloting limits (and the limits of the airframe) there are plenty of threads in RCGroups.com dedicated to increasing the Bixler II's flight performance.

Pluses

  • Cheap (price wise)
  • Predictable flying characteristics, no bad flight habits

Minuses

  • If you plan on making the wings removable, you'll experience a bit of flex in the wings because the spar is not glued in. I suggest permanently mounting the wings and gluing the spar in.

Credits

A big thanks goes out to RCGroups.com members Andrews421 and SuperFPVFlyer for helping me test the Bixler II. Thanks to HobbyKing for supplying the Bixler II.

Last edited by Angela H; Feb 12, 2013 at 12:30 PM..

Discussion

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Old Feb 12, 2013, 12:59 PM
RCGroups FPV channel Editor
Matt Gunn's Avatar
United States, OH, North Royalton
Joined Jul 2009
4,629 Posts
Heres a video I shot last weekend with the Bix2. 2.2 miles out with 800mAh to spare.
Bixler 2 FPV Flight (8 min 22 sec)
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Last edited by Matt Gunn; Mar 19, 2013 at 11:24 AM.
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Old Feb 12, 2013, 01:43 PM
One with the machine
SuperFPVflyer's Avatar
United States, GA, Atlanta
Joined Oct 2010
375 Posts
Excellent review, and great flight
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Old Feb 12, 2013, 01:58 PM
Just clumsy. Oh, forgetful too
MikeTheCrash's Avatar
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Joined Jun 2008
2,926 Posts
Nice review
I got the Bix2 ARTF as well and found it fairly easy to prise the two halves apart so that the gear and wiring can be cleanly installed inside the fuse. I cut a chunk around the motor mount and glued it to the other side to hold a new motor mount and motor. The rest of the plane is now just taped together for easy access to change stuff inside when I want to.
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Old Feb 12, 2013, 02:30 PM
RCGroups FPV channel Editor
Matt Gunn's Avatar
United States, OH, North Royalton
Joined Jul 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeTheCrash View Post
Nice review
I got the Bix2 ARTF as well and found it fairly easy to prise the two halves apart so that the gear and wiring can be cleanly installed inside the fuse. I cut a chunk around the motor mount and glued it to the other side to hold a new motor mount and motor. The rest of the plane is now just taped together for easy access to change stuff inside when I want to.
Good info. For those of us that purchased the arf and not the kit, splitting it with a razor is an easy way to get into the belly and mount some equipment. Thanks!
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Last edited by Matt Gunn; Feb 12, 2013 at 04:27 PM.
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Old Feb 12, 2013, 07:43 PM
USA: LakeGeorge, New York
USA
Joined May 2010
4,078 Posts
Great review....
what motors are you guys using?
and is the motor mount pretty much universal for any outrunner out there?
prop size limit?
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Old Feb 12, 2013, 09:50 PM
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Everett,Washington
Joined May 2005
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What's an OSD?
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Old Feb 12, 2013, 10:15 PM
Registered User
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Joined Feb 2007
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On Screen Display
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Old Feb 13, 2013, 04:50 AM
Just clumsy. Oh, forgetful too
MikeTheCrash's Avatar
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Joined Jun 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rclab1 View Post
Great review....
what motors are you guys using?
and is the motor mount pretty much universal for any outrunner out there?
prop size limit?
the motor goes inside the fuse so you are limited unless you want to do some hacking. I glued a couple of bits of ply onto the fuse and put a larger motor and a 7x5 prop
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Old Feb 13, 2013, 06:36 AM
Registered User
United States, AZ, Phoenix
Joined Feb 2012
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Great review! I'm about to purchase a Bixler as my FPV platform!

Bixler 1.1 vs Bixler 2 for FPV?
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Old Feb 13, 2013, 06:37 AM
USA: LakeGeorge, New York
USA
Joined May 2010
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Are there any 'universal' aluminum motor mounts for the B2?
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Old Feb 13, 2013, 02:55 PM
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RGS2010's Avatar
Houston, Texas
Joined Mar 2010
3,393 Posts
New to FPV

Great review!

I'm new to FPV so there is a glaring hole ... where is the video monitor?
What are you using and I would like to see video of it working. I'm sure there are many monitors and glasses out there but let's hear about what works with this reviewed system.

Also what would it cost to get it all up and flying with what you need to make a complete package?

Russ
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Old Feb 13, 2013, 02:58 PM
RCGroups FPV channel Editor
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United States, OH, North Royalton
Joined Jul 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chodebomber View Post
Great review! I'm about to purchase a Bixler as my FPV platform!

Bixler 1.1 vs Bixler 2 for FPV?
The Bixler2 is the only one Ive flown FPV. But since the B2 has a few advantages over the B1, such as a longer wing and plastic belly protectors, I'd go with the 2.
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Old Feb 13, 2013, 02:59 PM
RCGroups FPV channel Editor
Matt Gunn's Avatar
United States, OH, North Royalton
Joined Jul 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RGS2010 View Post
Great review!

I'm new to FPV so there is a glaring hole ... where is the video monitor?
What are you using and I would like to see video of it working. I'm sure there are many monitors and glasses out there but let's hear about what works with this reviewed system.

Russ
Im using Fatshark Dominator FPV goggles.

On the ground, its a skew planar wheel antenna connected to a 1.2g racewood receiver, then the fatsharks are plugged right into that. The receiver and fatsharks are powered by a single 3s 1000mAh lipo.
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Old Feb 14, 2013, 02:59 AM
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United States, MO, Springfield
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very nice what was the all up cost as configured?
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