HobbyKing.com New Products Flash Sale

DJI Spreading Wings S800 Evo Review

The S800 gets an upgrade that truly makes it a Pro Level platform

Splash

Introduction


DJI Spreading Wings S800 Evo
Diagonal Length:800mm
Arm Length:350mm
Height:320mm
Take Off Weight:13lbs - 17.5lbs
Power:6S 10AH - 15AH Lipo
Motor:400Kv Outrunner
ESC:40A Opto
Prop:15x4 Folding
Website:DJI Innovations

The S800 EVO is designed from the ground up for professional level aerial video and photography. In the EVO version DJI have added some nice features with a slightly new frame design, improved arms that are more rigid than previous versions and it comes standard with other great features like retractable landing gear and folding props that we'll discuss later in the review. Having flown other professional level frames and having built custom copter setups for clients, I was eager to check out the Evo and see how it compared. This review will focus primarily on the S800 Evo airframe as it pertains to the pro level market. I am using the A2 Flight Controller and Zenmuse GH3 gimbal for a complete package, but will be writing a separate review for the A2 at a later date. Here's the review on the A2.

Box Contents

  • Center Frame
  • 6 Arms with motors, props and ESC's installed
  • Retractable Landing Gear Set with servos installed
  • Battery Tray
  • Secondary IMU Mounting Plate
  • Accessory bags with screws, etc

Assembly

The first thing I did was assembly the landing gear base. Take the horizontal carbon tubes and insert them through the connector on the vertical tubes. Center the tube and tighten the screw to secure it, then attach the silicone dampener on the exposed end.

Next take those support tubes and insert them into the retract mechanism and secure with the provided hardware. Attach the springs to both sides.

Now take the small horizontal carbon tube and attach the two halves together and install the IMU and Battery Mounting Plates with the hardware provided.

Attach the servo plugs into the landing gear control board making sure the left and right servos are installed into the correct ports. The "IN" port will connect to your receiver to control the landing gear.

Now lets move on to the main frame. Install your flight board of choice inside the frame. I highly recommend the DJI A2, but you can also use the Wookong, Naza V2 or anything other flight board that will control a hexacopter. Using one of DJI's controllers though is a plus and is a must if you plan to use a Zenmuse gimbal system. The frame has ample room for just about any flight boards and its components.

Attaching the arms to the main frame is simple and easy. At the base of each arm on top there is a label with either an "X" or a "Dot" and the frame has matching marks where the arms attach. Make sure to install the arms with matching marks on the frame so the motor rotation will be correct. The two motors with red prop attachments should go to M1 and M2 on the frame. To install, position the arms pointing downwards and push up into the main frame connection joint. Then rotate the arm upward to horizontal and push the locking tab down until it is seated. That's all there is to it.

Once all the arms are attached you are ready to connect the main frame to the landing gear. Makes sure the dampening units are all aligned correctly and place the frame down on top of the landing gear. Make sure your orientation is facing forward and that all the of the locking tabs protrude through the holes in the arms. Now you can rotate the locking tabs to secure the frame to the landing gear. My locking tabs were a bit tight at first, but will wear with a few uses and become much easier to rotate. You can also push down some on the arms to relieve some pressure on the tab while rotating it. The frame is now complete and ready for testing.

Overall the building process does not take that long as most of the work has already been done at the factory. The quality of the parts is excellent and the fit and finish is second to none. The Evo looks like a professional product and fits in well next to other high quality production equipment.

Features

Folding Props

The folding prop design is nice because it allows you to collapse the props when transporting. This makes the copter seemingly smaller with less of a chance to break a prop and also makes working on the frame mechanics easier with the props out of the way. Make sure the prop screws are well loctited and not too tight or too loose.

Collapsible GPS Antenna Mount

This is brilliant! Having the GPS unit up and out of the way of interference is important but it can be a pain having it stick up all the time when carrying the copter inside between doors or through trees to get to your take off site. The collapsible antenna gives you the best of both worlds. It just snaps in place in either the up or down position.

Retractable Gear

Retracts are a must when the landing gear isn't installed onto the gimbal's 3rd axis of rotation. They move up and out of the way giving the camera operator full 360 degree rotation without any obstructions. The landing gear is solid and the retract mechanism is mechanically locked in both the up and down positions so it does not rely on the servo gear train to hold position or take the force when landing. It also appears that the servos are powered down when not being asked to move.

Vibration Dampening

Dampening is critical to any setup and the S800 Evo not only has it, but it's the best I've seen on any multirotor heli to date. You have 3 levels of vibration dampeners from the motors to the camera. The motor mounts themselves utilize rubber dampeners to isolate vibrations from an out of balance prop or motor bell getting to the frame. The frame is attached to the landing gear with a unique dampening kit and then the camera gimbal is attached to the landing gear with its own dampening system. This ensures that no vibrations will reach the camera and it works extremely well.

Mount Tilt Angles

There are a couple of different angles to talk about here. First, every motor is either tilted to the left or right depending on which way it rotates. Counter clockwise motors are tilted to the right (from the POV sitting inside the frame) and the clockwise motors are tilted to the left. This is because of the torque effect which causes the motors to want to rotate when powered. The tilt angle allows them to react to the force and the dampeners are positioned to hold the motor level once that force is applied.

The second angle is that all the motors are tilted upwards like dihedral on an airplane. This serves two purposes. It makes the copter more stable in a hover and while moving and it also positions the motors a bit higher giving the camera more height to work with before one of the arms dips down into the field of view of the camera.

LED Lights built in

Lights can be useful for orientation and the S800 Evo has LED's built into the bottom of the motor mounts. Two red LED's indicate the front and the rest of the LED's are green. When flying these are easily seen in dim lighting conditions and especially at night. The LED's will turn yellow at the full throttle position and turn off when the motors are disarmed. One thing to watch out for is when the landing gear is retracted they can block the view of the two side LED's in some orientations so do not be alarmed if it appears that one of the lights has gone out.

Removeable Arms

This is another brilliant design feature. It allows you to take the arms off of the main frame in a matter of seconds. My other frames take at least half an hour or more to break down for transportation. The Evo is designed to be portable and will even fit into a couple of cases you can ship or airline out to your destination. You'll need to disconnect the receiver connection to the landing gear, unplug the power connection underneath the frame, rotate the frame locking tabs and pull the frame off the landing gear base. Then you can pull up on the arm locking tabs and rotate each arm down and out to remove them. It's really that simple.

Motor/ESC Cooling

The custom built motors included with the kit are designed with built in fans that pull air through the motor and out of the heat dissipation channels below by the ESC's. This keeps both the motors and ESC's cooler during flights.

Built-in Power Distribution

Having the power distribution built in to the frame is a huge advantage. It takes all the power from the main flight battery and pushes it to the PMU unit of the flight board and supplies power to all the ESC's without any messy wires to deal with. It comes prewired at the factor for power with XT60 connectors for the battery to for the retract/zenmuse power. I chose to change the main battery connector to an EC5 to match my 6S 10,000mAH Lipo batteries.

Accessory Mounting Plates on Frame

The Evo main frame has been redesigned to include 3 accessory mounting tabs. These make great mounting points for FPV gear, or anything else you want to keep accessible.

Flying

When flying to capture aerial video you want a machine that is smooth and easy to control. Now all that really depends on the flight board you use so I'm just going to cover the parts of flying that deal with the airframe. For starters, the landing gear is solid and although I haven't had any rough landings, I suspect it will hold up well enough in an emergency landing to stay intact and protect the gimbal/camera gear. Once in the air it is very stable and solid partly due to its motor angle design. With GPS mode activated, it just sits there all by itself waiting for your commands. When the landing gear are retracted it looks a bit odd at first having the camera gimbal hanging underneath all by itself. This is great though, because now the camera operator has full 360 degrees of control to move and aim the camera regardless of the helicopters orientation.

The Evo responds well to control inputs and can be controlled in a very precise manner. Fast forward flight is solid and not difficult to maintain altitude while traveling. The arms seem plenty stiff and I have not noticed any vibrations or resonance coming from the motors during our flights. The one thing to watch out for when flying is orientation. If you fly farther out it can be tough to sort out, but there are ways to solve that. I plan on adding an LED light cluster to the rear of the copter that I can see from a long distance and instantly know which way the copter is facing. Couple that with a CCD camera and FPV setup on the front and I don't expect to have any orientation issues. Worst case scenario I can flip the switch to Home Lock mode and pull back on the stick to bring it closer to me or even activate failsafe to bring it back home. The LED's underneath the motors work great if flying higher and in low light, but in daylight flying low they don't do a whole lot to help with orientation.

If you've never flown before, I would recommend you either find someone with experience to fly it for you or you start out on a Phantom or other smaller quad to get a feel for flying. If you are planning to capture pro level photos or video, there is a lot to think about during your flight and learning how to fly should not be one of those thoughts.

Full loaded with cameras and all FPV gear my S800 Evo weighs 18.5lbs. I'm using a 6S 10,000mAH Lipo battery and our flight times are 8 minutes with about 30-35% left in the pack. After landing with that payload the motors were warm to the touch, but nowhere near hot, so those fans are doing a good job.

Photo

Videos

Here is a flight video from one of our testing sessions showing some of the capabilities of the S800 Evo

Here is an aerial video demo using the S800 Evo, A2 Flight Board, and Zenmuse with a Panasonic GH3 camera.

Conclusion

I am extremely impressed with the S800 Evo. It's an amazing platform for capturing pro level footage. Combine the frame with DJI's fantastic flight boards and a Zenmuse gimbal system and you have the ultimate setup for filming with medium to small size DSLR's. There are so many features I love about the Evo like the collapsible GPS mount, retractable landing gear, and removable arms that make it a joy to pack down and travel with instead of a giant headache. I appreciate the level of polish that went into designing the parts. It's a beautiful blend of function and form. DJI is on top of their game and no other company can match their integration of mechanics, software, and accessories that are all designed to work together seamlessly. You really can go out and capture professional level footage with this machine.

Pros

  • Breaks down easily for transportation
  • Overall design makes flying super stable
  • Integrates well with DJI's flight boards, gimbals, and accessories
  • Comes standard with retractable landing gear
  • Cooling fan system for motors/esc's
  • Vibration dampening system is second to none

Cons

  • Orientation needs some help if flying far away

Discussion

Reply
Thread Tools
Old Feb 19, 2014, 11:49 AM
Registered User
Lake Zurich, IL
Joined Jan 2008
5,654 Posts
Great article and videos, thanks for sharing.

Too much snow here; my EVO-800 will have to wait for warmer days.
sidneyw is offline Find More Posts by sidneyw
Site Sponsor
Reply With Quote
Old Feb 19, 2014, 11:53 AM
Registered User
United States, CT
Joined Oct 2012
650 Posts
Cool review. But seems a bit DJI biased. A couple things I would of mentioned would of been 1.) the GPS mount requires a ton of cutting/carving to get the pole into the mount. And the mount itself is incredibly stiff and can potentially break your GPS trying to get it collapsed and snapped back into place and reverse.

2.) The three levels of vibration dampening are cool but the motor mount dampeners (which the s1000 has also) seem like they may break or wear out quickly and would be an absolute pain to replace. From what I have heard it requires unsoldering and soldering the motors just to swap out motor vibration dampeners which is a pain. I haven't had to do this on my Evo yet but I also have not flown it more than a couple times.
TimeTrave1er is online now Find More Posts by TimeTrave1er
Reply With Quote
Old Feb 19, 2014, 11:53 AM
Registered User
NJ
Joined Jan 2000
494 Posts
Nice review, I notice you have two video transmitters s on your S800 one looks to be the DJI 5.8Ghz, what's the other one and why have two?
JDPG2 is offline Find More Posts by JDPG2
Reply With Quote
Old Feb 19, 2014, 11:56 AM
RCG Staff Member
Jason Cole's Avatar
United States, TN, Nashville
Joined Oct 2003
5,779 Posts
Thanks Sidney. We've finally started seeing temps over 50 degrees so it's been really nice to go out and get some footage. I'm loving the quality we're getting with the Evo, A2 and Zenmuse!
Jason Cole is online now Find More Posts by Jason Cole
Administrator
Reply With Quote
Old Feb 19, 2014, 12:01 PM
RCG Staff Member
Jason Cole's Avatar
United States, TN, Nashville
Joined Oct 2003
5,779 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by TimeTrave1er View Post
Cool review. But seems a bit DJI biased. A couple things I would of mentioned would of been 1.) the GPS mount requires a ton of cutting/carving to get the pole into the mount. And the mount itself is incredibly stiff and can potentially break your GPS trying to get it collapsed and snapped back into place and reverse.

2.) The three levels of vibration dampening are cool but the motor mount dampeners (which the s1000 has also) seem like they may break or wear out quickly and would be an absolute pain to replace. From what I have heard it requires unsoldering and soldering the motors just to swap out motor vibration dampeners which is a pain. I haven't had to do this on my Evo yet but I also have not flown it more than a couple times.
Thanks. I've flown a lot of different flight boards and most are good, but I've preferred DJI Boards before I started working for RCGroups. On the GPS mount, I didn't have any issues getting the pole into the mount. I can see if you pulled from the top to collapse and snap back how the leverage might break something, so I pull from lower down on the carbon rod and don't expect to see any breakage. On the motor isolators, They may wear out over time. I've got around 30 flights on the Evo so far so I'll watch that as I rack up more flights.
Jason Cole is online now Find More Posts by Jason Cole
Administrator
Reply With Quote
Old Feb 19, 2014, 12:04 PM
RCG Staff Member
Jason Cole's Avatar
United States, TN, Nashville
Joined Oct 2003
5,779 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by JDPG2 View Post
Nice review, I notice you have two video transmitters s on your S800 one looks to be the DJI 5.8Ghz, what's the other one and why have two?
I'm using an Iftron Tech Mondo Stinger for the GH3 video feed. The second tx is an Immersion RC 600mW and is connected to a Sony 770 cam on the front of the airframe. We fly a two man setup for video and I use the 2nd cam's video feed to help determine proximity to obstacles and to fly fpv for reference. When filming, I can't rely on the GH3 cam's feed to know the copter direction because it can be facing anywhere.
Jason Cole is online now Find More Posts by Jason Cole
Administrator
Reply With Quote
Old Feb 19, 2014, 12:22 PM
DJI Support
Las Vegas/Lake Tahoe
Joined Feb 2010
10,759 Posts
Jason, thanks for the review! Very well done.
Tahoe Ed is online now Find More Posts by Tahoe Ed
Site Sponsor
Latest blog entry: Landing Gear Reset S800
Reply With Quote
Old Feb 19, 2014, 02:09 PM
Registered User
CG Photo's Avatar
United States, CA, Fresno
Joined Feb 2013
1,756 Posts
It is a mistake to install the motor grommets upside down. They should only be installed with the large end up. There is no advantage to having the motors tilt left or right. Grommets installed upside down are subject to accelerated failure. Notice that DJI did not do this on the S1000 while using the same mounting system and grommets. On the S1000 all grommets are mounted with the large end up. The small end of the grommet is not thick enough to support the weight of the aircraft.

Tilting the motors in, makes the aircraft more stable in flight and helps keep the props out of camera view. Tilting the motor left and right does nothing helpful.
CG Photo is online now Find More Posts by CG Photo
Reply With Quote
Old Feb 19, 2014, 03:30 PM
Registered User
CSpaced's Avatar
Oak Ridge, NC
Joined Jun 2006
1,432 Posts
The motors on the S1000 are in fact rotated the same amount as the S800, only they did it with the aluminum motor mount on the carbon boom.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CG Photo View Post
It is a mistake to install the motor grommets upside down. They should only be installed with the large end up. There is no advantage to having the motors tilt left or right. Grommets installed upside down are subject to accelerated failure. Notice that DJI did not do this on the S1000 while using the same mounting system and grommets. On the S1000 all grommets are mounted with the large end up. The small end of the grommet is not thick enough to support the weight of the aircraft.

Tilting the motors in, makes the aircraft more stable in flight and helps keep the props out of camera view. Tilting the motor left and right does nothing helpful.
CSpaced is offline Find More Posts by CSpaced
RCG Plus Member
Reply With Quote
Old Feb 19, 2014, 03:40 PM
Registered User
CG Photo's Avatar
United States, CA, Fresno
Joined Feb 2013
1,756 Posts
If the arms needed to be rotated then it should be apart of the arm design. The grommet flip on the S800 was an afterthought. The S800 non evo does not have the grommets at all. I have flown my S800 evo both with and without the grommets inverted. It flies the same. After seeing reports of other having problems with the grommets failing in a just a few hours of flight time I took a very close look at my grommets and installed them as designed with the large end up. An engineer would not design the grommet upside down.
CG Photo is online now Find More Posts by CG Photo
Reply With Quote
Old Feb 19, 2014, 04:35 PM
I love multicopters
Lakagigar's Avatar
Norway, Troms, Tromsų
Joined Jan 2014
140 Posts
Nice review. Now i know this setup costs alot, so i'm not sure if you will say how much this whole setup did cost you?
Lakagigar is offline Find More Posts by Lakagigar
Reply With Quote
Old Feb 19, 2014, 04:47 PM
RCG Staff Member
Jason Cole's Avatar
United States, TN, Nashville
Joined Oct 2003
5,779 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lakagigar View Post
Nice review. Now i know this setup costs alot, so i'm not sure if you will say how much this whole setup did cost you?
It's hard to say as I already had a lot of the extra parts like radio systems, video transmitters, batteries, cameras, etc. I'd say check with your local dealer for pricing on a complete outfit if that's what you are interested in.
Jason Cole is online now Find More Posts by Jason Cole
Administrator
Reply With Quote
Old Feb 19, 2014, 06:36 PM
RCGroups Heli Editor
ndfly700's Avatar
United States, TN, Brentwood
Joined Dec 2010
256 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by CG Photo View Post
Tilting the motor left and right does nothing helpful.
This helps in yaw authority and oscillation, slightly less effort in starting and stopping yaw movement.
ndfly700 is offline Find More Posts by ndfly700
Reply With Quote
Old Feb 19, 2014, 06:45 PM
DJI SUPPORT / TESTING
blade strike's Avatar
United States, CA, Big Bear
Joined Jan 2006
11,078 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by ndfly700 View Post
This helps in yaw authority and oscillation, slightly less effort in starting and stopping yaw movement.
Correct..
blade strike is online now Find More Posts by blade strike
Site Sponsor
Latest blog entry: DJI Pilot App *BETA* Overview
Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools

Similar Threads
Category Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Discussion DJI Spreading Wings S1000, S900, S800 EVO, & S800 "OWNERS THREAD" shdwkeeper Multirotor Talk 11825 Dec 16, 2014 06:50 PM
Discussion DJI Released Spreading Wings S800 Evo! DJI INNOVATIONS Multirotor Talk 25 Dec 02, 2013 10:10 AM
Discussion DJI Spreading Wings S800 & S800 Evo DJI INNOVATIONS DJI-Innovations 10 Nov 15, 2013 07:05 PM
Sold DJI S800 spreading wings I.res.q.u.911 Aircraft - Electric - Multirotor (FS/W) 4 Nov 08, 2013 03:44 PM
Discussion DJI Released Spreading Wings S800 Evo! DJI INNOVATIONS Aerial Photography 1 Jul 25, 2013 02:49 AM