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Xaircraft SuperX Flight Controller Review

Xaircraft is back with a totally new flight control system that is easy to set up, and quite simply, works!

Splash

Xaircraft's SuperX is a professional flight control that simply works and works well!

SuperX Flight Control
SuperX Flight Control
Xaircraft's SuperX flight Control
Flight Modes:Manual Mode, Attitude Mode, and GPS Attitude Mode
Height Hold:Available on Attitude Mode, and GPS Attitude Mode
Safety:Return to home and auto-landing options
Gimbal Options:Signal outputs for bi-axial gimbal (Roll and Tilt Axis)
Software:Built-in green software for configuration
Expansion:XAircraft OSD, and coming soon the brushless gimbal and ground station
Available from: www.xaircraftamerica.com

After trying many different flight controllers for the AP/AV work I do, I was fairly content with the flight controller I was using. After many,many flights I had tuned the controllers to each of my rigs and they were flying predictably and reliably. And even though I was fairly happy, I wished I could get the GPS performance and altitude hold performance that other flight controls were offering. So one day I took the leap and I bought the "industry standard" flight control that tons of people use and that was recommended by pretty much everyone. I set up a small rig with this new flight control and started to fly. Just as predicted the GPS lock and the altitude hold functions were amazing, the flight control worked just as it should, and for the limited time I had the unit, the reliability was fine. But even with all of the features working the "feel" of actually flying the craft that I liked so much with my other flight control was lost. At that point I figured I would have to make the decision of either having a good "feel' or have a good working GPS function and altitude hold. This final decision never had to be made as Xaircraft US offered up their new flight controller 'The SuperX' to try out.

Introduction

Xaircraft has been around for a while and early on in the days of multi rotors had some success with an earlier version of a flight control system and several versions of multi rotors. but for the past year or so Xaircraft has been rather quiet...until now. I can honestly say that Xaircraft is back and hitting the ground running with the release of their SuperX Flight Controller. From the packaging to the functionality of the product to the customer service, Xaircraft has the entire package refurbished and ready to rock!

The SuperX is available in three versions.

  • BASIC: Quad X and + Cost $399.00
  • STANDARD: Hex X and + and Y6 Cost $499.00
  • PRO: Octo X and + and X8 Cost $599.00

All three units use the same hardware, you simply update the firmware for the higher versions. This is a pretty cool idea, as it allows you to only pay for what you need.

In The Box

The SuperX arrives in a sleek box almost reminiscent of an Apple product. A crisp white box with a jet black SuperX logo. I have to be honest, it really is nice packaging. Upon opening the main box you will find two smaller boxes and a piece of padded foam that contains the IO and the IMU. One of the small boxes contains the GPS dish with attached compass and GPS mounting gear and the other small box contains the LED module, all the additional included wires, mounting brackets and other odds and ends. Finally on the bottom of the box is a set of Xaircraft and SuperX decals. Overall Xaircraft provides everything you might need to mount the system into your aircraft. It truly is a well rounded package.

Instructions

There are no instructions in the box. instead you must download them from Xaircraft . Personally I like this. First off it doesn't waste paper (Yes, I hug trees) and secondly it allows you to download the instructions to several devices so that you may always have them on hand! To download the instructions to check out the ease of programming the SuperX click HERE! In total there are 28 pages of instructions. The instructions are very clear to the point and leave no real questions unanswered. The SuperX is so easy to set up, after an initial read through of the instructions i only had to refer back to them a few times to help calibrate the compass, and more so just to check what the LED flashing patterns meant. Again, well done Xaircraft.

Technical Specifications

SuperX Technical Parameters

SuperX Module Parameters

SuperX Interface

IO Module Input Ports

IO Mode output ports

SuperX IO V2 Interface

The V2 interface (Which all the units should be shipping with) have SBUS/SBUS2 computability and can really clean up your system wiring. check it out!

Set Up

The SuperX flight control is very easy to set up. Take note that before you can begin you will need to get your power source situated. The SuperX does not get power from the USB cable so the unit must be powered on to let the computer find the IMU. To get started and check out the software the SuperX comes with I did a mock set up with the included units, plugged the IO, IMU, LED and GPS together and then simply connected a 3 cell Lipo to a servo lead and plugged it into the power in tab on the superX. Once I did that I plugged in the included mini USB cable to the IMU and then into my PC. Instantly the "Found new drive" tab came up and I was able to see the SuperX as a "hard drive".

Another great feature of the SuperX is that there is no software to download, it lives on the IMU. Simply double clicking the SuperX application opens the SuperX GUI. Once the GUI is open there are six pages of settings to go through, but all of the choices are simple and completely straight forward.

Flight Gains Page

On this page you can select the gains for your copter. Roll, Pitch,Yaw and Height. The higher the number the tighter the gain, the lower the number the looser the gain. in regard to the Height setting, the gain reflects how sensitive the attitude hold is to the center of the stick. You can see here on my rig, I lowered the Height setting to 0.9 to allow a more precise altitude setting using more of the stick range. The stock setting from Xaircraft is 1.5 for everything and everything from a quad to my octo would fly on that setting, the tuning done was more or less a personal preference.

Besides this gain, the SuperX utilizes an additional channel that you assign to a knob or slider, and this acts as your fine tuning gain. You can tune this on the fly. it's easy to use and works great!

Safe Page

The "Safe" window represents the Return to Home feature. Here you can select what you would like your copter to do incase of radio failure or when you hit the RTH switch. Options like "Return to home and land tail in or nose in or stay put and hover or even simply land are all options. The SuperX also allows you to set your return to home flying altitude from 5 to 50 meters! This is a great feature!

Models Page

This page of the GUI allows you to select your model. From X or + Quads all the way up to X or + or even X8 Octos, everything is represented. And depending on the firmware option you choose you can have all of these models available to you. Also on this page the GUI allows you to select between normal ESC operation and ultraPWM ESC operation.

Gimbal Page

This page of the GUI allows you to control a conventional servo driven gimbal. Both pitch and roll are completely adjustable and the gimbal channels work with the Quad and Hex formats. Once you go to an Octo you lose the gimbal ports to ESC control. That being said with most people going to brushless gimbals i do not see this being a big deterrent.

On Screen Display Page

The SuperX has a built in On Screen Display. this page ofthe GUI lets you choose the input channel, Pal or NTSC the Attitude Line style of the OSD (Gimbal or FPV) as well as set up your low battery alarm. TIP: even if you do not use the OSD, set the low battery alarm, as it will flash the LED module YELLOW telling you it's time to land!

The About Page

This page will tell you what version of the hardware, firmware which type of firmware you have (Basic, Standard or Pro) as well as keep you up to date on your flight time.

Installation

The Super X installation is straight forward. Mount the IMU as close to the CG of your craft as possible. Secure with the included 3M pad. Put the IO module where you can fit it and fairly close to the IMU. You have a cable that connects the two modules that is around 10" long so keep that in mind. The GPS unit also simply plugs into the IO unit, and the manual suggest you keep the GPS dish away from electronics for a clean signal. The included 5" mast will help you achieve the proper distance.

Here you can see how my SuperX was mounted in my Quad.

After the quad testing was over I moving the SuperX over to my Test Octocopter. The move proved to be simple and straight forward.

I also ended up putting a SuperX on my HC-800 Hexacrafter rig.

Flying The SuperX

I am going to start this by saying I do my very best at being as honest as I can be when doing reviews. If I don't like something I do my best to put that across in the review. So when I sound like a rep for Xaircraft and the SuperX in the next few paragraphs, this is not me kowtowing to a company or advertiser, this is a multi rotor nut who is genuinely excited about a great flight control. The SuperX simply works and works very well.

I wanted to build a nice commercial GoPro rig for myself and the opportunity to review the SuperX was going to be the perfect excuse todo just that. So I called up my buddy Dan at www.diyquadcopters.com and told him what I was looking to do. Dan suggested an inexpensive yet very sturdy 21.5mm boom quad frame, some 740KV T-motors and some props. I placed the order and I was off and running. Unbelievably the SuperX and the parts I ordered from dan arrived on the same day. I quickly assembled the new GoPro rig and mounted the SuperX. The rig looked great, the motors were very smooth and after going over the rig to make sure everything was perfect I was ready to fly!

The very first time I took off I trusted the "auto take off". The pilot pushed the throttle up to 51% and the unit will auto take off and hover at 1.5 meters high. This function works great. It's a bit weird for a 'pilot" to trust a FC, but after many takeoff's i have grown to be very comfortable. on the first flight I had the rig set with the stock gain settings that come from the factory on the SuperX. And amazingly the rig was almost perfectly solid with no oscillating or vibrations. I simply had to move my 'gain slider' with a slight tweak and the rig was sitting stationary in Alti mode, and was perfectly stationary in GPS mode. Within minutes the rig was hovering hands off completely locked in. I switched into GPS hold mode and I was completely amazed at the tight hold of the GPS mode. The rig sat motionless and only drifted literally in a one inch area right to left. Checking the altitude the rig once again did an amazing job holding it's altitude within one inch up or down. The rig just sat exactly where I placed it. It was completely solid! And let me remind you this was the very first flight on the rig! After feeling pretty confident in the SuperX I started to fly around. I flew a figure 8 pattern and the rig flew very nicely. Very smooth and yet deliberate. As I flew around on that first flight I was amazed at the "feel" the SuperX had. Even in GPS mode where some units can feel "stiff" the SuperX responded to inputs, moved around smoothly and still felt completely locked in. After several flights I backed down the initial gain settings from 1.5 on all 3 axis to 1.2 simply for my personal flight preference. This gave the rig an even smoother flying "feel" and yet still had the stability and the totally locked altitude and GPS hold. To be honest I was blown away. With very minimal set up my rig was locked in and flying flawlessly.

While in GPS mode I decided to try the 'Return To Home' feature. So i flew about 50 yards away and hovered at around 20 feet. I flipped the switch, and I could see the LED switch to RED, the Heli stayed hovering for a moment turned tail in towards the 'home' position and then ascended to 20 meters (The height I had programmed into the flight software) and slowly and calmly flew back to the position where the propellers had started up, slowly descended still tail in and gently landed. It was the most perfect RTH landing I have ever witnessed, and gave me the confidence needed to fly a bit further away than I usually do knowing that if I get confused, the rig will come home safely!

After several more flights over the next few days I was so comfortable with the SuperX that I had the confidence to use the unit commercially the very next week. I had a AV shoot scheduled using a GoPro Black Edition for a film producer working on a cyclocross documentary scheduled just a week after receiving the unit. I did not hesitate to use the rig. The race/shoot day saw winds up around 15 mph with gusts from 10 - 20 mph and the rig handled everything in stride. In the one picture below you can see the rig sitting about thirty feet in the air, I was awaiting the start of the race to capture it for the producer. The wind was blowing about fifteen mph at the time and the rig just sat there un-effected with very minimal corrections needed to keep the rig completely stationary. I flew over fifteen flights that day and I had ZERO problems or errors. The unit felt the same on each flight which is very important for AV work. At this point I had become a convert and ordered another SuperX unit for one of my other machines and will probably getting a few more when the funds become available.

(The pictures were taken by friends at the race, and the angles are interesting but rest assured I was never over any crowds when flying the rig.)

To see if maybe the SuperX could handle more than simple quads and still be as smooth I ripped the SuperX out of my GoPro Quad and put the system into my "test bed" octo. (I hated to do it as the quad was flying so well, but the review must go on!) Mt test bed octo is a tried and true rig and flys great, so I was really excited to see how the SuperX would handle this airframe. I mounted the SuperX, triple checked all the wires took the unit out in front of my house and this is the result. I was so blown away at the stability of the GPS hold I grabbed my cell phone out of my pocket and snapped this video. (Sorry about the quality, I had not thought I was going to be videoing this first flight! Also, the video makes it look like I was closer to the rig than I was, I did have a safe distance between me and those spinning props!)

SuperX First Flight (0 min 37 sec)

Shortly after this video was shot, the second SuperX i ordered arrived and I installed it into a new rig I'm currently working on. This SuperX is going into a 800mm Hexacrafter frame with brand new Avroto "Lift" series motors (Avroto "Lift" series motor review coming shortly).

Now in the third configuration (Hex) I set up the SuperX and started with my 1.2 'personal preference' gain settings. I took off and within 1 minute of tweaking the micro gain slider on my radio I had the unit rock solid, locked-in and ready to go to work. The SuperX is really THAT GOOD. I AM SOLD.

Data Logging

Another awesome feature of the SuperX flight control is the 'Black Box' feature. When you fly the IMU is constantly recording your flights. The last 40 minutes of flight time is available for review. The data shows GPS information, shows your flight path, radio inputs, motor outputs, copter attitude and even battery voltage. This is a great tool for checking out how your rig is doing or in the event of a crash, you could actually see what might have caused the problem! This is a beta version of the 'BlackBox" software and I can imagine that SuperX owners may see some really cool upgrades to this feature in the future. To use the 'Black Box" feature, you simply copy the log file from your IMU to your desktop. Navigate to the Xaircraft 'Black Box" page and upload the file. There on the website you can see all the info and even forward the link to friends top allow them to view your flight data!

Videos

Here you will find a review video. I mostly shot video of how stable the SuperX is, the FC will fly just as well in fast motion forward flight. I can't stress enough how well this unit performs.

RCGroups.com Reviews the Xaircraft SuperX Flight Control (4 min 33 sec)

Xaircraft did a great job explaining how to calibrate the SuperX with these videos, so I am going to share them.

XAircraft SUperX Compass Calibration (2 min 57 sec)

XAircraft SuperX RC Neutral Point Calibration (2 min 38 sec)

XAircraft SuperX RC Revers Calibration (2 min 43 sec)

XAircraft SuperX LED Indication(Outdoor) (4 min 43 sec)

Conclusion

There are many flight controls on the market. Many work well. Some FC's fly amazingly well but take a lot of work to set up properly. Some FC's are simpler to set up but have marginal flying capabilities and yet other FC's have many available features but execute them poorly. The Xaircraft SuperX flight control is a standout. It is very easy to set up, it flies exceptionally well, all the features work exactly as described. Drew from Xaircraft US understands customer service and has said firmware and feature updates will come regularly. Drew and Xaircraft is ready to listen to customers input and help make the SuperX the best it can be. I am thrilled to find a flight control that feels consistent in many different airframes and is also very reliable. If you are in the market for a new flight controller I would highly recommend giving the Xaircraft SuperX a try!

For more information checkout XAIRCRAFTAMERICA.COM

Last edited by Angela H; Oct 01, 2013 at 02:17 PM..

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Old Oct 01, 2013, 04:22 PM
Registered User
United States, CA, Baldwin Park
Joined Jun 2004
2,059 Posts
Nice review on the Super X. I was able to try one and you are right it handles great!!!
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Old Oct 02, 2013, 02:21 AM
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Joined Dec 2012
19 Posts
Xaircraft America is going to have a very steep uphill climb selling anything branded with the XAircraft logo! I have to hand it to them, it takes a lot of determination to risk starting a new business with anything branded XAircraft? I wish them the best of luck and I urge them to address these issues head on with an upgrade option.

My personal opinion is they will not be successful in the US until they address the issue of an upgrade path to the Super X FC for the hundreds of failed x650 v4/v8 flight controllers that are listed just here on RC Groups. Heaven knows how many failed units were sold worldwide? My suggestion to XAircraft America is, at a minimum to offer an unconditional refund policy, but to really make up for the the hundreds of wasted hours we previous XAircraft owners wasted with the original FC they should offer a discount on the Super X FC? I for one will not buy a Super X unless I have at a minimum an unconditional refund option!
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Old Oct 02, 2013, 03:33 AM
TECH for XaircraftAmerica!
South Carolina
Joined Mar 2009
5,405 Posts
I also have tried the Super X and it woks perfect. it hold position very well. RTH is spot on. and it really fly's like a dream. The black box feature is also really cool and it gives a lot of info on the Flight. I wish all controllers had it. Xaircraft really did there research and took there time with this one.

Klimon- I have been flying for along time. I would pick this controller over anything DJI in a heart beat. I have a Naza, and I have owned a Wookong, and they are ok. but I personally like the SuperX a lot better. I will be doing my review this weekend with video.
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Old Oct 02, 2013, 07:01 AM
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978 Posts
I have spent thousands of dollars on many high priced flight controls that did not work as promised, I have spent fewer dollars on FC's that did not work. No one gave me any money back. there is a very popular company who has several issues regarding problems with people losing aircraft, they do not get money back.

If by chance the SuperX was made by the other company I had spent THOUSANDS with on FC's that never lived up to their promise, and I got a chance to fly the SuperX, I will still have bought it. I have jobs to do and I need a FC that works, the SuperX is that FC.
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Old Oct 02, 2013, 07:11 AM
TECH for XaircraftAmerica!
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Sleepyc. I agree. I feel that the superc is a controller I can depend on. It just works and does it very well. XAircraft is now on the same level as some of the other companies. And who knows if they keep up the good work they will surpass everyone else.
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Old Oct 02, 2013, 09:08 AM
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They need to work on their pricing model, I think it's too steep for the average hobbyist.
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Old Oct 02, 2013, 09:18 AM
TECH for XaircraftAmerica!
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Actually most think it is pretty good priced where it is at. Shoot dji wookong is 1000+
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Old Oct 02, 2013, 09:30 AM
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Waypoints?
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Old Oct 02, 2013, 09:37 AM
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Joined Aug 2013
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Thanks for the review.
This FC really does look to be excellent. One thing I'm not clear on from your review or the manual is how do you power the FC? I see it comes with a JXT cable but are they expecting people to power it from a separate LiPo or is it OK to cut the JXT connector off and solder to the main battery terminals of the MC?
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Old Oct 02, 2013, 09:40 AM
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Imho

Quote:
Originally Posted by tc3wins View Post
Actually most think it is pretty good priced where it is at. Shoot dji wookong is 1000+
First the DJI Wookong is a trusted platform for commercial multi-rotors, the Xaircraft unit is not and in fact it comes from a company that has a long history of not providing good product.

Second the SuperX can't do waypoints.

Third even with the issues that DJI has had recently, they have shown they have the resources to jump-on and make the necessary fixes as necessary, Xaircraft hasn't.

They should lower the price, get some unit out there, develop a record for "working" and flying well, then maybe increasing pricing slowly.

HD
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Old Oct 02, 2013, 10:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rilot View Post
Thanks for the review.
This FC really does look to be excellent. One thing I'm not clear on from your review or the manual is how do you power the FC? I see it comes with a JXT cable but are they expecting people to power it from a separate LiPo or is it OK to cut the JXT connector off and solder to the main battery terminals of the MC?
Yes the module is powered from the main flight pack 3S - 6S.
I used a servo lead directly from my main power distro into the PMU.
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Old Oct 02, 2013, 10:17 AM
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From what I have been told, waypoints are coming.

Personally I would never trust a Wookong and I also personally can not stand the feel of the DJI units flying characteristics. This is of course is a personal preference thing. But hands down the SuperX "feels" much better, is WAY smoother and handles wind much better than any DJI unit for AV. WAY smoother in gusts.

Commercially I'll be trusting around $15,000+ worth of rigs and much more in cameras to the SuperX andI have no worries.
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Old Oct 02, 2013, 10:24 AM
TECH for XaircraftAmerica!
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I am not saying Dji stuff is bad. I do think it is over priced. And I have heard that Xaircraft is working on waypoints. Now I have built 4 Xaircraft 650's and none of them had any issues. And xair is getting better on tech suport. Dji has no tech suport. I have owned 3 nazas still have a naza lite and I had a wookong. Which I thought did not work so well. It would toilet bowl like crazy. I have not seen that from the super X. And with there setups. The super X is much easier. And I can say the build quality of the super X is really nice. I do agree that. Xaircraft had some bad flight controllers in the past. But there frames are built well and proven. I think in time Xair will be side by side with the best of them. Heck look at idea fly. They had a rocky start and now the Apollo granted not a lot out there, but has had very little issues and is built very well. And holds gps position just as good as Dji. And rth is spot on. Some times it takes companies to fail to learn fom the mistakes and rise above them . And I feel Xair has done just that and I also think anyone who has a super X will agree with me.
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Old Oct 02, 2013, 10:43 AM
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90 Posts
Aaarrgh. I recently bought an APM 2.6 to replace my Naza in my F550 but now I'm thinking about just selling it and buying this instead.
I've not even installed the APM yet so it would be easy to just chuck it on the bay along with the Naza.

One thing, it looks like you need a seperate RC channel to activate RTH. On the Naza you can use the one channel for flight modes and set a mix up to activate RTH. I'm a bit short of channels what with retracts, pitch control for the gimbal and a video switch. If I need to use a channel for RTH I'll have to ditch one of those channels.
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Last edited by rilot; Oct 02, 2013 at 10:49 AM.
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